Archive for April, 2011

Rejection: “Jesus Loves You, I Don’t!” What Do You Do With That?

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

     Have you heard the song I  DON’T  by Danielle Peck.  There is a  repeated refrain that says:

                        You say I should stay with you

                        that Jesus forgives you.

                        You pray that I will, but I won’t.

                        The difference is

                        Jesus loves you, I don’t

Blunt verbiage. This woman was over it with this guy.  No more excuses and repeated apologies. Move on cowboy. Apparently this man deserved rejection based on his repeated transgressions.

     Rejections happen, deserved or not.  Some rejections are more gentle. The Seinfeld way that emphasizes “it not you, it’s me” would be an example (and if you believe that I would like to sell you some waterfront property in the Negev desert!). There are many forms of rejections, verbal and non verbal.  Perhaps you have received or delivered a few yourself. There is pain in rejection.  What do you do with it? When rejected, some people cry, go to self pity, get PO’ed, blame someone else, socially withdraw, eat or drink too much, or go out and “prove” how good you are by becoming promiscuous. 

     Rejection can shake your confidence.  It can also serve as a wake-up call to change some behaviors that are not in your best interest. Here are a few steps to help you, or someone you care about, benefit from and bounce back from rejection and begin a process of rejuvenation.

1. INTROSPECTION:  Evaluate yourself with some objectivity.  Perhaps someone else, who knows you well or is trained to perform this function, can assist you in this self knowledge endeavor.  I will never forget the time when a man in therapy with me said, “Thanks, John, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”  This person was open to knowing things about himself that he was not conscious of.  We all have some blind spots. It is important to know what are our strengths and weaknesses. If you are open to seeing your faults you have a good shot at changing them.  Awareness is the first step.

2. INNER RESOURCEFULNESS: Some people need constant OUTSIDE reinforcement as to their value as a human being. These affirmation needs may be in the way of continual compliments, being liked by everybody under the sun, empty sexual conquests, being the center of attention always at a gathering, etc…  The goal is to feel better from the inside out – to realize your inner core is spiritual, therefore, good.  Find and keep faith, where it serves you well. “Jesus loves you…” Remember the words of another song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…”?  That is the task of each of us, to realize our unique gifts, the light we bring to others.  That doesn’t mean that everyone will see our light, appreciate our light, find it the right color – so there still may be some rejection in store. But being rejected will not be so painful because you will not interpret it as being that you are not good.

3. SUPPORT: Find good people to hang around with, people that care about you, who will be there for you with support, and needed guidance when asked for. There are so many good people in the world.  Let them get to know you!

Were You “Abused” As A Child? Do You Know What “Abuse” Is?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

     That is a difficult question to answer for many many many reasons.

1. You may be uncertain as to what “abuse” is.

2. You may use, or have used, the defense mechanisms of denial (“it didn’t happen”), minimization (it wasn’t that bad”), or rationalization(“he was under a lot of stress”).

3. You may feel guilty for talking about it.

4. You are trying to forget, and maybe forgive.

5. You feel alone and ashamed regarding it.

6. You don’t want to get anyone else hurt or in trouble.

I have heard all of the above explanations often in my work with people over the years.

     In our society, often so cynical and cruel relative to this area, the word “abuse” is often misunderstood, and sometimes ridiculed.  Let’s try to narrow “abuse” down to six areas for sake of understanding in this article. May the meek and macho keep an open mind on this subject.

TYPES OF ABUSE:

1. PHYSICAL:  Were you hit, pushed, whipped, bitten, punched, slapped or burned?

2. SEXUAL: Were you touched inappropriately? Were you forced, threatened, or coerced into any kind of sexual exposure or contact with another person?

