Who’s to blame for domination and misuse of power?                                                                                            The Bully or the Bullied?

Throughout history power has been commonly associated with control, domination, and one-upsmanship. Too many people can’t get the boss to listen to their requests. Complaints aren’t taken seriously by a spouse.  During a museum’s group project, one person takes over.  An aggressive player monopolizes the shots in a volleyball tournament.  A bully grabs a sibling’s toys. Power in the form of         domination is very much alive and present.

Power is not a dirty word. Power is simple, straightforward, and doable if you have courage, faith, and desire.

 Power = Root:  Latin, for “to be able.”

I advise a wide range of of people who struggle with power-plays in business, school, family dynamics, friends, sports, musicians/bands, dating, and marriage. It can be a disgruntled employee, a dominating or cold-hearted spouse,  or a discouraged teen who’s sister keeps wearing (without asking) her favorite jacket, jeans, or sweater.

There’s no way around it. If you’re in a mini or maxi power struggle with someone, first you must identify “Who has the most leverage?” What do I mean by this? Wake up, Bambi. Personalities stem from these four quadrants:

1. Yielding: ” I don’t want to argue.”                                                                             2. Complaining: “I don’t SEEEEE? Why aren’t you more flexible…?”       3. Truth- Straightforward: “This is important to me and I expect you to care about my needs as long as I don’t go overboard.”                               4. Ultimatum- “I won’t accept the status quo anymore. So, either you respect and consider my opinions and decisions or I’m leaving you. “

OK, Bambi, be real or be resentful. Your choice. I challenge you to spit it out. I dare you to say exactly what’s inside your mind and heart that you’d LIKE to say outloud. Here’s my direction. Be specific. Keep it clear and simple, not wordy or long-winded. Finish with this:

“This is what I want. No debate. No explanation necessary.”


When you assume, u make an ass out of u and me.
                                                                             Noel Coward                                                                                                                      

Look, I’m on your side, but most of you guys don’t know how to handle an upset woman. Let me make it easy for you.

Here’s the scene. You’re having dinner with another couple. The topic of health, exercise, and finding time for the gym comes up. Everyone’s candid with their comments, so you spontaneously add, “Once Susan stops volunteering so much, she’ll go to the gym and get back that beautiful body she started out with!” 

You may have assumed this was funny, or it maybe was just one of your sarcastic quips. I choose to give men the benefit of the doubt. I won’t assume you intentionally engineered a slam-dunk critique. Here’s where I mention your intentions don’t matter. Redirect your focus to the potential impact of your off-the-cuff blurt.

Hello! You’re talking about your woman, not a guy friend. We’re a different species, gender wise. So all bets are off in terms of your intentions. Your girlfriend is fuming and crushed. The look on her
face says, “You’re in trouble.” 

What is a man’s #1 response if he finds himself feeling ambushed and erroneously charged with criminal intent for no clear crime? Three dirty words: “Calm down. Relax.”

Guys, you might as well throw a cherry bomb into the center of the table. These are fighting words. Not an ounce of comfort will be had. But permanent damage has not been done. You can pull this out of the nose dive with a simple phrase and gesture.

Step #1: Gently, sincerely say, “Babe, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m sorry.”

Step #2: Stop talking. Be quiet. Simply pull her head onto your chest, hold her, stroke her hair.

Done?                                                                                                                                              Done.

FYI:Ladies. Don’t assume the worst of a man if he messes up. If he sincerely acknowledges your feelings, let him off the hook. NOW. Do not linger or languish in your hurt feelings. DO NOT.






Most relationship damage doesn’t stem from malicious intent. The usual culprits? Ignorance, sloth, fear.
                                                                                      Pamela Hogan
Do you wonder how a relationship can switch from ecstasy to agony? Do you find yourself doubting love can work? If you’re crossing over to the cynical side, let me ask you a question. Do you know how love works? Do you really? 
If you are the kind of person who thinks that you know what you’re doing even when you don’t have a clue – up until a month ago I may have judged you. My bad, my bias. Last month when I walked through the doorway of a Sephora store, I got a big ego jolt. I realized I’d joined the ranks of the know-it-alls
Greeting me at the front entry of Sephora, Sandi, a gorgeous perky too-friendly sales person, AKA “cosmetic expert,” asked if she could help me. With a quick smooth cool, “No, I know what I want,” I breezed by her and headed for the foundation section. 
I was lost in a sea of choices. Within 10 minutes, I knew I needed help. I needed Sandi. Voila! Like a a magician, she read my face from a distance and took a chance at breaking my icy shell. 15 minutes later, I’m humbly happily praising Sandi for opening up a whole new world about how foundation works, how to apply a green tint gel underneath the foundation to neutralize my skin tone, topped off with the brush that’s just right for my needs.
Now, let’s bring you men into one of your areas of expertise. What do you think you know about cooking knives? A friend shared a story about his visit to Sur La Table, looking to buy a carving knife for a roast. The salesman led him to 8 possibilities and then led him to the computer for 20 more brand choices. Here’s what he learned in crazy detail about the world of cooking knives:
Types                      Brands 
butterfly knives    2  
butcher knives      28 
cake knives            13
cheese knives        36
chef knives             287
clam knives            16
boning knives        61
pairing knives       188
bread slicers          354
The moral of these two stories? This is a moment in time when you can decide your own fate. Either shrug your shoulders and go to your default mode, “Aww, heck, what’s to know about love?” Or get your Google on and find out what the experts know about how to recover your faith in love and live happily ever after. Yes. Love can work. Love does work.


