Everyone is Right!

I learned this morning that Perri Mayes died suddenly last week. For the past few years, I have studied facilitative mediation with Perri — learning how to help disputing parties come to resolution by guiding them through a process that allows them to apply creative solutions to entrenched problems. Perri Mayes was an amazing teacher. No matter how gnarly the knot between people, her gentle humor, deep respect, and unfailing compassion were able to help them get to a place where they could set aside their emotions and hear each other. She taught us that helping people step away from their positions creates space to address the basic interests that the positions represent. 

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Love and Let Leave

This month I will be escorting my daughter to college. We will fly to California, I will help her set up her room, attend the parents’ orientation event, and then I will leave her there, returning home to go on with my life. 

I will never forget how keenly I felt, at the moment of her birth over 18 years ago, the force of the life process that was already orchestrating her eventual departure from me. Something about the phenomenon of her emerging from my body made it patently obvious that from that moment on, she was headed outward.

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When "Right" is Wrong

Full disclosure: I am a hot head. When someone emails me something that I don’t like, I’m prone to firing back in a flash without thinking things through. Pounding out a rapid reply, my fingers fly over the keyboard, culminating in hitting the final “send” with conviction and a sense of self righteousness, like a high note on the keyboard. Rude, I know... but I’m right!  

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Nick Wilkes
Letting Go of the Banana

As the story goes, the ancient way to catch a monkey was to place a banana in a narrowly barred cage, and leave it in the forest. The monkey comes, sticks its hand into the cage and grabs the banana. But the banana is too big to fit back out through the bars of the cage. As the hunter approaches, the monkey won’t let go of the banana, and thus is captured, soon finding itself inside the cage, right along with the desired fruit.

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Why You Need More Yuck in Your Life

Attuned to research about aging well (for no obvious reason), I am often struck by the fact that the recipe for “super aging” has much in common with the one I am always promoting to you younger folk. The basics of living well — sufficient sleep, daily exercise and meditation, good food, meaningful work, and quality social interactions — apply for all of us.

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Where Will You Put Your Fight?

It has been a hard month. Many of us have felt that support for our basic human values has taken a huge hit. Equal treatment for all, compassion over aggression, civil discourse, respect, and honesty are not political issues. I unapologetically reaffirm my commitment to these principles, and encourage you to do likewise, irrespective of where you stand on the political spectrum.

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strategies, controlNick Wilkes
Conscious Evolution

After practicing as a psychologist in Madison for 20 years, I can say with confidence that most of what we see clinically is people's responses to the serious difficulties of life. Not that there isn’t true psychopathology, but that the power of emphasizing resilience and strength, and de-pathologizing normal struggle cannot be overstated.

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Be a Good Mother to Yourself!

We all had a mother once. But some of us lost her early, and some of us have or had mothers who weren’t so good for us. It is a vitally important relationship, and it can go wrong in so many ways. The mother who is hyper-critical, the mother who is over indulgent, the mother who is indifferent, and countless other flavors of wrong. 

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Plant the Seeds

My daughter, the potter, made me a beautiful vessel for the kitchen herb garden I have been wanting all winter. This weekend I started a variety of herbs by seed, and expect they will be big and plentiful enough to populate both my new indoor and regular outdoor gardens. We’ll eat from them all summer, and now, thanks to daughter, through the winter as well.

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Love Your Way to Happiness

It is no accident that we choose to write to you about love right after Valentine’s Day. At Westside Psychotherapy, we believe that the most important days to show love lie between February 15 and February 13. Sustaining love is challenging. Life wears us down, disappointments and resentments accumulate, fatigue sets in, the dullness of familiarity may begin to rankle.

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Get in the Habit!

When the alarm goes off, I swing my bare feet to the floor and pad into the bathroom, brush my teeth, put in my lenses, then dress. I walk down the stairs and into the living room, sit down in the middle of the rug, set my timer for between 6 and 12 minutes, and proceed to meditate. 

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Choose Love over Fear

The more time I spend in this life, the more strongly I believe fear is not often helpful. The purpose of fear — pounding heart, outpouring of adrenaline, and burst of energy — is to get us away from that tiger, fast! But if there is no tiger — if we have to stay in the room with the thing causing the fear - all that acceleration and energy turns against us.

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love, fearNick Wilkes