I Wanted To Change The World

insecureI remember when I was 14 trying to smoke. My buddy Brent and I stole a pack of cigarettes from my mother and went off to smoke them in hiding, in case the smoking police caught us and told our parents. It was very urbane, we lit up and started to suck. We were coo, for about a second until the smoke reached my lungs and my body went, “not in here!”. I felt like I’d been hit in the chest by a baseball bat. We both hacked and barked and I almost barfed, and after about 30 seconds it calmed down and I looked at Brent and said, “Pretty smooth huh?” (I’d seen that on a commercial). I think Brent was going into cardiac arrest.

We worked away at that vile thing, hacking and gagging and my eyes were tearing up and flushed and my throat felt as though I’d been eating the sidewalk. But we were looking cool. That was until I turned green on the way home, and threw up on my bike, and drove into a ditch, and hit my head on my steering wheel, and threw up again all over my pants, and kind of passed out for a bit on the road to the air force base.

But it was a small price to pay for cool, right. And after a few dozen I didn’t get sick anymore and I was set. Course I couldn’t play sports much anymore and I stunk and it took my dad about 3 minutes to catch me and apply the hand of justice to the backside of reproach. But I was cool. I belonged and I was better than other losers who couldn’t handle their smoke.
A lot of us pridefully try to fit in, in order to be someone.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression… so they say…
As a result many of us are hungry to impress other people.
We want so bad to make a splash. Just look at the Academy Awards. It has become a contest to see who can wear the most outrageous outfit, people dressing up like birds for heaven’s sake.
Why? To stick out in the crowd, to be noticed and admired. “Love me- hate me, just don’t ignore me.

Many of us feel we have marginal personalities. We wonder if we will ever fit in, especially when we look around at those who seem to fit in far better. It leads us to perform. We are great performers, you and I. We have pretended to be many things, many different people. We have learned to fit in, to say the right things and impress the right people. Many begin to rationalize any behavior that will allow them to look successful or healthy. We lie. Though we are supposed to be adults, no longer tossed to and fro by peer pressure, the fact remains that we are all still trying to fit in, to be loved, to be adored.

I have tried to find my identity in many places, and many of those places were destructive. Girls crave love and attention so much that they settle for anything that even resembles it, mainly from guys looking for only one thing. Guys crave status and respect and when they cannot find it they are fooled by its illusion in pornography and casual sex. Lonely people longing for approval fall into the world of drugs and alcohol, and insecure people strive to get to the top, only to find their identity lost when they finish second. It is the reason for the latest trend whereby young girls of twelve or thirteen give blow jobs out as free gifts at house parties and school dances.In each case, people are looking for love and acceptance, identity; for the fulfilled life. They long to rise about their own mediocrity and worthlessness and soar like the eagle; but instead they wind up more confused as to who they are, and where they fit into the world. We have all felt the shame of insignificance, and left wondering if life is even worth it. We have all dreamed of being a ‘someone’, of being loved and adored. We have all longed to be special.

And if the truth were told many of us are convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if people really knew us, if we really acted in an authentic way, that no one would like us. I once heard a speaker say, “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t come to hear me speak. But that’s ok, because if I really knew you I wouldn’t talk to you!”

That’s our greatest fear, isn’t it? If I let you inside, if you knew that even though I get paid to be mature, be wise, be profound, say smart things, if you really knew what a screw-up I am, could you still care for me? Could you love me if you knew how ordinary I was, how black my thoughts can be, how insecure I am, how convinced I am that I am ugly? I’m a great person until you get to know me. How can I believe that someone could think I was special, love me for who I am, without any of my masks, if I can’t even learn to like myself?

The older I get the more convinced I am that this is the greatest and most difficult journey we will ever take – the road to self acceptance. As the monk once said, “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself.”

I still want to change the world but maybe I need to start closer to home.

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

Author: Unknown Monk 1100 A.D.

When Having Sex With Your Man Makes You Feel Cheap And Used

It seems that almost daily women tell me that they are having obligatory sex, usually around once per month, to appease their partner stop the begging These women believe, reasonably, that if they give in it will allow them some time off from the emotional games/manipulation and help them placate that voice inside their head that keeps telling them they are frigid, or a bad spouse, or something far worse.  Most women I have talked to do the obligation sex thing for what they believe are the right reasons, hoping that this will somehow make things at least temporarily better.

They are wrong.

Men do not think like you do. The message you are sending is nothing like the message we are hearing. Women tend to have sex for very different reasons than men do (no new revelation here). When we are fighting, when our relationship is stale, when I don’t think you like me and then you have sex with me, as a guy I think, “everything is ok now.” I am not making this up. Sex puts a guy’s world back in order.

Is that the message you meant to send?

I do understand, at least as much as I am able, the frustration many women feel who are in a stable relationship when it comes to sex. Even as a dude I realize how incredibly invasive and penetrating (ya, I know…) such a biological act is; even devoid of the emotional, sensual, and spiritual aspects of making love.

I am also familiar with the persistent frustration many men feel and the temptation to beg, manipulate, promise and beg in order to have sex. I am still amazed that my wife would even let me touch her like that, and I’m not being trite. I feel a woman’s body, any partner’s body for that matter, is such an incredible gift that I can think and dream about her all day. She’s a redhead. It is no wonder that even the strongest among us can be tempted to entice and manipulate in order to get our way. Many men are guilty of selfishness in this area.

In my course for men on sex I challenge every guy in a relationship to continue to have sex but refrain from having an orgasm for at least a month or two. Why?

I believe in my deepest parts that it is quintessentially important for men, and women, to grow beyond their selfishness, greed and lust in order to become a great lover and a great person. NO ONE is born a great lover. Few of us are willing to do what it takes to become one.

You have only to read the comments on some of my blogs to see how many women have been hurt through the selfishness and douchebaggery of men who are only interested in their sperm count and have never learned to love selflessly. How many of us have stood up at weddings or witnessed the couple repeating those Bible verses you hear at every wedding about thinking more of the other than we do of ourselves? That isn’t just good spirituality, that is foundational truth.

My heart hurts for so many women who have been exploited, sexually abused, and treated like a prostitute, by a partner who swore to love them unconditionally. Often they relate that they constantly feel guilty and inadequate. In my practice by far the majority of sexual abuse I deal with comes from within a committed relationship. Consider that for a moment.

