Preview: Angelo Subida
Dr. Angelo O. Subida, Psychotherapist
REVOLUTION PSYCHOTHERAPY, www.drsubida.com. Innovative. Individual. Inspirational. International. * 24/7 Therapy InfoText Hotlines: +63 9090833374 ; +63 9055206951 * firstname.lastname@example.org
How To Handle Your Pain
Pain is inevitable in human life. Whether physical or emotional pain, no one escapes this reality. What do you do when it comes?
Many years ago, I was at the bedside of my younger sister, Cecille, who got confined at the ICU of the Philippine Heart Center. She wailed, gripped the bed rail tight, and experienced the pain rampage in her body. Her medicines seemed to no longer have any effect on her immune system. It was a difficult moment for me to behold. Resisting it, battling it, my sister had a ferocious struggle that won't make the pain go away.
Teddy, one of my long-term clients, suffered from the emotional pain of his wife's infidelity. In session, he suddenly became a yowling with moans, groans, and curses that reverberate from within his heart and mind. His days were filled with anxiety attacks, sleeplessness, and depressive episodes. He felt exhausted. His attitude was virtual surrender of his capacity to heal and be hopeful of his future.
English clergyman and writer Charles Kingsley writes, "Pain is no evil. Unless it conquers us." Pain has a strong psychological component. Passive resignation and fatalism only make this enemy linger. Anxiety is known to stimulate further pain. When one is conquered by pain with negativity, bitterness, and hopelessness, more often than not, the body or one's emotional being deteriorates faster. Death is not far behind.
How then do you handle pain? How do you overcome it?
"We do not choose our afflictions," Paul Tournier says, "but we can overcome them only by accepting them." That's right. You overcome pain by accepting rather than resisting it. Welcome it! "Thank God for the pain," so ended the lecture of Dr. Paul Brand. He continues, "With the acceptance of the discipline of pain, suffering for one another, we wil come also to the ecstasy of shared happiness of a new understanding as we glimpse the vision of God for His world."
Yes, even in pain, as you accept it, you can grow to bloom. An anonymous quote states, "Suffering is not a question that demands an answer; it is not a problem that demands a solution; it is a mystery which demands a Presence." The secret of acceptance of inevitable pain is sinking your roots in faith. You focus on living day by day, present in the Presence, to effectively handle and overcome your pain.
Making Peace With Your Self
Thomas Kempis once wrote, " ... make peace with yourself, so that you may then bring peace to others."
When victimized, its essential to acknowledge that one's self has been wounded or damaged by an offender. Some people deny or repress the hurt they experienced. They want to appear unaffected. They try to forget without working through. They make excuses.
Because they do not want to risk shaming themselves or harming their dignity, they betray themselves by refusing to admit or face their damaged emotions head-on. If this is happening, any efforts towards healing of one's self from the offense and sin of others are going to be unattainable and merely illusory.
What exactly can you do to make peace with your self when a spouse has betrayed you ... a friend duped you with millions of money ... a group of men raped your daughter ... the police killed your loved ones ... And so forth? How do you heal your self from these terrible offenses?
Let me cite here one major key psychological and spiritual step: forgiving your self. Before you can even think of forgiving your offender, you need to first re-establish your own internal harmony. To do this, you have to avoid being "contaminated" by the offensive acts of the other with forms of vengeance or self-harm. You attain internal harmony by forgiving your self.
Forgiving one's self, as psychologist John Monbourquette put it, means "reconciling within one's self the offender and the victim: stopping the offender in one's self and breaking free of victimization."
That involves refusing to identify your self with the offender. You need to call on your Higher Self with the Higher Power than that of your wounded ego self, naturally caught responding in the "twin role of offender and victim." It is this Higher Self that can break the impasse and recreate your internal harmony to make peace with your self, finally.
Sedative, Not Solution
Cesar is CEO Founder of a billion-worth food company. He has wealth, fame, and admiration of the business community. His life is filled with rounds of busyness, pleasure, and amassing of money.
Yet, instead of his success bringing fulfillment, Cesar still experiences a persistent ache inside his heart and mind. He realizes that all his achievements were just his vain attempts to escape from his unhappiness. To his surprise, he feels that he had only grasped shadows.
Everyone has favorite escapes. Some overeat. Others watch or play video games, smoke, drink, do drugs, gamble, become sex addicts, workaholics or enter a flurry of activities. Still others go to entertainment, even occultism.
The possibilities for escape are endless. All in an effort to dull some unexplained or recognized pain and discomfort. However, the end result of these escapes is only loss of self respect and continuing delusion as well as disappointment.
Now I'm not saying that some of these escapes are unhelpful. In fact, many of them may meet legitimate needs. But the satisfaction or relief they give is temporal. Short-lived. They are mere sedatives, not solutions.
Brain drugs, for example, may afford temporary relief but address only the periphery of the real problem. A band aid is helpful to cover a cut but is not a long term treatment to a broken bone. They fall short of addressing the roots of the infection from which illness stems.
A couple of days ago, I was in a session speaking to a Chinese who regrets not owning a Porsche. Coming from one of the country's wealthiest "tsinoy" families, he feels insecure and unable to measure up when he and his siblings and other relatives get together. He shared how much he always appear to lag behind as he hears them telling stories of their latest luxury purchases and travels.
