Let’s Talk

More Double-Bind Examples

Q. Would you give some more examples of a double bind?

A. Let’s Talk! Generally, a double bind is the “shot-myself-in-the-foot” moment when we sabotage ourselves. One example is someone who is drawn to a party lifestyle but suffers with social anxiety. Another example is someone who is lonely and desires friendships, but alienates acquaintances with a critical spirit.

In other words, your choices about what you are doing and what you want CLASH! It can happen when you are a small child or when you are a senior citizen. We can spot that there’s a problem, but sometimes it’s hard for us to see that we ourselves created the problem.

I have long loved Dr. William Glasser’s Reality Therapy questions for self-evaluation. Question #1: What is it that I want or need? Question #2: What is it I am doing (my chosen behavior)? Question #3: Is what I am doing (my chosen behavior) HELPING or HURTING me in getting what I want/need? [the sabotage] Question #4: What do I need to do to make things better? [the problem solving now begins!]

There’s not room in this column to discuss excuses, except to say they are counterproductive. Problem solving begins when we take responsibility for our choices, for they are our chosen behaviors.

There is great news. I am not suggesting you do the problem solving in your own strength. Never do I ever mean to point you in that direction. The deep changes I seek for us all involve this Easter weekend. It’s the new life that comes when we turn to the God of the universe. He takes our dark, broken, and sinful choices and gives us eternal life as we invite His Son into our lives. It’s a real beginning if you have never done that—and then many, many wonderful new changes follow as we ask Him to empower us.

For Deeper Reflection

John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”

Romans 6:4 “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com


  1. Wonderful thoughts, Dr. Helen. A blessed and happy Easter to you!

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