Archive for February, 2012

Are You a “Pot Shot” Taker? Around One Much?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Are you a very observant person?  Have you ever been out and witnessed a spouse being critical of his/her spouse in front of you and/or others?  What an uncomfortable place to be – for everybody, except the clueless criticizer.  Maybe you have done it yourself.  Perhaps your spouse/significant other has done it to you.   Cheap shot artists. Poor taste!

Pot shots while in the company of others is a passive aggressive act which comes from pent upanger and frustration at the other.  Most couples have some issues and irritations that exist over the period of their lives together.  It is not easy to live with someone day in and day out in complete harmony.

In the course of counseling couples over the years this issue usually is included in the list of “grievances” that are brought up to be dealt with in a session. The one who has been criticized felt embarrassed on these occasions.  The person is tempted to come back with a “zinger” of his/her own.  This, of course, just raises the arsenal of shots going back and forth.

Why do people do this?  Usually it is because the person is too timid to bring up the issue to the other person face to face withoutothers present.   Perhaps s/he is fearful of retaliation and figures that if s/he does it in front of others such a reaction is less likely.  Or, perhaps, s/he has such anger built up that s/he wants to hurt and embarrass the other in front of other people.  Another possibility is that s/he has tried everything to change the behavior of the other person and now resorts to the court of public opinion.  S/he feels that maybe the listening party will take his/her side and help convince the “offender” that s/he is wrong.

What I am talking about here are people who consistently do this type of backbiting in front of others.  Most people on occasion have slipped and said something less than kind about their spouse/significant other in front of others.  Hopefully that person realized the mistake made and apologized.  Perhaps s/he needs a kindly reminder that such an offense happened.  Liquor often allows the lips to speak where it would have been better to restrain.

If you are characteristically guilty of this, please stop.  You really embarrass yourself more than the person you are taking “pot shots” at.   If you are with a couple where this behavior exists, are you going to say anything at the time?  Not that it is easy to do that.  At least a change of topic would help.

Whatever issues and concerns that exist between a couple should stay between a couple.  Airing one’s dirty laundry in front of others is not the outlet needed.  Try to communicate assertively and kindly to your spouse if you have a particular concern.  Sometimes, you just have to “suck it up” regarding some behaviors that the other person is not able to change, or just plain won’t.  If it is a major issue get some counseling and work to resolve the issue.  Your relationship is worth the effort!

Do You Have an “Oasis”? You Need One!

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

“Oasis” is dictionary defined as “something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast”.  I would like to expand that definition to include the word “someone”.  In the vicissitudes of everyday life people experience many challenges and opportunities to grow and survive.  Stresses usually are a part of such processes.

For every person there are significant times of disappointment, pain, exhaustion, boredom, etc…Therefore, it is important for a balanced person to be able to relax, let go, release life pressures and just enjoy a moment of calm, joy, peace, and relaxation.  No stress allowed in such moments!

People vary much as to whether they have an “oasis” or not, as well as who or what may serve as an “oasis” at a given time. Thus the reason for this article.

Do you, respected reader, have an “oasis”? If so, it is? Perhaps you have a number of “oases”. Where, to what, to whom do you go when you want “refuge, relief, or a pleasant contrast”?

Over the years I hear people tell me of their various “oasis” experiences.  Some are places, people, and/or activities.  A few examples follow:

PLACES: nature, sporting events, church/synagogue/ mosque, a back porch, neighborhood bar/restaurant, vacation spot.

PEOPLE: spouse, child, parent, relative, friend, co-worker, significant other, mentor, therapist, preacher.

ACTIVITIES: athletics, crafts, knitting or crocheting, reading, woodworking, boating, sensuality, sightseeing, ambling, games, television, internet.

This list may contain something or someone that serves as an “oasis” for you.  You may have some of these or different ones.

When you come back to the challenges and opportunities of life are you in a better place physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually?  If not, you have not been in an “oasis”. You have deluded yourself.

Some people try to convince themselves or others that their unhealthy addictive behaviors are “oases” for them.  Wrong!  They may provide a temporary “high”, thrill, or adrenalin rush, but they ultimately are harmful.  An “oasis” assists you in becoming a better person, one of vitalized integrity and energy.

May your life include frequent “oases” of rejuvenation!



“Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares”! Who?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

You are probably familiar with this song, “Here’s a quarter call someone who cares”. Maybe you have even used that line yourself to someone in a serious or jestful manner. The refrain does raise a valid point.  If you needed someone to care about you at a given time, who would you call?  And, would they be there for you?  Who have the top spots on your emergency dial?


Who do you call when:

1. Your car breaks down on the expressway.

2. You just found out that you have serious health concerns.

3. You are feeling lonely and want a caring voice on the other end of the line.

4. You just want to talk


Some people are very independent and stubborn – the Lone Rangers of the world.  They would say that they don’t need anybody to call. They can handle everything on their own.  Others are extremely dependent and need someone to be talking to for every imaginable concern or need.  If no one is available they will talk to the parakeet.  Most people fall somewhere in the middle and want someone there to meet both their simple and sublime needs. Which category fits you?


Do you develop relationships that have depth and attained a caring component?  Do you make the effort to deepen a relationship by asking questions, expressing concern, offering help, sharing who you are, etc…?  Or do you keep most conversation at a superficial level and, therefore, have shallow relationships?


