Sunday, February 18, 2018

Facing Futility

The task of caregiving can be draining. At times, it leads to feelings of despondency. One daughter describes how the futility of her caring for her chronically sick, disabled mother precipitated a major depressive episode.

"She's not improving. No matter what I do or how well I do it, my efforts are wasted. It hurts seeing my Mom getting worse. I'm tortured, I could not put things right."

It happens. This feeling of futility. That despite your best efforts to be helpful, in spite of even the desire of one you're caring to get well, he or she may remain sick.

A sense of futility can lead a person to lose freshness. Innocence. Compassion. And eventually, one's identity as a genuine helper.

We can all understand that it can be beyond our means to help a person heal or get better. We simply need to carry more realistic expectations of what is within our human capacities.

Yet such realization does not protect us from thoughts like, "She should work hard her self as I do taking care of her," "She must appreciate my efforts," or "I must be doing something wrong here."

As a therapist, I sometimes feel that. I just cannot get through to some people when they resist, put up with games, defensive reactions, and stubbornness. Part of it, because of my own human limits.

Still I've to face reality. My sense of futility, if it happens. I still have to deal with the disease states of the mind or emotions of those I try to help. I need to be rational in knowing my capacities and not take things personally.

Acceptance. That's another key in facing futility. When you resist the reality of a bad situation, you add another layer of suffering in your mind.

I'm reminded of a Mom I spoke to yesterday who struggled caring for her autistic teenage son. She's worrying, depressing, or guilting her self into a solution!

We all need a decluttetered brain, a calm spirit, to handle bad situations.

Also, it is never unusual for us to encounter a power greater than we are capable of seeing or doing.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Marrriage Doesn't Mean Happiness

Is marriage a solution to your personal unhappiness?

Fely, at 30, thought so. Even while depressive and suicidal for years, she met Robert, a foreigner she found in an online dating site. The guy traveled to and fro in order to see and court her.

Each new visit, Robert would treat Fely to dinners out, roses, and surprise gifts. He became Fely's generous lover and "caretaker."

Eventually, despite her unprocessed depressive spirals and suicidal thoughts, Fely agreed to marry Robert. She said she felt "happy" when with him and marriage would make them be together permanently.

Only a few weeks after marriage, Fely was found half-naked on a drug overdose inside the bedroom. She also got drunk.

Coming from work, Robert felt devastated witnessing what was happening to his new wife. He thought she had already found "happiness" when they got married.

I agree with marital therapists/authors, Sally and Jim Conway. They wrote in their book "When A Mate Wants Out:"

"An unhappy person before marriage is likely to be an unhappy person after marriage. Marriage may provide a temporary change in happiness because of the novelty of the situation, but eventually each mate will settle back into the level of happiness experienced as a single adult."

Marriage is life.

A mixture of good and bad. If a partner believes marriage is just good or like in courtship, he or she is going to be disappointed. Possibly, blaming or whiny too.

So, if you're unhappy or in a disease state now as a single adult, ultimately it may mean there is double the unhappiness or disease when and after you get married.

It's all the more "doubles" when two unhappy persons are put together in a marriage!

Something to think about. Seriously.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Freeing Your Self from Emotional Imprisonment

Sometimes, walking in the street, I passed by armored vans delivering/transporting money to or from the bank.

They have a treasure inside that they're guarding with great vigilance.

The vigilance is of course a necessity.

It's interesting that Maria guards her feelings so well. Even those that continue to damage her core being.

As a result, she lost the ability to experience joy in her life. Her personality is unnecessarily locked up by her emotions.

Expectedly, during sessions, Maria gets tight.

Must she lock up her injured emotions and avoid seeing what they really are? Must she imprison her personality?

Of course not.

As in the case of almost all with psychological wounding, Maria must learn to free her self. From a type of prison outside brick-and-mortar penitentiary.

It's a call towards liberation from emotional imprisonment.

So how then do you free your self from this life-damaging internal prison? How do you find joy, peace, and fulfillment?

Answer: self-acceptance.

That means, self-liking, self-caring.

If you can be vigilant guarding your self from being hurt or damaged by your wounded emotions, surely you can be vigilant and enthusiastic for the greatest task of guarding your best treasure.

That is, the healing and growth of your capacity for self-acceptance.

Accepting your self amid the inevitable ups and downs of life. Accepting your self in a troubled world. Accepting your self -- both in triumphs and tragedies.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Psychological Care in Physical Illness

One of my clients, Cynthia, who underwent several brain surgeries, commented: "I'm not sure if some of the operations were necessary. I think it's more about the money!"

Such is a sad case of sensing how health providers can put economic gain above patient needs.

I suppose we can't automatically assume that hospital, medical, or health care providers are our agents or advocates. Resolutely looking out for our best interests, I mean.