3. NEGLECT:  Were basic necessities of safety, shelter, food, clothing and medical care kept from you at any time?

4. EMOTIONAL NEGLECT:  Were your caretakers disinterested, fail to hold and hug you, or emotionally unavailable to you?

5. CRUELTY:  Did you suffer from extreme punishment or hurtful activities?

6. MENTAL SUFFERING: Were you called names, belittled, or abandoned at times?

     Depending on the degree and type of your emotional development at the time of abuse, and now, your responses to this abuse may be a personality loaded with:

FEAR – ANXIETY – INSECURITY

SHAME – EMBARRASSMENT – FEELING DEFECTIVE

ANGER – RAGE

     These negative feelings can lead to:

1. Difficulties with trust.  You do not want to be vulnerable to anyone – especially in a romantic and committed relationship.

2. Excessive self protection, physically and emotionally.

3. Self esteem challenges of feeling unlovable and unworthy.

4. Achievement challenges.  You tend to overachieve, be driven, in order to compensate or you give up and underachieve.

5. Difficulties in fitting in with other people in various situations.

6. Becoming an abuser also.

     Behaviorally speaking, people who have been abused often become:

CARETAKERS – RESCUERS:   They find needy “wounded birds” to take care of, so they can feel good about themselves.

HIDERS: They try not to be noticed by being too thin, too fat, non descript, or just stay home. They stay “safe”.

EASY MARKS:  They become easy, are taken advantage of. They give whatever others want from them.

TOUGH GUYS:  Nothing hurts them, but they can hurt you.

LOST SOULS:  They just float around with no direction.

“RELIGIOUS NUTS: They try to “save” everybody in hopes that they may be exalted in others’ eyes.

ADDICTORS: They try to kill their pain with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, sex, gambling.  They are out of balance and go to extremes to get a short-lived adrenalin rush.

WHINERS AND “SICKIES”:  They always have something wrong with them so that someone will take care of them and give them attention.

     If you were abused, I hope you will own it and deal appropriately with that “hole in your soul”.  Healing can take place. RELIEF will result, with a new burst of energy enabling you to move forward.  You will then gain power and feel better about yourself!

Men and “Touchy Feely”: A Husband-Wife Conversation

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

A PERSONAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN A HUSBAND AND A WIFE:

MARGE: I’ve cut out an article for you to read, Fred.

FRED: It’s not one of those “touchy feely” articles, is it?

MARGE: I’m not sure what you mean by “touchy feely”?  This one is by Dr. Stathas.

FRED: He’s “touchy feely”; he writes about relationships, emotions, doing nice things for your wife, snuggling.  Why don’t you cut out articles about improving your golf game or how to catch bass?

MARGE: But, Fred, our relationship is important and I would like you to grow in a few areas. You’re a good husband but there’s always room for improvement.  I swear, you act more like your Father every day.  Besides, you have emotions.  Why I saw you cry the day Dan Marino was inducted into the Hall of Fame.  You even shed a tear when you were watching that Father of the Bride movie.

FRED: Well, I was raised that “big boys don’t cry”. We’re not supposed to show our feelings.  We need to be strong.

MARGE: I like it when you let your guard down, show some emotion.  I feel closer to you and still see you as strong – even stronger.  Then I see more of the man I love.

FRED: Does that mean more sex?

MARGE: Is that all you ever think about?

FRED: Not just that.  I’m wondering how to talk you into moving that art piece above the mantle so that I can get that deer head up there.

MARGE: You’re hopeless.  I hope someday that you’ll get it and learn more about deepening our relationship, communicating better, and parenting better together.  If that’s

“touchy feely” – so be it!

FRED: Pass the sports page. I’ll read the article later.

LATER THAT NIGHT:

FRED: I read the article by Dr. Stathas.  He said you need to let go of the past and quit bringing up stuff that I did years ago. He said forgiveness and moving on were important. Maybe that “touchy feely” stuff isn’t so bad after all.

MARGE: That wasn’t the article I was referring to. You must have gone into my stack of articles that I’ve cut out.  Wouldn’t you know that you would bring up one that focuses on what women need to work on.

FRED: Can I get you some wine, honey, before bedtime?

MARGE: Sounds good to me.  After you bring the wine, would you mind giving me a back massage?

FRED: Sure, darlin’, anything you want.

