Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why Freud is Wrong

Beware of psychoanalysis. It can worsen or compound your problem.
Sigmund Freud founded a flawed system called psychoanalysis.
His theory leads us to conclude that we can excuse any aberration or disorder by blaming others.
Parents. Early influences. School. Religion. And, all others!
This denies personal responsibility.
Freud's way is often looking back into the past and releasing the repression. It stops there.
The result is permissiveness, blaming, and compounding of the problem.
I remember clearly one situation in which a married man justified his adultery with another woman because of his wife's past infidelity. He blamed his wife for his guilt!
That's classic Freudian stance.
Freud's flaw - its a dead end street.
It leads to denial of personal responsibility, increase of the problem, and inability to move forward with a better conduct.                        

Don’t be fooled. This is fake therapy. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

New Life

Mental health is like a change of name. A path to new life from the old that destroys one’s true identity.

Lately, there has been a call for a change of name of the Philippines to “Maharlika.” According to its proponents, there is something wrong with the name “Philippines.”

Former Filipino senator Eddie Ilarde explained:

“King Philip 2nd of Spain, the person we have been named after, was a symbol of ignominy — son of first cousins, burned alive thousands of Muslims, beheaded thousands of Protestants in Europe, married his first cousin and nieces, was excommunicated by Pope Paul 4th in 1552 for looting Rome, died of a sexually transmitted disease (syphillis), and when he died his body was covered with pus from foul-smelling wounds festered by hundreds of insects.”

The country was named after a mentally and spiritually disordered Spanish man!

The proposed new name to replace “Philippines” is the name “Maharlika,” which means a variety of things: noble and great, love, God, highest heaven, a great soul.

The contrast of these two terms - “Maharlika” and “Philippines” - is indeed very significant. And it makes life new and well.

Psychotherapy is a conversation towards a new life. After carrying a “bad name” that afflicts one’s well being, one is called to a time of healing and redemption.

As poet Alexander Pope would admonish,

“Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Not yet the last to lay the old aside.”

In Scriptures, the new life is pictured in this way:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Monday, February 11, 2019

“Psychosomatic:” Could You Be Imagining Your Sickness?

A psychologist reveals a striking fact in modern medicine. He tells us that modern medicine estimates  a very high 70 to 90% of all the sicknesses doctors treat are psychosomatic rather than physiological in origin.

The English word “psychosomatic” is a combination of two Greek words - “psuche” and “soma.” It describes a body (soma) and mind (psuche) link.

A body sickness is “psychosomatic” when it’s caused by maladjustment in the mental, emotional, and spiritual life of a person.

Psychosomatic sickness is real. It’s not merely imagined sickness. It stems from a soul malfunction - originating in the soul, not a bodily malfunction.

I remember one girl who came to see me with excruciating pains in her neck and chest. It’s intolerable pain that she couldn’t sleep and breathe.

In our sessions as she moved along, it became apparent that her problem was not physical, but mental. Especially so, after a medical check up that found no physiological cause for her pains.

She was blaming both her parents and God for her depressed state. Her loss of employment. Her self reproach. Her lack of confidence in living her life.

I processed with her to see that in her despair she’s blaming the very ones who were most concerned about her welfare. And, that this was making herself sicker in the process.

One time, after several meetings, I noticed a change about her before my eyes. She’s beginning to smile more often and see more clearly the reality she’s in.

The girl’s mental, emotional, and spiritual orientation gave her hope and energy. Her bodily malfunction started to subside faster as she became better in her soul.

As WHO’s Dr. Brock Chisholm famously put it, “Without mental health, there could be no physical health.”  Mental health and physical health are intimately linked.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Beautiful Days While Aging

Donna is an aging woman. She lives alone. Since her husband died 10 years ago, she remains in their house.

Her daughter lives in another country with her husband and kids. They constantly visit her, especially during her birthday and holidays.

I think Donna can be a sensitive and insightful voice for many older women - men too - living alone.

She says, “I love my home. I wake up here each morning and I’m happy that I have just one more day. I don’t know what to do first. What I pray for is to remain in this house as long as I can taking care of myself. I’m just so pleased to be here in this place of mine - writing, reading, quilting, braiding rugs, cooking. I love to cook.”

Of course, a most visible difference in aging women, like Donna, is physical. But those who thrive in this season of life are those who found beauty in their days.

I’m reminded of Alice Walker’s poem “Grace”:

Gives me a day
Too beautiful
I had thought
To stay indoors
and yet
Washing my dishes
My shelves
Throwing out
The wilted
Shrunken garlic
I discover
I am happy
To be inside looking out.
This, I think,
Is wealth.
Just this choosing
Of how
A beautiful day
Is spent.”

Every day in every way. Can be beautiful. It holds unique significance for the later years of life.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Being Well ... In Spite of Pain

English author, Charles Kingsley, writes:  “Pain is no evil. Unless it conquers us.”

