Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What Is The Best Psychotherapy?

Recently, I read of this article by a psychiatrist who was critical and disappointed of his own profession. He found from his research that as much as 95% of depressed people who consulted psychiatrists were so minimally or not helped at all.

Interestingly, he noted from his study that over 80% who consulted a minister gained significant relief. Such particularly disturbed the psychiatrist for his profession was into helping people and yet it's not making a desired difference.

One middle-aged single woman's depression and addictions drove her to psychotherapy. Her previous years of psychiatric drug use and hospital confinement were so ineffective that it made things worst for her. Lately, she became promiscuous and had sex with different men within just a month.

When she came to me, she was overwhelmingly depressed. She's attempting suicide. She's not only depressed but staggering under an overburden of guilt. In addition, she was pregnant. For the years of psychiatric treatment, she should buy drugs and pay other services to house her?

There must be a better way!

While we may not hesitate to go to a cardiologist or surgeon for our physical ailments, a "doctor of the mind" is something else. The meaning of the word "psychotherapy" comes from the original Greek roots "psuche" and "therapepuo" which means "mind/soul healing."

God's ways are not man's ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). In the real healing of mind and soul, only God's ways apply. Therefore, we should not be surprised when the theories of Freud, Skinner, Adler, Yalom, and others are diametrically opposed to God's ways as stated in Scripture.

Humanistic psychologists or drug-based psychiatrists have no or little to offer by way of genuine psychotherapy. They're committed to helping people with only the humanistic or physical tools/concepts available to them. Both humanism and science (man-centered) try to solve mankind's problems independent of God.

What is the best psychotherapy? Jesus said, "Without Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5) If you're healing in the areas of mind, emotions, and soul, particularly those that spill over into life values, you'll have to know God and His healing principles.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What To Do When A Loved One Is In Denial About Needing Help

When Maria found out that her husband Jason was having an extramarital sexual affair, Maria wanted to seek professional help. Jason refused. He reasoned that he didn't want to expose himself and their marriage to a stranger. He didn't see the problems that serious. He didn't like the costs involved.

That was the situation until Maria threatened to leave him and bring the kids with her. He finally agreed to go for individual and marital therapy and counseling. He did, even amid his mind's many "excuses," because he didn't want the natural consequences of his actions.

Unfortunately, Jason's denial and attitude is pretty common among men. Many men, when confronted with severe or obvious problems in their family or even themselves, refuse to see the issue. They often don't seek help until their loved one can no longer tolerate the pain they caused.

What do you do when your loved one - spouse, child, parent, relative, friend etc - is in denial or resisting help that's obviously needed?

Here are some of my suggestions that can be helpful ... before more damage is done!

•  Be straightforward to your loved one about behaviors that concern you in a kind, respectful way.

•  Give your loved one good access and information about recovery and therapy in a positive, life-enhancing manner.

•  Protect your relationship with your loved one and work on gaining his or her trust over the long run. Avoid nagging and belittling.

•  Plant seeds about getting help and water them regularly.

•  Make sure you're interested in your loved one's whole life, not just his or her potential rehabilitation.

•  Give hope.

•  Know when enough is enough. You can do only what you can do.

•  Threatening to leave or separate is not a first approach. But after time, it can be the best approach. Staying in a toxic relationship is harmful to your health, and enables your loved one to stay sick.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Healing Your Mental Images

Images in our minds are powerful. In fact, to the self, they can speak louder than words. Images are often "concealed" within our feelings.

I'm reminded of a a middle-aged woman I worked with. She'd burst into tears when speaking of her husband. The constant image in her mind was her husband having sex with another woman.

The great psychoanalyst, Dr. Carl Jung, once observed and wrote that he became "inwardly calmed and reassured" whenever he uncovered his mind's images underneath his feelings.

Therapeutic imagery. That's how Dr. Jung put it. You do your therapeutic imagery at your point of trouble, as Jung did.

In therapeutic imagery, you take time to let your mental image take its shape. A person, place, a tactile image, an image of your self - even though exaggerated in some ways. You develop and refine the image until it engulfs you. Your really feel it.

To actively work on the developed image (a movie, not a snapshot!), you nudge your self along it. You become the director of your image. The goal is for you to direct the image organically from negative to positive.

In psychotherapy, our imaginations can do anything. With our imaginations, we can perform cathartic acts of self destruction or self renewal. It's essentially an exercise of choice.

Tend to your imagination. From it springs your life and wholeness.

"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." (the Bible)


Friday, September 08, 2017

The Art of Being More Active To Become Less Depressed

When you're psychologically depressed, you're behaviorally depressed. Your mind expects more pain than gain. Life doesn't excite you any more. You feel you're unfit for life. That depresses you even more.

One solution is pretty simple. Direct.

When you find your self - whether consciously or subconsciously - in a vicious cycle of depression and inactivity, keep moving.

Be more active! That's the antidote. A proven prescription.

Cognitive behavioral therapies all teach the art of being more active to become less depressed. Among clinical psychologists and their dozens of studies, they're convinced that a most powerful antidepressant is "successful performance."

Christina had trouble being active again after suffering losses. Employments. Relationships. During our therapy sessions, its tremendous hard work for her to defy her depressive inertia, with its self doubts and crying spells.

After developing an inventory of activities, scheduling them, and working on her resistances, i stumbled upon a "vehicle." Together, Christina and I experimented on launching a new business where she could be motivated to be active.

Having a strong desire to help people, her new business that does help people took off! She realized how it gives her purpose seeing others happy after she helps them with the product of her business. With her loved ones cheering her on, she became so active each day, knowing she's making a difference.

Christina is one good example of "being active" in order to beat depression. Discovering her right niche and activities is the secret. That led Christina to her "successful performance" which gave her rewards and meaning to move on.

Patting her self on the back at every turn - learning to schmooze with her self big time! - Christina experienced the essence of a very effective cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Master Your Brain Health Without Drugs!

"The first wealth is health." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

You won't find natural health nutritional supplements in the bag of most psychotherapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists. It seems, the drug-free, nutritional treatment of mental disorders are often missed.

Yet many doctors are "orthomolecular." They believe that a big part of psychological healing is to supply the brain with optimal ("ortho") doses of natural nutrients it needs.

The brain picks up essential nutrients from the bloodstream. It's done by way of "special carrier molecules" passing through its BBB (blood-brain barrier).