Men would rather walk on broken glass than face an upset woman.                                Pamela Hogan                                                                                                                                                                       

Given all the theories about men and their hard-hearts, I remember the exact moment my worldview flipped upside down. It was late afternoon, my male client was slumped down in a chair, staring at the floor. His wife leaned forward on the couch and demanded, “How is it that you can be so insensitive right now when you are the one who hurt my feelings?!”

Normally I’d launch into my SOP spiel, “Actually Brad, it doesn’t take much to sooth a woman’s hurt feelings. Sometimes all you have to do is reach out and quietly hold her.” But there was something in the look on his face that instead prompted me to ask, “What are you feeling when Jan is distressed?”

Still looking down, he softly answered, “It upsets me when I upset Jan. I never mean to hurt her on purpose, but it seems I just keep failing her.” “Have you told her this?” I asked. “No,” he blurted, “I just want her hurt to stop! Now. But when I try to talk her out of her feelings, I only make it worse. Damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.”

This was a perspective-shifting moment for me in my work with men. I’d always assumed men were stoic and somewhat impervious to a woman’s hurt feelings. So, in addition to uncovering the vulnerability men feel when facing an upset woman, there’s another ironic revelation regarding the hearts of men. Many men are so sensitive to the distress of a woman that they can’t bear to experience the shame -yes, shame- when they hurt a woman’s feelings.  

Men carry a deep primal commitment to keep their woman safe and happy. And if they’re not making her happy, they feel they’re failing in their duty. Here’s the rub. Historically, men haven’t felt permitted, let alone encouraged, to express their own hurt feelings or emotional wounds. Given this restriction, men are ill-equipped to sooth themselves, let alone hold the space while a woman falls apart and weeps. 

We women today insist upon and are accustomed to expressing distress in real time, not tape delay. Being more practiced and willing to feel our pain, we know that with comfort and support, it will subside. Men don’t believe anything will get better if they express their emotional pain. This is why, at this time in history, men are more sensitive to emotional pain than women. Guys, isn’t it time you get off the hot seat and get some credit for being sensitive caring? Look, you already know how to be systematic. Use it! Here are your tools:

Step #1: Get Your Bearings. The second your woman is upset with you, STOP & FOCUS. Get your bearings – identify your typical coping mode: 1) Defensive Mode                                                                                     2) Placation Mode                                                                                         3) MIA (retreat to computer, garage, or gym.)                                                         ~                                                                                                       Step #2: Report Your Position. Report your emotions candidly to your woman. When you’re upset:                                                                       1) I feel distressed. I care – your unhappiness is upsetting to me.               2) I feel helpless. I don’t know what to do or say to make this better.       3) I feel guilty; like I’m failing you.                                                            4) I feel misunderstood. I would never intentionally hurt you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


You underestimate yourself.
You’re shortchanging your relationship of your personal brand of       intelligence: emotionally, mentally, and spi
When we’re single we do pretty well, we’re in charge of our own choices. When we join another person in love, things shift. One tends to take charge. Facing the pressure of opposition, the other tends to flow. This is the Law of the Jungle. The confronter vs the peacemaker. I’m talking to you, the peacemaker. You’re the only one reading this article anyway, right?
I know. You’ve tried speaking up, but your vote is too often overridden. You get resentful, even angry inside, but hide it from your mate. So you bellyache to your friends. “She never listens to me. I knew the handyman was cutting corners.” Or, “I told him that kind of car wasn’t for a family.” But it all falls on deaf  ears. 
Believe it or not, you the peacemaker are in the wrong as much as the dominator. You’re faking it. And here’s the kicker. You have good instincts. But instead of standing firm for yourself, for your observations, and for your good ideas – you make nice, you defer. You miss the opportunity, nay the obligation, to enhance your relationship with your wisdom, your sensibility, and most of all, your unique contributions. Why?
Your God-given instinct says, “Speak up!” but you know you’ll get push-back. You hate that queasy feeling in your stomach when conflict rears its ugly head. Nope. You’re a nice guy or a good girl, and anyway, arguing never helps a situation. Stop! Take a closer look. Your passivity, resentment, and internalizing are damaging you and your relationship.
If you’re tired of being demeaned and dismissed, if you can’t see yourself doing this sad dance forever, here’s your opportunity for shifting the dynamic. Your new best friend? Brevity. No more justifying. No more explanations or making your case. Animals don’t argue or explain, they take swift action. You have this within you. Look, I get it. It’s distressing. But what’s the point of a relationship if it’s not benefitting from two people’s thoughts, preferences, and ways of being?
1) Go to a mirror. Take a deep breathe. Get calm, centered. Put your hands on your hips. Look into your eyes. Announce out loud: “You know what you know. You have the right and the obligation to make (or reject) this decision.” 
2) Go to your beloved. Calmly declare to him/her, eye to eye, “I’m not signing for the car,” or “I  cancelled that expensive hotel,” or “I’m firing the plumber,” or “We’re getting help for our relationship. The appointment is Monday at 7 PM.”
3) Do not argue, defend, justify, or explain. Cut to the chase. Do not get sucked into any backlash, bad mood. Leave the premise. Take a walk, go to a movie. Stand your ground.  


