Permission to Love

April 25, 2019

What seems so easy to do, and often isn't, is one of the real truisms of life. Unfortunately, this can be applied to the ability to express love. We grow up with voices in our head that counter what is really the most natural thing in the world--loving ourselves and others. These voices can come from unloved parts of ourselves that exhibit as unworthiness and lack of self esteem. They can also arise from feeling inhibited to authentically express ourselves, from a lack of loving role models growing up or from being loved but only conditionally. This feeling of being locked out of our own hearts can put us in a place of needing permission to love.

So who is it who will give us the permission that we need. Firstly that would be ourselves, however, if any of the family of origin wiring described above is in place, it's often very hard to love our selves and we must take to time learn how. So as we learn self-compassion, nurturing and love, we can hopefully find a partner who will love us unconditionally as we learn to love ourselves. This is more important than it might seem. Because if we've been sold a negative bill of goods about ourselves, it becomes hard to believe that we're worth the time and maybe the trouble for someone to learn to love us, wounds, warts and all.

Having loving people around us, who can see us, even in our struggle to feel (and act) worthy of love, is one of the most important things to cultivate as we move into adulthood and mature throughout our lives. And in finding a partner, one of things to look for is that person’s ability to love, which will allow us to be vulnerable with our wounded parts as we allow ourselves to grower closer and more intimately connected to our partner. This time, we’re hoping and trusting that rather be judged or shamed and told in so many words that we’re not good enough, we’ll be acknowledged, accepted and loved for our woundedness, which will begin the process of healing. As I’ve said so often in therapy, “We were wounded in relationship, and so it is in relationship where we must heal.”

Michael Mongno, PhD, offers present-centered therapies to help individuals and couples communicate better, heal more quickly and achieve a better quality of life. He is available for appointments in person or by phone or Skype. For more information, contact him at 212-799-0101 or visit PresentCenteredTherapies.com.

Our Words Create Our Worlds

October 25, 2018

Staying conscious in a world such as ours can be very difficult at times. So much of what’s around us can easily drive us back to sleep, or back to living unconsciously. Below is the sleep that the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi speaks of:

For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

We have a choice at any given moment to stay awake to a bigger world—the one around us as well as a transcendent one. The primary way to accomplish this is through the words we use, since they carry great energy and weight. They can create either health and accomplishment or quite the opposite: depression and divisiveness, both within and without. Our words are the conduits of energy, meaning and emotional resonance.

A Course in Miracles states that there is no world except the one we project. Our inner world of thoughts and feelings is the one we project, like a movie projector projects images on a screen. When we truly see that our inner world creates our outer one, we can become much more conscious of the words we’re using to create our reality every minute of every day. Is it a world that is uplifting, that touches others or makes a contribution to those less fortunate?

We know how good it feels to be in the flow, where everything is just clicking and moving in alignment with what we need or desire. Our positive thoughts help create this flow and come from reflecting on ourselves with the kind of inquiry that Rumi speaks of. Who I am in any given moment is determined not only by how I feel emotionally, but also by the words or labels I use to define myself. We can all try to be more aware of the words we use toward ourselves and others so they bespeak our positivity, love and wholeness, and perhaps even our holiness.

Michael Mongno, PhD, offers present-centered therapies to help individuals and couples communicate better, heal more quickly and achieve a better quality of life. He is available for appointments in person or by phone or Skype. For more information, contact him at 212-799-0101 or visit PresentCenteredTherapies.com.

How to Truly Be in the Present Moment

July 25, 2018

Meditation and mindfulness are now in the current zeitgeist, and for good reason. We have heard of all their benefits, from relieving stress and promoting relaxation to more focused concentration and greater self-awareness. It’s so easy to get caught up in daily activities that propel us into the future that it’s hard to pause and savor this present moment. So what does being in the present moment feel like?

I had an experience recently that brought the idea home.

I was sitting outside and happened to see a small rabbit hopping along. It stopped not too far from me, and so I kept still to see what might happen. The bunny, too, remained motionless, and we sat together for a good many minutes. I wondered what he was doing, and where he might be going, and what his goals for the day might be. Then I remembered that animals don’t actually have any concept of time, and that they don’t have actual goals (other than survival), and that there is no place they’d rather be than where they are. And where they are is right smack-dab in the present moment.

As I sat with the bunny in stillness, simply being with myself and him or her, time seemed to slow down, and I was content in this “being with.” I really got that being in the present moment means that any concept of future doesn’t exist at all, that there is nothing more than this moment, and then this moment, and then the next.

It felt so freeing, not having to know what’s next, because “what’s next” doesn’t really exist—only “what’s now.”

After what seemed like quite a while, but was probably not more than half a dozen minutes (time seems so spacious when it disappears!), the rabbit slowly ambled away after communing with me (my projection, of course) and went about doing what rabbits do from moment to moment.

As for me, I appreciated being with another creature whose mere presence stopped my monkey mind from lurching from one thought to the next in whirly-burly fashion, with no real aim and no real way to stop itself.

This, to me, is the purpose of meditation, which is to slow down our thoughts (it’s impossible to get rid of them completely) so that we can experience the space between them long enough to feel the peace and contentment that this transcendence allows. From this place, we have a better chance at creating our next moments with greater consciousness and awareness.

Michael Mongno, PhD, offers present-centered therapies to help individuals and couples communicate better, heal more quickly and achieve a better quality of life. He is available for appointments in person or by phone or Skype. For more information, contact him at 212-799-0101 or visit .

Authentic Dialogue

May 17, 2018

The key to effective communication is for both parties to feel heard and understood for whatever they might be expressing and feeling. To accomplish this there is a three-step process that if done correctly, will ensure the intended result_ feeling more connected around difficult issues.

The first part is called mirroring and is simply to reflect back what the speaker is saying in as close to their own words as possible. This alone accomplishes much: it assures the speaker of being heard exactly for what they are saying, it eliminates any interpretation by the listener, and it curtails most any emotional reactivity, since mirrors do not react they only reflect. The simple act of mirroring before reflexively responding slows down the process so staying connected is more likely to occur throughout the dialogue.

Equally important is the act of validating what the speaker is saying no matter what one’s personal opinion or perspective might be. It is an attempt to make some logical sense of what’s being said by entering into the speaker’s world as non-judgmentally as possible. This says to the speaker they are being taken seriously for what they are saying and creates the experience of feeling “gotten”, something that is so important for all of us.

The third step in true communication may actually be the most important, as it has the potential to really create change. It’s the act of empathizing, which is to try to feel into and convey to the speaker that you can truly imagine what they must be going through or experiencing. This, “I can imagine that you must be feeling (whatever emotions)…” is in itself connecting and goes a long way to ease emotional hurt or pain and can be a balm to heal old wounds that often keep getting triggered.

This style of communication is powerful because it doesn’t allow for emotionally reflexive responses, interrupting, misinterpreting, drawn out nonproductive looping cycles or never ending explosive fights and dramas to occur. It also keeps a discussion on track by responding only to what is being said specifically in the ‘here and now’ without bringing in the past or getting side tracked by non relevant issues.

One might practice this with a partner or friend around some small issue or even just in sharing what’s going on in one’s life. After all, who wouldn’t want to really feel heard, validated and empathized with?

Michael Mongno, PhD, offers present-centered therapies to help individuals and couples communicate better, heal more quickly and achieve a better quality of life. He is available for appointments in person or by phone or Skype. For more information, contact him at 212-799-0101 or visit .

Obstacles in Couples’ Communication

March 25, 2018

We communicate to fulfill seven basic needs:  to impart information, to solve a problem,  to express a need or a desire, to relay an opinion or a judgment, to express one's feelings,  to show or request empathy and to connect through humor or a shared experience.

In order for any of this to happen effectively, the speaker must be clear of the actual need(s) and the listener must actively listen, i.e. really take in and register what's being said and heard. This is actually a tall order since often the speaker isn't totally clear about what the need or the listener is not authentically listening.

For instance in a relationship if someone is feeling hurt, rather than tune in to that feeling and express just that, what gets expressed can be a judgment (usually hurtful in itself), or a past unresolved historical reference, or some kind of indirect feeling, which is often passive aggressive. So the listener is on his/her own to figure out what the partner needs, and it would never occur to someone to simply ask. To make matters worse, the listener often gets caught up in a defensive mode of emotional reactivity or alternatively tunes the speaker out completely and begins preparing a rebuttal. What unfolds is a drama of someone being triggered and then lashing out to which the other responds in kind.  This dynamic can actually grow in intensity or the exchange can flatten when one party shuts down and withdraws. This is naturally infuriating of course and results in the speaker feeling even more dismissed or angry because not only is the partner not really listening but they are no longer present or even engaged.

So how can one prevent such psychodramas and escalating tiresome tirades that can continue for hours in never ending loops of hurtful interaction?  The answer is a particular manner of communication called “authentic dialogue” that helps ensure that  both parties engage in effective communication and strategic problem solving.

My next blog post will explore this solution more fully, but in the meantime, you might tune into how this issue resonates with you personally, i.e. how you communicate with a partner or people in your life or if it reminds you of others, your parents, perhaps.

Michael Mongno, PhD, offers present-centered therapies to help individuals and couples communicate better, heal more quickly and achieve a better quality of life. He is available for appointments in person or by phone or Skype. For more information, contact him at 212-799-0101 or visit .

Make Love Your Priority

February 12, 2018

We all want to experience more love and happiness, yet sometimes we fail to connect the role we ourselves play in its creation and maintenance.  We know it’s best to engage with love in our hearts, but often that’s easy to forget when we’re caught in emotionally challenging situations. Yet at any moment, we can choose once again to love. Begin by first forgiving yourself (for forgetting), then forgiving your partner (for everything) and then start to practice loving actions even in the midst of the tension filled drama.

When we try our best to be considerate of others’ feelings and can extend the benefit of the doubt, we prioritize people differently with our thoughts and actions. By leading with unconditional positive regard it’s natural to follow through with loving actions of kindness.  These actions can include showing physical and emotional affection as well as   demonstrating engaged presence.  This means truly being present in your listening to another as well as consistently responding with empathy and compassion, thus building greater trust. Try being the partner you’d like to meet in the world and watch miracles happen in all of your relationships.

Michael Mongno, PhD, offers present-centered therapies to help individuals and couples communicate better, heal more quickly and achieve a better quality of life. He is available for appointments in person or by phone or Skype. For more information, contact him at 212-799-0101 or visit .

Please visit us for any counseling needs that may arise.

Michael Mongno is known as one of the leading and most accomplished life coaches in New York City. For over 21 years he's been working closely with individuals seeking personal development, and life and career changes. With degrees in business and psychology, and many years experience guiding others into success and fulfillment in a wide range of life expressions, Michael is the ideal coach for your aspirations, goals and transformations.

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