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Preview: Angelo Subida

Dr. Angelo O. Subida, Psychotherapist



REVOLUTION in PSYCHOTHERAPY ... the art of psychotherapy working inside a damaged self and unknowable life * Innovative. Individual. Inspirational. International. * 24/7 Therapy InfoText Hotlines: +63 9090833374 ; +63 9055206951 * Email: psychotherapy@d



Updated: 2018-02-19T08:33:27.625-08:00

 



Facing Futility

2018-02-19T06:10:40.117-08:00

The task of caregiving can be draining. At times, it leads to feelings of despondency. One daughter describes how the futility of her caring for her chronically sick, disabled mother precipitated a major depressive episode.

"She's not improving. No matter what I do or how well I do it, my efforts are wasted. It hurts seeing my Mom getting worse. I'm tortured, I could not put things right."


It happens. This feeling of futility. That despite your best efforts to be helpful, in spite of even the desire of one you're caring to get well, he or she may remain sick.

A sense of futility can lead a person to lose freshness. Innocence. Compassion. And eventually, one's identity as a genuine helper.

We can all understand that it can be beyond our means to help a person heal or get better. We simply need to carry more realistic expectations of what is within our human capacities.

Yet such realization does not protect us from thoughts like, "She should work hard her self as I do taking care of her," "She must appreciate my efforts," or "I must be doing something wrong here."

As a therapist, I sometimes feel that. I just cannot get through to some people when they resist, put up with games, defensive reactions, and stubbornness. Part of it, because of my own human limits.

Still I've to face reality. My sense of futility, if it happens. I still have to deal with the disease states of the mind or emotions of those I try to help. I need to be rational in knowing my capacities and not take things personally.

Acceptance. That's another key in facing futility. When you resist the reality of a bad situation, you add another layer of suffering in your mind.

I'm reminded of a Mom I spoke to yesterday who struggled caring for her autistic teenage son. She's worrying, depressing, or guilting her self into a solution!

We all need a decluttetered brain, a calm spirit, to handle bad situations.

Also, it is never unusual for us to encounter a power greater than we are capable of seeing or doing.




Marrriage Doesn't Mean Happiness

2018-02-16T22:28:51.003-08:00

Is marriage a solution to your personal unhappiness?


Fely, at 30, thought so. Even while depressive and suicidal for years, she met Robert, a foreigner she found in an online dating site. The guy traveled to and fro in order to see and court her.

Each new visit, Robert would treat Fely to dinners out, roses, and surprise gifts. He became Fely's generous lover and "caretaker."

Eventually, despite her unprocessed depressive spirals and suicidal thoughts, Fely agreed to marry Robert. She said she felt "happy" when with him and marriage would make them be together permanently.

Only a few weeks after marriage, Fely was found half-naked on a drug overdose inside the bedroom. She also got drunk.

Coming from work, Robert felt devastated witnessing what was happening to his new wife. He thought she had already found "happiness" when they got married.

I agree with marital therapists/authors, Sally and Jim Conway. They wrote in their book "When A Mate Wants Out:"

"An unhappy person before marriage is likely to be an unhappy person after marriage. Marriage may provide a temporary change in happiness because of the novelty of the situation, but eventually each mate will settle back into the level of happiness experienced as a single adult."

Marriage is life.

A mixture of good and bad. If a partner believes marriage is just good or like in courtship, he or she is going to be disappointed. Possibly, blaming or whiny too.

So, if you're unhappy or in a disease state now as a single adult, ultimately it may mean there is double the unhappiness or disease when and after you get married.

It's all the more "doubles" when two unhappy persons are put together in a marriage!

Something to think about. Seriously.




Freeing Your Self from Emotional Imprisonment

2018-02-15T22:23:29.425-08:00

Sometimes, walking in the street, I passed by armored vans delivering/transporting money to or from the bank.

They have a treasure inside that they're guarding with great vigilance.

The vigilance is of course a necessity.

It's interesting that Maria guards her feelings so well. Even those that continue to damage her core being.

As a result, she lost the ability to experience joy in her life. Her personality is unnecessarily locked up by her emotions.

Expectedly, during sessions, Maria gets tight.

Must she lock up her injured emotions and avoid seeing what they really are? Must she imprison her personality?

Of course not.

As in the case of almost all with psychological wounding, Maria must learn to free her self. From a type of prison outside brick-and-mortar penitentiary.

It's a call towards liberation from emotional imprisonment.

So how then do you free your self from this life-damaging internal prison? How do you find joy, peace, and fulfillment?

Answer: self-acceptance.

That means, self-liking, self-caring.

If you can be vigilant guarding your self from being hurt or damaged by your wounded emotions, surely you can be vigilant and enthusiastic for the greatest task of guarding your best treasure.

That is, the healing and growth of your capacity for self-acceptance.

Accepting your self amid the inevitable ups and downs of life. Accepting your self in a troubled world. Accepting your self -- both in triumphs and tragedies.




Psychological Care in Physical Illness

2018-02-14T21:57:02.655-08:00

One of my clients, Cynthia, who underwent several brain surgeries, commented: "I'm not sure if some of the operations were necessary. I think it's more about the money!"

Such is a sad case of sensing how health providers can put economic gain above patient needs.

I suppose we can't automatically assume that hospital, medical, or health care providers are our agents or advocates. Resolutely looking out for our best interests, I mean.

Nowadays, we live in a culture where tasks are given priority over mercy or humane service. Sadly, if we're discerning enough, there are schemes that allow doctors and health care providers to profit by denying essential care.

Decades ago, I visited my sister in the ICU of a hospital. She had kidney cancer. After a few complications since being hospitalized several weeks before, she died. Painful, I saw how lonely and depressed she was in her medical setting.

How I noticed a succession of 7 different nurses who saw my sister. Two or three doctors would check on her. Each one of them spent a few seconds or minutes with my sister -- but nobody looked at her as a whole person.

I think our whole health care system is too specialized. Too responsible for an incredible number of patients, with very little time to spend with each. Much less, the training and competence to provide basic psychological care to those in chronic illness.

No wonder, one of my medical doctor-friends once remarked, "You can die faster in the hospital!" How ironic, isn't it?

Proper psychological and spiritual care need to be basic in health care. It always spells the difference between life and death. Longevity of the patient while ill hangs on it.

When someone is frightened or in pain, personal and compassionate care of the doctors etc can be a best medication.




Healing Cry Without the Shame

2018-02-16T19:20:43.503-08:00

Dina seemed incapable of receiving compliments. In our "chit chat" during session, after I'd affirmed her accomplishments and good looks, she started avoiding eye contact by staring at the floor or holding her self tightly.

As the session progressed, Dina got more defensive. She'd suspect rather quickly that I thought negatively of her, even with a simple greeting or smile.

Perhaps she may had felt, if only I'd tell her the truth, it would confirm how bad she really feels about her self.

According to psychotherapist Dr. John Bradshaw, shame-based persons are distrustful. They expect people to shame them. They're in constant search for information in their environment that shames them.

And if they're unable to find such data, they'll distort their perception of people and environment in it to match their expectations.


As I had time to think about our session, I surmised that I had come too close to Dina ... too close to uncovering what's shame-prone inside her.

Her emotional demeanor was that of unexpected, untimely exposure. And then, fear or expectations of more exposure.

According to psychologists Drs. James Harper and Margaret Hoopes, shame is related primarily to a feeling of inferiority in individuals, families, and groups.

In contrast to guilt (evaluation of behavior), shame is an emotion in response to negative evaluation of one's self or being.

Drs. Harper and Hooper further commented,

"Everyone has experienced shame. Yet there is a vast difference between a person having a shameful experience and a person having a shame-prone identity. In fact, some degree of shameful experience is unavoidable and even helpful when people relate to each other, but shame-proneness is always devastating."

Dina's shame had a source from which she has to heal. She based her identity on an accumulation of the shame of rejection and abuse she had experienced from her Mom since early childhood.

She had internalized her Mom's attitudes of her as "bad me."

As an adult and mother herself, Dina projected her "bad me" on everyone that had contact with her. This includes her husband and four children.

In my work with her, even with seemingly benign questions, this "bad me" always got in the way of her seeing and healing her injured self.

Part of Dina's healing from her shame is accepting the wounded child within her. As she takes steps to free this part of her, other pieces would surface.

Such new living with wholeness also involves knowing and embracing Someone much greater/better than her self ... and her Mom.

If truth is told, under these conditions, you can experience a "healing cry without the shame."




Yes, You Can Be Ageless!

2018-02-11T23:06:11.537-08:00



Even if you're getting much older, life's enjoyment can be richer. Your craving for self expression may speak loudest. Your capacity for joy or fun is not bound by ripening age. 

It's still there.

I like this particular group of senior men I meet regularly. Some are ill, prone to anxiety, whining, or losing hope. Yet they all evince agelessness in a way when they meet.

Their secret?

They all learn to practice the therapy of laughter. It leads them back to their childhood and youth when having fun together. At least temporarily, they loosen their hold on themselves.

A doctor who studied the beneficial effects of humor on old age states,

"Perhaps ultimately, and in the  deepest sense, humor works by rallying, and by being a manifestation of, the will to live."



A 100-year-old woman was once asked her formula for longevity. She said,

"I think my sense of humor has protected me from stress. My favorite motto in aging is this: 'Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it won't matter.' "

My Mom and Dad also possessed that secret formula. Despite their natural infirmities and struggles, they remained generally worry-free and light in their countenance. They both reached their ripe 80s.

Laughter transports you back to the present. It tells you that you're still alive! Still breathing. Sensing and viewing the spectacle around you.

In a way, that can make you feel the value of every hour free from anxiety, trouble, or irritation.

Take it too from Norman Cousins, author of "Anatomy of Illness," who wrote:

"I made the joyous discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect."

Yes, you can be ageless!




In Search of "Real" Life Using Travel

2018-02-09T04:17:50.606-08:00

A few years ago, I travelled around the exotic places of Thailand. It's one of my "travel without money" adventures, once again. My Australian host treated me to a nice hotel and sumptuous meals.For a few weeks, I was hanging out in the beaches and Buddhist temples. Simply curious. Savoring fresh air and seawaters. Knowing the culture and their religion.I received special gifts of insight about me, fellow humanity, and life in general, along the way.One afternoon, in a cafe, I met an aged American "secret agent." He was with a young Thai girlfriend, possibly 4 decades his junior.In our conversations, both intimated that they're running away from something with their travels together. Not just around Thailand, but also around different Asian countries.The elderly American, away from the pain of his divorce and estranged children. And the young Thai woman, an escape from poverty and a broken, abusive family.People seem to be running away from something in their travels.Yes, travel can be like that - but it's also running towards something. A search for a run towards something "real."While watching a little boat passed by Hua Hin, I felt myself in both ways. Escaping from and running towards something.I've been running away from the "worldly" idea of what life is. Imperfect though I am, I avoid that nonlife.And I run towards a life with a higher purpose, authenticity, and connection. A life above the sun.Reflecting, I realize how much society boxes me in. With illusions, diversions, false news. It simply cannot fathom that "normal" is outside its norm. I travel away from the abnormal to what's normal.People who found "real" life in their travels break the mold. They don't just travel. They discover, see, and experience life as it really is.Be free to travel towards the world and true living. Your whole life is yours to travel. It's short. And you get to travel it only once.[...]



The Unfulfilled Parent

2018-02-05T20:24:09.622-08:00

Many fathers, mothers, and other parent figures are needy. Dysfunctional, even toxic. Psychologically and emotionally impoverished. Unable to meet their children's legitimate needs.

If you're raised by unfulfilled parents, chances are you've unmet needs. And if they're basic developmental needs undelivered, more likely you've difficulties with your functioning, identity, or enjoyment.

Cesar didn't receive what he needed from her mother since childhood. He was constantly mistreated or abused verbally. With physical beatings from her mother especially since his father abandoned them, he had great difficulty relaxing and having fun with her.

At first it may seem inconceivable that a mother would use a vulnerable, helpless child to get her own needs met. But this occurs in the case of Cesar's troubled, wounded mother. In fact, anyone around which happened to include Cesar will be "unconsciously used" by his mother.


Why do parents become unfulfilled, dysfunctional, or even toxic?

A common psychoanalytical reason is that their needs were not met as infants, children, and/or adults.  As a result, they tend to use others, including those close or near them, in unhealthy, inappropriate ways to have their needs fulfilled.

For both the unfulfilled parent and the victim child, it's then a case of recovery of the "wounded inner child." To heal the confusion, regression, and misdirection of both, they grieve over the unmet needs as well as things they experienced that they didn't want.

In therapy, both the parent and child with the "wounded inner child" undergoes a healing journey. In order to survive, a stronger true self replaces an exaggerated false self created by psychological wounding.




Fighting the Blues

2018-02-05T06:12:05.198-08:00


Right now, I'm looking at a woman in my weekly group session who's evidently experiencing disorientation. She is "retired" from her family care and occupation, which kept her in touch and needed all her adult life.

Now, she feels out of touch. No longer needed. Confined to an inescapable space, alone. Her life reduced to fading memories. An existence leaving her with feelings of depression, uselessness, and loss of identity.

Solomon once said, " ... Because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting" (Ecclesiastes 11:10). And "... the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them' " (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Now that reminds me of my father. Oh, he lived many, many years till his 80s. Sadly, quite most of those years were marked with tragic disorientation. Quiet desperation. Without health and close friends, something stole away his zest and purpose.

Life goes on. And there's nothing in it to tell us it won't happen to any one of us before we "retire." It's not restricted to the elderly alone. Or, those without money, health, or family. Disorientation and the "blues" may happen to anyone at any stage of life, for various sorts of reasons.

Want to fight the "blues?"

Stop living for what's only seen. Replace the fake with the real. Have faith in God to strengthen you. Laugh always. Exercise. Eat healthy. Don't let material things or occupation enslave you. Avoid the rut of routine and boredom. Stay in touch with people. Read widely. Go outdoors. Cultivate even just few friendships.

Yesterday was Sunday. I went drinking and talking with men-friends. It was great therapy too to take long walks. With most of my days filled with moments of purpose in my sessions, I got to loosen up my intensity once in awhile. Not taking my self (plus my kids and friends!) too seriously. It's refreshing and energizing.

Start now. Let's prepare to fight the blues well.




Death is Sure But it's Never the End

2018-02-01T22:17:52.467-08:00

Willie was diagnosed with cancer. Just a few weeks after that, all his thoughts hit hard, resulting in sleepless nights and anxiety panic attacks.

Eventually, he developed thanatophobia. That's fear of dying or being dead. Then it worsened to necrophobia, which is fear of dead things or things associated with death, such as coffins.

Fear of death is normal. Rational, in the sense that it's inevitable. But phobia is irrational. It prevents you from effectively living life (making the most of time) without screaming in terror.

Instead of falling prey to death anxiety or fear as a mental disorder (even a curse), you can take steps to alleviate it. And with that, much better enjoy your life.

You can choose to move forward with faith. Value and enjoy life. Switch from anxiety and fear to excitement. Focus on things above the earthly or material. Do preparatory stuff. Be still and know God.


"Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go," writes Jean de la Fontaine.

That's true of Billy Graham. One of the wisest men who ever lived, he is almost 100 now. Once interviewed by a journalist regarding his view of death, Billy said that he's prepared for it, anytime.

He said, " ... death is a reality common to us all, and for me as a Christian it isn't something to be feared, because I know what lies ahead for me beyond the grave."

For the wise man, death is sure. But it's never the end.

Jesus promises, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will never die" (John 11:25).

"For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:23)




When Busyness Rapes Relationships

2018-01-30T21:07:38.044-08:00

Appointments, programs, deadlines ... you rush. Schedules, services, seminars ... lots of it. Trips, presentations, demands ... run, run, run!

Busyness.

There's a woman in Manila named Wilma who experiences how it is. She's a wife with two young children. Back in the early 2000s she started developing a multi-million restaurant and import export business.

But, along the way, she managed to sacrifice her marriage. Blazing a busy business track, Wilma was almost never seen at home. Her husband was getting tired. So were her children, who seldom saw their mother.


Listen to Wilma's admission during session: "I was a shallow woman. My life was busy but it fractured my relationship with my husband and children. They left me. So now, I see." 

Through tears and wounds, she's beginning to clear the thorns of neglect in her relationships born out of her activity-addiction. She watches her convulsions with a painful sigh. 

Dr. Chuck Swindoll, famous best selling author, had a mentor who once declared: 

"Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life."

Friend, are you too busy? 

Time to psyche up! Let the main thing be the main thing.




Facts or Feelings?

2018-01-30T00:53:54.346-08:00

When I was having coffee with a young couple lately, the man had been telling his fiancée to "stick with facts." He said that feelings are not the same as facts. He prodded his fiancée to be less emotional. In effect, the woman felt neglected or unloved.

Neuroscience tells us that the human brain is actually a "twin." It has a left brain (rational, logical, fact-based) and a right brain (emotional, intuitive, artistic).

The left side and right side of the brain are mirror images of each other.


I think we men tend to be more heavily dependent on the left or cognitive side of the brain. We tend to make all our life-changing decisions on the basis of hard, logical facts. Raised or conditioned by a practical culture and work ethic, we want to know the "bottom line" fast enough.

But, more and more, men are experiencing that to make choices based on logic alone is limiting. It can be imprisoning.

Mental health involves using both sides of the brain. Not either/or, but both. IQ and EQ together.

Business is now realizing that. It trains its executives and employees who plot the course of corporations and businesses to use both sides of the brain.

In personal life and relationships, this also holds true. With the left side of the brain, we think through problems of logic and data happening in our lives. The right side of our brain moves us to hope and possibilities - the whole area of dreams and visions rather than reason.

I'm reminded of some senior citizens I met who've felt "too old to dream." They only rely on the facts of their present life stage. They stopped dreaming about what more there is in life. I tell you that when you've grown too old to dream, you hasten your end!

Let both facts and feelings create dreams for us. Dreams and visions are the stuff of life. They get us excited about the future and as a result about our present.




Meeting Your Unmet Needs

2018-01-28T23:26:14.801-08:00

Many needs are produced by one's self. All of us have self-created needs. Very common, these needs are often physical, financial, emotional or relational.

A lot of our unmet self-created needs happen because of unwise choices. The fulfillment of the unmet needs then will occur by making wise choices.

And then, having the determination, courage, and skill to follow through on the wise choices made. Escape to freedom, it is!

Let me give you examples.

Donna was sobbing. Her husband left their house. She created need in her marriage due to constant negativity and hurtful words she'd speak to her husband.

A last straw was when she punched him for forgetting to throw the trash! Shortly after, Donna entered therapy and counseling. That made her husband decide to return and heal their marriage together.

In his 20 years as a call center agent, Cesar was always short of money. Living from paycheck to paycheck. Under-earning, given a wife and three young kids to support.

Before he got too older, he chose to go into business. In time, he made more than enough money for his family's needs.

What is the way out of unmet needs created by unwise choices? Wise choices.

And who is primarily responsible for making those wise choices? The man. The woman. The individual who has the unmet needs.

If you care, you may also ask, how about God's role? He'll give you the wisdom you need to make wise choices. Wisdom about what to do or where to go. Wisdom about how to repriotize your time and efforts.

That's the formula for your fulfilling or "total way out" of your unmet needs.





Travel is Healthy!

2018-01-26T21:26:47.960-08:00

Travel is good. Based on ample studies and evidences, its highly beneficial to your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

Many years ago, I was in one of the lowest points of my life. Feeling over-stressed personally and professionally, I felt tired. I just wanted to stay in bed and not do anything.

Then a DHL courier knocked on my house gate with a package for me. In it includes a free two-way travel ticket to Seoul, Korea with all-expenses paid accommodation for 30 days from a known sponsor.

That's huge therapy!

The development of a possible depression in me that time was stopped. My "foreign travel without money" brought in a fresh supply of fuel into my mind, heart, and spirit. After that vacation, I got back home and to family and work with overflowing zest!

According to a psychological study from Cornell University, there is a direct link between the experience of happiness and even just planning a trip. It also showed scientific proof that traveling reduces stress levels, relieves anxiety or depression, even rather dramatically.

Anthony was a very resistant patient. Even after months of sessions, he still felt stuck. He watched self help videos, read materials, did gym workouts etc. in addition to his therapy sessions. Still nothing seemed to work for him.

Since he wanted to experience change in his life, he tried travel. He went to Japan with his wife and two young kids. He moved from place to place, from snow to snow there. And in the process, he started noticing receiving bits and pieces about himself.

When Anthony went back to session after a couple of weeks, he seemed to have showed a different view of things. The newer, unique life perspective resulted not only from his self discoveries but also from the culture or peoples he connected with along the way.

Henry Miller described aptly this one healing benefit of travel, "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."

Travel makes you healthier. Don't miss its high benefits to heal or reinvent your life.






Stress and Money

2018-01-24T22:40:32.060-08:00

Stress over money is commonplace. It's a significant source of anxiety in the lives of a large majority of people around the world. This mental health problem clearly extends across socio-economic classes.I got a glimpse inside some numbers on this. Recent studies show that almost 80% of families live in survival mode. That is, from pay check to pay check. Not to mention rising credit card debts.In another recent survey, among the wealthy or "haves," I discovered that 71% of them still identify money as a significant source of stress in their lives. Surely, no one seems alone in this regard.If you struggle with money-related stress and anxiety, remember that it's not about the amount you have. Not about shortage or excess of money in your hands. The problem is more than that.I once knew a young woman from a poor province who relocated to the city after marriage. She's used to owning less and feeling happy and contented.When she started a travel business that earned much money, something changed. Her "commercialization" somehow worked to stir discontent in her heart.She wanted to "add more and more" with her redefined sense of happiness and security. More bank deposits, possessions, cars, cell phones, computers, tech gadgets etc.Eventually, her redefined happiness affected her marriage. She committed an affair with a rich engineer working in a Middle East country. Her own particular "mind over money" led to losing her moral compass as well.After years of relentlessly pursuing more wealth and possessions and living in with another man, she got terribly sick. She died of cancer back to her province in her early 40s.The stress of money then lies in how you think about it. A matter of mind over your money. You define what money means to you and that determines how you'll interact with it.Significant psychological studies clearly show that money won't actually make you happy. Experience also evidences this. Money is not the greatest goal of life and work.As soon as you stop perceiving this illusion, the sooner you can start seeing where true happiness lies. Think about it well. Discover the real.Healing from financial stress is changing the way you think about money totally. Money, at its core, is just a tool. Be careful with how you think about, pursue, and use it."For the love of money is a root for all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10).[...]



How to Lose Your Perception of Illusion

2018-01-22T18:45:23.057-08:00

It's important for us to lose. Face inevitable failures. That's because constant wins seldom produce depth and strength of character.

Illusion is a frequent product of regular winning. Arrogance is common fruit.


I once sat with a patient, Mark, who lost his multimillion business to huge debts and vices. Being an only son of wealthy parents, he mis-spent his money on booze, women, and gambling with a pretense of continuous victory.

Bankruptcy, marital and health woes, sifted all through Mark's sense of confidence in himself. After many years of comfort and overindulgences, he now saw his life bleak. He found himself alone in despair.

In one of our termination sessions, Mark remarked, "I was lost. Now I see. I'm changing to the better." He became a different man. Lost his arrogance, his illusion of  invulnerability. His losing helped Mark see himself as he really is.

That's how so important standing is in the face of failure! Standing allows you to lose your habitual illusions that tend to sugarcoat or evade reality. Able to lose and to keep standing after the loss is such a critical adjustment for you to receive future wins.

As Dr. Calvin Miller, author of "Becoming: Your Self in the Making," wrote, standing is so important because " it's your salvation as a 'sometimes loser,' but remember, a good loser is not an 'every time' loser.' "

Like most who see me in therapy, I myself had my own share of wounds and losses in life. Such darkness was often beyond my analysis. Yet without being washed with those tears of failure, I don't think I'd make a good counselor with eyes that see clearer.

Yes, there is purpose behind your pain of losing. An important part of it is shedding illusion (nonreality) to keep your self-view adequate to keep going ... and finally winning always.





Fathers and Daughters

2018-01-20T21:33:03.998-08:00

(image) I've two constant "dates." My two daughters who never miss having Dad pay the bills!

My eldest Christine, 24, now working, is stepping up. Getting gainful employment seems easy for her. I'm impressed by her charm and confidence.

My Angel, 15, excels in school and sport. Of course she still looks up to Dad and "ate" to give her "baon" and more ... plus girlie stuffs, since their Mom passed away.

Isn't life good, with simple joys to be thankful for?

In our world, fathers and daughters often have an uneasy, distant relationship.

The effect of a dysfunctional, unloving father victimizes a daughter's mental health. Such can infiltrate every area of a daughter's life - her relationships, choices, emotional and physical health.

One time, I asked a 27-year-old woman in session if she's used to chat or go out with her Dad. Her short answer: "Seldom." She said she prefers to be with Mom.

Sadly, the "trauma effect of distant father" can result to a daughter's psychopathology. Gina, an attractive, charming patient, once hired a killer to murder her own father so she can get his property.

Heartbreaking, isn't it?

Parenting expert Steve Biddulph, in his book "Raising Girls," pointed out that daughters received much of their self esteem from their own fathers.

When fathers unconditionally show loving care to their daughters, they protect them from emotional wounds they'll inevitably face in their lives. This includes bruisings in relationship with other men.

For healthy psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual development, daughters need fathers who see, accept, play with, support, guide, and love them.





Life Like Chess

2018-01-17T00:53:47.531-08:00

Being a psychotherapist and life coach, I'm constantly faced with choices about life. Mind you, both for my patients and myself, they're not easy. Life can be a dangerous game. Issues can be a matter of life or death, victory or defeat. My patients or clients are like me. Most likely, you too. A few times in my life, I tried to run away from "adulting." I hated discomfort. I didn't like responsibility. Or, delaying gratification. Yet in my attempts to escape the appropriate developmental tasks of my age, I experienced delays in my psychological maturity. I suffered the bad effects of my decisions. Life got unnecessarily harder.In the game of chess, choices are crucial. Your chosen moves will determine the ensuing positions you'll be in on the way to the game's completion. All the moves you make in chess are your responsibility. Only you can choose the moves you make. Your opponent or anyone else can't make those moves for you. In chess as in life, you can move forward or you can retreat backward. They're ever-present options and choices. Of course, there are times when you need to move backward. Retreat, regroup, recharge. But the call is always to move on - both in life and in chess.I was speaking to a 50-year-old woman not too long ago about her lingering poverty. All her life, she chose to be a hard-working employee. And yet she still lived with bare minimum subsistence. In the course of my conversations with her, she discovered a passion that she can turn into profit. She finally made a choice to change moves, especially her mindset. Sooner than she expected, she became a rich online entrepreneur.Again, in life as in chess, we go for a "win." We can choose to do that with each move or decision we make. [...]



Technology: A Third Party in a Relationship?

2018-01-14T21:01:33.700-08:00

Clinically, I hear a lot of spouses or partners nowadays complain "I feel taken for granted. Neglected. Uncared for. You're always checking your FB, your emails, surfing the web, even during meals. Put away that damn phone and talk to me!"

I'm reminded of Nick, a patient, who said that the way his wife will wrap up her day while lying down with him in bed is to look at Facebook. Nick blamed that for his alcoholism and womanizing!

"Technoference."  It's a fast-rising epidemic. With it, you miss bids for connection or communication. By delays in response, lack of eye contact, mechanical reactions etc.

This so-called "technoference" disrupts relationships. Not just between spouses or partners. But also between parents and children. Between friends. Between teachers and students. Between bosses and employees. And many others!

"Technology is like a third party in the relationship," observes one New York psychotherapist Ken Page. In other words, it can be a saboteur of intimacy. A real danger is that we check our devices so often we're not noticing our loved ones' bids for connection.

Psychologist Ken Gergen, over a decade ago, once coined a 2-word phrase "absent presence" to further describe what we're talking about. He referred to it as the ability of a partner to be physically present but absorbed by a "world of elsewhere."

