Personal-Growth and Self-Esteem, Relationships


Setting goals is part of life. Looking forward towards what we want to achieve is a motivating force in life. When one sets a goal there is usually a strong. intention to meet that goal. There is also excitement at the anticipation of meeting the goal. However, goals commonly go unmet, mainly because the actions needed to achieve the goals are not fully defined or are not fully taken.

Here is a process that increases the odds of achieving your goals:
1. Name the goal that you want to achieve in specific terms
2. Identify the level of enthusiasm that you have about the goal
3. Identify obstacles ( if any exist) to achieving the goal
4. Identify information you need to know related to the goal
5. Identify the people who can help you achieve your goal
6. Develop at 4-5 step behavior plan that leads to achieving your goal
( Examples, Do a resume, do research about the goal, find a mentor etc).
7. Start action on the goal within 48 hours of setting the goal.
It is helpful to not pursue too many goals at the same time. Doing this can cause one to lose focus and drain ones energy and as a result accomplish nothing. Learning to incorporate goal setting into your life plan will lead to a happier and more fulfilled life. It is not always easy, but it’s worth the effort. YOU are worth the effort.

So why does one set a goal and not actively pursue it? Common reasons are, “ I got busy, I got lazy, I didn’t know what steps to take, I lost interest in the goal, or I kept moving the set timeline for achieving the goal”. The statement of the goal is not enough. Just declaring “ I want to lose weight” or, “ I am going to get a new job” does not lead to accomplishing the goal because there is no plan with identifiable steps to guide one into action. Additionally, if a goal is more of a “ should” than a “want” it is likely to not be achieved.

Rebecca Sperber, M.S., MFT

Addiction Recovery, Personal-Growth and Self-Esteem


One of the most common excuses people give for procrastinating and not completing tasks is that the are “ lazy”. We can all relate to the feeling of not wanting to exert ourselves, especially for a difficult or “non-stop preferred” task. A lazy episode is normal, however by using the label of lazy to describe yourself, you predict that you will not accomplish much in your life. The longer you stay lazy, the more of a habit it becomes. Here is what is really going on with people who do life in a lazy way. Insecurity and fear of failure often stops a person from taking action. Insecure thoughts, such as “ I probably won’t do it right or be able to complete it,” suggest failure and therefore discourages taking action. A generalized negative pattern of thoughts such as, “ doing it really doesn’t matter” or “if I take the time to do it, I won’t be able to do anything else”, creates a no win situation.

Children who are not encouraged to set goals and are not given responsibilities by their parents are prone to being lazy. Lazy behaviors lead to under-achieving which causes shame and depression. To break the pattern of being lazy, stop calling yourself “a lazy person” and start addressing your fears and insecurities. Then set small daily goals and reward yourself for any action you take towards that goal. It’s not about doing things perfectly, it’s about action vs in-action.

Rebecca Sperber, M.S., MFT

Depression and Anxiety, Personal-Growth and Self-Esteem, Relationships


Why do we attach and connect to certain people and not to others? Attachment is about seeking to get our needs met. If we are seeking to get unhealthy needs met that reflect hurts and wounds that come from our past, than attachments to unhealthy people and situations can occur.  For example, if you had parent who was self-absorbed and abandoned you emotionally, your attachment patterns could go in several directions. You might become attached to people who are good at giving you attention but lack other qualities necessary for a healthy relationship. It is also possible that you could become so accustomed to not getting attention that you become attached to a narcissistic type person, who ignores your needs, which is familiar to you and therefore acceptable.

Another reason that we attach to certain people is that in our minds they embody attractive traits that we believe we lack.  Self-esteem seeking attachments can feel fantastic in the beginning as a sense of worth can result in the experience of someone we admire being interested in us.  However, over time such a relationship can fail based on feelings such as dependency, jealousy, and combative competitiveness. An attachment based on low self-esteem places a lot of pressure on the admired partner, and increases low self-esteem over time due to the reminder that you feel less than the person that you lean on for ego enhancement.  

Raising your self-esteem and healing the trauma’s from your past increase the chances of developing healthy vs healthy attachments.

