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The Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose

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In the spirit of peace and consolation, I offer you this soothing and rallying quote 

from Marshall McLuhan in this very sad time for Americans... and for all the world. 

The Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose

 November 2018


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Letting go of some habit, attachment, behavior pattern does not come easy to me.

There’s an expression in the recovery movement: “Everything I let go of has claw marks on it.”

 relate so much to that. I have found that letting go actually has two meanings;

it’s about surrendering to something I can’t change and finding peace with that.

And it’s also about taking an action on something I can change... like letting go of sugar or victim thinking. 

Letting go is ultimately about healthy power... and it is completely different from giving up.

What’s the difference between letting go and giving up for you?

Special "Happy Fall" Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose

October 2018


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We live in an age of uncertainty... and it will become increasingly so.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but we can learn to thrive in uncertainty.

Abraham Maslow wrote about the nature of Self-actualization.... people living up to their

highest potential and moving beyond themselves for the good of their fellow humans. 

It involves eschewing tribal fears and not needing to conform for approval. 

If we are intentional in taking such a stance, we learn to live our life from the inside out....

staying in alignment with our consciously chosen values. In so doing we build a solid self foundation of inner resources, 

resilience and the ability to reach out to others in Community. I wish you a grounded center to grow from in these chaotic times. 💞💞💓

The Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose

September 2018



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Yes! As a matter of fact, this is the difference between healthy and unhealthy guilt.

There is such a thing as healthy guilt; it’s when you go against your own freely chosen

values, feel remorse, make amends and resolve not to repeat your error.

Unhealthy guilt is when you go against introjected values, what others have told you to value.

And it’s also when you are excessively harsh with yourself..and label yourself...

or take in the label from others that you are a horrible human being. You choose!

 The Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose

 Summer [July 25, 2018]



I find this to be true..... and a fascinating question. The answer lies in vulnerability.

What happens if I express love and am rebuffed? What then? What do I make of that? 
Unfortunately, in a world that breeds low self-esteem, we can make it about ourselves...

that we are somehow unlovable. This is a very common introjection .. for various reasons. 
What if we just dropped that belief or put it aside...and simply allowed ourselves

to feel the love already in our hearts....and expressed it to living beings... including pets and plants?

What if? IMAGINE.

Wishing you a Happy Love Day...everyday.

Dr. Duffy ❤️🌸🌺

February 2018 



I’m sharing this piece of art by Emily Blatt because it is beautiful and exemplifies my focus for the New Year. Yes, gratitude for what we already have expands our hearts and gives us energy for transformation. 
There are lots of mixed feelings about writing New Year’s Resolutions. I am revisiting this custom by examining the root of the word. Human beings have problems that they endeavor to solve.

Since we are all so far from perfect, we can continue to re-solve them with an attitude

of accepting our imperfections as well as our good intentions. When I look at re-solution in this way, I am much more willing and open to it.
For 2018, my resolution is different: rather than thinking of specific things I want to do differently, I am focusing on the kind of person I want to be. I want to be a person who makes room for Joy in my life... especially for the little things. I also want to make room for Stillness ... which brings connection to self...and All There Is. I also want to be a person who resists acrimony and ignorance with Loving kindness. And so be it.

Wishing you a warm welcome into the New Year...

Dr.Duffy Spencer

January 2018

May this affirmation from Louise Hay guide us through the holiday season...and beyond. And I KNOW she is resting in peaces.
Thank you, Louise, for all you have given us.

Dr. Duffy
December 2017


I love kindness; it’s my most important attribute in a person. The word “kind” is one of the oldest words in the English language...dating back before 900. Its original meaning was nature ...as in ...it’s in our nature to be kind. It’s who we really are...a source of our groundedness...especially in the face of unkindness. I believe in Unconditional Constructiveness...ie...how a person behaves towards us doesn’t give us license to behave badly ourselves. If you fight fire with fire, all you get is ashes....     

- Abigail Van Buren

Dr. Duffy
November 2017


Whether it’s real storms...or the storms of life, so true.
When it’s stormy in the world, we can go within and find that calm center.
It’s always there.... if we look for it.