In physical or psychological pain, it often comes unbidden. Unwanted. Unexpected. And even unnecessary.

Medicines don’t seem to work in Lisa’s body anymore. She’s getting more and more depressed and angry. Resisting it. Warring against it. Cursing it.

I asked her, “If you continue resisting and cursing the pain (even God), will that make it go away?” She pondered in silence.

In my own experience of pain, whether in the aftermath of betrayal or in the cuts of a scissor on my skin, the more I tried to push it away and get angry, the more the pain sharpens and intensifies.

Also, with my defiance and bitter feelings against the pain, the longer the healing takes place. There must be an alternative way to deal with the pain.

Accumulated clinical research shows that pain has a strong psychological component. Anxiety and panic, for example, are known to stimulate and worsen pain.

According to psychologist/author Dr. Gary Collins, chronic sufferers can often learn to control and some times eliminate their pain by “changing their attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors.”

One time, in a therapy session with a trauma victim, I started working on this with her family in emotional and relational pain.

They had to start learning the “acceptance of the pain” as it is and grow to bloom together as a family from that point onwards.

Being God-fearing, the family was reminded of one truth in Nahum 1. That “suffering and joy go together” because God is in the midst of the whirlwind and storm.

Even in pain, you can smile. You can be well ... in spite of the pain.

Check out Dr. Subida’s book, “SECRETS OF YOUR SELF.”

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Defeating Negative Emotions

Ordinarily, people get upset when faced with unpleasant or disturbing situations. It’s a common source for bad choices and moods in the game of life.

I remember playing as a varsity chess player representing my university in national competitions. There were times when I’d sink into negative thoughts, such as “My opponent is a master, I can’t win.”

In my mind, I played out a situation in which I miss good moves. But I was able to back up and imagine “I can do it. All it takes is calmness and focus. I’ll win.”

I noticed that when I practice and develop this habit in my mind, the idea becomes something I begin to accept as possible.

Such is a strategy of the so-called “rational-emotive imagery,” a mental game developed by Dr. Maxie Maultsky, a leading proponent of cognitive restructuring therapy.

My client, Ricardo, used this to prevent marital misery. One time, he asked his wife to have his car taken to the car wash for an important appointment the following day.

When he arrived home from office, the car was still not car washed. His wife didn’t do what he asked. It almost wrecked his evening!

But he thought rationally. He imagined himself feeling calm. Instead of wasting time placing blame, he told himself, “It’s not the end of the world. I’ll keep my wits about me and do what I can.”

In bed with his wife, he told her he’s upset in a respectful and “hearable” way. To which his wife responded with an apology and willingness to change.

The “rational-emotive imagery” is self talk that allows you to defeat negative emotions associated with disturbing or explosive situations.

It enables you to handle your self, relationships, and circumstances in rational, constructive, and healthy ways.

(Get Dr. Subida’s book, “Secrets of Your Self”)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Couple in Counseling

I told Mila and Bert what sounds obvious. For them to remember that “nobody changes overnight.” That there’s no magic.

Bert repeatedly fell back on old patterns of flirting with women. When they saw me, Mila caught her husband having a sexual affair with an office mate.

Naturally, she’s devastated. She’s asking, during counseling session, whether there’s a quick fix or pill to get relief from the pain.

Of course, both Mila and Bert eventually realized that such expectation is not life. Simply, it’s not reality.

But Bert had taken a big step this time. Whereas before he’d dodge and resist therapy, now he looked serious moving towards the very human, and at times so slow, process of learning to change.

Usually, in couples counseling, both need tons of patience. To avoid beating up on each other or themselves if one or both of them are not doing everything perfectly.

It’s a process, not a one-time event.

Reality is, both has contributions and patterns that need replacing to make it work. There’s no such thing as 100% one side to blame because it’s a relationship.

I’ve found that couples who heal best and faster are ones who progressively improve in communication.

It looks like these:

* loving, kind, and respectful
* avoids judgment
* immediate, honest, supportive

When couples start with this, they’d put into practice one of the most profound ways for moving away from “punishing,” especially in times of severe crisis ... and into some real dialogue.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Understanding Depression

Depression has always been a major problem to humanity. It continues to darken countless lives around the world since time immemorial.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a leading cause of disability among hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

In the Philippines, WHO records show 2,558 suicide cases attributed to depression and varied mental health disorders.

Suicides caused by severe depression are particularly on the rise among the youth.

Philippine Star cites that in 2013, a U.P. student in Manila killed herself for failing to pay tuition. Also, just months later, 2 students from Batangas took their lives over failing grades.

Just a few days ago, a known musician junped to his death from a condominium building. It had been strangely live-streamed and gone viral.

Understand depression. It’s a must before emergency comes.

And remember, there is a drugless, natural treatment for depression that goes to the “roots” for true, lasting recovery and wholeness.

