You’re Yelling Again

Yell

 

I don’t yell. I’m not saying this to brag, I’m fairly certain it was a dysfunctional coping mechanism.
Maybe it was because I had relatives that yelled and I repress such expressions as a response to that situation.
Maybe I’m just too shallow.
Maybe I just like it rough.

As a mental health professional I am, of course, horrible at analyzing my own stuff. I self-diagnose all the time. I’m just not that good at it.

I am one of those lucky people who gets to hear people yell on a regular basis. Some professions have it much worse, but I do get my share.

Yelling is an interesting psychological and sociological issue. I have watched spouses curl into the fetal position as a madman controls the situation and hurls verbal abuse. Notice the almost orgasmic effect that “letting off steam” has on the angry screamer. I have seen that horrible energy transferred to the victims as they get emotionally gut-punched. Long after the yell-er is satisfied the object of their derision still suffers. Yelling is a very selfish act.

There was a time when clinicians would tell the angry young man to go home and punch his heavy bag for an hour till he “worked it out of his system”. Today we realize that constantly giving in to that urge to ‘boil over’ only builds a dependence on purging yourself of emotion – a very poor model for impulse control. Such need has little to do with control and more to do with complete surrender. It is no wonder, than, that people have been known to even stop making sense when they are in the throes of an angry outburst. Anger can literally make you stupid. The effect is almost sexual.

Have you ever considered stopping?

Many people do not even realize that it is possible to go for years without yelling. Screaming is just “how our family is”. It is such a normal part of life that no one realizes how abusive it is. There are so many dysfunctional aspects to yelling that I literally do not have enough energy to fully define its ill effects right now. The act is so intrusive, so esteem crushing, so negative, so unloving, so socially acceptable. I am suggesting that we strip away the veneer and identify it for what it really issue – a lack of self-control.

If you are struggling with yelling, this is not intended to make you feel like garbage. Many, many, many of us struggle with this as well. Yelling is so ingrained in our culture that it is rarely even addressed anymore. We blandly accept that angry person without offering any accountability. Our children grow up believing this is an acceptable form of communication and… the circle of life.

If you struggle with this difficult problem talk to someone who can help. Read about it on the web, look up phrases like “cbt (cognitive behavioural therapy) and anger, or yelling, or impulse control. Find out what is behind that anger – after all, that is really the issue now, isn’t it?

Don’t give up. You can do this.

 

The End Of All Our Exploring

Finding you can have a life after all is an amazing thing…

I wrote those words to a close friend this week. I know this is true because I have lived it. I have been to the end and I have been back. I know what it is like to care less if your world burns. I know what it feels like when your heart breaks. I know why people kill themselves.

It must be true that we attract what we are because many of my readers (although many seems a little off) can relate to the last paragraph. So many of us have been scarred. Many have known the “dark night of the soul”. Unfortunately many of us have learned that there are certain lessons you can only learn in pain.

I remember, some time ago, listening to a young speaker talk to battle-hardened veterans of life’s misery. People who had battled addictions, death, heart-break, staggering loss. He told the audience a story of his struggles – pitiful middle-class problems that were trifling and testimony to a life that had never suffered. It’s the reason people don’t like marital advice from a priest, or sexual advice from a Methodist, or advice about generosity from a Scotsman. There is something powerful about listening to the stories of others who can understand your loss. If you don’t believe me come to the Fibromyalgia Clinic sometime and listen to a new client once they understand that someone understands them and no one thinks they’re crazy. The power of a shared experience, no matter how bad.

It’s nice to know that even though you are walking through hell you aren’t walking alone.

You Don’t Know How Intimidating You Are

Anger Management

The first time someone told me I didn’t believe them. It was not possible, I wasn’t even angry.  I have heard it since a few times, less the older I grow. Apparently I can be fairly intense and even intimidating when I am fully engaged in an argument or discussion. I throw out a great deal of energy. Someone who once was in a creativity brainstorming session with me described me as a “fire hydrant”. I have had to spend time working on myself.

Recently I watched a couple argue in my office. It was fascinating to watch. One of the characters was incredibly intense – wagging his finger, raising his voice, swearing. His entire posture was set to attack. Now zoom across to the other person in the room.

She is not set to attack. You can watch her slowly close her posture. Her feet come up to her chest, she wraps her arms around herself. Her chin lowers and within a few minutes you can see clearly how she is rolling into the fetal position. The situation screams out for attention but neither of them can see what is happening in the room.

They have been told, more than once, that they have communication problems.

Anger is a very powerful emotion, perhaps the most powerful. It transforms a conversation into a fight. It gives birth to abuse and slander and arrogance and belittling. There are courses in every city on Anger Management. While these courses adequately address the symptom of anger few get to the “why” questions. Why can’t I control my emotions? What is going on in my life that has formed this angry person? Dealing with anger can appear so daunting that many people believe they cannot control their anger and have basically given up trying.

Anger person, you are scary. You come across as very authoritative and very very intense about things others apparently don’t care as much about. You are talking much louder than you think but God help us if we mention this. Your eyes tell me that you are enraged. It is very difficult to match your energy so most people opt to shut down. This generally makes the angry person even more frustrated, but what can the other person do? You sound prepared to do anything, wreck anything, hurt anyone to win this argument. It’s just not worth the fight and the pain.

This does not need to be a terminal illness. Once I began to understand how other people perceived me I was eventually able to recognize this in myself and control it. I shot video of myself and analyzed my posture. I learned STOPP Therapy to control my need to fight back as well as learned to put things in perspective so as not to become wounded. I haven’t arrived by any standard but I am able to exercise WAY more control over my emotions and responses than I used to.

Anger is powerful.

In Dating Game, Narcissists Get The Girl

via WebMD:

THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) — Men with high levels of narcissism — an unrealistically positive self-image coupled with feelings of entitlement — have an easier time than others attracting a potential mate, new German research says.

“Narcissism is linked to mate appeal in a real-life situation,” said Michael Dufner, a researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin, who led the study.

The research is published in the July issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Dufner and his team first measured narcissism levels in 61 men with an average age of 25, who were invited to join a courtship study in Germany. “We focused on narcissism as a personality trait, not the personality disorder,” he said. “This means that everybody has a certain narcissism level — for some it is higher, for others lower.”

Next, the researchers asked the men to approach women they did not know on the street and get contact information. It could be a phone number, email or Facebook contact.

Research assistants followed the men (which the men were aware of), observing the interactions. Dufner decided to focus on men in this study because men traditionally court a potential mate in this way, compared to women’s typically more subtle approaches, such as flirting, he said.