If your partner is not willing and committed to foregoing their own pleasure in order to ensure your safety and trust (notice I didn’t say anything about sex there), as well as your pleasure first; then I have serious concerns about their level of commitment. I tell women on a regular basis that they are not obligated to have sex when their partner whines, abuses, or manipulates. You have more power than you know. Use it.

Next week I will write about how to teach your male how to be a great lover, but for now I want to reach out to those many people who have been exploited, or who have had their needs ignored, or have been fooled by a man who started out loving you and now is only using you. You are not dirty, ugly, loose. You especially are not frigid. That is his word, not yours. After all, who among us would not be willing to give ourselves to someone who will truly honour and love unconditionally, having only our concerns and safety at heart?

If you are a guy reading this, don’t be like the other pigs we all know. Be an amazing lover. Ask your partner to teach you. Be humble.

It’s the best learning you’ll ever do.

P.S. – Experts tell us that having sex with your partner ten times per year still qualifies you as being in a sexless marriage. (maybe I’m doing the math wrong). Did you hear me, experts!

Why Men Lie To You

Women ask me, why do men lie so often? The answer may surprise you.

In a man’s world, lying to get out of domestic chores, calm down a lover, or get an extra slice of pizza is not necessarily a real lie. Depending on the situation and potential emotional fallout, sometimes we justify these slips and think of them more like a ‘lie’ish’.

“After all, sweetheart, I didn’t realize it would hurt you so much.”
“I wasn’t exactly sure what you meant when you asked me to make supper.”
“The instructions you gave me were unclear so I thought I should wait until you got home to do it right.”
“As your mother constantly reminds me, I am after all, incompetent anyway and it is probably best that you do it yourself.”
“I didn’t think you would take it so badly.”
“Honestly.”

In a man’s world, wives and girlfriends usually become the “loyal opposition”. You need to be placated. You have more demands of us than we do of ourselves. When you ask us to do things it sometimes sounds suspiciously like our mommy. Woman may not understand, as I point out all the time on this blog, that men are generally more emotionally lazy than women are. Much, much, more. We also think differently than women do. We put things in boxes (yes, I know that’s a worn cliché but work with me here), I know I do. Our innermost desire is to deal with your problem as quickly as possible, put it in a box, and watch sports.

I realize how that sounds but women seem to have so many issues they want to discuss and the quicker we can classify, deal with, or avoid having to think about, the better. The quicker I can shut the box the less emotion I have to invest; and you know how we guys are with emotional availability.

So why don’t I just pick up the laundry like I said I would instead of fudging a lie to get you off my back? The reason may have something to do with the fact that picking up the laundry was not my idea, and therefore I do not really care about the laundry. After all, I only change my underwear when you notice. Besides I rarely ask you for anything (you anticipate my needs). I will pick up the laundry… later (for the uninitiated ‘later’ is our way of placating you now while never really intending on getting the laundry unless it somehow lands in my car while at the drive-through at Wendys). Telling you I plan on doing it at another time also stops the emotional outburst, which as every guy knows is the reason for all excuses. If I tell you the truth we have to talk about it and talking involves emotions, usually yours. It is far easier to get back to you later (and mistakenly hope you’ll forget, because we will).

Now, I cannot end this article without flinging mud in the other direction, if ever so briefly. Women are by no means blameless. Case in point, how are you today? Fine? In a man’s world that is a bold-faced lie unless you mean it. Why do you think we are so surprised when later we find out you were upset? You told us you were fine! In my world, if I am going to lie, it is going to be subtle. Answering a question by saying ‘fine’ immediately leads me to believe you are, in fact, just fine. I do not understand that your body language, the expression on your face, the way you are standing, the fact that you are yelling out the word; and the growing realization that you may be praying for my death, should be clear enough indicators that you are not fine… but I’m a guy.

The Body Image Revolution: How one image started the conversation

Something revolutionary happened this week. A woman posted a photograph of herself in her underwear on the Internet. Although there are thousands of pictures of women in their underwear on-line (and in magazines, catalogs, television, billboards, etc…), this picture was different. It was different because this woman is fat (not my word).

Stella Boonshoft is an 18 year-old student at New York University and she loves her body. She is proud of her body and she wanted to use her body as an agent of change. She struggled with hating her body for much of her life. She was bullied and tormented as a child and adolescent. And she learned to make peace with her body. So she posted a semi-nude picture of herself on her blog and opened a nation-wide conversation about body image, misconceptions about health, and acceptance. She is extraordinarily courageous.

Stella posted this picture of herself along with the caption:

WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE. Meaning the choices I make about it, are none of your f*cking business. Meaning my size, IS NONE OF YOUR F*CKING BUSINESS. If my big belly and fat arms and stretch marks and thick thighs offend you, then that’s okay. I’m not going to hide my body and my being to benefit your delicate sensitivities.

Our nation has been leading a crusade against fat people. Rather than encouraging people to love our bodies and care for ourselves in healthy and nurturing ways, we encourage fat-shaming- a phenomenon where we blame people for their nerve to inhabit fat bodies. If you are fat, you are told to deprive yourself in an attempt to manipulate your body to be thin by whatever measures necessary. Health is secondary to thinness. Now, many people will argue that you cannot be healthy if you are overweight. This is simply not true. More and more research is emerging showing that not all obese people are unhealthy and that being overweight (according to Body Mass Index [BMI] charts) may actually be protective in certain ways (this is called the “Obesity Paradox”). In addition, being thin by any means necessary has significant health risks as evidenced by people who struggle with (and too often die from) anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. I believe that leading a healthy lifestyle, which integrates movement and a well-balanced diet of whole foods, is more predictive of an individual’s health than his or her BMI. Yet we stigmatize an entire group of people based on their body size under the pretense that this must mean that they are unhealthy. The stigmatization and bullying of fat people only leads to body-hatred and disordered eating behaviors. Think about it: if you hate your body, does this really motivate you to treat your body well? It usually results in the very antithesis- increased sickness and poor health. It was disheartening to read the comments on some of the blogs that featured the story about Stella Boonshoft. Although there were some supportive comments, the bullying and cruelty were hard to bear.

Fat-shaming simply does not work. If it worked, we would not be in the midst of an “obesity epidemic.” As a clinical psychologist, I work with patients of all different sizes (some considered underweight, average weight, overweight, or obese according to BMI) who struggle with accepting their bodies. For many people, how they feel about their body determines their mood and their daily activities. I hear from people who think that they are too fat to go to the movies, walk through the park, check out the new museum exhibition, exercise at the gym, or attend a party. People have stopped living their lives to the fullest because they feel that their fatness prevents them from being a productive member of society. They feel unacceptable, offensive, or less than because of their body size.  And feeling this way does not make them any thinner.

