Archive for July, 2016

“Thirteen Things Mentally Strong People DON’T Do”! Do You?

Friday, July 29th, 2016

I am a professional in the mental health field. I continually am trying to assist clients to become stronger mentally in order to become more successful in everyday living and in their relationships. Recently I came across a book by Amy Morin with the above quoted title that I thought was terrific and embodies many of the principles that I have tried to convey through my articles. I quote these things and add my own embellishment.

  1. THEY DON’T WASTE TIME FEELING SORRY FOR THEMSELVES: No pity parties for these folks! You never have to say to them, “would you like some cheese with your whine”. Pity parties waste time, create negative energy, hurt your relationships, and stifles moving forward.
  2. THEY DON’T GIVE AWAY THEIR POWER: People that give away their power become impotent and lack physical and emotional boundaries. I encourage people to know their strengths and come from that position going forward. If you don’t own your power you stay stuck.
  3. THEY DON’T SHY AWAY FROM CHANGE: To change is to grow and go forward. Morin lists five stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
  4. THEY DON’T FOCUS ON THINGS THEY CAN’T CONTROL: Know what you can control and what you cannot. Focus on what is possible and don’t waste energy in fruitless efforts to go beyond the limits of your power.
  5. THEY DON’T WORRY ABOUT PLEASING EVERYONE: When your self esteem is based on how well other people like you, you will continue to be just “blowin’ in the wind” of other people’s perspectives. You will not be centered, empowered, and moving in your own proper direction.
  6. THEY DON’T FEAR TAKING CALCULATED RISKS: Morin suggests these self answered questions: What are the potential costs? What are the potential benefits? How will this help me achieve my goal? What are the alternatives? Personally speaking, my two biggest “risks” have turned out to be incredibly successful, satisfying, and empowering. “No guts, no glory” – an old standby motto that still can make sense.
  7. THEY DON’T DWELL ON THE PAST: This is one of my favorites. I say that you cannot move forward if your head is still turned backwards. You can’t change the past, can hopefully learn something from mistakes made, and can move forward.
  8. THEY DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES OVER AND OVER: Mentally strong people accept responsibility for a mistake, learn from it, and create a plan to move forward.
  9. THEY DON’T RESENT OTHER PEOPLE’S SUCCESS: Jealousy is a wasted energy, fruitless, and it takes you off course. You need to focus on creating your own path. Compliment those that are successful and, perhaps, learn from them as to how you may be more successful.
  10. THEY DON’T GIVE UP AFTER THE FIRST FAILURE: Persistence, constantly reflecting on a better course, leads to success. A favorite quote of mine is “I don’t lose, I learn”.
  11. THEY DON’T FEAR ALONE TIME: Morin states, “Creating time to be alone with your thoughts can be a powerful experience, instrumental in helping you reach your goals.” Personally I crave and utilize productively my solitude time. Beware of those dependent people who need to be with someone all the time.
  12. THEY DON’T FEEL THE WORLD OWES THEM ANYTHING: Entitlement shackles true creativity and growth. Self motivated people earn their successes and, thus, feel confident and empowered.
  13. THEY DON’T EXPECT IMMEDIATE RESULTS: They have a willingness to expect realistic expectations and an understanding that persistence and grinding it out ultimately will bring success to a well thought out plan.

Well, Respected Reader, how mentally strong are you based on these benchmarks? Which ones are strengths of yours and which ones need some shoring up? These thirteen deserve to be cut out and posted in a conspicuous place for continued reminding!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates”

Everyone Has Emotional Scars That Inhibit. Do You Know Yours?

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

One of the major insights of my life has been the realization that everyone has emotional scars and how impactful those scars are in a person’s attempts to have a fulfilling life. Emotional scars can vary over a wide spectrum. They could come from what was done unto you, or what you did not get that was needed, or something you did that has left an emotional negative imprint. Headline factors would include abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), abandonment, guilt) .

The limbic area of the brain, the emotional part, has been “recording” every event in your life from early on in your existence. Some of emotional imprints are retrievable in your conscious memory. Others would be shut down in your subconscious, difficult to remember because you have blocked memory, perhaps due to the defense mechanism of denial. Defense mechanisms exist and persist to block perceived emotional pain.

Part of my challenge as a therapist is to help a person come to know what these scars are and the particular area of the person’s life that is being negatively impacted. Some of these scars may have come from parents, other caregivers including baby sitters and relatives, friends, dating relationships, employment experiences, financial setbacks, etal. They can be many and diverse over a period of time.

Once the painful scars are brought into consciousness, with an understanding of its damage, the work of healing can take place if you are committed to the process. And healing CAN take place!

A qualified and competent therapist that understands this and does this type of psychotherapy can offer much to facilitate such emotional and behavioral healing. In my practice, I give some challenging, usually pain inducing, “homework” to dig out these buried scars. While this may initially be painful it is critical to the healing. An analogy would be a broken bone. Surgery is needed that initially causes pain but leads to healing and full recovery. I do psychological surgery!

As part of the therapeutic process the therapist may partner up with a medical professional for pharmaceutical assistance, as well as a significant other or two, who have a current impactful role in the person’s life. A spouse is the usual significant other here, other times it may be a parent or child.

I reiterate with emphasis, everyone has emotional scars from wounds experienced along life’s trail. The key is to know what they are and how they have limited the potential successes in various parts of your life.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Building Positive Self Esteem Is Critically Important! Know How?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

How a person feels and thinks about his or her self is a vitally important factor in how successful a person will be over the course of a lifetime. By “success” I mean academically, vocationally, financially, socially and the capacity for an intimate relationship. It is a core driver with regard to choices made. Self esteem can be separated out to be an internal belief and external presentation – who one is in essence and what one does. The distinction between these is complex.

Your “self” is a dynamic evolving aspect of your being, your essence. It is continually being developed, influenced, and molded by significant people and events in your life – and how you process such experiences.

Self image, how we perceive ourselves, begins at the very earliest stages of human growth and development. A child is constantly reacting to his/her safe or hostile environment. The brain, particularly the limbic area where emotional memories are stored, is being molded accordingly. From early on a child is perceiving and reacting to his/her environment, especially the “messages” from significant others. The messages include ones of love, safety, hurt, anger, guilt, abandonment, etc… .

Depending on whether a child is driver or passive personality, emotionally expressive or retentive, this message encoding will usually result in some form of imbalance. Low self esteem individuals of a certain type can be very successful in accomplishments because his or her value/self esteem is based on accomplishment to cover the inner, oftentimes subconscious, feeling of unworthiness. As long as the person can be applauded by others for some accomplishment the inner low self esteem can be covered up. These “drivers” look good on paper. The other major type will be very unsuccessful because there is no “drive” there. These people often turn to negative behaviors that activate the feel good part of the brain such as some form of addictive behavior. Depression usually accompanies these feelings of low self worth.

I’m aware that some of you are going to be reading this and saying “this is a bunch of nonsensical psychobabble.”  This language doesn’t make a lot of sense to some people. Others are in denial. But let me assure you that self esteem is an important factor in ultimate happiness, taking in all the circumstances of a person’s life over time.

Bottom line here, be cognizant of your early upbringing. To what extent did you feel consistently love, nurtured, safe, positively reinforced, etc… by the significant people in your life? If yes, be grateful and express it to those you can reach them. If the answer is no, then realize you have some self esteem deficits that will seep through in some places in your life and affect your potential for success. A wise person knows his or her “Achilles heel”!

If you want to know more about your self esteem, I’ll give you some revealing homework and then you give me fifty minutes, and I’ll explain yours to you and how your resulting self esteem works both for and against your overall success.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Couples Take Note: “You Asked Me To – And I Will”

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Elvis has inspired me! “Duh”, you say. Let me explain. I listen to a lot of music. It is my                             therapeutic “feel good” inspiring tonic. Recently I heard Elvis’ song “You Asked Me To” and thought about an important topic that I encounter frequently in couples counseling.

So often I hear a person say that his/her partner “told” him/her to do something. Or perhaps, the mandated tasks were presented as a “honey do” list. This is just as bad. These “told” individuals feel talked down to by this parental feeling mandate – not respected. Except for your job, when you often have no choice or you’ll be fired, most people do not want to be “told” what to do. I know I don’t!

When I asked my lovely wife, Sherry, to marry me I emphasized two things: “Don’t tell me what to do” and “Don’t speak for me”. And she does not, for which I am grateful. Nor do I. We are both adults honoring each other with a more respectful form of communication.

Sherry does a great job of “inviting” me to do certain things. To which I willingly comply because I love her, feel respected, and she does not ask for anything unreasonable. Related issue is that she never nags me about doing something for which I am grateful. This is another concern for many couples. Being “told” and “nagging” are communication forms that best be put aside.

Unfortunately too many couples do not respect each other in these two matters. Thus, irritation, anger, distancing often result. Then the next problem is how to re-connect once this negative energy pervades their relationship.

Couples, I encourage you to ask one another if either of these forms of communication exist in your relationship. If so, make a concerted effort to “ask” or “invite” the other person to do something. Do not “nag”. And you won’t have to do this if your partner is a responsible “git er done” kind of person with mutually agreed upon tasks and goals. If that isn’t a reality then you have further problems to address!

Respect and trust are basic foundations for a loving relationship. Practice them often, especially in your communication – and you will have a better relationship!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates