Ask Dr. Zoe

Dr. Zoe Shaw is a licensed psychotherapist, educated at UCLA and Pepperdine University. She has a private practice in sunny California and a virtual practice working with people all over the world! She is a motivational speaker, podcast host, life coach, and fitness fanatic.

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Ask Dr. Zoe – I Take the Blame in My Relationship

‘Confused’ Asked: I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for a long time now, and every time we fight I never get angry with him. I only blame myself and put all of our issues on me. I never get angry or upset with him, just with myself. I just want some help and insight into these kinds of insecurities. Dr. Zoe Answered: I’m so glad you recognize that you have some insecurity issues. Although this may be the first time you are noticing, I am positive it’s not a new issue in your life. Even if he is unfairly blaming you, there is a reason why you are collaborating in this with him. Where did you develop this pattern of […]

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Ask Dr. Zoe – My Child’s Screen Addiction, How Do I Limit It?

‘Sammi’ Asked: How do I help my child wean themselves away from screens? It’s only a few hours a day but she feels entitled to it and gets hostile once I ask for it back or tell her to turn it off. Dr. Zoe Answered: The problem isn’t the screen time (although the device struggle is real), it’s really that she’s responding to you in a hostile way. It’s okay for her to be disappointed, frustrated, even irritable. Those are feelings and all feelings are okay. But hostile? That sounds like a behavior issue. Her hostility tells me that she doesn’t respect you or believe you. We teach our children how to treat us through our action or lack of it. Without

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Help! My Mother Makes Infertility Even Harder

‘In Waiting’ Asked: As my husband and I dive deep into our 6th year of infertility we continue to struggle with an insensitive, narcissistic mother/mother-in-law. Going forward how do we not only manage our heartbreak, but our broken relationship with her as well? Dr. Zoe Answered: These are two very big issues! Your narcissistic mother-in-law is a continual part of your relationship and family life. Your infertility is a journey. You mentioned that your relationship with your mother-in-law is broken. I’m not surprised. It’s very hard to have an intact, healthy relationship with someone who is truly narcissistic. So for the purpose of the question, I will address your relationship with your mother-in-law in the context of your infertility. It’s often disappointing

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Ask Dr. Zoe – My Boyfriend Has Hurt Me, Should I Forgive Him?

‘Meg’ Asked: There has been a mixture of all kinds of hurt in a long term dating relationship and trying to extend grace and to have true forgiveness after the hurt. What are some good ways to do that in a healthy way without being walked all over? Dr. Zoe Answered: You may not like this answer, and some may not agree, but dating shouldn’t be this hard. You are in a long-term relationship, which I assume is at least a couple of years. He has hurt you many times. You indicate that you feel that he may take advantage of your extension of grace and forgiveness towards him. What I’m wondering is why you haven’t ended it? It sounds to me

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Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Learn From My Role in a Breakup?

‘Just Thinking’ Asked: How do you analyze past relationships in which you’ve been hurt a lot, but analyze them to see if you actually had a part or caused some of the issues? It’s hard to get past your personal bias, how can you do that? Dr. Zoe Answered: Most people never do this! We all assume that we were right and our partner was wrong. Although that feels good, there’s no growth in that. So kudos to you for looking at this. First, you must always assume that you had a part in it. Blaming the other person stunts your growth. I don’t care how small your part was, it was there. Relationships don’t happen in a vacuum. Sometimes your part

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Help! My Anxiety Makes Me Angry

‘Blessed at the Beach’ Asked: I have been in counseling for postpartum depression and anxiety for about 9 months. I see myself making improvements in many areas, but I still struggle with anger when I am feeling especially anxious. I know that addressing the anxiety is the ultimate solution, but do you have any tips on at least preventing anger as a reaction? I hate it when I snap at my husband (who is wonderful) or my sweet kids. Dr. Zoe Answered: A big hand clap for getting treatment. And I’m glad to hear that you are improving! My very first word of advice is to listen to This Grit and Grace Life podcast I recently recorded with Darlene and Julie. We

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Should I Quit If I Don’t Like My Coworker?

‘Puzzled’ Asked: I’ve become increasingly unhappy in my workplace (but not my position) due to a seriously unkind and hostile coworker. I’ve been pondering whether I should make a change but don’t have another job secured as yet. Is it faith or foolishness to leave a job when one doesn’t have another one to go to immediately? Not sure if the enemy is trying to drive me out or if the Lord wants me to leave or if this is all just my own doing. Dr. Zoe Answered: Unless you don’t need the finances your job provides, it’s foolish to leave when you don’t have another one secured. The sense of relief you feel will quickly be overshadowed by the stress of

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Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Recover From My Spouse’s Affair?

