JENNY R. SUSSER, PH.D.

POWER & PERFORMANCE SPORT PSYCHOLOGY SERVICES

Car Shopping & the Ill-Equipped

Posted by on Jun 29, 2019

It is time for a new car…fortunately and unfortunately. Most people grunt in common misery when they hear this terrible news. Only a psychologist would twist themselves into a pretzel over how to approach this so I thought you might enjoy the hilarity of the story. It makes me think of an ad for t-shirt I almost bought that said, “Keep Talking: I’m diagnosing you.” Yes, the fear is real people, psychologists can’t help but make sideline assessments when dealing with some people, but I bet you do, too. For me, it is usually a wondering kind of process, I wonder if they have any awareness about things they do or say… It has been a while since buying a new car and I haven’t missed the process. If you are in the retail business of cars, I apologize for the negative contribution to the negative stereotype, but I am not sure how to represent it better. The problem is a human problem more than a car salesman one, ultimately, a lack of “mental equipment,” so to speak. It makes me wonder if the industry attracts something of the sort? My Lexus RX 400h is a 2006 and has over 200,000 miles. We bought it new, so we have most definitely gotten our money’s worth and it has been a great car. So great, I will probably buy the same one again. But in an effort to do well-rounded research, I looked at another brand (*shudder*). Here is where my professional life messes up the personal. The research shows that women pay more for a new car than men, which puts me on instant alert. The majority of car sales are done by men (typically white men). It is a very male-dominated field and I have plenty of personal experiences being treated poorly at a car dealership to support the research. So, going into this with an open mind was just about impossible. But hey, it was worth a try. Trying to silence the skeptic is tough, especially when this much money is at stake. Like the good researcher, I spent some time online looking at the competition, the expert commentary, and the reviews. Trying to be mindful of my carbon footprint, I wanted to get another hybrid, and it doesn’t hurt that I have loved my current one so much. There is another car in the same category...

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Hiding failure

Posted by on Jun 22, 2019

12 – 15 minute read…but worth it. I have been failing…and hiding it. There, I said it. When I thought about writing this, I was going to call it “Embracing Failure,” because I just couldn’t bring myself to admit I was not only failing but hiding it. The wiggling my mind engaged in was incredible to watch. Every time I thought about writing this article, I would call it embracing instead of hiding, trying to pretend that title would be more profound or some crap like that. But the truth is I have been failing and honestly, the more I talk and share about it, the freer I become. It’s like a coming out, again, and it is getting more and more brilliant as I go, just like before. The power of honesty with the self is immeasurable. I became a psychologist to be a sport psychologist, period. Watching Dr. William Parham work with the swim team in my third and unhappiest year as an assistant coach, I was inspired for the first time outside of competitive sport. “Get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology,” he told me, “it will be more powerful and more versatile.” And so, I did. It was longer and more difficult, but I was young so off I went. Graduate school was an incredible time for me. Discovering my intellectual side was a revelation, especially for someone who identified completely with “dumb jock” for most of my life. I fell in love with learning for the first time and discovered an ability to think and figure, and the world seemed to open up. One thing I never expected to fall in love with was psychology and the clinical process. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. The more I helped, the more I wanted to help. It was enlightening and exciting. For the first time in my life, my focus became about others and it was amazing and quite honestly, a great relief. Through a few degrees of separation, I landed a post-doc at an organizational consulting firm that also happened to work with the NY Giants. The founder, my boss, was this wonderful, funny, clever, and generous man who built his business the way they did in the old days, through relationship. With a handful of client’s he had served for decades, his company was him, not his product, not his...

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Driving as a personality inventory

Posted by on Jun 14, 2019

Road rage or personality flaw? When I was a senior in high school, I had my wisdom teeth out. They had come in fully, with room and no problems, but that was what we did back then, take them out no matter what. It was an easy extraction, simply pulling four teeth at my dentist’s office. I drove myself there and home, probably a mistake looking back but when you’re seventeen… Anyway, I was on my way home and feeling a little groggy as I sat at a red light. I had enough cotton rolls and swelling in my mouth to do a really good Godfather impression. You know how you can feel when the person in the car next to you is looking at you, well I had that feeling and so I looked over. It was a woman alone in her car and she had a look of horror on her face. Her eyes were wide, her forehead crinkled, and her mouth open as she stared at me. Not really knowing what was scaring her, I smiled out of reflex. Without being able to hear it, I could see that she screamed and then grabbed the wheel and raced off, going through the red light, thankfully without incident. Stunned and a bit stupid from the procedure, I looked around to see what she was reacting to. As my head went left and then right, I glanced in the rearview mirror and the culprit was revealed. Blood was trailing down from both corners of my mouth and dripping off my chin onto my sweatshirt, leaving two big blood stains. I smiled from the hilarity and saw the blood was in between my teeth, too, making me look like a vampire. My entire mouth was still so numb from the Novocaine that I couldn’t feel the blood leaking out of it. As the light turned green, I giggled the rest of the way home, wishing I could explain to this poor woman my appearance. All I could do was hope she recovered, got home safely, and saw the event as a great story to tell at dinner parties. A funny story but perhaps not a good evaluation of this woman’s personality or maybe it is that her fight or flight response is definitely flight. Have you ever gotten in the car with someone you like and been instantly surprised...

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Are those my shoes? Some perspective on perspective.

Posted by on Jun 7, 2019

Perspective is a funny thing. The older I get, the more that sentence means to me. Perspective can be like wrinkles on a wonderfully aging face, well earned by living hard and living real. You could even compare it to intuition, an ability that grows over time, with a long, winding road that is a wonder to look back on as you stand at the end of the look-out point. “Walk a mile in my shoes” is the saying we have come to rely upon to urge one another to gain or at the very least, seek perspective. The problem is, it is impossible to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Even if we wore the same size, my foot will have a different shape than yours, my gait will be assuredly different, the density and relative strength of my muscle groups will have been shaped by a lifetime of my activity vs. yours. What if we are not the same height or weight? That will definitely impact how those shoes feel and wear to each of us. My favorite shoe might be your least comfortable. And don’t get me started on fashion, design, color, and fabric. This might be hopeless… Running with the shoe metaphor, one of the most painful lessons of my life regarding perspective came in my third year in graduate school. The program had a mission statement centered on multiculturalism and while important, it was completely unimportant to me. It was the only program I got into and that was all that mattered. The multicultural thing seemed cool but certainly was not a priority, yet interestingly enough, it ended up being one of the most important parts of my training and education. I had zero exposure to multiculturalism and so the awakening was rather rude. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, what’s the big deal with multiculturalism,” I would think, “I’m a gay, Jewish, woman so I am three times a minority! I get it.” But I didn’t. I failed to understand that my blond hair, green eyes, athletic body, bachelor’s degree and All-American athlete status from UCLA, impending Ph.D., and upper-middle-class upbringing prevented me from even being able to see some of the shoes people had to wear let alone be able to walk a step in them. CSPP (California School of Professional Psychology) was 80% African-American women so I was technically a minority. But I...

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