“We tested if individuals with higher narcissism scores are more appealing,” he said.

On average, the men approached about 23 women. To rule out the possibility that the more narcissistic men were more selective in who they approached, the researchers analyzed each woman who was approached on her physical attractiveness and manner of dress. The narcissists weren’t more selective.

The narcissistic guys did get the girl more often. The higher the level of narcissism, the more likely they were to get more contacts.

“The effect was not due to high self-esteem, but indeed the narcissism,” Dufner said. The physical attractiveness and social boldness of the narcissists were the two likely reasons for their appeal to women, he said.

Dufner offered some caveats about the research, though. “We were not able to directly test the causality underlying the association between narcissism and physical attractiveness,” he said.

One possibility, he said, is that physical attractiveness may be a partial cause of narcissism, as other researchers have suggested.

For narcissists — and the women they seek — the news is not all good, Dufner said. “Narcissists are charming and appealing at first sight, but they are not long-term romantic partners,” he said.

The study findings confirm what many experts have long suspected, said Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who has written about narcissism. “Narcissists are very good at initiating relationships,” she said. “On first impression, they come across as confident and charming. The problems arise later on, when you realize that he doesn’t actually care about you — it’s all about him.”

Twenge was not involved in the study, but reviewed the findings.

Caution is the byword for those attracted to narcissists, both experts agreed. “In the long run, narcissists made bad relationship partners,” Twenge said. “They lack empathy and have a difficult time taking someone else’s perspective.”

Twenge said she does understand why women fall for narcissists. “The initial appeal of narcissists comes from their assertiveness and confidence,” she said. “These are stereotypically masculine traits that many women find appealing.”

 For more on this check out my article “Dating The Bad Boy”

An Open Letter To The Men Who Date My Clients

My name is Scott and I’m a clinical therapist. I, or someone like me, has probably counseled a handful of women you may have thought about dating. For various reasons most of my clients are heterosexual females, often in their late thirties and forties, in the midst of trying to figure out a relationship which has turned into a convoluted mess and broken their heart. Many of these women eventually decide that it is not worth spending the rest of their lives with an emotionally stunted and rapidly aging guy who does not seem prepared to do what it takes to win them back. They complain that their partner is emotionally lazy, only makes small and temporary changes, and does not understand them nor seem to want to. They have been deeply hurt, and often. Some of these women will eventually show up at an office like mine. They have been scarred by a bad history and a bad relationship and carry emotional and psychological baggage. By the time they get to my door they, for a myriad of emotional reasons, struggle to make healthy decisions when it comes to the people they date. They are the newly single, or the suffering spouse, the newly hurt.

Many of these women do not last long in the dating market before they are snatched up again. Many fall prey to the first or second guy who listens to them and seems to understand their pain. We are smarter than you think and many men have learned to be the man you are looking for, at least while you are still newly infatuated. Many women, at least in my experience, do not see the warning signs and fall for someone who is either much like the past losers who have let them down or has manipulated. When you are hurting, lonely, and emotional it is tempting to go too far too fast and before you know it you are physically and emotionally too invested to simply walk away.

Counselors are tempted to spend their time pleading with clients not to jump into another relationship while they are still unhealthy. We warn vulnerable clients how crucial it is that they not date just because they need someone else to complete them or fill that hole in their heart.

So before you decide to approach my client at the bar, the grocery aisle, or in the church foyer, there are some things you need to know:

1. She is more vulnerable than you know. As you are no doubt aware the single life is hard to adjust to when you have been with one person for years, and most of us are desperately lonely at first. This is, however, only part of the problem. She has been with someone who has not met her emotional needs for years and is prone to misinterpret your affections. She also has a heart brimming with disappointment and self-recrimination and THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING. You may not know it right now but you deserve an emotionally healthy girlfriend who will not use you to mend that hole in her heart. If you really want to impress this girl don’t be afraid to take it slow and platonic, Give her time to heal, you’ll be glad you did.

2. Most of my clients are not ready to date. People who engage and pay for therapy are usually dealing with crippling issues and are in no way whole or objective. That is the reason they are seeing me in the first place. People dealing with crushing fear, anxiety, depression, loss, loneliness, self-esteem issues, etc. are not ready to be in a healthy relationship and are too vulnerable (see #1) to make long-term or binding decisions. Their heart is often broken and I am telling them, “Don’t date until you don’t need to”. Respect that and if necessary protect her from herself – keep things “hands off” until she is emotionally healthy.

3. This person is not who you are going to end up with. The very idea of therapy is to change the way we cope with life and define ourselves and our world. She is telling you that she is seeing a counselor for a reason, even if she doesn’t fully comprehend why. We are working together to create a very different life and the woman you see before you right now is only a transitional entity that is endeavoring to look at life differently. Don’t be surprised if the girl you are interested in changes and becomes healthy enough not to need you to define her. THAT IS A GOOD THING. In spite of what you may think you do not want to be with a broken and needy person. We are working to create a strong and independent person who does not need you, though she may wish to date you. This person is in a state of becoming and if you fall for her because of how she is now you are likely to be disappointed later on. If you are attracted to her neediness, for example, how will you feel if she gets better and doesn’t want you as much? Wanting you is one thing, needing you is another. Chances are the woman you see before you is very little like the one you are going to end up with.

4. Please do not exploit her sexually. Many people in transition are willing to do things that they would otherwise not even consider. Be a real man and protect her, even from herself. Many of my clients have come from conservative backgrounds and are not sexual athletes, in spite of what they are trying to project. Most of the women have not been nurtured or honored sexually in a very long time, if ever. Be gentle with her heart. Many of us give a piece of our heart away when we give our body to someone else. It’s very easy to misinterpret our need for love and touch. Many people in therapy need a hand to hold much more than a body to fondle. Please try to remember that.

5. They are not choosing you because you are the best candidate. We all know that people who are newly single are on the rebound. This is not just and old wives tale and some of those old wives were pretty spot on. Needy people pick others to love based on a set of criteria which is not healthy and may not lead to a healthy and lasting relationship. The best relationships start out as friends first so get to know this amazing woman first before you decide to buy her flowers and try to touch her candies. The more you realize that she is making choices that are not necessarily objective, the more you will come to understand that she may be choosing you for the wrong reasons. This is information you need.

6. They might fall for you too soon (and too hard). This is based on a sound psychological principle that when we are in a vulnerable or transitional state we are prone to exercise something called “cognitive distortions”. People dealing with major issues employ all or nothing thinking, emotional reasoning, and other cognitive distortions that are coping mechanisms we employ when we are stressed, anxious, uncertain, biased, and hurting. Think of it this way, would you let someone who is suicidal take care of your children? Why not?

