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Preview: Angelo Subida

Dr. Angelo O. Subida, Psychotherapist



REVOLUTION in PSYCHOTHERAPY ... the art of psychotherapy working inside your unknowable, wounded self to your total healing and freedom! Innovative. Individual. Inspirational. International. * 24/7 Therapy InfoText Hotlines: +63 9090833374 ; +63 90552069



Updated: 2018-01-20T23:23:22.414-08:00

 



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.




A Better Way to Heal Your Father Wound

2018-01-04T22:55:41.463-08:00

Noted author Gail Sheehy once wrote, "The lack of loving, respectful relationships with their fathers is one of the greatest tragedies males suffer."

How about you? Was your father emotionally close to you?

Let me share with you an emerging new power.

Fatherhood can heal. As men learn to be involved Dads, they exert important effects on the emotional well being of their children.

And, by extension, on their own emotional and mental health.


One spots this truth on Nick. He repeatedly expressed a sentiment during our sessions: "I want to be a good father to my two children. I don't want to have a relationship with my kids that I had with my own father."

Nick knows. He wants it so much between himself and his children. Rather than be seen by his kids as a remote, controlling disciplinarian, he desires them to see him as kind, trustworthy, and dependable.

"Fathering is one of men's greatest opportunities for personal transformation," says Dr. William Pollack, assistant clinical professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

I think Daddies are changing nowadays. A new-model Dad is on display inside malls. One carries his baby girl around his neck, her little hands, grasping his fingers. Masculinity redefined via reinventing fatherhood.

I've met men and women in my sessions countless times suffering from "father wound." Quite a number struggle to heal and break the cycle. Warming up to their own children doesn't come naturally for they never had a "hugging relationship" with their own fathers.

But almost all of them sense a level of need to reconnect with their children. Bridge the awkwardness with them. It's a longing to repossess their own emotional lives largely shut down for most of their adulthood.

An effective way for psychologically wounded men to feel loved and needed and healed is to be a different Dad - a work-invested father without losing the chance for closeness with one's children.

Indeed, significant studies on fatherhood affirm that being a success as a nurturing parent is actually good for a person's mental, spiritual, and physical health.

A better way to heal your father wound. Will you miss it?




"Bisyo"

2018-01-05T06:15:21.805-08:00

Yesterday, TV host Amy Perez of ABS CBN's daily morning show Sakto, asked me, "Paano ba matitigil ang bisyo ng tao (alak, babae, sigarilyo etc) ngayong bagong taon?"

I responded in part, "Yung mga bisyo na meron ang tao ay sintomas lang, di pa sya yung sakit."

The underlying, hidden roots that fuel vices are essentially psychological and spiritual. That's where lies the key to new life ... true, lasting change.

Isn't this one truth we often miss amid inevitable challenges we face in life?

In my own life, I've traveled through several deserts. Family and marital trauma. Financial challenges. Abandonment and betrayal.

Each time, I got broken. Torn apart. My heart was such a wilderness.

Needless to say, I could easily had become an alcoholic, a womanizer, or some sort of addict. Like what multitudes of wounded people have become or done.

Yet something left me sane and resilient those desert times. Unaddicted. Not grasping "false medicine." Devoid of life-damaging vices.

So what prods me on? What sustains me, through weeks and months and years of searing pain, in my own deserts?

It's what's underneath my deepest part and being: the pearl of great price. It's the Star of Bethlehem.

To develop our best selves, we have two guides: internal and external.

Internal, of course, refers to renewal of the mind. Cleansing of the soul. At times, a need for appropriate therapy. And Scripture is the best, ultimate guide that lays the task for us very well.

External refers to how we fashion our life outside ourselves. Family relationships. Work. Choice of friends. Recreational activity.

Are your internal and external flowing well interdependently to lead you to a healthy lifestyle?

And so, as you start this new year, be ready to travel even through the desert (or deserts) of life.

Choose to live free of vices or "bisyo" with your best self - your body, mind, and soul - following the Star.


(Watch Dr. Subida's 15 minute excerpt of live telecast at Sakto, ABS CBN video clip with news write up: http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/01/04/18/bakit-mahirap-talikuran-ang-bisyo)




Celebrate the Process, Not the Result

2018-01-02T19:00:40.247-08:00

A new year slogan says, "The best is yet to come!"

I like that. In my experience, and in the experience of a great many people, it can be true or inspiring a lot of times.

In my case, I've learned to just need to wait a while, get single-minded, probe more, take action more, to receive my best.

To receive the best that's yet to come, here's a well-proven tip: patience in the midst of process.

A broken-hearted, traumatized woman once asked me, "How long is therapy going to take to heal her pain of childhood abuse and rape?" She's still receiving therapy for months for problems rooted in the terrible  trauma of 20 years ago.

If you or someone is in the process of therapy, have patience. Healing from disease or injuries - whether physical or emotional - can take months, even years, especially when advanced. The best to come is one of deep-process healing and then strengthening for the future.

A major part of the process of psychological and spiritual healing is not only dealing with wounds from the past. It also involves acquiring skills, strategies, and new perspectives for facing the future in a healthy way. It calls for new ways of thinking, feeling, responding, behaving, and relating.

Don't allow your self to be discouraged when your best life is not instantaneous. Individuals who are truly going to be healed from lingering emotional wounds are going to have to walk through a process that takes time.

Not only are you to be encouraged and steadfast in working through the process. But you are to be joyful that you're on the way out! To freedom. To healing and wholeness. To your best life ever.

As Jeff Goins, one of my favorite writers, put it, "Measure the process, not the results." If you can celebrate the process, you can enjoy the outcome.

This is critically important towards your way to "receive the best yet to come" in your life.




A Hope Surgery

2017-12-30T21:41:22.485-08:00

Awhile ago, I read of Major F.J. Harold Kushner in New York Magazine. He was an American marine held by the Viet Cong for 5 1/2 years. Something happened to him:

"Among the prisoners in Kushner's POW camp was a tough young marine, 24 years old, who had already survived two years of prison-camp life in relatively good health. Part of the reason for this was that the camp commander had promised to release the man if he cooperated. Since this had been done before with others, the marine turned into a model POW and the leader of the camp's thought-reform group. As time passed, he gradually realized that his captors had lied to him. When the full realization of this took hold, he became a zombie. He refused to do all work, rejected all offers of food and encouragement, and simply lay on his cot sucking his thumb. In a matter of weeks, he was dead."

Famous author Philip Yancey says, "Kushner's experience is a tragic, negative example of the need for some hope to live for."


Can that happen to any one of us? Sure. I've seen this countless times in my therapy sessions. A loss of hope sickens the mind, heart, body, and soul.

As Dr. Carl Jung put it, "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering."

But mind you, the loss of hope is gradual. Never overnight. It's often imperceptible that you're not conscious that it's already happening to you. If you were, you'd stop the deadly disease.

The disease of hopelessness is like erosion. Silent. Never hurrying up. Slow but constant.

But the good news is, this disease is not terminal. It can be operated on, cured.

I have thought about this always. If you recall my previous sharings - both personally and professionally - a lot in this life would steal or take away our hope to move forward.

Hope and health are inseparably interconnected.

The medicine of hope is determination that refuses to quit when we encounter the pain that losses and sufferings bring into our lives. It must be worked though or else it remains a barrier to our health.

In the bestseller book, "The Road Less Traveled," the author insightfully teaches us:

" ... it is in the whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed they create our courage and wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually ... this tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness."




Nothing is Yours Forever

2017-12-29T21:09:46.267-08:00

"Nothing is yours forever."

The money you have in the bank, your car or house, your business, even the family you have. You only "own" them while your heart still beats.

Think about it. The fact of life is, there is no real, lasting ownership.

Even your own life is not yours. You lose that someday too.


This is a hard truth for multitudes. For we live in a culture that constantly creates the illusion of ownership. We delude ourselves with the belief that we can't be happy without owning or having.

I think of my life. Some future day, some quiet, heavily overcast morning, the sun rises again. But that day, I will be gone. Absent from my body.

Dust will settle on the books and study desk I love. Another will have the keys to my condominium I now carry ... and withdraw money from my bank accounts ... and fill my personal space with his or her own laughter and tears.

That's reality for all of us. Painful and difficult as it may be to endure such thoughts - that's basic fact, that's sure and real!

Nothing is yours forever. There is no true ownership on this temporal earthly life.

I once worked on this reality with a Chinese multimillionaire. He was overly attached to his possessions, leading to unnecessary mental and physical health problems.

He was big on "owning." When I laughed about it, he started healing!

This reality we're talking about, I remind you, is a world from which most mentally and emotionally disturbed patients have escaped and been "misliving" their lives. They've become pathologically attached.

And its this reality to which they must return before health is redeemed.

Seeing reality, seeing this life as it really is, is unquestionably the healthiest place for you and I.





Your Extended "Gifts"

2017-12-28T20:31:14.254-08:00

While the Christmas and New Year 2017 holidays are not over yet, it's not too late to give extended "gifts." To our selves. To others.

Possibly this may be your "gift" per day from here onwards.

Here are some suggestions for your extended "gifts:"

•  Forgive one who hurt you, including an enemy.

•  Smile a little. Then a little more. Till you laugh.

•  Reduce your anxiety or demands on others.

•  Converse warmly together without gadgets, phone, or TV.

•  Do wash the clothes for Mommy or Daddy.

•  Fix coffee or breakfast for someone you care about.

•  Visit your grandparents with your cheers and gifts.

•  Listen.

•  Find the time to fulfill a promise.

•  Express appreciation.

•  Ask for forgiveness when you did wrong.

•  Take a walk with your child.

•  Learn the art of under-reacting.

•  Enter into another's grief.

•  Speak kindly to someone you don't know.

•  Be gentle and patient with an angry or depressed person.

•  Support to reconcile a broken relationship.

•  Give hugs to people.

How about that?

Extended "gifts" to you and others! Sincerely. Lovingly. Without expecting anything in return.

That is mental health and wholeness, isn't it?




When Another New Year Comes

2017-12-27T00:14:07.784-08:00

We mark our calendars with New Year. 365 days of 1,440 minutes a day is about 525,000 minutes supply per year!

New Years are milestones. They represent significant points in the passing of time.



Stop and reflect about your self. Your life, every new year.

It looks like New Years are designed to enable us to make an annual life self assessment. Not only of length of years we've got, but our depth or quality of life as well.

Are you just growing older? Or, are you also growing whole and healthy?

The psalmist gives us a best wish to say each rolling new year along this line.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)

I've a caution for you and I.

These New Years are not like an insurance policy where there can be pledge of automatic renewal. Obviously, no one holds a guarantee of another forthcoming new year added into his or her life.

So, if our Creator gives you another new year, He must have some plans for you. He has some things in His mind that He wants you to pull off through your self and life.

Surely, that includes more than your coming 525,000 minutes for the new year!

You need wisdom.

Wisdom comes privately inside the self. It's a by-product of right choices, habits, and principles applied to circumstances and relationships. It's a fruit of a disciplined, deeper self.

Can you find marks of wisdom in your self, life, and future plans when another new year comes?

Make the most of the time given to you. One of these New Years will be God's terminal point in your life!




The Biggest Secret of Christmas

2017-12-20T17:59:36.368-08:00

Do you know the biggest secret of Christmas?

I tell you, it's not Santa Claus. Not the gifts or "aginaldos." Not the colorful Yuletide tree. Nor even the family reunions, parties, and bounty foods.


It's a simple secret and yet so easy to miss nowadays. Even ignore or deny.

Once, I was in Thailand. While there, I started getting scared of running out of resources. That's when  I learned an essential life lesson. I'd always have something to share to others. Time. Energy. Smiles. Food. A lending hand.

I realized, the more I give, the more I receive! The generosity gave me joy and peace.

Over two thousand years ago, Someone got generous. It was the first Christmas.

We're all familiar with religion. It tires. It enslaves our minds and hearts. For it only tells us to do this and to do that in order to reach out to God. It's never-ending, yet there is no true satisfaction.

But, Christmas comes. It erases religion.

Christmas is the generous God Himself reaching out to mankind in the form of the greatest gift of His one and only Son, Christ Jesus, to save, reconcile, and give us everlasting life.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Look.

The biggest secret of Christmas is total life health in an eternal "relationship, not religion."

It's ever before our very eyes. It dwells in the hearts and souls of mankind. Changing lives, bringing lasting joy, peace, and life on earth and hereafter.





Martyr Martha

2017-12-19T21:51:03.439-08:00

Martha's story is a story of her family.

Martha paints a picture of her husband as a narcissistic, raging individual. His insecurity and emotional disconnectedness are disguised as playfulness. His work is ever-present both at home, office, and everywhere.

Martha sees her self as overprotective of her teenage son, and condescending towards her husband. Martha suffers in silence at the childish antics and outbursts of both her husband and son.

Time and again, friends around Martha see her "martyrdom."

The stress in Martha's household is palpable. Early mornings, both her husband and 18-year-old would have troubles for her.

Her husband is used to throw tantrums over things, such as breakfast or pieces of clothing before he goes to work. Martha's teenage son, on the other hand, is equally crude and petty. At times, her son would warn, that unless mommy Martha gets his college uniform ready or increases his allowance, he won't go to school any more.

Each time, Martha gives in to her husband's and son's tantrums, believing that if she isn't successful, she faces personal rejection.

Martha grows weary and depressed each day. She knows she needs to do remedial, corrective action or she breaks down. If Martha is determined to help her self, her husband and son, she has to initiate deep-level self-examination to start healing.

Let me give a few tough questions for Martha. You may join reflecting with her. If Martha will have the courage to face these tough questions and personal limitations, she can be half way to personal recovery and family change.

It's time for Martha to evaluate her overprotectiveness and patronizing attitudes towards her husband and son.

Do you engage in self-pity?

Are you afraid of your emotions?

Do you accurately know what you feel?

Do you pretend to feel what you don't really feel, while hiding your real feelings?

Do you avoid confronting your husband about his selfishness, chauvinism, and childishness because you're afraid to stand alone?

Do you mask your frustrations by feeling sorry for your son who acts like his father?

Do you lack courage and self confidence that cause you to back away from appropriate discipline and responsible boundaries?




Do You Know Your "Double?"

2017-12-17T03:31:26.655-08:00

Once I met Pablo. He was a confessed married "sex addict." According to him, not a day goes by that he wouldn't masturbate, watch porn, or have casual sex with different women.

He had a strange ritual. A lot of times, he'd quarrel with his wife first before his planned sexual bingeing. After his anticipated rejection, he'd habitually walk out to look for sex partners.

In the sessions, Pablo admitted he felt so powerless and shamed. The addiction he didn't want for himself he could not stop doing. Until he contracted HIV. Until his family deserted him.

Unknown to many, Pablo was an honor student and varsity athlete in the university. Prior to his life-damaging personal fallout, people looked up to him as a model student and adult citizen.

Till someone took over Pablo and his self.

Robert Louis Stevenson, in his classic "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," can provide us a psychological clue or piece of insight.

He wrote of Dr. Jekyll's "double" self:

" ... whereas in the beginning the difficulty had been to throw off the body of Jekyll, it had of late gradually but decidedly transferred itself to the other side ... I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse self."

This is one way of understanding what happened to Pablo or why. Mostly, he retreated into himself as if in a trance-like state ... and did things outside his awareness. He had a "double," a "shadow," a dark side he never fully knew about.

As sex therapist/author Dr. Patrick Carnes put it, the description of the Dr. Jekyll-Mr.Hyde-like transfer portray "the loss of one personality as it is overcome by a second personality -- the addictive personality."

In intervention and therapy, the addict takes the journey of recovering the true, original, best self.






How Times Have Changed

2017-12-11T21:34:05.638-08:00

Times have changed.

Bitcoin … the world’s largest bank with no actual cash.

Uber … the world’s largest taxi company, owns no cars.

Facebook … the world’s most popular social media, creates no content.

Alibaba … the world’s most valuable retailer, has no inventory.

Airbnb … the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

I think you can agree with me. Times have changed. Something interesting is happening.

Speaking of Financial Therapy, consider the world’s coffee shop millionaires … has no office or inventory.

About a couple of years ago, I met a Fil-American medical doctor in the South of the Philippines.

His work in the U.S.? Provide medical services online as well as supervising hundreds of physicians doing it worldwide.

In the field of psychotherapy, counseling, and life coaching, online sessions are a growing trend globally.

Not surprising. We already know it’s possible, so accessible and convenient.

Times have changed.

We’re witnessing it every day.

To your best life change … and freedom.




The Secret Gift of Abandonment

2017-12-11T23:21:48.973-08:00

Abandonment is a time of trauma.

Devastating repetitive losses. Personal disappointments. Upheavals in childhood. Chaos and abuse in family.


For Dennis, his abandonment trauma was an awakening. It helped him a lot to change the direction of his life. He knew he had much work to do.

But at last, he knew what was truly important. It took losing his wife to another man and therapy to finally shatter his illusion of permanence and self-sufficiency.

Somewhere in the abyss he was sharing in our sessions, missing his wife, he was able to look up. He felt so astounded at how painful the abandonment and loss was.

He realized how alone he was. He was in a critical period during which he must look to his own resources.

But something even deeper happened to Dennis.

He discovered the secret gift of his abandonment and loss. It helped him find his way to "old wounds" from traumatic events he may not even remember.

Finally, he can address his long unprocessed, unresolved feelings.

Abandonment and trauma may do accomplish more quickly what many psychotherapists strive for in years of therapy -- bringing you to the seat of your "unconscious."

To your deepest parts, where lie your permanent recovery and wholeness.

Beyond the support of family, friends, and therapists, you spend most of your waking time with your own self. As your own separate self, you face this challenge alone.

First you must be in touch with your secret fears and pains. Listen to what they're telling you about your emotional needs.

The journey to the core of the self, preparing you for deep-level healing, is the secret gift of abandonment and trauma.

It's a crucial opportunity to shape your life from the inside out.

Receive the gift. You'll forever be changed by it.





The Solution to Fear

2017-12-11T23:26:06.363-08:00

South Africa's Demi-Leigh Neil-Peters, 2017 Miss Universe, has an incredible testimony after her recent win.

She was "hijacked, car-jacked."

Yet she turned her experience into a positive mental health advocacy.

Neil-Peters was quoted by the news:

"Never allow yourself to be a prisoner of fear. Because if you allow yourself to be, you're going to live your whole life in fear. Go for therapy, it really, really helps. Don't be too proud ... I can walk with you - that makes us unbreakable."

Fear is a most common disability of those struck with psychopathology. Not normal fear. But fear that is severe. Out of proportion.

It's fear that makes one choose to remain a victim. A person whose fears have become overwhelming gets crippled to move on in life.

I'm reminded of Pablo who struggled with fear and depression a lot. He was bullied a lot in his life by his parents and  schoolmates.

As a result, he would have panic attacks and gasp for breath. He literally could not breathe and this happened often.

Fear was strangling him.

Too often, when we meet a person struggling with unbearable pains of fear, we simply tell them "Get over it!" Or, dismiss the unreality of the source of the person's fears.

In spiritual circles, we may tell him or her, "Have faith."

However, I've observed that none of these work most effectively. None is a lasting solution to the problem of the person regarding fears.

The solution to the problem of fear is love. That kind of solution is permanent. Unbreakable.

You can choose to be unbreakable in the face of any fears you experience. You can make it through any rain.

And that involves "perfect love," super doses of it.

Getting the right kind love is the medicine we all need to overcome all the fears we will face on earth.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18).

Have you known how to experience "perfect love" in your life?

Catch that secret!





The Medicine of Laughter

2017-12-11T23:28:44.374-08:00

Laughter heals. The longer you practice it, the better you get.

The writer of Proverbs 17:22 said, "A happy heart is good medicine."

Or, as G.K. Chesterton once wrote, "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly."

I know this first-hand in my therapy hour.

The first sessions people are usually filled with negativity and depression. Sad. Frowning. Disappointed. Confused by circumstances.

They're mostly fearful of life, and things about it. Afraid to love, of even wanting to love again.

