Relationship in a Rut?

Do you really think your relationship conflict is about chores, hygiene, or dirty socks on the bedroom floor?  It’s not. Trust me.

relationship difficultiesSure~~~ Wanting to strangle your husband from time to time is perfectly normal. But if you’re constantly coming up against the same relationship problem- and experts say most couples do- then you’ll have to get to the root of the conflict if you want to move forward as a happier, healthier, more connected couple.  No partnership is exempt from these patterns, but they can most definitely corrode perfectly loving bonds over time.  


A healthy relationship~ just like everything else in life, needs care and attention.

hands holding
Figuring out how to fix a relationship is the challenging part and where my expertise comes in.  There are so many different dynamics involved and it’s really difficult to know where exactly the balance went off.  It can often be helpful to get a third party involved to help couples see the deeper issues and begin to untangle their unhealthy web. But nevertheless, arriving at couples therapy really doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship. Even the unhappiest of relationships can be fixed with a bit of understanding and love.
If you are still very much in love with your partner and willing to work on your relationship~ it may be helpful to read these four simple pointers on how to nurture your relationship that may feel off balance from time to time. 

1.  Communicate.

Ask yourself honestly- How did I deal with the situation the last time I disagreed with my partner?  Most couples I see, prefer to just end an argument with silent evenings rather than face the situation.  There’s also the option of giving each other some space for a a few days and wait for the issue to get sorted out by itself.  But- by avoiding a confrontation, you would end the fight but you really can’t understand each other or help each other.  Problems that are brushed under the carpet always have a way of creeping back up.  

My suggestion? The next time you’re feeling frustrated, irritated or lonely- talk about it with your partner and try to get over the issue in that moment. 

2.  Forgive.

We’re all human- and all of us make mistakes, even the most perfect of people. If you want to know how to nurture a relationship and be successful at it, you must learn to forgive one another. If you feel something’s wrong in the relationship or if your partner’s done something unacceptable, talk to your partner without accusing or shouting at them. Help your partner understand how you feel about the situation.  And, unless an inexcusable mistake is repeated, learn to forgive and move forward.

3.  Compromise.

Learn to give in. It’s as simple as that. It’s surprising to see that so many individuals struggle in a relationship because of this one thing alone.  Over 10 years of working with couples in private practice, I’ve noticed both men and women becoming more and more stubborn with one another. It’s really difficult for people to give in.  Here’s what I like to point out when I see this… If you truly love your partner~ seeing them smile or have a good time would make you happy too, wouldn’t it?

4.  Grow.

Relationships need to grow constantly, similar to how individuals need to grow. When a relationship stagnates, you start to lose interest in it and soon, you stop caring about it. Learn to improve a relationship, by learning from each other and giving each other enough space to grow as individuals. Only by becoming better individuals can both of you become better lovers.
These 4 fixes on how to nurture a relationship can seem trivial and easy- But that’s the whole point. Sometimes, the most complicated of knots need only a small tug where it matters.
936123600_wje5b-MAre you or someone you know looking for a Couples Therapist who specializes in Relationships?  Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.
Photo Credit(s): Mario Covic Photography and




Sigh. The Toxic Friend.

toxic friend

There are many different characteristics of toxic friendships. Some are overly-competitive to the point of being hurtful. Some make snide remarks about your looks, weight, relationships, while acting like your friend. Some only want to talk about themselves and their problems without ever asking about your life or offering support. Whatever the type, maintaining a toxic friendship is an unhealthy situation.

I’ve listed 7 questions below to help you identify if you’re in a toxic friendship.  
  • How do I feel after being with this friend? (Do I get anxious or overwhelmed after spending time with this person or do I leave our interaction with a sense of peace and contentment?)
  • Would my friend talk about me in a negative way to others?
  • Does my friend criticize and/or belittle me?
  • Do I hesitate to share my good news because of how it might make them feel?
  • Does my friend abuse the friendship and/or take advantage of me?
  • Is there give and take in our relationship?
  • Do I even like this person?  
 Even friendships that have lasted decades can have rough spotsso if your relationship with a friend is deep-rooted into your life, it might be better to address the behaviors that are irritating you to see if the relationship can be salvaged rather than just ending the relationship. However, if the friend is an acquaintance- or is hostile and makes you feel bad about yourself, then the healthiest decision might be to move on. It’s all about what’s doing right for you.