The logical answer is no, you would not do that because that person is not thinking or acting rationally. They are, in point of fact, mentally unstable and before we all became politically correct we would have labelled such thinking and behaviour “insane”. That beautiful woman who is sending you all the right signals off-handedly mentioned earlier that she is going through a messy divorce and is struggling emotionally. This is a red flag. Emotionally damaged and hurting people rarely have healthy boundaries and tend to jump too far, too fast. If you really are interested in my client then back off and respect her boundaries that she has worked so hard putting in place.

7. You deserve someone who is not a massive “work in process”. The whole point of this article has been to help us understand that hurting and vulnerable people need therapy, not a date. If you have been dating for any time you already know that the scene is full of needy and broken people looking to find someone to fix them or love them enough to fill their emotional craters. Unless you are simply looking for a good time you owe it to yourself to be discerning when it comes to whom you will date. Good looks fade but a big dose of crazy can last a lifetime. It is far better to be alone, in spite of how it feels right now, than to be with someone who hurts you, drives you over the bend, or simply does not get you. You owe it to yourself to date someone whom you believe has it more together than you do, not less.

Day after day vulnerable, wonderful women sit in counseling offices all over the world and ask if there really is a guy out there who will meet their needs. There isn’t and you aren’t him. Healthy relationships start with healthy people making healthy decisions. Life is hard enough with the right person and I need the best odds I can get. Knowing my wife is here everyday because she is healthy enough to choose to love me, in spite of who I am, is the best esteem booster I have ever known.

Do I Like It Sick?

Many spouses will stay in a relationship that is sick and twisted, but why?

It is a truly terrifying story – a young girl grows up in a sick home and is repeatedly sexually abused by a relative or family friend. This person then becomes sexually active at twelve of thirteen with a boyfriend who in his mid-twenties or beyond. Often this is followed by a period of extreme promiscuity. They are sexually intimate with every boyfriend and come to believe that this is expected of them if they want to stay in that relationship. She starts to associate sex with being loved or loving someone else appropriately. They often engage in sexual acts which they do not enjoy, most of which are degrading in some way. They have an overwhelming compulsion to “perform” in order to be loved. For some strange reason, however, after they have settled in with someone they discover they are not truly happy and still have trauma and self-esteem problems. They struggle to find the intimacy and completeness in romance that they so desperately yearn for.

In counseling it often becomes apparent that this person is actually attracted to the sickness they have come to associate with love. They go after the “bad boy” or they seem to hook up with men who are always emotionally unavailable, their romantic interests usually are selfish, misogynistic or emotionally unhealthy.

If you can relate to what I am writing about then it’s time to ask yourself a question, “Am I attracted to this person because of their sickness or their health? Is this person irritating me right now because they are desiring something healthy (emotional connection, vulnerability, working on the relationship, planning for the future, stability, etc)?

Is it sick or is it healthy? I often send my patients home with this homework. For the next two weeks ask yourself, whenever you feel emotional in your romantic relationship, is this sick or is this healthy?

When he ignores me I pursue him. Is this sick or is this healthy?
I feel repelled by his attentions. Is this sick or is this healthy?
I am overly critical or easily angered by this person. Why? Is it sick or is it healthy?
He/she never seems to live up to expectations. Is this sick or is this healthy?

You get the idea, a good exercise for whenever we are struggling with our loved ones. Ask yourself, “Is what I am experiencing a result of a healthy and legitimate concern, or is this an unhealthy response to a sick situation?”

That may not be a bad idea for any of us.

He Probably Had It Coming

“When I went into the community looking for some support services, I couldn’t find any. There were a lot for women, and the only programs for men were for anger management,” Mr. Silverman told the Post shortly before his death. “As a victim, I was re-victimized by having these services telling me that I wasn’t a victim, but I was a perpetrator.”

The man who ran Canada’s only shelter for male victims of domestic abuse has apparently killed himself. A sad ending to what was, allegedly, a difficult and frustrating attempt to draw attention and provide safe haven for men who have been damaged by their spouses. It’s a dilemma that I have run into for years, often misunderstood and actually mocked and derided by society. Apparently men should not complain if their spouse hits them, they should be above such abuse while at the same time never lifting a finger to strike back or even protect themselves. I have heard the story many times, and on one occasion a husband was charged (and convicted) for restraining his wife who was in the process of hitting him with a cast iron frying pan for the third time.

Let’s face it – for many men just admitting that they are victims of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse (yes I said sexual) is tantamount to admitting that you aren’t really a man. This only exacerbates the problem. Not only is it embarrassing and painful to tell others but you can be fairly certain that others with probably accept your story with a hint of sarcasm or non-belief. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say of men who have been hit or abused, “He probably had it coming.”

Violence is wrong no matter who the victim is. No one should be allowed to attack another, no matter what their gender is. It’s also pathetic that there is no funding available for these victims. Maddening.

Dr. Seuss And Harsh Reality

It’s only a children’s story. Or is it?

Cover of "Fracture [Blu-ray]"

I remember watching Fracture, an excellent movie with one of the greatest actors of our age, and Ryan Gosling. There is a profound place in the movie where Gosling sits beside the bed of the victim and reads to her, “Oh The Places You’ll Go” while she is in a coma. I remember thinking at the time, this is a very disturbing story. Sure it starts out innocuous enough, but soon becomes dark and foreboding.

Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

Harsh reality in a child’s book. Sometimes things are not going to go as you planned. Sometimes you will have hardship and pain. Sometimes…

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.

Depression. Slumps. Reality. The way is not always marked and it is easy be bogged down in the quagmire.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.

Some of us are in the waiting place right now. Waiting for something to change, for a situation to resolve itself. We are caught in circumstances which we cannot control and there seems to be no end in sight. It is hard to hope in such places, hard to believe that somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. We are in the waiting place.

I’ve been in the waiting place. I’ve spent years there. You may know what I am talking about because you are there right now or are just coming out. Days and months wondering if there is ever going to be change, railing at God, prayers unanswered, dreams dashed. Time seems to stand still.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

In counseling we talk about the pit of depression. The longer you go through depression the deeper it can become. People usually come see me when they are at their worst, and recovery takes months, even years.

Yes I’ve sat in the waiting place and honestly believed that life would never get better. Eventually you get to a place, while waiting there, where you don’t even feel much anymore. Gone is the anger, even the tears. You have cried yourself out. You feel nothing. And that is a dangerous place.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

Cover of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"
Cover of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.