In far contrast, American-Canadian actor Keanu Reeves is a multimillion dollar action star who lives simply and rides the NYC subway train. Once, he donated 70% of his earnings from his Matrix movie to a worldwide health care cause. Life seems more than money for him. A minimalist, Keanu "disidentifies" his self from his wealth and fame.
Yes, that term "disidentification." It refers to a basic exercise in the school of psychosynthesis created by Roberto Assagioli. It consists of discovering what the Self is not. It intuits your real essence and identity by disengaging all that does not belong to it. This psychological process allows you to loosen your grip on and let go of all false identities.
For example, if I have an aching foot, it's important that I don't identify my self with it, as if my whole being has become an aching foot. Therefore, in my mind I say, "I have an aching foot but I am not my aching foot." Seeing this basic distinction allows me a better mastery of my existential reality or circumstances.
The same principle of "disidentification" applies in other aspects of our life. Nowadays, our culture is filled with stuff using money, fame, possessions, power, emotions, romantic relationships, and other externals as reference points for one's value or being. These are "false identities;" they do not constitute the very essence of our being.
Thus, when I'm financially bankrupt and I say "I'm financially bankrupt but I am not my financial bankruptcy, because I am more than my financial bankruptcy," I disidentify my self with it. If I find my self alone or divorced and depressed, I avoid believing or letting others make me believe that my whole being is only being alone, divorce, or depression.
Practicing disidenfication regularly is healthy. It gives you the needed psychological detachment or distance from your problems, so you can better solve them. Disidentification, which is a form of mindfulness or meditation, allows for greater discovery, awareness, and nourishment of your true self.
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Be Conscious Of Your Value As A Person
In my practice, it's so common my hearing individuals doubting the value of their persons. They feel inherently defective. They don't feel deserving of love and respect. They see themselves as worthless. A lot others constantly compare themselves to others. Rather than being conscious of their own value or uniqueness as persons, they continue to experience bothersome thoughts and feelings about themselves.
The convictions that sustain and reinforce one's value and uniqueness are essential to counteract common internal negative messages held by persons. The beliefs that need to be cherished by the self are:
* I am a person of worth.
* I am important.
* I am in the best position to experience what I'm like in the inside.
* I can love my self despite whatever happened to my externals.
* I respect my self and expect others to respect me.
* I take personal responsibility for all my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
* I have a good relationship with each part of my self.
* I am unique, no one in the world like me.
* I am my own best friend.
* I do nothing to harm my health and relationships.
The False Self
Psychology speaks of the existence of a "false self" in a person's psyche. This part of the self hides secrets, necessitating erecting an accommodating exterior or mask.
All work on self discovery and recovery comprises this psychological concept of "false self." It lives a life of not following the truest and deepest inclinations of one's core being.
Dependent or non-autonomous, the "false self" is unable to disengage from social, cultural, and instinctual conditioning. It can not make choices that reflect one's true self, identity, and personal mission.
Nora is a 50 year old patient who sought therapy for her low self esteem. In our sessions, she continually anguished over her health, the approval of her husband and children, and what people say about her physical appearance.
She suffered from depression, anxiety attacks, and exaggerated concern of other people's opinions. Hypersensitive, she bordered a lot toward hypochondria and eating disorders. As a result, she caused her self unnecessary trouble and wounding in her relationships.
Upon deeper probing, I found out how much Nora was hurt and traumatized during the normal formation of her persona since childhood. Her mother treated her as if she's one of the house maids when she was a little girl onwards.
She received verbal, physical, and emotional abuse from her mother for so many years. Her mother definitely failed to respond to her basic needs. To survive, Nora's only choice was to hide who she is and use defensive, rigid adaptation defenses.
Nora is not alone. Countless individuals develop a pathological "false self" due to ancient false efforts for adaptation caused by parental mistakes or abuse. So disturbed in a primary relationship by numerous frustrations and hurts, a child learns to build a protective defense wall.
Instead of presenting a healthy persona, the wounded child tries to ward off the outside world which is experienced as hostile and rejecting. Far from being conscious, the unhealthy adaptation only leads to deeper alienation of the true self.
Solo But Not Lonely
Nowadays, there are commonplace circumstances that make it hard to marry or be "coupled." For others, the brokenness or dysfunction in their families has not made family companionship come their way. Of course, singles, solo parents, and divorced individuals have always been with us. Then there is also the prevalence of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle increasingly accepted in our society.Either by choice or by force of circumstances, a fast growing number of people today are living alone around the world. In life situations like this, the oft-quoted saying stands true: "In acceptance lies peace." So in what way exactly can that saying apply to the single state? Catherine, now age over 90s, lives alone. She was once married but divorced due to her former husband's infidelity and addiction. All her life, she worked hard to support her self and growing children. When her children became adults and started their own families, Catherine was left to live alone by her self. Now in precarious health and limited material resources, she's always asked if she ever felt lonely. To this, her response is: "Yes I live alone but I'm not lonely. How can I be lonely when God is with me?"Solo but not lonely. The example of the life of Catherine demonstrates that singleness need not be equated to loneliness. When thinking of singleness, we should not also overlook the reality of numerous singles around the world who find fulfillment and satisfaction in the solo state. The magnificent accomplishments in all aspects of society, such as politics, the arts, or religion, would had been greatly undone if it were not for gifted single men and women. If the single state is where you are now, both men and women, even though you prefer marriage, take heart. It can be good for you! For example, there are lots of miserable married couples today. Your state of singleness can be better than the state of marital misery. More importantly, the secret of happiness and contentment in your single state is when it's activated for God. It will overcome the loneliness usually accompanying singleness which is never forever. [...]
When Our Parents Die Twice
Our fathers and mothers may die twice. First, during their actual dying. And the other is the experience of non-relationship with them.
I have sat with a couple, Charlie and Mary (not their real names in this composite story), who both needed to recount detailed memories of their parents' last days as well as their estrangement or abuse from them. Specific scenes and conversations kept coming back to them with extraordinary vividness.
Charlie, triggered by his father's lack of attention to him while he was alive, died while he was so young. This left him fending for himself to support his studies and his mother. Mary, on the other hand, relived the period of her childhood during which her mother physically and verbally abused her. In her death bed, Mary's mother continued to berate her, swamping Mary with painful memories she could not handle.
In our marital therapy sessions together, Charlie and Mary both realized that their own respective parents died twice. As a result, they found themselves hurting and abusing themselves and each other without fully understanding why. Wasting the good present in their lives because their past remain present. Their marriage exposed the "unfinished business." Charlie and Mary lived to heal and revise their memories and self perceptions in accordance with the knowledge that they were gaining in therapy.
When our circumstances become humbling or we get wounded, things can become clear from the vantage point of helplessness. We can end up learning coming to terms with our parents' deaths. We may finally be able to forgive our parents for their mistakes or failings. We may finally learn to leave home and live our own separate identities. Recognition of this key element in self healing can supersede even a life time of heart wounds and disappointments.
As psychologist Dr. Erik Erikson suggests, full spiritual health arises when one attains an "acceptance of one's own and only life cycle" and a "new different love of one's parents, free of the wish that they should have been different." Some people lived long enough to find this truth out.
Self and Entitlement Mindset
Do you have an entitled self? What I mean is, one suffering from a deadly mind-set psychologists call "entitlement mentality."Maria, one of my long-term patients, is a third-generation child born to a very wealthy family clan. From birth onwards, she grew up getting everything she wants. Her parents, sincerely driven by their love, desire to ensure that Maria "does not go through the hardships they went through." Every decision, including every sharp corner or struggle in life, is conveniently covered by Mommy and Daddy. As a result, Maria develops a belief that this is what life really is. Her self in luxury becomes a well entrenched expectation inside her brain. She is conditioned that she shouldn't have to work for things she wants. For her, the good life is her right and no longer a privilege. And there is anger or rage if she doesn't get her way or what she wants ...and get it easily. Once, Maria misspent millions from her family-funded business, going to bars, partying, drinking, taking drugs etc. When her business went bankrupt, she incurred multiple millions of debts from creditors who filed legal suits against her. Her family covered for her, paid all her debts. Now forced into personal psychotherapy and rehabilitation by her family, she continues in her "entitled self" and pass all the blame to her parents and family to what happened to her and her business.Entitlement mentality is a deadly mental disease. It's a state of the mind in which a person believes that her "privileges" are instead her "rights." It believes that she deserves the "right" to be given special treatment, the comforts of life, without regard to consequences of her choices. She desires continuing supply of material things she believes she deserves. Refusing to accept or see what life is in reality, a person with entitlement mentality only experiences a vicious cycle.What many parents fail to realize, my self included, is that by depriving our children of pain in facing the difficulties of life, we deprive them of Self development and growth. We spoil them, blinded by what we perceive as parental "love." With lack of proper perspective of what life really is, our children become immature and broken - psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It leaves them with entitlement mentality, which produces weakness instead of strength. It makes our children forever dependent individuals instead of independent ones. If your self is living life with an entitlement mindset, it's not too late to heal and change. You can choose to change the invisible "roots" of your character so you can change the visible "fruits" manifesting in your life. Work on what you want, earn what you believe you deserve.Adversity is your self vaccination against the disease of entitlement mentality. When faced with adversity, embrace it and learn from it. Take responsibility for the consequences of your choices, whatever they may be. Quit blaming others or circumstances. Heal this disabling mindset and be whole in your self through the refining process of adversity. [...]
At Least One Person Who Cares About You
We all need an experience with at least one person who cares about us.
Before we can fully believe the good in our selves, we have to experience it personally. We need specific encounters with other individuals. This provides us with necessary roots, a basis for hope of a better life, even to the end.
In my work as a psychotherapist, I've seen lonely, angry, disordered personalities become gentle and receptive. They do in response to my taking an interest in their selves and lives. As I unconditionally accept them as they are and help them in their journey, many gave up their self destructive habits. It's a direct response to the love and caring and understanding they received in our work together.
Author Ben Weininger, in his book "Aging Is A Lifelong Affair," he observes:
"You need an experience with at least one person who cares about you. It doesn't matter what age this person appears. If you didn't have a close relationship when younger, and you now have one close person in your life, that makes up for the early deficiency. That person can appear at any time in the life cycle, even on the day of death. One does not need to make up for lost time."
I once knew a foreigner when I was much younger. At that time, I felt totally vulnerable. I felt hurt by my parents, and I could not get close to them. Then, this man from another country started talking to me. He kept visiting me, dropping by to take walks with me and have coffee talks. He'd crack jokes, treat me to nice meals, and bring me to feel part of his family. In my self development, such person was most meaningful and moving because he was not kin or within my immediate circle of relatives.
There may be no certain guaranteed formula for self-security. But the presence of at least one person in your life who cares about you almost always serves as a strength.
Healing in Silence and Inactivity
The sooner we start learning to live fully, avoiding the waste of "unlived life," the better for our self growth. Yet prior to experiencing a crisis or trauma, few people live in terms of fullness in self understanding and development.
After three years suffering from a multimillion financial bankruptcy from his business, Mark, one of my patients with childhood psycho-trauma, was compelled by his paternal relatives to seek therapy. He never improved in his self awareness, marital, and financial situation since his business failed. So, for the first time in his adult life, Mark allowed himself to sit still and processed things more completely this time.
For some people, illness, impending death, relationship breakdown, or other traumatic experiences become the impulsion for them to "face their self." Before, they never gave a thought where they were racing to for they're always in such a hurry. So now, in silence and inactivity, they're provided with a golden opportunity to bring illumination into the hidden aspects of themselves to radically change their lives.
Writer Lewis Mumford wrote in his book "The Conduct of Life:" "Too many of us wait for an illness ...to entertain solitary moments ... We should not depend on such accidents to make a timely orientation possible. A half hour of solitude, detached and 'empty' - that is essential for a new beginning." Indeed, Mumford seems to be saying here and encouraging each one of us to spend at least half an hour a day in complete silence and inactivity and solitude, with no outside interruption.
Self development requires appreciating silence and inactivity. Quiet time. Even prayers to heal. We don't always have to be doing something. I remember my frequent sittings in the parks or malls, just bringing my self to a point of "emptiness." Even amidst crowds, I've learned to feel my soul open and strengthen like a muscle. It's during these times that I experience the healing goodness of silence, inactivity. Then, I'm able to see through the surface to the depths.
Recollection and Relinquishment
I once heard the reminiscences of a 70+ year old man who lost his wife to cancer. He certainly did not take his wife's disappearance lightly. It hurt a lot for him. He loved her so much.
In the number of times we met, he'd always reminisce on his past memories and moments with his loved one. It's as if he was still walking along with her like it was yesterday. He wanted to move forward through the remaining precious fragment of his life on earth. Yet he remained never without her.
We need both recollection and relinquishment. Hoarding loving memories is no better than shunning them. When a loved one departs, a need for disengagement is inevitable. Yet such does not have to be without heart. We may still do the proper leave-taking while not detaching our self off from beautiful sentiments.
As writer Rainer Rilke put it, "We live our lives, for ever taking leave." It seems that we thrive with some fuel coming from a flexible relationship with our past.
Sooner, this man shared that he had to relinquish at some level to live a different sort of life after his wife's death. He chose to have adventures!
He opened an international business with his adult children, put up a new foundation, and went to gym to do boxing (he's as strong as one in his 40's!). He joined groups and met regularly with other men for bible studies. So now, after his loss, every day, he has such a full life that he won't run out of things to recollect in his memory!
Somehow, as we age, we tend to be more predisposed to do increasing doses of recollecting amidst relinquishing. Recollecting in our memory seems to seek continuity, no matter how long we live.
As Sharon Kaufman observes, we seek continuity in our recollections "so that a familiar and unified sense of self emerges in old age."
We all need a theme in our lives, in our recollecting and relinquishing, to account for what is happening to us.
The Problem That Has No Name
"I'm married for 20 years now and finding my self more and more energy-less. My wife didn't do anything. But I just walked out and found a young woman.""I can't understand what's happening. I've a beautiful wife and three children, a well paying job, and a string of high end properties. I've got my health, yet I still feel empty.""Each day, I do same thing at work. My office is comfortable. My fellow employees are friendly. And I wonder about what's wrong with me.""My husband is loving and a good provider. My kids are cute and loveable. With all the comforts of home, I've free time to do other things. I ask myself why I remain dissatisfied.""I'm tired from the minute I get up in the morning to the time I go to bed at night."Isn't this a tremendous puzzle? To borrow writer Betty Friedman's phrase, it's a "problem that has no name." This is a universal, common plight of millions of men and women around the world. They are tired, joyless, and thoroughly dissatisfied with life for seemingly no apparent reason.Boredom is a malady typically described as "the problem that has no name." The problem knows no rank, status, or gender. It afflicts both rich and poor, educated and illiterate, famous and commonplace. Every one has the potential to experience boredom.Unfortunately, boredom can produce deadly effects or consequences in one's self and life. It has the capacity break marriages and families apart. It can lead to fatigue, depression, and addictions. Left untreated, boredom could develop a host of psychological, emotional, behavioral, physical, and spiritual disorders.I'm reminded of my Spanish subjects during college. I felt totally bored with it! I struggled to see the point of studying the language. As a result, my study efforts and grades suffered. This then led to dislike of my Spanish teachers, fatigue, and anger. The negative feelings emanating from my boredom impaired my academic performance and discipline.So, what can you do about boredom?Obviously, to accomplish your goals or what you want, you need to find a way to get through boredom. What can you do to make your life or work more interesting? How can you inject enthusiasm into your self during dull moments? In what ways may what you do make a contribution to benefit the needy or less fortunate? These questions could be good starting-points to overcome boredom.St. Augustine once wrote, "Thou has made us for Thyself O God, and our hearts are restless until they find themselves in Thee." Or, as Paul wrote to the Colossians, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men ..." (Colossians 3:23). There it is - an ultimate anti-boredom prescription. When you find your life's meaning and energy in Him, boredom is never a problem. [...]
RAD: "Responsibility-Avoidance Disease"
Cassandra, one of my clients in joint session with her husband, was fuming. She protested my encouraging her to put in the effort and thoughtfulness needed on how she feels and thinks towards her husband and children. In the light of her choices and behavior, she found her self hurting everyone in her family. Yet she continued to blame, displacing all responsibility into them. Unfortunately, she chose to studiously avoid a deep examination of her self and owning her part in family relationships.RAD or "responsibility-avoidance disease." It's essentially a choice to evade responsibility for what you are and how you think and feel on you. You deny your self-creation. You reject that you are the cause of your own "experience" and responsible for everything that happens in that "experience." It's the inability to choose personal responsibility that keeps people stuck in their lives. Only when they make this choice can their life move forward. A core of personal healing and wholeness is responsibility assumption. You are the sole creator of your "experience" of whatever happens to you. You are responsible for creating the "experience" of your loved ones' manifesting behavior, your being wounded by abusive parents, your being betrayed by your spouse, your financial bankruptcy, and so on. Do things happen to you and you're a just mere passive, innocent bystander?Psychotherapy and responsibility are closely connected. RAD is bad for mental health. Responsibility acceptance and assumption leads to therapeutic recovery. Dynamically, a certain amount of ego strength is necessary if one is to successfully assume personal responsibility. It involves the belief that you have the power to act on your behalf. You recognize that you can create and influence your own experiential worlds. You're able to see the causal relationship between your own behavior and your outcomes.Indeed, this shift of mindset is a major key to life change. As noted psychologist William James put it, "If you can change your mind, you can change your life."[...]
"Woman Criminal:" Hope in Broken Places
Such a warm, peaceful Tuesday afternoon. A cool, quiet drive with a TV reporter to one part of the city. As we entered the gate of the Women's Correctional, I sensed something up ahead. Before I realized what it was, it flashed before my eyes - I could see it now ... the color-dressed woman inmates, some staring at me, some smiling at me. I don't mean to be grandiose, but I felt they're not that different from those outside. And by seeing so, I saw a part of me as well.My TV researcher guide, Georis, served as my cheery informative usher into a populous facility. My first ever visit here. The TV crew and staff were all over, already setting up. In a few moments, I was handed a "case study" transcript about one who they described as a "decent-looking, hi-society, pretty criminal." Along with lunch food, Georis made me digest the story of a wrecked life. So what appeared to be a curiosity visual tour of a place I'd never seen became a day of silent therapeutic reflections. Of course, it had been worth it.Monica (not her real name). Over 6 years now, she's imprisoned in the Women's Correctional. Her case: robbery, estafa, and faking death. She stole millions worth of cash and jewelry. She hid and escaped legal prosecution and imprisonment by staging her "death" - violently, crazily, and fatally. Coached by her lawyers, she bought a corpse and burned it along with her car, and produced a fake death certificate. After 3 years of successful hiding, the police and NBI caught her that turned out to be a sensational media story. That's the Monica they're featuring in the upcoming episode of GMA 7's popular tele-drama "Magpakailanman."Before my on-camera TV interview, I sat in a sofa near inmate Monica in real person. We chatted. I asked her questions, some too personal or "dangerous." Monica just smilingly responded. She was friendly, although she appeared to me to be kind of nervous. She honestly shared that her husband and three children practically abandoned her for years onwards while she's in prison. Her husband never visited her since he caught her having an affair during her incarceration. My mind swirled around images of how she has been healing. Naturally, I wondered about what else she thinks and feels living her life as a rehabilitating woman "criminal" in the Women's Correctional. I imagined my pulse shot up a bit that I had to take a grip of my fingers while speaking to and knowing more about Monica. Enter Mel Tiangco, TV host of "Magpakailanman." She asked too many difficult questions. One, among others, Mel asked referring to Monica, "Dr. Subida, how come a good-looking woman who comes from a decent, well-to-do family will choose to rob, do illegal and criminal activities, and even fake her death?" I responded by saying that crime is not dependent on appearance or gender; it's a non-physical, psychological "wound." Even prior to everything that happened, this ancient character "wound" was already existent. Monica never knew how to deal with her "wound," so she went to the wrong activities, the wrong people, the wrong places -- a life of crime - to medicate her "wound."The world is full of wounded individuals who choose to pursue a life of crime. In psychological treatment, criminal minds are classified under ASPD or antisocial personality disorder, also referred to as sociopathy or psychopathy. It's characterized by strong toxic traits such as conning, deception, lying, reckless disregard of safety of self and others, violence, and an impoverished, numbed conscience. Due to the nature and severity of the disorder, it is often good in simulating remorse rather that truly desiring to change. ASPD is one of the most difficult d[...]
Who Authors Your Self?
I think it was Abraham Lincoln who once said that, after 40, you are responsible for your face! Whenever you're faced with external adversity in your life, no matter how painful or traumatic it may be, you remain responsible for the attitude you adopt towards it. Responsibility is authorship. A patient of mine, Leila, shared her formidable adversity. She's 57, abandoned by her husband 10 years ago, and currently experiencing medical challenges. She tormented her self by "choosing" to believe that not having a man or getting married again is a life without value. Her life's meaning and energy is attached to that basic assumption. Since her present situation appears to jeopardize the likelihood of finding a desirable partner, Leila became severely depressed and withdrawn. She felt no responsibility anymore for anything, including her self-care. She closed off many other options for her self. This included things such as serving others, developing circles of support with women, or even a nonsexual friendship with a man.The bulk of my therapeutic work with her involved challenging her basic assumptions in the authorship of her life. One, of course, has to do with the belief that life is about marriage or having a man. Life is certainly more than that. The other consists of her self-deprecation as a result of what happened to her. Though she's not responsible for her husband's abandonment and rejection, she's responsible for how to "experience" it. She bears complete responsibility over her attitudes towards it and moving on from there.An important task of therapy for Leila is to recognize and accept the external "given" of her current life situation. Then, she learns to "choose" to be responsible in authoring a new chapter in her life. That requires an active stance rather than passivity towards one's external environment and circumstances. With full acceptance of personal responsibility, Leila authors a new self with even greater significance and direction.[...]
Healing Your Love-Approval Addiction (Part 2)
We all need love. We all need approval. It's a basic reality of our human existence. Our self, in its deepest core, needs love and approval to survive, grow, and thrive amid life's challenges. However, the problem begins when we become overdependent on others that we miss giving our selves first the love and approval we need.
I'm reminded of Imelda. She was telling me that she has already read all sorts of psychology and self help books to boost her self. She'd practice Self-affirmations like "I am worthy," "I love my self," or "I have talents people need." Still, she finds her self criticizing her self, dwelling on her negative feelings, and turning to addictions.
Why the self-abandonment? Why is this repeatedly happening - psychologically and emotionally - to countless individuals?
You see, when you give your self love and approval in just the rational way, it doesn't work. This is especially true when your self affirmations are coming from that part of your brain where your unprocessed "wounded inner child" resides. If you've had a horrible childhood where you experienced abandonment, abuse, or deprivation and it's a past still in your present, that part of you will block your self affirmations. It feels that you're just "making it up" when you give your self love and approval.
Obviously, in order for your self love and approval to affect the core of you, it cannot come from your ego-impaired "wounded inner child." For healing to take place where your self can truly experience your self love and approval, you need to be connected to your "Higher Self." Your wise, loving "Higher Self" goes deeply inside of you where your "wounded inner child" can develop the capacity to believe when you give your self approval. This "Higher Self" then follows it up whereby you learn to take loving actions toward your self.
This is how you heal your "love-approval addiction." You give your self love and approval first from your "Higher Self" rather than from your pre-programmed mind. In this way, your inner child can experience accepting and believing them.
Healing Your Love-Approval Addiction (Part 1)
Melissa can't make her self happy. Her happiness and well being are heavily dependent upon getting love and approval from her husband and children. Outside home, she constantly thinks of what others think of her and her appearance. She is always limited by other people's opinions. As a result, she doesn't take risks and experiences a host of psychological symptoms, which includes anxiety panic attacks, deep depression, and severe fears.
In my numerous years as a psychotherapist and counselor, I've discovered that "love and approval addiction" is a far more prevalent or common addiction than any other drug addiction. I see it everywhere, not just during my sessions or personal and professional interactions, but much more so in the news, media, and in all walks of life. We live in a world of love-addicted, approval-addicted human beings.
Living as a "love/approval addict" is a very hard, unhealthy way to live your life. Your feelings are always up and down, like a roller coaster. You constantly worry about doing the right thing, looking right, pleasing people to get your needed love and approval. When you don't get your fix, you feel despair, anger, or you become judgmental. You simply can't handle or cope with even the slightest pain of disapproval, rejection, abandonment, or being shut out.
If your addiction to love and approval of others is running your life, albeit unconsciously, you are hurting your self. You are hurting your personal sense of safety, worth, and loveability. No matter how much approval or love your receive from others, it never heals your inner insecurity that comes from abandoning your self. The more you become aware of this and take direct steps to address it, the better you'll feel about your self. And the less you'll become addicted seeking approval from others.
Wisdom in Parenting in Childhood Onwards
A mother once spoke to me about her disrespectful children. During their childhood onwards, she handled the children by pushing them into a friendship with her. Instead of being a parent to them, she’d converse with them as if she’s just a friend or companion and not an authoritative figure. The side effect of her parenting style is conditioning the children to take disrespectful liberties with her.
It's psychological abuse when a parent handles children inappropriately. In this instance, the mother denied the children the parenting they needed because she allowed her role to be compromised by her need for companionship and friendship. It’s a thin line of parenting behavior. Crossing it leaves a child with an undefined and empty view of himself.
Perhaps, the children would be accommodating to your unmet need as a parent. But only for a short while. In their hearts and minds, it stretches them. The role reversal does strain what their parent-child relationship was meant to be. A parent forcing water from their children that should come from someone else or other adult sources is a relevant parenting lesson.
Wisdom is called for parents with growing children. Make sure we don’t make their tender, immature frame handle undue weight prematurely. Eventually, time will arrive when our children could handle adult weight or issues. But prematurely, the weight becomes a source of potential psychopathology. Even a curse.
It's Never Too Late To Change and Be Whole
As I write this, a new year has come. Tradition shows that people used to make new year's resolutions. They resolve to become better selves as they start a new year.
A best principle to bear in mind for this is the principle of "sowing and reaping." "As you sow, so shall you reap," as Scripture admonishes. A related guide is the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
People who believe and apply this principle, which some call "karmic justice," are less likely to hurt themselves or their neighbor in the course of their life journey. Their choices or decisions will always be governed by their awareness of the long term or essential effects of their deeds.
A woman I'd been counseling said she has become out of control and violent in reacting to her husband's infidelity. Moving on to our talks, she confessed that she herself had secretly cheated on her husband multiple times during business trips.
Yes, the couple is experiencing high hopes. They confessed their unfaithfulness to each other and vowed to heal and change. Individually and maritally, they desire to recover through the deep process of therapy and counseling.
Yet both of them have to reckon with the reality of the reaping effects or consequences of their past sowing in their individual well being and marital state. Surely there is hope and healing is always possible. Even in a fragmented state, one can get stronger and be renewed from day to day - leading to a fuller life.
Healing and growth does not stop with deep childhood trauma or ongoing consequences of past mistakes. Each new year presents new opportunities for loving and changing. The "missed development" can be made up and remedied in whatever stage of life. It's never too late to change and be whole.
Leaving The Past Behind
"I'm over it. I just need a few 'quick' sessions to get me back on the road," a woman explained to me. As it turned out, her therapy wasn't as "quick" or instant as she had hoped. She wanted to move on fast.
However, she was not interested enough in fully resolving her painful issues and memories. Her past continued then to be in her present. It took her years before she finally saw the importance of dealing with one's "unfinished business" in order to heal and be whole.
Many times, we want "instant solution" to our problems. In my effort to help people, they would like me to say something miraculous that will allow them to quickly recover. We want "magic," not hard work.
The truth is, when we have been wounded at our deepest levels, we are in need of an adequate process that requires our active, committed participation as well as follow through. This is not easy and instant. But in the long run, it is the most profound, lasting way to psychological, emotional, and spiritual health.
This coming New Year, if you are in that situation, will you finally choose to do your needed work and at last "leave the past in the past?" Will it really be new beginnings for you this New Year 2017?
Christmas Materialism and Mental Health All Around The World
This morning, as I was sipping my brewed coffee, I read a Christmas comment of Pope Francis (a psychologist himself) of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. He remarked and decried that Christmas has always been "taken hostage" by dazzling materialism that puts God in the shadows. He observed that a great majority of people in the world celebrate Christmas with a different "celebrant," obsessed with gifts, feasting, and self centeredness. The Pope said, "Worldliness has taken Christmas hostage. It needs to be freed."I always witness one thing from our generation today. We are constantly exposed to "things" that convince us that we need more to be happy. This Christmas, I treated my children with new iPhone, clothes, watch, gym membership, sumptuous food, cash etc, in keeping with their wish to be up to date with fads. I know, in my mind for I'd been through it myself, having obtained what they think they need, they'll soon feel unhappy when new models come out! It's never-ending.I'm naturally concerned about materialism's psychological effects on my kids. "Things" may not be evil in themselves, but they have the capacity to be "idols of the heart." They can make one psychologically imbalanced, lose touch with reality! They can lead one to forget Christ's simple admonition: "One's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15). In the constant presence of "things" and the spirit behind them, one may indeed lose touch with the divine as well. Have you ever experienced living in cold Antarctic all by yourself? There is this guy, Admiral Richard Byrd, who did it for months. In his journal, he wrote: "I am learning ... that a man can live profoundly without masses of things." Alexander Solzhenitsyn had a similar insight. He was thrown into Soviet prison and all things he held dear were taken from him - books, loved ones, home, freedom. It was then that he came to write about the secret of how to be truly happy and strong -- "that man is never stronger than when he has nothing but the treasures within his heart."Is having money, possessions etc wrong or pathological? Of course not. Christ, the reason for the season, is simply against anything that becomes a "god" in our hearts and leaves God out of our lives. Unfortunately, this is a very common "psychological illness" and "soul wound." Many people nowadays are "possessed by possessions" as no other generation in history. Christmas and materialism always go together each year to millions around the world. We witness lots of gifts and parties but there is a different "celebrant." It's a different "lord" that continues to dominate the season. This can wound people - emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.As Pope Francis remarked, Christmas needs to be "freed." That involves a lot of renewing of the mind.[...]
Healing Your Holidays
For those experiencing loss, emotional wound, or relationship breakdown, holidays such as Christmas and New Year can be excruciatingly painful times. Death, divorce, separation, illness, financial lack, betrayal of friends or loved ones are great losses that can make holidays difficult.
Therefore, let me offer here some thoughts and tips ont how to survive the holidays:
1. Prepare emotionally and physically, beforehand;
2. Remind your self that it's a passing season and it will be over soon;
3. Don't self-medicate or anesthetize with drugs, alcohol, overeating, partying, sexual acting out to numb the pain;
4. Manage your expectations and realities;
5. Force your self to socialize and not isolate or hibernate;
6. Call, text, or meet your therapist or closest friend when painful feelings get severe;
7. Keep up your physical exercises or workouts (e.g. gym, running, walking etc.), no excuses!;
8. Try to eat less and move more!
9. Eat healthy foods;
10. Reach other people who may be hurting and serve or converse with them;
11. Don't allow people to push your buttons;
12. Pray and read God's Word, get close to and trust God in all circumstances;
13. Remember the reason for the season;
14. Have fun!
15. Practice gratitude and contentment;
16. Educate your self, read self improvement books etc;
17. Focus on your unique purpose in life;
18. Enjoy your hobbies or passions;
19. Connect in new, healthy ways with your spouse or children, family member/s;
20. Reflect on and learn from your past mistakes to create a better you.
21. Always hope, for the best is yet to come.
The Therapist and You
It's a generic term. A word that may refer to any of the following: psychologist, psychiatrist, pastoral counselor, social worker, clergy, life coach, or mental health consultant.
Therapist does a number of things to help heal. Interprets. Reflects. Confronts. Challenges. Comforts. Role plays. Whatever he or she does, including techniques etc., they're geared towards helping smeone to come out different or whole.
More than what he or she does, a foremost element of change and healing is the therapist’s “presence.” It’s who he or she is, regardless of his or her theoretical allegiances, that makes the main difference in a mind and soul in torment.
Psychotherapist/author Dr. Rolls May speaks of presence as a "complete experiencing of the patient's being - not of his symptoms or problems but of his essence. A therapist who is wise, loving, sincere, or inspirational comes fully prepared to enter a patient's world.
Therapist and patient or client are partners in the life journey. Fellow travelers. Equally human.
Nourishing Your Self-Care
Self-Care is vital. You miss or neglect it, you break down. You get ill. You experience unhappiness.There are known effective ways or strategies to maintain self-care. I'm thinking of some specifics below where we may need to actively work on to improve and maintain our self-care.Assess and get ready to better self-care.Physical Self-Care:* Eat regularly (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner)
* Eat healthy
* Get regular medical care for prevention
* Get medical care when needed
* Take time off when needed
* Get massages
* Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other physical activity that is fun
* Take time to be sexual with your spouse.* Get enough sleep
* Wear clothes you like
* Take vacations
* Take day trips or mini-vacations
* Make time away from telephones and gadgets
Psychological Self-Care:* Make time for self-reflection* Have your own personal psychotherapy* Write in a journal* Read literature that is unrelated to work* Do something at which you are not expert or in charge* Decrease stress in your life* Let others know different aspects of you* Notice your inner experience—listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings* Engage your intelligence in a new area, e.g. go to an art museum, history exhibit,
sports event, auction, theater performance* Practice receiving from others* Be curious* Say “no” to extra responsibilities sometimesEmotional Self-Care:* Spend time with others whose company you enjoy
* Stay in contact with important people in your life
* Give yourself affirmations, praise yourself
* Love yourself
* Re-read favorite books, re-view favorite movies
* Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, places and seek them out
* Allow yourself to cry
* Find things that make you laugh
* Express your outrage in social action, letters and donations, marches, protests
* Play with children
Spiritual Self-Care:* Make time for reflection
* Spend time with nature
* Find a spiritual connection or community
* Be open to inspiration
* Cherish your optimism and hope
* Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life
* Try at times not to be in charge or the expert
* Be open to not knowing
* Identify what in meaningful to you and notice its place in your life
* Spend time with children
* Have experiences of awe
* Contribute to causes in which you believe
* Read inspirational literature (talks, music, etc.)
Work Self-Care:* Take a break during the workday (e.g. lunch)
* Take time to chat with co-workers
* Make quiet time to complete tasks
* Identify projects or tasks that are exciting and rewarding
* Set limits with your clients and colleagues
* Balance your caseload so that no one day or part of a day is “too much”
* Arrange your work space so it is comfortable and comforting
* Get regular supervision or consultation
* Negotiate for your needs (benefits, pay raise)
* Have a peer support group
* Develop a non-trauma area of professional interest
* Strive for balance within your work-life and workday
* Strive for balance among work, family, relationships, play and rest