Dr. Romance on Getting Out of Your Own Way

Recently, Dr. Romance has been asked a lot about how people can overcome paralysis and self-sabotage, so I thought I’d pass on my ideas on the subject. Getting in your own way is all about how you relate your yourself. In addition to not managing your time effectively, there are many ways you can stop yourself from getting the most out of life – not enjoying what you have or have accomplished; not being able to get motivated, or finish what you begin; and having a negative focus, which leads to discouragement, anxiety, despair and even depression.


When you aren’t able to get yourself motivated, to complete what you start, or to follow through when you need to, it’s called emotional paralysis. The main factors that lead to paralysis are Lack of Self-Trust, Being Outer-directed, Overwhelm, Perfectionism and Negative Thinking. Let’s look at each of these roadblocks, and what you can do about them.:

Lack of self-trust:

When you don’t trust yourself, your own judgement, your intelligence, and your ability to manage yourself and make your own decisions, life is too frightening to move. Here’s an exercise abbreviated from It Ends With You to help you strengthen your self-trust.

Steps to learning self-trust

1. Ask your own opinion. Frequently ask yourself: “What do I think about this? Do I like it? Does it make sense to me? Do I agree or disagree with the others?”

2. Listen to the answer. Listen to your opinions as you would to the ideas of a respected friend. Consider them, weigh them, and even discuss them with yourself from time to time.

3. Repeat until it’s a habit. After a few weeks, you’ll become comfortable with your personal opinions, which will have a profound effect on what you do and how you act. Decision making will be faster and easier, and you’ll feel much more secure in making decisions.

Being Outer-directed:

Knowing and acting on your own opinion is being inner-directed. Making decisions based on what others want or just reacting and responding to events is being outer-directed. You get along like that for a while, then you grind to a halt and become emotionally paralyzed. You must be the one in charge of your life – I believe it’s what we were designed to do, and I see every day what happens to people who don’t take charge of their thoughts, words and deeds. Once you know your own opinion, you need to act on it. The opinions of others are helpful input, but your decisions must be your own.


When you don’t take time to think clearly about the issues and problems in your life, and get mentally organized, you try to solve everything at once, and become overwhelmed and paralyzed. To overcome this problem, write down the thoughts that are racing through your head, make a list of everything that needs to be done, and prioritize. Then, pick one thing, break it down into steps, and begin doing the steps. You’ll find that organizing your thoughts like this makes everything much more manageable.


The final paralyzer is wanting to do things so perfectly that nothing is good enough. To break the paralysis, lighten up on your demands of yourself. Be a supportive, encouraging friend to yourself, not a demanding boss.

Negative thinking

By far the biggest roadblock in your relationship with yourself and with life is negative thinking. Many of my clients are afraid that recognizing problems, difficulties and grief is the same as negative thinking, and therefore, they ricochet back and forth between pretending to be happy and feeling hopeless.

Grieving is not negative thinking, it’s an adjustment in feelings. If you allow yourself to acknowledge whatever feelings you have (anger, fear, sadness, joy) you’ll be able to feel real happiness when it comes. Negative thinking is actually scaring oneself. To latch on to only the negative things, to “catastrophize” about how awful things are or will become creates unnecessary tension and stress — and eventual paralysis.

The antidote to negative thinking is trust. Trust yourself — you have a direct line to eternal wisdom, and expressing your feelings clears up the static so you’ll know what is most important for you in this moment. Trust your family and friends — they love you, they want to help, so let in the love they give you. Living as truthfully as you can — including when you’re upset, frightened, or hurting — will put you in harmony with God’s plan for your life. Above all, trust Love — trust that you are surrounded with it, that your loved ones love you back, that you were created by Love, and, when it’s time, you will be re-created by Love. Trust the blessings of life — even the worst things will somehow turn out to be a blessing, though you may not be able to see it now. Eternal Wisdom is so much bigger than we are, and we cannot understand all its workings, but “all the Power that ever was or will be, is here now” and we are all safe.

Whatever threatens our little ego-based world cannot touch that which is eal within us. There is no need to be paralyzed, to be afraid, to hesitate. Goethe, the beloved German poet, said

Some of your ills you have cured

And the sharpest at least you’ve survived.

But what torments of Hell you’ve endured

From evils that never arrived

Hot Romance on a Middle-Eastern Stage

In many ways Pinnacle Lust, a first novel written by Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, is a classic, steamy romance. You have the impossibly-handsome married doctor with six-pack abs and a killer smile. You have the smart and beautiful nurse, pursued by many men, who loses her heart to him. You have lots of hot, super-erotic sexual encounters. You have the ultimate heartbreak of a forbidden love between star-crossed lovers.

You even have the teenage daughter coming to grips with the fact that she is the precious fruit of this passionate-but-doomed love (no spoiler here – this is obvious by the third page). And all of it is very well executed.

What really sets this book apart from others in this otherwise fairly predictable genre is the fact that it is set in Israel during Operation Desert Storm, and was written by an Israeli native who was a nurse with a career very much like that of the main character.

This means that you get a powerful firsthand look at what everyday life was like in Israel when most Americans were watching Shock and Awe on the 24-hour news channels. You experience what working life is like in the Israeli medical system, right down to the super-strict religious regulations in a Hasidic hospital (it is a sin and therefore illegal to be alone in a room, or even an elevator, with someone of the opposite sex “for more time than it takes to boil an egg”).

You get a taste of what it’s like to live in a country where everyone performs military service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), and where a SCUD missile occasionally takes out the building next door to where you work.

The cultural subtext in this book is never self-conscious or contrived. It is simply woven into the story line, so that as you read it you have a feeling of actually living in a relatively non-religious settlement, or of visiting a friend in the Golan Heights. You experience the hot, dusty summers in a country where air conditioning is more a necessity than a luxury.

Romance is not my go-to genre, but I really enjoyed this book. Pinnacle Lust more than lives up to its sexy title, with the added huge benefit that its story is written across the canvas of a culture that will be both strangely familiar and utterly foreign to most American readers.

Dear Dr. Romance: Was There Anything Else I Could Have Done?

Dear Dr. Romance

Recently, I have gone back to online dating but have some very strong concerns. I just severed a 5-year relationship with a man who seems to have an internet addiction. He worked from home and was constantly on the porn and personals (by looking at his History). The internet was rather an intense issue for me making me distrusting our relationship. We at one time came to an agreement that there would be a limitation with the porn. But over the 5 years, I came so mentally, emotionally, and physically drained that I was seeing two therapists this year for counseling and medication. He said that he has it under control. So while I made arrangements to move out of his house, he was trying to hook up with men for sex. Then he met up with an out-of -state woman by texting and now has pursued a business and sexual relationship working on a patent to have a monitoring device to protect women against sexual assault. Was there anything else I could have done? This was a very painful experience for me, but it seems that he just moves with one situation to another with no repercussion.

Dear Reader:

You’re right to have some doubts about Internet dating and addiction. It’s a very big problem these days, lots of people in my office with Internet addiction problems. One thing you can do is make sure whomever you meet is connected with people face to face, has friends and goes out to see people and do things with friends. People with no face-to-face social connections are more likely to have online issues. How a person relates to you is important, but it is not the only important thing. Healthy people have social networks, friendships, and interests outside the home.

How To Keep Yourself Out of a Violent Relationship will help you gain a better understanding of how to keep yourself safe and to find a healthy partner

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.