Healing is about micro-change, baby steps, and almost imperceptible movement. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. As I have alluded to many times, there are no magic pills, there is no “secret”. There is only perseverance and tenacity.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

Winning is about showing up. The definition of success I ascribe to is “fall down seven times, get up eight”. That is the only way I was able to move forward. After all the crying, and the depression, the suicidal ideation and the self-medicating I realized that no one, no one at all, could fix me. I had to get up and walk.

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Don’t Give ADHD Meds To Undiagnosed Kids

English: A child not paying attention in class.

I have been preaching this for years, since reading a Reader’s Digest (of all things) survey of schools in Canada who were pushing for meds for kids who were disciplinary issues. Confirmation from WebMD.

Some people call it “brain doping” or “meducation.” Others label the problem “neuroenhancement.” Whatever the term, the American Academy of Neurology has published a position paper criticizing the practice of prescribing “study drugs” to boost memory and thinking abilities in healthy children and teens.

The authors said physicians are prescribing drugs that are typically used for children and teenagers diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for students solely to improve their ability to ace a critical exam — such as the college admission SAT — or to get better grades in school.

Dr. William Graf, lead author of the paper and a professor of pediatrics and neurology at Yale School of Medicine, emphasized that the statement doesn’t apply to the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. Rather, he is concerned about what he calls “neuroenhancement in the classroom.”

The problem is similar to that caused by performance-boosting drugs that have been used in sports by such athletic luminaries as Lance Armstrong and Mark McGwire, he explained. “One is about [enhancing] muscles and the other is about enhancing brains,” Graf said.

In children and teens, the use of drugs to improve academic performance raises issues including the potential long-term effect of medications on the developing brain, the distinction between normal and abnormal intellectual development, the question of whether it is ethical for parents to force their children to take drugs just to improve their academic performance, and the risks of overmedication and chemical dependency, Graf noted.

The rapidly rising numbers of children and teens taking ADHD drugs calls attention to the problem, Graf said. “The number of physician office visits for ADHD management and the number of prescriptions for stimulants and psychotropic medications for children and adolescents has increased 10-fold in the U.S. over the last 20 years,” he pointed out.

Recent parent surveys show about a 22 percent increase in ADHD, a 42 percent rise in the disorder among older teens and a 53 percent increase among Hispanic children, according to the paper.

While Graf acknowledged that the data about rising numbers associated with ADHD includes a number of cases that have been appropriately diagnosed as ADHD, he said the increase — especially among older adolescents — suggests a problem of overdiagnosis and overmedication.

“We should be more cautious with healthy children in treating them with drugs they don’t need,” he said. “The ethical balance tips against overuse and toward caution because children are still growing and developing and there’s a lot we don’t know.”

The position paper, published online March 13 in the journal Neurology, was also approved by the Child Neurology Society and the American Neurological Association.

Dr. Mark Wolraich, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and chairman of the subcommittee that wrote ADHD guidelines for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that his group was not consulted in the development of the position paper Graf developed. Wolraich noted that the AAP also did not recommend the use of stimulant medications for performance enhancement or pleasure.

The Cost Of Criticism

tumblr_mei9y4IsYJ1r90iovMost of us are acutely aware of the effect of criticism. I ask people all the time, “If ten people tell you that you are beautiful and one person tells you that you are ugly, which do you remember?” We all know the answer.

Why is that? Is it because, on some level, we are more apt to believe a criticism than we are a compliment? Does that criticism subconsciously confirm something about ourselves that we already know? Does it simply reinforce our negative self-image?

There is also another side to that coin. I don’t know about you but I was raised by a culture that strongly asserted that self-promotion was vanity. Being ‘humble’ meant never complimenting ourselves. People who bragged were assumed to be arrogant. Then one day I stepped into a Christian church and heard the saying, “God gets all the glory”. I learned that anything good about myself was God, anything bad is me. Once again I learned that I suck, that in and of myself I had little to brag about… not that I was allowed to anyway.

I have written before about the legacy my grandmother gave me. She was a firm believer in the axiom, “children should be seen and not heard”. I cannot remember one compliment from her mouth given to anyone, especially me. Then I grew up and had a relationship with someone who used contempt and disappointment as a means of control and discipline. You probably know people like this.

It is no real surprise when people come to counseling and admit to me that they struggle with self-esteem issues. Poor self-image is such a common mental health issue that I don’t know if I know anyone who doesn’t struggle with it. We are a culture plagued by emotional pain, largely as a result of criticism, contempt, and condemnation.

Enough with the criticism already. Most of us struggle everyday with feeling like we are losers, that we don’t measure up and we never will. I really don’t need you to point out my faults, I am intimately familiar with them. We know we have failed. We are cognizant of our glaring ugliness.

Many people feel that they are trying to help when they are critical. After all, how will you ever learn if I don’t help you? Granted, there are times when I have appreciated the cutting honesty of a friend, but this is only effective when I trust that person and believe they have my best interests at heart. Tearing people a new one simply because you are righteously indignant usually only scars and forces that person into a defensive posture. Real friends love you in spite of how you are, not because of who you are. Real friends love you enough to shut up.

They say you can get more flies with honey than with vinegar. You can also get more flies with shit than with honey. It’s a great deal more helpful to love someone back to health than it is to shoot the wounded.

It’s time for a love revolution.

I’m Disappointed In You

Have you ever had someone in your life who seemed constantly disappointed in you? It didn’t seem to matter how hard you tried, it was never enough. Sometimes they didn’t have to even say much, you just knew – you are a loser, you will never be worthy.

I know what it is like to live with disappointment. It was a glib smile and a few words, a gentle sigh. I failed again. In my particular case it made me needy, so very needy. Dedicating every waking minute to impress, to please, to do, didn’t seem to matter. Disappointed again.

Maybe it was your dad, or your mom, a relative or a friend. For many of us it was our spouse – a wife or a boyfriend whose expectations and selfishness bruised and ultimately scarred your heart.

Poor self-esteem. Bad self-image. Feelings of inadequacy. Second-guessing yourself. Minimizing your accomplishments. Squinting in the mirror. Fear. Doubt. Self-loathing. Pain. Never good enough. Loser. Pathetic. Bitch.

On some level we all know that it is our own responsibility to feel good about ourselves. In theory. In practice, when someone whose opinion is supposed to matter denigrates and often subtly destroys our wholeness, it is very difficult to feel worthwhile. We know we are not supposed to base our self-esteem on others but how do you do that?

Quick quiz – If ten people tell you that you are beautiful and one person tells you that you are ugly, which one will you remember?

I wonder if the reason we believe the insult is because somewhere, down deep perhaps, we believe them. Many of us have been told we are ugly or fat or stupid or bald or pathetic or worthless all our lives. How can we possibly have good self-esteem now?

The truth: The opposite of bad self-esteem is not good self-esteem. The opposite of bad self-esteem is self-acceptance.

The truth is, you may always be fat. You may always be bald. Joan Rivers is scary proof that plastic surgery can only take you so far. You may be considered ugly by the beautiful. You may never go to college. You probably will never be famous. Or rich. Or even successful. And you get cry all you want and rail against the system, get angry and frustrated and die in a flaming manure-ball of bitterness. I see people every day who absolutely refuse to accept their illness, or their spouse, or their saggy boobs. I know how they feel. There are seemingly countless things I don’t like about myself. Nobody needs to point our my flaws, I see them in glaring technicolor. You don’t need to be disappointed in me, I can do quite fine on my own, thanks.

One day I woke up and realized in retrospect that I was living my life to impress someone who was incapable of accepting me or loving me for who I really was. I understood that I had been running myself sick trying to earn her love, only to hear her sigh with disapproval. I still care about this person, actually very much, but no longer feel compelled to sacrifice my soul for a smile and a nod.

Emotional wholeness rarely comes by accident.

The Criticism of Celebrity Rehab

Celebrity Rehab with Dr. DrewAre we still so naive that we assume television is actually like real life? Do people still believe shows like Celebrity RehabIntervention and Extreme Makeover, Home Edition have anything to do with reality? Is there really a Rembrandt hidden in that abandoned storage locker? Unfortunately the recent suicide of Celebrity Rehab star Mindy McCready has served to illustrate the problem with glib culture and our fascination with star-studded solutions to important issues.

The sad part of the story, that few seem to be talking about, is the unbelievable fact that some of the pseudo washed up stars undoubtedly believed that by going to a reality show to deal with chronic addiction issues they would receive quality help with their problems. Apparently they have been living in Glitterland for so long they think that it is possible to be authentic with cameras rolling and an audience. Imagine the shock on the faces of the winners of Extreme Makeover when they find out their taxes have gone up ten-fold and they can’t afford to pay the utilities on their new million dollar mansion. Reality’s a bitch. Cracked.com has an excellent expose on the reality behind the reality shows here.

Going to rehab, or treatment, or whatever you wish to label it, is a daunting enough thought without a television audience critiquing and criticizing. The work necessary to deal with and overcome a serious addiction takes years, not twelve episodes. Believing that a televised intervention or an hour with Dr. Drew will make any substantive difference is ridiculous. In the real world there is not a limo to take you to a treatment center after the family reduces you to tears and shows you the golden path to success. I have been involved with dozens, even hundreds, of family meetings with addicts and things simply do not go the way they do on television. There is much more yelling and far less contrition. Even if you could get a commitment for treatment there is often a six-week to two-month waiting list to get in. Even Detox can take a few weeks. Welcome to the real world. Adding in the cameras and the lights and the looming audience is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. How can anyone hope to heal with the cameras running? This does not even take into account the skewed life experiences of media celebrities who have little or no experience with real life and are ill-equipped to handle even the most mundane hardships.

Mindy McCready (album)

So why are we surprised then that five people, at last count, have died following a stint on Celebrity Rehab? Mindy McCready serves as a sad reminder that many of us are tempted to take short cuts and are not realistic about the true cost of dealing with our mental health. Real therapy is gut-wrenching and should not be on display for the general audience. I feel bad for Mindy and others who have been sold a lie, dressed up as a photo-op. Wholeness comes from confronting our demons, usually one at a time, and wrestling them into submission. There are no shortcuts to wholeness.

Maybe it was Dr. Drew himself who gave us the last, best word on the subject – “Mental health issues can be life threatening and need to be treated with the same intensity and resources as any other dangerous potentially life threatening medical condition. Treatment is effective. If someone you know is suffering please be sure he or she gets help and maintains treatment.”

Is Forgiveness The Only Option?

Asking For ForgivenessI have always been led to believe that in order to move on with my life that it is crucial to forgive other people. Many, many articles have been written about what that kind of forgiveness is. We have been told that forgiveness does not mean condoning, it isn’t forgetting, it’s not even really about the other person. This is all certainly true and I would ascribe to this view of forgiveness. But is forgiveness the only option?

I no longer think so. I have met many people who have been wounded by others so deeply that they cannot even imagine forgiving. Even after going through the list of what forgiveness is not they continue to believe that they may never be able to take that step. The pain is too deep. The sorrow is too real. The anger is too intense. Short of the intervention of a deity, asking a person to forgive when these emotions are in play may not be in their best interests and will most likely involve a high level of cognitive dissonance. Asking them to “fake it til you make it” may be asking too much.

So is there hope?

Absolutely. Good counseling understands that people need to make change slowly. Radical decisions and grandiose change is often not real or lasting. Everyone wants a magic pill but they eventually realize that deep psychological transformation takes time and a great deal of hard work. Forgiving someone who has raped or molested you is often impossible, given how you feel right now.

And that is the real issue, actually – how you feel right now. Staying hurt and bitter just prolongs your misery and keeps you in the cycle of pain and abuse. That person who wronged you actually continues to wrong you, over and over again. It is no wonder, then, that many of us believe we can never get over such injury. We have no teachers, no idea, no examples to follow. Few people who are not vindictive or idealistic seem to talk much about what to do when you don’t feel you can forgive.

It may just be possible that you are asking far too much of yourself. You are expecting that you will be able to “get over” this, even though the intensity has never subsided and you have not been able to glean perspective, even after all these years. Such an expectation seems highly unrealistic to me, too much to hope for.

There is another route. I have found that helping someone gradually separate from the emotion of the situation and gain perspective slowly, very slowly, allows them to move beyond the raw pain of what has happened. With careful and continued support and insight I have known many people who have been able to loosen the “grip” of their hurt on their heart. Once they have been able to start the healing than words such as “forgiveness” or “healthy” no longer seem so ridiculous, so unattainable.

It is the emotion of the hurt that keeps us stuck, not the event itself. With time and the right people you can begin to heal.

Begin to believe that life can be different.
Begin to hope that you may yet have a chance to live.
Begin to experience freedom from the bondage that has broken you.

It may take a long time. It may be painful. It starts with hope.

Guest Blogger – “Not Worthy Of Love”

Today’s guest blogger prefers to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons…

Like many others I have experienced several areas of abuse in my life, from parental figures, those in positions of authority, and even my husband. Although I live each day fearing some kind of altercation I make no effort to change or get away from it. To those outside it seems hard to understand why.