Dr. Duffy
October 2017


We are all so perfectly imperfect. What do you imagine it would be like if you truly accepted your imperfectness? If you even embraced and delighted in your quirkiness and uniqueness??

Dr. Duffy
October 2017


In this day and age particularly, where there is so much violence and hatred and greed, we can feel powerless. We can also take positive social action, practice loving, kindness, savor the little things and be grateful..

Dr. Duffy
September 2017


We spend the first part of our lives learning...and the second part "unlearning." A combination of cultural conditioning and the human defense system moves us away from our authenticity. In our adulthood we can re-claim our natural healthy selves...and who we were meant to be. It's very possible!

Dr. Duffy
September 2017


What are you telling yourself?

What is your self-narrative?

Is it true? Is it really true?

Is it obsolete?

Are you scaring yourself? 
Just listen...and even write down what you hear inside yourself.

That is the beginning of freedom...

Dr. Duffy
August 2017


“Don’t let people pull you into their storms. Pull them into your peace.”
     - Kimberly Jones

This quote by Kimberly Jones says so much. We're living in a particularly stormy time. It's easy to get pulled in... if we don't have an inner core of serenity.

Finding our inner core, while challenging, is very possible. There is a quiet place inside each of us if we believe there is ...and we can stop and listen for it. We all have an inner sacred space which is inviolate. The more we look for it, the more it expands. 
Some people call this meditation... which can sound mystical. Think of it more like dropping down into your body, going to your breath...and then just seeing what's there. You just might find some peace.

July 2017


We are a society that values rugged individualism. This is because of our historic frontier experience... with immense and fertile land to capitalize on. Though most of us have never even seen a frontier, people remain believing "Every man (person!) for himself."

The USA has been "settled" for a couple of centuries and exponentially increased its population. Old modes of thinking and being no longer apply. Today we are much better served by understanding that our survival depends upon collaboration and community building. We can choose to plant trees or practice a myriad of other ways to do so...to care about the generations to come....

Dr. Duffy
June 2017


I'm spending more time consciously breathing these days... and not "waiting to exhale ". (It’s on the exhalation that our para-sympathetic nervous system calms us down.)
These days our external world is particularly disruptive... which affects our personal lives as well.

Now, more than ever, mindfulness is a crucial skill.
Mindfulness means setting an intention for the quality of relationships you want...
and who you want to be in the world. Then to stay focused on that intention... no matter what.

Here’s how to practice mindfulness for high-quality relationships. When people "act out" and trigger us, we can understand they are most likely hurt or scared. By simply remembering this we can get underneath a poor delivery and try to hear the other person’s true message. This prevents a vengeful “tit-for-tat” and the rupturing of an important relationship. Feelings get heard and acknowledged thus deepening our relationships.

Soooo, when you find yourself getting upset and “contracting”, take a mental step back, go to your breath, remember who you are… and what you want.
As hard as it is, when people are reactive they need our caring, not our censure.
Let there be peace; let it begin with me....

Dr. Duffy
April 2017


By Albert Camus

Whatever the external environment, we can go within for our true sustenance. Each of us has rich inner resources. We are connected to all there is, the cosmos, the human world, the animal world… and to ourselves.
This winter season, take time for you, (without guilt!), close your eyes and be with your own internal world.
B r e a t h e s l o w l y and f e e l the s u p p o r t of M o t h e r E a r t h.
Scan your body and notice any physical sensations. See if you can get out of your head and into your body. It is the source of all of your wisdom.
My wish for you is to bring your own meaning, spirit, and joy to the New Year.

With a heart full of love,
Dr. Duffy
December 2016



Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass.

It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

     - Vivian Greene

So many people responded to my last Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose about being the “I” in the storm, that I am devoting a series to this theme.

Life is stormy. In these turbulent uncertain times we are challenged to tap into our own calm center.

The good news is that we already have one.  It is our inherent birthright, yet elusive to many.

How to find it? It is often obscured by distress… like clouds obscure the sun… which is always there.  These clouds represent our wounded parts… which are burdened with false beliefs. These wounded “parts” get agitated and lobby for our attention. 