We need to learn to accept and love our bodies, to stop hiding and disengaging from life because our body weight isn’t considered “average.” From love-not hatred – comes nurturance and health.

by Alexis Conason, Psy.D

“Why Does He Prefer Porn Over Me?”

Penny FlameThis week’s “Dear Whys Guy” blog features a heartbreaking scenario where the husband would prefer to watch pornography on his phone than have a real sexual encounter with his wife of 22 years. How does a romance go from head over heels in love to utter indifference?

Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson, the authors of “Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow”, have written an outstanding article in Psychology Today on the debilitating effect of frequent pornography viewing on men. They observed that “recent behavioral addiction research suggests that the loss of libido and performance occur because heavy users are numbing their brain’s normal response to pleasure. Years of overriding the natural limits of libido with intense stimulation desensitize the user’s response to a neurochemical called dopamine.”

Ultimately, continued use of pornography by a man leads to a decreased response to dopamine. This results in declining natural desire and in a cyclical effect, increased need for even more visual stimulation. This insatiable hunger for pornography will increase as the reward for watching it decreases. This is the inevitable downside of addiction.

In addition to this physiological deadening, University of North Carolina Professor Joshua Knobe and his colleagues showed that porn use also changed the way men view women.  Professor Knobe described this effect male porn use had on the way men perceived women as  “animalification-treating a woman as though she lacks the capacity for complex thinking and reasoning, but at the same time, treating her as though she was even more capable of having strong feelings and emotional responses.”

There is little that the wife of  the pornography addict can do to interest her husband. He has used artificial means to go beyond the outer limit of human beings. He is not feeling the ordinary joy he used to experience and he doesn’t even look at her the same way.  The husband must hit bottom,  break the cycle of addiction and allow his natural limited desire and perception of the opposite sex to return before they can together return to a healthy fulfilling sexual relationship as husband and wife.

The wife can use this terrible crisis as an opportunity to re-evaluate the whole marriage from the ground up once the man seeks help. Many men are not finding acceptance in their conventional monogamous relationships. These men are unconnected to their unsuspecting spouse and children and seek a temporary high, connection and escape from reality in pornography, lap dances in Gentlemen’s Clubs, prostitutes or serial adultery.

How did these once ardent paramours end up having to tip toe in at 2AM, shed their clothes into the washer, shower off the stink of cheap perfume from a stripper and slip quietly into bed next to their slumbering spouse? The sad reality for many men is that their conventional relationship was based on inappropriate emotional and physical intimacy and the deception of approval seeking. After the ephemeral high of the honeymoon fades, these men find themselves trapped in a prison of their own device. They enjoy symbolic physical nakedness in each sexual encounter with their wife, but there is no acceptance of their naked self, because these rejection fearing mirage men never give their partner the chance to really know and accept them.

These men will cope with their empty marriage by employing real or virtual women to provide them with the temporal acceptance they find lacking in their steady relationship. It will only last for a few hours before they must flee back into their alternative universe where they live with their wife and children. The next day these mirage men will find themselves just as alone and disconnected as before. This will feed the need to keep seeing the person or website who gives them that high, which will lead from a dalliance to addiction.

Mirage men won’t admit there is a problem in their marriage until it reaches a crisis point or the various addictive coping behaviors that spring up become so blatant they can no longer be ignored. These addictions  will lead to an exaggeration of their character defects. The family will learn to adjust as the mirage man  becomes more and more eccentric, after years of living with no mooring to his true self.  In this Whys Guy blog case, the man is openly watching porn on his phone and tuning out all those around him.  It took a long time for his secret life of addiction to become this outrageous and shameless. We can only hope he will hit bottom and seek help before his wife considers ending the relationship over grounds of emotional abandonment.

Published on November 7, 2011 by J. R. Bruns, M.D. in Repairing Relationships

Casual Friday – Stampy The Elephant

elephant chopperMy son Nathan came to me and admitted he had been slacking on his homework. One of his high school teachers never read his assignments and after a while Nate caught on and decided to test her. He stopped doing the assignments and instead began writing about his fictitious pet, Stampy The Elephant. For over two years he never once completed a home assignment, and the teacher never caught on.

Nathan is no fool and recognized he would have to be subtle, tell no one, and give every appearance of doing his assignment. Without a doubt he spent more time endeavoring to evade this work than he ever would have spent doing the assignment. He was careful to include the name of the assignment in the first line. The assignments looked unremarkable and Stampy’s name did not usually appear in the first few lines.

Here are a few examples of sentences in actual assignments he turned in:
writing on World War One:
World War One was really cool because me and Stampy played in the rain, it was a weird day.

on the sociological effect the war had on Canadian cities:
World War One wasn’t in Montreal because that’s where me and Stampy were.

on exercise:
People like to walk, because that’s what me and Stampy do. I hate Charlie (a classmate looking on) because she says mean things to me right now. She probably doesn’t even like Stampy The Elephant.

on rampant consumerism and the effect on Canadian culture:
I’m going to buy a nice car. I think that would be very exciting. Canada has many problems that could be solved if Stampy and i had a nice car.

Looking back, and talking to Nathan some time later, I have come to realize that Nate was learning important lessons about life. That teacher taught him several things that she wasn’t aware of. She taught him that effort doesn’t matter because it is all about looking good. Nathan learned that teachers are lazy and easily manipulated. When he told me about it I knew as a good parent that I should force him to do his best even if no one is looking. As a parent I wanted to encourage him to do his best, take his education seriously, and strive for excellence.Part of me wanted to challenge him to be a young man of integrity regardless of who noticed. But part of me wanted to see how long he could get away with it.

To this day he has a low opinion about teachers, in spite of the fact that he is training to be one very soon. I will often hear remarks about how little they work, how they don’t really care, how they are not the brightest. Of course most teachers are hardworking, dedicated and committed; and I have sought to correct any misconceptions. It  is hard, however, to argue with the elephant in the room.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
Albert Schweitzer

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.”
Stephen King

And Therein, As The Bard Would Tell Us, Lies The Rub*

I had a Grand Mal Seizure (tonic-clonic) last week. Apparently 10% of people will have one in their lifetime. My neurologist was explaining this to me last week and flippantly commented, “So if there are ten people out in that waiting room, one of them will have a seizure.” My wife, not missing a beat, said, “So as long as Scott is in the room we should be ok.” I love her.

The seizure took place at the medical clinic where I work. I have been told that I smashed my head against the wall, tried to bite my good friend and doctor, attempted to spinning back-kick another doctor, developed a case of Turrets, and basically held the medical office hostage. There is some speculation that I stopped breathing at one point. I woke up on a gurney, then in the ambulance, than at the hospital. I have significant short-term memory loss and have no remembrance of the situation. Weird.

Every so often we are reminded that we are not immortal. A little over a year ago I had a major traffic accident on a prairie road in the middle of nowhere. Other than some broken ribs, I walked away unharmed. After that accident I spent some time reflecting on the fact that my life was spared because I turned left (into oncoming traffic) instead of the logical choice, right. I spent a few months practicing the techniques I teach others, and was able to glean some healthy insights.

People have asked me since if I learned anything from these experiences. I have. Coming out of the hospital, after two days in the overflow wing that I shared with three female senior citizens I learned that old women really snore, and do vile things to a bathroom if left unattended. I also learned that I have been taking time for granted and have become lazy. When I am tired it is far easier to watch television than do something productive. It is tempting to waste my life on things that don’t matter. I am a driven person, but can truly be lazy between dreams. The older I grow the easier it is to sit around, skip my martial arts classes, and sit around with a remote control in my hands. Because I have a bad knee it is a simple thing to find a pseudo-sensible reason for my lethargy. And the clock continues to tick.

These are lessons one would expect to learn from any near-death or feels-near-death experience. The world is replete with stories about how the accident survivor felt they had a fresh start, a new chance and opportunity. This is, it would seem, a natural and hopeful response to these things. What I didn’t expect was to lose my short-term memory. I didn’t expect to forget where I lived, where my son’s bedroom was, how to put a key in the lock, and virtually all the meaningful experiences I have had in the recent past. I cannot remember Thanksgiving three weeks ago. Apparently we went out to the lake the next day for a picnic. I could not remember how to check my email, how to Skype, how to do case notes at work. I had no idea how to edit this blog. I actually phoned Godaddy and had them walk me through it. The first morning back at work I had four clients I apparently knew well but could not, for the life of me, remember their names.

It all started when I woke up in the ambulance. I felt normal, clear, and wondered why I was so vigorously strapped to the gurney. They asked me the normal questions – name, address, did I know what happened… I got the first one right. I knew my name, why would you ask me something like that? My address, what is my address? Something felt wrong. It was as if I had a space in my head where my address was supposed to fit. It is hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it.

I am back at work today. It only took me thirty seconds to remember which key opened the front door. I watched my wife drive away (my license is suspended for thirty days) and then nonchalantly stood by the door. And the clock continued to click. It eventually came to me, all of a sudden, that it was the weird flower key that stuck out like a sore thumb. I got my inner office door opened in only two tries.

This is very frustrating. I still remember what I have learned, still can engage clients in counseling. In some ways I am more in tune with counseling than I ever have been. I feel like I am at the top of my game, until you hand me keys. I will not remember certain details, and will not know I do not know.

This is very hard on my ego. I get paid to be smart, to be present, insightful, intuitive, engaging. If i let myself dwell on this, it will be easy to become anxious, or depressed, and begin to panic. And therein, as the bard would tell us, lies the rub.*

I teach people everyday to control their emotions before they become controlled. I am an evangelist for CBT, REBT, DBT, psychoanalysis, etc. I believe with my whole heart that this stuff works. Of course it is one thing for me to believe this works for other people.

It is another thing altogether to believe this works for me.

“Physician heal thyself.”

*stolen from “Inside Man“.

Why It Sucks To Be Canadian

Growing up in Canada has many advantages. Canadians really are the most polite people you will ever meet. It is somehow hardwired into our DNA to say “excuse me” and “thank you”. Traveling to other countries it is always a bit of a culture shock until I realize that waiter who has no manners and is talking so gruffly is not actually upset or rude. We are a very sensitive people.

When I lived and worked in the United States I found the people to be wonderful, even if I never did come to understand the appeal of biscuits and gravy. I mean seriously, that is disgusting. The Americans I knew were quite convinced that they lived in the greatest country in the world and were proud to tell me. This is a very un-Canadian way of thinking. In Canada we believe we are from the greatest country on earth, unless you might find that offensive. And actually, when I think about it, even saying this is quite pushy and if I have offended you, please forgive me. I’m sorry.

Growing up I was taught that self promotion was arrogance and a humble person never brags. Humble people, we believed, made fun of themselves and were self-deprecating. We are not flag wavers. Telling someone else that your country is better than theirs is considered the height of bad form. Psychologically Americans and Canadians are very different animals. Canadians have grown up in the shadow of the giant. We tend to define ourselves by what we are not, as opposed to what we are.

As a Canadian it is very difficult for me to admit that I believe Americans raise their children with a much healthier sense of self and self-esteem. Canada is a country of 35+ million people who don’t like themselves. In all my years of counseling in Canada I have yet to meet more than a handful of people who actually like themselves and would describe themselves as having good self-image. That is at least in part to my contention that to even say you have healthy self-esteem in Canada is extremely difficult. If I tell a group or an individual that I like myself I somehow feel dirty, conceited. I usually follow this up with a joke that makes fun of myself. This is a very Canadian experience.

Obviously people from other countries have issues with self-esteem as well. The purpose of this article is not to elevate or minimize another culture. I am simply implying that the Canadian experience is, on some level, very twisted and unhealthy. I have struggled my entire life to come to grips with my feelings of worth and am only now, well into my forties, willing to admit (with a little Canadian trepidation) that I am coming to like who I am. Just writing those words remain difficult for me, however. Stating publicly that I like myself is fighting against generations of self recrimination and sociology.

Religion has also had a hand in making it difficult for people to have a healthy self-image. I did not grow up in a very religious home but every summer at bible camp I was reminded that “everything good is from God” and the intended converse, “everything bad is Scott.” My Baptist camp counselor told me that, “Without God I could do nothing and there is nothing good in me.” I was “born in sin”. I have since grown up to understand those statements in perspective but I distinctly remember feeling like a dirty wretch every summer at the altar call.

I am Canadian.
I am trying to like myself but feel bad telling you this.
I have secretly always believed I was ugly although I wondered if I was good-looking.
I am paranoid about people thinking I may be arrogant.
My parents told me I was a winner but I thought that it would be conceited to believe them.
I have spent my entire life struggling with self-esteem.
If you tell me I am a loser I am prone to believe you.
I am Canadian.

It’s time to let ourselves love ourselves. You are amazing. You are beautiful in spite of what you see in the mirror. You are fine just the way you are. Amazing. More brilliant than you know.

“Something inside you emerges….an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness. It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence. It is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself.”
– Eckhart Tolle

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
– Edmund Hillary

How To Pick Up Vulnerable Women

...And The Home Of Depraved.You just got out of a messy, abusive relationship with a guy who doesn’t understand you, never took the time to service your needs, and was emotionally unavailable. You are working your way back into the dating world and you may not know it, but you may be in a very dangerous scenario.

You are prey. I am a predator. I know you are hurting and vulnerable. You probably haven’t been with a guy who is emotionally sensitive, vulnerable yet still strong, willing to listen and laugh and be everything you ever needed; and yet somehow allows you to feel safe.

I actually do a seminar for women on how an average looking guy can pick up women in their late 30′s and beyond using emotional and psychological manipulation. It’s scary when you realize how easily vulnerable people can be manipulated by a guy who is willing to pretend he is sensitive, a listener, who makes it “all about her”, is a bit aloof, and knows how to say the words that will push the vulnerable buttons of a girl they have just spent two hours milking her for information I can use to control her emotionally. So sad.

Last year, in front of a group of twelve women, I announced that I was going to seduce one of them in the group, under the fluorescent lights, without any alcohol, and asked for a volunteer. In front of eleven hostile witnesses, in just over twenty minutes, I was able to confuse a woman who knew I was doing it. Let’s be honest, I’m simply not that good-looking.

I started by talking about her life, her fears, her hopes and the pain she must have experienced. I used the information I knew about her that she shared in the group in confidence and violated her emotionally. Half way through I announced that I was stopping the exercise so that I could explain what I was doing. I lied. I used that next five minutes to confuse her and convince her that I actually did have her best interests at heart. I apologized, back-paddled, asked about her needs, and then cried with her. I never touched her.

I have done this in several groups and have never missed. I tried it the first time almost by accident and scared myself by how evil and dirty I felt. And how powerful.

Please, isn’t there something you can learn from this?

Dating the Bad Boy

Easy RiderFor some reason many more women than are willing to admit it have a thing for the bad boy. Actually there are several reasons, both sociological and sexual, not all of which I am prepared to go into at this time. The fact remains, however, that while other gender stereotypes have been put to rest you can still find a school teacher or PTA member somewhere drooling for a dude with a tattoo driving a Harley. That doesn’t do it for you? That’s ok, there are several types of bad boys from the guy at the gym with no neck and a shoulder tattoo to the moody hipster with a man purse giving a finger to the establishment. Some of you even swoon for a dusty dude in cowboy boots.

On an anthropological level there are some fairly obviously sexual reasons women are still attracted to the bad boy. Sigmund Freud would have a field day with this topic and there would be several unguarded references to violence, rebellion and counterculture penis envy. While I would LOVE to spend time helping some of my female friends question their sexual and psychological reasons for such a preference it would only serve to invite a backlash and cloud the issue. I really have no idea why you personally like the bad boy, maybe you just have a thing for overstated machismo. I mainly brought the tensions up because they are really fun to write about.

There is a pragmatic reason why I have an opinion, as a therapist, about this stereotype. On a far more pragmatic and painful level I have seen firsthand the relational problems and tears from patients who have lived with the man behind the tattoo, or murse, or protein shake.

What I am about to say is a generalization. As Gonzo says in the original Christmas Carol, “That one thing you must remember, or nothing that follows will seem wondrous.” There are exceptions to every generalization and I already know I am going to get deluged by women telling me their Hell’s Angel is actually a big kitten. Ok I get that, can we go on?

The kitty-cat notwithstanding I have spent many hours listening to women, and a few men, who are devastated by the man of their dreams and desires who, for some reason they cannot fathom, seems shallow, emotionally unavailable, even narcissistic. Imagine that, a guy who spends thousands upon thousands of dollars and calories on his image having an issue with narcissistic behavior. You want me to come clean so I’ll say it, the bad boy is generally a bad boy for a reason. Most people who are this concerned about looking tough or being a rebel are battling significant self-esteem issues and are insecure and potentially self-absorbed. The very reason you are attracted to them is the reason you should run. Let me say that again – the very reason you are attracted to them is the reason you should run.

Remember Fonzie? Tyler Durden? James Bond? Gilligan? (Wait, not that last one). A generation of yuppies idolized Fonzie, the Easy Rider, and Clint Eastwood because they did not need anyone. They were completely self-absorbed. They were not in touch with their feelings, in fact they spent and inordinate amount of time trying to impress everyone around them that they had no feelings. Does this really sound like someone you want to spend fifty years with? Remove the rose-colored lenses and simply ask yourself if your ‘strong silent type’ or your outgoing man candy is going to live a sacrificial life that puts you first in every decision that matters and share with you their hopes and dreams and emotions.

I wish I could videotape the hundreds of hours of tears, the pain and the misery that I have had to listen to from spouses who feel emotionally distant or even abused by someone who will never put them first. I wish you could be in my chair as those same people break up and then date the exact same stereotype again and again, expecting different results. Didn’t Einstein have something to say about that?

If you are falling for the bad boy I hope you will be the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, as much as we hope, few of us ever are. Instead, date a school teacher. Sure they’re usually passive-aggressive and wear Dockers but at the end of the day they’ll still be there, with their i-pad, complaining about their three months of vacation but faithful and true. The sex may not be amazing but at least you can teach them to make it all about you.

Or I can, give me their email address.

Pathological Relationships – Am I Under His Spell?

The mental state of highway hypnosis can occur...from Psychology Today

Time and again women allude to the mystical aspects of the pathological relationship they are involved with. They describe it as “being under his spell,” “entranced by him,” “hypnotized by him” or even “spellbound” or “mind-controlled.”

Women aren’t exactly able to define what they are “experiencing” or even accurately describe what they think is occurring, but they do unanimously conclude that “something” is happening that feels like it’s “hypnotic.”

Beyond the “hocus pocus” of hypnosis lies real truth about what is probably happening in those relationships.

Trance happens to every person every day. It is a natural lull in the body when many of the systems are resting or a state we enter when tired. Blood sugar, metabolism and other natural body functions can affect the sleepy states of trance that we enter all day long.

You’ve probably heard of “highway hypnosis.” This occurs when you have been driving and are so concentrated on the driving (or when you are getting sleepy while driving and watching those yellow lines) that you forget about the last few miles, and all of a sudden you’re aware you’re almost at your destination. Highway hypnosis is trance, or “lite” forms of self-hypnosis. No one put you in that state of hypnosis—you entered it on your own.

Check in with most people around 2 p.m. in the afternoon and you’ll see lots of people in sleepy trances.

But pathology can cause people to enter trance states frequently. Pathological love relationships are exhausting and take their toll on your body through stress, diet, loss of sleep, and worry. While you are worn-down and fatigued, you are more suggestible to the kinds of things that are said to you in that state of mind. These words, feelings and concepts sink in at a deeper level than other ideas and statements that are said to you when you are not in a trance state.

If he is telling you that you are crazy, or gaslighting you by telling you that you really didn’t see him do what you think he did, or that the problems of the relationship are because of you—those statements said to you when you are suggestible stay filed in your subconscious and are replayed over and over again, creating intrusive thoughts and obsessional thinking.

If he tells you positives when you are in trance states such as “he needs you and please don’t ever leave him“—those phrases too are stored in a subconscious location, working without your knowledge. When it’s time to redirect your beliefs about him, disengage, or break up, women feel like “old tapes” are running in their heads. It’s very hard for them to get these messages to stop activating their thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Women who have strong personality traits in suggestibility and fatiguability are more at risk of trance-like states in which words, meanings, and symbols are more concretely stored in the subconscious.

Women feel relieved to find out that they really aren’t crazy–it really does feel like she is under his spell, because in many ways, she is.

More information on trance states in pathological romantic relationships is covered in detail in our book, Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists.
Published on September 11, 2012 by Sandra Brown, M.A. in Pathological Relationships

Orgasms – Finally An Anxiety Medication I Can Fully Endorse

Adult Content .. Penn St officials head to cou...

Forget Clonazepam – when you’re in the mood, it just might help your health. How does a juicy sex life do a body good? Let’s count the ways. Here are 10 health benefits of sex — backed up by science.

1. Less Stress, Better Blood Pressure

Having sex could lower your stress, and your blood pressure. That finding comes from a Scottish study of 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. The researchers put them in stressful situations, such as speaking in public and doing math out loud, and checked their blood pressure.

People who had had intercourse responded better to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.

Another study published in the same journal found that diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of your blood pressure) tends to be lower in people who live together and often have sex. And yet another study found that women who get lots of hugs from their partner tend to have better blood pressure.

2. Sex Boosts Immunity

Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections.

So say scientists at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. They studied 112 college students who kept records of how often they had sex and also provided saliva samples for the study. Those who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of IgA, an antibody that could help you avoid a cold or other infections, than other students.

3. Sex Burns Calories

Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

“Sex is a great mode of exercise,” says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist. It takes work, from both a physical and psychological perspective, to do it well, she says.

4. Sex Improves Heart Health

Having sex may be good for your heart. A 20-year-long British study shows that men who had sex twice or more a week were half as likely to have a fatal heart attack than men who had sex less than once a month.

And although some older folks may worry that the sex could cause a stroke, that study found no link between how often men had sex and how likely they were to have a stroke.

5. Better Self-Esteem

Boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex, collected by University of Texas researchers and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

That finding makes sense to Gina Ogden, PhD, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist in Cambridge, Mass., although she finds that those who already have self-esteem say they sometimes have sex to feel even better.

“One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves,” she says. “Great sex begins with self-esteem. … If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it.”

Of course, you don’t have to have lots of sex to feel good about yourself. Your self-esteem is all about you — not someone else. But if you’re already feeling good about yourself, a great sex life may help you feel even better.

6. Deeper Intimacy

Having sex and orgasms boosts levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps people bond and build trust.

In a study of 59 women, researchers checked their oxytocin levels before and after the women hugged their partners. The women had higher oxytocin levels if they had more of that physical contact with their partner.

Higher oxytocin levels have also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So snuggle up — it might help you feel more generous toward your partner.

7. Sex May Turn Down Pain

Here’s another thing the love hormone, oxytocin, does: It boosts your body’s painkillers, called endorphins. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, that may be why.

In one study, 48 people inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked. The oxytocin cut their pain threshold by more than half.

8. More Ejaculations May Make Prostate Cancer Less Likely

Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may lower the risk of getting prostate cancer later in life, some research shows.

For instance, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that men who had 21 or more ejaculations a month, were less likely to get prostate cancer than those who had four to seven ejaculations per month.

Of course, that study doesn’t prove that ejaculations were the only factor that mattered. Many things affect a person’s odds of developing cancer. The researchers did take that into consideration, and the findings still held.

9. Stronger Pelvic Floor Muscles

For women, doing pelvic floor muscle exercises called Kegels may mean will enjoy more pleasure — and, as a perk, less chance of incontinence later in life.

To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.

10. Better Sleep

The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, research shows.

Getting enough sleep has also been linked with a host of other health perks, such as a healthy weight and better blood pressure. Something to think about, especially if you’ve been wondering why your guy can be active one minute and snoring the next.

By Kathleen Doheny

 

Casual Friday: The NTLA

Many years ago I belonged to an exclusive men’s club called the NTLA.

I won’t tell you just what the initials stand for yet so it’ll give you something to do for a few minutes. The members of this club were passionate about canoeing and not just any kind of canoeing – whitewater. We would pattern our whole year around the NTLA. We would plan and share pictures. Whenever a few of us and our wives were together that’s all we would talk about. The NTLA.

It was like being in a room with a bunch of teachers. Many of my finest friends are teachers and they are awesome people… alone. But put two teachers in the same postal code and you can pretty much leave the room. You know who you are.

Teachers love to talk about teaching. In Fort McMurray my three best friends were teachers, and if we were all together… it was so boring. I could pretty much leave the room and they wouldn’t care. I would try to enter into the conversation and they would all turn to me, give me the little patronizing smile, and pat me on the head and say to each other… “oh, isn’t that cute. He thinks he knows something about teaching.” They would throw me a cookie and go back to talking.

There were no women allowed in the NTLA. Not that any of our wives were interested. By the time the NTLA would come around, they were begging us to go away – so everyone was happy.

It was called the “No tan-line annual”, the NTLA. 6 guys, 3 canoes, beans, testosterone, burping, farting, and no toothpaste, no bathing suits.There was a cardinal rule. No bathing. I used to wear the same clothes pretty much the whole time we were out there. It was guy heaven. If we would have had access to a remote control it would have been perfect.

We were passionate about the NTLA. We collected all the info, planned overly, prepared anally. We were into it. It was important to me. To all of us.

Then one year it fell apart. It was the year I first found out my wife had breast cancer and I was an emotional wreck. I phoned my best friend at the time in search of emotional support and before very long it denigrated into a conversation about how he didn’t feel that we should do the canoe trip anymore. I couldn’t understand why, and my emotional state did not aid in my comprehension of what was really going on.

A few months later, on a whim, I phoned my best friend to see how things were. His wife answered the phone and said in a slightly surprised tone, “Aren’t you with him? Why aren’t you on the canoe trip?”

Seven years before that phone call I had started this canoe trip. For years it had been the center-piece of my year. I had taught the participants how to paddle, read maps, make wet fires, shoot whitewater (usually the Churchill River), look for a campsite. Now they had gone on a trip and did not want me there. I was crushed. Later on the phone with one of the guys he explained that I was too intense, they wanted a casual trip not an adventure every year. He said that they did not value my friendship, that there had been personality and leadership conflicts. They simply didn’t want me around.

Five guys whom I had considered close friends. One whom I thought of as a brother. I felt beaten. My feelings of self-worth plummeted. Not only could I do nothing to help my wife during her hardest battle of her life; now I began to realize my friends wanted nothing to do with me. Many of my hand holds were being stripped away.

Most people love you conditionally.

Philip Yancey tells the story of Dr. Paul Brand who has devoted his life to treating leprosy patients in India. In the course of one examination Brand laid his hand on the patient’s shoulder and informed him through a translator of the treatment that lay ahead. To his surprise the man began to shake with muffled sobs. “Have I said something wrong?” Brand asked the translator. She quizzed the patient and reported, “No, doctor. He says he is crying because you put your hand around his shoulder. Until he came here no one had touched him for many years.”

Many years have come and gone since the NTLA. I have grown up, become much more self-aware, and understand more about life than I once did. I continue to learn what it means to be authentic, as much as I am able.

As I look back on that time in my life I have come to understand that there are few people who will be there for you, no matter what. Most people have the best of intentions but struggle to understand the true cost of ‘unconditional love’. I have also come to appreciate the few people in my life who I cannot shake, cannot surprise, cannot impress, and cannot chase away. Those individuals who love you in spite of who you are, not because of what you can do for them. They inspire me to want to be a better person, to walk the walk – not just talk the talk.

I spent some time this morning with a close friend, someone whom I would like to believe I care about unconditionally. This article came up during our conversation. I was struck but the gravity of what I was proposing; loving people without judgement, without agenda, without walking away when everyone else does. It forced me to confront my own premise and ask myself what Cory would have to do for me to abandon him. It would be nice to write glib sentiments about my willingness to “lay down my life for a friend”. It’s another thing altogether to live that commitment when I am busy, or self-absorbed, or hurting.

They say a friend will help you move, a real friend will help you move a body. I would hope if it came down to it, I would be willing to take the wet end.

If you liked this article you might want to check out – Lowering Your Expectations

Life Is Boring

For most people, real life is…well…boring. The real world isn’t like it is on television. Most of us don’t spend our days chasing bad guys and running along roofs in Monte Carlo. There is a reason there are so many exciting cop shows and gun battles on the big screen – it’s called escape. Our real lives are a series of commitments and kids and shopping and work projects. Unfortunately most of us have made financial commitments and have obligations that we need to pay for. Paying for things means work.

I have, arguably, a pretty sweet ride. I get paid to listen to other people’s problems, drink coffee, and pretend to be smart. When you think of vocations that are demanding and difficult, my career path doesn’t even crack the paint. If you have empathy and a desire to help other people it’s easy and very rewarding. Still, even this easy walk in the park gets old. Very few of us, in fact, after the initial blast of career steam, wake up every morning in a lather to get to work. Our lives are not overwhelmed with excitement and variety. Hopefully our home lives are fulfilling and stable, though probably not an adrenaline rush either. The media has us convinced that life should be a series of orgasms broken up only by trips and gunfights and touchdowns. Real life is not, unfortunately, “True Lies” and your nerd husband is not actually a super spy who hangs out with Tom Arnold. Sorry, he’s actually a nerd.

No one is talking about the catastrophic effect this is having on our dissatisfaction with life and the effect this media driven hysteria has on relationships, addictions, depression, anxiety, and life in general. Most of us grew up believing we were going to have exciting lives of adventure similar to the fantasies thrown at us since birth, and it is dawning on us that we aren’t models and rock stars and astronauts. Is it any wonder than that the statistics on depression are staggering? Why are we so shocked with the growing angst among the emerging generations? There is a reason people are doing more drugs and experimenting with sexuality and growing up later. We have bubble-wrapped our children and they are growing up unchallenged, uninjured, and curious, very curious.

When people ask me how anyone could become a drug addict I am prone to tell them the reason is – drugs are awesome! The high from Cocaine is way better than reality and if it wasn’t for the fact that it takes your house and your joy and eventually your life many of us would probably be stoned 24/7. Want to know the number one reason most of my clients who are recovering addicts return to active drug usage? Boredom. No one is talking about it at 12 Step Meetings but get an addict to be honest and he or she will probably tell you the ‘normie’ world is mind-numbingly boring.

Take the average day of a heroin addict. They get up in the morning feeling sick. Their day consists of finding money to get high, finding drugs to get high, getting high, being high, coming down, and going to bed. It isn’t much of a life but it isn’t boring, spending half the day getting high and the other half desperately on a search. Now put that same heroin addict on a Methadone Program. They get up in the morning and go to the Pharmacy at 8:15 for their cup of juice. They drink the juice. Day is over. Now what are they supposed to do all day? They have never had a job and have no capacity to lie on a resume and look for work. They come from generations of welfare recipients. They tell me all the time that they cannot imagine going to work every day and becoming a citizen. Many addicts equate that with giving up. Did you read that? My definition of success is their definition of giving up. Startling.

I have had to become ok with the real world. My life is not racing cars and nightclubs and beautiful hotel suites. Many people, however, continue to struggle with finding meaning their entire life. They are depressed by reality and long for a fantasy world of knights and damsels and adrenaline. They have a hole in their heart that they try to shove alcohol and Prozac and Ciprolex and sex and hoagies into, hoping to somehow feel like their life matters.

The real world is boring. Let’s say it together. The real world is boring. But that is actually not a bad thing. I cannot speak for everyone but I am fairly certain that I was not created or built for wall to wall orgasms. In fact most of the things in my life that matter have very little to do with adrenaline. I find more complete joy and fulfillment in the people I love and who love me than I ever could from something as shallow as a race car. The things that matter to me are the people I care about, in whose presence I feel more alive.

Fantasy is called that for a reason. I love pretending to shoot aliens and ride spaceships and being a spy as much as the next guy, maybe more. But at the end of the day I wouldn’t give up one minute with my new grandson Angus Scott for all the acclaim this world has to offer. And chances are, you wouldn’t either.

I think it was that Jesus guy who said something about that, even before Twitter.

Dating: The Big Con

The Dating GameNo one thinks they are going to divorce, and usually literally hate, the person of their dreams.

But so many of us will.

We are a generation in love with getting what we want, when we want it. The idea of dating for years is fast becoming a myth of yesteryear. We have fallen in love with the idea of falling in love.

The entire process is broken and it starts with dating, the big con. If we are honest we know that all of us, and I include myself in this, lie like a used car salesman to our prospective partner. We pretend we have our act together, that our problems are minor; that we are sophisticated. What guy hasn’t pee’d on the rim of his girlfriend’s toilet so she won’t hear him splash. What girl hasn’t pretended she has it all together to keep the man of their dreams from knowing how crazy she really is?

Dating is all a big lie. If it isn’t a lie it surely is a misrepresentation of what we are in for if we buy the entire package. Almost without exception each of us is tempted to skew the truth, to reinvent ourselves as to be more palatable. It’s very important to understand that this person you are interested in isn’t really this person you are interested in. That man you are so intrigued with because he is such a good listener may not, in point of fact, be sensitive at all.

Every guy knows women fall for that sensitivity crap. You aren’t as mysterious as you think you are. I see you at a crowded bar and know that I want to impress you (why are you looking for a guy at a bar anyway?). Most guys will come on too strong but I’m the guy who loves to listen. I won’t even hit on you, you’ll know I’m different. You are looking for someone who is emotionally available so I ask you about yourself, your life, your dreams; because with me it’s all about you.

Yuck. But women in their thirties and forties eat that crap up. We know you’ve been burned. We know you are looking for a guy who is emotionally in tune, who is strong like a man but sensitive like the stereotypical gay man.

It’s all a game, but a game that can break your heart and steal your soul. It is incredibly important that single people realize that decisions made after a few weeks or months are extremely risky and the likelihood of finding your love of a lifetime in a few short weeks is next to impossible.

I will repeat this again so that there is no confusion. If you get into a serious relationship with someone after only a few dates or weeks you are almost guaranteed to have your heart broken because you really have no idea what you are getting involved with and the likelihood that this person is right for you is infinitesimally small.

It is no sin to want to impress the opposite sex but it may be one to make a lifelong commitment to someone you barely know and haven’t known through at least four seasons (a little nod to Dr. Laura Schlesinger there). I have an entire course on learning to speak so the other partner can hear. It takes a commitment to live sacrificially with another person, gay or straight, that is incredibly difficult and painful, no matter who you marry or shack up with.

Oh, and one other thing. Several times a month I am informed by someone who wants this oh so badly that there are exceptions to the rule. Yes there are, and chances are you aren’t one of them. I only say this from counseling thousands, actual thousands of people in relationships, so what do I know?

The stark reality is that you are signing up to live with someone for fifty years based on a few months of information. Any guy can pretend to be sensitive for a month or two. Any woman can pretend that she wants everything he wants, for a while. Living together in a lifelong commitment has very little in common with today’s dating rituals. Marriage/ living together takes place in what we call the real world – the world of diapers, arguments, problems and financial commitments, with two species who don’t have a clue what the other is thinking trying to make a life together.

Making it in this world is hard. Making it with another person is challenging and you deserve a chance at success and happiness, so don’t settle for Mr. Right Now instead of Mr. Right. You are incredibly special and need to be as picky as you can before you give away your heart and your future to someone who may trample your soul.

Take the time to find out about that other person. Don’t trust your heart – use your head. You’ll be glad you did.

And don’t get me started on cyber-dating!

Betrayed (or Why I Do What I Do)

So many of us carry hidden scars.
We have gone to church or spoken with counsellors but for some reason we cannot seem to move beyond. We begin to think these wounds are terminal and we learn to cope and adjust to a life that we cannot seem to change.
It is sad that so many people feel this is the only option. They have tried different types of counselors and many people have paid thousands of dollars and nothing happened.

One possible reason for this, and I have alluded to it before, is that a lot of counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists are really bad at what they do.

Recently Scott Miller, one of the psychology flavors of the month, posted statistics that confirmed that psychological methodologies are not what helps patients. He contends that it doesn’t matter what type of counselling you go to; the only important factor is your relationship with, and the skill of, the counsellor you see. You can stand on your head and spit nickels if you have the right person working with you and it will make a difference.

It is no wonder, then, that people often give up on finding help. They have a resume of failed attempts with incompetent helpers and have come to believe that they are going to have to spend the rest of their life where they are – stuck and hurting.

I am humbled by the courage of many of the people I work with; people who have survived situations I can hardly imagine. They have been forced to live with heinous memories that would dismantle most of us, and in many cases have dealt with their issues and live lives of value and purpose. It is frustrating to me, then, when day after day people recount to me the horrible advice they have received from their pastor or psychologist.

Years ago I was going through a horrible time in my life and I was recommended to a counselor. I had many misgivings about seeing a counsellor as i had been a counsellor myself for many years and knew not all psychologists/counsellors are competent. I saw this person for months and can report, with as much objectivity as I can muster, that this person did far more harm than good. He went as far as to get personally involved with the other person in the situation and with his assistance that person went on to make a series of damaging and permanent decisions. That counselor single-handedly took a bad situation and managed to make it much much worse. I saw firsthand the power for good or evil that is in the hands of those who presume to give advice from a position of authority; and I often think of this when I am counselling someone.

Some counselors suck. Most aren’t as stupid and insipid as the one I saw but many simply do not understand people, or are condescending, or basically incompetent. If you don’t mind a piece of advice let me contend that if you have been seeing a counselor for more than six months and haven’t seen any significant change you should fire that counsellor.

Tomorrow: Dating Advice

Coming This Week: Why You Should Never Date The Bad Boy