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Dr. Carole Lieberman: “Psychotherapy can get to the root of this”

People stay in mediocre relationships because they are afraid that they don’t deserve more and that, if they give up their relationship, they will die alone. In order to understand why you are in a mediocre — or even abusive — relationship with a bad boy or girl, you need to examine your first relationship with your mother or […]

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People stay in mediocre relationships because they are afraid that they don’t deserve more and that, if they give up their relationship, they will die alone. In order to understand why you are in a mediocre — or even abusive — relationship with a bad boy or girl, you need to examine your first relationship with your mother or father. If this relationship was dysfunctional, you will be attracted to bad boys or bad girls and get your heart broken. Psychotherapy can get to the root of this.


As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Carole Lieberman, M.D., America’s Psychiatrist, who is an internationally renowned author and speaker. Her best-selling/award-winning books include: Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them and When to Leave Them; Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets; Coping With Terrorism: Dreams Interrupted; and Lions and Tigers and Terrorists, Oh My! How to Protect Your Child in a Time of Terror. She is also an Emmy honored TV personality and host of “Dr. Carole’s Couch” and “The Terrorist Therapist Show.”


Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I have wanted to be a doctor since I was eight years old and read a book about the first woman doctor in America, Elizabeth Blackwell. When I was a teenager, and read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, it resonated with me and I knew that I wanted to be a psychiatrist.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

Since 9/11, when I saw the devastating effects that terrorism was having on people — including their feelings towards themselves and others — I have been devoting myself to helping everyone cope with terrorism. I am currently traveling across America and the world, giving talks to families, teachers, therapists, and counter-terrorism leaders about the psychological impact of terrorism on our lives and strategies to build resilience.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

Each time I write a book, and meet people at book festivals and speaking engagements who tell me how my insights have helped them, I feel warm and fuzzy inside and motivated to continue my work.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

Barbie and Ken dolls are the #1 culprits when it comes to damaging our self-esteem. When we compared ourselves to them as children, we unconsciously decided that we were not good enough to be loved. Nowadays, as adults, we also have to contend with photoshopped pictures in advertising and social media, which confirm our negative self-image. Consequently, our negative self-talk results in a self-fulfilling prophecy in which we do have trouble loving ourselves and finding love.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Loving yourself has both psychological and physical consequences. The more you love yourself — in an authentic, not narcissistic way — the happier and healthier you will be.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

People stay in mediocre relationships because they are afraid that they don’t deserve more and that, if they give up their relationship, they will die alone. In order to understand why you are in a mediocre — or even abusive — relationship with a bad boy or girl, you need to examine your first relationship with your mother or father. If this relationship was dysfunctional, you will be attracted to bad boys or bad girls and get your heart broken. Psychotherapy can get to the root of this.

When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

What is the real reason you think your latest relationship broke up?

Was there anything you could have done to make this relationship work?

Are you afraid to let go of this relationship, choosing to stay single, even after you’ve broken up?

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

It is extremely important to be happy being alone with yourself because otherwise you will find yourself with anyone at hand, in order to avoid being alone.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

The more self-understanding and self-love you have, the more capable you are to turn your attention to others.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

Parents shouldn’t let their kids have Barbie or Ken dolls and should talk with their kids about social media to avoid bullying.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

  1. Horseback Riding: Competing in eventing horse shows (dressage, cross-country jumping and stadium jumping) makes me feel alive. Challenging myself to jump ever more difficult obstacles is a metaphor that helps me do this in other aspects of my life.
  2. Traveling: There is nothing more refreshing than traveling to a new destination. Each time I add a new trip to my list, from crossing Europe to safaris in Africa, I come back with a fresh perspective.
  3. Massages and Facials: Taking the time for self-care and pampering is very important. Even if I have a busy schedule, juggling work and family responsibilities, it’s a great way to carve out a little bit of “me time.”
  4. Journaling: Keeping track of my feelings and day-to-day activities helps me realize what is important.
  5. Reading: I try to find as much time as I can to read both novels and nonfiction books. Airplane rides and relaxing outside in the fresh air are great opportunities.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

“A dream without a plan is just a wish…” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince

(“Un reve sans plan n’est qu’un souhait”)

This has been a daily reminder to keep my nose to the grindstone and not be be distracted or give up.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

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