“He wants sex all the time, maybe three days a week!”
“She never wants sex, maybe only three days a week!”

When it comes to sex, I wouldn’t want to be a man. Men are designed to love sex, to have sex, and to keep wanting sex as often as possible. This is one of their primal job descriptions: “Spread your seed far and wide!” Even without this command, men just plain love how sex feels. And the research shows that men feel more emotionally connected during sex. Hmm, sounds good so far.                                                                                                            
But what if it seems your husband or boyfriend wants sex all the time? What if you’re feeling inundated and overwhelmed by his sexual appetite? Some women find themselves outright hating the penis. Other women, too many women, don’t and won’t appreciate a man’s penis. If you’re one of them, here’s what I want to say.

Gotta make peace with the penis. Gotta find a way to love the penis. Does this mean you give in every single time he wants sex? NO. Fair’s fair. God didn’t design masturbation for no good reason. This means a man’s got to be a good sport about being turned down. No where is it written that men are promised sex everyday. (Maybe some religion…?) But nowhere is it written men should surrender sex once they commit to one woman. What do I think is the minimum for both sexes? Sex 3x week. Plus perks…

But what if he’s a lazy lover? What if he’s a selfish lover, and it’s all about his own pleasure? You tell him straight what it’ll take for sex to be worth it to you. Sex is a fair value exchange item as sure as if it was a business agreement. No pleasure, no incentive – no trade.

If he makes it worth your while, do not make it a habit of denying your man sex. And I’ll finish this by enhancing your relationship with his penis. Give this some thought. Talk it over with a friend or two. If you love your man, you want to also love his penis. Ponder names for his penis until you find a few choices that feel positive and endearing. 

When you’re ready, sit your guy down, unzip his zipper, and gently pull out his penis. Don’t worry about startling him. Most men would never resist this gesture. Nor would they care about an explanation. Sit yourself down eye to eye with his penis. Introduce yourself. Share your idea and ask him which name he prefers. Once he agrees to a name, stroke his penis, and sweet talk it, saying it’s name. Be friendly. Your man’s penis is a key part of his pleasure source. Love what he loves. 


 “It came out of the  blue!  I had no clue.                                                                  She left me without a word.”

After years of listening to couple’s stories, I’ve learned we humans know how to suck it up and suck it up and suck it up. Normally this kind of inner discipline is commendable, but in the area of love,       holding things in is a liability. Actually, holding things in is the same as lying. We have an inner truth and we’re not expressing it. Ergo, we’re withholding- AKA lying- about the truth.

This raises two critical dating or relationship questions:                            1) “When do I bring up an uncomfortable topic?” 2) “What am I trying to control/ prevent by remaining mute about my discomfort?” You most likely know the answer. “I want to remain in control of the outcome. I don’t want to show my hand and be judged, critiqued, or rejected. I can take it.”  So, my dears, with this stalwart attitude, the pressure within builds.

Pressure is the key source of the beautiful and delicious result of an amazing sumptuous espresso. I consider my espresso machine a gift of the gods. I can tract the sounds of the process building pressure, then that magic moment when the first heavenly delivery of darkened liquid offers itself up in an aromatic stream.

Alright, you get the point. Pressure is a signal that something is meant to be released. if you persist/insist on holding it in, holding it private, you will fail. You will fail yourself, fail your partner, fail your future.

I implore you. When you feel the pressure of your truth wanting to be expressed, when you feel your unhappiness and your despair building up – release it. Take a deep breath, ask your lover to listen without any interruption. Then tell him/her take 24 hours to process what you’ve shared before continuing the conversation.

