Dan Knoepfler, MC, LMHC
Individual, group, and family therapy
Thoughts for the Day
Links to the archives of previous months are at the bottom of the page.

How would you rate your balance between screen time and real life interactions with others?   My challenge for the next two weeks is to intentionally spend one less hour per day on the computer/internet and instead spend time interacting with people IRL during that time!   Are you willing to make a similar commitment?   Just until the end of the month.  Try it, and see how different you feel after only two weeks of doing this.  I will report back on 9/30....

Monday again?   Why are Mondays tough for many people?   I believe in part it's about transitions.   Many people have had several days to relax and unwind, and they have to gear back up for work mode.   Some people actually do better with the transition back to school or work, and the opposite is more difficult.   Many people actually do fine with structure and struggle when they have too much free time.    And some people just struggle with transitions no matter what the change is.   How are you with transitions?

One of my favorite words in therapy is "desensitization".   The idea is that subjects or issues that are overwhelming or difficult are repeatedly and intentionally discussed in a way to take away their scariness.  The goal isn't to decrease their importance.  It's to get people to a place where they can directly deal with a subject without falling apart, or becoming full of rage, or a whole host of other emotions.   In general it's called exposure therapy.   People misuse this idea to push a person scared of water into a pool.   That's cruel and generally counter-productive.  The process needs to be systematic and intentional, honoring the person's ability to tolerate an increasing level of exposure to whatever the "thing" is.

My local grocery store is getting more aggressive about enforcing the no pet policy, with exceptions for service animals and emotional support animals.   Call me biased, but when the person walked in to QFC last week with their Great Dane they were not with their service animal.   Maybe that isn't fair, but if their emotional support animal is a Great Dane, I will apologize profusely.

I was talking to a person about my work.   I told her I work with people who feel marginalized.  Whether it is because of criminal history, race, sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic status or religion (to name a few), I enjoy working with people who have significant hurdles in their life.  I am not dismissive of people who are the "worried well", I am just better at working with people with bigger struggles.

Speaking of the topic of people dying senselessly in America, gun violence and mass shootings are a crazy and dubious distinction we have as a country.  Inaction on this issue makes us all at least partially culpable.   We must act in ways that decrease access to guns, but also we must  figure out ways to include the disaffected people in the community we call America.  We have blatantly turned into a culture of haves and have-nots.   And it has become acceptable to mush what you have in the face of someone who doesn't.  Mean-spirited actions have been normalized to a degree that is disturbing.   We all must treat each other better. 

An emotional day for every American.   Our older generation may remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, or the first man walked on the moon.  I wasn't quite born when Kennedy was killed, and sadly I don't remember them moon landing.   But I do remember where I was when I discovered that the tragedy of 9-11 was unfolding.   I always take a few minutes to remember the people who died this day.

Funny thing happened in therapy.   Sometimes I preface what I say with a phrase that might soften the impact of the words I am about to say.    I had a client who replied that that was unnecessary because that is what I am paid to do.  My job is to make what may not be obvious to him, more apparent or clear.  I am not sure everyone has that mindset regarding therapy.   But therapy with me involves that type of interaction.   Although non-directive therapy may be useful for some, that isn't my style because for many people it leaves them stuck in the same place they have been.

It's that time of year when those of us who pay quarterly taxes to the IRS have to send in a check.    I sent it out early this year so I wasn't staring at that money in the bank, with an itch to buy a new car.   The check has already cleared, even though it wasn't due for another week.   And my serious temptation to buy a new car has subsided for now.

A local neighborhood restaurant just closed, on the heels of a second one that already closed.   Both spaces apparently have new tenants lined up and ready to try and make a go of it.   The more recent closure was kind of a shock.   I walked up to the door and saw a sign about the closure.   However, before I even saw the sign there was a man measuring the windows, already planning for his move into the space.    At one point in my life I thought I would like to own a restaurant.   But owning a business, especially a restaurant can consume most if not all of your time.   That makes it much less attractive than it once was back when I was in my 20s.

It's a quiet weekend for a change.  No concerts, no major plans.   I am not used to having the entire weekend to myself.

I have clients who struggle with reaching out for help.  I am not sure whether they see it as a sign of weakness, or they are avoiding, or some combination of both.   But none of us are an island, self sufficient enough to get along without others in our life.    There is no shame is asking for help, even if it is a supportive ear to listen to you.

I was off from work for a 5 days and my planter box looks like a flower massacre occurred.    I have thoroughly watered everything, and only time will tell what is going to survive.  After a great summer of flowers, one long weekend may have put things to bed for the season.

Ever wonder how to do something?   There used to be manuals and how-to guides.    FILL IN THE BLANK for Dummies were a very popular series as well.    Currently, YouTube seems to be the go to place for self-help.  The upside to YouTube is that they can not only describe what you should do, but also demonstrate it as well.   I know someone who learned how to fix his brakes on YouTube.   He was hesitant at first, since the stakes are pretty high if it goes wrong.  But he did it perfectly, saved a ton of money, only paying for parts, and ended up feeling pretty darn proud of himself.   I highly recommend using YouTube to do this, although maybe it would be wise to start with something other than your car's brakes!

September is typically one of the nicest weather months in Western Washington.   It's pleasant during the day, and cool at night.  I enjoy the outdoors this time of year a lot.

Do you like auctions?    I don't know about them personally.   I like my prices fixed.   I will never get a total steal by avoiding auctions.  But I won't overpay for something I could have obtained for less either.    I guess the effort to ensure I am not drastically overpaying isn't worth the potential good deal.

Sunday - the 1st.    One more day of seeing Maceo Parker and his crew funk it up!    That's going to be fun.