My advice? Focus on the friendships that sustain you and help you be the best, happiest person you can be–and move on from the rest.  Remind yourself that friends are supposed to be a source of support and kindness, and that you are supposed to leave social interactions feeling happy and grateful for the loved ones in your life.


Need help with a sticky social situation or relationship issue?  Contact me HERE!  I offer face-to-face sessions Psychotherapy in Orange County, as well as, online through eTherapi.

Photo credits- Shutterstock.

Temptation & Cheating.

There are several ways to deal with feelings of attraction to someone outside your relationship. 


In my work with all types of couples, cheating is the most common theme I see in my practice.  Although each couple is unique in their particular dilemma- the couples usually arrive in my office after the cheating has occurred. For this reason, I will outline below, 4 ways to help to deal with the urge to sway from your partner before the cheating occurs.

1.  Identify.  Identify why you are tempted to cheat.  Common reasons include boredom with your sex life, frustration with some aspect of your relationship, or simply the idea that grass is greener on the other side. Relationships are like flowers – you have to water and care for them, or they wilt and die. Perhaps your relationship has just gone a bit flat and it’s time to add a little spice. Identifying the reasons you may be tempted by another is an important step in dealing with those feelings.
2.  Speak up.  For example, if you are bored with your sex life, discuss what new activity you could try together.  Sometimes too, life gets in the way and we don’t let our partners know how much we love and appreciate them.  Say Something.  Communication is key people.
3.  Write.  Make a list of your partner’s best qualities. Focus on what you love about him or her. For example, you might like her witty jokes or the kind way he treats others. You can also list their most physically attractive qualities. Thinking about these good traits will help remind you why you’re with this person.
4.  Act.  Spend good quality time with your partner. Sitting and watching TV or playing a video game that s/he watches may not be the best idea. Converse. Have experiences. Go visit friends together. See a movie and then go out to dinner or tea and chat about it.
Things to remember.

Avoid any potentially compromising situations.  Don’t carpool to meetings, don’t exchange phone numbers or make him/her your Facebook friend. Don’t have any interactions with him/her where you are alone – ever. It’s very likely that your present partner is aware of your attraction to this person – s/he will be watching.  If you want your present relationship to survive, you will need to make sure that your partner’s trust in you is not misplaced.  Remember who you are.  Be the person you think you are in your heart – and remember, you are what you do. If you think you’re a noble, good person- Remember that a person like that does not lie and cheat just to feel good or special.  Take steps to fix or couple-man-with-hand-on-womans-neck-articleend that relationship before acting on the temptation presented by the new person.
Are you or someone you know looking for a Couples Therapist who specializes in Relationships?  Contact me HERE! 
I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

Photo credit(s):  Shutterstock.

SEX and Dating.

Ever regretted having sex on a first date? Maybe you shouldn’t have.

sex date

Maybe sex on the first date doesn’t necessarily have to lead to the walk of shame.  I came across this interesting and insightful article in Psychology Today and thought I’d share.  
Click HERE for a Saturday Special read on Sex, Dating & Relationships.  
What do you think?
Are you or someone you know looking for a Couples Therapist who specializes in Relationships? Contact Me Here!  I offer face-to-face sessions in Orange County as well as Online through eTherapi.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock.

Grown Women & Bullying. Really?


Bullying is supposed to be a junior high thing, but we all know it doesn’t always end when childhood does.

Despite the façade that these women put up, bullies have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and thus feel insecure.  Doing research for this blog, I found that low self-esteem is a factor highlighted by all studies of bullying. Bullies are seething with resentment, bitterness, hatred and anger.  They are driven by jealousy and envy.  What I have found is that these female bullies AKA Mean Girls…are easier to deal with when you understand them. Today I have some simple tips for dealing with bullies or  Mean Girls, who are loooooong past their cafeteria days.

