Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Healing Your Mother Wound

Unloving mothers. Abusive mothers. Absentee mothers. Evil mothers.
Mothers are precious. Society, in general, appreciates and values them dearly. And, rightly so. Without them, lives will not be born and welcomed into the world. Yet life’s reality has a dark side. We are all imperfect humans, including our mothers.
Cynthia has a repeated mantra during our sessions:  “I feel unworthy.” Upon deeper processing, she eventually realized that her lack of confidence is a reflection of her internalized maternal voice. Since birth and childhood onwards to adulthood, Cynthia experienced abuse and rejection from her mother. This critical maternal voice is always there and takes the glow off her becoming a mother herself and even in the wake of financial success. Now as an adult unloved daughter, Cynthia still allows her mother psychologically and emotionally to dictate her view of her self.
During therapy and counseling, she began to have structure and meaning to see more clearly what has happened to her. She learned of her need to rewrite her own story as a bold act of redemption and healing. Becoming the writer of her own life and selfhood, Cynthia finally helped herself through her own eyes painting a coherent, realistic picture of her mother. This then improved her moods and helped her better manage her formerly unmanageable emotions.
Healing the damage of an unloving mother on a child’s sense of self is indeed an enormous issue for most. Yet it can be done as evidenced by countless testimonies of lives transformed. Through appropriate support and help, a wounded adult child can finally be a “grown-up” – firmly and gently at the same time – making it clear what to do and expect from his/her mother and his/her self.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Feelings and Mental Health

Feelings and psychological wellness are closely intertwined.

Sophia began her therapy session extremely raging and throwing tantrums at her husband, Tim. When I asked about the nature of her rage and upset, she reported her husband's infidelity and sexual addiction. The cause was reasonable, of course.

But we decided to work on Sophia's out of control emotions first because it was unhealthy, and causing her inability to function and cope with the stress needed to appropriately move forward with her husband.

Observe clearly the difference between "healthy negative feelings" and "unhealthy negative feelings."  Healthy negative feelings are those of sorrow, regret, sadness, annoyance, or disappointment when you don't get what's important to you. Unhealthy negative feelings, on the other hand, make you feel unduly depressed, panicky, self-pitying, angry, or even violent.

Realize that you are capable of changing your "unhealthy negative feelings" into "healthy negative feelings." In my therapy and counseling sessions, I work with counselees to take their depressed feelings, for example, until they only feel sorry and regretful. I encourage them to take their panicky, self-downing feelings into the session until they only feel concerned and apprehensive.

Don't give up until you actually change your feelings into healthy ones. It's a key to pressing on in your overall recovery.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Knowing Is Never Enough

In my practice of therapy and counseling, I’ve always found insight in and of itself to be inadequate. At best, I helped my counselees see and know of the psychodynamics of their emotional or mental disturbances. But, I’ve always realized that their knowing is not the same as their capacity to change their thinking, their emoting, and their behaving so they could stop self-sabotaging.
One counselee I had recently gained insight into the fact that her rage or uncontrollable anger is traceable to her unconscious hatred of her mother. In her work and social relationships, she realized how she has been “transferring” that feeling into other females who have similar traits to her mother. Surely, she understands how she got the ways they are — but not what to do or the ability to apply what she already knows.

This makes me wonder, where insight and expression of repressed feelings alone don’t work in my sessions. Something more then needs to be incorporated in order for a broken person to heal. It sets me to do some tall thinking about psychotherapy. I went back to my techniques and tools of therapy and started giving application assignments, among others. 
Insight alone is not enough for deep and lasting personal change. The truth is, most of us are very good at identifying what’s wrong with us and our experiences. Yet that knowledge in and of itself rarely produces deep level personal healing and recovery. In fact, without the appropriate steps and frames, insight may result in “re-traumatizing” a hurting person. So, make sure you have insights plus the experiential aspects in your recovery journey.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Over-ruminating

I'm thinking about thinking today. Rumination. In many situations where there is psychological wounding, a person may tend not just to ruminate but to "over-ruminate." Such usually produces stuckness, inability to take healthy actions.

How do you navigate your over-ruminating to unclog your stuckness? Here are some pieces of thought I have about it that could be helpful to you.

*  Observe and analyze your self when over-ruminating:

*  Be sensitive and conscious of your fictional or magnified memory bias;

*  Reduce your self-criticism;

*  Spot over-ruminating triggered by sms, emails, or notes;

*  Try mindfulness meditation and prayer;

*  Define your options or alternative courses of action;

*  Replace thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make your over-rumination and worrying worse;

*  Use imagery or visualization to bounce flashbacks and images that get you stuck;

*  Reduce over-ruminating, your over-thinking, capturing ideas via taking notes as you have them and then sleep on them;

*  Practice thought-stopping and deep breathing;

*  Seek help when symptoms persist. There could be heavy, overwhelming root causes underneath fueling the over-ruminating.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How Champions Handle The Past

Champions. What characterize them?

I've been thinking of the world's most successful people who suffered failures or losses in their lives. Some didn't finish or drop out of school. Many started out impoverished, even bankrupt full of debts. Others came from broken families or abusive backgrounds. Yet they managed to beat all odds and succeed in their respective fields. They came out stronger and better in broken places.

What's the secret of these champions?

Common among them is the will to move beyond their painful past through determined choices. They changed the results of their past by changing their choices in the present and for their future. As author T.D. Jakes put it, these champions "use the past to fertilize their future." They decided to allow their disappointments to come to pass and not get stuck. They pressed forward.

If you're going through a past trauma or loss, it's unrealistic to say that you are not in pain. You are. But once the initial shock is over, you can choose not to allow your life to get stuck in a stage that's just part of the whole healing process. This devastating event in your life shall pass too. Allow it to pass. Make plans for the future.

Surely, you can choose to be a champion as well. Accepting reality, stepping over depression, and making plans for the future is a significant announcement to your heart that you are planning to move on with your life.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Therapy of Real Friends

"I don't have a real friend. Not even one!"

That's what a bruised 62-year-old man expressed during my coffee talks with him last week. He is in deep need of healing friends.

Everyone needs a real friend. A real friend is one whom you can be yourself, vent your innermost thoughts and feelings, without fear of criticism or rejection. For some reason/s, real friends can be rare nowadays.

Today, lots of people are lovers or married, but not friends. They have marriage without friendship, sex without intimacy. They have been physically touched but not nurtured emotionally. They have been fondled but not patted in the back. They are hurting inside. Bleeding. In the road of life, they're so needy.

