March 2013

Inside this Newsletter:

Message from Carolyn:

Happy Easter! It’s supposed to be 85 degrees here in Tucson for Easter, but that’s also what it has been for most of March. Alan and I are finally getting the weather we came down for. You probably heard that we did get 4 inches of snow on the cactus in February. But now the roses, lilacs, wisteria, jasmine, and usual summer flowers are all in full bloom and the birds are building nests and baby birds are hatching – like May/June in Colorado. We’ll be back in Colorado by May 1, so we’ll get two springs this year!

I have really been enjoying gardening, singing karaoke twice a week, and Zumba classes three times a week, but there’s a lot I miss about Colorado too. When I tell people down here I’m from Colorado, many of them say, “Oh, that’s where I want to live!” It will be good to see my friends and my house and pine, trees, streams, and hiking trails again.

I will be opening my office back up a few days a week in Cherry Creek again in May and I look forward to seeing clients in person again. Remember that I am still talking to clients by phone now through April, so I’m still available. You can still call 303-333-1888 or my direct business line here in Tucson: 520-572-9397.

Several of my phone clients right now are dealing with getting over their exes, and in this newsletter I have a Q&A regarding this topic. So much of the issue with exes relates to self-esteem, how bullying and criticism damage it, and what to do. Take a look below at my article “Self-esteem and Bullies.” And on a side note, I loved a quote I saw in Star (below) from Giuliana Rancic on her secret for a strong marriage.

Here are a couple of sunset pictures taken from my yard and one of me and Alan at dinner on Valentine’s Day.



Q&A: I Can’t Get Over My Ex


Dear Carolyn,

With the help of your book Bring Back the Man You Fell in Love With, I finally got strong enough to break up with Arnie, my “self-involved” boyfriend of 3 years who treated me badly. I felt really good about myself as I ended it. At first he kept trying to get back together with me and I resisted. But then he stopped calling a few months ago. Now I find myself reaching out to him, but mostly just for sex. Each time I do, I get mad at myself and think that I’m not as strong as I thought I was. Deep down I know I don’t want a relationship with him or anyone like him, but I’m unable to completely let go. I’ve met a couple of guys and gone out, but none make me feel the passion I feel with Arnie. Please help me because I must be fooling myself about how strong I now am.




None of us are perfect and a few relapses doesn’t mean you’re weak. There are several things going on here. First, sometimes that strong feeling we think is love and passion with someone is just our intense need to feel loved when we feel rejected by them. Besides, it’s unlikely that you’re going to feel the kind of intense feelings and comfort you felt in a long-term relationship with someone you’ve just met, especially if you aren’t chasing their approval Healthy love takes time to grow and develop (though attraction is still very important), and does not include being put-down or rejected by your mate. You probably need to review the angry letter you wrote him that helped you end the relationship (from the Chapter “When He Won’t Change,” page 274-275), so you will be reminded of his bad traits. If this doesn’t help you stay away from him, you may need to write another angry letter. Maybe you didn’t get all of your anger out or missed some important issues you want to address. You can decide whether or not you need to send this letter since it could re-open or prolong the break-up and your goal needs to be to move on.

Most of all, though, don’t beat yourself up for having small regressions. That in itself will damage your self-esteem. None of us is perfect, and it’s very common to want to go back to something that felt comfortable, even if it wasn’t good in the long run. Besides, think about how far you’ve come – I assume you’re no longer putting up with his bad behavior. I think, however, that you probably haven’t moved on enough yet.

When you’re in a relationship for awhile, a lot of your happiness ends up depending on that person, especially when he was so self-involved. I’m sure you need to find some new hobbies and new friends to re-develop a life on your own. You probably reach out to your ex because you’re lonely and need someone familiar to talk to. This kind of neediness doesn’t make you weak if it’s fixable and you fix it. Don’t get into the victim mode and keep a pity party going because it didn’t work out. In fact, use that anger to “show him” how much happier you can be without him.

If you do all of this and still have trouble getting past him, you may still have some self-esteem work that needs to be done. The less you love yourself, the greater your rejection button is. If someone rejecting you still makes you doubt whether or not you’re good enough, you have self-esteem issues. Sure, it hurts all of us to feel rejected, but if you can’t work through the rejection and then move on, you still have something that’s holding you back. It’s probably from your childhood or someone else that has put you down in the past that keeps you overly sensitive to rejection. You may need to deal with whatever or whoever is holding you back before you are strong enough to completely let go of him. Again, your behavior is not that unusual and doesn’t mean you’re not strong. But not letting others bring you down and staying confident can be a life long job.

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Self-esteem & Bullies

Why we don’t love ourselves

We aren’t born with low self-esteem, instead we’re taught to not love ourselves. We start our lives as babies, crying for what we want, making it all about us. We learn to doubt ourselves, thinking we’re not good enough, when others remind us of how imperfect we are. And of course, we aren’t all good at everything, but we do all have our own strengths and weaknesses, which is what makes us who we are.

Look back in your life and think about who has rained on your parade, who made you feel like you were less than them, who set you up to fail at certain things. If your self-esteem is low, it’s because you believed these people’s assessment of you without looking at who they were and what their motives were.


Most people who put you down and criticize you do it because they feel insecure themselves (maybe when they’re around you or maybe just something from their own past). Bullies cover up their insecurities by making you feel insecure. In fact, it’s so automatic with bullies that they usually don’t even realize why they’re behaving that way. It becomes an automatic defense mechanism they use in life to keep themselves propped up and feeling better than others. They keep it going mainly because it works so well. Each time it works on you, they themselves at some level start to believe they really are better than you. That’s why you can’t let them get away with it.

I was surprised to read that Jennifer Lawrence, award winning actress, was bullied in school. Shocking that someone so beautiful and successful was picked on. But it’s actually not that rare. I have several clients who are very successful in many ways that were bullied in school. Sometimes being picked on can create anger that turns into “I’ll show you.” After all, success is the best revenge. Of course bullying and bad treatment do leave emotional scars that often require therapy to heal. Maybe that’s why Jennifer Lawrence was so good at playing crazy in Silver Linings Playbook.

I was certainly bullied and criticized myself. As a kid I had red, curly hair, and was teased by the boys, “I’d rather be dead than red on the head.” When I was ready to go to college, my dad said I should just stay home and be a secretary. When I left Aspen, I was told by my older PhD business partner that I’d never succeed as a therapist in Denver without her. When I decided to guest on TV shows, a friend said, “Who do you think you are?” In each situation, I had to think about the motive of the person bullying or criticizing me or raining on my parade. The “red on the head” came from 5th grade boys who didn’t know how to properly flirt yet and wanted my attention. My business partner didn’t want me to leave and move to Denver. My dad maybe wanted to protect me from the possibility of failing, but most of all wanted to keep me at home. And my “friend” would never have the courage to try to get on TV herself, so she wanted me to feel as insecure as she was. Their comments motivated me to prove them all wrong.

Jennifer Lawrence was obviously able to turn a bad situation into a good one. Some people who are bullied remain victims for life and others figure out how to turn it around. We all have our crosses to bear. It’s about what you do with those bad situations that matters the most. High self-esteem is key to handling critical people and/or bullies.


If you accept other’s negative comments about yourself, your self-esteem stays low, you become a non-risktaker, so you never get to prove to yourself that you’re good enough.

If the negative comments anger you because you know you’re better than that, you think, “I’ll show them!” Your anger then motivates you to take risks and try harder, and usually succeed.

What to Do

Just knowing this information – that the bully is insecure deep inside or they wouldn’t need to act like they’re better than you – gives you all the power you need to stop it. Understanding their motive, which is to lift their own self-esteem by making you feel bad, instead of assuming that there is something wrong with you, can make you see through them. You need to stand up to them, not by arguing with them about whether or not you’re good enough, but by calling them on their “mean” behavior. Let them know you won’t put up with it, and then walk away, and you will crack their defense system. But you must do it each time they are mean, so they realize that you really won’t put up with it. If they won’t admit they’ve been mean and won’t apologize, it doesn’t matter as you will no longer let them affect your self-esteem, so you still win. If they continue to treat you badly, spend less and less time with them. Each time you stand up to someone who puts you down, your self-esteem will increase, and doing it will create an upward spiral of positive self-esteem.

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Giuliana Rancic’s quote on a strong marriage

In a quote in the April 1 issue of Star magazine, Giuliana Rancic was asked the question on Feb. 26 “What’s your secret to a strong marriage?” I love her answer about communication and think it’s so true in my own relationship. She said, ”It’s all about respect. I think a lot of younger people in relationships these days forget to do that. Even if we’re busy, we always pick up the phone, because you never want the mind to wander. Keeping your loved one in the loop is all they want."

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Women talk more than men?

See the new research study as to why women talk more than men:

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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 25 years.

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