Nowadays, we live in a culture where tasks are given priority over mercy or humane service. Sadly, if we're discerning enough, there are schemes that allow doctors and health care providers to profit by denying essential care.

Decades ago, I visited my sister in the ICU of a hospital. She had kidney cancer. After a few complications since being hospitalized several weeks before, she died. Painful, I saw how lonely and depressed she was in her medical setting.

How I noticed a succession of 7 different nurses who saw my sister. Two or three doctors would check on her. Each one of them spent a few seconds or minutes with my sister -- but nobody looked at her as a whole person.

I think our whole health care system is too specialized. Too responsible for an incredible number of patients, with very little time to spend with each. Much less, the training and competence to provide basic psychological care to those in chronic illness.

No wonder, one of my medical doctor-friends once remarked, "You can die faster in the hospital!" How ironic, isn't it?

Proper psychological and spiritual care need to be basic in health care. It always spells the difference between life and death. Longevity of the patient while ill hangs on it.

When someone is frightened or in pain, personal and compassionate care of the doctors etc can be a best medication.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Healing Cry Without the Shame

Dina seemed incapable of receiving compliments. In our "chit chat" during session, after I'd affirmed her accomplishments and good looks, she started avoiding eye contact by staring at the floor or holding her self tightly.

As the session progressed, Dina got more defensive. She'd suspect rather quickly that I thought negatively of her, even with a simple greeting or smile.

Perhaps she may had felt, if only I'd tell her the truth, it would confirm how bad she really feels about her self.

According to psychotherapist Dr. John Bradshaw, shame-based persons are distrustful. They expect people to shame them. They're in constant search for information in their environment that shames them.

And if they're unable to find such data, they'll distort their perception of people and environment in it to match their expectations.

As I had time to think about our session, I surmised that I had come too close to Dina ... too close to uncovering what's shame-prone inside her.

Her emotional demeanor was that of unexpected, untimely exposure. And then, fear or expectations of more exposure.

According to psychologists Drs. James Harper and Margaret Hoopes, shame is related primarily to a feeling of inferiority in individuals, families, and groups.

In contrast to guilt (evaluation of behavior), shame is an emotion in response to negative evaluation of one's self or being.

Drs. Harper and Hooper further commented,

"Everyone has experienced shame. Yet there is a vast difference between a person having a shameful experience and a person having a shame-prone identity. In fact, some degree of shameful experience is unavoidable and even helpful when people relate to each other, but shame-proneness is always devastating."

Dina's shame had a source from which she has to heal. She based her identity on an accumulation of the shame of rejection and abuse she had experienced from her Mom since early childhood.

She had internalized her Mom's attitudes of her as "bad me."

As an adult and mother herself, Dina projected her "bad me" on everyone that had contact with her. This includes her husband and four children.

In my work with her, even with seemingly benign questions, this "bad me" always got in the way of her seeing and healing her injured self.

Part of Dina's healing from her shame is accepting the wounded child within her. As she takes steps to free this part of her, other pieces would surface.

Such new living with wholeness also involves knowing and embracing Someone much greater/better than her self ... and her Mom.

If truth is told, under these conditions, you can experience a "healing cry without the shame."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Yes, You Can Be Ageless!

Even if you're getting much older, life's enjoyment can be richer. Your craving for self expression may speak loudest. Your capacity for joy or fun is not bound by ripening age. 

It's still there.

I like this particular group of senior men I meet regularly. Some are ill, prone to anxiety, whining, or losing hope. Yet they all evince agelessness in a way when they meet.

Their secret?

They all learn to practice the therapy of laughter. It leads them back to their childhood and youth when having fun together. At least temporarily, they loosen their hold on themselves.

A doctor who studied the beneficial effects of humor on old age states,

"Perhaps ultimately, and in the  deepest sense, humor works by rallying, and by being a manifestation of, the will to live."

A 100-year-old woman was once asked her formula for longevity. She said,

"I think my sense of humor has protected me from stress. My favorite motto in aging is this: 'Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it won't matter.' "

My Mom and Dad also possessed that secret formula. Despite their natural infirmities and struggles, they remained generally worry-free and light in their countenance. They both reached their ripe 80s.

Laughter transports you back to the present. It tells you that you're still alive! Still breathing. Sensing and viewing the spectacle around you.

In a way, that can make you feel the value of every hour free from anxiety, trouble, or irritation.

Take it too from Norman Cousins, author of "Anatomy of Illness," who wrote:

"I made the joyous discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect."

Yes, you can be ageless!

Thursday, February 08, 2018

In Search of "Real" Life Using Travel

A few years ago, I travelled around the exotic places of Thailand. It's one of my "travel without money" adventures, once again. My Australian host treated me to a nice hotel and sumptuous meals.

For a few weeks, I was hanging out in the beaches and Buddhist temples. Simply curious. Savoring fresh air and seawaters. Knowing the culture and their religion.