In churches, offices, schools, and in other places, people may also go through countless motions as well. Many painted joy in their faces with "professional smiles" that used to be real. Over time, they feel alone. Their hearts are peeling, exposed like driftwood. They could find no brush to reach their hearts and souls.

This deep thirst is a dangerous state to be in. A lack of real friends can be the deepest, most engrossing poverty any human being can experience. Addictions, affairs, and varied types of psychological wounds are born out of moments of thinking and feeling that water a deep thirst for real friends, real connections.

If, for whatever reasons, you find your self in this state, let me share secrets you'll surely find helpful. You can end your desperation. You can stop going to the wrong persons or places for the right thing. There is a Real Friend waiting for you.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Carlos and Mary

Carlos complains that his wife Mary is always tired of sex.

Mary says her husband never takes the time to get close, kissing and holding her, but always rushing to culmination of sex act.

After deeper process, Carlos and Mary discover it's not about their sex. Their root problem involves issues of intimacy.

Carlos longs for affirmation. After a long day at work, he comes home desiring to be valued, appreciated, and made to feel worthy. Sexual activity is the only way he knows and gets conditioned to to receive what he wants. His wife has no idea, so it never occurs to her to validate and praise him for his value.

Mary is also seeking affirmation. Alone at home with the children, she wants her husband to see her as valuable and desirable as she is. Not merely as a housekeeper, a child caregiver, or sexual partner.  She wants to hear her husband loving to spend time with her, thinking she is beautiful, and enjoying being near her. She seeks intimacy and love.

Carlos and Mary are healing - individually and maritally. They now realize that sexual intercourse is not a substitute for intimacy. When the two of them learn to express value to each other in ways apart from the sex act, their entire marriage begins to blossom. They're addressing their root need inherent in a marriage -- not merely the surface issue of too little or too much sexual activity.


Friday, January 08, 2016

Healing Your Self With Reality

British poet Thomas Eliot once wrote in 1935, "Human kind can not bear very much reality."  30 years later, he as well as his loved ones were forced to bear reality. Thomas stopped writing - and breathing. It's painful but it's fact.


Reality is a world from which most mentally and emotionally disturbed individuals have escaped. They attempt to avoid facing it head-on through varied means, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, adultery, gambling, obsessions, depression or even rage, among others. Reality is a point then to which they must return before health and wholeness is restored. As clinical psychologist and author, Dr. Gary Collins put it, mental health is a "search for reality."

Let me share a few pieces of thought I have about this significant healing component called "Reality."

... You heal with reality when you see life as it is. Not what you think it should be. Not what you think others think it should be.

... Reality is your most secure, healthiest place on earth.

... Reality saves you from the lostness of distorted perception or illusion back to the real world of right and wrong, the false and the true.

... You heal with reality when you recognize that you don't really know as much as you think you know.

... Reality is when you accept the fact that others view life differently and some may actually be right.

... You heal with reality when you learn that you cannot micromanage anyone.

... Reality is when you learn that everyone's problem is not necessarily yours.

... You heal with reality when you learn that you can't change everything in the world.

... You heal with reality when you discover that God, not you or another person, is the center of the universe.

... Reality is when you accept the fact that no one is perfect.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year, New Life

As I write this, a new year has come. Tradition shows that people used to make new year's resolutions. They resolve to become their better selves as they begin another new year.

A best principle to bear in mind for this is the principle of "sowing and reaping." "As you sow, so shall you reap," as Scripture admonishes. A related guide is the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

People who believe and apply this principle, which some call "karmic justice," are less likely to hurt themselves or their neighbor in the course of their life journey. Their choices or decisions will always be governed by their awareness of the long term or essential effects of their deeds. 

A woman I'd been counseling said she has become out of control and violent in reacting to her husband's infidelity. Moving on to our talks, she confessed that she herself had secretly cheated on her husband multiple times during business trips.

Yes, the couple is experiencing high hopes. They confessed their unfaithfulness to each other and vowed to heal and change. Individually and maritally, they desire to recover through the deep process of therapy and counseling. 

Yet both of them have to reckon with the reality of the reaping effects or consequences of their past sowing in their individual well being and marital state.  Surely there is hope and healing is always possible. Even in a fragmented state, one can get stronger and be renewed from day to day - leadingto a fuller life.

Healing and growth does not stop with deep childhood trauma or ongoing consequences of past mistakes. Each new year presents new opportunities for loving and changing. The "missed development" can be made up and remedied in whatever stage of life. It's never too late to change and be whole. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Healing In The Family

This Christmas season, I was with a former celebrity actor's family who "loves the Lord, cooking, and eating together." But it was not so prior to their family transformation and healing about five years ago. This family then fits Barbara Ehrenreich's morbid picture of it:  "Not the ideal and perfect living arrangement but a nest of pathology and a cradle of gruesome violence." With God's therapy, the family members stopped being worst enemies of each other and started growing in faith. How happy I am witnessing this family's journey of recovery and wellness!


Psychotherapy cures psychological and emotional trauma suffered by a family. It's a significant part of one's whole self healing. Family therapy centers sprout around the world precisely due to countless individuals and families suffering from the wounds inflicted upon them by family life. When alienation, brokenness, and a lack of wholeness reign in the family, it can produce mental disorders and breakdown.

Still, important though psychological treatment may be, it remains incomplete when the damage inflicted on the family by personal sin is not thoroughly dealt with. Sin and psychopathology are closely intertwined. Sin destroys a family. Personal sins of the past, though already acknowledged at the mental and emotional level, may continue to haunt a family without spiritual treatment and intervention. It's like a stone you throw into a pool, the ripples continue long after the stone has reached the bottom. All sins then, both those committed routinely and in secrecy damaging the family, need to be absolved through a deep process of confession, grace, and forgiveness.

No therapy can substitute for spirituality to complete the deep process of healing and wholeness. Sin destroys our ability to truly love God, our self, and others. Only the Christ of Christmas can fully restore and heal it.


Monday, December 14, 2015

When Communication Goes Underground

"Do what you like. You're always right!" says a disturbed wife to her raging husband. Upon hearing that, the husband withdraws and stops talking to her for weeks.

As a therapist, I've found that the more covertly and indirectly people communicate, the more wounded and dysfunctional they become. Communication goes underground. They do not agree overtly but at the same time disagree and even attack each other covertly.

Married couple Lita and Joey are dysfunctional to an extreme degree (children of abusive parents). Mary keeps saying to me that she tries so hard to "fix" her husband and make him productive. As a result, Joey ends up living what he thinks she wants from him. He gives control of his self to Lita, while deeply resenting it inside him. In effect, Lita and Joey find themselves acting like a parent one minute and a child the next. Each is trying to cover up his/her disappointment. They never truthfully manifested themselves as individuals to each other.