If you’re depressed and in need of help, there is a 24/7 Hotline +63 9090833374 or online therapy/counseling at Skype: drangelosubida or FB messenger: drsubidapsychotherapy.

Help is available. There are people who care for you.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Thick Skin, High Road

Thin skin.

Melissa, a middle-aged wife, broods a lot about her celebrity CEO husband.

When he’s not able to pay attention to her, she overthinks. She feels she’s no longer his center. Thin-skinned.

She keeps asking,”Is he finding me unattractive? Mad at me? Did I say something wrong?”  Her gloomy thoughts made her unable to engage in normal daily activities.

Low road.

The way Orlando’s son blamed him about his divorce from his Mom hurt him. In response, he lashed out at him with angry curses.

Orlando missed understanding his son’s emotional wounds. The son was expressing his feelings longing for his father’s attention and help.

But the father’s low road reaction alienated them from each other. It only added to the pain they already have - individually and relationally.

Opposite: Thick skin, high road.

The “thick skin, high road” principle can be psychologically life-saving.

By “thick skin,” I mean you don’t take all things personally. You’re not the center of the universe. Life is not all about you.

All of us will experience being ignored, criticized, blamed, or rejected. Even by family, friends, or people who don’t like us.

To be “thick-skinned” requires at times reframing a person’s bad words or behavior. Remembering, not all is about you. So quit overly reacting to other people’s negativity and provocations.

By “high road,” on the other hand, you recognize when it’s time to step back instead of fighting for your side or argument. Fighting at times is not necessarily the right approach to win.

As The Muse in a Forbes article writes:

In business and in life, you won’t always get the last word in. But, sometimes it’s best to take the high road and be professional, show that you’re a team player, or avoid a tense situation. In the end, knowing when to let go is just as important as knowing when to stand your ground.”

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Addictions Never Fully Satisfy

Addicts never have enough.

A 30-year-old man is addicted to pornography and alcohol. For over 10 years of his young life, he has become progressively addicted to his chosen “drugs.”

In session, he heard himself saying to his wife, “I don’t know what I was thinking when I was doing it. I don’t seem to get enough.” He abstained for awhile but relapsed again.

His wife caught him installing a CCTV in the ladies’ room of their office and downloading its images of women into his laptop and smartphone.

A person who is genuinely addicted to a substance, activity, or person does not feel immediate relief if addiction stops for some time.

I’ve known of a chain smoker who quit smoking 15 years ago but still has a desire for smoking. After a long abstinence, he lately resumes heavy smoking more frequently than before.

Addictions in whatever form never fully satisfy. They tend to continue endlessly, even uncontrollably.

 Because the addiction itself is not the root need. It’s merely a symptom.

The root or real need in addictions is not for a drink or drug or activity. Or to be freed from a repetitive compulsion for a fix.

The root or real need is fundamental to the human heart. In most cases, it’s a deep hunger for love and acceptance.

Yesterday, I was counseling a chronic alcoholic young woman of only 22. All throughout our session, she’s sobbing.

It turned out that she’s addicted to alcohol because she’s still seeking, at a very deep inner level, attachment to and love of her parents that she never experienced in life.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Therapy for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Posting on social media this month, Hollywood’s superstar singer Lady Gaga wrote:

“I think it’s  clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time. If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self, I’d tell her to go through that therapy I have since then so that I could understand the confused post traumatic state that I was in.”

She was referencing to her experience during a past “dark time” in her life as a victim of sexual assault and abuse.

She said she should’ve sought therapy rather than deflect or avoid it at the time.

Many survivors of sexual assault or abuse suffer from a variety of mental health conditions.

Common are PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, panic anxiety attacks, addictions, and even personality disorders.

If you’ve been a victim, you don’t have to be alone. You can get help from a mental health professional.

It’s a safe, private therapeutic space to get help without judgment.

It does not make you sick, weak, or broken. It actually makes you stronger, and more prepared to move forward to a better life.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Wellness expands when you have this.

We have a fast-growing revolution.

In recent decades, tens of medical schools in the U.S. offer a spirituality course “Faith and Medicine” as part of the regular curriculum. Prestigious schools such as John Hopkins, Brown, Loyola, University of Chicago, among others.

The objective is to introduce medical students early in their education to the interconnections among spirituality, healing, and prevention.

In the field of clinical psychology, a major research university, Columbia University, blends psychotherapy and spirituality in its academic program.

This is pretty revolutionary for me. The word S was never mentioned when I was in premed and psychology graduate school myself.

In my years as a psychotherapist, I’ve witnessed that, for the faithless, healing is extraordinarily difficult and slow.

Atheists or the nominally religious don’t actually believe in anything beyond the visible. Even in themselves, despite evidences.

For those with intuition and spirituality, not just clinical therapy, they’re the ones who have clarity to draw on. They progress significantly, their wellness easily expands.

About this enduring mystery of our humanity, Albert Einstein said it well: “Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust - we all dance to the mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

I encourage you to investigate this relationship. Seek this before a health crisis hits ... somewhere down the road. It can spell a big difference in saving, healing, your getting truly well.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

New Has Come, Old is Gone

We all have another new year. And every time, an oppprtunity for new beginnings.

Words, thoughts, sounds, smells, places, times of day, relationships, work, anything, can become an index tab to create the new in our lives.

In creating new beginnings, my thoughts revolve around basing it on “stable, meaningful facts” as basic reference point. 

That is, we’re primarily guided by truth, especially inside our being. Without truth or “stable, meaningful facts,” we derail our self growth and success.

Yesterday, I was counseling a wealthy businessman who’s confused about what to do with his marriage and existence. At a point of breakdown, he longed for a fresh start.

Problem is, he had too many facts. He got smothered in data. Even strangier is, most true facts he knows were virtually useless!

He needed “meaning,” relevance in the facts he uses in his quest for new beginnings. 

I’m reminded of a colleague in a college where I once taught. He’s overeducated, with two Ph.Ds. Degrees he had - but not in data which concern practical and effective daily living and work.

Buying a computer book with 500 pages full of true data may be of little help in repairing your laptop. 20 pages may actually be enough to fully meet your needs.

New has come, old is gone. 

For a healthy new beginning to come, we see to it that we don’t permit insecure, meaningless, or overload of data to become established.

Doing this corrects false data and prevent unnecessary emotional pain and suffering.

One definition of sanity, as writer Charles Sturge put it:  “the ability to tolerate confusion and to recognize a stable datum.”

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Doing Your Self-Care

Therapists speak a lot about “self-care.” It’s being aware of your overall health condition and taking responsibility to take care of it.

It’s a serious matter.

Because if you don’t, you’ll surely break down. Sooner or later. And, you hurt the people you love or trying to serve.

Self-care is not merely physical or material. Such as the food you eat, the amount of sleep you get, or the exercise your body needs.

It equally means addressing and meeting your own psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. So, they don’t get in the way of your relationships and quality’s of life.

It’s honoring your pace physically so you can be fully present in the daily activities you do. It’s managing the use of your energy, so you’ll have room for what feeds your soul as well.

Your healing and wholeness requires that you pause long enough to feel your own life, assess your relationships, and work through necessary changes.

Ask some questions to begin thinking about your self-care:

• How often do you sleep well?

• What vegetables and fruits do you eat each week on a regular basis?

• How do you feel physically in general?

• What do you do when alone to get still and quiet your self?

• Who are the ones in your support system and how do you receive nurture from them?

• What do you do for fun and recreation?

• What activities do you have to feed your soul?

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Psychological Trauma and Religion

Religion is a powerful source for emotional healing. At the same time, it can also be a cause or trigger of psychological symptoms.

Sheila hated going to church. Since a child, she’s been forced by her overcritical father to embrace church attendance and their ideas about God.

She recalled receiving frequent spankings from him whenever she refused coming with them to church. And, her mother trying to shield her from her father.

She eventually developed anxiety attacks whenever her parents fought about this as well as about other matters at home.

When Shiela grew up and attended university, she joined the Communists working underground among students. She became an overzealous atheist and crusader.

In Psychology Today, Dr. Josh Gressel writes in his article “When Religious Beliefs Are Psychological Symptoms”:

“ ... when are religious beliefs a problem, from a psychological perspective? ... I think there are two instances when my help is needed. The first is when someone has suffered some kind of psychological trauma that has created  severe distortion in how they view the world and God. The second is when someone is capable of a deeper and broader understanding of life and the world but doesn’t yet know it and so grips tightly to a more narrow religious worldview than is healthy for him or her.”

One goal of psychotherapy or emotional healing is to strike a balance between extremes. One is bigoted ignorance, and the other is extreme intellectual skepticism.

And there’s also the matter of healing one’s pain from childhood experiences so his or her experiences of God shifts realistically and perceptively.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Sometimes When We Touch

Christian psychiatrist and author Dr. Scott Peck defines mental health as the “unswerving commitment to reality at all costs.”

That applies to love and romance, among others. Without reality, relationship is an illusion.

Before day one of 2019, I came across a “reality song” while sipping coffee at Old Manila. In the background, I suddenly heard a familiar old sound being played out.

It’s Dan Hill’s old 1977 hit song, “Sometimes When We Touch.”

Incidentally, the “reality” song was also sang by Filipino world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao with the singer/writer Dan Hill himself in a visit to the Philippines.

You ask me if I love you
And I choke on my reply
I'd rather hurt you honestly
Than mislead you with a lie
And who am I to judge you
On what you say or do?
I'm only just beginning to see the real you

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

Romance and all its strategy
Leaves me battling with my pride
But through the insecurity
Some tenderness survives
I'm just another writer
Still trapped within my truth
A hesitant prize fighter
Still trapped within my youth

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

At times I'd like to break you
And drive you to your knees
At times I'd like to break through
And hold you endlessly

At times I understand you
And I know how hard you've tried
I've watched while love commands you
And I've watched love pass you by
At times I think we're drifters
Still searching for a friend
A brother or a sister
But then the passion flares again

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

On New Year 2019 celebration with my “love” Nhorie, I sang it to her as our new theme song. Both of us felt that we cannot escape our togetherness with what’s in the song!

We found out that we cannot celebrate what we have in our relationship without celebrating our reality together.

“You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Shallow or Deep?

We live in a world full of “shallow relationships.”

People hide. A lot of it, high-speed modern day life as well as internal forces can drive us to live in isolation and loneliness.

You need not be geographically or physically alone to experience the shallowness. Even in the midst of people, you can feel so lonely.

If you ask Rick, his being part of a church men’s group for over 4 years confronts us with one indictment: the lack of depth in the “community” he joined in.

The group leader focused on intellectual talks each week. During holidays, they took breaks and never celebrated together. Much less, visited and known each other’s homes and families.

In session, Rick lamented about the shallowness in his “community.” The larger world of deep personal relationships took second place there for years.

They had the appearance of fellowship, but were actually missing each other’s “person.”

Is it any wonder that suicide is epidemic? Suicides are those whose “shallow relationships” become a place for fondling depression and low self worth.

That smoldering loneliness of “shallow relationships” cries out,

“Do I matter? Why do I have life? Am I producing anything that has real value and meaning?”

Indeed, having “shallow relationships” is emotionally expensive.

Creating and nourishing close personal relationships provide us overall health, wholeness, and meaning in life.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Emily was very gifted. Yet she lived and died largely as a recluse.

She  produced  lot of art (poems) in isolation. But they got hidden!

It must had been so traumatic to Emily’s self esteem to be rejected by a publisher.

She sent 4 poems to T.W. Higginson who sent the poems back as “unworthy of publication.”

Still, Emily continued producing her art. She overcame rejection and criticism by producing hundreds of her poems during the next decade and final years of her life.

After her death, T.W. Higginson changed his mind and became editor and publisher of Emily Dickinson’s first four volumes of her work.

Alas, only after she’s gone! I wonder what a boon it may had been to Emily’s self esteem if he changed his mind while she was alive.

Emily knew her authentic self. She was not discouraged to celebrate more her gift despite rejection during her lifetime.

Somewhere inside her “being” and productive aloneness was the confidence to keep her writing.

Henri Nouwen once told of a story of a carpenter who walked the woods with his apprentice.

Passing by a beautiful oak tree, the carpenter asked his friend, “Do you know why this tree is so old, stately, and beautiful?”

“No ... why?” asked the apprentice.

“Precisely because it’s useless,” the carpenter responded.

“If the tree had been considered useful, it would have been cut and processed long ago. Since it was only beautiful, it stands alone, welcoming the weary to its shade.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Bibliotherapy

It’s Christmas season again.

In Iceland, Christmas gift giving is unique. Special. Books are traditionally exchanged as gifts there. This is what I saw and learned from Writer Sid’s blog post below.

Books are real gifts. They bring health and wholeness. For the weary, lonely, and downtrodden, including during Christmas seasons, books can be a source of solace and wisdom.

As Alvin Toffler put it, “A library is a hospital for the mind.”

Depending on a person’s context, I’ve at times read specific passages in a book to depressed clients. For the purpose of healing and perspective. It proves to be an effective natural anti-depressant.

“Bibliotherapy,” psychotherapists and mental health professionals would call it. It employs an individual’s relationship with content found in books and poetry.

First coined by Samuel Crothers in 1916, even dating back to the Middle Ages, bibliotherapy uses books to change behavior and reduce internal distress.

“Thank you doc, I got it from Philippians 4:7,” said a client Peter, who recovered from severe depression, addiction, and marital separation reading the Daily Bread.

Books heal. It’s medicine if you choose correctly and well.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

J-Lo’s Act

While having my morning coffee, I saw J-Lo in The Philippine Star. She’s into her “Second Act,” her first film in three years.

She learned that in show business, you can’t just sit around waiting for opportunities. You create the opportunities your self.

J-Lo said, “I’ve been offered a couple of movies over the past couple of years but unless it’s  the right thing and I get the right types of opportunities, I’d rather create them.”

“We don’t force things, but don’t wait around either ... if no one is giving us the stories that we want to tell, then we’ll create them ourselves,” she continued.

That’s self-actualizing Mental Health. You take responsibility over authoring your own life. As my favorite writer Jeff Goins put it, “Pick your self. Don’t wait for others to pick you.”

In recovering from trauma to loss to depression and low self esteem, the same life-giving healing principle applies as well.

You don’t just wait and sit around. You create your own opportunities to survive ... and thrive. You take responsibility in taking action to heal and be whole.

Once that’s done, you’re on your way. There’s simply no other way, my friend.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

When Tiredness Causes Emotional Problems

Weary. Exhausted. Little or no more vitality. No drive or ambition. Waning energy. No desire for jokes. A sense of helplessness.

Translate: TIREDNESS. And when it’s chronic, it can automatically produce all sorts of emotional problems.

Negative thinking. Boredom. Confusion. Despair. Hopelessness.

She’s been severely tired for so long. Belinda’s chronic conditio was directly caused by overexertion, hardwire, and going without sleep working in the BPO and having marital/family problems.

Whatever she did feels to be a burden. As a result of the tiredness and bad living habits, Belinda at 30 suffered from multiple medical illnesses and mental health problems.

In session, Belinda complained about her life - unaware that she’s causing much of it by being too tired to enjoy being alive.

There are practical solutions to life-damaging tiredness. Here are some:

•  Get wise on self care, develop good living habits.

•  Sleep well enough, even getting extra sleep to pay back deficits.

•  Review your food habits, eat healthy, take vitamins and supplements when necessary.

•  Change pace, such as in work and other schedules.

•  Shift career to follow your “bliss,” to do what you really like to do, making a life rather than making a living.

•  Seek therapy and counseling to know the roots of your emotional problems and heal essentially.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Being Is Bigger Than Doing

I play chess. It’s  like life.

Once, in my younger years, I was a city and university chess champion. I fought and even beat masters. At the same time, the game served as therapy to me of some sort. 

One principle that chess taught me is on “being” and “doing.” The king on the chess board symbolizes the nature and dynamic of this life principle.

The King is the most important piece in chess. You checkmate it, the game is over. 
Yet a mystery is its limited movements. It only moves one square at a time. And it can be vulnerable to attacks. 

There seems to be a gap between the King’s ultimate value and its capacities on the chess board. Where then lies its power and value?

It lies in its BEING, not in its DOING. The KING expresses tha principle that BEING is primary while DOING is just secondary.

We live in a world where doing is paramount. The main focus is very much on performances  and productions that we ignore the very being of our lives, relationships, and world. 

A client, Bons, once told me that he experiences happiness in gambling, drinking, womanizing, and making lots of money. He treats his marriage as secondary to all of these. 

Whenever he saw me, his marriage was breaking down. A situation which is not surprising at all. Despite his professed love for his wife and family, he simply felt powerless to stop “doing” what he’s doing.

The mystery reveals itself in Bons life. It’s  the mystery of what happened to his “being.” Something in his BEING “holds” what he’s DOING. That something is a major key to his recovery and wholeness.

There is no doing without being. The being comes first before the doing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Vanquish Your Enemies

A healing life requires positivity. Courage, hope, faith. But before you acquire that, you need to bite the bullet first. To vanquish your psychological enemies.

Usually, these enemies take the form of negative voices. They live inside the head. You must recognize them before you can defeat them.

I’m thinking of picking up some of these enemies inside the head. See if you can recognize them, especially when they apply in your life.

•  “I’m no good.”
•  “What’s the use? I’ll just give up.”
•  “Pity me. Poor me!”
•  “Why me?”
•  “I’m hopeless, powerless.”
•  “I don’t deserve anything.”
•  “I’m never enough.”
•  “I’m destined to be like my father/mother.”
•  “I hate my self.”

I suppose you can add more to my list. Fill in the blanks more.

Expose these enemies. These are false, life-damaging beliefs. Hold nothing back. Go straight for the kill. Samurai it. In quick deadly blows.

Remember, they tend to come back. So you need to be ready with your sword. Don’t buy into the fear again. Keep doing battle ... till they disappear.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Must Illness or Trauma Fail You?

In Western medicine, healing is equated only with health. Superficially, it sounds common sense. Logical. Obvious.

But from a deeper or more intuitive perspective, that’s only partially true. Just a fraction of reality. It’s an incomplete view.

What I’ve found is, there is healing even in the most difficult, trying, wounding times of our lives. That is, if you can see it as it is.

Even though I’m a psychotherapist, seeing those individuals who seek help tests my beliefs about what heals. Must illness or trauma fail you? I think not.

For instance, a couple I once saw not too long ago was on the brink of separation and suicide. There was infidelity on the part of the husband.

But they did love each other.

At first, I cringed at the sight of them hurting each other so badly during session. It’s a first time they’d truly learned to express their feelings to each other.

After a couple of years in therapy, they blossomed. Individually. Maritally. I’d not seen a happier couple than them!

Healing at times entails going through depression. Experiencing deep pain. Or, surviving trauma, failure, and loss.

Undeniably, in our lives, a greater wisdom can intercede when we directly go through things. When we’re open to healing and wholeness taking place in the most unsuspected ways.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Defining You

In varying degrees, we tend to define our selves in vulnerable places. Temporal locations, such as our physical health, our occupational status, our money, and so on.

During times of inevitable loss, we may therefore break down. That’s when we’ve used or relied on those shaky locations for our self-definition.