I received special gifts of insight about me, fellow humanity, and life in general, along the way.

One afternoon, in a cafe, I met an aged American "secret agent." He was with a young Thai girlfriend, possibly 4 decades his junior.

In our conversations, both intimated that they're running away from something with their travels together. Not just around Thailand, but also around different Asian countries.

The elderly American, away from the pain of his divorce and estranged children. And the young Thai woman, an escape from poverty and a broken, abusive family.

People seem to be running away from something in their travels.

Yes, travel can be like that - but it's also running towards something. A search for a run towards something "real."

While watching a little boat passed by Hua Hin, I felt myself in both ways. Escaping from and running towards something.

I've been running away from the "worldly" idea of what life is. Imperfect though I am, I avoid that nonlife.

And I run towards a life with a higher purpose, authenticity, and connection. A life above the sun.

Reflecting, I realize how much society boxes me in. With illusions, diversions, false news. It simply cannot fathom that "normal" is outside its norm. I travel away from the abnormal to what's normal.

People who found "real" life in their travels break the mold. They don't just travel. They discover, see, and experience life as it really is.

Be free to travel towards the world and true living. Your whole life is yours to travel. It's short. And you get to travel it only once.

Monday, February 05, 2018

The Unfulfilled Parent

Many fathers, mothers, and other parent figures are needy. Dysfunctional, even toxic. Psychologically and emotionally impoverished. Unable to meet their children's legitimate needs.

If you're raised by unfulfilled parents, chances are you've unmet needs. And if they're basic developmental needs undelivered, more likely you've difficulties with your functioning, identity, or enjoyment.

Cesar didn't receive what he needed from her mother since childhood. He was constantly mistreated or abused verbally. With physical beatings from her mother especially since his father abandoned them, he had great difficulty relaxing and having fun with her.

At first it may seem inconceivable that a mother would use a vulnerable, helpless child to get her own needs met. But this occurs in the case of Cesar's troubled, wounded mother. In fact, anyone around which happened to include Cesar will be "unconsciously used" by his mother.

Why do parents become unfulfilled, dysfunctional, or even toxic?

A common psychoanalytical reason is that their needs were not met as infants, children, and/or adults.  As a result, they tend to use others, including those close or near them, in unhealthy, inappropriate ways to have their needs fulfilled.

For both the unfulfilled parent and the victim child, it's then a case of recovery of the "wounded inner child." To heal the confusion, regression, and misdirection of both, they grieve over the unmet needs as well as things they experienced that they didn't want.

In therapy, both the parent and child with the "wounded inner child" undergoes a healing journey. In order to survive, a stronger true self replaces an exaggerated false self created by psychological wounding.

Fighting the Blues

Right now, I'm looking at a woman in my weekly group session who's evidently experiencing disorientation. She is "retired" from her family care and occupation, which kept her in touch and needed all her adult life.

Now, she feels out of touch. No longer needed. Confined to an inescapable space, alone. Her life reduced to fading memories. An existence leaving her with feelings of depression, uselessness, and loss of identity.

Solomon once said, " ... Because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting" (Ecclesiastes 11:10). And "... the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them' " (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Now that reminds me of my father. Oh, he lived many, many years till his 80s. Sadly, quite most of those years were marked with tragic disorientation. Quiet desperation. Without health and close friends, something stole away his zest and purpose.

Life goes on. And there's nothing in it to tell us it won't happen to any one of us before we "retire." It's not restricted to the elderly alone. Or, those without money, health, or family. Disorientation and the "blues" may happen to anyone at any stage of life, for various sorts of reasons.

Want to fight the "blues?"

Stop living for what's only seen. Replace the fake with the real. Have faith in God to strengthen you. Laugh always. Exercise. Eat healthy. Don't let material things or occupation enslave you. Avoid the rut of routine and boredom. Stay in touch with people. Read widely. Go outdoors. Cultivate even just few friendships.

Yesterday was Sunday. I went drinking and talking with men-friends. It was great therapy too to take long walks. With most of my days filled with moments of purpose in my sessions, I got to loosen up my intensity once in awhile. Not taking my self (plus my kids and friends!) too seriously. It's refreshing and energizing.

Start now. Let's prepare to fight the blues well.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Death is Sure But it's Never the End

Willie was diagnosed with cancer. Just a few weeks after that, all his thoughts hit hard, resulting in sleepless nights and anxiety panic attacks.

Eventually, he developed thanatophobia. That's fear of dying or being dead. Then it worsened to necrophobia, which is fear of dead things or things associated with death, such as coffins.

Fear of death is normal. Rational, in the sense that it's inevitable. But phobia is irrational. It prevents you from effectively living life (making the most of time) without screaming in terror.

Instead of falling prey to death anxiety or fear as a mental disorder (even a curse), you can take steps to alleviate it. And with that, much better enjoy your life.

