Saturday, March 28, 2020

Prayer and Psychology

There are famous research and empirical studies that show a close relationship between prayer and psycho-physiological healing.

People do heal through prayer. It can heal psychologically and spiritually. It can heal physically. It’s both internal and external.

We normally think that prayer is “doing.” But in essence, it is not. It is “being.”

Effective prayer is prayer in “being.”

Jerry was a psychotherapy patient in one well known study on the psychological effects of prayer. 

According to psychology researchers, Parker and St. John’s, in their book “Prayer Can Change Your Life: Experiments and Techniques in Prayer Therapy,” there is a maladaptive way in praying that reinforces personal problems. 

They cited the case of Jerry who used “rote prayer.”  

He “ ... reiterated his guilt and his ‘wormy’ feeling, constantly asking for forgiveness which he never took. His concept of God was a faraway Being which increased his feelings of dependency and inadequacy because he could never be sure He was listening ... and for 271 evenings straight he told God and himself what a failure they made as a team.”

How does effective prayer look like then?

1.  It has to be REGULAR.

2.  It has to be an ACT OF SURRENDER.
     - We pray with the attitude of giving up our 
          desires and demands, seeking only to do
          God’s will.

3.  It has to be POSITIVE.
     - Affirmative statements rather than desperate 
        begging or negative statements.

4.  It has to be in expectant FAITH.
     - Receptive and visualizing and trusting God to 
        answer our prayers.

Jesus said, 

“Do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do ... for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6: 7, 8)

The Lord tells us to pray for our needs. But, not use a lot of words or rote prayer.

He looks at our heart, more than our words or actions, when we pray.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Strong During Pandemic

Today, I shared over at FB a message on how to mentally prepare for a pandemic and how to survive the quarantine (without going crazy!).

Isolation and home quarantine can have real emotional and psychological “side effects.”

We can lose our mind getting stuck at home!

Let me share MY “enhanced” Little List here to you: HOW NOT TO GO CRAZY WHILE STUCK AT HOME IN QUARANTINE!

Feel better when you’re prepared!

1.  I find and read and listen to real facts, not fake news or fake cures.
2. I limit exposure to social media news on Covid-19 that feeds people’s fears. 
3. I read books on topics I’m passionate about.
4. I write. Do my “art.”
5. I keep in touch or get updated with our adult children, family members, making sure they’re safe.
6. I talk to people thru Skype or fb messages, texts, or phone calls.
7. I work my profession at home digitally.
8. I ignore the hype, fake media, or misinformation in the news.
9. I exercise.
10. I do my daily Bible devotions and prayers.
11. I take proper health precautions. 
12. I eat and drink what’s healthy. 
13. I guard and monitor my sleep supply.
14. I have daily “dates” with my wife.
15. I get my mind off of what’s happening and not let it consume me by focusing on other things, like a new project, planning etc 
16. I keep a routine of productivity as much as I can.
17. I think of ways to be of help to others while quarantining.
18. I savor the richness of my black coffee in the morning. 
19. I feel the warmth of sunbeam.
20. I watch people and their activities in the pool area outside our window.
21. I watch my wife’s loving and caring characteristics. 
22. I try to clean or fix things around our condo unit (my wife may be monitoring!).
23. I work out intricate plans for revenue streams, investments, or rehab.
24. I note the crystal-clear blue of the sky.
25. I look for even the “smallest experiences” to appreciate.
26. I take my daily vitamins.
27.  I think of life while playing chess with foreigners in cyberspace.
28. I listen to music or symphony that soothes as an escape to another world.
29. I benefit from a distance every encounter I have with other humans in the grocery or drug store.
30. I remember the world’s leaders and health workers in prayer for favor, wisdom, and salvation.
31. I feel the bananas, lemons, and ginger wake up my taste buds.
32. I appreciate the smiles and caring concern of the guard in our lobby taking my temperature.
33. I remember my childhood while watching the little girls and boys playing around our area.
34. I appreciate the beauty of green leaves of trees or plants and the flowers in the garden.
35. I take time to laugh and have fun.
36. I focus my mind on God, not on Covid.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 
(1 Tim 4:8)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Do you want strength that does not fade away?

Aging is a landscape that no one can escape. Many of us fear it with all the trouble it brings.

In our 20s or 30s, we think we’re invincible. But in the decades that follow, our bodies tick away in progressive decline.

In the present-day war against the Covid-19 global pandemic, its the elderly who are the most hit. It happens to be so predictable, developmentally speaking.

That’s because, aside from the already deadly virus itself, most who are aging have pre-existing illnesses that compromise the body’s overall immune system or medical recovery.

Science can not insure long-lasting physical health. It can only delay further aging, sickness, and death.

But while it’s true that the older we get, the worse we get physically, it doesn’t have to be that way - psychologically and spiritually. 

Believe it or not, it’s possible to get even much better with age!

Your mind can be better and stronger. When you actively use it daily, you’ll see the health payoffs - both physically and non-physically, now and later.

Most importantly, spiritually, you can be in the “best” pink of health. The older you get, much better can you become in this area.

Although our “outward shell” is gradually decaying as the years go by, we still can be renewed each day. God’s Word and prayer give strength that will not fade away.

Can You See the Invisible?

Invisible. Something so strong in the invisible is moving around and felt by us these days.

More than anytime in our lives, we need to be able to see the invisible in the current worldwide pandemic. 

Things usually get worst before they get well.

It can be easy for us to miss the promise or blessings behind our present sufferings. Even globally.

Our health. Our economy. Our family. Our future.

What do you see, my fellow traveler, what do you see?

I have one counsel for you - start learning to see the invisible.

You can not always control what goes on outside. Our circumstances, and so forth.

But you can control what goes on inside. And that includes the power to see the invisible in the outside.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Nothing external to you has any power over you.”

That is, only if you can see the invisible, may I say.

You do not lose heart when you can see the invisible.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison ...”

“ ... while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 

— 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Monday, March 23, 2020

Two Things

According to John Hopkin’s University Covid-19 global tracker, as of March 22, 2020, there are now 308,000 people who have contracted the virus worldwide, and around 13,000 died from it. 

In the Philippines, there is a total of 380 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 25 deaths. 

Carlo Navarro, the first Filipino Covid-19 survivor who successfully recovered, shared with CNN, 

“It was not the physical pain that is frightening but the psychological effect that made it difficult.”

Depending on how you choose to measure “psychological,” research confirms the link of attitudes and feelings and thoughts to one’s  “physical” healing and wellness.

I realize that we cannot control or alter some circumstances that shape us. But we can affect the way we respond to them and live in the present.

During this current global pandemic crisis, there is no middle course. Ignorance and inaction will cause the virus to spread faster.

We need to know. We need to take action. Both. One can hardly get through the hard times ahead without drawing upon both knowing and acting.

In turn, these two flow from a healthy renewal and strengthening of one’s mind and spirit.

Hope “To Be”

Nowadays, we need doses of HOPE. Lots of it.

Hope transcends imagination. Inspiring hope is a means of empowering ourselves to envision quality of life while living with a health problem.

Our focus is inspiring hope in people who are feeling desperate or weak in the face of a serious global pandemic medical crisis.

I’m thinking of this frontliner Filipino doctor, Dr. Greg Macasaet, an anaethesiologist, who was seriously infected by the Coronavirus -  the very disease he’s fighting among his patients. 

He texted, updating loved ones and brethren of his progress ...

“Good evening, my beloved ... ! The turn of events is just no longer in my favor. The feeling you get, aside from extreme pains all over, difficulty of breathing and as if all life is being sucked from your body! They’ll be putting cutdown lines and central tubes on me ... if they intubate me and place me on ventilator, then the game is almost over!”

Dr. Greg died only hours after that. The hospital did its very best to get him well and cured. But he still got worsened.

Understandable despair occurred when his cure didn’t happen. And so were the disappointments and griefs of family and those who cared for him.

Before his death, when it became clear that it’s beyond control and irreversible, the good doctor expressed being “liberated” from the anguish.

He used his freedom to work toward the deeper dimensions of his existence. In the remaining moments of his life, he focused on being a more developed fellow human.

Author G. Marcel, in “Homo Viator,” emphasized that “TO HOPE” is different from “TO HOPE THAT.”

“TO HOPE” transcends all possible frustrations and outcomes because of an inner security in BEING.

“TO HOPE THAT” puts persons to vulnerable insecurity because of unmet expectations in reality according to a defined timetable.

Saturday, March 21, 2020


I’m at a loss for words. The world is vulnerable.

With the present escalating crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, vulnerability evokes painful feelings. Both for the sick or dying and the well. 

One time, a 50-year-old wife described to me how she soothed her husband who went through a brain surgery. Her husband would wake up and cry in fear during the nights prior to surgery.

“It’s going to be ok, honey. I’m here,” she’d repeatedly  reassure her husband days before and during the approaching moments of his operation. 

Her “comforting words” to his vulnerability and weakness helped him through the very depths of disease and helplessness.

During these times of disease vulnerability, how I wish we can also mean those words especially to those who got sick. 

Fact is, mostly, people tend to avoid or abhor those stricken by the virus. 

Still, I believe that deep within we mean those comforting words to each other. We just do not understand them. But we mean them. Perhaps when the pandemic is over, we’d find out what we mean.

In “Life Against Death,” author Norman Brown observes, 

“What the child knows consciously, and the adult unconsciously, is that we are nothing but body ... Life is of the body and only life creates values; all values are bodily values.”

In moments of vulnerability, we do tend to return to the basic truths of life and who we really are.

“When our primitive needs move to the forefront of daily life, we are thrust back into dimensions of ourselves that may have been out of reach for years,” as writer Wendy Lustbader put it insightfully.

Not Afraid

The recent days made it obvious how fearful the escalating coronavirus global pandemic can be for most people. 

There is so much going on. And so much anxiety, uncertainty, and stress about our safety and the future. 

It feels like the whole world is evolving into something.

Anu Asnaani, a clinical psychologist focused on fear-based anxiety disorders, observes,

 “To make matters worse, you don’t have much control over the situation ... Control and certainty are at the core, from an evolutionary standpoint, of what has kept our species alive... When we are uncertain, we take precautions to make sure we aren’t killed or we don’t die.”

As of this writing, I’m in a private home self quarantine for several straight days now since the government-imposed lockdown of the metropolis. 

Together with my wife in our condo unit, we take one day at a time. We pray. We bond. We work at home. We clean around. We exercise, eat healthy foods. We keep updated.

Experts say “overloading on information” while in quarantine/isolation can be one effect of over- worrying. 

The coronavirus pandemic can make us feel stuck inside with little to do but keep scrolling on Facebook, Twitter, or newsfeeds ... closely zoomed in on the potential threat!

Let’s keep the balance. While taking steps to protect ourselves and families, let’s beat the pandemic fear spiral together. 

Reducing our fears and anxieties not only makes our difficult time bearable. It also makes our health - mental, physical, and spiritual - stronger. 


We beat our fears with facts and faith.

As author/minister Craig Groeschel put it, “We, Christians, are not like the world. We’re not afraid!”

He says that true Christians are “NOT AFRAID” in 3 ways:

•  We live by faith, not by fear;
•  We are sacrificial, not selfish; and
•  We shine the light, not hide it.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Prepare to Finish Well

Have you blown it? Your life, with many dismal mistakes, failures, or breakdowns.

This Covid-19 quarantine period, it would be great to reflect on preparing to finish well. Out there, young or old, the end of life may come unexpectedly.

If you’ve blown it, can anything erase your past failures or mistakes? That you cannot finish well any more, during or after the pandemic?

Not at all!

I know of a 54-year-old client, Stephen, who finished well even after ruining his life by moral failure. 

When he was 50, after years of living an exemplary public life, he had an affair and abandoned his wife for a younger woman.

He broke many hearts. Brought shame to his children. Sorrow to his family and relatives. Disillusioned his company employees. 

Bedbound with brain cancer, his young girlfriend soon left him. His wife and children still took care of him. And he eventually repented ... deeply remorseful of what he did.

He couldn’t stop his cancer. But Stephen did have over a year - enough time to regain the respect of his wife, children, family, and the public who looked up to him, before he died.

He bade his dear ones a touching farewell, and spent his final days in fellowship with God. He died peacefully.

He still finished well!

It is never too late for repentance, restoration, and finishing well by living well.

No matter where you are in life’s journey ... no matter what happens after this current global pandemic crisis ... now is the time to live well so that you can finish well.

Be Strong and Courageous

It’s timeless. Relevant to each one of us nowadays. What was spoken to Joshua thrice:

“Be strong and courageous!” (Joshua 1:6,7,9)


That’s another word for strength - especially inner strength, fearlessness, bravery, presence of mind against all odds, resolve to hang in there, enduring tests and hardships.