In a seminal paper on orrhomolecular psychiatry, Dr. Linus Pauling discovered that faulty transport of  nutrients to the brain could result in localized brain deficiences. These then, Dr. Pauling wrote, could be a cryptic cause of mental illness.

Researchers have consistently found that clinical nutritional deficiencies in the brain promote depression. Some people have genetic defects that exaggerate their need for certain nutrients for their brain and immune system.

The distinguished British psychiatrist Dr. Alec Coppen and his associate MT Abou-Saleh conceptualized "a nutritional deficiency model for the psychoses." They suggest that disturbed, stressed out people deplete themselves of adaptive neurochemicals and nutrients. These deficiencies "provoke, predispose, and promote" or aggravate psychopathology.

Natural brain nutrition is essential for our mental health. Healthy foods and supplements protect us from nutritional deficiencies, even hidden deficiencies, in our brain. They have a positive effect on the serotonin and dopamine levels needed by the brain.

Serotonin used in the brain is known to affect mood and social behaviors. It also moderates appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire/function.

Dopamine, on the other hand, functions as a neurotransmitter (a chemical released by nerve cells or neurons to send signals to other nerve cells). Dopamine affects way we perceive pleasure/rewards.

Mental disorders, such as clinical depression, addictions, or personality maladjustments, partly stem from a relative deficit in serotonin and/or dopamine levels.

Natural foods to keep our brain "healthy and happy" - counterbalancing serotonin and dopamine levels - include oily fish, whole grains, blueberries, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, eggs, chickens, brocolli, nuts, among others.

It's interesting to note that, in two studies in the American Journal of Psychiatry, it's found that the highest suicide rates are found among those with the lowest protein levels. Proteins are building blocks of brain neurotransmitters.

Natural brain supplements are especially helpful. They are known to have a positive effect on serotonin, dopamine, and protein levels of the brain.

I often recommend Transfer Factor Plus and Brain Recall brain natural immune system supplements, which balance serotonin and dopamine levels as well as increase blood flow in the brain. Countless people around the world report how these supplements strengthen their focus, impulse control and overall immune system.

Nowadays, our common diet is filled with fast-food meals and harmful ingredients. This modern-day food "norm" has a negative, even a toxic effect, not only on our physical health but also on the brain and our overall mental health.

The way to go is natural brain nutrition through healthy foods and supplementation. When psychopathology symptoms are present, natural brain nutrition is often life-saving.

Don't forget it!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Revolution in Psychotherapy

I'm not a traditional psychotherapist. I lament the routinely wretched treatment of mental patients throughout the world. Instead of drugs and chains of the old traditional system, I offer a loving innovative system of support and deep process healing.

I value humanity. And I act as a fellow human and traveler to those who seek help to heal.

In my sessions, I drink coffee, walk and talk, with clients in normal life-spaces. Only a few times do I see clients in a confined cubicle or fixed office space. Mostly, I'd rather bring life recovery to a therapeutic space where client and I process while we "soak in humanity" around us.

For me, this is most effective and humane than psychiatric incarceration, forced hospital or facility confinement. It's least costly. The hurting person is freed from the zombie-like effects of brain drugs. And it's based on empowerment of family responsibility/support as well as faith of the individual.

Working with his parents and sister, I once delivered intensive psychotherapy services to Mark into their family home. He's 25 with a history of manic depressive episodes, depression, and severe dependency to psychiatric drugs, who might otherwise be institutionalized.

Echoing themes of my revolutionary psychotherapy, I bypassed traditional mental health approaches and invited the family, including Mark, to see me first in a coffee shop. Having been into brain drugs and in and out of facilities for years, it's his family's last-ditch effort to get through Mark's hard-core.

The personalized direct involvement of the therapy hour in a casual space proved effective for Mark. It did him a lot more good and a lot less harm. He shared he felt "normal." The nontraditional, non-invasive intervention calmed both Mark and his family.

For the first time, unencumbered by psychiatric institutional red tape, ideology, and pharmacy, Mark expressed how he felt differently. It avoided unnecessarily humiliating him and his family.  He functioned better enough to think through his deeper issues without costly medication/confinement.

Revolution in psychotherapy!

Time for change.

No more drugs. No more forced hospital/facility incarceration. No to dehumanization. No to shame. No to incomplete, invasive treatment. No to abrogation of family responsibility and connection.

We say "Yes!" to the Total Person deep process. Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual. Natural mental health. Drug-free. Brain Health and neuroimmunology. Going to the roots, not mere fruits. Family and community.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Moving Bodies, Thinking Brains

Dr. Debbye Bell, in a US television show on CBS, reported that exercise can make you brain-healthy. As she interviewed many fellow doctors, researchers, and educators in the field, she concluded that there is such a strong link between exercise and increased brain function.

In my practice, I've noticed that clients who took physical exercise workouts during the period of their psychotherapy sessions tend to have faster improvement compared to those who preferred to skip activity. When bodies are moving and brains are thinking together, that spells real-time recovery.

Therapy and counseling involves a lot of brain work. Relearning. Learning. As psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey put it, "Exercise optimizes the brain for learning. It creates the right environment for all of our 100 billion nerve cells up there." Yes, our brains change when we exercise.

Dr. Ratey, who teaches at Harvard Medical School, further explains the value of exercise for brain health: "It produces these growth factors ... and I call it miracle grow for the brain or brain fertilizer which helps the brain cells stay alive, live longer, and it helps the learning process."

We are not total victims of our genes or lifestyle. Even our age! Research shows that older people who exercise are less likely to experience cognitive decline. We hear it again and again. Exercise controls cardiovascular risk factors and gives new life to our body's organs.

That definitely includes brain health.

It's never too late to begin taking advantage of "moving bodies" to improve our thinking brains. It not only delays mental decline. It also improves our moods and control over our response to stress and life's circumstances.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Life's Goals That Heal

Once, I was speaking to one self-pitying woman who wails during each one of our sessions, "I have no point waking up. I have nothing at all to look forward to." Clearly, she's spending too much time focusing and thinking only about her self.

Human beings are naturally goal-driven. We all need worthwhile goals to fuel or drive us to continue living our lives. That's the way our minds are created. Thus, I've come to believe strongly that much of human misery is really one of weak or unworthwhile goals.

A gifted businessman client, who sold millions-worth of rice bags, remarked that money never brought him happiness. Inspite of reaching his material goals - cars, houses, vacations, bank accounts - he had many times of feeling emptiness and depression.

