Archive for December, 2013

A Comprehensive Look At Your Life Moving Into A New Year: Take A Peek!

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

As year 2013 winds down, what is your existence?  Has this past year been one of moving forward in various domains of your life, or have you slipped backwards in some areas? What are the measuring sticks for progress or regression – or do you even care about it? If you are a person “slacking” through life, you need not read any further, for the content is not aimed at you.  The following thoughts are for those who want to live life fully and continually are seeking ways to maximize personal and professional opportunities.

The beginning of the year is a traditional time to assess one’s status.  What are the categories that you use to assess your well-being?  May I suggest a few:

PHYSICALLY:  How is your health?  Have you had a physical exam this past year? What is your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc…?  Do you have a routine program of diet and exercise?

INTELLECTUALLY:  Do you regularly exercise your mind through reading, taking in meaningful presentations, cross word puzzles?  Keep those neurons jumping or senile staleness will creep up on you.

EMOTIONALLY:  What are the dominant emotions of your everyday existence?  Are they the negative emotions of Fear, Sadness, Anger, Guilt or do they emanate from the positive emotion of Love.  I encourage you to write in a journal your feelings of the day, ranging from 1 (the pits) to 10 (heavenly bliss).  What are the typical ranges of your emotional day?  What do these numbers say about the way you are living?

SPIRITUALLY:  What does that word mean for you at this stage of your life?  What is your intellectual belief system?  How emotionally close are you to God, Higher Power? What behaviors do you practice, or actions do you take, that further your participation in your spiritual life?   Are meditation, reflection, prayer parts of your inner life?  Areservices and/or service to others part of what helps you feel connected to a deeper life?

RELATIONSHIPS:  I  invite you to draw a set of concentric circles emanating out from a central core point.  The central point is your deepest most vulnerable place, a sacred center.  Each circle represents distance from your core existence.  Place each person currently in your life on a line out from your center.  It will tell you who are closest to you and how far they are from your inner being.  Upon this assessment you may wish to rearrange a few people who are too close or not close enough.  The presence of family, friends, lovers, acquaintances should all be represented here.

PROFESSIONALLY:  Where are you professionally? Are you happy with your current vocation?  Do you want further advancement? Are you burned out, ready to retire? Or, perhaps, you are retired. Is retirement satisfying? Are you interested in exploring a new avenue of employment?  Are you looking to find a better balance between professional and personal/family time.

FINANCIALLY:  How does the “bottom line” look these days?  What are future projections?  Are your investments where you need them to be at this time of your life, or is some fine tuning needed?  Is your spending/ saving ratio what you would like, or do you (and your partner?)  need to make some adjustments?

I hope that this past year has been a good one for you and that you are optimistic and capable of making the next one even richer and happier.  Perhaps the following may be meaningful as you address your life. “Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change; COURAGE  to change the things I can; and the WISDOM to know the difference.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Holidays Are About Family And Memories: Yours?

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

The holidays are here and that is significant for your life.  Holiday memories are some of the most basic and powerful.  Holidays are about FAMILY- the starting point and most important influencers of who you are as a person.

Family experiences, and their consequent memories, are extremely impactful on your emotional life.  They dramatically affect how you experience the holidays year after year.  Also, holiday emotions are the “tip of the  iceberg” for related emotions affecting your life even when you do not know it.  Emotions are the primary energy of interpersonal relationships.

Ask yourself, what is your gut feeling about the holidays?  Are they feeling of joy and excitement, or are they feelings of melancholy and depression?   If you are a person who looks forward to and welcomes the holidays, you probably had a happy childhood within your family.  There probably was a lot of love, caring, fun, and thoughtful gifts present in your household.  You  probably are continuing valued family traditions.

You may, however, be one of those persons who did not have a positive experience growing up, but have decided to make deliberate conscious choices to do things very differently in your family.  You want to erase those painful memories with new and positive experiences and have them  become encoded in your brain.

If you are a person who dislikes the holidays, feels blue, and wants them to quickly be over, then search for your negative childhood experiences.  Now may be the time to feel, grieve, and heal such pain.  The holidays can be the occasion to break through your unconscious defense mechanisms and change the way you experience the holidays

The holidays are an opportunity.  They can be the occasion for enhanced love and sharing within yourself and with loved ones.  They can be the stimulus for getting in touch with buried emotional pain that needs to emerge into wholeness and happiness.  Do a gut check.  What are your earliest holiday memories?  Self awareness and sharing these feelings can add a whole new dimension to this year’s holiday for you and those with whom you most intimately share your life.

Create some new and special memories this year – HAPPY HOLIDAY!! (Whatever your particular holiday is)

Who Was The “Favorite Child” In Your Family?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

JOHN J. STATHAS, Ph.D., LMFT

TIME magazine recently had an article that stated categorically that “never mind what your parents told you.  They had a favorite child – and if you have kids, so do you.” Since I hear this from people often I decided to put this topic out there to you, including what the article purports.

The article cites a study by Catherine Conger, a professor at the University of California, which concluded that “65% of mothers and 70% of fathers exhibited a preference for one child”. She believes these percentages are actually “lowballs since parents try especially hard to mask their preferences when a researcher is watching”.

As for the kids, “from the moment they’re born, brothers and sisters constantly jostle for the precious resource of parental attention, each fighting to establish an identity that will best catch Mom’s or Dad’s eye. I’m the smart one.  I’m the funny one!”

What is the fallout of favoritism?  According to the article, “being the favorite may boost self esteem and confidence… but it can also leave kids with a sense of arrogance and entitlement”.  They may be unprepared for society at large as an adult. They may even carry over a sense of guilt for their favored role.

Unfavored children may grow up wondering if they are somehow unworthy of the love the parents have lavished on the golden child”. Clare Stocker, research professor at the University of Denver states, “kids who felt less loved than other siblings were more likely to develop anxiety, low self esteem, and depression”. I would add that they will “act out” more and have significant challenges in establishing an intimate relationship with a partner.  Not feeling “good enough” is a terrible burden to carry through life. You might be surprised how often I hear that from people I work with.

The author concludes that most parents do have a favorite child but they must do their best to not show it. If asked they are to use a “white lie” to deny such favoritism.

There is more food for thought in this article and in a multitude of available research articles.  I encourage you to continue to investigate this topic should it be of interest.

So, Respected Reader, what does this say to you personally?  Was there a favorite child in your family when you were growing up?  Was it you?  What descriptors were used, such as “the smart one”, “the pretty one”, “the funny one”, “the princess”, “the athletic one”, etc…? What was the favorite’s descriptor?   If you are a parent of more than one child, do you have a favorite?  If so, why?  Do your kids feel that you have a favorite?  Might you ask them?

I have one sister.  We have a boy and a girl. I can honestly say that I did not feel my parents had a favorite or that I have a favorite with our two children.  I wonder if it would be different if we had two of the same sex. Who knows.  I’m glad I don’t have to lie to my kids!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Happy Birthday, Kris – My Son!

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted to be a father until I was! To this day I remember well the moment that my son, Kristopher John, was born into this world.De Kalb GeneralHospitaland Dr. Hardy, an OB-GYN that Sherry had worked for, were the birthing agents.

While waiting for Kris’ grand entrance I tried to support and comfort Sherry.  Also, I took the time to write my thoughts and feelings. I was keyed up, ready for the delivery.

And then he slid out! The miracle of conception and birth. Our first born – a Son!

Upon reflection of Kris being my Son, I’ve come to a greater realization of my being a Son -  born to a Father. Now with Kris the “Stathas” reproductive evolution continued.  The reality of being a Son and being the co-creator of a Son has had a powerful impact on me. I believe there are many other males experiencing the same reality. Being aware of some of the things I received and those that I did not receive from my Father, I pledged to be present, loving, and mentoring to the best of my ability.

Kris has been a delight. I could not have asked for a better Son. Kris is, and has been, intelligent, handsome (his mother’s genes!), caring, motivated, responsible, and successful. He knows how to figure things out and gets the task done, overcoming any presenting obstacles. Part of his responsible “finish the drill” attitude comes from the stubbornness factor inherited from one of his parents. ( I confess)

Kris and I have had many wonderful Father-Son times. I have watched, and sometimes coached, him during his athletic years. One highlight was going to the World Series in Oklahoma when at thirteen he played on a team that won the State of Georgia title. Now golf is his primary athletic challenge. It is a real treat to play golf with him –most of the time. He has inherited a high frustration level that results from that occasional errant shot. (Wonder which parent he got that from?)