Do I want something better? Sure I do.  Do I long to feel loved?  Absolutely. Do I wish for a relationship that does not rule with guilt, mind games and intense anger? I can’t even imagine. Do I wonder what it would be like to be an equal in my marriage?  Everyday. But do I think I deserve such things? Not even a little bit.

My world was rocked at a very young age, as a child much too young I was introduced to sex.  It was horrible and awful, a secret that was to be kept leaving me feeling dirty and ashamed. For years, into my late twenties in fact, I carried that secret, and the shame grew.  I punished myself, as a child I tore at my skin creating large open sores.  It was my punishment, and it was my cry for help.  I was shuffled from doctor to doctor, none able to figure out what had caused my skin to open up.  So they bandaged me up and I carried on not saying a word.  Inside though I was screaming for someone to notice how I was hurting.  Didn’t they see my bandaged hands, couldn’t they see my wounds, my pain.  But no one could see how I was suffering inside, they only saw the physical wounds I had created on the outside.

Years past and I became a teenager, boys entered the picture.  My early teenage years saw breakups and typical teenage heartbreak.  But as it progressed into later years I learned quickly what men wanted from me as a series of older men started hitting on me.  It always started with a showering of affection; they would tell me I was beautiful and special.  The broken child in me longed to hear it, to feel somebody loved me, somebody cared.  More than one showed up at my high school at lunch and drove  me away for my lunch break.  My friends worried, tried to intervene even, but I craved the attention they gave me and slowly broke away from any friends that discouraged me.  Each man pushed the boundaries a little more physically, until I would eventually say no and the relationship would end. Slowly  I was forming the realization that if I didn’t want to have sex, men didn’t want me.   And then one day at the age of 17 a man 18 years my senior didn’t stop when I said no.  His anger raged at me and he told me that I couldn’t say no to him after leading him on all this time.  I was scared, I cried but I let him take from me what he was after. When he dropped me back at school I felt more broken, dirty and ashamed then I had ever felt. I believe completely it was my fault and I told no one.

At 18 I found myself pregnant.  At 19 married to a man who was controlling, angry and abusive.  At 21 I had two children was depressed and slept all the time.  At 23 I began a series of affairs, with married men.  Men who, in my eyes, were good, kind, and loving men.  The type of men who would never choose me as their wife because I believed good men don’t choose women like me. They would, however, choose me for sex and in that moment it felt like enough.  It felt like love, but I would go home emptier than I was before.  I felt more dirty and more ashamed each time. And so I started cutting myself.  I lived in a vicious cycle I couldn’t get out of.  I felt like I couldn’t stop myself, but I also couldn’t live with myself because of what I was doing, I hated myself.   I most certainly could never forgive myself.

And then one day I decided it had to end, I left my husband.  I stopped having sex with other men, and I even stopped cutting myself.  I remarried and secretly wished for a happy life I knew I didn’t deserve. I worked hard so that from the outside my life looked pretty close to perfect.  I thought I could make myself forget it all by changing my life.  Everyone believed things had turned around for me. But the truth is I had married a man remarkably similar to my first husband.  And the abuse cycle started again.

Every day I struggle with finding self-worth, to feel valued, loved and respected.  Every day I believe a little less that I will ever find those things. Truth is I probably never will in my marriage.

So why can’t I break free? Because he is willing to stay with me, because I fear being alone, because I believe my past means that no good and decent man would choose me. Because I do not feel I am worthy of that kind of love.

I feel unable to move past what I have done and what’s been done to me. I see myself as used, dirty and damaged.  My body is covered in self-inflicted scars, I have made it ugly. Every time I think I am making progress I find myself here again.  Even now I am hiding cuts on my body so no one can see them, and when I see them I silently remind myself that this is why no one will love me.  No one really could.

I fully believe that people are made new in Christ, but I remain unable to see myself as anything but this horrible person.  I would love to say I have found healing, and self acceptance, that prayer has healed me, or counseling.  But it isn’t reality.  I have felt God’s healing at times in my life and I continue to work towards healing.  But I am human and I battle my head daily.  I used to believe I didn’t have enough faith for God to completely heal me.  I know believe it’s about the journey, the things we learn and grow from along the way.  Even if it takes a life time.  I may never see full healing this side of heaven, but can you imagine how amazing that day will be when it comes.

Are You Dating an Abuser?

Psychology Today: Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and domestic violence are on the rise, especially among young people. The risk of falling into an abusive relationship is greater than ever.

There are obvious red flags to avoid in a prospective lover, such as angry, controlling, possessive, jealous, or violent behavior. Unfortunately, most abusers are able to mask these tendencies in dating. By the time many people notice the obvious red flags, they’re already attached to an abuser, which makes it much harder for them to leave the relationship.

More useful than a list of obvious red flags are guidelines based on very early warning signs of a potentially abusive relationship, signs that are visible before an attachment bond is formed. The following is a list of qualities to look for in a potential lover. Avoid them at all costs.

Note: During the early stages of your relationship, your partner is not likely to do any of these things to you. But witnessing these attitudes and behaviors toward others is a sure sign that they will turn onto you, sooner or later.

Very Early Warning Sign #1: A Blamer

Avoid anyone who blames his negative feelings and bad luck on someone else. Special care is necessary here, as blamers can be really seductive in dating. Their blame of others can make you look great by comparison:

“You’re so smart, sensitive, caring, and loving, not like that bitch I used to go out with.”

“Why couldn’t I have met you before that self-centered, greedy, woman I used to date?”

“You’re so calm and together, and she was so crazy and paranoid.”

Hearing this kind of thing might make you think that all he really needs is the understanding and love of a good woman to change his luck. This disastrous assumption flies in the face of the Law of Blame.

The Law of Blame: It eventually goes to the closest person.

When you become the closest person to him, the blame will certainly turn on you.

 Blamers can be dangerous to love because they usually suffer from victim identity. Feeling like victims, they see themselves as justified in whatever retaliation they enact and whatever compensation they take. Blamers will certainly cause pain for you if you come to love one.

Very Early Warning Sign #2: Resentment

Resentment is a negative mood caused by focus on perceptions of unfairness. Resentful people feel like they are not getting the help, consideration, praise, reward, or affection they believe is due them.

Everyone has to put up with a certain amount of unfairness in life. We don’t like it, but we deal with it and move on; we try to improve our situations and our experiences. The resentful waste their emotional energy by dwelling on the unfairness of others (while remaining oblivious to their own unfairness). They think (mistakenly) that they don’t know how to improve their lives. They use resentment as a defense against a sense of failure or inadequacy.