Without clear, truthful communication, we as humans will be unable to survive in relationships. Communication is interaction. It's a process of giving and receiving information. It involves not just verbal but also nonverbal behavior and meanings within the social context. In order for communication to be healthy in our relationships, we need to let others know what really is going on
inside us.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Can Addicts Be Intimate?

Addicts are incapable of intimacy. They turn off their internal information systems through the use of their addictive agent. Therefore, they can not have available to themselves essential information about what they feel and think. They block the process of knowing who they really are.

I had a client who was a sex and cyber-porn addict. He was caught by his wife paying prostitutes - both male and female. According to him, his sex addiction had leveled up which now included perverted acts in the bedroom. Being threatened with divorce by his wife, he hit bottom and sought help to heal emotional wounds and repair his intimacy dysfunction in the marriage.

I believe that a first prerequisite for this sex addicted husband to rehabilitate is intimacy within himself. It means accurate "presence with the self."  In order to be intimate with his wife, he has to know who he is, what he feels, and what he wants. For instance, when he is able to feel his true deepest feelings, he must learn what exactly to do with them and how to properly express them rather than act them out in self-destructive ways. In order to be intimate with his spouse, he needs first to be intimate within himself.

Dr. Anne Wilson Schaef, noted author/psychotherapist, once wrote that the "love" addictions (sex, romance, relationships) are all "escape from intimacy."  She said that too many people are unaware of themselves and so unaware of what they think, feel, and know. As a result, there is no way, according to her, for these "love" addicts to ever honestly express themselves to others. When something is triggered inside (e.g. some "pain"), they're unable to get in touch with old, buried "alive" parts of themselves that continue to haunt them.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Unconditional Love For Your Children

Countless people throughout the world have grown up without unconditional love from their parents. One parent or both parents may have abandoned them when they were children - physically, emotionally or psychologically.

Unconditional love. It means love never fades. No matter what a loved one does or says, the love stays.

Initially, children depend on their parents for this kind of love as their foundational "secure base."  It's letting children experience that Dad's love and Mom's love is not based on the choices they make or their words or their behaviors.

Awhile ago, I was counseling a 22-year-old young man who remains at odds with his parents. He was angry at them. According to him, both his Mom and Dad love him "conditionally." They'd always compare him with others and force choices on him. And when their wishes were not fulfilled, he said that both his Mom and Dad would physically and verbally abuse him. He never felt truly loved by them. I could see the tears coming down his face.

That was devastating to feel that pull of "conditional" love by a child. If you're a parent, like me, help your children to know that your love for them is based on who they are, not what they can accomplish. Even as you encourage them to grow, show them that you love them unconditionally. When they get older, you want them to remember how important they are to you.

Unconditional love builds in children a solid foundation for them now to be able to love and trust others in the future.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ghost Parents, OFWs

I call some parents "ghost parents" because they haunt children and homes they neglect, deprive, or leave behind. Yes, they exist. But you and I may not easily know what it really is and their destructive effects.

Most "ghost parents" are male, but some are female. You heard of parents who didn't become involved in the lives of their children. Some are distracted or distanced by money or work, others by affairs. Some are separated or divorced, some see child-rearing as beneath them. Some are abusive, emotionally and even physically.


In the Philippines, we have a social reality called the "OFW phenomenon."  I know of an OFW mother who had an affair and traded her three very young kids for that and an overseas job in the Middle East to join her affair partner. Emotionally traumatized, the youngsters grew restless and confused, waiting long hours every day by the house gate. They were simplistically told that Mom works abroad “for you” (omitting the adultery detail). 

Reliable government statistics show a rising rate of broken marriages and families among OFWs. A number of years ago as head of a national association of colleges, Dr. Vicente K. Fabella studied the impact of OFWs’ family separation. His study showed that one in every four OFW spouses separate. And up to two in five OFW children drop out of college because of lack of parental guidance.

Am I stepping on some toes as I write this? Very good! I join a global mental health battle to save the seed. "Ghost parents" are definitely one of the frequent and most damaging sources of psychopathology among individuals, marriages, and families today. I bled for all the children of "ghost parents."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ability To Withstand Painful Feelings

Surviving any trauma or crisis involves the ability to "withstand painful feelings." I know it can be so difficult to do. That holds true especially when you're going through deep, wounding emotional experiences, such as betrayal, infidelity, rejection, or abandonment. Yet if you're to survive, you do need to be a person of this essential ability within you.

I'm reminded of lawyer Wendy, an excellent example of such a person. When she saw me, she was in much pain and humiliation because of her husband's infidelity and lack of remorse. Yet she endured these painful, uncomfortable  feelings. She sought help and counsel, took vacation breaks, enlarged her circle of support, and was able to resume her responsibilities as a working mother to her children.

The ability to "withstand painful feelings" means learning to live with such feelings without being overwhelmed ot immobilized by rage, depression, or anxiety. That involves objectively understanding what happened, facing issues raised, and integrating the event in your life. A survivor puts the trauma or crisis into perspective, think the issues through, and learn to charge neutral or be less emotionally reactive so he can get to the "other side."

Therapy is usually geared towards helping you through the process of integrating the trauma, crisis, or event in your life. Knowing and developing cognitive skills will lessen the toxicity of emotions produced by thinking distortions. Such is crucial so you can be detached enough to problem solve.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When Beauty Fades

Pierce Brosnan, my favorite James Bond, was recently interviewed in the media about his wife, with whom he has six children. One entertainment outlet described her as the "ugly" wife of 007, primarily basing it on current external appearance. Pierce countered by saying that he loves her nonetheless as well as every part of her physical body. "That's the real man," a commentator commented.


We humans often look at the outward appearance. In our culture, it can be difficult not to, even in our relationships. I'm reminded of a middle-aged couple I counseled who were having problems in their marriage. The husband's complaint was that his wife avoids social gatherings and always seems too tired for sex. The longer I spoke to the wife, the clearer it became that she was not happy with the way she appears in the mirror.

When you're focused on your outward appearance, you believe that how you look is who you really are. Nothing can be farther from the truth. When time goes by and physical beauty fades, there is another kind of beauty that can emerge. In a marriage, when all externals disappear, what's left are two things: character and conversation.

