Archive for February, 2013

Women and Their “Complicated” Relationships: Yours?

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

The word “friend” is commonly used – perhaps, too commonly. It is one of those words that says everything and can say nothing.  I’ve heard people call someone a “friend” when they just met that person the day before.  Also, I’ve heard someone who a person has been sleeping with for six years described as a “friend”.  So what describes a genuine friend? True friendships are important for your mental health.

Men and women have different kinds of friendships for the most part. The following is a look at women’s friendships as portrayed by Susan Shapiro Barash in the book TOXIC FRIENDS: THE ANTIDOTE FOR WOMEN STUCK IN COMPLICATED FRIENDSHIPS.  Ms. Shapiro Barash purports to assist women in describing what kind of friends they have and which ones are worth keeping. She says that some types come at too high a price. A sampling of her types and the descriptors follow.

  1. Leader of the pack: It’s all on her terms.

Does this friend feel more powerful to you than other friends?  Would you go to extremes to stay in her good graces? Do you depend on her plans for your social life? Have you always been attracted to friends who call all the shots?


2. Doormat: She pays the price.

Does your friend soothe you when you are down?  Does she avoid any drama or tension? Does she seem to have little identity or her own?  Do you wonder if she ever tires of her “poor me” mode? Does she sympathize with your problems and always take your side?


3. Sacrificer:

Does she make herself available when no one else would? Is she unable to face it when a friend is contentious?


4. User:

Is she overly interested in your life style or status?  Does she work the crowd attaching herself to your friends? Does she slide herself into your life? Is she nosy and intrusive? Do you feel slightly uncomfortable confiding in her for fear it might come back and haunt you.


Other types listed are Misery lover (she wants to feel your pain); Frenemy (she is after something); Trophy (what can she gain from you).


6. Authentic: Does she empathize? Can you count on her in any circumstance? Does she know her bounds?

Ladies (and men who are minding their lady’s business), have you recognized more clearly your types of friends?  Do you need to do any weeding out or distancing? Further efforts needed to develop a better friend? Are you fortunate to have, and to be, an authentic  friend?

May I suggest this exercise as a way of clarifying how close each “friend” is to you.  Draw a series of concentric circles starting with a small one in the middle. Each circle is a boundary moving out from the small one.  The small one represents a vulnerable you.  Put your best friend closest to the small circle and then put in other friends going outward based on how close they are to you emotionally. “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

I hope this examination illuminates better for you who your friends are and give you further direction for the enhancement  of healthy friendships.


A final thought: “If you make friends with yourself you will never be alone” (Maxwell Maltz)


“The unexamined life is not worth living”      Socrates

What Type of House “Built” You? Want To Go Home Again?

Monday, February 18th, 2013

This article, as many are, was inspired by my daughter, Brittany.  She is a song loving sentimental young woman who always likes to help her Daddy out with regard to finding themes for my articles.  It was she who turned me on to the song “I LOVED HER FIRST” which was our “first dance” at her wedding a couple of years ago.  Have you heard the song “THE HOUSE THAT BUILT ME” by Miranda Lambert?  She won the CMA award for best female vocalist of the year.

Some of the lyrics include:

“I know you can’t go home again. I had to come back one last time. Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam. But these handprints on the front steps are mine..Up those stairs in that little back bedroom is where I did my homework and learned to play guitar. I’ll bet you didn’t know under that live oak my favorite dog is buried in the yard. I thought if I could touch this place or feel it this brokenness inside me might start healing …”

Apparently the writer had lost herself and was in a lot of pain and hoped that by going back to the house that “built” her she might start healing.

The emphasis of this article is to ask you in what kind of house did you grow up?  How did it “build” you? Was it a home – a loving sanctuary with a caring mentoring family and lots of fun times OR was it a house in which you were unhappy with many painful memories?  Or somewhere in between?  Do you have any desire to go back and see the home, or homes, in which you grew up?  Your gut reaction – joyful or sad? As you further reflect on the house, what kind of memories and emotions emerge?

John Bradshaw, in a provocative book called HOMECOMING, takes you through a series of exercises that elicit feelings associated with certain age experiences in the home.  These emotional regression exercises help you bring back certain subconscious memories and feelings that were important in wiring the limbic portion of your brain. Those recorded experiences set the tone for your intimate relationships and capacity to create a healthy family. You may want to explore those experiences.

As a parent it is good to hear our two children remember fondly the loving and fun times associated with their home in Kennesaw where they grew up. They go back periodically to visit the house and the neighborhood that “built” them.  Both say they want to build the same kind of home for their family as it unfolds.

As you move forward in life, what kind of home are you “building”?  Will it be one that when you look back in time you can feel proud that you put a lot of heart and soul, and fun times, into it?  Will it be one that you can rejoice in that it “built” you and your family well?!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”

Loneliness: “I am, I Said”. Who Said That and Why?

Friday, February 15th, 2013

These words were uttered by a man who just got rejected, felt bad, went back to his hotel and wrote these words. He was a man from New York who went to Hollywood in hopes of starting an acting career.  He went out there to audition.  After his tryout he went back to his hotel awaiting the news.  It was not good.  He was disconsolate, despairing. These are the words he wrote.

But I got an emptiness deep inside

And I’ve tried, but it won’t let me go.

And I’m not a man who likes to swear

But I never cared for being alone.