Resentful people are so caught up in their “rights” and so locked into their own perspectives that they become completely insensitive to the rights and perspectives of others. If you fall in love with a resentful person, you will eventually become the brunt of that resentment and almost certainly feel shut out and diminished in the relationship.

Very Early Warning Sign #3: Entitlement

People with a sense of entitlement believe that they deserve special consideration and special treatment. They may cut in front of others waiting in line, smoke wherever they want, drive any way they want, say anything they like, and do pretty much anything they choose.

Driven by high standards of what they should get and what other people should do for them, the entitled feel chronically disappointed and offended. So it seems only fair, from their myopic perspectives, that they get compensation for their constant frustrations. Special consideration seems like so little to ask! Here’s the logic:

“It’s so hard being me, I shouldn’t have to wait in line, too!”

“With all I have to put up with, I deserve to take a few supplies from the office.”

“With the kind of day I had, you expect me to mow the lawn?”

“All the taxes I pay, and they bother me about this little deduction!”

“The way I hit the golf ball, I should get the best seat in the restaurant!”

“I’m the man; you have to cook my dinner!”

After the glow of infatuation wears off, the entitled person will regard his feelings and desire as more important than yours. If you agree, you’ll get depressed. If you disagree, you’ll get abused.

Very Early Warning Sign #4 Superiority

Superiority is the implication, at least through body language or tone of voice, that someone is better than someone else. Potential abusers tend to have hierarchical self-esteem, i.e., they need to feel better than someone else to feel okay about themselves. They need to point out ways in which they are smarter, more sensitive, or more talented than others. This, too, can be seductive in dating, as he will point out ways in which you are superior, too.

The most abusive form of hierarchical self-esteem is predatory self-esteem. To feel good about themselves, persons with predatory self-esteem need to make other people feel bad about themselves. Many will test high in self-esteem when they come for court-ordered treatment, while everyone else in their family tests low. But once intervention increases the self-esteem of the emotionally beaten-down spouse and children who then no longer internalize the put-downs, the predator’s self-esteem invariably declines.

A variation on this very early warning sign is self-righteousness. If you dare to disagree with him, you will not only be wrong but immoral!

Very Early Warning Sign #5: Pettiness

If he makes a big deal out of nothing or focuses on one small, negative aspect of an issue, a relationship with him will be disastrous. This might show itself as being extremely particular about how his food is prepared in a restaurant or seeming impatient if someone drops something.

In a love relationship, his petty attitudes and behavior will make you feel reduced to some small mistake, as if nothing you have ever done right in your life matters. You will feel criticized and diminished for the smallest of infractions, real or imagined.

Very Early Warning Sign #6: Sarcasm

Sarcasm comes in many forms. Sometimes its just poorly timed humor – saying the wrong thing in the wrong context. Sometimes it’s innocently insensitive, with no intention to hurt or offend. More often it is hostile and meant to devalue. The purpose is to undermine a perspective the sarcastic person doesn’t agree with or to shake someone’s confidence, just for a temporary ego gain or some strategic advantage in a negotiation.

Sarcastic people tend to be heavy into impression management, always trying to sound smart or witty. Their tone always has at least a subtle put-down in it. In dating this will be directed at others. In a relationship, it will center on you.

Very Early Warning Sign #7: Deceit (intentional and unintentional)

Unintentional deceit happens all the time in dating, due to what I call the “dating self.”

We all try to put on the best face possible in dating. Most of us will exaggerate our good qualities at least a little, if we think the other person will like us more if we were just a bit more like that. “Oh, you’re religious? Well I’ve been feeling a bit more spiritual lately, so I’m going right home and read the Bible, or at least watch the movie version.”

This kind of unintentional exaggeration is meant less to deceive than to motivate the self. The exaggerator really wants to develop qualities you like; he’s just not quite there, yet.

Of course, the dating self often includes blatant deception, as in, “Oh, did I tell you that I went to Harvard?” or, “Yes, I know some rich and famous people.” Deceit shows a low-level of self-respect — and respect for you — that can only bode ill in a relationship.

Very Early Warning Sign #8: Minor Jealousy

Minor jealousy does not come off like the obvious red flag of controlling and possessive behavior. It looks more like this: He’s slightly uncomfortable when you talk to or even look at another man. He might not say anything, but he looks uncomfortable.

The tough thing about minor jealousy in dating is that you actually want a tiny bit of it to know that they other person cares. (You certainly don’t want to love someone who wouldn’t mind at all if you slept with the entire football team.) But a little bit of jealousy goes a long, long way. Think of it as a drop of powerfully concentrated liquid in a huge bucket of water. More than a tiny drop will poison any relationship you might develop with the jealous person and, more important, put you in harm’s way.

Even minor jealousy has the potential to be harmful. Jealousy becomes dangerous once it turns into obsession. The more we obsess about something, the more imagination takes over, distorting reality and rational thinking. Jealousy is the only naturally occurring emotion that can cause psychosis, which is the inability to tell what is really happening from what is in your head. Most severe violence in relationships involves some form of jealousy.

Very Early Warning Sign #9: Rusher

I have had clients complain that their boyfriends don’t pursue them or try to sweep them off their feet. I always tell them, “How lucky you are!” 
Guys who go “too fast” (defined as whatever makes you uncomfortable), do not respect boundaries. One definition of “abuse” is “that which violates personal boundaries.” It is not flattering that someone wants you so much that he does not care about whether you are comfortable. Make sure that any man you become interested in shows respect for your comfort-level, in all senses of the word.

Trust in Yourself
   While a certain caution in dating is a good thing, you want to be sure that your caution is proactive, rather than reactive; you want it based on trusting your instincts, rather than distrusting love.

Trust in yourself stems from your deepest values. As long as you stay attuned to the most important things to and about you, you will naturally gravitate toward those who truly value you as a person.

But even if you are firmly grounded in your values, it’s possible to be fooled by hidden resentment, anger, or abusive tendencies in the people you date. That’s because it’s easy for those prone to such tendencies to put on a false dating face. Because they have a more “fluid” sense of self than most people, it’s easier for them to pour it into any container they think you might like. But they can’t and won’t stay in a nice container once you establish a relationship. Then their resentment, anger, or abuse will emerge in full force.

Multiple-Victimization
  Research shows that if a woman has been mistreated in the past, even in childhood, there’s a good chance that she’ll be mistreated in her next relationship as well. It’s called, “multiple-victimization,” and it is often misunderstood.

I have heard far too many women clients say things like, “I could walk into a room full of doctors and therapists and fall in love with the one criminal.”