Let it be remembered that true courage is not limited to the war zone or bravely catching an escaping Covid-19 patient in the street or hospital.

The genuine tests of courage are much deeper ... much more silent ... much more within. 

You will not be asked to bravely race with the world to find the cure for Covid-19. But each day, in some way, your courage is going to be tested.

This personal courage may be as simple as saying no. It may be as uneventful as staying home during a pandemic. Or, as painful as standing alone when misunderstood or fighting for a cause.

Courage is an inner test like no other. Honestly now - are you? Or, are you quick to give up? Ready to quit ... run when the battle heats up? 

The fact is, it’s impossible to live victoriously without courage. And our most courageous acts are often made in secret because they occur down deep inside.

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.”
— Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Doing Vs. Being

“I’d rather do my business with lots of money than remain in my marriage where I’m unhappy,” said Tony in one of our marital therapy sessions.

Without wanting to sound judgmental, as I worked more with Tony, I thought he was centered on the wrong things in his life. 

He’s too heavily focused on “doing” more than “being.” He’s sort of feeling so lost on grasping what truly matters to him, deep within.

“Doing” is usually connected with work, accomplishments,  how you make a living. “Being” is much deeper. It relates to character, who you really are, and how you “make a life.”

It’s possible to do, accumulate, or achieve a lot of things yet be out of balance as a person.

Right now, with the present Covid-19 pandemic, he’s forcibly home - a gift of precious time with his wife and kids. 

His business was closed. In self quarantine - where he’s given the extended opportunity of silence and reflection on his “being.”

He texted me, “Doc, I believe it’s time to go back to my therapy. Kind of feeling desperate. I need it much more now.”

The pandemic quarantine forces Tony to finally face up to the problem of his “being,” which he has been escaping from for so long.

The threat of possible illness or death on us levels all human activities to the bare or basic stuff of our common humanity. 

Of the two, “being” ultimately outdistances “doing” at any time. It’s far more valuable. And enduring. And essential. Something on display forever, your true legacy.

Take a look at your own life. Is it “doing” more than “being?” If so, seek to balance your “doing” to allow more time to develop the “being” part of you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Joy In Any State

It’s normal to feel anxiety right now. A global pandemic is not a joke.

However, at the same time that we allow some space for these feelings, we also need to give ourselves the space to let them go.

Panic is unproductive. Excessive, unchecked rumination can spin our minds into different frightening directions. 

And, as a result, we  can find ourselves unnecessarily freezed or disabled to take healthy, constructive actions.

As we all take measures to protect our physical health, let’s remember how much we equally need to protect our psychological, emotional, and spiritual health. 

Like some of our heroes in our hospitals these days, missionary doctor Dr. Albert Schweitzer was exposed to deadly disease each day. 

In poverty-stricken Africa, where he served, its possible he could have had all of those kinds of complaints, anxieties, even panic attacks.

But instead, Dr. Schweitzer was full of joy. He had eyes to see life as it is amidst pain and sufferings around him. God gave him the gift of joy.

With apostle Paul as his model, Dr. Schweitzer was able to say with him, “In whatever state I am, I have learned to be content,” seizing and squeezing moments of joy from the dangers and difficulties of his life and work.

For psychotherapy or mental health patients, this is especially relevant now. To futurize and catastrophize only adds to the risks and your vulnerability to disease or virus. 

If you’re going to survive, heal, and thrive during this Covid1-19 pandemic, you’d have to bolster your psychological and spiritual immune systems, along with the physical ones.

As author Dr. Bruce Larson put it, “There’s a lot more to health than not being sick.”

Monday, March 16, 2020

Beyond Pandemic, Beyond Mental Health

In times of pandemic, will you like what you become?

When a loved one, friend, or stranger becomes sick, we have the choice of getting involved in the care. Or, in the refusing or backing away.

Daniel Defoe reflects, in his journal of the 1665 London plague year:  

“There was a time when everyone’s safety lay so near them they had no room to pity the distresses of others ... The danger of immediate death to ourselves took away all bonds of love, all concern for one another.”

In Italy today, where over 2,000 people already died from Covid-19, hospitals have become overwhelmingly “full.” 

Due to their limited capacity and resources to treat the current ballooning number of Covid-19 patients, they’ve become “selective” of who to treat.

“Elderly people are literally left to die alone, abandoned, untended, untreated,” says a sobbing doctor. 

It’s in reference to the recent hospital policy in Italy of prioritizing younger people for admission and treatment.

Yale historian, Frank Snowden, observes that pandemics do hold up a “mirror to society.” 

He says that it forces us to ask basic questions: 

What is possible imminent death trying to tell us? Where is God in all this? What’s our responsibility to one another?

New York Times writer David Brooks drives home the essential message beyond the pandemic ...

“Pandemics kill compassion, too ... It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to take steps to fight the moral disease that accompanies the physical one.”

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Be Still

Noted English writer, Virginia Woolf, suggests that inactivity can have healing benefits.

She said that it is exactly when we have an “abundance of stillness” that we are “able to resume our fullest possession of both the present and ourselves.”

Beginning this day, the whole Metro Manila is under 30-day emergency “community quarantine” or lockdown.

It’s enforced by the military and police to control the spread of the Covid-19 in the entire metropolis and the rest of the country.

Quarantine means you “stay home.” Be still. Inactive. To temporarily avoid or lessen going out and socialize. Just be by your self.

No matter how hard this is, this quarantine period gives us the time and the impulsion to face our selves. 

After learning she had stage 4 cancer, an OFW mother in her 40s finally allowed herself to come home and be  self-quarantined and treated.

All her busy working years in Dubai, she never had time to stop and look at herself. She raced about earning money without giving a thought about the life she’s living.

At her deathbed in her home province, she asked her eldest daughter, “Please tell your Dad that I’m sorry about everything when I die.” And intermittently, she’d sing “Amazing Grace.”

It was during this still moment that she felt her soul opening and strengthening ... she saw the healing goodness of stillness, inactivity, no outside interruptions.

Too many of us wait too long for an illness. Too many of us wait too long to save our marriages or families from breaking down. Too many of us wait too long to heal our depressions and addictions.

Too many of us wait too long ... to entertain moments of solitude and reflection that is essential for health, healing, and wholeness.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Health Is In Your Immune System

A couple of days ago, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a worldwide pandemic. The virus is deadly, yes, already killing and infecting thousands of people in more than 120 countries.

But scientists estimate that over 80% of those infected so far have only mild symptoms. And they recover without needing special medical treatments.

As of this moment, there’s no vaccine or cure yet that can be administered to patients struck with this new coronavirus.

What can attribute to the 80%+ positive recovery rate?

Answer: the body’s immune system.

If you have a compromised or weakened immune system, such as those with preexisting conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, you increase the risk of complications and vulnerability to the virus.

Mental health and immune system can also be closely linked.

A 41-year-old client, William, was having trouble sleeping for months now since his wife’s discovery of his affair with one of his employees.

At the same time, he’s having ongoing feelings of bitterness and resentment towards his parents that negatively affect how he sees life and relationships.

Prior to seeking therapy, William would try to escape the emotional pain in his marriage and family by going into binge drinking, smoking, and taking of drugs.

During therapy sessions, he had a hard time responding to me and his wife. His brain was always dozed off, drowsy, or too tired. His “excuses” for his unhealthy behaviors likewise abound.

William’s psychological “immune system” was severely compromised. It proved to be a major challenge - a severe complication to his reasonable process of personal and marital recovery.

Suzy Kassem is right on target. She writes:

“The gut is the seat of all feeling. Polluting the gut not only cripples your immune system, but also destroys your sense of empathy, the ability to identify with other humans.”

Friday, March 13, 2020


People talk about it. Some people don’t. What mishaps they go through.

Yet all may lay awake at nights fearing, anxious, unable to still a racing mind, or spinning out scenarios.

As I write this, the fast global spread of the Covid19 virus is weighing heavily on the daily life of people around the world. Panic has been setting in in various places.

None of us is invulnerable. We are all human. Mortal. Unless you’re seriously mentally sick, I think you’ll agree with those statements.

No matter how much we try to control a situation, there will always be some things beyond our human power.

That’s the place of miracles.

If you live in awareness and the Spirit, your eyes and mind can see miracles.

Even with what’s happening - the chaos, the fears, the needs - life still bursts forth with miracles. 

Miracles such as: A glass of water. A falling leaf. The warmth of sunshine. Laughter. Birds. Raindrops. Your heart beat in rhythm with the heartbeats of other humans. A smile, looking up to the sky. His presence in the whirlwind.

When we feel afraid, tired, and discouraged by daily struggles, we may not be able to see or appreciate these miracles.

But each day, they are there. And we can be thankful.

“Every cloud can be an angel’s face,” says writer Lydia Child.

Thursday, March 12, 2020


Awhile ago, I was reading a news article on how the current Covid19 pandemic crisis can cripple the world’s economy.

The UK’s Independent news piece is titled “Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills - and that’s the real global emergency.” 

According to its news analysis, it states that the Covid19’s ... 

“ ... economic danger is exponentially greater than its health risks to the public. If the virus does directly affect your life, it is most likely through stopping you going to work, forcing your employer to make you redundant, or bankrupting your business.”

This naturally leads to the question, “So what do I need to overcome this financial emergency in case it happens to me personally?”

The answer is wisdom.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes, king Solomon, put it:

“For wisdom is protection just as money is protection. But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12)

The response to circumstances, such as this Covid19-related financial hardships, is true wisdom - psychological, practical, and spiritual. 

Since the threats of the disease or bankruptcy are external problems, they do not mean we are free of any personal responsibility. 

Each one of us is responsible for correct wisdom in our responses in all situations, regardless of some crises or catastrophic events.

That’s how we preserve and protect our lives ... from unnecessary suffering amid emergencies.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020



Ever met this threatening creature? It whispers omens of the unseen. What if? ... what if ...?  

Sure you and I have.

As I write this, the world is reeling with fear of the Covid19 disease. It has already killed and infected thousands of people in varied countries of the world.

Of course, people have other kinds personal fear, not just fear of disease. They creep into their mind and disturb their peace and security.

Fears such as:  fear of rejection ... fear of failure ... fear of unemployment ... fear of moving to a strange place ... fear of abandonment ... fear of what other people would say about you ... fear of the dark ... fear of being alone ... and more ...

In the face of the impending spread of Covid19 in the country, I heard the president invoking “God, have mercy on us.” 

When things are no longer within our control, we need that anti-virus prescription.

Meet David in Psalm 27. 

He met fear face to face saying, “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life. Whom shall I dread?”

Fear is not merely psychological. Not “just in the mind.” It’s deeply spiritual in its essence.

Tell you what - amid the current Covid19 scare, let’s share the same chair and exercise our faith for a change.

You might want to fasten your seatbelt. It could get tough and rough before we have a good landing.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Feeling “Homesickness”

The truth is, when I was 20, I was living scared. I remember feeling lost, angry, and looking for my true home.

Finnegan, my (step) son with wifey Nhorie, immigrates and flies to America today during these trying, scary times.

Even before he leaves, he’s already feeling “homesick.” And, started crying like a little boy. Surely, we will miss him a lot. 

But I’m thinking, youth is fleeting. You travel only once this way to make the best of the journey.

I’m musing about Fin’s question on me regarding his “homesickness” anxiety since he departed. 

He thought he’d rather be back home if he’d be sick in the place where he’s going. 

Yet at the same time, he knew he should leave and start a promising new life.

How do you overcome it? 

Hope is one major key.

You see something far brighter in the future with your journey.

You can get very homesick, sure especially if it’s a first time in a foreign culture.

But otherwise, it’s a great privilege to get to travel for work, economic opportunity, someday getting your loved ones to join you live a better life, or pursuing a noble mission. 

You can find inspiration in capturing that hope. To adjust. To positively convert your homesickness to work for you.

“May your choices reflect your hopes. Not your fears.”
— Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

When Worry Drives Your Anxiety

When the doctor told a client, Liza, that she’s having high blood pressure, her mind leaped into the future. She imagined getting a stroke and dying.

Each day, Liza would ruminate obsessively. Unable to sleep, she began taking sleeping pills. 

She regretted on the bad eating habits she had that brought the high blood pressure. And, the late night working in the office and partying with friends.

A little of this can be good, of course. A way to learn from mistakes or lessons. But too much of this is bad for the health - both mental and physical.

When you think too long and too hard about all the things that can go wrong, you’re not preparing for the future. You’re worrying. 

When you overthink on past mistakes and misfortunes, you’re not learning from your past. You’re simply worrying.

Your worrying then develops into and drives your anxiety state, which may progressively worsen.

In anxiety disorders, you get “fused” with your fearful thoughts. You are “being” your thoughts instead of merely “having” your thoughts. 

With such a habitual thought pattern, your mind could not make a clear distinction between imagined events and real events.

One night, my wife and I were in Kandle Cafe. We were served with a kind of healthy tea, Blue Pea. It’s delicious and aids in relaxing and detaching.

Where the tea and the “space” there help in search of serenity, creating distance between you and your fearful thoughts reduces your worries and anxieties.

When you create this little “space” in between your thoughts, the separation lessens the emotional impact of each thought ... one of the ways of healing the anxious mind.

Sex and Mental Health

“Why is this happening to me?” asks Roberto.

Well, he’s having ED in his marriage for about a year now. ED stands for “erectile dysfunction,” as the medical field puts it.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as “inability to attain or maintain an erection needed for sexual performance.”

Doctors say ED may have multiple physical causes, such as: heart disease, diabetes, smoking, medication side effects, onset of natural aging, low testosterone, prostate cancer, even sexually transmitted diseases, among others.

In the case of Roberto, he has none of those medical conditions. While hesitant to see a psychotherapist at first, he was later glad that he took that step.

He said, “It’s a best thing I did. I’m ashamed of what’s happening to me and my wife. I couldn’t even look at her directly anymore! The counseling allows me to break out of the isolation, and find a cure.”

One common thing I hear from men with ED is “feeling less of a man” with the problem. There it is - a case of “mind over matter, which you’ve probably heard before.

When it comes to ED, the mind/brain plays a big role. 

If under stress or having hidden mental health issues (e.g. performance anxiety, depression, nervousness), the brain can have trouble releasing hormones or nerve interconnections to cause erection.

To start psychological recovery from ED, one needs to learn to see his “self” as separate from the “problem.” 

Then progressively, learn underlying roots and strategies to change behavior in a more positive direction.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Rx on Disorientation

Disorientation is the pits. It’s a foggy feeling of being useless. Depression, its emotional relative, keeps it company.

Upon retiring from the company he founded, Lito, a senior married man finds himself restless. He has become desperately, maddeningly quiet.

He has money. He has health. He has family. Yet still confused and disoriented as he faces post-retirement life.

Others who may also experience life disorientation include: professionals, mothers raising kids, prisoners, war veterans, young adults facing career dilemmas, victims of trauma or abuse, those facing financial losses etc

How do you fight disorientation?

Here are some tips, which can be of practical help:

•  live with purpose 
•  don’t let your occupation enslave you
•  loosen up your intensity 
•  stop living for money 
•  stay in touch with people 
•  cultivate close family and friendship ties 
•  read widely 
•  exercise regularly, strenuously 
•  fight the rut of routine 
•  laugh more 
•  seek therapy/counseling to heal wounded emotions 
•  trust God for what seems impossible 
•  start now 

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu writes,

“No calamity is greater than not knowing what is enough. No fault worse than wanting too much. Whoever knows what is enough has enough.”

Monday, March 02, 2020

Insecurity, What’s That?

How insecurity- proof are you in the face of rejection or criticism?

That’s a tough question related to life and relationships in general.

Most of us have plenty of trouble handling feelings of rejection. Thus, showing even deep insecurity and impairment of mental health.

One sunny morning, I took a metro rail transit to go to a place of appointment. 

Beside me was a young woman who seemed to had occupied the wrong line. A security guard approached her to remind her where she should be. 

A few seconds after, the young woman was profusely in tears, just by herself. She took the reminder too personally. A rejection of her.

What this illustration shows is how deceiving our feelings of insecurity, rejection, or inferiority are. 

And I dare say all of us have one or more areas about our selves where we exhibit such kind of “blind spot.” It’s amazing how hard it is to see this in us.

In psychotherapy, we approach feelings of insecurity, inferiority, and rejection with “truth in labeling.” 

We need to look at the psychology as well as the spirituality of it - how it affects our minds and souls, so we can start healing.

Unless, you’re afraid to look!

Dr. Calvin Miller, a pastoral psychotherapist, in his book “Becoming Your Self in the Making,” writes:

“The healing of damaged selves is bound up in Jesus who attracts the depressed and inferiority-ridden. Those who come to Him, find Him so altogether worthy that they relinquish unnecessary self- concern, lost in the wonder of His greatness.”

Sunday, March 01, 2020

One “Source” Why Infidelity Happens

Why do affairs happen?

That’s a million dollar question. And different experts may have a variety of answers.

Judging from the many cases of marital or relationship infidelity I’d worked on, I seem to have been able to identify one common “source.”

In reality, the unfaithful spouse or partner is acting on a kind of “transitional anxiety.” That usually involves a major developmental stage of life with new expectations and responsibilities.

Aging, approaching retirement, was a life transition for William who’s been married for 30 years. It proved to be a very anxious time and turmoil in his life.

“She’s my viagra!” he’d jokingly refer to his very young sexy affair partner.

It’s not hard for us to sense that William had been attempting to ward off feelings of depression from growing older.

After his heart bypass, everything was going wrong for him. An extramarital affair appeared to offer an escape, a break from his anxiety of “looking inward,” and some comfort for him.

But, it’s a false solution. William’s real solution lies elsewhere.

Other major life events can create “transitional anxiety” during which infidelity may happen. Such as:  becoming wealthy or successful in business, raising teenagers, coping with career changes, caring for aging parents, birth of a baby, losses, even positive occurrences.

Psychologist Nancy Schlossberg tells us that a transition is an “event or non-event resulting in a change of assumptions about one’s self and the world.”

The anxiety that occurs in making the transition in one’s life stage to the next can be one big “source” why infidelity occurs.

Transitions are anxious times. Even for all of us. Healthy, affair-free transitions depend on a person’s strengths, values, supports, and resources.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Fear of Success, Fear of Failure

Today, let’s talk about fear. Two kinds of fear: fear of success and fear of failure.

All of us have these two kinds of fear.

Most of us understand the fear of failure. Few of us possess a handle on how to grasp the fear of success.

Let me put it this way. Fear of failure is one’s “lower limit” (survival) whereas fear of success is one’s “upper limit” (success or happiness).

When Bobby faced a looming company lay-off and financial crisis, he experienced intense fear of failure and embarrassment.

That’s his “lower limit” - his pain threshold. 

As a result of the fear, he became depressed, withdrew from his family, and went into nightly drinking. 

Believe it or not, even though Rowena wanted to be a millionaire, when she hit it, she felt scared.

Being the daughter of a fish vendor and raised in poverty, she didn’t quite feel she’s fit for what she accomplished. 

So what did she do? 

She spent almost her money from her savings so she can be brought back down to her “comfort level.”

In her case, she unknowingly sabotaged herself with her fear of success. 

Her “upper limit” avoided increasing levels of  wealth, happiness or fulfillment for some internal reason.

Everybody has a comfort zone - both a “lower limit” and an “upper limit.” 

When our life experiences get too far enough outside of our comfort zone, it brings up all our mental and emotional “stuff.”

“Stuff,” such as: wounded childhood experiences, past trauma, family secrets, lack of self worth, distorted beliefs about life and relationships, trust and control issues, among others.

The work of personal healing and wholeness is not to let our comfort zone and those limits as well as our “stuff to dictate our choices and block our growth.

In psychotherapy, this is something that needs to be learned and chosen and consciously embraced.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Is It A “Chemical Malfunction?”

When is a mental health problem a chemical one - not psychological, emotional, or moral?

According to author-researchers Abraham Hoffer and Humphrey Osmond, perception is distorted in some persons by a “chemical malfunction.”

They say that a root of a mental disorder does not lie in a person’s mind or emotions. Nor does the problem arise from spiritual or moral sins.

But it involves chemically distorted perception and actions. It therefore stems from organic roots. 

I’m reminded of one client, Gio, who arrived in our session high in alcohol, LSD, plus another hallucinogenic drug.

His perception was distorted by the chemicals he ingested. His behavior got bizarre.

He’d say that an object, like a coffee cup, seems to be flying towards him. And he’d hear voices from many feet away. 

According to Osmond and Hoffer, there is what’s called “adrenachrome” in the brain and formed in the body when persons experience chemical abnormalities. 

These chemical abnormalities in turn result in perceptual distortions, which can lead to bizarre or out-of-control behavior.

The Osmond-Hoffer Theory could be a valuable diagnostic psychotherapy tool. 

For us in the mental health profession, it’s a help to determine who needs a medical doctor and who needs a psychologist or counselor. 

So, the need for a right diagnosis is clear here.

Recovering from Financial Emergency

Money mishaps are a part of life. Nowadays, financial emergencies are common.

With the current rise of global economic and health crises, people’s financial well being is threatened collectively.

I’m not a financial expert. But I know all too well how much money is connected to our mental health and general well being.

Since this is so, we then need to understand enough how it works and own solutions when emergencies do come, albeit unexpectedly.

A psychological approach to financial emergencies involves “unburdening” yourself. This was a lesson gained by Max, a client.

Max maxed out his credit cards. He lost a lot of cash from a failed business. So now, he realized he only had enough in his savings account to cover the next 2 months of basic bills.

Max knew he’s facing a financial emergency. And he wanted to hide it from his wife and family. As a result, he faced sleepless nights and bouts of anxiety panic attacks.

To recover from an impending “zero” financial emergency, Max needed to “unburden.” He had to avoid pretending nothing is wrong and hiding the situation from his family.

By telling his nonworking wife of what’s happening, she can help him by doing her share to cut expenses and even take a job to bring in extra money.

Max had to let his kids see the importance of savings. And, how he’s taking charge of the problem. These are excellent life lessons for them.

The possibility of financial emergency and hardship is real. Apart from the practical steps for revenue rehabilitation or cash infusion, we need to develop a right mindset to weather a money crisis.

Zig Zigler writes on this right mindset when he wrote:  “Expect the best, prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

One of my favorite stories is about how another client, Pat, got started with her infidelity life coaching and consulting business.

She just got laid off from her job by her company with thousands of unpaid personal credit card bills. On top of that was the emotional pain of her husband’s infidelity.

One day, she put an online ad for her “side hustle” offering fee-based personal life coaching to individuals and couples healing from infidelity wound.

Unexpectedly, from there, clients kept pouring in to see her. Five years later, she’s able to earn millions from her business and got free from debts.

Pat capitalized on her misfortune. Unexpected recovery, yes. But she was prepared for the financial emergency and made it work.

“A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the ‘what-ifs’ of life.”
— Suze Orman

Monday, February 24, 2020

How To Get Over Your Breakup

Detachment is prescribed to survive any type of chronic emotional pain. It’s meant to stop life-damaging behaviors - not only for yourself but also for the other person.

Oxford Dictionary defines detachment as a state of “being objective or aloof.” In psychotherapy, it’s mental assertiveness” or “inability to connect.”

In my own sessions, I use a detachment technique called “grounding.” Through this in a series of steps, you experience freedom.

Imagine yourself as an Oscar award-winning actor. You’re playing a role, emotionally immersed. At the same time, you recognize that you can step outside and be objective.

The connection between healthy detachment and freedom is especially applicable in times of breakup in relationships.

Between his alcoholic drinks and wife’s infidelity lies Antonio’s walk of peace. When he realized that his wife was not coming back, he saw his need to finally learn to “detach.”

Antonio had to move on. Detach from his emotional pain. It’s simply “letting go.”

That doesn’t mean he can’t open himself up to reconciliation or love again. As author Ron Rathbun put it, “True detachment isn’t a separation from life but the absolute freedom within your mind to explore living.”

To get over your breakup, mind your mind. Observe your thoughts. Distinguish between the voice of your ego in your brain and the real situation where you’re in.

Don’t beat yourself up for the breakup. Instead of continually “obsessing over” and feeling down, celebrate! Celebrate that you are now noticing the lessons you need to learn to transform your life.

Embrace uncertainty with excitement. True freedom can be in the unknown future.

Deepak Chopra says, “Those who seek security in the exterior world chase it for a lifetime. By letting go of your attachment to the illusion of security, which is really an attachment to the known, you step into the field of all possibilities. This is where you will find true happiness, abundance, and fulfillment.”

Meet Dr. Karl Menninger

During the sessions I had with Peter, he kept claiming and repeating that he was finding himself.

His idea of that was simply doing whatever looks good for him. What he thinks and feels was his sole basis.

Peter chose to buy a property for his affair partner even after he claimed to his wife that the affair was over.

Understandably, his wife protested, severely dismayed. Part of the money used for the purchase was hers.. 

He said that it’s a right or best decision because the other woman suffered from their affair.

Obviously, Peter fell into subjectivism. It is that which in the end amounts to saying that he (or any individual) is his/her own standard apart from any objective Standard. 

Peter’s pathology then is not merely psychological or emotional. It’s moral. A spiritual one, as well. He is not a victim of his conscience, but a violator of it. 

Well-known psychiatrist and author, Dr. Karl Menninger, in his book “Whatever Became of Sin,”  speaks of the concept of sin in psychopathology. 

He writes:

“ ... one of the deceptive illusions about sin is the fact that even the worst sinners are often such ‘nice people.’ Well, after all, sinners are us, and in most things we do try to be ‘nice.’ “

I also affirm Dr. Menninger’s take on mental health, when he said,

“ ... mental health ... includes all the healths: physical, social, cultural, and moral (spiritual). To live, to love, to care, to enjoy, and to build on the foundations of our predecessors, to revere the constant miracles of creation and endurance, of ‘the starry skies above and the moral law within’ - these are acts and attitudes which express our mental health.”

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Power of the Seed

In the realm of personal healing or psychotherapy, the key is the power of the seed.

It’s life’s universal principle for wholeness, health, and abundance.

I heard a problem-ridden husband say, “I’m unhappy in my marriage. Now that my wife found out about my affair, I’m now unhappier.”

He planted a wrong seed. And he expected to harvest a good one.

He had opportunity to plant good, better seeds when his wife gave him another chance. And for them to be in therapy, together. It’s not over yet.

He’s not broke, he still had a seed!

In therapy, the key was for him to “sow his way out” of his unhappiness and woundedness. If he rejected re-planting or abandoned the process, he missed the good harvest.

Seedtime is prime time to his personal and marital recovery. The wound or thorn is no match to the seed.

The power of the seed applies to our finances, too. When deep in debts or stricken with poverty, what we give out there will determine the returns we receive.

As money expert and author, Dr. Leroy Thompson, put it, “Giving is gain, not loss,” when advising about financial healing or seeking prosperity.

Harvest time is not the most valuable period. That’s because the harvest comes from the primetime. Seedtime either builds or destroys your life and future.

Sow that seed. It has so much to do for you and your dreams.

Seedtime! Seedtime! Seedtime!

“What you sow, so shall you reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Monday, February 17, 2020

When Infidelity Strikes

Infidelity is a deepest psychological cut. It’s a leading cause of breakdown, separation, and divorce in marriages or romantic relationships.

Betrayal in intimate relationships can be so devastating that it can lead to suicide, homicide, and other crimes of passion.

In my years of practice as a psychotherapist, infidelity proves to be a very common occurrence.  It’s a frequent source of “cuts and cracks” in the lives of couples.

Infidelity is as much of an escape as drugs and alcohol. Denying it often reigns supreme.

Couples need to face infidelity together when it’s present or discovered in the relationship.

“I want my wife back but I don’t want to talk about the affair,” said Mando during a marital therapy session. He had a long term affair with an office mate. His wife recently discovered it on his iPhone.

While hearing this, his wife was severely breaking down in much tears. The emotional pain of her husband’s betrayal and refusal to address the issue was overwhelmingly too much for her to bear.

I’m reminded of writer James Baldwin who wrote:

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Infidelity, when it strikes, needs to be faced on two fronts for proper healing to take place.

One, personal recovery (one person involved).

This is basic. Each partner must heal individually his or her own unique set of issues, wounds, hang-ups, or idiosyncrasies affecting one’s well being as well as his or her own relationship with the other person. Capacity and hope for recovery rest on this component.

Two, relationship recovery (two persons involved).

Both partners must work together to heal the relationship. When two partners are healing individually enough, the prognosis is bright for the relationship. This is so because each one is able to contribute their own respective personal “gains” towards the process of repair of the relationship.

Both of these components - personal and relational - are facilitated in the specialized “deep work” of infidelity therapy and counseling.

In the work I do with couples healing from infidelity, I delve not only on psychology and spirituality behind it. I also go into scientific findings that can be applied, such as found in neuroscience and epigenetics, for wholistic healing.

Proverbs 22:14 (ERV)
“The sin of adultery is a trap, and the LORD gets very angry with those who fall into it.”

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Surviving Abusive Parents

Thomas had been in and out of the hospital. Constantly slapped and verbally abused by his father in childhood, he suffered psychotic depressive behavior and total break with reality.

Bob was another matter. His mother always had ugly words for him, accompanied by physical harm when she’s drunk. When he got old enough, he left home and managed to make a successful life.

Here are opposite real-life results when parenthood is abusive, crushing, or overly negative.

Why did Bob survive while Thomas did not?

First, self-worth.

Bob was a Christian. He knew, because of his faith, that he’s worth something to God even if he’s being abused and under-affirmed by his parent. 

Second, source.

Bob was able to see the “source” - his parent, who communicated only negativity or outright abuse, was sick and in need of help. 

Finally, self-responsibility.

Bob stood up for himself. He accepted all incoming data and went beyond them to celebrate his innate self amid trials.

Take note. Remember always.

You can survive abusive parents.

The better you are at evaluating your inner self worth even when under siege externally, the more you integrate the negative and positive, the better your chances of survival.

Ultimately, every person is responsible for his or her own grand adjustment and wholeness.

“Negative feedback can make us bitter or better.”
- Robin Sharma

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Real Healing is Slow

In our instant coffee and microwave culture, the word “slow” has no or little place. We say food service is slow, internet connection is slow, traffic is slow.

Many of us lack enough patience or drive to go into activities that compel us to wait.

Yet, especially in the area of psychological, emotional, or spiritual healing, genuine recovery takes time. More often than not, it’s by nature slow.

A young man, addicted to drugs and gambling for over 15 years, was once brought to me by his long-suffering aging parents.

At the outset, they asked how long his psychological treatment will last. Both their son and themselves wanted a quick fix since the pain had been lingering for so long in their family.

How I (or anybody) wish I can realistically tell them that there is such a thing as fast recovery - a magic result for them!

Hippocrates, the Greek physician who lived between 450 B.C. to 375 B.C., is considered by many to be the “Father of Medicine.” He once authored precepts to guide the practice of medicine.

It’s incorporated into the immortal Hippocratic Oath still taken by those entering the career or profession of medicine.

In a piece titled Aphorisms, he wrote:

“Healing is a matter of time.”

“Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases.”

While reflecting on these thoughts, I get to think of lots of “premature withdrawal” and “unfinished work” in the health field, including mental health.

People prolong their unnecessary pain and suffering, simply by not taking the time.

The reality is, the deeper the wound, trauma, or dysfunction, the greater the amount of time that may be needed and required to recover and get well.

Wise counsel, Dr. Hippocrates!

We tend to forget or ignore your life-giving Rx prescription.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

How People Change

In psychotherapy, life change is a basic aim. It’s essentially transformation from old to new.