When Kris and I get together, and we continue to do it regularly, we catch up on our usual topics – sports and finances. Occasionally more personal thoughts are shared. Kris is a fairly private person. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. I enjoy that every get together begins and ends with a hug and a “love you’’ exchange. Don’t remember having that with my Dad.

Currently Kris is happily married to Cara. She is a wonderful woman and great wife for Kris. They have this beautiful baby girl, Kyla, born last May. Kris will be an exceptional father.

Respected Reader, may you accept this personal expression and sense the love I have for my Son and how proud I am of him. I have been blessed by his life joined with mine. I did not have this special connection with my Father. Did you?  Sons and Fathers are a unique relationship.  I hope your story is, or could become, one of such a special bond as Kris and I have. It is so worth the effort put in by both Father and Son.

Thank you, Kris, and Happy Birthday! I love you.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Dr. Stathas can be reached at 706-473-1780. Email:Stathas@plantationcable.net. Web site articles: drstathas.googlepages.com

Why Men And Women So Often Just Miss Each Other Through Various Life Stages

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

 

Life is about change. (insight of the week). Men and women are different. (second insight). Men and women have different aspects of their brain, upbringing, and social enculturation. Marriage does not change any of these basics.  It may, however, bring a man and a woman closer together or drive them apart. Since life is about continual adjustments one must look at the various developmental stages and see what kind of challenges prevail and how most men and women react to them.

A disappointing factor that I frequently encounter in counseling with couples is the “miss” that takes place. Let me address a common stereotype fitting most middle to upper middle class couples.

EARLY TWENTIES: Marriage. Both work. Child arrives (sometimes planned, sometimes “oops”).  Man is primary “bread winner” while the woman works at a less income producing job or stays home with the kid(s). Man has job change/transfer. Family moves. Woman adjusts and accommodates as she is the glue that keeps the family together and on track as much as is possible.

THIRTIES AND EARLY FORTIES: Similar family pattern exists. Man is mostly in control. Woman is a pleaser, peace keeper.  Focus is on income production and child development.  Marriage enhancement is lost in the shuffle. Distance is more prevalent between the couple. “Separate lives” is becoming the norm.

FORTIES AND FIFTIES: Man advances career. He is gone more often for work and socializing with the guys. Woman, with the kids in school or out on their own, goes back to the work place or gets more involved in women endeavors.  Further distancing exists of the couple from each other. Sex life diminishes, sometimes drastically. Women are less interested because of the lack of emotional intimacy and menopause issues.  Men are stressed and ED complications affect time and effort to romanticize his wife. He spends more time with the guys, and maybe the girls, as he seeks a woman connection. Increased alcohol consumption, and perhaps forays into porn and gambling.

SIXTIES: What has resulted? Woman has become cold, controlling, angry, frigid – definitely not interested in cuddling or anything beyond that.  She often sleeps in a separate bedroom so as to not be bothered for sex, or awakened by snoring, or just alone time to read at her leisure. Man starts to feel melancholy, needy, empty, less self confident, depressed, worried about his health – and lonely.

For some couples the distance has become too great and one or two divorces happen through these periods.  Others stay together as “roommates” because they don’t want to take the financial hit of splitting assets or starting over with a lesser life style.  Plus, they do enjoy socializing with other couples who may well be in the same boat. Group fun covers up couple sadness.

 

Such depressive scenarios do not fit everyone.  There are the cases where the man “gets it” and becomes more attuned to his wife and her needs and thus becomes a better husband. The woman decides to again be open for re-connection and pushes her “re-start” button to become more loving and nurturing.

Women usually survive better in the later years, both physically and socially. Women nurture each other better.  Men die younger because they don’t take very good care of themselves and don’t have that loving partner that helps them take care of their well-being.

Okay, stereotype finished. What part of you, Respected Reader, fits you and your spousal relationship? At whatever age you are can you see yourself in this portrayal?  What about going forward, your future? Different outcome desired? Changed needed?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”      Socrates