Sunday, March 21, 2010

Empower Yourself through Assertiveness

Learning to make assertive responses will reduce the anxiety you may feel in dealing with others.  Assertive behavior does not push others around, deny their rights, or injure other people.

A daily record of your assertiveness will help you judge you progress over time and after a few weeks,you will have a lot of information about your progress.  Write down those situations you can handle easily and those which are troublesome.  Be aware of attitudes, behaviors and obstacles.

  • To promote equality in human relationships
  • To stand up for yourself
  • To express feelings honestly and comfortably
  • To exercise personal rights
  • To not deny the rights of others

  • Eye contact
  • Body posture - relative power is emphasized by standing or sitting
  • Distance/physical contact
  • Gestures
  • Facial expression - face should agree with the message
  • Voice tone
  • Fluency
  • Timing
  • Content - Take responsibility for your feelings, don't blame the other

  • Give yourself a positive soothing message before a difficult task.
  • When bothered by an unwanted thought, shout "STOP" and switch to more pleasant thoughts.  Also, X-out the thought and replace it with "I am willing to love and respect myself."
  •  X-out any negative self-attacking thoughts and replace them with the opposite positive thought.

For more information on assertiveness and to listen to free samples of Dr. Walton's self-help series log onto  you can also follow his daily tips on Twitter@LAtherapist.  For more information on Dr. Walton and to get free audio affirmations for self-empowerment, log onto his website at

Thursday, March 11, 2010

As A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I Have Just One Question to Maggie Gallagher, President of The National Organization for Marriage: "What’s It All About Maggie?"

These words are inscribed in walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.  They were spoken by Thomas Jefferson and immortalized in marble because those words are the true intentions of the founding fathers for creating a nation that is both tolerant and flexible.  We would do well today to take in and live by what he so eloquently spoke over two hundred years ago.  If you click on the photos, they will enlarge so you can read for yourself what he said.

Emotionally healthy people don’t have an obsessive preoccupation with the sex lives of others.  Then again, emotionally healthy people don’t hide their families from public view, unless they are trying to manufacture a deceptive appearance for public consumption.  I doubt Ms. Gallagher would pander to such base levels so there must be another reason for the conspicuous absence of her eldest child (the page was removed after this publishing) and  husband at, the so called,  public family gatherings that function as rallies for banning the recognition of same-sex couples.  I would imagine that she regards her followers as up-standing, open minded and accepting individuals, so why the apparent shell game with her family when same-sex couples honestly and openly declare their love for their partners before God, country and the news media? 

Another curious issue for someone with the so called traditional values that she claims to promote, is that she doesn’t take on her husband’s last name publicly.  Instead, she presents herself to her followers with her maiden name, Maggie Gallagher and not Maggie Srivastav.  Srivastav is her married name.  

Her agenda calling for the banning of same-sex civil marriage is allowed in a free and open society, but what is the point if she has to create mistruths, conceal personal agendas, and fabricate history to achieve her goal?  Also, she has not revealed to the public where she derives her funding.   Her organization, the National Organization for Marriage even defies court orders to reveal who their donors are. The Mormon Church and Catholic bishops could be the leading suspects.  Is it possible that they are trying to redefine civil marriage along their own “traditional” theological teachings and impose their will through civil law on all Americans?  

Certainly, no one has benefited more than Ms. Gallagher/Sirvastav when it comes to an inclusive civil marriage law.  I find it ironic that she, herself, had a child out-of-wedlock and is currently married outside the Christian faith to a Hindu husband.  How dare she complain that others are trying to change the definition of marriage.  Clearly she has taken maximum advantage of the civil marriage laws afforded her but now advocates passionately to deny that same right to others.

Simply put, the goal for civil equality is quite open and honest about its intention.  It’s about attaining civil marriage equality for all people.  No hidden agendas, no shell games, and no public deception for mass consumption coming out of a hidden agenda to sell books, or attain fame, or public office and no more victimizing of others.  It’s simple goal is to attain civil equality for everyone.  An equality that allows all individuals, such as Ms Gallagher/Sirvastav, to stand before the public view without fear of shame or judgment for the individual they love and chose to make a life commitment with through civil marriage.

I was watching her debate marriage issues with Andrew Sullivan on a conservative panel at the invitation of the conservative think tank and was struck by a realization:  She has no formal education, to my knowledge, on the topic.  She graduated Yale University in 1982 where she earned a B.A. in Religious Studies.  A B.A. In Religious Studies from Yale is a respectable degree, but it doesn’t qualify her as an authority on interpersonal/marital relationships such as a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, or a Masters of Social Work, or a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology would have afforded her.  She simply does not hold any degree higher than a Bachelor’s in Religious Studies. 

While at Yale, she belonged to the "Party of the Right" in the Yale Political Union.  I’m sure that she made many fine contacts with some very influential people during that time.  It may have even garnered her favor with the Bush Administration when they paid her ten’s of thousands of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 and 2003 to promote George W. Bush’s marriage initiatives.  But when she testified before Congress in favor of those programs, she never disclosed those  payments

Why was that?  It was my impression that social conservatism steadfastly stood against such shameful behavior as misleading others, acting as an authority when one is not, and premarital sex.  All of which she advocates for in others but apparently fails to follow for herself.  Maybe, the times they are a change’n, or maybe it is something else.

Just because she serves as president for the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy does not mean that she is qualified to theorize on or make healthy public policy decisions on the topic of marriage.  One may become head of the military of the United States by simply becoming president of the country without ever completing a competent stay of service.  As a nation, we all have experienced the fallout from the bad decisions and incompetence that have come out of those situations.  Had she completed an education in marriage and family studies or clinical psychology, she may have enriched herself with a more complete understanding of the emotions, lives and loves of all fellow human beings. 

Projection is a very insidious thing.  We don’t even know that we are doing it when we do it.  By its very nature, it is designed to create a wall of denial for ourselves distancing us from acknowledging the very behaviors within ourselves that we so vehemently abhor in others.  By attacking it in others, we can buy ourselves some relief from the internal conflict that has us in its grip.  The relief is only temporary however.  Unless we come to terms with it, we will continue to demonize others in a desperate bid to gain some relief. 

I wonder if there was a time in her past when she loved someone very much that she couldn’t have.  People tend to do to others that which was done to themselves.  Her actions against same sex couples may carry some of that tenor.  Her apparent desire to denigrate and dismiss relationships that she considers non-traditional, although she herself is involved in relationships that would be considered non-traditional by her own standards, reeks of resentment.  “If I can’t have it, why should you” is a pattern in people who feel a sense of helplessness in unrequited desires.  Of course, if this is the case, she has made it an obsession on a national scale affecting the private lives of millions of people. 

Affecting millions of people through an individual’s personal self-loathing is nothing new.   Just recently, State Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Calif.) was arrested at 2 AM for drunk driving after being seen leaving a gay nightclub in Sacramento, CA while driving a state owned vehicle accompanied by a male companion.  He later divulged that he was in fact gay and hiding the fact from the public, his family and maybe even himself.

To quote CBS13 The CW31     

“Ashburn served six years as a state Assemblyman before being elected to the State Senate.  According to Project Vote Smart, Ashburn's voting record shows he has voted against every gay rights measure in the State Senate since taking office including Recognizing Out-Of-State Same-Sex Marriages", Harvey Milk Day and Expanding Anti-Discrimination Laws.”

How much more clearly can I make my point?  People are simply not interested in the sex lives of others if they have already dealt with their own internal conflicts.  Healthy people want others to have healthy lives, and healthy lives include healthy relationships and sex lives that are not up for moral victimization by those who have something to hide from the public or profit from a hidden agenda. 

When it comes to the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, this short video makes some very compelling and concise statements.  NOM Called Out on Deceptive Ad.

If you would like some excellent talking points for dealing with this bigotry please check out Dr. John Corvino's short video.  You can also check out the spiritual perspective on this topic by Father Geoff Farrow at

So... What’s it all about Maggie?

For more information on James E. Walton, Ph.D. log onto his website at  For information on his self-help series, log onto