Then, something happens when I introduce laughter.

With it, the climate is noticeably different. Patients open up. They share details they'd rather omit or avoid in the past. Troubled thoughts and feelings become easier to handle with right doses of humor.

Laughter is medicine.

I can say that wounded individuals are able to better mend or recover from a host of different illnesses - physical, nonphysical - when they learn to laugh.

Such experience disengages fear because it helps change perspective.

Just awhile ago, Patricia and Edward were all smiles during our marital therapy session.

With a playful perspective, they're able to remove themselves from their marital problems that debilitated both of them with anger, fear, and anxiety.

Their laughter created a healing distance between a situation and their reactions.

Indeed, we all can do well if we follow author-therapist Leo Buscaglia's prescription:

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!"




Addiction is Not a Mystery

2017-12-11T23:34:39.282-08:00

Addiction, in whatever form, is not an accident. It isn't an unfathomable puzzle.

It can be understood, unpacked.

Although it's life-damaging for Timothy to have serial sexual engagements with strangers or regular masturbation at home, such "addiction" feels reasonable for him after his recent divorce.

He is so lonely. Wounded emotionally. We can only empathize with the pain he went through.

Clearly, you can be susceptible to addictions if you lack the staples of living.

You can be most readily addicted to your drug-of-choice when you lack belief in your personal value. When you lack social supports of family and friends. When you lack options for meaningful work or fun.

Nonetheless, despite the maladaptation to life through addictions, there is hope.

I've observed that if you've personal needs that are not met in a certain environment, you may become an addict to something or someone to satisfy those needs.

However, you need to realize too that other people, even in the most deprived situations, don't become addicts.

Where lies the difference?


I knew of an alcoholic and womanizing patient who continued his addictions while undergoing psychotherapy.

As he became drunk in his favorite bar one day, he saw his aging uncle whom he respected a lot passing by.

His uncle was staring at him disapprovingly.

This patient's uncle became his mirror of what he has become. And he didn't like what he saw.

He quitted his addictions because he appeared before the eyes of a person whose opinion he valued a lot.

That means, he finally realized how much he couldn't tolerate any more the disrespect he's giving himself.

There lies the hope, the difference.

Clarify what you value. Keep your positive reasons for life change at the forefront.

Knowing what's truly important to you can tilt the balance permanently in that direction.




Do You "Baby" Your Child?

2017-12-11T23:39:13.488-08:00

When 27-year-old Pamela left overseas, she felt crippled.

She's unable to run a washer and dryer, iron her clothes, cook simple foods, or reconcile her budget. Back home, she never learned to do chores around the house or other basic practical stuffs.

Her Mom did all for her and she got used to it.

"Infantilize" is a psychological term which means what you may be thinking now. In less technical terms, it refers to a parent's act to "baby" his or her child even past an appropriate age.

Parents, mostly mothers, who overprotect their children have been found to produce fearful, dysfunctional kids.

As Dr. Sylvia Rimm, author of "Smart Parenting: How to Parent so Children Will Learn," wrote of the power wielded by children who are too dependent as a result of overprotection. She writes:

"Because they are kind and caring and the children's symptoms of power (tears and requests for pity) are very persuasive, parents ... continue to protect them, unintentionally stealing from them their opportunities to cope with challenge."

Of course, parents often mean well. They certainly don't intend to harm their children.

But despite good intentions, their "infantilizing" paralyzes the children. It robs them of the joys of struggle and achievement.

Struggle is psychologically and emotionally good. Resistance, delaying of gratification, and challenges are good.

When our children don't have to struggle or experience obstacles, they don't grow up. A child crippled with such will find life cruel and depressing.

It's not our children's fault!

They were not brought into the world to raise Mom and Dad! We parents influenced them first. We made the family rules while they're growing up.

We may say our "infantilized" children didn't do anything wrong. We did.

Next step?

We parents begin with courage, honor, determination. Resolute spirit. Bountiful wisdom and faith to take corrective action before it's too late.

Let our children learn to tie their own shoes. Don't bail them out every time.

Are your kids (still) running the show?

Are they truly growing up or regressing?