The rise of smartphones, indeed, multiplies our vulnerability to "technoference" and "absent presence" in our relationships! If the lower quality of our conversations and the conflicts in our relationships are happening due to habitual use of devices, we therefore need to take notice before it gets too late.

It's for everyone's mental health to take back control. Life may depend on it.




Alcoholic, Any One?

2018-01-12T20:27:24.320-08:00

Alcoholism is a degenerative addiction. Alcoholics have chemically-addicted bodies that crave alcohol.

What led them to it?


I remember one patient, William (not his real name, of course), sent to me by his main clan elders for therapy and alcoholism rehabilitation. They said he'd become too unmanageable.

He ignores his wife to be with his drinking buddies. He frequently hangs over from the residual effects of his chosen drug. Even with the slightest provocation, he'd cuss and kick his wife in anger, often when drunk.

When the idea of therapy and counseling was brought up to him, he got mad. He claimed he does not have a problem. He protested if everybody would just mind his own business.

Over time, he was able to open up during sessions details surrounding his uncontrollable drinking. I learned that their whole clan has generations of alcoholics. Drinking is part of their family system of having a good time, doing business, and creating comradeship/closeness.

Sometimes I wonder about William and which is stronger to him: his alcoholism or psychological dependency on the "wrong crowd" present within his family clan?

When William was forcibly required to do abstinence by his elders, he suffered withdrawals due to loneliness for the comradeship he developed with his drinking cousins and buddies in the clan.

He was close to them because he harbored secret vices and activities with them. William confessed that with the rehabilitation program imposed on him, he missed the "pleasures" he had with them.

So it got clearer. William was both physically addicted to alcohol and mentally and socially dependent on the "wrong crowd" of his clan.

Is it possible then that William is more "addicted" to his clan's "wrong crowd" than to the chemical he is using?




Finding True Love in the Right Place

2018-01-10T19:39:21.509-08:00

What is true love?

Everyone talks about it. We want to see and experience it.

You look for it. You long for it. You hope and wish to find that one fellow human being who will truly love you, and whom you'll truly love in return.

You think that if you find him or her, you've found true love to make you happy. True love, most of us tend to believe, lies from outside of us.

I'm used to hearing individuals or couples saying, "I can't live without you." So when one loses the other, he or she also loses his or her self.

Even if you get true love from outside of you, it will only be for awhile. It won't last long. True love doesn't work that way.

You and your loved one are two separate individuals. You can love another person without losing your self.

True love then is essentially located from within your self. Not outside of it.

As Ravi Shankar put it, "Seek not outside your self, for all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want, insisting where it must be found."

Finding true love then is not about finding your completeness in another person. You don't need another human being to complete you.

In reality, you're already complete and whole as you love and accept your self. If you don't have true love for your self, you can't realistically expect someone to give it to you.

You only need someone in your life when you desire to share with another your wholeness. Bless the other with true love already residing within your heart.

So a next question is, if true love is found within you, how do you know it's there, to attract true love from another person?





The Dark Secret

2018-01-09T21:43:20.380-08:00

It's sad to note that hundreds of thousands of men and women around the world committed suicide. Men typically die of violence, such as through gunshot or self-strangulation. Women hang or cut themselves or overdose on pills.

What drives people to kill themselves?

I'm not aware of any well-studied psychological theory that explains the nature of suicide fantasy and the final action. But more often than not, i surmise it can be a combination of factors. Neurochemical vulnerability. Identity and self esteem issues. Desperation. Circumstance.


In addition to these factors I mentioned as possible precipitatants of suicide, society and culture seem to also play a role.

Psychology Today writer Abby Ellin writes, " ... we live in a culture where disorders of the mind are kept quiet. People are honest about struggles with cancer or diabetes. They talk openly about injuries. But depression is a dark secret."

When Albert, 54, saw me, he'd been wanting to kill himself. His identity and self esteem was very tied into his social, public profile - his CEO status, his business, his family - and these things started to dissolve when he was faced with economic bankruptcy and loss of work.

He felt so depressed and down. Talking about his feelings to his wife or friends would most likely help Albert. Except, of course, he was not a person who wanted to appear vulnerable to any one in any way. Even in therapy, he struggled with this.

People who have thoughts of suicide suffer from hopelessness that their business or finances will rebound, that their mate will love them, or that someone will want them after a broken marriage or relationship.

Ultimately, therefore, hope is the medicine to this deadly dark secret.




When Family is Not Loving or Supportive

2018-01-07T21:29:12.124-08:00

What happens to you if you don't have a family that is loving and supportive?

I once visited a middle-aged woman in the ICU of a city hospital. She was in treatment for cancer. At first, her husband was loving and supportive. But then, a few months after her recent diagnosis, he abandoned her for a younger woman.

Naturally, she was utterly devastated. Her initial reactions were to hang on to the pain and even to her husband who betrayed her. I felt for her as she shared these traumatic feelings. I saw in her a fear of being alone that's even greater than the fear of her cancer.

Individuals I see at times talk a lot about their unloving, unsupportive loved ones in the midst of their trials. Spouse. Father, mother. Siblings. Children. Grandparents. As a result of being "cut off" by their loved ones, they experience overwhelming hardship in dealing with their trauma.

It's always sad to hear this from people. It's such a painful place to be.

My comment is, give birth to your new self!

We are all capable of surviving and being on our own. Despite the deepest pains we experience, we can still live a full life. If we can fight a disease, for instance, we can fight any loss, including loss of love or support from family.

Discover your self. Find resources to build you up. Devote your life to healing and love. Go out in the rain and you'll see how strong you can be.

Here's another takeaway: if you change your self, you change the people around you.

It's reality that family members may not be capable to be the kind of people to love and support you in time of need or woundedness. A best thing you can do is to accept that reality. Avoid wasting time and energy in conflict or expectation. Find others who will give you support.

At times, the problem is one of changing the way you communicate. Are you letting your family members know accurately and honestly what you need? If they can't be supportive because of their own issues or inadequacies, they may not change.

But you can choose to change. Just get your family do what they can. Don't stop loving them. Lighten up. There is always hope.

As you change your self and your behavior, soon your family may see that they've to change too!




How Do You Deal with Feelings of Loss?

2018-01-06T05:47:03.419-08:00

Many years ago, when I was much younger, I had a condominium tenant who vandalized and renovated my property without permission. Aside from being delayed in his rental payments, he tried to "bully" me to sell the property to him.

Out of much frustration, I had decided to sell it to the tenant. But as soon as I did, I felt bad about the loss of my property. It felt as if I was "evicted." Somehow, I experienced a desperate sense of "disinheritance" with the loss.

After some time later, I accidentally passed by a real estate office selling hot-selling condo units near malls and TV stations. That time, I could ill afford to buy with my uncertain income sources. Yet the agent offered me a huge discount and generous payment scheme.

Sooner, I was able to fully pay for my new condominium property, which was way much better in location and cost than the one I had before. Reminiscing of a past "disinheritance," my feelings of loss turned to feelings of victory.


Indeed, it is wisdom to integrate losing with winning when faced by life's wounds or challenges. To begin to see your loss or failure in perspective, the question which can clarify is: Was your loss really a loss or a win in disguise?

I once had a client who lost millions in a business. He eventually went totally bankrupt. He lost everything. Depressed, he progressively became addicted to alcohol. His wife and children were in the brink of leaving him.

Supported by his extended family members (uncle and cousins), he was able to afford to enter therapy. During sessions, he interpreted this whole matter of his losses that led him to believe that he is a "loser."

This "loser" awaited transformation in the therapy hour. The power of perspective, viewing his loss against the "total picture"of his life, melts the negative self image. It reshaped him into a winning person who believes in God and self.

So always remember that the "war is not the battle" in dealing with your feelings of loss. During World War II, Pearl Harbor was a catastrophic loss. Yet, it was the Japanese who ultimately surrendered.

You can lose in life without being a loser. What appeared to be losing can be winning in disguise.




Struggle is Good

2018-01-05T23:23:47.931-08:00

This is a key psychological truth: struggle is good.

When you don't have to struggle, you don't heal and grow up. It's the "soul" of maturity and adulthood.

Many times in therapy, individuals demand quick fixes amid the high drama of their lives. They avoid the pain of struggle. Those who become successful in this only prolongs their misery.

Rowena is spoiled, smothered, and coddled as a child. Her Mom does every basic chore for her, removing all comfort roadblocks from her path.

Now at 30, Rowena refuses to leave home. Her Mom likes doing things for her. Since home is an only place where she "runs the show," she failed to learn the value of struggle.

Rowena is unable to leave home. She wants to continue studying in a university and receive allowances from Mom. She doesn't want a job. She can't.

In my own sessions with Rowena, she said that life feels cruel and depressing to her. She felt trapped in a fantasy world and emotional prison she could not understand.

Joining Rowena in therapy is her Mom. Over time, she realized the part she played, allowing Rowena  to bargain, manipulate her, and pretty much run the show.

Mom just kept playing the game of "no struggle" for her child all these years. But now, she's healing her self. She begins to address her own childhood shortage rather than continue projecting it to Rowena.

I'm reminded of one psychologist who said, "Struggle is easier when you're not unconsciously controlled by the ghosts of your own past."

Struggle is good. Without optimal doses of it, there is no growth and life. No reason to exist. No sense of accomplishment.

Welcome struggle!

Instead of running away from it, you embrace it. Through struggle, you grow up to be healthy and balanced.