Stress and anxiety come from buying into our false beliefs while denying our wounds. The remedy is to question those toxic beliefs and address our wounds from the vantage point of our calm center.

We need to give them that attention without judgement. Ironically, when we do this, they calm down. You will access your true center as these parts temporarily step away and give you space.

In love and peace,

Dr. Duffy
November 2015

This way of understanding the psyche is from Internal Family Systems theory by Richard Schwartz.
As a trained IFS therapist, this is the framework I use in helping people find their inner strength.




People are naturally loving, but our loving nature can sometimes be obscured by distress. So the love that exists is not so easy to find. When people get hurt, they build defenses to protect themselves. These defenses are hidden behind well-polished shields. The truth is that most people are struggling underneath. Really knowing this can help us be kind to people who don’t seem to need it. We can practice “Zenergy” through conscious loving kindness.

Dr. Duffy
August 2016





June 2016


  The trouble with loving is that pets don’t last long enough and that people can last too long.
Author Unknown

I'm offering you a sardonic love quote this time for Valentine’s Day… the quintessential “Hallmark Holiday”. Valentine’s Day is about romantic love but in its most hyped up, commercial and assumptive sense. People are assumed to be coupled… and blissfully so.
As we know, many adults are single… sometimes by choice and sometimes not. And those who are coupled are not necessarily happy with their partners.
I propose a Valentine’s Day that celebrates love in a non-romantic and more inclusive sense.

Essentially love is connection. It’s that poignant stretching of your heart when you experience warm feelings for not only lovers, but family members, friends and even others. Love blossoms when two people experience a shared positive emotion. To quote Stefan Porges, “Love is positivity resonance in moments of interpersonal connection.”

This version of love is far more accessible… and can be had by all who are willing to feel it. For Valentine’s Day, consider noticing those micro moments of love where you feel your own positivity, warmth and openness… and see if it’s not mirrored by the other. It may very well be.

Dr. Duffy
February 2016


  Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
- Vivian Greene

So many people responded to my last Occasional Dr. Duffy Dose about being the “I” in the storm, that I am devoting a series to this theme.

Life is stormy. In these turbulent uncertain times we are challenged to tap into our own calm center.

The good news is that we already have one. It is our inherent birthright, yet elusive to many.

How to find it? It is often obscured by distress… like clouds obscure the sun… which is always there. These clouds represent our wounded parts… which are burdened with false beliefs. These wounded “parts” get agitated and lobby for our attention.

Stress and anxiety come from buying into our false beliefs while denying our wounds. The remedy is to question those toxic beliefs and address our wounds from the vantage point of our calm center.

We need to give them that attention without judgment. Ironically, when we do this, they calm down. You will access your true center as these parts temporarily step away and give you space.

In love and peace,
Dr. Duffy

This way of understanding the psyche is from Internal Family Systems theory by Richard Schwartz.
As a trained IFS therapist, this is the framework I use in helping people find their inner strength.
ODDD November 2015

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
- Unknown

The world is tough.  It can bring much noise and trouble. Anything external is like a house of cards… easily collapsible.  We can either be swept away like a tumbleweed or we can be our own “I” in the storm.

We all have an inherent “I”…. our spiritual center, our divine spark. This place is sacred and inviolate.  No one can tear it asunder.

We are all born with a sacred Higher Self. Though many people live and die without ever accessing it, it is yours for the taking.

When the world is overwhelming, and you feel at the end of your rope, take a moment to stop, breathe, and look for your own reservoir of strength. I promise you it is there. You have rich inner resources. Dip into the calm waters of your own inner being and luxuriate in the joy of presence, be one with nature, be one with humankind, be one with all there is… and be one with your Self.

When you breathe away all the clouds of despair, grief, and fear, your Self will be there like the Sun… which is hidden behind the clouds.

These dark emotions are not to be ignored or hated: they are to be embraced. Your breathing them away is only temporary… so you may remember that your Sun is always there. This will give you the inspiration to move forward with clarity and courage.

If you are interested in learning more about your “I” in the storm, let me know and I will continue writing on it. My approach as a therapist is based on this principle which is derived from Internal Family Systems Therapy, founded by Richard Schwartz, PHD.

I wish you well.

Dr. Duffy




On what basis do you judge yourself? … Is it realistic?

Human beings make judgments. We can’t avoid it. We can, however, be aware of the basis of our judgments.

When we were children, we received information about ourselves from others. Whether verbal, non-verbal, direct or indirect, it was based on their subjective opinions.

Think of distorted mirrors in amusement parks in which we appear taller, shorter, fatter or thinner. As children we believed the feedback, we received, distorted or not. "Big people" always seemed to know better.

The good news is that as adults we can have a clearer view of ourselves. The bad news is that people generally don’t re-evaluate their original self-concept. A simple example is the child who wore braces and... even as an adult... feels abashed flashing a full smile.

Notice how you compare yourself to others. Do you think you're supposed to know it all? Do you put yourself down when you don't? Are you that fish that believes it's stupid because it can't climb a tree? Or are you that fish that enjoys swimming in its element?

In Alcoholics Anonymous, there’s an expression “don’t quit five minutes before the miracle”. It’s not always easy to know the difference between giving up and letting go. But we can check out our assumptions and question what we truly can and cannot do.

I, for one, could live eight lifetimes and never be a mathematical genius, but I can excel in other areas. Our major challenge is to accept our real limitations and expose our fake ones. You can venture into such exploration. It makes life much more interesting… and enjoyable!

All my best wishes to you,

Dr. Duffy




  We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand…and melting like a snow flake.
     - Marie Beynon Ray

A poignant description of the fleeting moments of our lives… life is so beautiful and precious. Especially if we can stay in the sublime moment.

As human beings we have the capacity to think of the past and the future. Thinking of the past often brings despair and regret; the future anxiety and fear. While it can be useful to process the past to come to terms with it… and to plan for the future, it can distract us from the glorious present.

During this sweet summer… and forever, challenge yourself to be mindful and stay in the moment. Begin doing what you really want to do. The time is NOW!

Dr. Duffy
July 2015


  “Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.”
     - Viktor E. Frankl

This is the season we celebrate rebirth and freedom from oppression. It provides the opportunity to think about what they really mean.

What is personal freedom? It’s about choosing what we want and manifesting it cooperatively with others. It also involves responding to the world with meaningful action. Unfortunately many people become overtaken by external circumstances. We ultimately have the power to stay self-directed despite no matter what happens on the outside. By tapping into our inner wisdom, we can discern the best approach.

This is easier than it sounds. We can take a quiet moment to “step back” and gain a larger perspective. By deliberating momentarily we can ask smart questions like, “What is the real impact of this?” and “Why does this bother me?”

And what about freedom from oppression? By looking inside, we can determine if we are oppressing ourselves in any way. Low self-esteem is rampant in our culture and essentially involves putting ourselves down aka oppressing ourselves. This is a choice we don’t have to take. We can instead ask the basic questions, “Why am I putting myself down?” and “Is this serving me some purpose?” We have the capacity to create our inner world by asking ourselves reflective questions. Notice what inner world you are creating for yourself this beautiful holiday season. What we see inside reflects what we see outside.

This is the personal rebirth it is possible to achieve.


Warmest regards,
Dr. Duffy


If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
     - Emily Dickinson

We are on this planet to help each other … and yet our own lives can be very challenging. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with keeping our own heads above water, we forget to see other’s struggles.
Take a moment; take a breath and look around you. By helping someone else, even in the smallest way, you can help yourself feel empowered.
Most people recognize how much others impact them. Few recognize how much we impact others.
Simply notice when you positively impact someone else. You would be amazed by how much your caring presence and empathy can soothe another’s heart.

Dr. Duffy
February 2015

  "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn."
The biggest challenge in life is not to learn, but to unlearn.
     - Gloria Steinem

Is this surprising? Does it make sense to you?
It's very easy to learn things as a child.
In fact, children are like little recording machines...
with the button permanently turned on.
We take in information without even realizing it in our formative years.
And then, later on in life, we think all this "information" is true.
AND it can be intricately woven into our identity.
Many people live and die without ever questioning what they learned in childhood.
Rather than accepting all that you believe about yourself (and the world)
as  a given, how about starting your "unlearning" by simply asking
"is this really true?"
What is true and what isn't about what I believe?
I trust you will find this process fascinating, enlightening and therapeutic!

Dr. Duffy
June 2014
  Spring is nature's way of saying, let's party. - Robin Williams

Springtime is a bout nature waking up and re-birthing itself.
It's a perfect time to detoxify, let go and have some fun.
Emotional detoxification is about uncovering and expressing
hidden feelings like grief, fear, anger and replacing them with
forgiveness, love, joy and hope.
Physical detoxification is about getting rid of the toxins that we ingest...
like junk food and beverages. This enables us to be healthier and more invigorated.
Physical detoxification is also about uncluttering our surroundings.
Letting go of unused papers, clothes and knick-knacks
creates space and welcomes new energy.
Detoxifying ourselves frees us emotionally and physically.
Nadine Stair wrote, "If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the Spring and stay that way later in the Fall."
If not barefoot, make some contact with nature;
spend time just being in the Great Out Doors (my favorite acronym for God).
Wake  yourself up to your natural energy, feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Let the good times roll. It's time to party.
Warmest regards... and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Dr. Duffy
Spring 2014
  The Gift of a New Year
Winter invites us to pause and reflect at a time
when all of nature withdraws into itself
and waits a new beginning of spring.

This quiet season presents us with the opposite
for spiritual deepening.
Winter’s promise:
When life is at its darkest – and especially then –
light comes to rekindle the receptive heat and spirit.
May this winter be yours to reflect,
Rest and rejuvenate for the whole year through.
Wishing you a Lively and Joyous New Year!

Dr. Duffy


  What is essential is invisible to the eye.
     - Antoine Saint-Exupery

As the trees grow bare
and the earth goes to sleep
we look to another holiday season
T'is the time to look within
To take stock and decide
what has meaning for you
to remember that what is essential
is invisible to the eye
and that the best presents are the presence
of those who mean the most to you.
Wishing you your own most fulfilling holiday season.

With love,
Dr. Duffy
December 2012


  "I have come to believe... that what is most important to me must be expressed, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood."
     - Audre Lorde

Yes, it can be risky to speak our mind. We can be misinterpreted. People filter what they hear from behind their own eyes... and they will do that when you speak.  

Yet what's the alternative?  

Who you are is very important... and when you are willing to share who you are (and how you see things) you enrich your world.  

One major caveat: we need to take the time and effort to be clear. The more precise you are with your message, the less room there is for others to misinterpret you.  

Unless you're willing to truly tell the world who you are, the world will tell YOU who you are!  

Dr. Duffy
August 2012


The best time to plant a tree was 20 yrs ago. The second best time is now.
     - Chinese Proverb

Oh, the degree to which we can lament our missed opportunities.... and all of those great decisions that we could have made if we had had the foresight.

Yes, it’s absolutely true that if we would have planted that tree 20 years ago, we would have had a full grown tree with all of its glorious fruits. But we didn't...for all of the various reasons we had at the time… or just a lack of awareness of possibilities. 

So, today we have a choice.  We can continue to “should” on ourselves  OR we can start anew… rev up our energy in the magnificent NOW and live our lives as fully as we can from this day forward.

What “tree” are you willing to plant today? What are you willing to start or do differently?

Warm regards,
Dr. Duffy 





Difficulties are soul shaping...they can be lessons that lead us to know who we are.
     - Jean Shinoda Bolen

As we mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and mourn the thousands of our fellow Americans who so wrongfully died, we know what difficulty is.

We also know what difficulty is in a more general way. Our own birth brings a certainty of pain and loss. That is inevitable.

What is not inevitable is our response to it.

May we accept that we can't escape difficulty in life, but we can look at it straight in the eye and say, "ah, I embrace you as I embrace joy... and I remain open to you as my compassionate teacher."

Life is always worth living.

With appreciation,

Dr. Duffy


  Dr. Duffy Spencer, PhD | 609 Dartmouth Street Westbury, NY 11590-3420
Phone 516.334.8985  Fax 516.997.4401

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