Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Age Regression

During Christmas and New Year holidays, countless people go to family gatherings. Many travel back to their family-of-origin homes. If you were able to remain a serene, emotionally mature adult during those visits or dinners, you just demonstrated "mindfulness training!" You've grown.

For 45-year-old Steve, it was a huge challenge or mess. Heading back to his parents' home and reuniting with his siblings for the holidays, he felt he's in a "black hole" again. After a few minutes under one roof, he started pouting and shouting angry words at his Mom and sisters. He was back into his childhood family role and wound from decades ago, unhealed.

Holiday age regression is a universal experience individuals and families face. The concept of age regression is a sort of poetic metaphor given down from Freud to modern psychology. You may be a wealthy CEO of a company, a well-functioning member of society, and still regress. You can forget all the progress you've made many years between birth and fleeing the nest. For a week or so of the holidays, you can be age 8 again!

Is there anything that can be done? Lightening up can be helpful. Commit to an adult posture. Find out if you're over-personalizing. Be mindful about potential replication of childhood hurts or scenarios; see them as they are and resolve to heal them soon. Stand up straight. Take deep breaths. Fold your arms in perseverance. Use the mental voice that you use in your daily adult life. Pray. Remember the real reason for the season. Plant your feet and you'll have a happy holidays!



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

25 Healing Helpers

How do you take care of your self through a crisis stage? Here are some recommendations for you:

1.   True friends
2.   Asking for help
3.   Relief from indecision and tension
4.   Exercise, get physical
5.   Deep-level counseling/therapy
6.   Books, tapes, workshops
7.   New hobbies and recreations
8.   Exploring family tree origins
9.   Nutrition, healthy foods
10. Prayer/God's Word
11.  Healing support group
12.  Creative Imaging
13.  Complimenting your self
14.  Self disclosure
15.  Not sweating the small stuff
16.  Grow in your passions
17.  Humor/Laughter
18.  Try new possibilities
19.  Volunteer and serve the hurting
20.  Join a church or community
21.  Forgive the unforgivable
22.  Lightness, simplicity, contentment
23.  Bi-focalism (multiple perspectives)
24.  Intuition
25.  Balancing

Monday, December 15, 2014

Healing A 30-Year Psychiatric Patient

Many damaged emotions are deeply buried in layers of memory. At times, hurting people won't respond to traditional therapy, counseling, or hospitalization. In fact, in some cases, the traditional ways can discourage even more and deter people from experiencing the healing they so desperately need.

I'm reminded of a true story of a woman confined in the mental hospital for 30 years. It was told by Ruth Stapleton, sister of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. One time, this long time psychiatric patient was brought to Ruth. The patient couldn't communicate and was in trance-like state. This was one of the reasons why she was considered a hopeless case.

Ruth brought the patient down by the lake in the sunshine. There they talked in front of the lake amid the grass. The patient drank in the natural therapeutic effects of sun and water. While there, Ruth reached over and held her hand. And she started praying audibly even when the patient was unable to relate to her.

After some time of Ruth's inner healing prayer, the patient suddenly screamed. The woman remembered that, at the age of 12, she was raped by her father. This memory she had never shared to any psychiatrist or therapist. In over 30 years of psychiatric treatment, none of this patient's buried memories and hurts were successfully dug out.

You and I can learn a healing lesson here. Even an inexpressibly tragic, damaged memory can be healed when exposed to prayer and the person of the Greatest Psychotherapist who ever lived.

Friday, December 12, 2014

I Think About My Heart

I think about my heart.

It beats about 100, 000 times each day. It beats to pump blood to every cell of my physical body. This adds up to about 35 million beats a year and 2.5 billion beats if I'm to consider what they say as the average lifetime.

According to medical science, every beat or contraction of my heart is similar to the effort I'll expend to hold a tennis ball in my palm and give it a hard squeeze. That's huge. I have a hard-working heart. Amazing.

My heart, as well as your heart, is only one example of a natural world that is designed to reveal to us something essential. There is power far greater than human. No doctor, no machine, no human genius can create or control the heart and its intricate hard-working muscle beats to nourish our bodies. Yet it's there, given to us, quietly giving life.

When I reflect on the power of the natural creation of my heart, I can't help but see the power of Someone who creates and cares for me and all humankind. Who operates my heart? Who operates yours? Even when there is suffering and I don't know why, I know in my heart that Someone is out there.

As noted writer, Soren Kierkegaard, put it, nature is "a temple not built by human hands," a classroom for higher religious education, a house of God.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Mother's Lies

There was an intriguing film portraying a real-life true story of a mother who lied to her child. This Canadian TV movie enititled "Lies My Mother Told Me" was aired in the U.S. in 2005. The teleplay was nominated for Award for Best Direction in a Dramatic Program mini-series.

Consider Susan. She shunned her Dad for years because of her mother's lies. During her childhood years, her mother had an affair and played "Disneyland Mom" to buy her affections while telling lies about her Dad. To escape detection, the mother poisoned her mind into embracing her adultery and immoral lifestyle. It took time for Susan to find out who was telling the truth. But now, she has a healthy, close, and godly relationship with her Dad. Eventually, the truth won over her mother's lies and deception.

Because of problems of human nature, mothers (as well as fathers, of course) do hurt children with their hard, dark side. They can lie about themselves and what reality is. So, in the process of indulgence, the children get distracted from their emotional issues because it's easier to play than to process problems. They've become victims of psychological abuse who often grow up to be character-disordered as a result of mother's or father's lies.

Noted clinical psychologist and bestselling author, Dr. Richard Warshak, coined a popular two-word phrase that includes parental lies as part of child abuse. He refers to it as "divorce poison." According to Dr. Warshak, parental "divorce poison" or separation damages children in a variety of deceptive ways: outright lies, bad-mouthing, bashing, brainwashing, false allegations of abuse, retaliation, corrupting reality, circumstantial manipulation, among others.

Suffer the innocent, vulnerable children. Who can protect them?
 

Monday, December 08, 2014

I Don't Agree With Freud But He's Integrationist

I don't completely agree with Dr. Sigmund Freud, the so-called founder of psychoanalysis. I find him to be woefully and narrowly human. For me, he is essentially limited in his understanding of human nature.

Despite that, I like Dr. Freud being an "integrationist" in search of the reality of the human mind and condition. For example, he was known to be inspired by the fiction of Dostoyevsky, Sophocles, and Shakespeare;  the sculpture of Michelangelo and Leonardo;  the philosophy of Mill and Nietzsche.