A client, Vic, retired from being CEO of a company he founded after undergoing brain surgery. He went through deep depression. Once his title was gone, he felt useless or don’t matter any more.

Sure, his board members who took over the company still consulted him. They remained happy to engage with him socially. Yet for Vic it was a difficult adjustment.

Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Peck, in his book “Psychological Developments in the Second Half of Life,” wrote:

“Some people cling to physical powers, both as their chief ‘tool” for coping with life, and as the most important element in ... their self-definition. Since physical powers inevitably decline, such people tend to grow increasingly depressed, bitter, or otherwise unhappy as they grow older.”

It’s dangerous to rely on our physical powers for self-definition. The same upon our occupation or business. It too falls away in time.

This temporal self-definition is what I want to address always in therapy. It does not serve us.

Friday, November 23, 2018

When Religion Harms

Religion can be a drug. An addiction. It has the power to make you lose touch with reality. Especially with false religion and leaders, your self can be damaged.

Of course, I’m speaking in ordinary sense when using the word “religion.” The world is full of religions. You can’t miss that. 

But, there’s another sense I mean when referring to “religion.”

"What's your religion," a doctor asked a patient. "I have none," said the patient. 

Later, the doctor told the interns he's supervising: "Find out your patients' religions even if they say they don't have any."

It's inaccurate to say that one doesn't possess religion. 

Even if he doesn't consider himself religious by belief in God or church membership, he or she has one.

Everyone has a religion. It’s an explicit or implicit set of beliefs and ideas about the essential nature of life.

There is, among many, the ....

Religion of materialism or money.

Religion of science.

Religion of politics.

Religion of sex.

Religion of education or intellectualism.

Religion of philantrophy.

Religion of career or work.

Religion of hedonistic pleasure.

Religion of selfishness.

Plus ... much more!

See, everyone has a religion. A person's religion or worldview is at best incompletely unconscious. He or she is often unaware of how he or she views life.

In healing broken lives, a significant part of the cure is revising diseased religion or worldview. There's no other way.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

When There is Need to Confront

Confrontation is scary. For most people, it is. They ordinarily equate it with screaming, violence, or power trips.

Yet it’s not about war. It’s about expressions of caring and clarity. That’s why I call it “carefrontation.”

“But I’m worried he’ll get too upset if I confront him,” said Ruth whose husband had been compulsively lying to her about finances and women in the office.

But as she learned to face her fears and feelings in therapy, instead of avoiding or holding them in, she got stronger. She found her calm center.

That’s when she became ready for the next step - carefrontation and clarity. She spoke to her husband when they’re both undistracted and open.

Ruth told her husband 3 things:  what truths she discovered, how it has made her feel, and what she wants from him now. That basic outline kept her stay focused.

Once she chose what she wanted, what she will and won’t accept, and what her conditions are for continuing the relationship, she fully expressed them to her husband.

Expression through carefrontation is an important part of healing and wholeness. Not just individually in our self, but in our relationships as well. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Being Still

Henry David Thoreau loved long walks. It’s when he got to be most still from his best true self within. He writes:

“Nature never makes haste; her systems resolve at an even pace ... Why then should man hasten as if anything less than eternity were allotted for the last deed? The wise man is restful, never restless or impatient. He each moment abides where he is, as some walkers actually rest the whole body at each step ....”

Only when you’re still and calm can you see clearly within your self. When you’re agitated or rushing, you can’t see things for what they really are.

My client Lita found her calm center in meditation and prayer. Daily, she draws from that deep well of the Word as she prays and meditates.

She also does that while taking long walks in nature. By walking, she’s also able to get a touch of stillness for self nourishment.

With practice, you and I can develop the same quality of stillness consistently in our life. Such discipline opens the door to greater alignment with the core of our being.

Especially when times of loss or crisis comes, we need this discipline and ability. Amid stones thrown into our clear pool of water, we know how to calm the waters so we can see again clearly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

When Feeling Trapped

Martin feels trapped. For years, he feels “forced” by his parents into psych wards and brain drugs for his depression. In and out, he is getting too tired.

Expression is particularly difficult for Martin. During our sessions, his Mom in particular bears the brunt of his wrath. Yet at the same, he shows care for her.

In his mental attempt to escape his current situation - torn between love and hate - Martin shifted to ambivalence. An expression and attitude of indifference.

Because of this, the still capable part of Martin remains untapped. He resigns to his plight, feeling trapped by the very people he loves the most.

The last time I heard about him from his Mom, he was again taken inside a psych facility. He was found sitting in a corner of the airport, refusing to go home, that he had to be “forced” again.

Ambivalence, the sense of being trapped, is especially dangerous. It’s a common precipitate cause of lingering depression and mental disorders. 

Getting aware of faulty mental values and taking self-responsibility are leads to remedy ambivalence. Ways to express one’s self out of the trap.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

All You Need

I don’t know if you’ve seen the film “Dead Man Walking.” A brutal convicted murderer seeked out a nun as counselor. He requested that she be with him when he dies.

Unrepentant until before his day of execution, he received strength from the nun. He finally admitted to his crimes, taking the nun’s compassion in.

In the end, he said to the nun, “Thank you for loving me.” At the moment, he’s to be lethally injected, the nun asked him to look straight at her, saying “I want the last thing you see in this world to be the face of love.”

As a doctor, I do my best to help people heal and save life. But when death and terminal situation comes without accomplishing it, I’ve no choice but yield.

Without exception, all we need is love. True love to find our true self. Love that illuminates both life and death. It’s a most elusive gift for a lot of us.

Preventing any illness, trauma, or loss from destroying our self is to get to the bottom of this love that’s all we need. 

Search your inner self. Shape your internal and external experiences of rich, genuine love in your life. Go for what is everlasting. No one can determine this for you.

 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts, through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Music and Moods

It’s usually demonstrated that our feelings are influenced by our mind. What our mind conceives can produce certain types of moods.

But music seems to furnish an exception. Like drugs, it’s able to influence our feelings while bypassing the mind!

Just recently, the capacity of music to affect moods was something I experienced. After hearing the song “I’ll Never Love Again” by Lady Gaga from the film “A Star Is Born,” I noted an effect on my moods.

It brought memories of my past heartbreaks. And, reminder of my fast promise not to love again amid my grief and sadness. The music temporarily brought me out of my reality-based mind.

Music has power. It can be used to construct (life-giving) or destruct (death-giving). Quite often, both are true and possible.

I’ve learned in one study that as many as 30,000 people who commit suicide each year are into rock, heavy metal, or other music that depressed their emotions.

In Scripture, we read the story of musician David. He was once called by King Saul who was tormented by an evil, depressive spirit.

When David came to play on his harp with sweet music, it had a lifting effect on King Saul’s moods and perspective.

Let our self be filled with music, but not just any kind of music. It has to be wholesome, uplifting, and inspiring to usher us to do what gives life.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

What Makes Recovery Difficult

As a therapist, I’m privy to people’s most secret, hidden selves. My work has been to take on their pain and collect the pieces after trauma, breakdown, or loss.

At times, I see the most perverse, distorted, or even evil parts of human nature and existence. Cruelty, deception, manipulation, abuse, conflict, betrayal.

Therapy and recovery becomes most difficult and stressful with certain characteristics.

• borderline personality, sociopathic/psychopathic personality etc
• threats of suicide
• chronic depression
• medical illness (strokes, brain disorder etc)
• rejection of personal responsibility (“you fix me,” blaming)
• hostile and argumentative
• impatience and impulsivity (“fix me quick”)
• substance addicts and abusers
• shallowness (literal, concrete, unable to access or express internal states)
• fear of intimacy (avoidant, seductive)
• ignore boundaries
• want something that cannot be given

These represent only a partial picture of what can make recovery specially difficult.

Only when a client and I are able to identify and explore can we hope for progress,

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Doing Your Self Portrait

As with art, you can do self portrait. You may find your colors and patterns among your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

I’ve questions below that you can answer to help do your self portrait.

Here’s a tip: take notice of any of your answers that carry an emotional charge. It’s a piece in your canvass to help you accurately paint your self portrait.

•  What personal qualities do I have that I most like or am the proudest?

•  What emotions do I like to experience more but still find elusive?

•   What behaviors and feelings did my parent say most approved of in me when I was a child?

•   What personal qualities do I most love in others?

•   What personal characteristics do I hate the most in others?

You might find it helpful to gather your thoughts on these questions in a journal. In that way, you help your self better mentally picturing your self portrait.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be,” as May Sarton writes and puts it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Maturity, Any One?

Who is a mature person?

One way of finding out who is mature is to contrast it with the characteristics of the immature. For this post, I feel like giving you a little rundown.

A mature person ... is growing and open to new ideas and experiences.
An immature person ... is stuck or stagnant in personal growth.

A mature person ... acts rather than only talking or daydreaming.
An immature person ... acts indecisively and passively, paralyzed by fears.

A mature person ... has self confidence.
An immature person ... behaves defensively and suspiciously.

A mature person ... behaves in accepting, kind manner.
An immature person ... behaves in critical, judgmental, and controlling manner.

A mature person ... is reasonable and sees reality as it is.
An immature person ... attacks reality, logic, or common sense.

A mature person ... respects the boundaries and dignity of others.
An immature person ... violates the boundaries and dignity of others.

A mature person ... focuses on one’s change and responsibility for self behaviors.
An immature person ... focuses on blaming and forcing others to change.

A mature person ... can operate within reasonable limits and boundaries.
An immature person ... cannot operate within reasonable limits and boundaries.

A mature person ... is humble, sure of his value as a person.
An immature person ... is excessively proud or arrogant, driven by insecurities.