Earl Nightingale was a writer who helped millions of people around the world motivate themselves. He advised that people who want success in life should never try to get rich. He said, above all, set goals for yourself that help people, the riches will follow.

As Dr. Luke stated in Scripture, "Give, and it will be given to you." (Luke 6:38)

Last year, I bought a condominium property, which proved to be special to me. It was so for its with money purely coming from helping other people heal in their lives. Instead of being a status symbol, my new condo was an expression of how much help I'd been to my fellow humans.

Happy people have worthwhile goals. The richest people we can know have given themselves unselfishly to other people. That affected the way they sell, relate, drive, cook, teach, or conduct their career or businesses.

Life's goals that heal are totally unrelated to money or material reward. In fact, as Dr. Tim LaHaye put it, "If you earn money without helping people, your money will not contribute to your happiness." A world full of problem-laden people validates the fact of widespread absence of real goals amid us.

It looks like this is a hidden secret we all need to learn about human happiness.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Do You Need Financial Therapy?

Everyone of us has a psychological and spiritual relationship with money.

This relationship is not born. It’s bred. Beginning from childhood, the source of our beliefs and “scripts” about money developed over time in our minds.

The relationship we have with money is a result of slow, significant accumulation of lessons we absorb from the adults around us.

If our experiences of money are not healthy but rather painful or traumatic, they easily become the foundation of our financial struggles in adulthood.

Unconsciously, when wounds are left unprocessed, we may come to associate money with anxiety, crisis, or void in relationships.

Albert’s confusion over money persisted for many years during his adulthood. Until he got bankrupt. Zero. Nothing, even the basics.

Borrowing millions from his family, relatives, and friends, he pursued a business to earn big money. He did so for he needed to be independent of his parents.

But as soon as he earned profits, he spent it as fast as he earned it on women, drugs, and gambling.

In my work with Albert, we touched on his money “script.”

He didn’t see the connection then but his mother had serious issues with money when he was growing up.

His father, on the other hand, was hands off her mother’s financial habits even if he disagreed with her.

Albert remembered how his mother would always complain about not having enough money. But then, he’d watch her spend like crazy, go on shopping sprees, traveling overseas, and buying expensive stuff.

So here, as a result, Albert grew up having no real concept of finances. The discipline of wise spending, saving, making money work for you, or knowing how to manage it …that was beyond Albert.

Maybe you see a bit of your self in Albert. Maybe not.

But all of us have early life event or series of events associated with money. They leave “scripts” or imprints that can last into adulthood.

Do you see some of your own money “scripts” or imprints?

If you struggle with spending, saving, budgeting, paying off debts, severe luxury or frugality, gambling, or other money “scripts,” financial therapy could help.

Financial therapy can help you recognize and change psychological, emotional, and spiritual patterns you have about money that aren’t serving you.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Are Psychiatrists Qualified to Be Psychotherapists?

A few years after going into my private practice, I asked my former and current clients what they found most gainful about our work together. Some of them, you can read up in the "What They Say" section of this blog.

I expected them to describe mental or emotional insights and discoveries. Or, a few things about the wounds healed from their childhood. But all of them got personal to me, saying in effect, "Doc, you were so understanding and cared much about me so I recovered."

Psychotherapy comes from the two Greek words: "therapeutikos" and "psyche." "Therapeutikos" means one who takes care or serves another, while "psyche" means soul or being. Based on these original meanings, psychotherapy means ministering to the soul or being of another.

Psychiatry has medicalized psychotherapy. And as a result, it has corrupted the meaning and essence of psychotherapy by ascribing a foreign meaning to it - the "treatment of mental illness."

Psychiatry is the only branch of medicine that prescribes drugs without objective, clinical basis. Sadly, as Dr. Matthew Dumont put it:  "In bed together at the market: psychiatry and pharmaceutical industry."

Substantial research and statistics show that drug-dependent psychiatry seldom heals wounded thoughts and emotions. In fact, it often kills any chance of significant, permanent improvement on the soul and wellbeing of a hurt person.

Dr. Peter Breggin, in his book "Toxic Psychiatry," writes:

"Psychotherapists are a very broad group which includes helping people with problems by talking with them ... Not all psychiatrists are Psychotherapists or 'talking doctors' ... Many psychiatrists have little or no training in how to communicate with people about their problems. Instead they're trained in making 'medical diagnoses and giving drugs and electroshock.' "

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Person Is Not The Problem

Problems do affect people. And it's common sight how people convince themselves that their self-identities are bound up with their problems.

I'm reminded of Connie. He is like a lot of people who express the nature of their selves in terms of externals. He is fast losing his health and engaged in varied addictions, such as drugs, gambling, alcohol, and nicotine.

In our sessions together, he kept describing himself, "I'm useless. I'm an addict. I'm depressed and hopeless." Rather than seeing his addictions as separate from his person, he embraces them as his globalized identity ("I am my addictions!").

Interestingly, Connie has good things in his life that he is unable to see.  His degree in a top university. His computer programming skills. A mother who cares and is supportive of him. A young, innocent daughter who looks up to him.

The  person is not the problem. Rather the problem is the problem. 

In the case of Connie, the way to healing his damaged self and life is to regard his addictions as an "entity" in itself apart from him. Instead of saying "I am," he says "I have." He has addictions, with which he has a relationship that has taken over his life.

That's the problem, not him.

When Connie gets that, he can begin to work through his addictions more accurately. The problem invaded his person, which can now be reserved or protected or retrieved from the problem of addictions.

If this sounds too fanciful for you, you may try such a conversation your self.  Think of some problem you have. Think of it not as an identity characteristic but as an entity outside of your self. 

Discover then the fact that you are not your problem, but that you have a relationship with it!

And within that relationship to the problem, you have responsibilities and possibilities for your life that the problem has not removed. The problem has only succeeded in obscuring those possibilities and oppressing the potentialities of your self.

Remember again, your problem is "not-me." Your problem is the problem!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Attacking Panic Anxiety

Anxiety and panic always take over Nicolas. It's been two years now. Each time, whenever he's in public with lots of people, such as in the malls, trains, or car during traffic, the more nervous he is. His heart pounds. Sweaty palms. Tingling of his extremities. Shortness of breath.

Because of this, Nicolas has difficulty concentrating to contain his anxiety panic attacks. This makes him always carry with him a bag filled with medicines and other "crutches" in case he finds himself out of control. The condition renders him disabled to work and do daily normal functions.