It was not his medical training that formed the cornerstone of his psychotherapeutic approach. You know what it was?  It was much of his readings of King Lear, Hamlet, Oedipus Rex, and the Brothers Karamazov. Indeed, that's how first and foremost "integrationistic" Dr. Freud was. He was able to draw on the wisdom of poets, artists, philosophers, playwrights, neurologists. and his patients' real life experiences in coming up with a unified vision of what humanity is.

In the tradition of Freud as well as other therapists, I view my self as an "integrationist" too for the healing of the "whole person" with influences from diverse disciplines as well as my own real life experiences. Without integration and seeing the whole of life in healing our minds and souls, our knowledge of anguish and conflict would be hollow, our self-revelations one-dimensional.

Yet Dr. Freud, despite his "integrationist" effort, still misses the mark. His psychoanalysis is terribly inadequate. It fails to address the most essential part of the whole person.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Tree and The Boy

Tonight, I'm reflecting on the story of a tree and a boy. It's based on a short film entitled "The Giving Tree," a simple thought-provoking piece about a Tree who loved a Boy.

The Tree and the Boy played hide and seek in his boyhood. The Boy would swing from her branches, playfully climbed all over her, ate her apples, slept under her shade. The Tree loved those carefree, happy years with the Boy during his childhood.

Then, as the Boy grew up, he spent less time with the Tree. At one time, the Boy, now a young man, passed by and the Tree invited him to play. But the lad was only interested in money. "Take my apples and sell them," offered the Tree. He did ... and the Tree was happy.

The Boy didn't return for seasons. It was a long time and the Tree was missing him. When the Boy passed by one day, the Tree smilingly invited him again, "Come on, let's play!" But the Boy - now fully grown - was obsessed building a house for himself. "Cut off my branches and build your house," the Tree offered. The Boy did ... and the Tree was happy.

Many years dragged by. The Tree missed the Boy a lot. It seemed he had forgotten the Tree. Suddenly, the Tree saw him in a distance and cheerfully shouted, "Hey, friend, come on and let's play!" But the Boy, now older, wanted to get away and take a vacation. "Cut me down and make yourself a boat to sail away," said the Tree. He did that ... and the Tree was happy.

Many seasons again passed -- summers, winters, springs, harvests, windy days and lonely nights -- and the Tree waited for the Boy. Finally, the Boy, an old, old man returned. He is now too old, too tired to play, to work, to build houses, to pursue money, or to travel the seas. "I have a pretty good trunk left, my Boy. Why don't you just sit down here and rest?" The Boy did ... and the Tree was happy.

As I sipped my drink, I sat still. I took time to reflect the years that passed ... as I grew older with the Tree and the Boy. I can relate to both -- and it hurts.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Visiting Vincent

Consider what happened to Vincent Van Gogh.

Somewhere in the 1890s, this extremely artistic nonconformist painter shared his interior canvass, "The sadness will last forever." Later, at age 37, he was believed to have shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died in the evening 29 hours after he supposedly shot himself.

Few know of Vincent's spirituality despite his psychological state. Around age 30, he had a Christian conversion and was known to read the Bible and sing worship songs. He found inspiration in John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and Thomas a Kempis' "The Imitation of Christ."

What happened to Vincent? you may ask. You read his biography and you discover that he has had life deforming disappointments of all sorts. He was alone. He was a victim, got wounded, and in need of special care. Yet he got injured, rejected, and betrayed by a lack of response in the church. Instead of being taken cared of, he was shot by the very people who were supposed to be instruments for his healing.

It's a pattern I have often seen. Like others, Vincent sought to be whole and serve God and then got hurt. Right after, he stopped trying. He stopped growing and focusing his spiritual and psychological lens. Vincent's story also confirms that life is meant to be lived and healed in a community taking the high road of support, encouragement, and unconditional love.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Every Human Is Beauty and Beast

This is so important to understand. There is no sense going further when you're not able to grasp this reality about being human.

Look up the people around you. Your spouse in your living room. The kids across the park. The couple or a man or a woman walking in the mall where you're having coffee.

These people are possibly wonderful human beings. Perhaps, they have talents and gifts that would make angels weep. They may have potential to accomplish greatness or help the world a better place.

Yet as certainly as these are true, it's also a reality that these very human beings also have the ability for the most evil deeds imaginable. The level of depravity or nastiness in each of us is simply there. It is part of what it means to be human.

Learning this, you can realize then that every human is both Beauty and Beast, both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both image of good and image of evil. There can be a loving mother who is addicted to sex or affairs with men. There can be this successful celebrity actor or actress addicted to drugs. There can be this award-winning writer who is a murderer and a respected teacher who sleeps with his students.

This is, I'm sorry to tell you, unending catalog of darkness about the nature of humanity. This is what you and I forget when good things are flowing and all is well. We idealize or remake people into what we need them to be. We are not wise in our relating. And so when evil comes, we are shocked and then destroyed and then broken down and even unable to get back up.

To live in any sort of real connection to our selves, to others, and to the world is simply seeing what our humanity truly is. The idea is that if we learn this well, we can heal and live more effectively.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Infidelity Epidemic Among Women

Yesterday, I was at Starbucks having coffee talks with a friend I haven't seen for some time now. He shared about healing from his own infidelity. At some point, he also shared the "infidelity wound" of his brother who was cheated by his wife who had kids from two other men. My friend remarked that, culturally, men appear to cheat more than women.

The reality is, nowadays, infidelity is becoming a growing epidemic among women. According to a 2014 published research report of the Associated Press with the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 54% of women admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they've had. Another statistic result of the study reveals that 68% of women would have an affair if they knew they would never be caught.

The results of this psychological research has a transparent message. Infidelity, a form of mental illness and sexual addiction based on the DSM psychiatric manual, is now experienced almost equally by both men and women in our society. Countless adults who go through emotional or character breakdowns come from families whose parents were separated or divorced due to infidelity. Families and children are definitely at risk if the psychopathology or infection of this illness goes unhealed.

Mainstream media or show business is also a contributor to the problem of women infidelity. Women infidelity is not only expected to continue to be common. But it will also continue to be on the rise as long as women lack the necessary values to build their character, are treated as "objects" or poisoned by an addictive society or company. This is not an exaggeration ─ it’s a fact of our present-day life and culture.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Choose Joy

It's impossible to be perpetually happy in this life.

When I'm watching a nice movie, I feel happy. But when I head out to the house and discover a mess in the kitchen, my happiness may quickly dissolve.

Happiness is based on circumstances. And because circumstances or externals continually change, you don't permanently experience happiness.

Joy is different. It's psyche-deep, soul-deep. Joy comes from an unconditional, abiding sense of inner peace and contentment. In our society and culture, we sort of get too addicted in pursuing happiness. But in truth what we are actually seeking is joy.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being happy and having good circumstances. But remember, circumstances change. And because they do, happiness is temporary. It fails to truly satisfy.

Perhaps, you're going through very difficult circumstances. Loss of a job. Physical illness. Unfaithful spouse. Family breakdown. Bankruptcy. Abusive parents. Prodigal children. Business shutdown. Whatever it is, there is hope because circumstances change. Times change. As you do what it takes to improve your situation, you can experience pockets of happiness.

In the meantime, while going through trials, you can choose joy. You can have joy in the midst of hard times. Know the secrets of having true, abiding joy whatever your circumstances.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is My Child Disturbed?

A Chinese mother once saw me with her child. Sobbing, she asked for help because her son had become self-destructive and disrespectful. Marked by impulsive behaviors, the son would shout at her and shut down on several occasions during our session. Here I was with a hurt mother and a child at high risk for developing emotional problems as an adult.

How do I know if my child is character-disturbed and in need of help? There are, of course, telling symptoms recognizable right away, like the one above. But in other children, it will take time to decipher. The earlier the "signs" are noticed and addressed, the better will be the prospects for healing and wholeness for your children.

Let me offer some of those "signs" here in spotting a wounded, character-disturbed, or attachment-injured child in need of help and support. The more of these symptoms a child has, the more severe is the condition:

*  Self-destructive behavior
*  Stealing
*  Hoarding and gorging on food
*  Cruelty to others
*  Lack of long-term friends
*  Marked impulse control problems
*  Phoniness
*  Speech difficulties or pathology
*  Abnormalities in eye contact
*  Lack of ability to give and receive affection
*  Obsession with blood, fire. gore, or things of darkness
*  Learning disorders
*  Lying and deceiving
*  Superficial attractiveness
*  Extreme friendliness with strangers
*  Isolation and withdrawal
*  Disrespect and rage against parents
*  School crime, bullying, or misbehavior
*  Severe depression, crying spells

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Late-Life Depression

A hospital patient, Mando, said, "After I had my heart attack, nobody noticed that I was also depressed. Everything was centered on my heart and how my valves and arteries are functioning. When I didn't want to eat or see anyone, they just blamed it on my cardiac problems. It took my son making an appointment with a therapist before anyone took notice."

Each week, I do therapy and counseling sessions in a veterans hospital with a lot of elderly patients walking around. So many of these senior patients are on medication, suffering from physical ailments. My doctor friend and chief of the surgery, Dr. Nap, once told me that it can be a challenge to recognize that diagnosis is not always simple. This is true, especially among soldier-veteran elderly patients who are generally reluctant to admit or face emotional distress.

In late-stage life, there is usually a high rate of chronic illnesses and medications. Some illnesses, like cardiac or lung problems, produce symptoms that are the same to those going through psychological anxiety or panic attacks -- erratic heartbeat, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. An elderly patient's condition can also be complicated by the onset of Alzheimer or dementia, since anxiety or fears appear to be part of these medical disorders.

Therefore, for late-life or senior patients, there is always a need to separate the medical and psychological/emotional/spiritual causes of depressive disorder/anxiety/fear symptoms. Sometimes, we can be surprised by our blind spots and misperceptions that we don't pay close attention to what elderly patients are really telling us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Truth and Emotional Pain

Truth is essential in therapy. It should be your badge. In your battle through to a liberated heart, truth is the chant you should announce aloud.

But the truth is, when it comes to emotional pain - pain that so hurts inside - it's healing truths that can set people off. Truth can be painful to see. It would be nice if truth is just truth and there's no pain in it and that's the end of it.

Yet, I can't recommend "truth therapy" enough for recovery from emotional pains. It's our best key. The greatest damage is often the unprocessed issues that continue to resonate even when the feelings of pain subside. It's the truth that tells us about our self, our relationships, and about the purpose of our lives.

The emotional pain inflicted on us is not just from the wound itself. But also, the "meaning" of the wound. You see, every bit of thorn that hits the mark in our hearts has a "message" attached. And it is the "message" that lives longer than the pain itself. It is often this "message" that often does the more lasting damage.

Thankfully, we can heal. We push the rocks to the surface as we strive to reclaim our wholeness with the "truth and nothing but the truth." It's the truth that can help us go through the pain, so we can get to the other side.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fishing In The Desert

What have you been looking for comfort or relief?

After being abandoned by her husband, Margaret instantly went to the bar to find rebound relationships with men. She fell into alcohol, drugs, sex, and out-of-control anger for countless nights.

She said that these make her feel good, though only for a moment. In desperate attempts to ease her pain, she shared that she found herself doing things that part of her finds repulsive.

I agree with therapist Dr. Talley who wrote, "Finding true love in a bar is like finding fish in the desert." Can you catch fish in the desert? Of course, you can't. Yet, lots of people go to the wrong places for feelings of comfort, assurance, or acceptance.

It's not uncommon for people to "self-medicate" their internal distresses through alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, food, an affair, shopping, rage, pornography, or anything/anyone. Then, only to find out later that these indulgences only make things worse in their lives and health.

It's never too late to make a shift. Change ways. Start by seeking help. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What do you mean "Oswald Complex?"

I know this to be such a common experience among us. We all know that we can tell a great deal about who our true friends are when hit by hard times. I hope that during seasons of suffering and pain, friends stand with us and encourage us and protect us to see the promise of a better day.

I hope so. But I know, nevertheless, what crisis can do even to the best or closest of friends. Psychologists used an interesting term calling it the "Oswald Complex." A few days after U.S. president John F. Kennedy was assassinated, lead suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and being taken to the police station.

Handcuffed to two detectives tasked to protect him, Oswald was suddenly approached and shot by a man identified as Jack Ruby. As psychologists and investigators watched the film of the crime scene, they noticed that when Ruby approached Oswald with a gun, the two detectives actually pulled away rather than defended Oswald from the attack. And thus, the term "Oswald Complex." It became a description for people's act to pull away from those they've committed to protect, shield, or defend when danger comes.  

I surmise you may have experienced the "Oswald Complex" yourself. In fact, if you've gone through a humiliating season of crisis, such as financial bankruptcy or marital betrayal, it almost is sure you have. Suddenly who you consider friends disappear. They're confused about what to to do. Some believe in the lies or just withdraw from your company.  Perhaps, even relatives or family members may be stepping away from you or siding with those who mean to harm you.

What you need to do, when dust settles, is take a careful look at the kind of people you choose as friends. It can spell a difference in your future relationships, so you do not cycle through the same betrayals again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Every Depression Will Pass

I work a lot with depressed people. The greater the wounds or losses experienced, the greater the depression. Here's what I notice: when they're over the depression, they say something like "I'm a better person because I went through it! I discovered new things about me."

Like all things in this life, every depression will pass. However, it will pass only if you do the right things. With the right course of actions, you can shorten your depression. You can heal. You can grow. In fact, after healing through dark valleys of your soul, the experience could be one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in your life.

If you're depressed right now, go through each day ... one step at a time. Endure and reflect every moment. Pray. Seek help. Expand your circles of support. Look to the future with great expectation of how depression can make you the best that you can be in your life.

Sooner, thanksgivings will pour out your windows! There will be laughter spilling through your door. Things will get better. Your depression has passed. You'll thrive. You'll flourish.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

When Your Spouse Is Unwilling To Give Up OP (Other Person)

If you are married to a spouse who is sick with infidelity, it's vital that you don't allow or "enable" the behavior to continue. In cases when your spouse is unwilling to give up the OP (other person), you must confront him or her. And at the same time, make appropriate bold moves by refusing to accept your spouse's destructive behaviors.

If you're the betrayed spouse, here are some important healing steps and guidelines you need to bear in mind when your unfaithful spouse is not showing sincere evidences of remorse:

*  Listen to his/her actions, not his/her words;

*  Do not resort to criticism, lecturing, angry flare ups, and other putdowns;

*  Learn to charge neutral and calm your self as you enforce healthy boundaries;

*  You must be firm to require your unrepentant spouse to get help: "I love you and I want to remain married to you. But what you're doing right now is unacceptable and I cannot allow it to continue. Either you take positive and visible steps to change or there will be consequences. It's a choice between getting professional help for this problem or I'm going to leave you."

*  Make sure you follow through and keep your word.

*  Get your own healing, whether or not your infidel spouse changes. Professional help can facilitate and speed up your recovery.

C.S. Lewis once noted that we mistakenly equate love with kindness. He writes, "Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering."

Indeed, there are times when love must be tough. Pain is part of surgery, a lifesaver, in removing cancer. Real love inflicts legitimate pain in order to bring about healing and health.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Know The Way Out!

Over the years, when I consider how I might accomplish helping people heal in therapy, I'm reminded of a story.

A guy falls into a deep hole. He starts yelling for help. Soon, a doctor passes by and hears his anguished cry. The doctor looks at the hole, writes an Rx prescription and throws it to the guy below, and walks away. Then, a priest arrives and he peers into the hole. Seeing the man below, the priest writes out a prayer and throws it down before walking away.

The desperate guy below starts yelling louder. Soon, his friend comes by and hears, "Hey, Peter, help me. I'm down in this hole." So Peter jumps down into the hole too. "What have you done?" our desperate guy complains. "Now, we both are stuck down here!" "Yeah," says Peter calmly, "but I've been down here before and I know the way out."

Yes! And I do too. I do, not because I'm smarter or more skilled than any one else. I confess that I know the way out because I fell harder before and I believe much deeper than most people do. Perhaps, my only salvation was that I yelled longer and harder for help than most hurt people do. I know what it is like.

I know the way out. So, if you're going to see me and follow me out through the sessions, you are going to understand. It's one-on-one between you and me. I'll spare you nothing because the only way I got free was to be spared nothing by truth and people who cared for me.

I know. And I care for you.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Psychotherapy for Church Hurts

Yesterday, this was the book - "Healing Your Church Hurt" by New York Times bestselling author Dr. Stephen Mansfield - that I was holding when a woman greeted me in a bookshop. What followed was her telling me her long story. Her story and this book perfectly fit together!

Stephen Mansfield writes in his book: “When I had gone through a horrible church hurt myself, I began to realize how epidemic such things are. My friend George Barna has done a survey confirming that nearly forty percent of the folks we call “unchurched” in America are actually embittered ex-church members. This is tragic and it should change the way we approach the “un-churched” in America. Many of them are already Christians who are simply angry about how they’ve been treated by other believers. So, I wrote this book to show them a path to wholeness of soul and to show the way home. This is certainly my most personal and my hardest-hitting book. It needed to be. I trust it will help heal the current epidemic of ‘church hurt’ in this country.”

This book can be a tool for you if you're healing from what Stephen Mansfield calls a "current epidemic of 'church hurt.' " You can "rechurch" and part of your recovery may involve learning to heal internally from the hurts and reconnect with safe people in the church.

Relax Within Your Limits

In times of depression, deprivation, or trauma, there is always this need to learn to "relax within your limits." That involves ignoring negative feelings when new bad circumstances come. You don't need to add fuel to every painful feeling that shows itself.

For example, you're a single Mom. You have no job, only with limited survival resources. Your little girl comes to you and says she'd like to have a new set of toys. You know you're unable to have this extra expense at this time, so you have to say no. Your little child walks away from you.

Now, how do you feel? You probably may feel sad, guilty, or terrible. And these feelings have a tendency to add in to the mix of your already heavy burdens or stressful situation at present. Thinking about it, you can't let these feelings drag you down or determine what you do to make things better. Thus, there are times in depression or stressful situations, when you have to "step over" certain negative feelings and say, "I'll make up and do better next time, I'm going to ignore these feelings."

Choose to set limits. Be willing to relax within your limits, physically and emotionally. Learn from your frustrations, not add to them.

Friday, November 07, 2014

How To Stop Being A Victim

From victim to victor. That's perfectly possible. But you need to learn how to break free of being a victim.

Mary was a Mom of five and a successful businesswoman. She had married two men who turned out to be sex addicts and alcoholics, had a string of five boyfriends after separating from her last husband, and was presently in a state of breakup and separation from her recent boyfriend.

She began to see a therapist and said, "Until now I never realized what I was doing. With the help of counseling addressing my 'whole person" and this support group I joined, I saw more clearly the patterns that ended up hurting and damaging my life. My eyes are now open to avoid my previous mistakes and develop new habits. I feel a lot better about my self now."

What happened to Mary? She learned to stop being a victim. She transformed part of her life, the way she creates and lives her story. A major aspect of her therapeutic transformation is her emergent awareness of her true self and how this had been wounded by repetition compulsion unknowingly acting out unprocessed pains through dysfunctional habits, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. The life story that she creates and tells now is one of a recovering or former victim to a stabilizing, brave victor.

As you break free from being a victim, you begin to integrate the experience and apply it to the rest of your daily life. That's what healing of your "whole person" can be - relaunching with a new YOU, bringing true happiness and purpose for living.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Finding A New Family

"I don't belong anywhere. I feel so alone in the world. It's a most horrible feeling!"

That's what came out of Marissa, whose parents emotionally and physically abused her while she was a child and now her husband just left her for a younger woman. 

She cried, "Even with my family, I don't feel I belong because they couldn't understand what I'm going through. They'll say 'Oh just get over it, it will be ok' and I'm still not ok. I could not make them understand the depths of what I'm feeling inside. They couldn't relate and see."

Championing your own inner healing involves finding a new family. If your family of origin is not healing, it's unrealistic to expect support from them when you're deeply wounded. In fact, troubled family members may say that what you're doing is stupid and they'll shame you for it. With the dysfunction in your family, what makes you think you'll get your nurturing needs met there?

So, in situations like this, it's healthy that you keep a safe distance and work on finding a new, nonshaming, supportive family. You need to go outside to find a healing life support group that you could join - a safe place where you share your hurts, your concerns, and your fears with other people who share your pain and experiences. 

A loving, supportive life group can do wonders for your recovery. The people in the life group can best relate to what you're going through and have typically been through what you're going through. This could be a life group of friends, a therapy group, a church community, an office/company sharing life group, or some 12-step group.

Angel, a member of a hospital-based healing life support group testified, "I got into this Healing Life Support Group in the hospital, and it became my family. This is a place I feel I belong because I could tell people how I feel and they understand. They've become my family because of the shared pain."

You need a new family. A healing life support group can be the “family” you need during your critical time of woundedness and loneliness. Find this new family.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Forgiveness and Trust

Forgiveness and trust are two totally different things. Neither one is dependent on the other.

Forgiveness of debt is helpful as a therapeutic tool. It's been effectively used for treating a variety of clinical disorders. These include specific conditions such as mood disorders, impulse control disorders, and  adjustment disorders. Within the past three decades, psychotherapists, social scientists, and other practitioners have become increasingly interested in forgiveness and its potential for improving personal well-being and interpersonal relationships.

Manny's wife broke his trust. He discovered that his wife had been having an online affair with a foreigner. After verbalizing "sorry" and coming with Manny to a therapist, she continued to lie, deceive, and communicate with the other man. When he found it out again, she fled to the country where the paramour was working and lived in with him. Manny's wife takes the affair onwards - faking documents, progressively poisoning the minds of their kids, and manipulating elements of their environment in order to blame him and conceal the adultery. Manny's wife is a realistic picture of a sick woman.

Understandably, Manny is emotionally devastated. There's been so much anger and depression. But in order to heal, Manny needs to learn to forgive his wife despite the ongoing affair. His forgiveness is not dependent on his wife's stopping the unfaithfulness. Forgiveness is simply setting down the load, never to pick it up again within. However, learning to forgive his wife does not mean Manny has to trust her again. Possibly, Manny will not be able to trust his wife again because she continues to betray his trust.    


Forgiveness plays a big part in personal healing. You forgive for your sake, not for the other person. Forgiveness however does not mean you have to trust the other person again. Trust is earned, based on objective evidences of remorse. Choose to heal and be free by forgiving.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Growing Through Parenting Stress

I'm a parent of three young children. In one of my overseas trips, I felt a tug at my heart, wishing I had done more for them before I left. Or, there had been times in the past when I felt remorse at comments I made. I wished I could somehow take them back!  I'd think of ways to make up or remedy previous neglects. It's never too late, I believe.

Here are some things I've learned and gained from going through the stress of being a parent:

*  I learned patience, endurance, and sacrifice;
*  I learned to tap into my unsuspecting strength within myself when I had to nurture my kids when I myself was sick or internally distressed;
*  I learned I need to learn and practice empathy, for in trying to understand my child, I had to put my self in his or her place;
*  I learned how to listen not just to my child's voice but also to his/her hidden feelings and thoughts;
*  I learned to set aside what I prefer to see or hear from my child, so I can understand what he/she is expressing to me;
*  I learned what responsibility means as a parent;
*  I learned the joy of giving to my children without expecting any thing in return;
*  I learned what God's love can do to shape me to be a better parent.

Yes, children can put stress on us. But it can also be one of the most rewarding and fruit-bearing  experiences possible. Like you, I'm a parent. Both of us, we all, can grow through our children ... and the stress of parenting them.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Surviving Infidelity and Separation

Infidelity is like a super-typhoon. It rips your life, threatening to damage everything in its path. The whirlwinds of emotions bring fear, anger, and confusion, affecting your family, children, and friends. It hurts so much.

But then, your unfaithful spouse, instead of repenting or making up, continues on with the affair. You discover how he or she has been intentionally deceiving you with lies or hidden messages, and even manipulating elements of reality to blame you. You separate from your infidel spouse.

As the betrayed spouse, you need to survive to start and sustain a needed healing process. There's no way around or easy way out. You're likely wishing that you could get through the pain quicker! But healing is a process. You take it one day at a time. It's a moment-by-moment process.

Here are a few generally well-tested, effective healing actions to survive your spouse's infidelity and separation from him or her:

*  Examine your self and the level of intensity of your pain (is it intensity 5 or 10 etc.?).
*  Seek help or professional intervention (therapist, counselor etc.) to go to the "roots," shorten your process, avoid long-terms costs, and complete recovery.
*  Take deep breaths and exercise, eat healthy.
*  Learn to reframe your suffering - thoughts, feelings, behaviors etc.
*  Spare your children from adult trauma and help them cope, get your nurturance somewhere.
*  Take time to know the real you.
*  Abstain from making major decisions, especially during the early stages.
*  Train yourself on emotional techniques to better cope with your spouse's infidelity and separation.
*  Always be with a friend.
*  Expand your circle of support or community (don't withdraw or isolate).
*  Have a clear, definite plan and weighing of your options.
*  Pray. Know God's part in your healing process.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gas-Lighting

Gas-lighting is an interesting term used in clinical therapy. It owes its origin from the film adaptations of "Gaslight" starring Ingrid Bergman in the 1940s. In the film, the main character (the husband) systematically engaged in psychological manipulation to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating elements of the environment. This then disoriented the wife and made her doubt her memory, perception, and reality.

I'm reminded of Tina who came to me, traveling so many miles from the province. She found out that her husband is gay and has been paying for sex with men during the years of their marriage. Tina was so confused and about to have a nervous breakdown. The gas-lighting behaviors of her husband involved blaming her and undermining her perceptions of the evidences she found out. She ended up looking down on her self and seeing "things" she had done that made her husband a homosexual and unfaithful spouse.


Gas-lighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that can deeply wound a victim. It involves projection, denial, lying - a special kind of transfer of painful mental conflicts to another person. Adulterous spouses, for example, may gaslight their partners, even flatly denying that they have been unfaithful or deceptive. According to mental health statistics, gas-lighting is indeed commonly observed among cases of marital infidelity, parent-child alienation, and sociopathic/psychopathic behaviors.

I know of only one antidote against gas-lighting: the truth. A wounded victim's ability to heal and resist the manipulation depends on his or her strength and trust to stand for what really is.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are You Working For The Wind?

A story reminds me of a statement made by super-rich Solomon. It goes: "What profit has he who has labored for the wind?"

Martha's story was a loss of millions of pesos from a military-controlled financial investment scam. Her millions came from "earnings" she accumulated buying and selling goods using funds from stolen credit cards provided by a syndicate. After a time of imprisonment, Martha got out and went bankrupt.

Wealth can perish through misfortune. Theft as in Martha's case or through natural disasters and accidents, your dearest belongings may disappear. Even if you are able to protect them, you certainly can't take them with you in the grave. There appears to be futility in working only to acquire possessions that will ultimately disappear. Yet isn't that so common an "addiction" of people nowadays -- maddeningly seeking treasures that have sure expiration on earth?

Martha's story (as well as those of countless others) exemplifies much of our material world -- the emptiness of riches and the transitory nature of things of this earth. After all the reflections and lessons he learned, super-rich Solomon's final conclusion is, "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all." The treasures of heaven are what truly matter. They don't expire and you can "take them with you." They yield lasting rewards that can't be destroyed.

Are you working for the wind?  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stress Reduction Alternatives

This morning, I'm thinking of alternative ways to heal or reduce stress. Often, in times of brokenness or betrayal, people feel rage. There are other ways we can discharge high levels of stress instead of overwhelming anger.

Although anger somehow releases some stress, it's least effective and even harmful. It costs too much. For one, anger can put a huge toll on you physiologically. It's known to damage relationships. In the long run, it harms your over-all health and isolates you.

Let me see, here's my broad list of some alternative stress-reducing strategies instead of anger. Hope it gives you some starting points and ideas.

*  Exercising
*  Crying
*  Humor
*  Writing
*  Deep breathing and relaxation exercises
*  Verbalizing pain
*  Recreation and hobbies
*  Pillow and bed beating
*  Music
*  Resting
*  Problem-solving activities
*  Sports, running, fast walking
*  Focused, intense work activity
*  Problem-solving conversations
 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Psychological Crisis of Middle Age

As people reach middle years, there appears to be a developmental or psychological crisis common to all men and women. Psychologist Dr. Eric Erikson defines middle adulthood as between 40 and 65. These are the years when people are faced more closely with the inevitable aspect of the aging process.

Not too long ago, I once saw a woman in teenage high-heels with lots of cosmetics and techni-colors in her dress. However, it was not difficult to guess her real age. All can notice her facial wrinkles, sagging breasts, slowness in movements, and other coarsening features. The cosmetic industry which normally works so well in youth had not squared well with this woman's inexorable reality.

I'm reminded of a research I read that shows that women in their middle years manifest psychiatric disorders almost five times as frequently as men. I believe the reason behind this difference is more cultural and psychological rather than physiological. The stress for middle-aged women appears especially severe in our culture where youth and beauty are given greater emphasis in women than in men to be perceived useful and needed.

For the middle-aged man, on the other hand, we hear stories of many who unconsciously struggle on stresses placed upon them by society, ordinarily measured in terms of wealth, power, or sexual potency. To escape the loss of fantasy hopes of youth or romance, for instance, numerous men will engage in extra-marital affairs or pursue much younger women for sexual conquests. It can be hard for men heavily gender-conditioned by culture to see that fulfillment has become improbable at a certain point.

In both men and women, a common source of psychological crisis is that physical changes in middle age force an inescapable confrontation with the reality of one's mortality. The defenses or illusions that work well in younger years can no longer be maintained in middle age. There is increasing evidence of the approaching limits of existence and one's own ultimate nonexistence. When a middle-aged man or woman is not able to meet this reality head-on and deal with it successfully, such a person can become psychologically and emotionally maladjusted.

Middle age can be a happy time for renewed capacity for productivity, creativity, and appreciation of the true meaning of life. Life on earth is a temporary journey of bitterness-sweetness, of laughter and tears, that can still be uniquely enjoyed by each one of us. As poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it, "For age is opportunity no less than youth itself, though in another dress."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Do Externals Equal Your Self-Worth?

I once met an extremely attractive and sexy young woman. She can qualify as a beauty queen with her externals. Yet she's on an emotional roller coaster. She feels better only when all people around her say she's pretty. When she hears people comparing or criticizing her looks, she feels depressed. For her, her worth equals people appreciating her external beauty.

We live in a culture where it can be hard not to be judged by appearances or externals. Media, such as television, film, advertising etc., conveys the message that you are not worthwhile if you're not young, slim-figured, bold, beautiful, or rich. In various places, your human worth equals your market worth. With this line of thinking, only Bill Gates or Henry Sy would have greater human worth than a Mother Teresa.

