When I was thinking of creating a podcast or some of the books that I’d like to write, one of them is to go in this direction of “Confessions of a Couple’s Therapist.” If you’re new to the podcast, you can go back and listen to me do a session with a couple live, which I’d like to do again. But one of my great joys in my life, in my professional life and my life as a teacher, is talking and thinking about human relationships.


I’d like in today’s podcast to zero in on a particular dynamic that I am laser-focused on in every session that I ever do and, frankly, focused on in my own marriage. It has to do with a very simple idea on the surface, that the human being loses their higher-order capacity when the ways that we confront the world become literalized. What I mean by that is that there’s a phenomena that when we are scared, overwhelmed, slighted, or embarrassed (and of course this is different for everybody in terms of the valence and how this manifests), there’s a particular way that the human brain reduces things to binaries when we don’t see another way out.

You’ve heard me talk about how the real goal in life or the goal of most situations is to figure out what is a perceived threat (when we believe there isn’t a way out but really there is) and what are the situations where we have to be acutely aware that we are in danger. Of course, there’s no recipe for that. That is Darwin, to an extent, at its core in terms of the way the organism evolves and shapes around an environment to be as successful as it possibly can.


This isn’t just related to couples therapy. Maybe those of you who are out there aren’t in relationships or don’t care about couples therapy. What I’m underscoring is less to do with a kind of cliche of a couple coming in and seeing a therapist. It has more to do with the fundamental ways that we organize and protect ourselves. I dive into this much deeper throughout this week’s episode. Please join me to hear more.

Show Highlights:

  • What our inner self-care system is.
  • How a life-long relationship between two people can build so much pressure and heat.
  • How we literalize our worldview, others, and ourselves.
  • Why we zombify others so easily.
  • How our childhood experiences predict the strength of our self-care systems.
  • Why we should stop and ask ourselves what we do when we feel overwhelmed.
  • How I help the more verbal partner process his or her emotions in my couple’s sessions.
  • The physiological impact of slowing down and processing in this way.
  • Why some of us simply don’t have the ability to communicate our emotions.
  • How we can begin understanding ourselves.

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Supporting Resources:


Mitchell Smolkin is a sought-after clinician, speaker, and author. For media and interview requests please contact his publicist Randy Phipps at randy@rpcommunications.net. For all other inquiries, please send mail to info@mitchellsmolkin.com.


Episode Credits

If you like this podcast and are thinking of creating your own, consider talking to my producer, Danny Ozment.

He helps thought leaders, influencers, executives, HR professionals, recruiters, lawyers, realtors, bloggers, coaches, and authors create, launch, and produce podcasts that grow their business and impact the world.

Find out more at https://emeraldcitypro.com

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