There lies the secret of true beauty.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

When Unsafe Persons Block Your Healing

Countless times, I notice that the hurting hung around people — whether family, friends, or partners – who are “unsafe.” They need support during times of woundedness. Yet unknowingly, they are getting farther and farther away from being their real selves due to the influences of unsafe people around them.
Psychologist Dr. John Townsend wrote a book entitled “Safe People.” In it, he cited personal traits of unsafe people. Here are these traits below that can help you distinguish safe relationships from unsafe relationships, which are essential for your recovery process:
1. Unsafe people think they “have it all together” instead of admitting their weaknesses;
2. Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual;
3. Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback;
4. Unsafe people are self-righteous instead of humble;
5. Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behavior;
6. Unsafe people avoid working on their problems instead of dealing with them;
7. Unsafe people demand trust, instead of earning it;
8. Unsafe people believe they are perfect instead of admitting their faults;
9. Unsafe people blame others instead of taking responsibility;
10. Unsafe people lie instead of telling the truth;
11. Unsafe people are stagnant instead of growing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trust Begins In The Womb

Yesterday, I was sharing with a couple that the first stage of trust begins inside the mother's womb. Not after birth, based upon current research in prenatal psychology. Inside the mother's womb, the fetus-child is already sensitive to the love of both mother and father even long before actual birth.

As I continued processing with the couple, I discovered how much their own individual histories of conception, infancy, and childhood have been hurt by inadequate parental love and trust. As a result, due to incomplete healing of ancient hurts, this couple find themselves continuously hurting themselves and each other in the present.

Psychotherapists R.D. Laing, David Cheek, Frank Lake, and D.S. Winnicott believe that most mental disorders begin in the womb. This includes psychosis, a most serious form of mental illness in which a person has completely withdrawn from reality, as well as the less serious one, neurosis, which characterizes a lot of many others. They did find a direct one-to-one link between severe stresses in the mother during pregnancy and later psychopathology and emotional problems in the child.

One of the most dramatic illustrations of this is the work of psychotherapist Dr. Andrew Feldmar. He had patients who each attempted suicide every year, which he discovered would be the anniversary of their 2nd or 3rd month in the womb. When Dr. Feldmar investigated their histories, he discovered that the dates of their suicide attempts were when their mothers attempted to abort them during conception.

Dr. Feldmar also discovered that, not only was the timing of each patient's suicide attempt a "Deja Vu" of an earlier maternal abortion attempt, but even the methods used were similar. One patient whose mother tried to kill him with a needle attempted suicide by razor blade. Another, whose mother had used chemicals, attempted suicide with drug overdose. When Dr. Feldmar helped his patients to realize that their suicidal attempts were really long-hidden memories of their mothers' attempts to kill them while in the womb, they begun to heal and be free of the compulsion to commit suicide.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Secret To Life Change

Every time we sleep, there is no absolute certainty that we shall wake up. It’s simply outside anyone’s human control. 
Life ebbs away ceaselessly. Days and nights reek with the smell of necessary endings. We all die after we live this fleeting life on earth.
Yet, despite this inevitable fact, lots of us remain in denial. We prefer to think of death as a farfetched possibility. It happens to others, not to us.
In contrast, something therapeutic happens when you accept and prepare for this sure reality. By accepting that life on earth is temporary, you begin to heal and grow. 
You do, for each day could be the last you have. 
By accepting death as a looming possibility, trivial pursuits and problems lose their importance. They are no longer killing. Addictions shed off their seductive power.
And finally … All things that have long been difficult to give up are suddenly easy to let go. You become who you truly are. Your authentic self.

Then, amid seeing what really is, you begin to search for the real meaning of life.

Friday, October 30, 2015

All Are Born To Die

As always, we’ve holiday, real life, and media reminders of the reality and inevitability of death. Regardless of what age you are in right now, death brings into our awareness our greatest psychological fear in this temporal, earthly life.
While all of us are so busy — trying to create wealth, raise families, enjoy pleasures, love, relationships etc — we all need to take time to reflect. We all need a pregnant pause. Common are the countless times when our busy preoccupations and relationships tend to cloud us of our real purpose in this life. 
In recent years, this lack of purpose brings death sooner than its time. By one's choice, one's own hands. In the United Nations, attention has been called to the escalating statistics of young people committing suicide. It's as if this life is all there is. It's ironic that in a world of exploding technology and comfort, young people in the prime of life are choosing self destruction as a way out.
While many of us feel bad witnessing deaths of those we care about, we’re reminded of our own mortality as well. All of life is a preparation for death to meet our Maker. Are you ready to die and meet your Maker? Where are you going after death? Find this out before it’s too late.
How do you know you’re ready to meet your Maker?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Are You To Blame Your Spouse Cheated?

Alexandra is blaming herself. She feels that she is at fault her husband cheated. According to her, she must be a bad wife with major problems in taking care of her husband. Each day, since she discovered his infidelity from his mobile phone, she has been breaking down emotionally.

I often hear this. It's a common thought and internal struggle among those betrayed by their spouses. Their emotions and heart are devastated. Every negative thought possible can run through the head as the hurt spouse realizes he or she is married to a cheater. In effect, the suffering spouse may carry the blame or feels it's her/his fault her/his spouse is unfaithful.

If you're the betrayed spouse, here's the truth:  you hold zero responsibility for the infidelity itself. No matter how serious your marital problems were prior to the cheating, the adultery trigger was pulled by your husband or wife, not you. It's a character pathology/deficit issue. Accept responsibility for your part of the breakdown within your marriage. But not for the affair itself. That choice rests 100% on your spouse. Any problems in marriage can be addressed in healthy ways, such as therapy/counseling, seeking support and help, etc. Yet your cheating spouse chooses otherwise, which makes the problem a hundred-fold greater than what you started out with.

Right now, your primary responsibility post-affair is to take care of your self. First and foremost, you need to save and rebuild your self before you can have the strength and capacity to heal your marriage if it's still possible ... or, move on as a better person. If you don't, it's going to be very harmful and disabling to you mentally and emotionally. It also affects your physical health. You need to work on psychological/spiritual issues such as self-esteem, self-doubts, lack of energy, love you have for your children, meaning of life.

During this sensitive time, one person matters the most - YOU.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Solutions to Boredom

Boredom is an emotional state. When one feels helpless or apathetic in what he is doing, it may lead to unhealthy or hurtful behaviors, habits, and even addictions. If unaddressed, boredom can stay as a permanent resident, thereby blocking directions for renewal.

When I catch myself feeling bored, it's usually linked to my mind functioning routinely. Work has become mechanical. I begin to watch the clock. I experience tedium in moments of tiredness or reduced mindfulness. It's in those moments when I make a deliberate shift in my perception. You see, boredom is a chosen cognitive activity.

Researcher Csikszentmihalyi says "flow" is antidote to boredom. He concludes that finding greater meaning in our work is the key:  "The psychic entropy peculiar to the human condition involves seeing more to do than one can actually accomplish and feeling able to accomplish more than what conditions allow."  He showed in his research on boredom that excitement and challenge result from shift of perception connected to purpose, especially when matched to one's abilities and gifts.

I consider my self deeply fortunate to be doing stimulating, interesting work. Each person I meet and attempt to help heal is unique and special. I can feel energy during sessions. How can that be boring!  Most importantly, something wonderful happens. The act of helping people heal their minds and souls, one person at a time, is a great purpose to live. This meaning fuels my vitality as a therapist. It immunizes myself against boredom.

Are you bored?  You can keep it at bay by working mindfully. Intentionally keep things fresh. And more significantly, look for the ultimate meaning in the things you do.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Coping With Grief and Loss

Is your grief and loss feels like too much to bear?

If so, it's more essential than ever to take care of your self. The stress of a major trauma or loss can instantly deplete your energy and emotional supplies. If outside your capacity already, an experienced therapist can help you work through the severe emotions and overcome obstacles to your grief work.

Funny thing, when I write stuff like this, I feel a little dated ... somewhat soap boxish. I sense there's a whole gang of macho men out there possibly making fun of me and my feelings talk. If a little confession will help, I openly admit that I did try to suppress my grief over my life's share of losses. Yet surely I discovered that I can't really avoid facing my feelings forever.

It's true for all of those who come for therapy and counseling. In order to heal, a grieving person have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid the feelings of sadness and loss and processing them completely only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief, incomplete grieving, can lead to complications such as depression, alcohol or drug abuse, fears, anger, and a host of health/medical conditions.

Grief can be very lonely. Even when you have family members or loved ones and friends around, grief can still feel overwhelming. Sharing your sorrows with a therapist and with others who have experienced similar losses can help move you on faster and more safely. If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort that spirituality can offer you. Spiritual activities such as praying and going to church can offer solace.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

CNN on Infidelity Treatment

A few days ago, I was invited to CNN Philippines to give a talk on infidelity treatment during a live hour-long TV broadcast. I told Gani and Amelyn, the program hosts, that infidelity is a "deepest cut" and devastating to marriage. It's important to resolve the crisis and rebuild relationship whenever possible.

Much of what I shared with the hosts were drawn from my combined clinical practice and personal experience as a psychotherapist as well as pertinent research by experts on the subject. Myself as well as together with other colleagues have witnessed the impact of infidelity on the lives of hundreds of men and women whom we have counseled, both individually and in groups.


Because marital separation or divorce rates continue to be high, and because infidelity plays a role in the dissolution of many marriages, CNN Philippines found it so important to know more about it. For many couples, going to a therapist may not be an option due to finances or embarrassment. And often, the unfaithful spouse is not willing to come for counseling. The program's segment was geared to help those individuals and couples who may be trying to work out their problems without professional help, at least initially.

William Shakespeare, in his Hamlet, wrote:  "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." When he wrote those words in the 17th century, Shakepeare could not had imagined a different world with internet communication, cell phones, or space travel.  Today, infidelity is carried on over social media, internet, or on a broadband. CNN hosts did touch on these things during our telecast. Without Shakepeare to add more or guide us, we will have to reason it by ourselves. 

Depression-Free Aging

If 70 is the normal life span (based on Scripture) and you're 60, time is slipping by quickly. If 70 is to be squeezed into a 24-hour-day, it would be around 9:00 p.m. in your life. Time on earth is limited even if you can extend it to some more years.

Depression is common among the aged. The clock is ticking. Once, I saw a woman in her 80s, full of vigor, with lots of makeup, teen-fit dress, and partying around since she can still walk reasonably well. When asked about how she feels, she said she's depressed!

At age 52, writer Robert Browning wrote that he accepted that he had already exceeded the life expectancy of his era. He never knew that His Creator would be gifting him with 27 more remaining years!  He painted his process of aging in this way:

"Grow old along with me!  The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made."

And then, Browning counseled that aging is a time to "take and use your work, amend what flaws may lurk, look not down but up!"

The ability to adapt. The ability to learn and accept one's limitations. Faith. Self care. These are determinants of what professional literature of geriatrics call "successful aging."

Friday, October 02, 2015

What Do We Mean By Life Recovery?

If you've been reading my site, it means you're open to search your mind and heart. It means you're open to look at the process of recovery that could enhance your life rather than limit it. If you're reading this blog, it's because of what's right for you, not what's wrong.

It had taken John five years to get to this point. He found himself counting his blessings and feeling good after coming from work. Days afterward, it occurred to John that not once were the reminders of his wife's infidelity and abandonment a painful experience any longer. His recovery had given him a wonderful sense of acceptance, freedom, and new meaning in life helping others heal.

Definitely, recovering from a significant emotional trauma wound is not comfortable work. It requires commitment, consistency, a level of open-mindedness, much courage and willingness. And above all, a determination to take the needed series of small steps and actions that must be made by you. No one can do life recovery for you but you. Nobody else can recover you. With the right tools and support, you can discover and tap hidden strength within your self to recover.

When you've reached a certain breakthrough point in your life recovery, here are some positives that happen:

... you feel better
... you find new purpose for the pain without fears
... you start to be able to have memories without having them precipitate painful feelings of guilt, remorse, loss, or betrayal
... you become quick to forgive those who hurt you
... you realize that it's ok to feel bad at times no matter how those around you react
... you begin to locate your security within your self
... you become skilled in claiming circumstances instead of your circumstances claiming your happiness
... you become free and equipped in helping others get through their loss or trauma

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thinking Your Way Out Of Stress

Who said this? "People are disturbed not by things but by the views they take of them." It's Epictetus' famous pronouncement.

American psychologist, Dr. Albert Ellis, based his psychotherapy approach from that. In the 1960s, he did innovative work in the area of thoughts and perceptions calling his model REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy).

Rina (a pseudo-name), in many of our therapy sessions together, would always sigh and say, "I don't like my self." That is her default thinking. It leads her to automatically perceive events or people around her such as her husband and children seeing her as without value. When she became more deeply aware of this, she started learning that her stress can be reduced or eliminated by reframing or changing her default thinking.

