Archive for June, 2014


June 22, 2014

Being assertive means doing what you need  to do in order to get your needs met.  It doesn’t necessarily mean confrontation, getting angry, being aggressive.  It means taking care of yourself.  This is true for all relationships–not just the intimate ones of family and friends.

I haven’t written for a very long time and, usually, I don’t share personal circumstances.  However, I recently had experiences that confirmed for me, again, the importance of being assertive, not aggressive, when it means taking care of myself, and I want to share them with you.

I had occasion to be in a rehab facility after undergoing some major surgery.  I have special dietary needs which were not being met.  At first, I decided not to say anything.  However, I began to feel ill, and realized I had to say something to get my needs met.  It was quite a process because some of the people didn’t want to listen nor hear.  I was persistent, however, and eventually they realized that I wasn’t going to give up, and I got what I needed.

My message to you is if taking care of yourself means being assertive, don’t give up, whether it be with a partner, friend, your doctor, the plumber–anyone.  If you don’t know how, you can learn.  If you’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, you can tell her/him that that is not your intention and this is what you need.  Feeling empowered builds your self-esteem and contributes to feelings of self-worth.

Have you ever experienced this kind of situation–and few of us haven’t?  I’d very much like to hear your comments and experiences.  If you need help in learning to take care of yourself, I’d be very happy to meet with you.  Please feel free to call me at 415-474-6707 or email me at  I look forward to hearing from you.




Don’t “Should” on Me

June 15, 2014

The above statement is one of my favorite bumper stickers. It is a reminder of one of the ways in which we both allow others to tyrannize us and tyrannize ourselves. When partners try to “should” on each other, intense conflict almost always results. “Shoulds” come from cultural, parental and peer expectations and we accept them because we need to feel loved, to belong, and to feel safe and good about ourselves.

We act on “shoulds” because we believe that they are true, and that’s how we give them power over us. If we don’t live up to our “shoulds” or to someone else’s “shoulds”, we feel that we are unworthy–a bad person. Our self-esteem is impacted and we torture ourselves with self-blame and guilt.

Look over the following list of “shoulds” and notice which impact on your feelings about yourself:

~ I should be strong or you should be strong,
~ I should always be kind or you should always be kind.
~ I should never make a mistake or you should never make a mistake.
~ I should be perfect (a particular curse) or you should be perfect.
~ I should never feel angry or you shouldn’t be angry.
~ I should always be helpful or you should always be helpful.
~ I should never feel sexually attracted to_______or you should never feel sexually attracted to anyone else.
~ I should never be afraid or you should never be afraid.
~ I should always be happy or you should always be happy.
~ I should always help others or you should always help others.
~I should never say “NO” or you should never say NO.

I would guess that you probably have some additional “shoulds” that I haven’t thought about.  If you do, I’d love to hear them.  Either way, I’d love to hear from you.  If these or any other “shoulds” are keeping you from living your life to the fullest in the way that you want to live it, I invite you to explore healthy ways of dealing with them.  Some of these “shoulds’ can feel really abusive.  I know.  I’ve been there.   It isn’t necessary to carry these burdens alone–and I definitely do not mean that you should get rid of them. It’s your choice.  I would be honored to talk with you and accompany you on your healing journey.  Please call me at 415-474-6707.  I look forward to hearing from you.



Zora L. Kolkey, MFT
License #23012
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