When externals equal your self-worth, you can feel down big time. Your feelings would go beyond the normal when worth is in doubt due to externals, such as events, circumstances, or performances.  Taken to unrestrained extreme, your failures or rejection from others can make you feel miserable, depressed, and develop psychopathology. When worth equals externals, self-esteem rises and falls along with events.

The key to healing from this source of mental instability is to separate "core worth" from "externals." Here, we make a distinction between feeling bad about an event, behavior, or performance from feeling bad about the essence of our self. The idea is to judge the unhealthy behavior, performance, event, or circumstance, but not the core or essence of one's being. "I'm not good enough as a person" is, therefore, a self-destructive choice of thought. So, judge present external behavior or event, never your core self.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The "Love Mechanic"

Kevin is a "love mechanic." He had picked up over 50 women so far and had sex with almost all of them. His expertise is wooing women, sweet-talking, and touching to "be close." He talks about his feelings too and makes an effort to listen. Mechanically, he can show he loves or cares about women.

After getting what he wants from a woman, he breaks up and moves readily to the next. Immediately, with the next woman, he appears to be just as "intimate" and "loving" there. He knows the moves, the "right" places to touch a woman sexually. He works hard to make a woman feel good and loved in bed. He uses "love" language constantly. "I miss you a lot," "I'm feeling so close to you now," or "I want to share with you how I feel."

The "love mechanic" is a fake. He believes his "love" is coming from inside him. However, it is actually psychologically or intellectually monitored. His "love" is mechanical, disconnected from his very core or his own feelings. Yes, he knows and does all the appealing intimate, "loving" behaviors. But his way of connecting is profoundly shallow, distanced, automatic, and therefore manipulative. His way of "love" exists apart from himself -- a psychological disguise for disconnection.

Let this insight be a step towards making efforts to recognize, analyze, and heal a "love mechanic," especially if you're married or romantically linked to one. The ramifications of such type of "unconscious" psychological deception in relationships are enormously hurtful. I hope this realization narrows the gap between what seems to be and what is actually going on underneath psychologically.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What Future?

Psychotherapist and author, Rollo May, once wrote, "The most effective way to ensure the value of the future is to confront the present courageously and constructively."

Things do happen that can put our plans into a detour. Or, they're put on hold outside our control. Some of our plans are forever abandoned. And, no new plans take their place. When that happens - "living without plans" - we live without hope and purpose. When life has no purpose, it loses its meaning.

I'm reminded of a deeply distraught man who was coming out of a long and hard battle of healing from the affair of his wife. I asked him what his plans are for the future. He sadly echoed the words I often hear from many during therapy sessions: "What future? My life is over. I just exist. I hope I just die now!" A part of deep inside me wanted to shout that life is still moving and new plans can replace old ones.

Are you hoping for another fellow human being to set plans or goals for you? Or, are you setting your own plans or goals with the Lord's wisdom and help? This may sound simple or religious for you, but it can be a healing food for thought for you:  Most people fail or lose hope for the future because they put themselves first and God second. As a result, they feel hopeless or their plans may not succeed.

No one, other than you and God, should be entrusted with making plans for your future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To Rebuild Trust

Trust is essential. When it's broken, it takes work to rebuild. Without trust, failure is sure to come.

This is true in any relationship. Friendship. Marriage. Romantic relationship. Boss-employee relationship. Seller-buyer transaction. Parent-child connection. Plus more ...

I'm thinking now of some simple, basic "rules" to rebuild trust. Ones that fit all of us, all the time. "Rules" that not only rebuild trust, they maintain it.

One is "keeping your word." You are where you say you will be. You do what you say you will do. You keep deadlines, no matter how simple.

Second in my list is, "informing prior to the fact." You keep the other person informed. Don't wait for the other person, say your spouse, to hear of last-minute or emergency changes.

Thirdly, "no secrets." In content and tone, you don't hide. There is no shade of guardedness.

And fourth, "no surprises!" This neutralizes or removes hyper-vigilance of the betrayed other. 

Of course, when there is a deepest cut of betrayed trust, there is initially a "stricter-than-normal" standard for the offending person, especially in the beginning stages of rebuilding. That's just the way it is. But consistent compliance with these basic "rules" I believe will rebuild broken trust more quickly than any other ways.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Love Yourself

"We cannot give what we do not have."  That's what author Walter Trobish asserts in his book "Love Yourself." It also echoes Jesus' words in Scripture about receiving and giving. We can only possess and give to others what is real inside of us.

In psychological terms, Trobish' "loving yourself" is equivalent to unconditional self-acceptance. Needless to say, it doesn't mean narcissism, arrogance, or conceit. To love yourself means to accept and celebrate yourself as you are. It involves coming to terms with those imperfect aspects of you that you cannot change.

I'm reminded of a young woman who literally sits around the house and waits for approval from her husband and five children. She frowns and gets moody whenever her husband and children show displeasure over the food she cooks or the words she says to them. For every act of service or sacrifice she does for them, she feels that they owe her a pat in the back or a nod each time.

Certainly, how tiring it is to sit around and waiting for approval from others. You work on approving and accepting "you," whether or not others do that to you. You are the only "you" that you have. It is in your best interest to be the best "you" can be regardless of what other people think or how they see you. Work on loving yourself.

In the words of literary giant Walt Whitman, we are all here "to contribute a verse." In order to love yourself, one way is to discover what makes you unique and further develop your strengths and talents. It demands responsibility to yourself to be a better "you." With self-improvement, you're then empowered to love yourself and give to others.

Until you love yourself and celebrate who you are, you will not be able to truly love anyone else. You can only love another to the degree that you're able to do to yourself.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nutrition and Mental Health

Non-drug psychiatrist, Dr. Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, is one of the very few doctors who doesn't prescribe psychiatric drugs to his patients.

Psychotropic medication is well-known to have horrendous side effects over time. Dr. Hoffer said that successful recovery with the use of medication is usually 10%.

But with nutrition, continues Dr. Hoffer, successful recovery is around 80%.

Nutrition does affect and improve your mental health in specific physical/chemical ways, while going into the very internal psychological "roots" of your condition through psychotherapy for permanent recovery.

Ruling out any major medical causes or some organic damage (consult a physician, of course, to find out!), like in any other ailments known to man, nutrition and natural medicine is still the best and safest course to take to support psychotherapy for long-term, deep-level healing.




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Heavyweight Wind

No problems, hindrances, or limitations can prevent you from pursuing your dream. That is, if you choose to take courage and get past them.