The best relationships are reciprocal.  I do my part, you do yours.  There is a trust and confidence in the other.  You can count on each other.  If a relationship is one-sided it is not a good one.  Some people are “users” of others, some people give and give without asking for anything in return.  Sometimes it is harder to ask than it is to give.


Relationships often change over time due to circumstances, moves, commonalities, etc… Some people have difficulty in accepting that and get bitter and stop reaching out to others to continue the inflow of new relationships.  Others jealously guard such relationships and refuse to invite others into it.


Sometimes we get nice reminders that we have special people that care for us.  Take note of them.  Have you thanked those who are on the other end of your phone call?  And, are you ready to reciprocate, ready to answer that call of someone in need?


How Do You Get “High”? Some Choices Offered!

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

“Everybody wants to get high – drugs or Jesus”, says Tim McGraw in song.  Those polar opposites illustrate choices that people make in order to get “high”.

The purpose of this blog is to examine what your “high” is and what brings it about.  Is “high” happiness?  Aristotle says that “happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”  Others would say “high” is the pursuit of pleasure. Is there a difference?


Without getting too philosophical, it is probably safe to say that most people would rather have pleasure in their life than pain.  Masochists and “martyrs” are the exceptions. Some misguided souls seek and find misery.  It becomes a way of life for them.


Pleasure is a good feeling resulting from certain phenomena of brain chemistry.  Much of that brain chemistry is genetic and hard wired.  Some people are more naturally happy; some are more sad or grumpy.  Beyond that hard wired state you are able to manipulate the brain chemistry in a variety of ways to feel more pleasure, enjoying a state of happiness.


Let’s look at some examples of how brain chemistry is altered by experiences:

  1. Drinking a cup of coffee to get you started on Monday morning.
  2. A tasty meal at Harbor Club’s Troutdale,  or a handful of cookies.
  3. A bottle of Bud after a tennis match or round of golf; merlot with dinner.
  4. “Runner’s High” or any other exercise bringing us those wonderful endorphins.
  5. Sensual touch and/or an opportunistic orgasm.
  6. Prayerful/meditative connection with the transcendent. Church or synagogue service.
  7. Musical  nirvana, sacred or secular.
  8. Illicit or medicinal drugs.
  9. Sharing  love with special people in your life.
  10. Doing  random acts of kindness for others.
  11. Fill in the blank.


People that have their act together find balance between healthy giving and receiving pleasure.  “It is better to give than receive.”  St. Augustine’s wisdom included the statement of “everything in moderation.”  Excess may be momentary pleasure, but quickly turns into pain.


What then is your pleasure and how are you attaining it?  Hopefully you are a person willing and capable of pursuing pleasure and making it happen through healthy ways, creating happiness for yourself and those around you. Enjoy your “high”!


Any Chance That You are Obsesssive? How About Compulsive? What Type Might You Be?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Have you ever wondered if you had an obsessive personality?  Anyone ever said to you that you obsess over things?  How about compulsive?  Let’s look at these disorders through the work of two highly regarded professors who have devoted their professional lives to study these two anxiety disorders.

Dr. Edna Foa and Dr. R. Reid Wilson have authored an excellent book entitled: STOP OBSESSING! HOW TO OVERCOME YOUR OBSESSIONS AND COMPULSIONS.  I will highlight some of their observations.

First, a distinction between worry and obsession.  “Worries involve thoughts that produce stress and anxiety.  But the specific uncomfortable thoughts involved in worrying change from one day to the next. … Obsessions on the other hand, are relatively stable worries: the same thoughts, images, or impulses come again and again and are distressing, frightening, and often shame producing . …Attempts to dismiss them are mostly unsuccessful.”

Compulsions are attempts “to get relief from worrying and obsessions by adapting certain behaviors or thoughts.  These can be repetitious, unwanted, and hard to resist.”

Simply put, according to Foa and Wilson, “Obsessions are thoughts and images that produce your distress; Compulsions are any actions or thoughts that reduce this distress.”

The authors list seven typical obsessive-compulsive symptoms by category:

1. WASHERS AND CLEANERS are consumed with obsessions about contamination by certain objects or situations.

2. CHECKERS are people who check obsessively in order to prevent a certain “catastrophe” from occurring.

3. REPEATERS are those who engage in repeating actions.

4. ORDERERS are people who require that things around them be arranged in certain rigid ways.

5. HOARDERS collect trivial objects and find it impossible to rid themselves of these possessions.

6. THINKING RITUALIZERS usually enlist repetitive thoughts or images.

7. WORRIERS and PURE OBSESSIONALS  experience repetitive thoughts that are uncomfortable and quite upsetting.

Each category has many examples to illustrate.

The book contains questionnaires and an inventory to help you discover if you have this anxiety disorder. They are quite comprehensive.

What causes Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms?  Current research is still unclear. The “nature-nurture” question prevails. For some people there appears to be a biological basis but even then the “nurture” factor, the person’s environment, is able to cause or heal this disorder.  A person’s overall psychological make-up and self esteem often are contributing factors.

This book is meant to be a self help book but the authors stress that if you have a serious problem with this, and/or cannot make much progress, you need to see a professional mental health specialist.

The authors mention medication as an important aid in combating OCD. In my practice I find that for a most successful treatment plan medication is needed – at least for the initial stages of treatment.

This is an excellent book for those who want to more deeply understand OCD. I do believe that professional guidance is needed to direct therapeutic advance for this painful mental state.