May  2011

Inside this Newsletter:

Message from Carolyn:

80 degrees one day and 35 the next – that’s Colorado for you! At least we’re getting the moisture we need for our lawns and flowers.

WooHoo! We finally got Osama Bin Laden!!

Alan and I have been going back and forth to Tucson, AZ looking at retirement property. Alan will be retiring in January 2013 and I will be semi-retiring at that time. Of course, I plan to always do phone counseling even if I’m in Tucson in the winters. For those of you who know you still need to get some counseling work in before then, I’ve decided to work more with you to help you afford to come in. (See Fee Changes below.)

May is Mental Health Month – a month to focus on your happiness and well-being. Are you happy with yourself, your relationships, your life? If not, it’s spring and time to do something about it. (See article below on “Change Your Life.”)

As I said in the last newsletter, I’m working on revamping my website so that it will be easier to maneuver and find helpful information. If you are single, all of the dating advice will be together, including specific articles for women and also men. If you’re in a relationship or married, solutions to your problems will be easier to find. There will also be a Mental Health Page with basic articles on Self-esteem, Giving Too Much, Getting Rid of Guilt, Setting Boundaries, as well as Therapy Expectations. In fact you can access those articles now even though the website changes have not been finalized yet.

Listen to me on internet radio at on the third Wednesday of each month (next show is June 15) at 10am as I discuss relationship issues for an hour. You can call in or ask questions through the internet during the show.


Fee Changes

I am very aware that therapy can be quite expensive, and not something you want to cut corners on. When it comes to finding a qualified person to trust with your emotions, you want the best. I know that many of you may put your own emotional health at the bottom of your needs list; but just remember, you have to deal with your emotions to be able to get your life back on track. I want to help you do this.

The economy has changed and as a therapist who has practiced for over 30 years, I am trying to adapt. This is why I am NOW temporarily offering some lowered rates over the next few months for those of you who are struggling financially*, i.e., those of you who have been laid off, or had salaries cut, or are having trouble making your mortgage, or suffered a major crisis in life. I will also work with clients in offering a special deal if you book regular weekly appointments**. I want to try and work with everyone in helping you afford the therapy you want or need.

Also, remember that even though I am out-of-network with insurance companies, they will often still pay a portion of my fees. And for those of you who have special health accounts at work, you can often recover therapy expenses through those plans as well.

Some clients book half hours instead of hours to keep the therapy cheaper. Others book every other week or only once per month. They often read my books and do homework in between.

If you (or your friends or family) want to get in for therapy with me, call me and we will hopefully work something out that will fit your needs and your budget. 303-333-1888

* For lowered fees, verification of your financial situation will be required.

** For special deals, a contract will be required.

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Accept Me As I Am (Becoming Self-Reliant)

Being accepted for who we really are is probably the most important personal goal in our lives. Most of our lives we are told that we need to be like everyone else, which means different than who we are. It’s insinuated that we aren’t good enough the way we are. We need to change. We need to be smarter, thinner, more attractive, more motivated, more organized – more lovable in some way.

We are dependent on the feedback of others as an evaluation of our self-worth. But this causes confusion because we are different from our evaluators, so we don’t know if they are right about us or not. And of course, they aren’t. But it’s difficult for us to separate our identities from others since those who judge us enjoy having the control.

From the day we are born, we depend on the approval of others to decide whether we’re worthy or not. From day one, we allow someone else, an authority of sorts (our parents), to run our lives. Breaking dependency on approval requires giving up these authorities at some age and accepting control of our own lives.

But society teaches us not to do this. We’re taught to “be good,” be obedient; and the more obedient we are, the more we are rewarded. Of course, the more obedient we become, the more difficult it is for us to separate our own identities from others and become self-reliant. As we try to, they will tell us we’re wrong.

Though self-reliance is praised and looked up to in our society, the society itself rewards dependence. That’s why more people end up feigning self-reliance than ever find it.

Our families promote our dependency in that they want to continue to tell us how to run our lives even when we are old enough to decide for ourselves. They fight us when we try to develop our own identities so that we can grow up and move on.

To establish our own identity and actually become self-reliant, we must go against the grain and do the opposite of what we’ve been taught. Instead of being obedient, we must defy authority. Instead of accepting that someone else knows what’s right for us, we must trust ourselves. Instead of either muddling in our emotions or ignoring them, we must feel them, learn from them, and take action because of them.

You must not let anyone tell you what is right for you—not a wife, husband, boss, book or religious group. This will require you to stand up to others who try to push your own ideas and values onto you –and not be concerned about their approval.

The people who will try to wield their authority the most will be your family—the ones that claim to love you the most. They are the ones you’ve been most dependent on and wanted the approval of the most. Though it may seem impossible to believe, your parents will be the people who will hold you back the most. Thought they will say they want you to be successful, independent, and self-reliant, they will do everything in their power to keep you from this—unknowingly of course. But nonetheless, they are the enemy on your path to self-reliance.

How do they do it? Through guilt and perfection. All parents pressure their children to be perfect (instead of human) and to feel guilty when they can’t be. This leaves us with the feeling that we’re not good enough which affects our self-esteem for life. It’s difficult to become self-reliant when you are being told indirectly to doubt yourself.

Most of us are not self-reliant because we’ve never been able to break our parental chains. And it’s not until we are able to do that that we will be in control of our own lives. It’s not until we are able to say, “All your criticisms about me were wrong. And criticizing me was not ‘for my own good,’ it was to help you keep me under your control. I know I’m not perfect, but neither are you, and I don’t want you to ever criticize me about anything again!”

Loving Him Without Losing You - 8 Steps to Achieving Intimacy and Independence by Carolyn Bushong“I’ve always wanted your love and never really felt it. As a child, I always felt you thought I wasn’t good enough because…….. As an adult, I still feel that you treat me as though you think I’m not capable of running my own life and/or like nothing really ever hurts me. This is who I really am and how I really feel and what I really believe. I now want you to accept me as I am, though different from you. And if you can’t, I’ll have to stay away from you.”

This may sound harsh, but until you’re able to say this to your family and mean it, you won’t become self-reliant, you won’t have your own identity, you will remain dependent on someone else’s approval, and it will affect every area of your life. It will keep you from the emotional intimacy you desire since you learn how to relate from your family. You can’t have a relationship with a mate any healthier than the relationship you have with your parents. Cleaning up your family relationships will make you strong enough to be yourself and have an intimate, healthy relationship. Only then will you expect others to accept you as you are – though different from them.

You’ll find more information on this topic in my book, Loving Him Without Losing You.

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Dating Advice

For Women Only: 6 Signs He’s Too Good to Be True

Lisa is old enough to know better. She’s 47, has lived in Denver 7 years, is divorced with 4 kids, and has dated several men since her divorce. When she met Joe, 59, who lives in Boulder, on, there was an instant connection. They began talking every day, and seeing each other several times a week. He soon used the “L” word. After 6 months, he begged her to move to Boulder so they could see each other more often. Two weeks ago and 8 months into the relationship, she moved her and her 4 children at his request.

Ever since then, Joe still calls and acts friendly, but he has pulled away emotionally and sexually, and doesn’t want to see her. He now acts like he wants to be friends, not lovers. In crisis, she called me and we had a therapy session. I helped her plan a talk with him, trying to find out what was going on. I told her if she couldn’t get the information out of him, that she needs to pull back and withdraw from him to get him to talk.

Lisa, like many other women, ran into a man who was “too good to be true.” I shared the 6 signs below with her. She said he does certainly fit the profile. He rushed the relationship (and she went along), he certainly did seem perfect and knew how to treat a lady, and that his nephew tried to warn her indirectly. But the key sign for her was #4: his avoidance of any anger or conflict.

6 Signs He’s Too Good to Be True:

  1. He sweeps you off your feet. He jumps in fast, tells you how special you are. He can’t live without you. But watch out, within a few months, he will have burnt out and be gone.

  2. He seems perfect. He has a good job, he’s your age, he’s single with no kids, and you see no flaws. But watch out, he’s human, he just has a good presentation, so don’t buy it.

  3. He’s got the dating game down. He knows when to call, when to text, where to take you, how to act. He’s smooth. He’s played this game many times before and is probably a womanizer.

  4. He never gets angry. Men who never express anger are into fantasy relationships and avoid conflict at all costs. He will bolt the minute you have a disagreement.

  5. His friends try to warn you. You think they’re jealous, but they know you’re falling for his game and don’t want to see you crash like the others. They know he’ll jump out of this relationship as fast as he jumped in.

  6. He’s inconsistent in his behavior. One day he’s into you, the next he’s no where to be found. He’s in love with love and maybe it’s you today and someone else tomorrow. He’s a commitmentphobe. Don’t trust him.

What to Do:

  1. Take it slow. If you don’t let him rush you, he can’t play his game.

  2. Look for his flaws and take him off the pedestal.

  3. Don’t trust him until and unless you’ve had a disagreement and see how he behaves.

  4. When he pulls away, pull away further.

For Lisa specifically, who is already involved with a “Mr. Was too good to be true, but isn’t anymore,” I told her, “Stop taking his calls and stop acting like his friend.” Until he tells you what is going on, i.e. that he’s upset about some things or has met someone else, etc., pull away from him. Let him wonder if you’re still interested. Once he contacts you, meet him in person and let him know that you are upset about his behavior and that you want to know what is going on and that you will not pretend that everything is okay. If you go forward, make him promise that in the future he’ll let you know when he’s upset, instead of pulling away.

For Men Only: Men in a No-Win Situation

Over the years, you men who have come into my office have had a constant theme, “No matter what I do, I feel I can’t win with her.”

The woman in your life says she wants you to be more open and emotional, but when you are she accuses you of being weak. She says she doesn’t want a man to take care of her, but she is insulted if you don’t pay for dinner.

If you like her and tell her that, she pulls away because you’re being too emotional and pressuring her. When you act strong and knowledgeable, she says you’re cold and self-righteous.

Since you don’t know what women want, you often tiptoe around them, telling them what you think they want to hear. Trust me, this only makes things worse.

Here’s what to do instead:

  1. Don’t protect her from your feelings. When you hide your negative feels (& positive ones), you are being dishonest and not giving her the real intimacy she wants. Sure she may get upset at the time, but it’s the right thing to do in the long run. If she accuses you of being controlling or weak, tell her, “You want me to share my feelings, so you don’t get to tell me what you think they should be!”

  2. Don’t take care of her. Don’t put her needs before your own, and don’t feel guilty about that. When she gets upset, say, “I thought you were an independent woman who could take care of herself. If there’s something you want from me, we can discuss it and make some sort of deal.”

  3. Be real – don’t play the role of “good father” or “good husband.” Playing these roles keeps women confused and contributes to their flip flopping on what they say they want from you.

  4. Don’ let women control you through guilt. Trust your own feelings, beliefs, ideas and values. Don’t let her intimidate you with hers.

  5. Open up to women. I know this is scary, so do it slowly or it will scare her away. But when you stayed closed about your own fears and weaknesses, it makes you appear self-righteous. This pretentiousness is not only unfair to the woman in your life, but it keeps the pressure on you to perform beyond your capabilities.

  6. Deal with your mother. Your mother is probably where it all started, and she holds the key to your developing healthy relationships instead of relationships built on fear. If you can get past the fear of being “real” (no editing) with your mother, you’ll probably be able to handle all women in your life in a better way.

  7. Test Your Woman’s Facades. Stop believing that because a woman looks independent that she is. Realize that women are never as independent as they pretend to be. That’s why you get conflicting messages: “Don’t treat me like I’m weak, but do take care of me.” Confront her and tell her she can’t have it both ways.

  8. Communicate and Confront. Take a time out if you need it to get in touch with how you’re really feeling. Then let her know how you feel, what you want, ask her if she’ll do it, then tell her what will happen if she doesn’t. Then follow through.

Men today feel like they “can’t win” because they’ve had no practice. Don’t give up when it doesn’t go perfectly the first time you try these things. Go back and reevaluate, but stand your ground. Attack this issue like you would a ski slope – with respect for what you’re up against, but eagerness to experience it.

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10 Love Secrets of Couples that Stay in Love Forever

  1. Make "having fun together" a priority. Work and children and every day life are all important issues, but "fun" is the glue that bonds two lovers.

  2. Talk about the good times. Create good memories now, and then reminisce. Never forget why you choose to be with this person.

  3. Don't keep secrets. Secrets erode the love and the trust. You can have private thoughts, but that's different than secrets from your mate. Here's a rule: don't share any information about him/her with others that you haven't shared with him/her first.

  4. Think of your mate as your best friend. Then behave in this relationship like you do with true friends.

  5. Give each other a break. People aren't perfect so allow for human error. Don't assume that your mate is trying to hurt you when he or she makes a simple mistake.

  6. Celebrate your differences. Don't fight to be right. Differences create sparks between you (some of the sparks cause arguments, but others cause passion). Realize that men and women think differently, have different values, and behave in different ways. Show that you appreciate his or her quirks, i.e. "That's so cute, you're such a man!" Or, "I know you like things perfect, so it's okay that you're running late honey."

  7. Make deals that work for both of you. When you're upset, state how you feel and what you want. Then compromise, finding joint solutions to those issues so they don't occur again.

  8. Keep your own friends and hobbies. It keeps you interesting and less likely to be jealous of your mate's time and friends.

  9. Make yourself happy first. It's a myth that it's a mate's job to make the other one happy, and it doesn't work. Instead, focus on your own happiness, making a deal that each of you will let the other know if and when there is a problem.

  10. Focus on how much you are alike. Regularly make statements like, "It's amazing that we both like that, and that our mothers were both .., and that you feel that way too."

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Handling a Cheating Friend:  Facebook Question


In the past year, I've learned that three of my friends are having affairs. They've all got incredibly great husbands, who will give anything to these women, in my opinion. Here I am single and wishing I had a husband like theirs. Every one of these women seem to feel sorry for themselves, saying they're hurting.

One girlfriend in particular is now involving her husband, the man she's fooling around with, and the guy's live in girlfriend in weekend skiing adventures. She also seems to have lost all compassion for other people as everything is about her. A few weeks ago, when she told me she was upset that her affair's girlfriend doesn't seem to like her, I literally gagged and got off the phone. What does she expect?

My other girlfriend dominates our "book club" with conversations about her affair. The women couldn't take it any more, especially since many of the women in it are divorced because their husbands cheated.

These women are so inconsiderate, and it’s so emotionally draining carrying this load around. This goes against everything I believe in. Why do these women do this? Especially when they have great husbands? Should I stop being friends with them? Any insight?


Women (& men) cheat for a variety of reasons. Often they’re from families whose parents cheated, so it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for them. Some just like the thrill of it all. Some people got married too young and stay for the money or because of the children when they shouldn’t, so they cheat. Cheaters are also often people who are afraid of real intimacy, so they fill their lives with “fake” intimacy by having multiple partners. Your friend sounds like she has issues with her husband that she hasn’t addressed, and she now uses that as an excuse to cheat. This is very common.

If you continue to be friends with these women, you need to set some boundaries with them, i.e. “I don’t want to judge you, but you know I don’t agree with what you are doing. I believe that when people are unhappy in a relationship, they should divorce instead of cheat. So, I don’t really want to hear about your cheating. We can still be friends, but please don’t share this part of your life with me.” At the point, either she will back off from telling you about it OR back off from you since you aren’t being supportive (really enabling).

Post your question on my Facebook page here.

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How to Change Your Life

Is it time to make some changes in your life? Maybe your relationships, your career, new friends? Here’s a simple formula to step you through your changes.

  1. First figure out what areas(s) of your life you need to change and start a blank page for each, i.e. work, money, weight, relationships with a mate, relationships with family, health, stop smoking or drinking so much, getting new friends, etc.

  2. Take each area and make a list of your goals, what you’d like to change.

  3. Take baby steps, like gathering information about a class or finding out what it costs to start up a certain kind of business.

  4. Think of activities and hobbies that can help you change and maybe even add new excitement to your life, i.e. pursuing new friendships, following up with art classes, learning to cook (for healthier and dieting), traveling, moving, redecorating, starting a new business, planning your garden, etc.

  5. If you feel stuck in any ways, maybe it’s time to finally decide to go to counseling and get help, even if it’s just for a few sessions to get unstuck.

How to Play the Dating Game


How to Play the Dating Game:  And When to Stop Playing the Game by Carolyn Bushong

How to Play the Dating Game

You may think you don’t want to have to “play the game” to find the man of your dreams, but in today’s world, you need to think again. The first few months of dating set the stage for how he will view you for the rest of the relationship. If you do it wrong, he will probably see you as someone he’s eager to get away from. If you play the game correctly, he will see you as a prize he worked hard to get (this is how men invest in a relationship).

Learn the 7 Secrets of the Dating Game, including how to reverse his rejection, how to weed out the bad ones, and how to modify his behavior to get what you want.

E-book (Instant Download) $19.95



About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for more than15 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 30 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and McCall’s named her one of the “Top 6 Passion Doctors” in the country. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 23 years.

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Phone Counseling is a great way to do therapy, especially for the really busy person who's constantly on the go, or the person who is shy or hesitant to talk about their problem, or when the weather is bad and you don't want to drive to a therapist's office. It just makes sense in this day and age to be able to call and discuss a problem and get advice on a situation with having to leave work and drive to my office.

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