If you're overweight and you're suffering from psychological or emotional pains out of it, hear Freddie Combs, who once weighed almost 1,000 pounds.

There is wind beneath your wings! You can fly.

An American minister, Freddie reveals a healing secret in his life: "... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Are You Weary Waiting?

Waiting is part of healing. You'll never know when the breakthrough comes. The deep process of recovery is unique to each individual. If you are a loved one/caregiver of a distressed or sick person, you simply continue to love ... until your loved one "gets it" and receives the light.

Let me tell you the story of the LION and the TURTLE.

The LION holds a conference of all animals in the jungle. He calls the TURTLE and puts her beside him. He tells all animals, "I want each of you to tell the TURTLE a joke and make her laugh. If she doesn't laugh with your joke, I eat you!"


The monkey is the first to try. It tells a joke but the TURTLE just frowns. The LION eats the monkey. Next, a pretty parrot comes in and tells a joke. The TURTLE just moves her lips and won't laugh. Horror, horror, the LION instantly eats the parrot. Then, a pelican comes to give its best. Still the TURTLE isn't laughing, so the LION eats the pelican.

Next after, a beautiful deer bursts into the scene ready to tell its joke to the TURTLE.  But, even before the deer can tell its joke, the TURTLE is already laughing her heart out. The LION is puzzled and asks the TURTLE, "Why are you already laughing; the deer has not started telling its joke yet?" The merry, merry TURTLE responded, "It's so, so funny, that joke by the monkey!"

People can be like turtles, you know. In due time, they'll "get it" and respond to your love.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Infidelity Virus

Infidelity, like Ebola, is a deadly virus.

Infidelity is deeply embedded throughout the fabric of media and culture. From television programs to the pages of magazines and newspapers to online sites, infidelity is all too common. It's even being glamorized among youth.

Even in literature, we're conditioned not to be shocked when we hear infidelity. Consider this author who wrote a book, "How To Cheat On Your Wife and Not Get Caught," making the rounds of TV talk shows. He teaches "how to lie successfully," "how to avoid feeling guilty," "how to have edge over your suspicious wife."

What's more, statistics evidence this infidelity trauma virus in our midst. In the general population, some reports suggest an astounding 50-65% of husbands and an equally shocking 45-55% of wives have had extra marital affairs by the time they're 40. That's not to mention the under-reporting of cases due to the stigma attached to such behavior. Regardless of whether the numbers are high or low, the incidences of infidelity and its resultant destruction of lives are lethal and alarming.

The wound is so sensitive, complex, and stigmatized that most couples will need professional, outside intervention. As one couple testified, "We would never have made it without therapy and counseling! I'm sure we would have given up or not known the path to follow."

Unfortunately, trained therapists and counselors in this area are so few. According to one major study of psychologists and therapists, only 13% were classified as having some competence handling infidelity cases. Even among priests, pastors, and churches, there are evidences of widespread incompetence or inability to help that only make things worse for couples.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

There and Not There

I would love to see it otherwise. But I must be honest rather than wishful. We live in an age of psychological and emotional distraction. There and not there. Even with our babies (spouses, parents, friends etc. too!), we talk more to our gadgets than to them.

It's not the tech gadgets, cellphones, laptops, tabs or ipads that disturb me. No, all they are are tools that can be used and enjoyed on occasion. It's the abuse that's bothering me. Since technology and social media sit in almost all of us, the abuse is not decreasing.

Consider how this growing addiction can become paralyzing. They can have the power to cripple personal relationships. They can stifle creativity. Much less spontaneity may result due to the intense, irrational dependence on the gadgets, social media, or cyber-games. The focus is not hard to see.

Hey, I know this, for we both live in the same environment! I too can get excessive at times. It's a tough, uphill battle.  But, I believe it's not insurmountable. Two simple yet powerful words can help us create balance:  "no" and "close." Now don't go to a therapist or look around for support. You can say "No!"and close the on-off knob of your gadgets if you truly value someone or something in your life ... much, much more than your gadgets.

Monday, October 06, 2014

"Everybody Is An Addict!"

"Everybody is an addict of some kind or another."

It's not pretty to hear. Even offensive, isn't it? But that's how well-known psychotherapist and author of bestselling book "When Society Becomes An Addict," Dr. Anne Schaef, put it.

My experience tells me she seems accurate in a sense. We all appear to have our own respective "drugs-of-choice." Workaholics. Alcoholics. Nicotine addicts. Shopaholics. Prescription pill poppers. Sex addicts. Person-addicts. Caffeine addicts. Rageaholics. Sports addicts. Book addicts. Drug addicts. Gamblers. Foodaholics. Co-dependents. Cybergames addicts. And many more!

Aside from personal dynamics, society plays a role in our "addictions." My theory is that even those rare individuals from loving, healthy families are not safe from the clutches of what Dr. Schaef calls an "addictive society." We begin the first seeds and learn our compulsive behaviors from television/radio/print/internet, neighborhood, school, office, friends and relatives, even church and various other places of our culture and society.

Come to think of it. My perception is that if "addiction" is the norm, we better start looking at it in the eye. See what it really is.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Agism

Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Butler once coined a term -"agism." It describes the psychological attitude or mentality that older people ("senior citizens") are inferior. Agism goes hand in hand with our "we think young" cultures and socio-economic systems.

The attitude of "agism" is not only a discrimination coming from the young. It also tends to be meekly approved or accepted by the old people themselves. Thus, this only reinforces the age-negativity in our cultures.

Yes, "agism" infects old people. It happens when they despise their powerlessness, wrinkles, and physical limitations. A symptom of this psychological sickness is when they feel happy and complimented when others tell them they do not look or act their age.

In a way, "agism" can be viewed as a social face of the denial of mortality. Instead of accepting and preparing for this plain inevitable reality, people would rather not want to think about aging and dying. It is as if we have forever or unlimited amount of time on earth! As a result of the denial or evasion, we can wind up becoming enormously unprepared, angry, or depressed when we realize that we too are aging.

The "inner child" is a clinical concept describing images, experiences, and influences of youth on our present life. We all need to heal our "inner child" if it's wounded and nourish it. "Agism" seems to suggest that we also need to heal and nourish our broken "elder within." This "elder within"carries our expectations for the second half of our lifetime. It can be wounded by irrational beliefs, unreality, or myths we have about getting older.