Or they ask with sad and bewildered eyes, “Why do I only attract resentful, angry, and abusive partners?” They wonder if they put out signals that say, “Please abuse me!” This particular misconception has even infected a few professionals who have ridiculously theorized that some women “want to be abused.”

If you’ve experienced multiple-victimization, please understand this: The problem is not that you attract only resentful, angry, or abusive suitors; it’s that, by and large, you have not been receptive to the gentler, more respectful men you also attract. This is not due to your temperament or personality; it’s a normal defensive reaction. After you’ve been hurt, of course you’ll put up subtle barriers for self-protection. Non-abusive men will recognize and respect those barriers. For example, suppose that you work with someone who’s attracted to you. But he senses that you’re uncomfortable with his small gestures for more closeness. He will naturally back off and give you time to heal, or he’ll settle for a non-romantic friendship. But a man who is likely to mistreat you will either not recognize your barriers or completely disregard them. He will continue to hit on you, until he breaks down the protective walls that surround your hungry heart.

The following “intimacy test” can help you become more sensitive and trusting to the non-verbal signals about attachment that ultimately rise from your core value.

Intimacy Test
  Can you disclose anything about yourself, including your deepest thoughts and feelings, without fear of rejection or misunderstanding? ________

Is the message of your relationship, “grow, expand, create, disclose, reveal?” Or is it, “hide, conceal, think only in certain ways, behave only in certain ways, feel only certain things?”

Grow___ Hide ___

Does this relationship offer both parties optimal growth? ___

Can you both develop into the greatest persons you can be? ___

Does your partner fully accept that you have thoughts, beliefs, preferences, and feelings that differ from his? ___

Does he respect those differences? ___

Does he cherish you despite them? ___

Does he accept your differences without trying to change you? ___

Do you want to accept that your partner has thoughts, beliefs, preferences, and feelings that differ from yours? ___

Can you respect those differences? ___

Can you cherish your partner despite them? ___

Can you accept them without trying to change them? ___

A greater sense of your core values will give you more confidence that you can detect the very early warning signs of abuse. Listen compassionately to the faint messages of your hungry heart. Then it won’t need to make the kind of desperate outcries that suspend your best judgment, scare off appropriate matches, and attract resentful, angry, or abusive partners.

Published on December 17, 2008 by Steven Stosny, Ph.D.

The Neurologist And The Nazi

Paris International Exposition: Nazi Germany p...

After I had my grand mal seizure last fall I was encouraged (forced) to see a neurologist for an assessment of my EEG. He was young, engaging, and when he realized where I work and what I do for a living let his guard down a little and we talked shop.

During our discussion he admitted to me that at least some of what he learned in medical school was information provided by the nazis in World War Two. Needless to say I was intrigued and pumped him for information. I have known for some time, being an amateur history and World War Two buff, that the experiments on the prisoners at the concentration camps had not been destroyed. I imagined that some of their research, no matter how heinous, must have worked its way into some form of science. I was a little surprised, however, to find out that a neurologist educated in Canada alleged that at least some portion of his understanding of neurology could be traced back to the Third Reich. Debate rages over the ethical ramifications of such use, though several credible sources, even Jewish sources, trumpet the pragmatic value of morally tainted data.

At this point it is tempting to look on the bright side and make platitudes about how “good can come out of bad” or something inane like that. Not going to happen.

No amount of understanding, at least in my mind, even remotely justifies what happened. I have seen some of the pictures, read about the experiments with altitude, cold, pregnancy, mutations, proposed medicines, poisons, etc. It’s just not worth it.

As a counselor it is tempting to try put a positive spin on pain or problems. I know personally that I am a much better person because of the emotional and personal breakdown I had over a decade ago. I realize that I have learned lessons and matured in ways that can only come about through pain. Trauma teaches lessons, if we are willing to hear them.

Was it worth it?

Nope.

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

 

You Just Got Hit

Bad day“They have a saying in boxing – everyone has a plan till they get hit… well guess what, you just got hit. Whether or not you get up is up to you.”  from The Ghost And The Darkness

I remember, years ago, hearing a minister talking about the worst day he ever had. I won’t go into details but suffice to say, it wasn’t much of a day. No one died, nothing bad happened. He was inconvenienced. I remember hearing him and thinking, “That’s the best you got?”

Some people get through lives relatively unscathed. I don’t know them personally but that’s the rumor. For the rest of us, however, life is a series of adventures and misadventures. I have a theory that almost everyone has experienced some form of trauma by the time they are forty. I can’t prove this but it seems to be true in the world I live. To quote the greatest family movie of all time, The Princess Bride, “Life is pain highness, anyone who says different is selling you something.”

We all get hit, from time to time. The older I get the more I notice how differently my life has turned out than I had anticipated. You can have all the plans in the world but they won’t help you if you get Fibromyalgia, or cancer, or are in a car accident. We are all just one bad moment from having our lives drastically changed. Twelve years ago I had my life all planned out, then I got hit. Some hits you never fully recover from. Perhaps that shouldn’t even be the goal. Trauma changes us. The trick may be to use situations we hate to change us in the right direction.

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes the rich do get richer and the pretty people do get all the breaks. Sometimes the jerks yand the liars do get ahead and there really seems to be no justice in the world. The Nortel legal battle in Canada, among others, demonstrates that the laws that apply to some, do not necessarily apply to the rich. The right set of high-priced lawyers changes everything.

Have you ever noticed that rich men usually have better hair? There is no justice.

It’s easy to get bitter.

But it doesn’t help one bit.

Have you ever noticed that the older people get the more they become a caricature of themselves? It is as if our personalities are water-soluble and as we age more and more of the water evaporates, leaving us with more “us”. As the capacity to exercise social restraint wears away you begin to see who that person really is. Old people seem to go one of two ways; either they become more gracious, more beautiful, or they get more bitter. So many bitter people.

I do not want to become bitter as I grow older. Already I can see the my tendency to become judgmental, or critical, or just grouchy. There have been people who have hurt me deeply and my natural inclination is to hold grudges and carry that pain forever. Perhaps I am not alone in this.

At the end of the day, like most things, it is about choice. Choice and a great deal of hard work. Left to our own devices many of us will gradually slip further and further towards negativity. Awareness is important. Hard work is much more important. Working on myself cannot, must not, be something I only do when I need to get something or someone. My life is not a thing to be fixed, it is a project to be nourished.

I know from personal experience how damaging it can be to live with bitterness and unforgiveness. I like to say it’s like taking poison and hoping your enemy will die. And it really is that harmful to us to live this way.
Joyce Meyer