One of the major ideas put forward by Dr. Ellis in his REBT is that it's not necessarily the events in our lives that cause stress. But rather, the following:  a.) the perceptions of those events ("this is catastrophe" versus "it's not really that bad");  b.) your default thinking style (is the glass half-empty or half-full?);  and c.) your attitudes ("He is angry at me" versus "He is possibly preoccupied and needing help").

Speaking of feelings when you're in deep stress, here's an insight that you may find helpful:  How you feel is more dependent on how you think about what happens than on what actually happens!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Let's Walk In The Woods

May I invite you to take a walk with me? A special session in the woods!

Whatever you're going through - listen to the trees! Sitting there licking your wounds will only leave a bitter aftertaste.

Of course, tears are welcome. As well as sighs and thoughts of giving up. They're understandable. But you'll discover it needs only for a time.

Heartaches, you see, are fleeting. They don't last. Unless you obsess over them or get stuck. It's inexcusable for the future.

I agree with Longfellow:

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
.....
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time."

Let's get on with it! While there is time ... life is short.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I Was In Tears A Few Times Today

Today, I joined hundreds of parents in a Parents' Camp. It's conducted by San Beda College, where my 12-year-old daughter Angel is in Grade 7.

During our symposium on resilience, a video clip was shown of Derek Redmond's emotional Olympic story. Very inspirational as well as therapeutic, since quite many among my fellow parents in the camp were in tears after watching the video.

Just like me.

Allow me to share Derek's story below. Hope you find it helpful too in your healing journey.

When you don't give up, you cannot fail!



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How Well Do You Know Your Self?

In the Dialogues of Plato, we read, "For self-knowledge would certainly be maintained by me to be the very essence of knowledge, and in this I agree with him who dedicated the inscription 'Know Thyself!' at Delphi."

What does it take to know your self? It is to see and realize your insecurities, fears, biases, hurts, wounds, addictions - and dreams or hopes too - as they really are. For these are the things about your self that have the potential to distort the clarity of your mind, feelings, or motive. Especially so, when life-changing choices and judgments are to be made.

Dr. Sherwin Nuland wrote, "Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom involves the management of knowledge, which in turn involves comprehension of the significance of the knowledge possessed. Wisdom is knowledge put to use by judgment." As T.S. Eliot expressed in his pageant play, "The Rock:"  "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

Of all the knowledge upon which wisdom needs to be based, the most difficult to face is self-knowledge. We have trouble with self-knowledge because it's frequently bad news!  Yet bad news or not, each one of us have no choice but to deal with it if we are to avoid destroying our selves. In the lives of so many of us though, self-knowledge remains elusive because we try so hard to avoid it.

I'm reminded of a serial sex addict with multiple infidelities telling me and his girlfriend during our session, "I know my self. I know I can recover from this by myself." Like him, we are all capable of fooling ourselves at our own peril. The self-knowledge we claim to possess may actually be self-delusion behind which we hide. The slightest acknowledgment of truth, seeing what really is, can be the beginning of self-knowledge well worth pursuing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Aldub Rx

I don't normally watch noontime TV. But there one time I stood in the gym, glanced at a funny television show. The scene? (Immediately, you'll understand my mind.) A certain handsome, playful Alden. A wacky, fast "talking" Yaya Dub. It's noontime hour. You know, the whole bit, when people are glued to TV. To top it all off, there before my eyes a cute love story of a fictional young super-couple is being played out, now loved and enjoyed (tweeted!) by millions around the world.


Top down, cool breeze blowing me by, quiet moment, "God gave me you" song flowing out of the Aldub exchanges of endearment on live TV. Something inside me have appreciated and enjoyed it too! Suddenly, I came back to reality. "This thing is teenager stuff," I could hear my conscience say. "How undignified can you get, Subida!" feels like thumping on my chest.

Well, it's me. Correction, it's actually us. Something about Aldub resonates in each and everyone of us. There have been so many love teams on TV and the movies. But Aldub has surprisingly surpassed all of them in terms of legions of fans (record-breaking millions of tweets around the world!). What's the secret? Or, is there really one? All this thing they call "Aldub fever" is actually an expression of a known unmet need in the kind of world we live in.


Well-known psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger once wrote, "Love is a medicine for the sickness of the world, a prescription often given, too rarely taken." Aldub simply presents to us in an artful, values-based, laugh-filled way this basic or core need for relationship (the "medicine") which we all, humans, innately possess ... and long for to last forever.




Sunday, September 20, 2015

Secret Alliance and Disclosure In Infidelity Treatment

In marital therapy and affair recovery, "no more secrets" (total honesty and communication) is the rule.  To this end, the integrity of the process lies in viewing the "patient" as the couple being one unit, not any individual. It's therefore counter-therapeutic to collude or have a secret alliance with one spouse to hide a truth from the other.

The following case from authors/therapists, Deborah Corley and Jennifer Schneider (2002), is illustrative:

Martin, a 40-year old radio announcer, had a history of affairs in his first marriage and was now in the midst of the second affair of his second marriage. His wife, Marla, knew about the problems in his previous marriage, but believed that this behavior was ancient history and that Martin was as committed to monogamy as she was. Martin’s increasing guilt over this latest affair led him to therapy with Dr. Jim. When Martin had trouble resolving his ambivalence over ending the affair, and with his desire to come clean with Marla about it, Dr. Jim suggested including Marla in a couple of therapy sessions. 

 In session, Dr. Jim explained to Marla that her presence might help Martin as well as their relationship, without specifying exactly how. Instead, he asked Marla how she would feel if she learned that Martin was having an affair. Marla replied (as do many partners asked about such a hypothetical situation), “I’d leave him.” Based on this, Dr. Jim counseled Martin not to disclose his affair to Marla. Shortly thereafter, Marla became suspicious and Martin ended the affair and told Marla about it.
 
Marla, the betrayed wife, recalls:
“In addition to feeling betrayed by Martin and angry with him, I felt betrayed by and angry at Dr. Jim. Dr. Jim got me into therapy under false pretenses, in order to dishonestly obtain information for Martin about the likely consequences of disclosing the affair to me, then colluded with Martin in keeping the affair secret from me. He acted like he was trying to help me, but instead he hurt both Martin and me.”

Based on the betrayed wife's sentiment in the case above, she was hurt because the therapist (Dr. Jim) acted ignorant of the ongoing affair and thus became an accomplice of her husband to deceiving and lying to her.

Therapists Glass and Wright (1992) put it this way: "it is inappropriate to conduct therapy when there is a secret alliance between one spouse and an extramarital partner that is being supported by another secret alliance between the involved spouse and the therapist."

Clinicians recommend strongly that on-going affairs need to be disclosed. Author and therapist Karpel (1980) writes, “a current secret extra-marital affair by one spouse is, in most cases, highly relevant to the other spouse, because it involves major issues of trust and trustworthiness, deception, and a violation of reciprocity."

Monday, September 14, 2015

All Talk, No Action?

"All talk, no action." Does that sound or look familiar to you?

In therapy and counseling, it's senseless to complain about the worsening of one's problems, feelings, or relationships that stem from inaction. When a client comes because of depression, marital or family breakdown, I rejoice in the opportunity to be of help. A lot of times, clients initially express positive words to do recovery work. Then, a few steps out of range, they get caught up with life's worries. Entangled again in their wounds, they stop taking the needed healing steps even before they begin.

The relationship between Roberto and Minda in one of my counseling sessions demonstrated urgency. It was already getting so verbally and physically abusive between them. And they realized they needed to change or they'll destroy each other. What could they do? They needed to seek help, both of them -- Roberto for his alcoholism, infidelity, and sex addiction, and Minda for her uncontrollable anger outbursts, depression, and violence. So I laid down an emergency daily action plan and temporary weekly therapy schedule for them. Their response was, "Thanks, we'll do that." Weeks passed, and I never heard from them. Then one day, Roberto dropped me a note reporting that his wife had held a knife and was about to kill herself. Roberto and Minda failed to back up their words with action.


I once read what Matthew Henry wrote:  "Buds and blossoms are not fruit." Words we say are mere "buds and blossoms." Our action is the fruit. Words are empty without the fruit of follow-through. A main application in therapy and counseling can be to clients or counselees who speak words of willingness to change and heal their lives and relationships. Yet they stop or refuse to follow through with appropriate, consistent actions so they can get to the "other side."

Words and actions, they need to go together. This piece of truth applies to life in general and to us all as well. Life becomes whole when we follow with actions and in truth -- not in making empty promises or words that we might say to try to appear good.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

When Real Needs Sleep Inside Us

In the late 1960s, Dr. Oliver Sacks began working in a New York mental hospital. He treated patients in a ward called the "Garden." It was given that name because the patients existed as "human vegetables" to be fed and watered. They were viewed to have no brains, unthinking. Some were paralyzed, others showed bizarre behavior.


In his decades of study, Dr. Sacks made an astounding discovery:  the "Garden" mental patients were actually aware and conscious! They were suffering from severe Parkinson's disease, which disabled their functioning. But, when given strong medicine to treat their Parkinson's, Dr. Sacks found that the patients could actually think, feel, and observe from within themselves. They were capable of being involved with those around them in profound ways. Their mind was actually alive!

In 1972, Dr. Sacks chronicled his findings about the "Garden" in the mental hospital in his bestselling book entitled "Awakenings." Then, about 20 years after its publication, the book became a major film, starring Robert de Niro. Dr. Sacks' work became a classic, influencing the thinking of many doctors, scholars, and philosophical minds in the mental health and medical field.

To me, Dr. Sacks' classic discovery paints a portrait of the mental and emotional state of countless individuals. Like the patients in the "Garden" where Dr. Sacks worked, our needs can be lost somewhere, buried inside us. We can be emotionally disconnected. We feel no "connections" to the real world. We lack a genuine, deep, nourishing attachment to others. Needs sleep inside us.

What do you really need? Be aware that it can be so far underground that you've been missing it. You may have been traumatized, hurt, or abused for so long that your real need has died inside you somehow. It leaves you with no sense of your real need. No experience of "wanting" what you really need. And yet you know you need to regain the experience of your real need.

You can redeem that which is lost within. Go for it.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

How Well Do You Know Your Spouse?

A few weeks ago, I watched a psychological thriller. It's the latest 2015 version of the movie, "The Gift."

One psychological question stood out in the air as I reflected on the film:  "How well do you know your spouse?" It struck me because of its familiar thread in marital therapy sessions I'd have with couples every so often.

In the movie, husband and wife Simon and Robyn, surprisingly encountered Gordo. He was an acquaintance from Simon's past. At first, Simon didn't remember Gordo. But after a troubling series of mysterious visits and gifts from Gordo, a terrifying secret emerged about Simon's character. As Robyn learned what really happened between Simon and Gordo, she began to question how well she knows her spouse.

I'm reminded of Ainje and his wife who were married for 13 years. One time, in the bedroom, Ainje said he noticed his wife watching a pornographic film on TV and she asked him to stay on with it. He never knew in all their years that his wife will choose to view porn. 

Eventually, Ainje caught his wife having a secret email address where she'd engage in adulterous communications with an affair partner from a foreign country. After months of further lies and deceptions, Ainje's wife fled the country and lived in with her affair partner in a far away place. Ainje's heart was naturally heartbroken by the infidelity and betrayal of his wife whom he never completely knew.

Frank Pittman once said, "Marriage, like a submarine, is only safe if you get all the way inside."

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Am I A Sex Addict?

I am convinced that sex addiction is real. Both men and women, rich or poor, from every race or society - anyone can suffer from sex addiction. Unfortunately, we have media and culture that is self-indulgent. This then prevents the sex addict to be aware of or recognize his sickness early on.

Antonio, during our coffee talks, is sharing that he has attempted to stop his compulsive sexual behavior a number of times but without success. He obsessively thinks about sex and spends inordinate amounts of time masturbating, looking at internet pornography, paying prostitutes, and planning his next sexual encounters with multiple partners and strangers. He is so frustrated because even though he has intention to stop, he still continues to seek out sexual encounters in spite of negative or harmful consequences to his marriage and family.

Therapist and author Dr. Patrick Carnes, in a conference on sex addictions in 2010, says this:  "Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually related compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment. Sexual addiction has been called sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. By any name it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict’s life. Sexual addicts make sex a priority more important than family, friends and work. Sex becomes the organizing principle of addicts’ lives."

An essential part of sanity is being grounded in reality. In the sense that a sex addict distorts reality (e.g. woman as "object, not a person," sex for its own sake, "mere sex" devoid of relationship), sex addiction then can be viewed as one form of insanity or mental illness. It is a type of high risk behavior and the risk taking is part of the sex addict's high.  A sex addict is essentially ashamed of his behavior and therefore becomes a skilled liar. This then leads to further self-obsession which leaves no room for giving to others.

Treatment for sex addiction generally includes focusing on two main issues. The first is logistical arrangements for abstinence. This involves separating the sex addict from harmful sexual behavior and environmental reinforcements in the same way drug addicts need to be separated from drugs. The second and hardest issue is healing the psychological and emotional shame, depression, and compulsivity associated with the illness. This requires sufficient recovery work and time with a competent therapist to work through the internal roots of the addiction.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Healing in Routine

When recovering from illness or breakdown, it can be easy to feel bored by routine. Since one is developing new healthy habits to heal, one may feel trapped at a certain point. This is especially so when healing gets routine and a voice within protests against changing.

Professionally and personally, I've a special intolerance to sameness, endless repetitions, or daily confinement by a cubicle. I'd literally die of boredom or get crazy. It feels like a prison I'm in. And when I feel that, I'm prone to dislike myself and company, less effective in what I do. I'll cry for help.

Soren Kierkegaard once wrote that boredom is the "root of all evil." For him, boredom in routine can create a mental and emotional void that is frequently filled with reckless consumerism and addictions. When an addicted dysfunctional person is bored, he or she becomes most vulnerable to slip and fall, lapse and relapse. From saying "I can't" regarding rehabilitation, he or she starts saying "I won't." As time goes by, so is his or her patience.

Routine becomes lethal when you can't see a larger purpose for it. As one writer puts it, boredom can be caused by a "collapse of meaning." That's when boredom gets deadly. When you don't have a clear vision or meaning behind your routine, you perish. Without this vision or meaning, you're unable to reach beyond any limiting circumstance to keep going until you cross the finish line of your race.

There is "healing in routine." Healing in routine is mostly effected by a person's conception of what he's doing. When you have a purpose-driven conception of the work you do (e.g. recovery/therapy work, rehabilitation from addiction), you wait and excel because you find greater benefit and meaning even amid its seemingly endless routines.

Like a world-class runner, you simulate a perfect state of boredom for optimal performance. Your foot routinely pounds the pavement mile after mile. You move in the same way hour after hour. You pay attention to your body in the act of running. But you also remind your self to relax, hang loose, not tie up. You refuse to retreat to boredom or fantasy but instead stay with the discomfort. You have a goal to win.

And so can you when you choose to heal and get well.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Have You Been Infected With The "Affluenza Virus?"

When I met Walter, he was thirty-five years old. He worked for one of the country's billionaire companies and had been receiving six to seven figures income. Believe me, despite his affluence, he was very angry, paranoid, pessimistic, and dissatisfied with his accomplishments. He did appear to be a most emotionally distressed man on the planet.

In his bestseller book, "Affluenza," author Oliver James describes an epidemic of "affluenza virus" sweeping through the whole globe, especially the English-speaking world. James reveals how issues like consumerism, property fever; the obsessive, envious, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, lead to life-damaging choices and situations. "Affluenza virus" entails placing a high value on acquiring money and possessions, looking good in the eyes of people, and wanting to be famous and admired.


As I write this, I'm reminded of a young single mother who sought me for counseling. She was wealthy by most people's standards. She held a very lucrative, fascinating job. Living in unimaginable affluence and tech sophistication, she never seemed to have enough money. She'd often compare what she owned with what others own. She wanted more luxury in her life. Shopping or thinking what to buy greatly preoccupied her. When she saw me, she was having a nervous breakdown, not knowing where it's coming from.

Reflecting on this fast spreading virulent virus stalking the globe, I see that its deadly effects can make people prone to mental health disorders. Just as having the AIDS or HIV virus places you at risk of developing physical illness, infection with the "affluenza virus" increases your susceptibility to mental and emotional diseases such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, addictions, sociopathy, and personality disorders.

This is a serious, deadly epidemic. And it leads me to an unavoidable and potentially therapeutic prescription: to protect our mental health, we need to learn to pursue our needs rather than our wants.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Are You Like Coffee, Carrot, or Egg?

Today, I came across an insightful story you and I can learn from when going through hurtful times. It's about what I'd like to describe as Lola's question: "Are you like coffee, carrot, or egg?"


A young woman went to her "lola" (grandmother). She told about how her husband cheated on her. The devastation caused her to lose energy and hope. She wondered whether or not it's still worth living. She wanted to give up.

Her lola took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water on high heat. Soon the pots boil. In the first pot, she placed carrots. In the second, eggs. And in the last pot, she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. Then, after boiling, lola put each of them out and placed them in separate containers.

Her lola explained that the egg, carrot, and coffee faced the same trial: boiling water. Each reacted differently. 

The carrot went in strong, hard, and fighting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak, losing strength. 

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became stiff and hardened. 

The ground coffee beans were unique, however, lola explained. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

Turning to her granddaughter going through marital trauma, lola asked:  "Which are you? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond, dear?"

Think of it: Are you like coffee, carrot, or egg?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Quieter You Become, The More You Can Hear

Author Ram Dass once wrote, "The quieter you become, the more you can hear."

Those words teach me when I notice my self getting too busy. When I get caught in the treadmill of schedules, sessions, events. When I try to meet demands of deadlines ... just like you.

I need quietness. I cannot be a man that I need to be without moments of quietness. As Dr. Charles Swindoll put it, "Stillness is an essential part of our growing deeper as we grow older." Oh, how I long to enjoy it ... how I long to have more of it amid the world's noise. 

Each week, I am desperately concerned that I slow down and quiet down. Especially when there's agitation. Tiredness. Too much activities. Or, stresses in relationships. When I sit in silence and listen to God, much hurt and confusion fade away. Perspective and purpose, security and confidence, move right in to my heart and mind.

"... in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."  (Isaiah 30:15)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Can You Change The One You Love?

Do you have people you love who need to change their bad habits? Kick their addictions? Reform their character defects? Get their lives back?

I always have "crying" sessions. How many times I've worked with spouses, relatives, children, or friends who go downhill due to dysfunctional loved ones. They endure behavior that is toxic, abusive, and possibly deadly that threatens their relationships.

Do you know that you can change the one you love? Most experts will tell you that you can't change anyone. They say that you can't control other people's minds and hearts. Only they can. In one sense, it's true. But the problem is, if you're the suffering loved one, they ignore the "power" you have to change your spouse, child, relative, friend, in-law, etc!  You can do something.

It's a program that I've been trying to do in support of loved ones caring to change those they love who possess psychopathological behavior:  addictions, anger problem, sexual issues, anxiety, internet obsession, compulsive spending, noncompliance with needed rehabilitation, and more. Its an effort to remove and overcome the external dynamics and obstacles that stand in the way of motivating change.

Most importantly, you can change the one you love by discovering your number one source of power. Plug into it and you help your loved one heal and change for the good.

Yes, there is a way to change the one you love!  Find out about it ... before it's too late.