1.  Ask.

Ask yourself, “How is this impacting my life?”  Consider how it’s affecting you. If someone’s sniping is a minor annoyance, let it be…  However, if you are losing sleep, you hate going to work, or you’re feeling depressed or unworthy because of the way someone’s treating you, then you need to do something.  I’m not a big fan of the ignore it” school of thought.  I believe ignoring it only reinforces a sense of powerlessness in the target.  So if someone is belittling, humiliating or insulting you at work or in your friend group, and it’s making you upset, it’s time to address it.

2.  Write.

Just a simple journal entry works. If you are being cyber-bullied, print out all correspondence and keep it in a file.  Documenting what’s happening is key, especially if the bullying is work related. Keep track of when, where and how it happens, along with who is present.  This is important so that you can present an objective, coherent case to the bully.

3.  Seek.

I recommend asking yourself whether you have the skills to handle the situation yourself. If so, you can confront the bully personally.  If not, or if you just feel that someone else’s help would be beneficial, you have a number of options.  Often sharing your problems and speaking them out loud helps you put things into perspective. Plus, it’s always good to get input from others.

4.  Remove.

This isn’t always possible, and I would not suggest it be your first response; But if the bullying persists despite all your attempts to stop it, sometimes removing yourself from the situation is the best option.  The one positive thing about dealing with bullying as an adult as opposed to a child, is that you have the choice to get yourself out of the situation.  Amen!  Yes, we adults have the benefit of removing ourselves from a toxic situation.

5.  Remember it’s not about you.

Most bullying comes from a bully’s issues, not from any characteristics of the victim.

Bullying can hurt, but remember — whether you’re in the yoga studio, the lunchroom, or anywhere in between, the bully is the one with the problem, not you.


Need help with a sticky social situation? Email Me!

Photo credit- Shutterstock.



Cultivating Compassion.


“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” - Dalai Lama


But what if this person has mistreated you?  What if this person simply bugs the sh*t out of you? Please excuse the not-so-clinical language.  You can fill in the blank.


Below, I will outline 5 different practices that you can try out and perhaps incorporate into your every day life that may assist in developing compassion for people that irritate the sh*t out of you.


5 Compassion Practices:  Actually, 3 compassion practices sandwiched by a morning and evening ritual.

  1. Morning ritual. Greet each morning with a ritual.  Any ritual will work, it’s just important to have a self-care ritual.  Here is an affirmation ritual I suggest by the Dalai Lama: “Today I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”  Say this out loud or write this down in your journal.  Repeat if necessary.
  2. Appreciate commonalities.  Instead of recognizing the differences between yourself and this person (or group of people)- attempt to recognize what you have in common. At the root of it, we are all human beings, right?  We all need food, shelter and love.  We all crave attention, recognition and affection. Reflect on these commonalities you have with other human beings.  Here are some things to contemplate/say to yourself.  “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life. Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.  Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.  Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.  Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
  3. Develop Compassion: Once you can empathize with another person, and understand his/her humanity and suffering, the next step is to want that person to be free from suffering. This is the heart of compassion — actually the definition of it. Try this exercise: Imagine the suffering of a person you’ve met recently. Now imagine that you are the one going through that suffering. Reflect on how much you would like that suffering to end.  That is the feeling that you want to develop. With constant practice, that feeling can be grown and nurtured.
  4. Practice:  The final stage in these compassion practices is to not only want to ease the suffering of those we love and meet, but even those who mistreat us. This is by far the most challenging (for me, at least!)  When we encounter someone who mistreats us, instead of acting in anger or defensiveness, remove yourself from the situation and detach. Later, when you are feeling more calm, reflect on that person who mistreated you. Some things to consider- Imagine the history of that person and what that person was taught as a child.  Imagine the day or week that person was going through. Imagine the mood and state of mind that person was in and what they must have been going through to mistreat you that way. Most often, their action was not about you- but about what they were going through.  Once you have mastered this practice of reflection, try acting with compassion and understanding the next time a person mistreats you.
  5. Evening ritual. I highly recommend you take a few minutes before going to bed to reflect upon your day. Think about the people you met and interacted with throughout your day.  Think about your intention that you stated in the morning ritual morning.  Write about it.  Even if it’s brief, just jot some words down to get them out of your head and onto paper.