People want to change because of the mess or breakdowns they currently experience in their lives.

Mostly, it’s issues related to self, relationships, and one’s productivity or meaning in life.

However, there is a common block why people find it so hard to change: a depraved, injured mind.

With that, perception is absent or distorted. They look but can’t see. They observe surface, but omit what’s underneath. 

They remember their wounded past. Even if they don’t choose to live in it, they remain there. Something is always lurking or following them in the shadow.

“I know what I want. But I can’t change to get what I want,” as one addicted patient put it.

Due to his developed psychological state, it may not just be his “inability.” Often, it can also be his “refusal.”

Psychotherapeutically, it’s the damaged “unconscious” needing to be freed.

In order to change and free your self then, you’ve to deal with your unconscious organizing principles.

You may not 100% change in your lifetime, yet you can grow. And live a quality life in your remaining years.

Be prepared to shoulder part of the responsibility if you expect to reap rewards. There is no magic or quick fix. Careful, slow growth lasts.

As you do this, such as what transpires in the process of therapy, you renew your mind.

You grow into relying upon the new (eg. thoughts, emotions, behaviors) until the old, dysfunctional ones fade away.

Insight plus action changes people’s life to the better, not reduce it to mere existence.

“There’s a lot more to health than not being sick.”
— Dr. Bruce Larson

Facing Your Fears

How do you get rid of your fears?

If you ask Paul Tournier, he wouldn’t help his patients eliminate their fears in his counseling.

“That which does not frighten does not have meaning. All the best things in life have an element of fear in them,” he explained.

It sounds surprising. Because generally, we’re all programmed for comfort and assurance.

But reality is, we’re always caught in life somewhere between our need for safety or security and our need to risk to move out to new growth areas.

I’m reminded of Benjamin Franklin.

At 16, he dared to be a newspaper columnist. And at 81, he beat all health odds to be a framer of the U.S. Constitution. 

No matter your age, young or old, you can choose to live with life, excitement, and adventure.

One of my “senior citizen” patients once confided, “I put all my scared money to bitcoin!”  He’s one of the early adopters in cryptocurrency.

His new venture had all kinds of possibility for loss and failure. He resolved that even if he suffered some errors, he could still use them to gain success.

He faced his fears, living by creative risk. And that choice led to some of his most fulfilling and exciting financial blessings for him and his family during his remaining years.

To do battle with the enemy - both from within and outside us - an inordinate need for and clinging to our comfort zones may actually be a form of mental illness.

A healthy person is someone who can reasonably choose risk to have life abundant.

Think about it.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Aging and Chess

“I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”
— Marcel DuChamp

He is Russian, 98 years old. Yuri Averbakh, currently the oldest chess grandmaster in the world.

He enjoys his life, being a part of the world chess community. He writes books, mentors young aspiring players, and still plays well in seniors events.

According to the rules of neuroscience, aging tends to have effects on one’s playing ability. The elderly’s synapses in the brain are progressively being pruned away.

So, the needed amounts of volume are somewhat lost over time. Of course, there are variations, depending on an individual’s unique make-up.

But even if the brain of the elderly tends to slow down, chess does have psychological, social or emotional benefits for them.

Alan, a 60-year-old patient, retired early after decades of corporate work. He lost his wife years back and has adult children already with their own families and lives to live.

He lives alone. And now, progressively feeling lonely and isolated. The past several months, each night, he finds himself getting more and more hooked into Internet pornography and masturbation. Being a Christian, he detests the developing addiction.

He goes back to his old art - chess - where he used to be a champion during his teen age.

At a nearby chess club, he found fellow retirees going back to the game after many years away. He enjoyed the coffee and banter with them, along with the younger ones. while playing again.

His nights are now filled with face to face or online chess instead of pornography/masturbation. He prepares and studies seriously to compete in local, national, and even international chess competitions.

Alan has discovered the right “replacement” therapy for him and his mental health. His art saves the integrity and wholeness of the remaining years of his life.

“Chess doesn’t drive people mad. It keeps mad people sane,” writes Bill Hartston.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

When You Avoid The Real Problem

It’s Sunday evening. And the clock is ticking so fast for you.

You’re working furiously to complete a task due in the office the next day. But silently, you’re cursing your self for delaying doing it by playing video games.

You wonder, how it happened. How you could lose your focus.

Procrastination is a common psychological trap.  It’s an avoidance behavior. It avoids the real problem or delays taking action on what truly matters.

I’m reminded of Jericho. After being caught gambling millions and losing them, his wife Dina required him to seek therapy.

Dina had other issues with Jericho aside from his financial betrayal. She already endured much emotional pain from him for so long. So she threatened to leave with their kids if he’d not seek proper help.

Dina waited. Weeks. Months. But Jericho was not taking action, just making promises.

One Friday evening, Jericho went home. He found out that his wife and kids had disappeared. He later received a phone call the next day, informing him that they had abandoned him and fled to another country.

Devastated, Jericho got drunk. And, later rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment.

Indeed, procrastinating or avoiding your real problem can exact a steep price on your relationships. Not just your work, finances, or health but the totality of your life in general.

As psychologist/ author Dr. Henry Cloud put it, “When you decide to avoid a difficult situation, what you’re really doing is prolonging the pain you’re experiencing.”

If you don’t stop or cure your self of it, things can be too late for you eventually.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

What Happens During The Therapy Hour?

If you are a little bird that passed by the window, what would you hear and witness happen during the therapy hour?

At times, people ask about this in one way or another. Whether seeking psychotherapy or not, they wish to understand this “mystery.”

As one friend told me, “I wonder what you talk about and do there.”

The little bird would hear and see two essential things during the therapy hour: content and process. 


The meaning of content is obvious, of course. 

It’s the issues, topics, and concerns being discussed by therapist and patient/s.

Content is varied. 

Usually, it can be specific parts of experience of the whole of life, such as relationships, love, sex, career struggles, marital or parenting problems, financial disorders, existential concerns, or addictions.


The texture of the process of psychotherapy is crucial to therapeutic and life change.

It’s the “relationship,” or solid therapeutic alliance often referred to in professional clinical psychology literature. 

That’s the nature and dynamic of connection and interaction that happens during the therapy hour between therapist and patient/s.

In general, content is never enough. Nobody gets healed by information alone. 

Psychotherapy  needs  sufficient synergy of “ideas-plus-relationship.” Content is effective only when the relationship is solid.

There it is in a nutshell, where life-changing therapeutic power or magic lies ... and should be.