All posts by Diana Ryan

Is the owner of 360° Coaching and Counseling LLC, she is also a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), a nationally certified Life Coach (AAC), a practicing Sex Therapist and educator. In her free time, she volunteers with different community organizations and enjoys speaking at events across the country.

2018, the Resolutionists, Better Known as Self-Saboteurs

I went to a New Year’s Eve party and had a great time overall but noticed one situation that was unpleasant and unneeded. One young woman was unhappy with the amount and quality of the attention she was getting from her companion, so she decided to make an issue of it, demanding he take her home or wherever she wanted to go and appearing to this outsider as sabotaging a great night for herself that she could have had, if she had decided to handle the situation differently. Why is this situation a problem? For some I guess it wouldn’t be but for others it’s the same tune played by a different band.

Some of us want relationships or at least, situationships but we are our own worst enemies in finding what we want or at least recognizing that what we want is right in our faces. Like the New Year resolutions, we want to change something. We make a promise to change, we even try the change and then we eat that cake (not one piece but the whole thing) saying to ourselves that we deserve a reward. We stop working out and complain our schedules are too full, and then beat ourselves up for not following through. We have done it again, falling back in to old habits that no longer serve us.

Relationships work the same way, we sabotage what we have or what we want by falling back into old patterns which usually serve no purpose in our present life, although it may have saved us when we were young. Our demanding self comes out were everything must be our way, and damn anyone who does not agree. We walk around with our sword and shield demanding loyalty while we have none to give, yelling in our mind’s eye “respect my boundaries!” When we feel that we are not getting what we demand we slice the head off anyone in the way. But we usually don’t know how to implement healthy boundaries, so we do what we have seen in the past, what others have done and taught us to do. We implement boundaries that are impenetrable, harsh, critical of others and counterproductive to what we want.

For 2018 let’s agree to stop making resolutions and just make changes, A small change every day. We can finally put down our sword and shield and just be present in the moment learning who we are without our armor. How freeing would that be, knowing that we are not our worst enemy and sabotaging the future.

“She’s Gotta Have It” and We All Want Some Too!

In 1986 I was graduating from high school, waiting to join the Air Force starting my “adult” life. That year my mother told me to watch a movie she enjoyed by Spike Lee “She’s Gotta Have It”. It was an experience. Was it groundbreaking? Not for me, I had been having my friends and their friends over to my home for over a year (when my mother was at work) by then and we were precocious to say the least. We would smoke mostly marijuana, put porn on the main television, and have sexual escapades with each other. I didn’t learn until much later in my adult life that people called what we did “sex parties”, go figure. We just wanted to live in the experience of it all. I didn’t know that later there would be so many labels attached to what we did. We were exploring our sexuality, we were “being grown”, we were so confident in our choices back then. Forward, many years later and Spike Lee does it again.

Ms. Nola Darling is back in my life. When I was 16 and met her watching the movie, she was me, she was my friends, she was my people. Fast forward, now Nola is my child, she is my client, I think we’ve come full circle. As a mother I often talk to my son about his connections with others. My son is a 26-year-old gay male, which is neither here nor there, but he feels Nola. He tells me that when one of his relationships tries to attach “real relationship” string aka “monogamy”, he feels panicky. He says “mom, I know me and I’m either in just a little to enjoy the experience or I’m obsessively in and I would rather just not”. I feel him, when you know that in your sexual life development you are not ready for anything other than feeding your passion, then do that, as long as everyone is aware, and they understand that they are choosing what you are offering. Nola, beautiful soul that she is, was doing the same. Where she was in life spoke to her. She needed the breadth of experiences that her different love interests gave her. There wasn’t any one person that was able to satisfy her needs and she was transparent in letting them know how she felt. Did Nola sign up for a label of “polyamorous”, no but she was very clear on the label “freak”, she didn’t like it and told her three male lovers so. Although it took her a few episodes in the series to assert that boundary, she was able to do it.

Nola, comes into my office daily. In many different skins but daily. As a mental health professional, I see a variation of Nola who wants it all and feels that they can have it just the way they want it. Then they must deal with a reality smack. That person they crave no longer wants to deal with their drama, their rules. Nola learned that lesson with her female lover Opal who Nola ran to when she was taking a break from the drama of her other three male lovers. Nola wanted it to work with Opal but, as an escape not as a primary choice which is why Opal chose to not continue their romantic ties. Nola was not offering enough of herself. As in any relationship there is a give and take and each person has the right to say, “I don’t want this”. Nola was hurt by Opal asserting this boundary in their relationship, but so was Opal.

Nola was never confused about how she wanted to be seen, what she wanted to be called, who she was, labels like polygamous, or freak, those are other people’s issues. She was clear that not any one person can satisfy her. She was clear that she didn’t want to place herself in a confining monogamy construct. Nola struggled with the way of it all, not the direction. That is the struggle that many of us who don’t conform to an accepted norm deal with. The how of creating the life we want, as we bull headedly move forward with zeal, and at times like Nola, misstep. “She’s Got to Have It” means sex, yes, love, yes, success, yes and one day if we keep moving ….we will “have it!”.

Is That Really Loyalty?

I was invited to be on a panel with the featured discussion for the group being violence in the LGBTQ community.  It was interesting as a whole but there was a theme to some of the panel member’s issues when discussing their history with violence, and it was loyalty.  Loyalty is an interesting word and I think very misunderstood. says that loyalty is the faithfulness, or adherence to commitments or obligations which I agree with, but does it apply in the situations where violence or harm is a concern?  One individual spoke of being called in the middle of the night to help out a friend who was involved in a bar brawl.  This faithful friend arrived after the fight was over but in seeing that backup was near the person involved in the brawl instigated another fight.  The results were the faithful friend now has a felony with limited job prospects and was betrayed by the friend to the police because a gun was discharged at the scene and one person was injured.  Now there were a few stories that day of individuals being involved in a violent situation due to “loyalty” but loyalty goes both ways and is it really loyalty to ask a friend to endanger their lives because you made a poor decision?  It seems to me that a great many people really believe that loyalty should be “blind” to the long term consequences and welfare of the parties involved, but “blind loyalty” may result in an unwanted felony charge.

Associations based in friendships and family-of-choice (the family you choose not the one you are born into) should be for the good of every individual involved not just one person.  It does not work well if the loyalty is unequal and detrimental to either of the people involved.    The situation above demonstrates unequal blind loyalty and those two individuals are no longer friends with the take-away being bad memories and a criminal record.  So does this mean that loyalty is wrong? No, loyalty is important within a relationship, it cements the individuals together and makes the relationship stronger, but part of making the relationship stronger is the desire not to put the other person in a negative or bad situation.  Loyalty to them says don’t ask, so the other person stays safe and loyalty to yourself says I love me enough to say no.  Healthy loyalty builds, blind loyalty destroys.

Bye for now.


Thought-Emotion-Behavior Connection

This is about every instance large and small of the mean things we do to each other every day, like the road-ragers screaming obscenities and using interesting hand gestures while driving, to the shopping cart bullies fighting for supremacy and how do we stop the madness.  Often my clients get stuck in a  place that they shouldn’t be in because of meanness.  I may hear during an individual or group therapy session “what did I do to deserve this”, or “I must have done something”, this is also applied to others in “he/she must have done something to deserve that” or “why did they make me do it”.  None of those statements are at all true; you don’t deserve to be treated badly and you don’t get the right to treat anyone else badly.    When you talk to the biggest culprits of mean they will say “he/she made me do it” which is called “the blame game”.

The blame game takes the responsibility from the person who is being mean and puts it squarely on the victim.  Life would be great if we never had to really take responsibility of the things we do in this world and could always blame the victims, or so we think.  Never taking responsibility hurts you way more than the victim in most cases because you never learn self-control.  How important is self-control? It may be the difference between living in the light and being locked up or dead in the dark.  The first steps to learning self-control is being aware of what you think and what emotions you have attached to those thoughts.    An example of this thought/emotion connection can be used with the word “respect” (okay go with me here…….).  If you have placed a high value on your idea of respect (whatever that is) then connected respect to your view of self  (for example: to be a man I need to be treated a certain way (respected) and if this does not happen I now believe that you don’t see me as a man and so I now don’t see me as the man I thought I was +  intense anger = physical confrontation or fighting). Because you placed a high value on the connection of respect + view of self + high emotion (anger) it led to acting out on that anger creating a bad situation which may end at worst incarceration or death.

The next step to gaining self-control is once you have made the connection between thought and emotion start working on changing those thoughts and breaking that emotional connection.  No one “makes” you do anything as human beings we make choices every minute of every day in how we react to the things and people around us.  If you are the person being mean, break the connection and if you are the victim understand that the situation was not caused by you its about the mental, and emotional place the other person is in.

Bye for now.

Stuck in a Rut

What happens when you have momentum in a project or job that you are working on and then hit a wall or even when you have been doing a task the same way for so long that you no longer see all your options and become “Stuck in a Rut”?   It happens to the best of us and overcoming  it can lead to some really creative new avenues or approaches to your project or job.  The first step is to admit that you are stuck (not just to yourself, although its a start).  Let those around you know that you have hit a wall in your process and then…..wait for it……brainstorm!  At times I have hated to brainstorm because I thought some of the ideas would sound dumb, but I’ve learned that sometimes what I thought was a dumb idea lead to innovative solutions to my problem.   When you brainstorm (this process works better with more than one person) you throw out all possibilities that come to mind, whatever pops into your head goes on your “brainstorm board”.  This process works best if you write-it-down, when you are with your friends and an idea pops up, write it down, or in the middle of the night a thought or idea comes, write it down and you can add all of these ideas to your board later.

The next step in your brainstorming process begins once you have exhausted any and every possible idea to overcome your block and they are all written on your “brainstorming board” you categorize them.  Start with two simple columns of (what I have control of) and (need others to implement).  Everything on your board goes into one of your columns.  Take a deep breath because we are gaining speed now.  Then you want to whittle down your options in both columns rejecting what will not work or doesn’t make sense.  Now rank order your top items starting with what you can do now, what you can do alone, and with minimal cost, try to give yourself three to five options.

Next Wednesday we will talk about next steps, bye for now.