No matter the modality – individual, group or couple – it is very common for someone to say, “I can’t take that in.  I don’t believe it to be true.”  The verbal expression of love being offered to him or her by me, his/her partner or the group cannot be received.  In fact, it often has to be actively deflected in a sundry of creative ways.  But why? – one might wonder.  I will tell you – because it’s all about the party.


You see, each of us is like a condominium high-rise.  And the penthouse is where it’s at.  I mean that place rocks.  The voices that occupy that prime property in our heads and hearts are having a helluva bash 24/7.  And the kicker is that they are living there rent-free.  Yes, you read that right.  The best real estate deal in town is right here in our own self.  We have given that space to all those internalized voices that we absorbed as a young person growing up.  The verbal and non-verbal ones that said “you will never amount to anything” or “you are not smart like your sister” or “I am worthy of love, not you,” and on and on and on.  Yep, those embedded voices in our heads have taken over the joint.  They have taken over us.  And with the best views and the premier space, they surely are not going to be packing up and moving anytime soon.

So, when a new visitor comes knocking, one that has something new and different to offer, something more positive and kind, more loving and accepting, the penthouse party bouncer refuses him/her entrance. You don’t belong here. No room for you. I can’t receive what you have to offer in that it doesn’t match how I think and feel about myself. To let you in means changing the entire residence pool. And that would require upending the whole deal, a total renovation. No thanks. Too much work. Too much risk. We are good here. Comfortable. Very clear about who we are and what we are doing. So go away.

So, the cycle of self-loathing perpetuates because the penthouse party goers are not leaving, not without a lot of convincing.  Not without a few eviction notices from some VIPs.  This calls for serious action, one that involves bringing in the heavy artillery.  You know what that is? You ready?  It probably is not what you think it is. Repetition. Yep, to seduce those negative voices out of the penthouse, we have to tell them over and over again that they no longer belong there. That their heyday has expired. It is time for them to move it on out of there and hit the basement where they belong. No more champagne, no more caviar, no more romantic views. It’s mousetraps and mildew from here on out. We got new tenants moving in pronto. And they have new voices. Ones of compassion, self-care, value and worthiness. Ones that can feel love and be loved because they too are self-loving.

I will often tell a patient that he or she is ready to stop therapy when he or she has internalized my voice. When he or she can carry around our work as opposed to whatever it is they brought inside of them when they entered my consulting room for the first time. Sometimes, I realize I am not enough for this great feat. Or the patient wants it done faster. So, I get some additional help, the needed strength of an army to break up this penthouse soiree. And I put the patient in one of my groups. With a handful of helpers, we get those partiers packing. .

A fancy clinical term for this process is called Introject Substitution. Or to put it more simply, it is the process whereby we construct an insulation barrier. Much like a protective boundary, the insulation barrier allows one emotional resilience and ego solidity when negative voices knock on the front door or perhaps even try to break down the door to one’s being. The insulation barrier acts as a softening cushion which directs those voices to where they truly belong – outside in the cold, not inside of me. But to do so, we have to have the voices of self-worth and acceptance, love and value, occupying the penthouse. And often those voices have come in the incorporated experience of those that have seen us, understood us and loved us up.

But before you go labeling me a party-pooper, I have to tell you about a certain little girl. This little girl on this particular school day was excited for recess. She knew that today was her day to be picked for one of the kickball teams that the popular kids always put together spontaneously on the playground. After all, it was bound to happen someday, right? But, as the numbers dwindled and she still stood on the line, yet to be chosen, the harsh reality that she was again unwanted became true. As her head hung low, she slowly walked away, towards the swing set where the other losers gathered day after day. As she distanced herself from the cool kid crowd, she reached down and found her voice. And she yelled back, “at least my Mama loves me!”

That’s insulation. That’s a celebration. That’s a penthouse shindig I want to attend. By the way, it’s an open invitation event. You are invited too. Hope I will see you there,