‘Betrayed’ Asked: I found out last year my husband of 25 years had been having an affair. He was a pastor when we first got married and we were teaching a Sunday-school class at the time he was having the affair. I’m just trying to figure out how to deal with the betrayal of someone who supposedly claimed to be such a wonderful Christian person? Dr. Zoe Answered: Dealing with betrayal is devastating no matter what the circumstances. The gut-wrenching blows to marriage and your psyche created by infidelity can only be understood by someone who has been through it. To be honest, when we are struggling to understand something, we hang our hats on the lowest hook, whether it is the

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Ask Dr. Zoe – How to Avoid Gossip Among Friends

‘Minny Mama’ Asked: I have two friends in my mom group that are bickering/gossiping about each other to another friend in our group. I don’t like to get involved in gossip or other women’s drama. However, I feel that these women will each say I am not being a loyal friend. What do I do? I thought that high school had ended. Thanks! Dr. Zoe Answered: And sometimes high school continues…We have all gossiped at some time in our lives. I know I have! Some people make whole careers of it. But I’m just going to say it: Gossiping is a sign of immaturity and it should be a habit that a woman of grit and grace matures out of. Time alone does

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Starting Over After a Failed Relationship

‘Starting Over’ Asked: After several years I realized I had surrendered myself to a man who was not committed to me. We never married, we have a child together whom I love dearly, but I finally came to understand that I was carrying the entire weight of keeping the family together. I have been the consistent income earner, paid the bills at the home he owned, and created a family atmosphere. I have finally expressed my disappointment only to be dismissed. I started separating myself and our child from him physically and financially. But it is so hard to separate emotionally. I have given so much for so long that I feel shortchanged, especially since I am the one that has to

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Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Set Boundaries with My Invasive Mother-in-Law?

‘Weighed Down Wife’ Asked: How do you converse with your husband about your invasive mother-in-law? I found her one day in our bedroom changing our sheets, she has “cleaned” our bedroom without being asked, and puts things in our house where she feels they need to be. When brought up to my husband he gets extremely defensive and says she does so much for us, she watches our son and saves us money and our son loves her. How can I relay the invasive behavior and lack of privacy without making him feel like I am ungrateful? This is a constant issue in our marriage since I was pregnant and had our son. Prior to that, there was zero issue. Dr. Zoe

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Is it Possible to Be Overly Emotional?

‘Emotionally Charged’ Asked: Is there such thing as being overly emotional? I hear this all the time by family members. I cry when I’m happy, anxious, scared, angry. I don’t have any explanation for why this is the emotion I am most prone to. Can you explain this? Dr. Zoe Answered: Emotionally Charged, We are all born with a temperament that is essentially built into our DNA. Our temperament interacts with our environment to solidify a personality over the first 3-4 years of our life. Some people do seem a little more sensitive than others, and this is sometimes just a temperament thing. I would be less worried about what others say and more concerned about what you feel. Do you feel

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Can I Move On If I Still Love My Ex?

‘Turmoil in Texas’ Asked: My husband and I were married for 12 years. He cheated and we have been separated for the last four years and are now getting a divorce. I was very angry at him the first two years after we separated. Then, when my anger subsided and I forgave him I wasn’t sure where to go from there. Our lives are intertwined raising our kids and his family is my family. The last two years I have gone back and forth emotionally. I have finally accepted I still love him. I don’t think spending our lives together will work out but I can’t get completely over him. How can I move forward? Dr. Zoe Answered: Turmoil in Texas, Divorce

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Ask Dr. Zoe – In Love with a Narcissist

‘In Love With a Narcissist’ Asked: How long do I stay in a marriage with a narcissist who continually emotionally and verbally abuses me? Can he be treated/healed through counseling? I love this man with all my heart and have since middle school. (I’m in my mid-forties.) I left and divorced him once and then after 18 months apart, we reconnected and went to counseling weekly for 8 months. We remarried and it hasn’t even been a year since our wedding and I’ve moved out again. I do not want another divorce but can he be healed from narcissistic traits? I cannot stay in an abusive marriage, no matter how much I love him. In Love With a Narcissist Dr. Zoe Answered:

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Embrace Confrontation, Even When You Fear Rejection

‘Worship Band’ Asked: I sing in the worship band at my church. I was convinced to join by a friend who noticed me confidently singing all the words at practice. The leader agreed that I was a good fit. Fast forward two years and I’m still singing about once per month in the worship band. Often there are weeks when the leader is singing by himself without backup. And I know the other two backup singers besides me have told him they are unavailable. I can’t help wondering why the leader doesn’t ask me to sing more often. And I kept thinking he’d rather have no one than me and that he thinks the other singers are better than me. I don’t

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Dating a Recovering Addict

‘Dating a Recovering Addict’ Asked: I have a friend who is getting serious with someone who’s a former addict. He has been through rehab more than once, but this last time seems to have been successful. He’s healthy and dedicated to his long-term recovery. I want to be supportive of my friend, and I know that people can change with hard work and commitment, however, are there some things that my friend can do to protect herself in this new relationship? Are there questions she should be asking him? Are there warning signs she should be aware of? I want to believe and hope for the best, but I also want to realistic. Dr. Zoe Answered: You are a wonderful friend to

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Ask Dr. Zoe – Setting Boundaries When In-Laws Divorce

‘Stuck in the Middle’ Asked: How do my husband and I practically set boundaries with our parents who are each going through a separation/divorce? Both sets of parents are going through a break in their marriage and all four of them come to us to talk. It’s affecting our mood, emotional eating, fitness level, family life with our kids, and work. It’s constant. Holidays have been the absolute worst. How do we love them even when we’re angry with their decisions? How do we protect our family unit from the effects of the drama? I’ve resorted to literally miming the action of putting on sunglasses to block the drama when I feel overwhelmed! Stuck in the Middle Dr. Zoe Answered: Dear ‘Stuck

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