MARGE: Tonight could be special.  I have hope that you’re getting it.  By the way, I left some more articles on your bed stand.

FRED: I am getting it.  I guess I’ve had the wrong idea of what “touchy feely” is.  Turn over darlin’!.

Your Sex Life: Who, or What, Is In Your Bedroom?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

     When I meet with couples for the first time I ask them questions to enable them to express their perception of the relationship.  Three of the questions are: (Each question is to be answered by a number from 1 (not happy) to 10 (very happy)

  1. All things considered, what is your overall happiness? 
  2. How happy are you in your marriage?
  3. How happy are you with your sex life?

The numerical answers speak volumes.  They facilitate further exploration into the dynamics of the relationship and how important the marriage relationship is to the overall happiness of each person.

     In discussing the low rating for number three, two typical issues come up which the couples often fight about:  television and/or pets in the bedroom. 

     Individuals have strong feelings about these conjugal disconnects – and rarely are ready to change or compromise.  Both TVs and pets are preferred to snuggling with their spouse.  A person may say differently but “actions speak louder than words”.  Cats, dogs, Desperate Housewives and Sports Center too often get prime billing in the bedroom.

     I remember one couple that had a dog-in-the-bed issue.  She asked him to get the dog out of the bed.  He said “no”.  I told him that she was feeling that the dog was more important than her.  He said he had the dog for many years and it is staying in the bed.  The wife left both the bed and the marriage.  “A man’s best friend…”

     The issue really is more complex than bedroom occupants, but television and pets are “defensible” defenses/barriers to avoid the closeness of sensual intimacy.  They offer plausible excuses and preoccupations. When I speak with each person individually the real issues keeping them sexually apart begin to unfold.  Blocking concerns usually center around lack of emotional closeness, past or present hurts, rejection, and performance inadequacy.

     If couples really want to rekindle some passion, express their love sexually, they may need to remove the television and pets from the bedroom.  With the diversions removed a couple can deal with the aloneness they have with each other and begin to bring down the barriers inhibiting emotional closeness and sexual sharing.

     Do you have a television or pet in your bedroom?  What number do you give to the quantity and quality of your love-making?  If it is below seven, move out the TV and pet so that you can couple sensually without distraction. I encourage you to read this article together at dinner and then discuss the evening’s “entertainment”!

When You Are Disagreeing, Which One Is Your Style?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

     People disagree.  That’s a fact of life. Each person has a right to his/her feelings, opinions, and wants. No two people see everything eye to eye. Individuals and groups often differ as to how something should be handled, a direction to go toward. There are two or more sides to every story.

     What is important is how disagreements are handled.  Too often disagreements escalate into conflict – oftentimes hurtful and damaging to the participants. Relationships are often diminished when people disagree on issues.

     There are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with strong differences of opinion:

UNHEALTHY:

1. Ridicule the other person or position.

2. Make it personal; malign the character of the other(s).

3. Distort the facts.

4. Become intransigent; make it a right –wrong issue.

5. Assume ulterior motives in the other(s).

6. Talk behind the person(s) back and put the other down in order to gain support.

7. Divide and conquer is the misguided motto.

HEALTHY:

1. Respect the other person(s) and the position offered.

2. Communicate openly with no hidden agenda.

3. Hear the feelings and facts of the opposing person and position.

4. Check out the facts. Don’t assume.

5. Don’t let your ego/pride get in the way.

6. Compromise where possible, without violating principle.

7. Follow through on what you commit to.

8. Verify that the agreement is unfolding as understood.

9. Don’t become bitter or hold a grudge if your position doesn’t carry the day

     If you choose to try and settle a disagreement in the UNHEALTHY manner, you can be assured that:

1. Nobody will win.

2. Further distrust is embedded.

3. Greater difficulty in the future to be able to agree on differences of opinion.

4. Wounds and divisions inflicted may be difficult to heal.

     The HEALTHY style leads to greater respect and trust.  Thus, the individual or parties involved, are more capable of handling future areas of disagreement.  “Together, we can do remarkable things” is their motto.