I am I said

To no one there

And no one heard at all

Not even the chair

I am, I cried

I am, said I

And I am lost, and I can’t even say why

Leavin’ me lonely still

Recognize these words.  They were written and then sung by Neil Diamond. Needless to say he found his inner spirit, rebounded, and wrote and sang many more wonderful songs. Ultimately, he came to believe in himself and was creative in finding a life befitting his talents.

Every person has rejections.  Some are romantic, some are friends, some are career related, etc…  Rejection, perceived failure, can take a person down emotionally, sometimes very deeply. Loneliness can overwhelm. You have experienced this, have you not? How low did you go?  Perhaps you are in that place now.

Resilience is needed.  A belief in yourself must be your clarion call to inspiration and direction.  But from whence comes this call, this strength. It best comes from within, the spirit of self love and belief in yourself.  “I am I said”.  (By the way did you know that God (Yahweh in the Old Testament) called himself “I am who am” when asked his name by Moses. A trivial pursuit piece of information, perhaps related ).

One time when I was feeling very alone, I wrote these words:

“You come into this world alone. You go out alone. Along the way you hold hands with different people. In varying degrees of closeness. But ultimately you are alone.”

For me these words meant that I had the responsibility to take care of myself, create enhanced goals, overcome obstacles, develop my gifts to their full potential, and connect with positive supportive people.  I have been fortunate to have made some personal and career choices that have gotten me through my misguided detours and have led me to a life filled with happiness. I am a grateful man!

“I am I said”!

A Valentine’s Day Relationship Check Up: See How You Measure Up

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Valentine’s Day is celebrated as the day of romantic love in our calendar year.  Sublime feelings and high expectations mark this day.  Diverse media and commercialization remind us to give our love partner romantic cards, flowers, candy, jewelry, and romantic dinners for two.

Will you be “participating” in Valentine’s Day this year?  To find out, ask yourself the following questions with a YES or NO.

1.  I am in a romantic relationship.  YES      NO

2.  We regularly share the “L-word” with each other.   YES       NO

3.  We are in a committed relationship.  YES       NO

4.  Our love-making is special and consistent.  YES       NO

5.  I will come up with a thoughtful romantic way to express my  love on Valentine’s Day.  YES   NO

6.  We will celebrate Valentine’s Day with physical, emotional,  and spiritual closeness.  YES    NO

7.  One month later our relationship will lovingly endure with mutual feelings of trust and respect.  YES  NO


If all your answers are Nos, ask yourself why there is such an absence in your life.  There may be valid reasons at this time and stage of your life.


If you have only one yes, make sure you read my blogs regularly to learn how to invigorate a relationship.  Try hard to be real, authentic, a “what you see is what you get” type of person.  This would be a good start in developing openness.


If you have two to four yeses, then the task is one of moving beyond maintenance to enrich and deepen your relationship.  Start with sharing your thoughts and feelings with your Special Person.  This will help develop trust in the communication process.


If you have five to six yeses, be grateful and continue nurturing each other.  Explore further intimacy and vulnerability.  Are you holding much back?


If you have seven yeses, you join the elite minority and are an inspiration to all around you.  Congratulations!


If this is a year without that Special Person, let your heart reach out lovingly and gratefully to a family member or friend.


Your “Attachment” Ability Affects Your Health!

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Do you know what holistic health is? Wikipedia offers this definition: “A concept in medical practice upholding that all aspects of people’s needs, psychological, physical and social, and mentally should be taken into account and seen as a whole. … Holistic health focuses on all facets of human functioning.” Our primary relationships are a significant factor in our overall health and well being. Recent research further validates that understanding.

A couple of recently published articles have focused on attachment theory as it affects relationships and ultimately the physical health of a person. The Journal of Health Psychology published data from a survey of 5645 adults showing an association between “Avoidant Attachment” – people who feel unable to get close to others or have others depend on them- and chronic pain.

People who were insecure in their relationships had further risks. “Anxious Attachment” – a tendency to worry about rejection in relationships, feel overly needy, and find that others are reluctant to get close – was associated with a wide range of health problems, including heart-related diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.  “Anxious attachment” was also linked to higher risk of chronic pain and ulcers.

Lead author for this significant study, Lachlan A. Williams, said he was surprised at the relationship factor so involved conditions related to the cardiovascular system.  It is interesting to note that matters of the romantic heart so do affect the physical heart. “Avoidant Attachment” and “Anxious Attachment” are worthy factors for an enlightened person to examine.

What are the implications of such information to you, Respected Reader?  Perhaps it would be wise to have a more complete, holistic, annual exam relative to your health.  Hopefully, you do have an annual physical exam with your Physician.  A wise person such as yourself may well add a supplementary psychological examine focusing on your romantic relationship and other close relationships, or lack thereof, in addition to examining your stress and overall emotional well being. There are health professionals who are specialists in looking at this element related to optimal health.

Since a significant part of my practice involves relationships – romantic, parent-child, siblings, friendships, and occasionally work place – I see up close the affects of relationships on a person’s well being.  The romantic relationship, or absence of one, is the most impactful one of all on a person’s health. If that relationship is not in a good place one is likely to see stress issues, weight problems, anger management concerns, anxiety attacks, etc… all of which contribute to the decline of one’s overall health.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates