Giving Thanks: November Gratitude Lists with a Twist!

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In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, especially as we walk into this season of holidays, it’s all too easy to overlook the simple, yet profound, beauty that surrounds us. In our fast-paced world, we often focus on what’s wrong, what’s missing, and what we wish we had. But what if we made a conscious, intentional effort to shift our perspective and train our minds to see the beauty in the everyday? In this blog, we’ll explore how writing a daily list of three things you find beautiful can enhance your perception of gratitude and strengthen your connections with friends, family, and loved ones.

The Beauty of Three

Why three, you might wonder? The number three holds a special place in our cognitive processes. It’s a manageable number, easy to remember, and just enough to encourage thoughtful reflection without overwhelming us. By choosing to identify three beautiful things in your day, you are setting a manageable and realistic goal, which can be incredibly motivating.

Cultivating Gratitude through Observation & Perspective

The act of intentionally seeking out beauty in your daily life can significantly boost your sense of gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful emotion, linked to increased happiness, improved mental health, and even physical well-being. When we consciously look for beauty, we start to notice it more often, and this heightened awareness can shift our perspective.

Imagine you’re sitting in a park, and you notice a colorful butterfly fluttering by. You can take a moment to appreciate its intricate patterns and delicate wings. That’s one beautiful thing right there. Or perhaps you’re sipping a cup of tea and gazing out the window at a breathtaking sunset; that’s another moment of beauty. And as you walk through the streets, you spot a kind stranger helping a person cross the road, exemplifying the beauty of human compassion. These are the small, yet profound, moments that make our lives richer when we take a moment to truly see and appreciate them.

Sharing the Beauty with Loved Ones

Now, let’s take it a step further. Once you’ve made a habit of noting three beautiful things each day, consider sharing your daily list with friends, family members, or your significant other(s). This simple act can strengthen your connections and deepen your relationships in several ways:

1. Increased Understanding: Sharing what you find beautiful with your loved ones provides them with insights into your values, interests, and what resonates with your heart. It’s an opportunity for them to better understand what makes you tick.

2. Creating Shared Experiences: Encourage your loved ones to join you in this practice. Share your lists, and ask them to share theirs. This shared experience can create a sense of togetherness and common purpose, deepening the bond you share.

3. Expressing Gratitude for Each Other: When you recognize and share the beauty you find in your relationships, you’re expressing gratitude for the people in your life. It’s a wonderful way to let them know you appreciate and value them.

4. Building a Positive Atmosphere: As you and your loved ones engage in this practice, you’ll collectively become more attuned to the beauty around you. This positive atmosphere can lead to increased happiness and an improved outlook on life.

One Small Change at a Time

In a world filled with busy distractions, cultivating gratitude and deepening connections can seem like a daunting task. However, the practice of noting three moments of beauty in your day and sharing them with loved ones is a simple, yet profoundly effective way to enhance your quality of life. It’s a reminder to slow down, appreciate the world’s beauty, and strengthen the bonds that matter most. So, why not start today? What three beautiful things can you find in your day?

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Venetian carnival masks on sale market


As we enter into October, what better way to celebrate Halloween than to discuss masks
and the effects of masking. Physical masks and costumes can be such an exciting and freeing
experience to step away from the monotony of daily life. Putting on a costume allows us to try
something new, play a role, and experience a persona that is outside of the barriers of what we
see as “socially acceptable.” But, what happens when Halloween is not the only time we adorn
our masks. What if we have been stepping out of authenticity on a regular basis and putting on a
mask that we feel the world expects of us so as to please others.
In a world where societal expectations and pressures loom large, it’s not uncommon for
us to feel the pressure to don metaphorical masks, concealing our true selves. This practice,
known as masking, or sometimes referred to as code switching, often arises from a desire to fit
in, feel safe, avoid judgment, or conform to established societal norms. However, the irony lies
in the fact that while masking may provide a sense of security, it ultimately prevents us from
living out our lives authentically.

The Masked Self

Masking involves presenting a carefully curated version of ourselves to the world,
usually as a result of information we have seen or heard from the world around us. This persona
we develop, sometimes from our youth, is often shaped by external influences such as family,
peers, or media, leading us to mimic behaviors, beliefs, or interests that may not align with our
genuine-authentic selves. Over time, we become so adept at wearing these masks that it becomes
challenging to distinguish between who we are, who we perceive we “should” be, and who we
pretend to be. One of the primary motivations behind masking is the innate fear of rejection. We

worry that if we reveal our true thoughts, emotions, or quirks, others may not accept us. As a
result, we tend to suppress our genuine feelings and put on a facade to gain approval. This fear of
rejection can lead to a perpetual cycle of inauthenticity, causing us to drift further from our true,
beautiful, and diverse identity.

The Toll on Mental Health

Living a life veiled behind a facade can exact a profound toll on our mental and
emotional well-being. The persistent charade, the perpetual effort to project an image contrary to
our genuine selves, can sow the seeds of stress, anxiety, depression, and a pervasive sense of
disconnection. The dissonance between our authentic selves and the persona we present to the
world can breed inner turmoil, leaving us with a profound sense of alienation and dissatisfaction
with the trajectory of our lives. It’s paradoxical that the mask, often donned for a sense of safety,
ironically yields results that counter the expected sense of security.

Masks for Marginalized Populations

Masking, sometimes referred to as “Code-Switching” among marginalized populations
including BIPOC, Neurodiverse, and LGBTQIA+, carries both advantages and drawbacks. On
the positive side, masking enables individuals to navigate diverse social contexts effectively,
fostering actual professional success. Masking can also serve as a protective shield, helping
individuals avoid discrimination and ensuring their physical and emotional safety from offensive
exchanges. However, on the flip side, it can erode a sense of one’s authenticity, contributing to
mental and emotional strain as individuals grapple with maintaining multiple personas leading to
anxiety and lower self-esteem from cognitive dissonance. Over time, it can trigger an identity
crisis and perpetuate stereotypes, reinforcing the need for marginalized groups to conform to
dominant cultural norms. While it can be a strategy for success, or even a short term shield of

protection, longterm, it underscores the systemic inequalities and discrimination that persist in
society, emphasizing the importance of fostering acceptance and inclusivity.

Missed Opportunities for Growth

Authenticity is the one of the keys to personal growth and self-discovery. By embracing
our true selves, we open the door to understanding our values, passions, and purpose in life.
Masking, on the other hand, hinders this process. It prevents us from exploring our authentic
desires and limits our potential for personal development. In addition to the internal harm that is
caused by masking, we also create a barrier to authentic relationships and deep connection.
When inviting others to connect, if we are giving them an inauthentic version of ourselves then
the connection will tend to develop in shallow and inauthentic ways.

Breaking Free from the Mask

Breaking free from the mask requires self-reflection and courage, introspection and a readiness
to evolve. It involves acknowledging the fears and insecurities that drive us to mask our true
selves and gradually dismantling these barriers. Here are a few steps to help you live more

Self-Reflection – Take time to reflect on your true values, interests, and passions. What makes
you unique? What do you genuinely enjoy?
Embrace Vulnerability – Accept that it’s okay to be vulnerable and imperfect. Authenticity
often involves revealing your true self, warts and all.
Set Boundaries – Establish boundaries that protect your authentic self from external pressures
and expectations.
Surround Yourself with Support & Acceptance – Seek out supportive relationships where you
can be your true self without judgment.

Living authentically is a journey that requires ongoing effort and self-acceptance. While masking
may provide temporary relief from societal pressures, it ultimately stifles our growth and hinders
our ability to experience life to the fullest. By shedding our masks and embracing authenticity,
we can lead more fulfilling lives, build deep-meaningful connections, and discover our true
purpose in this world.

Working with a therapist can be an invaluable part of this transformative process.
Therapists offer a supportive and confidential environment where individuals can explore their
authentic selves without judgment. They help individuals navigate the often challenging path of
self-discovery, providing guidance, emotional support, and practical strategies for overcoming
obstacles. Therapists can assist in identifying and addressing any underlying issues, such as past
traumas or self-limiting beliefs, that may be hindering the journey toward authenticity.

Additionally, therapists can help individuals develop the self-acceptance and self-esteem needed
to confidently embrace their true selves. They gently encourage self-reflection, self-compassion,
and personal growth, empowering individuals to break free from the constraints of societal
expectations and fully engage with life in an authentic and meaningful way. Remember, it’s the
uniqueness of your true self, nurtured with the help of a therapist, that can make the most
significant impact on the world around you. This Halloween season, as you are on the hunt for
the perfect costume, maybe try on You, without a mask, and see how it feels!

Half the World has One: Giving the Vulva it’s due.

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The clitoris is one of the body parts that just doesn’t get talked about, so you can only imagine my delight in seeing a New York Times article that focuses on the clitoris.  As a sex therapist, people love to talk about sex with me.  When I mention this part of my work, it either seems to embarrass the hearer or permits them to talk about things they never mention.

Such was the case the other night over dinner.  Some fellow volleyball parents and I were getting a bite to eat after the game. The mention of my work inspired another mom to lean over the table, as people do, and generalize what I must see in the therapy room.  The usual assumption is often that in heterosexual relationships, it is the man that is not attending to the woman’s pleasure during sex.  While that may be true in some cases, I find that it is just as often true that the woman is uncomfortable with the focus on her pleasure.  This article on the clitoris explains part of what’s going on.

Sex education doesn’t include much about it.  Doctors don’t seem to consider it, and most women aren’t told much about it.  Over a lifetime of OB-gyn visits, the entire area is shielded from us as it is examined.  The call here for increased study and consideration is long overdue and appreciated.

What Are The Three Types Of Sex?

Defining Sex

“Sex” can be difficult to define. Most often, when we refer to sex in this society, we are talking about penetrative sexual intercourse. But sex can include other acts as well including oral sex and foreplay.

Foreplay itself can range in definition, depending upon who you ask and can range from the kissing and touching of erogenous zones to laying around in bed together before, between, or after a sex act(s)— laughing, snacking, etc.

The science of attachment theory has shown us that there are three kinds of sex. Dr. Sue Johnson, in her book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, describes these kinds of sex and dispels some of the myths about sex—“good” sex—that many of us have come to believe.

attachment theory sue johnson hold me tight book

Myths like: sex is always best at the beginning of a relationship, it is always “good” and effortless between partners that really love one another, that “good” sex means both partners have an orgasm, and that sex happens between people who have a lot of love or a lot of chemistry. Maybe you can think of more!

Surveys have shown that people have reported their best sex when in a long-term relationship in which they speak openly and honestly about their sex life and are willing to do the work it can take to improve and build upon the sex they are having (or not having).

These couples understand that sexual desire ebbs and flows over the course of a relationship, and they do not define the health or quality of their relationship by this natural cycle.

The following types of sex are common and “natural,” and we may have experienced one or all three at some point in our lives. These descriptors are not meant to be critical or judgmental of any one particular type—whatever kind of sex you are having, there are perfectly reasonable circumstances that have led you there. There is no “bad” or “good” type.

However, in becoming aware of the kind of sex you are having, you may find that you would like to either continue having that kind of sex, or try and find a way to have a different kind. Sex therapy is one effective way of building upon that awareness and creating the change you want to see.

Solace Sex

Solace Sex is a reassurance seeking sex. When a person is having this type of sex, they are hoping to be assured by their partner that they are desirable and valuable. The main emotion driving Solace Sex is anxiety.

Dr. Johnson quotes a patient, Mandy, who says:

“Sex with Frank is okay. But to be truthful, it’s the cuddling I really want. And the reassurance. It’s like sex is a test, and if he desires me, then I feel safe. Of course, if he ever isn’t horny, then I take it real personally and get scared.”

If this sounds familiar to you, you may be engaging in this type of sex.

This kind of sex has the benefit of helping to keep a relationship secure (seemingly) for a while. A drawback is that it can feed into patterns of anxiety maintenance and exacerbation.

The main object of this type of sex is to please your partner through your sexual performance so they can reassure you, through their sexual response, that you are loved and your relationship is good.

Or it can show up in the form of becoming sexually demanding—requiring frequent or performative sex that can sometimes have the opposite of the desired effect and causing your partner to desire sex less or even avoid it.

Ironically, with this type of sex, a person is more susceptible to being hurt. If the partner does not feel in the mood for sex or perhaps doesn’t orgasm, for whatever reason, the anxious person is likely to take this as a personal rejection and/or a sign of something wrong (with him or herself or the relationship as a whole).

Sealed-Off Sex

This type of sex is common among people who have never learned to trust another person enough to become emotionally close or among people who feel insecure in/about their relationship. The focus is on self-assurance through stellar sexual performance and achieving orgasm.

Here, the person remains emotionally aloof while maintaining a singular aim of arousal and orgasm. Emotionally connective acts like kissing or cuddling are usually avoided. In long-term relationships, this sex can seem mechanical.

This kind of sex is perfectly fine for a one-night stand or brief tryst. However, this kind of sex is very damaging to a long-term romantic partnership. The partner may often wind up feeling used and, in fact, there may be many partners. In order to maintain distance and passion at the same time, the novelty of a new partner can become necessary.

Synchrony Sex

This type of sex can occur when we are feeling emotionally safe enough to express our needs, communicate openly, be playful, curious, engaged, and relaxed during sex.

It is during this type of sex that partners can be more in synch, being in tune with and responding to each other. These emotional traits also tend to exist outside of the sexual life as well.

This is not to say that partners who are having Synchrony Sex are always having “perfect” sex. Real-life sex can involve some awkwardness or a misalignment of desire, just like relationships outside of the bedroom can involve some disagreements.

Partners who feel secure emotionally with each other can feel safe enough to explore sexually and endure the differences and difficulties that arise over the course of a long-term relationship—again, both emotionally and sexually.

Movies and TV shows give the impression that sex is “easy” and that partners do not need to work at it or even talk about it. However, studies show that couples who speak openly and honestly about their needs and preferences have more engaged and satisfying sex.

If you are looking to achieve (or regain) Synchronous Sex, which is most conducive for a long-term relationship, it will require some work. One way of getting help with that work is through therapy.

At North Brooklyn Marriage and Family Therapy, you will have the opportunity to work with licensed and certified therapists to explore what is working in your relationship. We can help you use those strengths to reinforce any areas that feel less secure so you can be on your way, together, to having the sex and love you desire.

How Do I Know If My Husband Is A Narcissist?

Whether you’re married or living with your long-term partner, sharing a living space with a significant other can be difficult, especially during a lockdown. If you’re beginning to notice a lack of empathy in the man you walked down the aisle with, then you may be dealing with a husband or partner that is a narcissist. 

Without jumping to conclusions by looking at just some personality quirks your S.O.’s been exhibiting, let’s take a step back and look at this man’s behavior as a whole. 

You might be wondering, is my husband a narcissist or just self-centered? While a narcissist can exhibit many of the traits of a selfish individual, there are some specific quirks you should be looking out for.

Oftentimes, individual or couples therapy will be your best solution.

What Are Some Common Traits Of A Person With Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?

There’s much more to a man with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) than just simply being self-centered. Here are ten major indicators:

  1. He Makes Every Conversation About Him

A man who was put on a pedestal as a child and had parents who catered to his every need could very well exhibit narcissistic traits. Did your husband grow up an only child? 