You can choose to move forward with faith. Value and enjoy life. Switch from anxiety and fear to excitement. Focus on things above the earthly or material. Do preparatory stuff. Be still and know God.

"Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go," writes Jean de la Fontaine.

That's true of Billy Graham. One of the wisest men who ever lived, he is almost 100 now. Once interviewed by a journalist regarding his view of death, Billy said that he's prepared for it, anytime.

He said, " ... death is a reality common to us all, and for me as a Christian it isn't something to be feared, because I know what lies ahead for me beyond the grave."

For the wise man, death is sure. But it's never the end.

Jesus promises, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will never die" (John 11:25).

"For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:23)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When Busyness Rapes Relationships

Appointments, programs, deadlines ... you rush. Schedules, services, seminars ... lots of it. Trips, presentations, demands ... run, run, run!


There's a woman in Manila named Wilma who experiences how it is. She's a wife with two young children. Back in the early 2000s she started developing a multi-million restaurant and import export business.

But, along the way, she managed to sacrifice her marriage. Blazing a busy business track, Wilma was almost never seen at home. Her husband was getting tired. So were her children, who seldom saw their mother.

Listen to Wilma's admission during session: "I was a shallow woman. My life was busy but it fractured my relationship with my husband and children. They left me. So now, I see." 

Through tears and wounds, she's beginning to clear the thorns of neglect in her relationships born out of her activity-addiction. She watches her convulsions with a painful sigh. 

Dr. Chuck Swindoll, famous best selling author, had a mentor who once declared: 

"Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life."

Friend, are you too busy? 

Time to psyche up! Let the main thing be the main thing.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Facts or Feelings?

When I was having coffee with a young couple lately, the man had been telling his fiancée to "stick with facts." He said that feelings are not the same as facts. He prodded his fiancée to be less emotional. In effect, the woman felt neglected or unloved.

Neuroscience tells us that the human brain is actually a "twin." It has a left brain (rational, logical, fact-based) and a right brain (emotional, intuitive, artistic).

The left side and right side of the brain are mirror images of each other.

I think we men tend to be more heavily dependent on the left or cognitive side of the brain. We tend to make all our life-changing decisions on the basis of hard, logical facts. Raised or conditioned by a practical culture and work ethic, we want to know the "bottom line" fast enough.

But, more and more, men are experiencing that to make choices based on logic alone is limiting. It can be imprisoning.

Mental health involves using both sides of the brain. Not either/or, but both. IQ and EQ together.

Business is now realizing that. It trains its executives and employees who plot the course of corporations and businesses to use both sides of the brain.

In personal life and relationships, this also holds true. With the left side of the brain, we think through problems of logic and data happening in our lives. The right side of our brain moves us to hope and possibilities - the whole area of dreams and visions rather than reason.

I'm reminded of some senior citizens I met who've felt "too old to dream." They only rely on the facts of their present life stage. They stopped dreaming about what more there is in life. I tell you that when you've grown too old to dream, you hasten your end!

Let both facts and feelings create dreams for us. Dreams and visions are the stuff of life. They get us excited about the future and as a result about our present.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Meeting Your Unmet Needs

Many needs are produced by one's self. All of us have self-created needs. Very common, these needs are often physical, financial, emotional or relational.

A lot of our unmet self-created needs happen because of unwise choices. The fulfillment of the unmet needs then will occur by making wise choices.

And then, having the determination, courage, and skill to follow through on the wise choices made. Escape to freedom, it is!

Let me give you examples.

Donna was sobbing. Her husband left their house. She created need in her marriage due to constant negativity and hurtful words she'd speak to her husband.

A last straw was when she punched him for forgetting to throw the trash! Shortly after, Donna entered therapy and counseling. That made her husband decide to return and heal their marriage together.

In his 20 years as a call center agent, Cesar was always short of money. Living from paycheck to paycheck. Under-earning, given a wife and three young kids to support.

Before he got too older, he chose to go into business. In time, he made more than enough money for his family's needs.

What is the way out of unmet needs created by unwise choices? Wise choices.

And who is primarily responsible for making those wise choices? The man. The woman. The individual who has the unmet needs.

If you care, you may also ask, how about God's role? He'll give you the wisdom you need to make wise choices. Wisdom about what to do or where to go. Wisdom about how to repriotize your time and efforts.

That's the formula for your fulfilling or "total way out" of your unmet needs.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Travel is Healthy!

Travel is good. Based on ample studies and evidences, its highly beneficial to your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

Many years ago, I was in one of the lowest points of my life. Feeling over-stressed personally and professionally, I felt tired. I just wanted to stay in bed and not do anything.

Then a DHL courier knocked on my house gate with a package for me. In it includes a free two-way travel ticket to Seoul, Korea with all-expenses paid accommodation for 30 days from a known sponsor.

That's huge therapy!

