Emotional House Cleaning

Bill Benson’s February Tip: Emotional Donations Needed

Bill Benson,  LMFT, LPCC

Bill Benson,

Swaddled in pink or blue, from the moment we’re born we’re told what to do. As we grow, culture dictates what’s appropriate (“boy’s don’t cry”, “girls should act like princesses”) and we soak in these perceptions – learning to “dress” in these identities.

Life by Design

Understanding what’s expected, we define ourselves through achievement (“I’m good at this / I’m bad at that”) and then form opinions (“I like this / I don’t like that”) – ultimately using this information to determine our place in society (“I’m a winner / I’m a wallflower” – “I’m smart / I’m stupid”).

However, there comes a time when portions of our persona become threadbare: Think back to when you were 8 or 9 years-old – or even high school age – and remember thoughts that felt self-defining to you. Now, consider how ridiculous your life would be if you still hung onto these beliefs….

Rite of passage occurs when there is a transformation of identity
-Cultural Anthropologist, Robbie Blinkoff

Searching for Skeletons

Most of us have felt the relief of donating material redundancies cluttering our lives – the same holds true for our worn-out emotional perceptions. As a therapist I help others through the doorways of opportunity by being a bit of an anti-hoarding expert: Therapy can help clients clean out and reorganize their psychological closets.

This emotional rummage sale is necessary to achieve self-actualization, which, according to noted psychologist Abraham Maslow, is the developmental pinnacle reached when: “people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others, and interested fulfilling their potential.”

This can be a scary process, as these masks of identity were originally created at pivotal junctures to protect our developing sensibilities: People are reluctant to unhand what has previously worked for them even though these perceptions now constitute clutter.

Within a therapeutic environment, clients learn to shed this armor and redefine their vulnerabilities – not as naked states fraught with danger – but as valuable ingredients in determining what is meaningful to their current life experience.

To truly discover ourselves (or anyone else), we must address our closets and inventory our beliefs – questioning the validity of the masks within. It is in this assessment that we are born again – springing forward toward personal fulfillment and improving our experiences with others.


As we celebrate love this February, untie your masks: willingly share your true self and also become interested in the emotional-cores of those around you. Through this curiosity, you’ll soon experience relationships that are more than costume-deep.

Guest Columnist John Marasigan’s Tip: Balance Mind, Body & Spirit with Massage.

John Marasigan, AOS, BA, LMT, CMT

John Marasigan,

Stress, whether physical or metaphysical, weakens the body making it more susceptible to injury.

There are numerous factors, which can cause injury and dysfunction: poor nutrition, traumatic injury, unbalanced chemistry, physical activity, genetic predisposition, emotional discord – to name a few. Any one of these can manifest as a physical, emotional, or mental stress.

Massage is one wonderful way to calm the nervous system, help nurture tired and overworked muscles and tissue, and bring the overall body electric back into hemostatic balance.

Here are some ways massage can assist you in being healthier:

For the Mind: Massage calms the nervous system:

  • By calming one’s nervous system, massage enables the brain to reduce its stimulation – allowing for more concentrated and focused clarity of thought. Massage is not only a muscular tension release but can also be cathartic: a good Massage Therapist is often a good listener, as thoughts are expelled from a client’s consciousness.

For the Body: Massage reduces and releases tension:

  • Massage allows entrapped physical, mental, and emotional stress and tension in the body to release – Often planning a good night’s sleep after a massage allows the full effect of the treatment to manifest.

For the Spirit: Massage feels good:

  • Let’s face it, most people like to let go and feel pampered once in a while. The Massage and Spa industry is a multi-billion dollar industry designed to do just that!

When combined with proper diet, exercise, and a mental/spirtual focus, massage can enhance and aid in one’s all-around journey toward well-being. Finding a spa or therapist that suits your needs, matches your energy, and makes you feel good about yourself is an investment in feeling good, so you can be refreshed and ready to take on the world.

To find out more about my practice, click here.


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