Understandably, Nicolas feels embarassed when attacked by his panic anxiety. He is ashamed that he has to be accompanied by his wife or children whenever he goes out. Dissatisfied with the effectiveness of his brain drugs, he sought psychotherapy and spiritual therapy.

Dr. Elmer and Alyce Green, who practice at Menninger Clinic, once wrote in their book "Beyond Biofeedback," that "every change in the mental emotional state, conscious or unconscious, is accompanied by an appropriate change in the physiological state."

In his therapy sessions, including exposure therapy and exercise, Nicolas' evolving self awareness and new habits caused an mental/emotional change deep inside him. And each progressive healing of his long suppressed wounded emotions, hidden even from him, caused improved physical changes.

Nicolas discovered in his psychotherapy and spiritual work strong conflicts about his parents and his marriage long unprocessed. He now realizes that his buried anger and other feelings had been built up so much that they can't be expressed except through his anxiety or panic attacks.

As a result, Nicolas' "weak links" in his physical makeup that make him susceptible to panic anxiety attacks begun to disappear. He is now able to take things easier and travel alone, one step at a time. His prognosis and progress is bright.

Of course, besides psychotherapy and spiritual therapy, Nicolas utilizes all possible medical, nutritional, and alternative natural treatments to cure his anxiety panic attacks as well as prevent reoccurrence. It's holistic treatment - body, mind, emotions, soul.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Self-Saboteur, Co-Saboteur

 You may have people close to you, such as family or spouse, who exerts a powerful influence upon your life. They want a good relationship with you as much as you want one with them. Their opinions, however, may be sabotaging or not be in your best interest.

Patricia, for example, is an independent career woman. She loves to work and can live alone away from her husband. Despite her busyness though, she balances it with enough time and care for the needs of her husband and only daughter.

Yet, Patricia shared during a session that she couldn’t understand her husband’s treatment of her. Even out of nowhere, tactless remarks, jokes, criticisms, or silences will come from him. Times when she finds herself reacting to his behavior with depression, self-blame, or anger.

In my work with Patricia, she becomes more aware how her man’s disapproval or negativity can cause her to sabotage her self. When she gets too near to her success in her work, she tries to play it down since that’s the time she notices her husband becoming aloof or critical.

Knowing how to detect signs of a “co-saboteur” in your life is essential to your self growth and mental health. In that way, when the warning signals come, you can be prepared for what hits you! You can know how to understand and deal with them.

In the case of Patricia, it’s possible that her man may be unconsciously sabotaging his wife’s progress because of feelings of insecurity. He could mean well for he just wants more of Patricia’s attention, and broadening of her life and passionate interests to include him.

Often, a “co-saboteur” is not aware that he is sabotaging or being destructive towards one he cares about. He is not doing it on purpose. He simply needs help to see how he is impulsively responding to deeply buried feelings about himself.

Patricia meanwhile should never “self-sabotage” and diminish accomplishments in order to keep her husband from being jealous, critical, or withdrawn. Instead of avoiding/circling around it, she can choose to directly process it with her husband.

She could respond to her husband with something like, “I feel hurt when you’re not telling me how great I am with my achievements. I’d like you tell me that instead of acting on your irritation or anger. I love you, and nothing will change between us because I’m expanding.”

With that, the precious parts of the marriage will thus be salvaged especially when her husband responds positively. And Patricia will have eliminated him as a “co-saboteur!”

Remember the nature of the Saboteur and the work needed. As author Mat Hudson put it, “How has your Saboteur become so powerful? It’s because your unconscious mind is like a wall that’s been built up brick by brick, minute by minute, month by month, year after year, for decades.”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Growing Through the Seasons of Life

"Our lives are a journey. As we move forward, we will not only figuratively experience the geography of life: the exhilaration of high mountains, the tranquility of calm meadows, the isolation of treacherous canyons, but we will also experience the seasons of life: the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, the harvest of autumn, and yes, the darkness and depression of winter.” 
--Seth Adam Smith

While dining in a restaurant recently, I noticed a cute, little 5-year-old girl looking at me a few feet away. She was smiling, playing cheerfully with her Mom who was stroking her cheeks and making funny faces. I smiled back at her and waved my hand.

I enjoyed the moment. With wide-eyed wonderment. But also with a soft touch of memory of my youngest daughter, Angel, at that age. And how I wished I could bring back the season that has passed me by!

I think it's natural to remember sweet times in our lives with longing. Like me thinking of my daughter when she was once a little girl. Yet, as King Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, "There is a time for everything under the heavens."

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot. A time for war and a time for peace. A time to work and a time to rest. In all the seasons of our lives, the self is in a journey of development in the limited time and opportunity given to us.

A patient once told me, "Doc, my life is over. I lost my job. I lost my family. I want to die." He lost energy and purpose for waking up in the mornings any longer. His emotions were aggressively sabotaging and dictating on his thoughts and body reactions. 

Painful though it may be, imagine him without the "gift" of this season of his life? Only when he learns to see that this was just a phase and that life is a continuum will he be able to move beyond his present pain and rebuild to a better life. 

Without a season of pain, there would be no healing. Without the sorrow, there would be no joy. That's exactly where lasting, authentic beauty comes in. It comes in through the fruit of the seasons passing by.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Are you a cheating husband or wife?

If you are and you want to heal yourself and your marriage/relationship, here's a sneak preview of some therapy steps generally prescribed by clinicians and therapists:

* Abstinence 100% from all contacts and communications with the OP (other person) or adultery partner;

* Take responsibility for your behaviors and misbehaviors;

*  Show sincere evidences of remorse and repentance, relationally and spiritually;

*  Realize that there is never an excuse for adultery;

*  Be sensitive and patient when your spouse/partners suffers from triggers out of the infidelity 

*  Check your anger and resentment at the door;

*  Acknowledge the depth of the pain and wounding that your affair brought to the marriage and family;

*  Admit mistake committed and avoid all excuses and rationalizations to deflect attention to the 

*  Stop blaming your spouse/partner for your affair;

*  Repent of and stop recruiting the children to be "partners in crime" in the adultery;

*  Be truthful from here on - no secrets any more;

*  Get your personal healing of emotional wounds with a professional therapist;

*  Get marital healing with your spouse/partner only through increased structure of professional psychotherapy and counseling sessions, especially in the beginning stages;

*  Stop being defensive;

*  Be trustworthy;

*  Renew your mind and stop thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else;

*  Figure out the "roots" of your unfaithfulness to your spouse/partner;

*  Check what your spouse/partner needs on a regular basis;

*  Expand your circle of support - safe friends, therapist, community etc.;

*  Educate your self about affairs and infidelity treatment;

*  Listen - really listen;

*  Seek help from God as your best source of strength, healing, and life recovery.