The development of a possible depression in me that time was stopped. My "foreign travel without money" brought in a fresh supply of fuel into my mind, heart, and spirit. After that vacation, I got back home and to family and work with overflowing zest!

According to a psychological study from Cornell University, there is a direct link between the experience of happiness and even just planning a trip. It also showed scientific proof that traveling reduces stress levels, relieves anxiety or depression, even rather dramatically.

Anthony was a very resistant patient. Even after months of sessions, he still felt stuck. He watched self help videos, read materials, did gym workouts etc. in addition to his therapy sessions. Still nothing seemed to work for him.

Since he wanted to experience change in his life, he tried travel. He went to Japan with his wife and two young kids. He moved from place to place, from snow to snow there. And in the process, he started noticing receiving bits and pieces about himself.

When Anthony went back to session after a couple of weeks, he seemed to have showed a different view of things. The newer, unique life perspective resulted not only from his self discoveries but also from the culture or peoples he connected with along the way.

Henry Miller described aptly this one healing benefit of travel, "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."

Travel makes you healthier. Don't miss its high benefits to heal or reinvent your life.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Stress and Money

Stress over money is commonplace. It's a significant source of anxiety in the lives of a large majority of people around the world. This mental health problem clearly extends across socio-economic classes.

I got a glimpse inside some numbers on this. Recent studies show that almost 80% of families live in survival mode. That is, from pay check to pay check. Not to mention rising credit card debts.

In another recent survey, among the wealthy or "haves," I discovered that 71% of them still identify money as a significant source of stress in their lives. Surely, no one seems alone in this regard.

If you struggle with money-related stress and anxiety, remember that it's not about the amount you have. Not about shortage or excess of money in your hands. The problem is more than that.

I once knew a young woman from a poor province who relocated to the city after marriage. She's used to owning less and feeling happy and contented.

When she started a travel business that earned much money, something changed. Her "commercialization" somehow worked to stir discontent in her heart.

She wanted to "add more and more" with her redefined sense of happiness and security. More bank deposits, possessions, cars, cell phones, computers, tech gadgets etc.

Eventually, her redefined happiness affected her marriage. She committed an affair with a rich engineer working in a Middle East country. Her own particular "mind over money" led to losing her moral compass as well.

After years of relentlessly pursuing more wealth and possessions and living in with another man, she got terribly sick. She died of cancer back to her province in her early 40s.

The stress of money then lies in how you think about it. A matter of mind over your money. You define what money means to you and that determines how you'll interact with it.

Significant psychological studies clearly show that money won't actually make you happy. Experience also evidences this. Money is not the greatest goal of life and work.

As soon as you stop perceiving this illusion, the sooner you can start seeing where true happiness lies. Think about it well. Discover the real.

Healing from financial stress is changing the way you think about money totally. Money, at its core, is just a tool. Be careful with how you think about, pursue, and use it.

"For the love of money is a root for all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10).

Sunday, January 21, 2018

How to Lose Your Perception of Illusion

It's important for us to lose. Face inevitable failures. That's because constant wins seldom produce depth and strength of character.

Illusion is a frequent product of regular winning. Arrogance is common fruit.

I once sat with a patient, Mark, who lost his multimillion business to huge debts and vices. Being an only son of wealthy parents, he mis-spent his money on booze, women, and gambling with a pretense of continuous victory.

Bankruptcy, marital and health woes, sifted all through Mark's sense of confidence in himself. After many years of comfort and overindulgences, he now saw his life bleak. He found himself alone in despair.

In one of our termination sessions, Mark remarked, "I was lost. Now I see. I'm changing to the better." He became a different man. Lost his arrogance, his illusion of  invulnerability. His losing helped Mark see himself as he really is.

That's how so important standing is in the face of failure! Standing allows you to lose your habitual illusions that tend to sugarcoat or evade reality. Able to lose and to keep standing after the loss is such a critical adjustment for you to receive future wins.

As Dr. Calvin Miller, author of "Becoming: Your Self in the Making," wrote, standing is so important because " it's your salvation as a 'sometimes loser,' but remember, a good loser is not an 'every time' loser.' "

Like most who see me in therapy, I myself had my own share of wounds and losses in life. Such darkness was often beyond my analysis. Yet without being washed with those tears of failure, I don't think I'd make a good counselor with eyes that see clearer.

Yes, there is purpose behind your pain of losing. An important part of it is shedding illusion (nonreality) to keep your self-view adequate to keep going ... and finally winning always.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Fathers and Daughters

I've two constant "dates." My two daughters who never miss having Dad pay the bills!

My eldest Christine, 24, now working, is stepping up. Getting gainful employment seems easy for her. I'm impressed by her charm and confidence.

My Angel, 15, excels in school and sport. Of course she still looks up to Dad and "ate" to give her "baon" and more ... plus girlie stuffs, since their Mom passed away.

Isn't life good, with simple joys to be thankful for?

In our world, fathers and daughters often have an uneasy, distant relationship.

The effect of a dysfunctional, unloving father victimizes a daughter's mental health. Such can infiltrate every area of a daughter's life - her relationships, choices, emotional and physical health.

One time, I asked a 27-year-old woman in session if she's used to chat or go out with her Dad. Her short answer: "Seldom." She said she prefers to be with Mom.

Sadly, the "trauma effect of distant father" can result to a daughter's psychopathology. Gina, an attractive, charming patient, once hired a killer to murder her own father so she can get his property.

Heartbreaking, isn't it?

Parenting expert Steve Biddulph, in his book "Raising Girls," pointed out that daughters received much of their self esteem from their own fathers.

When fathers unconditionally show loving care to their daughters, they protect them from emotional wounds they'll inevitably face in their lives. This includes bruisings in relationship with other men.

For healthy psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual development, daughters need fathers who see, accept, play with, support, guide, and love them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Life Like Chess

Being a psychotherapist and life coach, I'm constantly faced with choices about life. Mind you, both for my patients and myself, they're not easy. 

Life can be a dangerous game. Issues can be a matter of life or death, victory or defeat. 

My patients or clients are like me. Most likely, you too. A few times in my life, I tried to run away from "adulting." I hated discomfort. I didn't like responsibility. Or, delaying gratification. 

Yet in my attempts to escape the appropriate developmental tasks of my age, I experienced delays in my psychological maturity. I suffered the bad effects of my decisions. Life got unnecessarily harder.

In the game of chess, choices are crucial. Your chosen moves will determine the ensuing positions you'll be in on the way to the game's completion. 

All the moves you make in chess are your responsibility. Only you can choose the moves you make. Your opponent or anyone else can't make those moves for you. 

In chess as in life, you can move forward or you can retreat backward. They're ever-present options and choices. 

Of course, there are times when you need to move backward. Retreat, regroup, recharge. But the call is always to move on - both in life and in chess.

I was speaking to a 50-year-old woman not too long ago about her lingering poverty. All her life, she chose to be a hard-working employee. And yet she still lived with bare minimum subsistence. 

In the course of my conversations with her, she discovered a passion that she can turn into profit. She finally made a choice to change moves, especially her mindset. Sooner than she expected, she became a rich online entrepreneur.

Again, in life as in chess, we go for a "win." We can choose to do that with each move or decision we make. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Technology: A Third Party in a Relationship?

Clinically, I hear a lot of spouses or partners nowadays complain "I feel taken for granted. Neglected. Uncared for. You're always checking your FB, your emails, surfing the web, even during meals. Put away that damn phone and talk to me!"

I'm reminded of Nick, a patient, who said that the way his wife will wrap up her day while lying down with him in bed is to look at Facebook. Nick blamed that for his alcoholism and womanizing!

"Technoference."  It's a fast-rising epidemic. With it, you miss bids for connection or communication. By delays in response, lack of eye contact, mechanical reactions etc.

This so-called "technoference" disrupts relationships. Not just between spouses or partners. But also between parents and children. Between friends. Between teachers and students. Between bosses and employees. And many others!

"Technology is like a third party in the relationship," observes one New York psychotherapist Ken Page. In other words, it can be a saboteur of intimacy. A real danger is that we check our devices so often we're not noticing our loved ones' bids for connection.

Psychologist Ken Gergen, over a decade ago, once coined a 2-word phrase "absent presence" to further describe what we're talking about. He referred to it as the ability of a partner to be physically present but absorbed by a "world of elsewhere."

The rise of smartphones, indeed, multiplies our vulnerability to "technoference" and "absent presence" in our relationships! If the lower quality of our conversations and the conflicts in our relationships are happening due to habitual use of devices, we therefore need to take notice before it gets too late.

It's for everyone's mental health to take back control. Life may depend on it.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Alcoholic, Any One?

Alcoholism is a degenerative addiction. Alcoholics have chemically-addicted bodies that crave alcohol.

What led them to it?

I remember one patient, William (not his real name, of course), sent to me by his main clan elders for therapy and alcoholism rehabilitation. They said he'd become too unmanageable.

He ignores his wife to be with his drinking buddies. He frequently hangs over from the residual effects of his chosen drug. Even with the slightest provocation, he'd cuss and kick his wife in anger, often when drunk.

When the idea of therapy and counseling was brought up to him, he got mad. He claimed he does not have a problem. He protested if everybody would just mind his own business.

Over time, he was able to open up during sessions details surrounding his uncontrollable drinking. I learned that their whole clan has generations of alcoholics. Drinking is part of their family system of having a good time, doing business, and creating comradeship/closeness.

Sometimes I wonder about William and which is stronger to him: his alcoholism or psychological dependency on the "wrong crowd" present within his family clan?

