Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
June 2012



Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life.

Antidotes to Neediness: In Search of An Inner Dad

In the May 2012 issue of Out on a Limb, we looked at ways to cultivate an Inner Mom as an antidote to neediness. I was sorry to learn that my investigation into what an Inner Mom could do for us evoked great sadness and a spike of disappointment for those whose mothers’ mothering fell short of the description. The list was by no means intended as a menu of performance standards by which any mother should be measured. Rather, it was meant to bring your awareness to ways in which you could summon maternal, feminine qualities from within to assuage neediness. Some are fortunate to have their own mothers as role models; others have to look elsewhere or make it up as they go along. And let me repeat: neediness isn’t necessarily the big bad monster to avoid at all cost. I offer these meditations on alleviating neediness simply because I observe the gymnastics we attempt in order to hide it!

What could an Inner Dad do? Having grown up in the era of TV shows such as Father Knows Best, and Leave It To Beaver, an image of a Dad who provides for the family, and then gets waited on at home, is what comes to mind. I doubt the expectation of being waited on is amongst those qualities that will help you reduce your neediness! If anything, it might increase it! So, what could an Inner Dad do for you?

  • He emphasizes the importance of providing for your needs, be they physical, emotional, financial, etc. He does not want you to be lacking.
  • He, like an Inner Mom, has your back. He will defend you assertively, if not aggressively.
  • He will push you to be the best you can be; he doesn’t want you to shy away from healthy competition.
  • He favors courage in the face of adversity.
  • If you are hurt or sick, he may not be the one to hold your hand at your bedside, but he will mobilize the inner troops to get you well. He is about action more than commiseration.
  • When he hears the exciting news you have to share, he will celebrate, but he will also discourage you from resting on your laurels.
  • If you are having a rough day, he may distract you by telling a joke, playful antics, or changing the subject.
  • He is your go-to guy for brainstorming solutions to thorny problems that need fixing.
  • He may be short on words, but long on actions that demonstrate his fierce love for you.

I welcome your additions to this list. Just in case you feel the May 2012 Inner Mom list and this month’s Inner Dad list reek of gender stereotypes, remember that we are really talking about masculine and feminine qualities that can show up in males or females. If your best role model for your Inner Mom is a man, great! If your own Dad or your best friend’s Dad happens to fit the description of an Inner Mom more fully, that’s great, too! I like to go by the motto of “Whatever works” when it comes to adopting strategies that will cultivate more self-assurance and confidence. Unless, of course, your “whatever” does harm to you or another person!



As I am not a parent (unless you count being a caregiver to numerous animals over the years), I can’t speak from personal experience about the necessity of teamwork in caring for a child but ideally, your Inner Mom and Inner Dad must collaborate to support you as fully as possible. If this duo is at cross-purposes, it could result in confusion, at best, misguided thinking or actions at worst. So, just as actual parents receive coaching on how to be a united front with their kids, you may need to foster some dialogue between these two to get everyone working together to keep the neediness at bay.


Inner Family

Your unique cadre of supporters is limitless. Perhaps you would be bolstered more by a sibling type of presence within. Grandparents also come to mind; they dish out all kinds of support. So an Inner Grampa or Uncle may be what you need. The whole idea here is to get creative, and stick with the “whatever works” outlook. The Inner relatives might be exact replicas of your kinfolk. Or, they could be a mish-mash of friends who are like brothers, aunts, or cousins whose love for you in that inner home can be counted on to steer you toward healthy attachments rather than unhealthy ones driven by neediness.


Joy-Gram for June 2012

This is the month that involves a celebration of fathers so observe the qualities in dads in your world that you would like to cultivate within yourself. And remember: sometimes we figure out what to cultivate by noting what we don’t want to emulate.

Your June 2012 Prompts for Joy

Click here to see an unusual father-and-bride dance. Keep watching for at least a minute and a half!

Click here for an emphatic conversation between twin boys.

Bobbi Emel and Roberta Gelt provided the links to this month’s Prompts for Joy. Thanks, and keep ‘em coming!

Grief FAQ

It's easy to confuse grief with depression. The reason for this is that a number of symptoms of bereavement - the grief commonly experienced when someone close to you has died or is dying - are the same as those reported by people who are clinically depressed. More... My response to this and other Frequently Asked Questions about grieving are at www.caring.com. If you are a caregiver for an elderly parent or relative, take a look at the myriad resources available to you at this website.

Pictured Above

This picture of my Dad was taken by either Joanna Clark Swayze or Joe Swayze. As Dad was more often the photographer than the subject, this is a picture I particularly treasure. He was a short-on-words father, but a freshly-picked white gardenia in a vase by my bedside spoke volumes.

Archives Now Available

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By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •

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