This might be something to consider, as only children are used to being the center of attention. Unless taught early on, these children can carry these traits of entitlement and self-centeredness into adulthood. This isn’t to say that all only children are narcissists, but it’s worth noting.

  1. He Expects You To Place All Your Attention On His Wants And Needs

Do you often find yourself placing all your time and attention catering to his every need? Maybe you’re spending your days cooking, cleaning, running his errands, or even taking care of your little ones at home without any help. If so, you may be dealing with more than just a self-centered man. 

A narcissist will be so focused on himself he won’t even realize you may have wants and needs. Has he ever asked what he can do to help you? Have you ever heard him say, “Don’t worry, honey–I’ll cook dinner for us tonight so you can have a break.”? A narcissistic man wouldn’t stop to think twice about anyone other than himself.

  1. He Doesn’t Show His Appreciation For You

Random acts of love are the simplest way to show someone you love just how much you truly care for them. These romantic gestures don’t have to be anything more than a kiss on the cheek or simply a “thank you” for all that you do. If your partner isn’t showing you he appreciates you it some way, it should raise a red flag

  1. He Claims Only He Knows What’s Best For You

A caring partner may offer up his advice when you need it but should ultimately let you be the one to make the decision that’s best for you. By contrast, a narcissist will exhibit controlling behavior and try to discourage you from making your own decisions. 

  1. He Never Admits Fault

It might be difficult to admit we’re wrong sometimes, but an adult that’s truly in the wrong should be capable of admitting it and moving on. A man that cannot seem to find it in himself to admit fault even when he’s done wrong is a telltale sign of a narcissist.

  1. He Always Wants the Spotlight

While self-centered people crave attention and may talk about themselves a lot in conversation, they’re still capable of listening to others. A narcissist will not only seek attention but will never truly listen to others when they speak. 

A narcissist may listen, but don’t be fooled–it’ll only be to jump at the opportunity to make a conversation about them and all their achievements. 

  1. He is Close-Minded And Blames You For All His Wrongs

A narcissistic partner is incapable of seeing the bigger picture and will be one to shut down those with views not like their own. A good partner can entertain ideas that are not his own rather than acting immaturely by refusing to see other perspectives. 

He might also be manipulative and find ways to accuse you of things he’s doing. A narcissistic husband who’s been unfaithful will look for any chance to turn the attention away from himself and on to you. He may, for example, start an argument with you over why you’re 30 minutes late coming home from work and try to accuse you of cheating.

  1. He Throws Tantrums When He Doesn’t Get His Way

Much like a toddler when you tell them “no more candy,” a narcissistic man is like a spoiled child that throws a fit when he doesn’t get his way — yes, even if it’s unreasonable. These fits of rage don’t necessarily have to be overt fits of anger — they can be passive-aggressive behaviors as well. 

  1. He Thinks He’s Superior To Others

Sure, maybe a highly intelligent and accomplished individual will have an heir of arrogance. The difference is, a narcissist will have a superiority complex and an overinflated sense of self. 

If you notice your partner often saying things like “I’m better than you,” or “What do they know. They’re a nobody,” chances are you’re dealing with more than just arrogance.

  1. He Is Two-Faced

Maybe your partner is incredibly charming around others that don’t know him as well as you do. But behind closed doors, there’s another side to him. A narcissistic man might try to put his best foot forward so that others think he’s a catch when in reality, he’s hiding behind a mask.

Get Expert Help

It might be a close call, but if you take a deep dive into your partner’s character traits and quirks, you can sift through the misinformation and figure it out. 

If you come to realize you are dealing with a narcissistic husband, don’t hesitate to seek help. A licensed therapist or marriage counselor can help you understand the steps to take when dealing with a man with NPD.

Couples living in and around Brooklyn, New York can rely on North Brooklyn Therapy for all their advice and partner or individual counseling needs. Our licensed therapists are proud to offer Zoom sessions so that you can easily engage in therapy from the comfort and safety of your home.

Schedule An Appointment Today!

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