Adultery is treason to marriage, family, and society. In the Philippines and in some places, adultery is a legal crime punishable by imprisonment. In the time of the Old Testament of the Jews, adulterers were stoned to death.

For those who persist in adultery or cheating, the costs are so high -- psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Marriage and children are casualties. Mental illness or addictions can develop. 

The Bible says that God may choose to discipline them or take them away from earthly life. Indeed, cheaters can choose what they want to do but they cannot choose their consequences.

Adultery or cheating is not an unforgivable crime or sin. It can be healed. With the right heart and actions, one can be whole again - and even the best person one can be in this life and beyond.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Emotions and Self-Sabotage

Depression and anxiety overwhelm Linda. Pounding heart. Sweaty palms. Shortness of breath. Crying spells. Stays in bed too long. Obsessed about her appearance and weight.

She feels blown off course, much like a small bird coming against big winds.

The normally difficult challenges of life, such as losses in relationships or finances, easily knock Linda flat. Her depressed and anxious feelings then make her feel inferior to and withdrawn from others. Such responses feed her cycle of feeling hopeless or helpless.

Depressed and anxious feelings, in and of themselves, are generally not harmful. These emotions are a natural part of our humanity. It's what makes us unique as persons. It's actually better that we experience these temporary emotions than pushing them away.

But for some people, natural emotions such as these lead to self-sabotage. The emotions become a constant disabling presence in their lives rather than momentary. As a result, they sabotage their own selves and energies for success, love, and happiness.

Linda did go through a rough year in therapy. But, along the way, she has learned to come out of it. Her darkness begins to brighten. She recognizes her childhood and attachment roots. She becomes more deeply aware of the nature and dynamic of her thoughts, and acquired skills to reframe them.

She manages to understand her feelings and control them. She nurtures her passions at work. She goes to the gym and works out or takes brisk walks outdoors when she feels down. She reassures her self that her family is just waiting if she wants to talk about problems.

I'm reminded of Dr. Karen Horney, a psychoanalyst, who once wrote: "Concern should drive us to action and not into depression."

Fortunately for Linda, taking the appropriate action steps leads her to win over her emotional self-sabotage.

She remains an emotionally sensitive person though and that's good. It's now an asset, not a liability, since her emotions no longer rule over her.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Therapy of "Right Work"

Work where one gets lifeless, bored, and sick is work one is not suited for.

Once in college, I went door to door selling encyclopedias along with a superstar salesman and several youth OJTs. I needed money for personal and school expenses, so I applied and interned.

Now there’s nothing wrong with that job. In fact, a number of those with us excelled and earned a lot.

But my problem was, for me, knocking on doors in strange neighborhoods and offices is an unnatural act. The work does not fit my personality.

Yet I decided to do it anyway and somehow I made it look right because of the money. I lasted less than one month. My heart was not in it.

Looking back on that experience (and yes, I committed other mistakes like it!), I realized I am not cut for some occupations. I have a specific set of gifts/talents, dispositions, and attitudes that require a specific type of work.

As a psychotherapist and mental health caregiver, I have come to believe that this is true for every person.

Dr. Marsha Sinetar once wrote:

“Right livelihood is an idea about work which is linked to the natural order of things. It is doing our best at what we do best…Some of us are uniquely equipped for physical work, athletics, or dance; some of us have special intellectual gifts that make possible abstract or inventive thinking; some of us have aesthetic abilities and eye-hand coordination that enable us to paint, sculpt, or design.”

I want to call it the “therapy of right work.”

Right work is just as important to personal health and wholeness as the right foods and nutrients are for our physical bodies.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Healing From Unconditional Hugs

Terry is like many single-agains. He is unhappy about his recent place in life. Being lumped into the category of maritally "divorced," he feels uneasy, embarrassed, and unsettled.

He shares his feelings during session and they're all reflective of how his marital failure affected the way he thinks about himself. He has begun to think more that he's no-good, dirty, a rotten bum.

Because of what he thinks about himself, Terry notices that others begin treating him that same way he treats himself. Every signal he sends them asks for that kind of treatment and perception.

Yet Terry can't help but continue in the same unhelpful pattern, which only leads him to deeper loneliness, depression, and denial.

Does any of these sound familiar to you? I am imagining that you reading this post is right in the thick of it!  Like Terry, you've probably never been hurt more than you hurt right now. Things that once made sense in your life are spinning out of control. In the midst of the failure, loss, or stress you feel, your world comes crashing down.

I want you to understand that you are not alone in your feelings. All of us experience embarrassing or painful slices from life's journeys. No one is exempted. Life is real and can take different turns. And if we're not adequately prepared, we may find ourselves beating ourselves up instead of accepting and encouraging ourselves to move on!

So how do you find hope in the midst of hard times? How do you work on your wounded self that's badly beaten by circumstances? How do you stop allowing your self an unhealthy view from the other extreme?  I think these are essential questions each one of us must address. And I believe one answer is found in unconditional hugs.

One of the things I do with my three children is giving them hugs. It's a type of hug that conveys the message of unconditional acceptance. It doesn't matter if they earn good grades in school, score wins in the job market, or gain success earning money. I love them forever! It's another way of saying to my kids, "I love you. You don't have to earn that with performance. Nothing can take that love away."

A lot of us need hugs from our self. I mean, we all need unconditional love and acceptance from our self. Even when we suffer pain, loss, or failure in life. Even in the midst of our mistakes and imperfections. Only when you have this unconditional hug, acceptance and love from your self can you move forward and accomplish great things, turn ashes into gold, in your life.

Have you been hugging yourself? All of us need unconditional acceptance from our self.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Self and Body Image

When I was a boy onwards spiraling out of adolescence, I was painfully thin. I remember each time I dressed, I’ll put “extras” on my shoulder to look bulky, compact, or big.

In social events, I looked like a tall ectomorphic pole without the “extras!” It made me feel self conscious and had to repair my self image from this in years following.

It can be hard to stand against culture”s overemphasis on physical appearance. It tends to distort vision and image of our true selves.

A client, Celia, had acquired a sense of worthlessness from others who jeered her “ugliness” and twisted form. Finally, it darkened her judgment and mental health as she accepted their assessment of her self based on external appearances alone.

The self is so much more than our body weight, physical appearance, or organic definition. Our “true self” operates on another deeper level of awareness.

If we get that, we won’t overreact to the “illusions” of culture or unkind feedback we encounter. Low self esteem – a negative view of self – is arrested.

So naturally even as we take care of our physical appearance and health, we know a crucial difference. The authenticity or core of our selves is essentially separate from the physical state of our selves.

Monday, July 03, 2017

What Hippocrates Says

Last year, I bought my 23-year-old daughter a lifetime program with Slimmers' World. She needs the weight loss. For her health. Her work. Her love life. As I expected, she procrastinated for several months and can't seem to start exercising. She drives instead of walk or run ... her office desk has taken over her where muscles are supposed to be used.

My "millennial" daughter needs to have will power enough not only to moderate her food intake. But, also her iPhone and digital gadgets' use so prevalent in today's generation. Well, I suppose this is also true to a lot others older than her! Globally, the luxury, soft-living, and technological comfort days we have appear to hold us back to develop habits of fitness and wellbeing.

After some 2000 years and scientific studies, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, is seen so right. Regular exercise is man's best "medicine." For example, in one chapter of his book on digestive diseases, Hippocrates mentions walking 40 times. He prescribes brisk walks, short walks, early morning walks, after-dinner walks, night walks.

For psychological and emotional disturbances, early morning walks and exercises were prescribed. Brisk walks were for losing weight and keeping one's figure trim. It's clear that regular daily exercise, especially walking, over prolonged years is found to prevent and inhibit symptoms of denigrating diseases.

The poets also reflect upon the nature of these things. Dryden observed:  "The wise depend on exercise for cure." And the prolific Robert Frost once smilingly remarked: "I have walked many miles with my dog. It has done me a lot of good. I hope it has my dog." Is it true what these poets are saying in your case?

Let's all exercise! And when you exercise, exercise as if your life depends upon it ... for it does!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Invisible Death Anxiety

Working as a therapist, "hints" of death and its accompanying anxiety are never absent. I hardly get through my sessions without sensing a cry for help from individuals hurt by dire consequences and relationships.

It's not private bias or indulgence on my part. It's a universal concern we all have as human beings.

This "death anxiety" though is often invisible. A male patient in his early 40s told me about his much younger cousin who died recently of cancer. After learning it, he suddenly felt a rushing in his panic attacks.

Once while inside an airplane, everything was well when he took his seat. Then suddenly, he became so uneasy and felt, "This plane is where I am and it's about to crash!" No amount of care from his wife or plane assistants could calm his anxiety and fear.

We have two choices to deal with "invisible death anxiety." We either face the truth directly or we try to flee the anxious feelings and not attempt to come to terms with it. I think the latter response appears more common in modern times.

In the "Hour of Death," author Philippe Aries writes, "Except for the death of statesmen, society has banished death. In the towns, there is no way of knowing that something has happened ... Society no longer observes a pause; the disappearance of an individual no longer affects it's continuity."

Ernest Becker, in his "The Denial of Death," describes the reality of the human condition. He says, "Man is a worm and food for the worms. This is the paradox; he is out of nature and hopelessly in it; he is dual ... Literally split in two... He sticks out of nature with a towering majesty and yet goes back into the ground a few feet ... to rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and have to live with."

Thus to make invisible our inherent death anxiety makes little sense. Our society focuses us more on the "economic" or "making a living." Such conditions us to deny or be unprepared to dying. Yet we all need to face the reality of it to live well.

Free from the non-essentials of life or unnecessary personal disabilities. Free from "denying the problem," "immature defenses," "distortion of our reactions," or projecting fears to things or persons.

Death anxiety is not beyond human control. If it's made visible and faced head-on, it can bring much quality of life. Especially in light of our limited years. I believe the measure of a good life is how we view and transcend our own death.

Monday, June 26, 2017

War Of Therapy

Therapy is a journey of the Self. Often, when there's deep psychological wounding, the Self remains fragmented. Split. Two selves - one is the damaged self lived to the present and the other is the positive self of an unlived life within. It's a difficult situation that needs adequate healing and recovery.

In between the lived life and the unlived life is a big enemy - resistance. My work with countless individuals in therapy is full of this. Resistance - whether conscious or unconscious, explicit or implicit - blocks well-being.

I'm reminded of Anton. He is a speaker guy. A gifted entrepreneur. At one time, he succeeded building a multi-million business. Then, he crashed. He overspent money on vices - booze, women, drugs. Now, even after over 5 years since he went bankrupt, he stopped using his gift.

Anton becomes disabled by his panic anxiety attacks, rage, and depression. When directly addressed by his therapist to deal with his core issues, he refuses to process them. He remains stuck, unwilling. Yet he knows many things are not ok about him.

But something inside Anton  is saying ok to what he knows very well is not ok. About his self, his life in general. There lies the location of his internal resistance. It's this underlying resistance that fuels and drives his self to think, feel, and do what he doesn't want for himself.

The "war of therapy" for a person's liberation is to break this resistance. Pound it into finer pieces, turn the ashes into something new and beautiful. Hope is basic. Faith and courage brings the resistance down.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When Children Misbehave

What I've known is, all children misbehave no matter what their family situation is. I surmise it's a natural built in to the predictable pattern of development of children their age. Yet it's still vital for parents to determine if the misbehavior is just normal for the child or related to parental deficits.

A therapist/counselor can be helpful in assisting and clarifying what parents cannot see. I recall spending hours of session with a single Mom whose 14-year-old daughter has dropped out of high school and often been running away from home. The question that arose was, "Is this daughter acting in that way because she never knew her father, or it's because she's a teenager?"

Some times, answers are not black or white. "This misbehavior is all about the parents' divorce" or "This behavior is all about teenage behavior." Some times, I'm saying, it can't be accurately distinguished. In this case of the Mom and her 14-year-old daughter, the misbehavior most likely reflects both typical teenage feelings and some stuff resulting from her father's abandonment and other relevant factors.

I know. It isn't comfortable to have answers like that. But it's the likely truth.

When children misbehave, a best answer is for parents to give their child loving "consistency." Is the child getting wild, crazy, or out of control? If you think you're being loving by letting your misbehaving child get away with anything, you've got it wrong. Your child may look thankful for allowing him or her to misbehave. But sooner deep inside, he or she'll find out that you don't care enough to take him or her to the right path.

My fellow parent, it's a tough tightrope to walk, isn't it?

If you're a Mom or Dad who have emotional wounds or dysfunction your self, you need to give attention to your healing while being actively involved in your children's lives as well. So, one best gift you can give to your misbehaving child is to be a healthy parent! That requires primary care if you're to realistically hope to influence your child for the better.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Best Life After Infidelity

Something new came into the life of Maria as a result of her husband's infidelity - tears. She was still obsessed over processing all the events circling around the wound of her marriage and life. It was overwhelming, a deepest cut. And all she could do was look out the window and cry for months.

I asked her in one of our sessions if she'd ever run out of tears. I mean, a "dry cry." She finally said, "Yes!" Of course, I suspect she remained crying as she always did, but no liquid present! That is one woman who had truly cried a river for some time. That was several years ago. Time and distance passed.

Then one day, she made a call and reappeared to me. I noticed a different Maria. In our talks, she reported significant accomplishments in her life after her unremorseful husband's infidelity and separation from him. As the days, weeks, and months went by, things looked clearer to her that led to a successful writing and business career. By placing distance between her and her marital wound, she gained valuable progress in healing her self and building a new life.

Looking at Maria's massive crisis that engulfed her life, it's important to note one helpful action she did - she sought professional help. Since the situation was beyond her ability to handle and decipher, it made great sense to her to see a counselor from the beginning. According to her, that choice speeded up rather than prolonged her healing process. She honestly believed that something self destructive might had happened to her if she didn't make that choice.

If you're deeply hurt right now, I know your teary eyes may feel like heavy weights. But in time, as you take the right steps and commit your self to recovery over the long haul, you'll be back at the top of your game. You'll be brand new! And pretty much better rising out of the ashes. There is always the promise of hope beyond the pain.

So, if you're locked up inside, open the door. Open the window. Go outside. Take deep breaths. Pray. Look as far as you can see. Take responsibility. It's wonderful. It's worth the price to pay to live your best life ahead.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Moments Of Being

Noted therapist/author, Virginia Woolf, speaks of how much of our life is lived in the haze of "non-being." She describes what she means:

"A great part of every day is not lived consciously. One walks, eats, sees things, deals with what has to be done; the broken vacuum cleaner; ordering dinner; writing orders to Mabel; washing; cooking dinner; bookbinding. When it is a bad day, the proportion of non-being is much larger."

In my work as a psychotherapist, it's inescapable for me that I catch glimpses of people going about their lives. And I always notice that it's easy enough for most of us to live without really looking. We can get things done or interact with others and not bothering to pay attention. 

I once knew a 50 year old man stricken with colon cancer who was always out, day after day, walking in the mall despite his frailty. He liked to get out. According to him, it made him feel alive. Even just looking at people going by or conversing with them in the coffee shop gave him "moments of being." He rejoiced with them, sharing each other's stories.

Illness, accident, or death can teach us that all can be taken away in one swift moment. So, for the first time in our lives, we may find learning to reject "moments of non-being" that characterize much of our days. We search for what really matters given the shortness of time to enjoy "moments of being."

When Alexander Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned, he wrote:

"You have the right to arrange your own life under the blue sky and the hot sun, to get a drink of water, to stretch, to travel wherever you like ... Do not pursue what is illusory -- property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night ..."

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Endless Cravings

Life is a temporary assignment. Many of us tend to crave things. We long for more and thirst for something better.

If only I have millions in the bank ... if only I'd married the right person ... if only I completed my degree ... if only I was born in a different family ... if only I have good connections. The list is endless.

Then sooner or later, with all our endless cravings, we find ourselves feeling empty. We catch existential angst. Confused, we don't experience lasting satisfaction in anything, anywhere. We wonder where the time has flown.

A young single woman I'd call Martha saw me once in deep distress. She's into daily prescription drugs due to her anxiety panic attacks. She described her self a "workaholic." According to her, she craves for a lot of things that she wants to possess, such as jewelry, cars, condos, and foreign travels. She hates not working. If idle, she feels panic.

Once Martha had casual sex with a man who picked her up in a coffee shop. She craved and loved the attention. She gave her self and body to the stranger with all gusto. She liked the excitement. In the session, she remarked, "But after, I never thought it would be so quick." Then she admitted it made her feel bad about her self and other areas of her life.

One of life's greatest deceptions is we need to crave to own something, crave to be with someone, or crave to do something, before we can feel happy. Our agenda is filled with temporal goals. Have you ever thought that life is more than these transient things we endlessly crave for?

Think about it. There is an ultimate answer to make us live life to the fullest. Know the secret of what lasts.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Are You Loving From An Empty Or Full Tank?

Once I received a heartbreaking message from a divorced, 32-year-old Middle Eastern woman I'd call Riza. She is currently remarried after a time of promiscuity from the first divorce and left everything to be with her second husband in a foreign country.

After just less than a year of being with her second husband, Riza texted me the other night to pour out and describe her latest update. A part reads,  "I have walked out and gone to international airport to leave the country as my self esteem is very broken with my husband." What strikes me about Riza' s declaration is that it's her self esteem which got very broken, not the relationship with her husband.

I feel for Riza. My heart goes out to her. She is in a very painful place. Despite her natural beauty and "wanting to love and be loved," Riza still finds her self empty and have not been making good progress learning to truly love and receiving love with the various men who passed by in her life. She has a "mountain" to climb but has to learn from the pain first about her self and her former love relationships before she can move on to climb the top.

Divorce or ending of a love relationship is especially traumatic and destructive for those who "love from an empty bucket."  If the center of your life and love is in your partner and the relationship dissolves, your center is suddenly removed. Since the bucket is empty, what else is left of you?

What could it be like if the loving is from a "full bucket" within a whole person?  If loss, divorce, or ending of a love relationship comes, you would still experience pain and trauma. Of course. But it would not be so devastating and destructive because you love from a "full bucket." You would still be a whole person.

Are you loving from an empty bucket or a full bucket?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Money Delusion

Recently, a man named Jessie was in headline news. He was a gambling addict who lost millions to casinos. A few days ago, he went inside Resorts World Manila with armalite rifles and bottles with gasoline. He burned the casino tables and slot machines in the area. And then robbed millions worth of gambling chips which he put inside his bag. Eventually, the police caught up with him and shot him. Wounded, he holed himself up inside a room and committed suicide.

Multiple times I've come across patients who've become addicted to winnings in casino gambling. At first, when they're allowed to "win," they felt high and proud like rock stars. They thought well of themselves and were cheerfully congratulated by smiling admirers. They giggled, kissed, and hopped up and down!

Then as time went by, the unbridled ecstasy turned progressively into increasing losses. Debts began to pile up. And one's urges got out of control. As one patient Daniel told me in one of our sessions, "So what? I want my money back! I live for the next chip, borrow again and again -- striking more to get my money back and cancel my losses."

The whole problem with the money delusion is that it is deceptive. The lust or greed of the heart lies at the root of this lucky-sweepstakes syndrome. We crave instant gratification. Instant inheritance! The love of money and leisure can blind us to the importance of work we give to earn it. Specially in the materialistic world where we all are, we can become those who live only for the paycheck.

From this mindset, the money delusion falsely assumes that we are our happiest self when we think and feel no need to be productive to get the money we want. Or, if we're able to earn it, we don't experience lasting satisfaction and contentment. For years money and leisure promises us joy and leaves us disconsolate. Because its fleeting, the self never arrives at its true core and best meaning.

As writer W.E. Sangster once put it, "You seem to have more of everything than anybody else. You have more cars, more televisions, more refrigerators, more of everything. In fact, I've noticed that you also have more books on how to be happy than anybody else." The history of men and women shows that money itself will not produce lasting feelings of self esteem and happiness.

In the process of getting older or when death looms nearer, this money delusion may begin to show its weaknesses to us. With chances of cancer, a heart attack, or costly hospitalization before us, despair over fleeting satisfactions begins to set in. The foolishness of both the money delusion and the leisure delusion gets clearer.

Rather than speed up incoming cash and self indulgences, one asks one's self then, "Since my final years are short, how can I use my final years to produce what's lasting and meaningful?" Here, the doctrine stops being purely material. Such self exploration can pave the way for us to understand what life's purpose truly is.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dr. Jung and Higher Self

What is the Higher Self? Renowned psychologist, Dr. Carl Jung, offers an answer to this question: “The Self is the royal archetype of the whole person; the Self is the totality and purpose of the psyche; the Self is the imago Dei (image of God), the “God in us.’ “ In other words, the higher Self is transcendent, since it’s beyond the confines of our own limited, lower self.

The discovery of the Self, the highest authority of our personality, is fundamental to the wholeness and balance of our selfhood. It oversees our organic, biological, mental, emotional, and spiritual centers, in addition to controlling our concept of life and the world. It’s the totality of our conscious and unconscious psyche.

Most of our self’s psychopathology is rooted to an undeveloped higher Self. When the ego behaves excessively or destructively, the higher Self becomes the healing self responsible for re-establishing balance and inner harmony. It’s work is to remove hidden obstacles and harmonize all dimensions of the person.

A long time ago, I treated a couple in therapy who were on the brink of a nasty divorce. The husband Antonio was a bar owner. For decades, he made constant verbal promises to his wife that he’ll stop boozing, womanizing, and gambling. Yet despite his willingness, hidden unconscious blockages prevented him from meeting his objectives. This continually traumatized his wife.

Since his conscious and unconscious goals are out of balance, part of my role was to assist him to reconcile them by integrating “symbols” in our sessions. One time, Antonio chose the cross as a symbol to process that clashed most violently against the negative, damaging fragments of his self. For him, this manifested a sacred, luminous effect on his capacity to stop his damaging impulses and become his” true self” living a new life with his wife.

So here, the higher Self intervened in the patient. In Dr. Jung’s thought – it’s the human soul of the recovering person in which the divine resides that participated. I am astonished by the richness and result that emanated from this exercise over time in our sessions. Now, Antonio gives up his bar business. He reads a page a day of the Daily Bread from his cell app as part of his healing and goes to church with his wife and kids for the first time in his life!

Jesus said, “… and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives the One who sent Me.…” (Matthew

Monday, May 15, 2017

Facing Death Anxiety

"Death is the ultimate statistic. It affects one out of one."
-- George Bernard Shaw

"Death is no paper tiger," once wrote psychologist Dr. Carl Gustav Jung. Beyond age 35, according to him, death is a common universal source of anxiety or preoccupation in our lives. It's also a revealer of one's actual state of Self, mental health, and overall wellbeing.

In the process of getting older, death anxiety usually looms progressively larger. The threats of cancer, heart attack, and costly hospitalization are terrifying. People show a variety of responses to this inevitable, heavy reality of eventual physical self-obliteration. Generally, one's response can either be helpful or harmful to one's self-integration and wellness.

In many respects, death makes people anxious. Witnessing the death of a loved one, friend, or stranger can make us more sensitive to mortality. Even while expressing hurts or seeking comfort from others, we tend to steel ourselves against death fears.

And we pass the years with our most vulnerable feelings on this reality numbed or shielded from the core of our selves. As author Ernest Becker put it, man "is out of nature and hopelessly in it - it's a terrifying dilemma to be in and have to live with."

Many years ago, my younger sister was in a hospital. She had a stroke and had to be confined indefinitely to the ICU. My wife, kids, and I passed by the hospital to visit her but I remembered going anxiously. I felt too uncomfortable. I didn't know what to say when I see her. And she didn't have much to say to me because she appeared dying.  It's awful. But how can I not visit her. She's my sister. So I went. Yet I felt terrible about it.

Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist, maintains that his view of medical practice was changed after he experienced a near-death body injury. He endured months of helplessness in a hospital and then in a nursing home.

He realizes that "there is an absolute and categorical difference between a doctor who knows and one who does not, and that this knowing can only be obtained by a personal experience of the organic, by descending to the very depths of disease and dissolution."

Before we can fully deal with our anxieties or fears about our own death, we often need to experience glimpses of it personally. In my therapy work, I've seen solitary, abusive individuals become soft and more receptive once they sensed that the end is near.

After such glimpses, real changes tend to emerge in the way they spend their time, conduct their relationships, and look at the future. Michael Norvak writes, such "lift his eyes from the sequence of daily routines to perceive the law of his own death, and to struggle for ways of life that assuage death's bitterness."

Death, our self-obliteration, is the final enemy of our human existence. The power of personal experience in facing the approach of death then becomes a grounding of our spiritual Self. It means that we can heal and control death anxiety, and its effects on our body, health, and self-integration, by our faith and beliefs.

That includes the after-life, eternal life, a life greater than physical life. As Christ said in John 11:25, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will never die."