When William was forcibly required to do abstinence by his elders, he suffered withdrawals due to loneliness for the comradeship he developed with his drinking cousins and buddies in the clan.

He was close to them because he harbored secret vices and activities with them. William confessed that with the rehabilitation program imposed on him, he missed the "pleasures" he had with them.

So it got clearer. William was both physically addicted to alcohol and mentally and socially dependent on the "wrong crowd" of his clan.

Is it possible then that William is more "addicted" to his clan's "wrong crowd" than to the chemical he is using?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Finding True Love in the Right Place

What is true love?

Everyone talks about it. We want to see and experience it.

You look for it. You long for it. You hope and wish to find that one fellow human being who will truly love you, and whom you'll truly love in return.

You think that if you find him or her, you've found true love to make you happy. True love, most of us tend to believe, lies from outside of us.

I'm used to hearing individuals or couples saying, "I can't live without you." So when one loses the other, he or she also loses his or her self.

Even if you get true love from outside of you, it will only be for awhile. It won't last long. True love doesn't work that way.

You and your loved one are two separate individuals. You can love another person without losing your self.

True love then is essentially located from within your self. Not outside of it.

As Ravi Shankar put it, "Seek not outside your self, for all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want, insisting where it must be found."

Finding true love then is not about finding your completeness in another person. You don't need another human being to complete you.

In reality, you're already complete and whole as you love and accept your self. If you don't have true love for your self, you can't realistically expect someone to give it to you.

You only need someone in your life when you desire to share with another your wholeness. Bless the other with true love already residing within your heart.

So a next question is, if true love is found within you, how do you know it's there, to attract true love from another person?

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Dark Secret

It's sad to note that hundreds of thousands of men and women around the world committed suicide. Men typically die of violence, such as through gunshot or self-strangulation. Women hang or cut themselves or overdose on pills.

What drives people to kill themselves?

I'm not aware of any well-studied psychological theory that explains the nature of suicide fantasy and the final action. But more often than not, i surmise it can be a combination of factors. Neurochemical vulnerability. Identity and self esteem issues. Desperation. Circumstance.

In addition to these factors I mentioned as possible precipitatants of suicide, society and culture seem to also play a role.

Psychology Today writer Abby Ellin writes, " ... we live in a culture where disorders of the mind are kept quiet. People are honest about struggles with cancer or diabetes. They talk openly about injuries. But depression is a dark secret."

When Albert, 54, saw me, he'd been wanting to kill himself. His identity and self esteem was very tied into his social, public profile - his CEO status, his business, his family - and these things started to dissolve when he was faced with economic bankruptcy and loss of work.

He felt so depressed and down. Talking about his feelings to his wife or friends would most likely help Albert. Except, of course, he was not a person who wanted to appear vulnerable to any one in any way. Even in therapy, he struggled with this.

People who have thoughts of suicide suffer from hopelessness that their business or finances will rebound, that their mate will love them, or that someone will want them after a broken marriage or relationship.

Ultimately, therefore, hope is the medicine to this deadly dark secret.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

When Family is Not Loving or Supportive

What happens to you if you don't have a family that is loving and supportive?

I once visited a middle-aged woman in the ICU of a city hospital. She was in treatment for cancer. At first, her husband was loving and supportive. But then, a few months after her recent diagnosis, he abandoned her for a younger woman.

Naturally, she was utterly devastated. Her initial reactions were to hang on to the pain and even to her husband who betrayed her. I felt for her as she shared these traumatic feelings. I saw in her a fear of being alone that's even greater than the fear of her cancer.

Individuals I see at times talk a lot about their unloving, unsupportive loved ones in the midst of their trials. Spouse. Father, mother. Siblings. Children. Grandparents. As a result of being "cut off" by their loved ones, they experience overwhelming hardship in dealing with their trauma.

It's always sad to hear this from people. It's such a painful place to be.

My comment is, give birth to your new self!

We are all capable of surviving and being on our own. Despite the deepest pains we experience, we can still live a full life. If we can fight a disease, for instance, we can fight any loss, including loss of love or support from family.

Discover your self. Find resources to build you up. Devote your life to healing and love. Go out in the rain and you'll see how strong you can be.

Here's another takeaway: if you change your self, you change the people around you.

It's reality that family members may not be capable to be the kind of people to love and support you in time of need or woundedness. A best thing you can do is to accept that reality. Avoid wasting time and energy in conflict or expectation. Find others who will give you support.

At times, the problem is one of changing the way you communicate. Are you letting your family members know accurately and honestly what you need? If they can't be supportive because of their own issues or inadequacies, they may not change.

But you can choose to change. Just get your family do what they can. Don't stop loving them. Lighten up. There is always hope.

As you change your self and your behavior, soon your family may see that they've to change too!

Saturday, January 06, 2018

How Do You Deal with Feelings of Loss?

Many years ago, when I was much younger, I had a condominium tenant who vandalized and renovated my property without permission. Aside from being delayed in his rental payments, he tried to "bully" me to sell the property to him.

Out of much frustration, I had decided to sell it to the tenant. But as soon as I did, I felt bad about the loss of my property. It felt as if I was "evicted." Somehow, I experienced a desperate sense of "disinheritance" with the loss.

After some time later, I accidentally passed by a real estate office selling hot-selling condo units near malls and TV stations. That time, I could ill afford to buy with my uncertain income sources. Yet the agent offered me a huge discount and generous payment scheme.

Sooner, I was able to fully pay for my new condominium property, which was way much better in location and cost than the one I had before. Reminiscing of a past "disinheritance," my feelings of loss turned to feelings of victory.

Indeed, it is wisdom to integrate losing with winning when faced by life's wounds or challenges. To begin to see your loss or failure in perspective, the question which can clarify is: Was your loss really a loss or a win in disguise?

I once had a client who lost millions in a business. He eventually went totally bankrupt. He lost everything. Depressed, he progressively became addicted to alcohol. His wife and children were in the brink of leaving him.

Supported by his extended family members (uncle and cousins), he was able to afford to enter therapy. During sessions, he interpreted this whole matter of his losses that led him to believe that he is a "loser."

This "loser" awaited transformation in the therapy hour. The power of perspective, viewing his loss against the "total picture"of his life, melts the negative self image. It reshaped him into a winning person who believes in God and self.

So always remember that the "war is not the battle" in dealing with your feelings of loss. During World War II, Pearl Harbor was a catastrophic loss. Yet, it was the Japanese who ultimately surrendered.

You can lose in life without being a loser. What appeared to be losing can be winning in disguise.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Struggle is Good

This is a key psychological truth: struggle is good.

When you don't have to struggle, you don't heal and grow up. It's the "soul" of maturity and adulthood.

Many times in therapy, individuals demand quick fixes amid the high drama of their lives. They avoid the pain of struggle. Those who become successful in this only prolongs their misery.

Rowena is spoiled, smothered, and coddled as a child. Her Mom does every basic chore for her, removing all comfort roadblocks from her path.

Now at 30, Rowena refuses to leave home. Her Mom likes doing things for her. Since home is an only place where she "runs the show," she failed to learn the value of struggle.

Rowena is unable to leave home. She wants to continue studying in a university and receive allowances from Mom. She doesn't want a job. She can't.

In my own sessions with Rowena, she said that life feels cruel and depressing to her. She felt trapped in a fantasy world and emotional prison she could not understand.

Joining Rowena in therapy is her Mom. Over time, she realized the part she played, allowing Rowena  to bargain, manipulate her, and pretty much run the show.

Mom just kept playing the game of "no struggle" for her child all these years. But now, she's healing her self. She begins to address her own childhood shortage rather than continue projecting it to Rowena.

I'm reminded of one psychologist who said, "Struggle is easier when you're not unconsciously controlled by the ghosts of your own past."

Struggle is good. Without optimal doses of it, there is no growth and life. No reason to exist. No sense of accomplishment.

Welcome struggle!

Instead of running away from it, you embrace it. Through struggle, you grow up to be healthy and balanced.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

A Better Way to Heal Your Father Wound

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

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

Let me share with you an emerging new power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Watch Dr. Subida's 15 minute excerpt of live telecast at Sakto, ABS CBN video clip with news write up:

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Celebrate the Process, Not the Result

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Hope Surgery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope and health are inseparably interconnected.

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

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

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

Nothing is Yours Forever

"Nothing is yours forever."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Your Extended "Gifts"

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

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

Here are some suggestions for your extended "gifts:"

•  Forgive one who hurt you, including an enemy.

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

•  Reduce your anxiety or demands on others.

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

•  Do wash the clothes for Mommy or Daddy.

•  Fix coffee or breakfast for someone you care about.

•  Visit your grandparents with your cheers and gifts.

•  Listen.

•  Find the time to fulfill a promise.

•  Express appreciation.

•  Ask for forgiveness when you did wrong.

•  Take a walk with your child.

•  Learn the art of under-reacting.

•  Enter into another's grief.

•  Speak kindly to someone you don't know.

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

•  Support to reconcile a broken relationship.

•  Give hugs to people.

How about that?

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

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

When Another New Year Comes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've a caution for you and I.

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

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

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

You need wisdom.

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Biggest Secret of Christmas

Do you know the biggest secret of Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, Christmas comes. It erases religion.

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

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


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

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

Martyr Martha

Martha's story is a story of her family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you engage in self-pity?

Are you afraid of your emotions?

Do you accurately know what you feel?

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Do You Know Your "Double?"

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

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

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

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

Till someone took over Pablo and his self.

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

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

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

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

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

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