These compassionate practices can be done anywhere, anytime.  By starting and ending your day with a morning and evening ritual, you can frame your day properly, in an attitude of cultivating compassion and developing it within yourself. And with practice, you can begin to do it throughout the day, and throughout your lifetime.  This above all else, will bring happiness to your life and to those around you. 


Photo credits- Shutterfly


Just a Sprinkle of Self-Love

sprinkle loveWe all have moments of despair, stress and frustration. But learning to ask the right questions can help us pull out much faster.


Below I’ve outlined some crucial questions to help get you unblocked emotionally. Once you are able to look at your own stuff i.e.) patterns, habits, rituals etc. – things will begin to shift.

shelby castile
Here are 20 important questions to ask yourself often:


1. Is my happiness dependent on others, or myself?

2. Am I more concerned with how my life looks, or how it feels?

3. When was the last time I tried something new?

4. Am I doing what I really want, or what I think I should be doing?

5. What can I learn from this situation that is causing me the most stress?

6. Am I minimizing problems in order to avoid them?

7. When was the last time I said, “I love you,” to myself?

8. Who do I need to forgive today?

9. Am I looking for the good in others or am I expecting the bad?

10. What message does my future self have for me?

11. What am I thankful for?

12. What is my body trying to tell me?

13. What can I let go of?

14. Am I setting boundaries and feeling comfortable saying NO?

15. Am I living in the moment?

16. Who can I help today?

17. Am I focusing on what I want rather than what I don’t want?

18. Am I cheating on my future with my past?

19. Is what I am doing today getting me closer to where I want to be tomorrow?

20. Am I my own best friend? Am I comfortable with myself?



Change takes time & patience. Most everyone I see is looking for a quick fix.  Many of my clients use one form of numbing agent or another (alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, food, exercise obsession, co-dependent or controlling relationships, manipulative behaviors etc).  They all might work as a temporary bandaid, but if you truly want lasting change; it’s important to lean-in to your fears & embrace them. Yes, that means stop avoiding the inevitable!


If you do this often, and re-check where you are emotionally- you will be able to truly assess how far you’ve come and where you continue to remain stagnant.

I’m here to help!  Please reach out to me for further self assessment tools/advice.


*Photo credits- shutterstock




Therapy Self Assessment 2014

I came across this Therapy Self Assessment Tool in Psychology Today and thought it might be a useful resource for those of you contemplating mental health support. Therapy can often be looked at as *bad* and only needed when something is *wrong*. In fact it can be just the opposite. As a therapist with over 16 years experience in the field, I have found that YES, many of my clients have reached out to me when they are in their darkest moments. However, therapy can also be a place for people who are looking for positive change and growth. After all, therapy is about dealing with your *stuff* (bad AND good) and using your strengths, attributes etc. to move forward and become a better version of YOU.

Getting unSTUCK.

Maybe you’re feeling stuck. Maybe you’re searching outward for something to happen or change. Or just; maybe it’s time to look inward & reevaluate how you are perceiving and approaching life. I know for me, it certainly helps. Usually when I start to feel lethargic and/or complacent, I look at what is happening around me and what I can do to physically and emotionally get rid of; or improve on. When I do this, it clears the space and makes room for new, exciting, healthy experiences and relationships to blossom. Continue reading

Nature. Get out there!

I am BEYOND stoked for November to kick in (Friday, woo hoo!) so I can start my 30-Day-Get-Back-to Nature Challenge! What it is and what I am committing to:

-30 day challenge to get outdoors for at least 30 minutes a day- 30 days in a row.

-Capture this on my iPhone with a Daily “selfie” pic (in nature, of course). Easy peasy, right? Please join me!