Only then will you be free. Only then are you eligible for the destiny that awaits you. The most important question is this: “Do you dare to do what it takes to reach your destiny?’


The only person you’re meant to become                                                                                                         is the person you decide to be.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Ralph Waldo Emerson

I became intrigued by the idea of destiny by reading stories of famous, successful, and fulfilled people. At first glance these people appear to be just damn lucky. To the contrary, successful people are just damn determined.

People who’ve achieved success have three things in common:          #1: They pay attention to their thoughts, ideas, instincts, visions.          #2: They take their thoughts, ideas, instincts, and visions seriously. #3: They ignore the concept of failure, eliminating the fear of risk.

Whether it’s in the area of love or work, family or creativity, people come to me to help them achieve their goals and their dreams. The idea is that by fulfilling their goals and dreams, they will be happy.
I recommend one practical step to kickstart their vision into action. Their enthusiasm level is high. For example: Start a conversation with the girl in the Starbucks line. Sign up for a beginning class in architecture. Get a booth for your artwork at a local art fair. Book the trip to India. Move to New York. Be a DJ at your friend’s party.

There’s only one step at a time. Simple, right? Then why do some            people succeed and others don’t? You can blame it on your stomach. The roadblock to achieving your destiny is that queasy feeling when you imagine failure or embarrassment. Yes, it’s that simple and that small, yet it’s actually robbing you from your life’s happiness, creativity, and dreams.

So I say to you. Whether you have one lifetime or many incarnations, THIS lifetime is in your hands. You are in charge. You DO have a destiny. Your destiny IS waiting for you to fulfill it’s vision. Choose.

I dare you to openly declare yourself to yourself. The next time you get an urge or impulse to take an action: Say “Hello!” to your queasy feeling, then declare inside or out loud, “I’m going for it! THIS life.    MY life.  MY destiny.”


Opposites do attract. Not only is it the law of attraction, it’s the law of physics. By practical design, one person per relationship is more adaptive, the other more assertive. Here’s the rub.

Over time, people become more entrenched and extreme in their contrasting modes. It’s our nature – meaning, it’s natural for an easygoing person to concede and just as natural for an assertive person to insist. Adaptive personalities tend to be supportive, flexible, and compassionate. Assertive personalities lean towards self-centered, rigid, and emotionally neutral-cold. The result?

The assertive person’s preferences generally prevail. And why not?There’s value for both people. The pattern is set. The adaptive doesn’t have to feel that queasy feeling of confrontation. The assertive gets his or her way again, and again, and again.

Chances are, if you’re reading this topic, you’re an adaptor.  And knowing you, you’re secretly resentful, kind of wound tight inside, and you have a lot of pent-up inner dialogue that doesn’t make it out of your mouth. OK. You’re feeling trapped by a dominator. Here’s your first step.

Notice your preferences. Really focus on noticing your smallest preferences. If you like the cafe table that’s in the sun, say so. If you want to eat at 7, not 8PM, say so. If you don’t really want to drive across town in traffic, say so. You owe it to yourself and your beloved to be simply honest. Are you ready to be included in your relationship’s preferences?

Here’s your next step: For three months, stop saying “Please.” Just state your simple preference, calmly and clearly. “I want…” or  “I don’t want…” It won’t come easy, so make a pact with yourself to speak up. Your relationship’s durability, deepening, and joy depends upon your  courage to be in integrity with yourself.


                   “The most diversionary tactic to avoid heartache                                                                     is  to remain stuck in the “Why?”

Belonging is one of our strongest primal instincts. So when it comes to love, once we humans create a pack of two, most of us are staunch loyalists. Even if the relationship starts turning sour, we’re committed and likely trained to avoid facing the obvious. It may be that affection or attention is waning, while criticism or defensiveness is on the rise.

Instead of addressing an issue head-on, we become incredulous and outraged. We do backroom-bellyaching with our friends. “WHY does he spend more time in front of the TV and on the golf course than he does with me?!”  Or, “WHY is she more devoted to her girlfriends and to redecorating our home than she is to me? And WHY don’t we have sex but once in a blue moon?”

Rather than endure the queasiness that accompanies confrontation, we rush to the escape zone of the cool-headed brain that delights at questioning ad nauseam the logic of  “WHY?” And instead of facing the person who most needs to know our heartfelt truth, yearnings, and disappointments – we go over and over our story ad nauseam with everyone else. Our escape mantra: “Why, why, why?”

The re-routing of truth from heart to head increases resentment and emotional distancing, which leads to less affection and less sex. As the uncommunicative rift widens, alienation and misassumptions accumulate. Permanent damage is an all too realistic result. The odds of sustaining a dishonest relationship  is 70-30 at best.

I call upon your courage and faith in one another, in life itself. Break your habit of rerouting your emotions. Face yourself and your lover with the truth,  the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.