Rebecca Sperber, M.S., MFT



Rebecca Sperber, MS, MFT May 2019

Friendships are more complicated than most people realize.  They are often simplified into categories of best friend, close friend or peripheral friend. However, all levels of friendship deal with expectations that when not met creates conflict.

Close friendships have endured over time through varied experiences. Through the passage of time, trust, loyalty, and love occur.  A best friend has that special feeling of family, and of being the person you trust the most, enjoy the most, and share the most intimate information with. However, as people mature and experience inner shifts in values, interests, and needs, feelings between all the levels of friendship can shift. 

These shifts present confusion about how to communicate thoughts and feelings about the change in how the friendship feels.  It is confusing as to how to behave towards our friends who we are beginning to feel differently about. It is easier if the shift happens because of an egregious act.  In such a situation, it becomes clear that breaking off the friendship is justified and necessary. But when the shift relates to a decrease in connection based on different interests, priorities, feelings or needs, it is more difficult to know how to approach the conversation. Finding motivation to work on the issues is also difficult when the connection has been broken.

Figuring how to communicate the “shift” without making it a personal judgment or attack on the other person is a challenge, but it is essential. If done with sensitivity, there is a chance the shift can be better tolerated and understood.  The shift does not have to be a complete break-up of a friendship. A best friend can become a close friend by slowing down the rate of contact and depth of engagement. Sometimes such a shift occurs organically over time and does not require a sit down confrontation.  However, when the shift is having a negative affect on you or the relationship, it is important to confront it.

If the person causing the shift takes responsibility for their need to change the relationship, (and does not blame or judge the other person), these friendship “shifts” can allow people to stay in each other’s lives if the changes are acceptable to both parties. Once the grieving of what has been lost occurs, it becomes possible to accept and enjoy what remains. However, if the shift causes one to feel constant sadness, resentment, or disappointment it could be a sign that letting go of friendship and any contact with that person is necessary. Closure about a friendship shift is possible when there is acceptance of the changes by both friends. Sometimes closure will mean an agreement to end the friendship.

Having the opportunity to explain, change, apologize, or peacefully say good-bye will allow for the friendship to be remembered as a positive experience that is now part of your past.

Rebecca Sperber, M.S., MFT

Addiction Recovery, Personal-Growth and Self-Esteem, Relationships

How to Become More Assertiveness

Learning to be more assertive is crucial in the development and maintenance of healthy relationships.  Too often people will aggressively blurt out their feelings, wants, and expections of others. Constructive assertiveness is not aggressive. It’s about speaking up for yourself, whereas aggressiveness is speaking out against another person. The difference between saying “I would like you to pay more attention to what I say,” and “You better show me more attention or else” is obvious in tone.  Here is an assertiveness model that illustrates how to address issues of importance:

Assertiveness Template

  1.  State the facts regarding the event or issue
  2.  State how you feel about the facts
  3.  Make a request of the other person.
  4.  Consequence (Optional depending on the situation)

Sometimes a request is made and the other person cannot or does not want meet it. There is an assertive not an aggressive way to decline the request. A simple, “No, I cannot do that” with a brief explanation, is an acceptable response. The goal of the assertive model is to limit judging and threatening.  It is an exercise in staying out of control patterns that aim to force people to change. Rather, assertiveness is about influencing what you want to happen by using clear, civil communication.

This model is clear about the issue,  how you feel about it, asks for something to happen that might help the conflict ( a request replaces a “complaint”) and suggests a consequence which expresses the importance of the issue .

Asserting boundaries and feelings is at the core of effective communication.

Rebecca Sperber, M.S., MFT

Personal-Growth and Self-Esteem, Relationships

Establishing Effective Communication Skills

To establish more effective communication, it’s important to determine the efficiency of your listening skills. Think about it. What are the chances that your communication attempts with others will be productive and satisfying if you don’t accurately here and fully understand what the other person is saying?

Most people literally hear words accurately, but often miss the meaning of what is being said. The most common reasons for this problem are 1) thinking about what you want to say next, 2) being preoccupied with another issue or 3) being distracted by feelings toward the person talking and what they are saying.

Learning how to deal with these obstacles so that you can be present to hear the meaning and intentions of communications with others will lead to more appropriate responses, improved conflict resolution and relationship satisfaction.

Rebecca Sperber, M.S., MFT