Archive for January, 2015

“Eight Mistakes” Men Make With Women!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

 

Mistakes happen. We all make them.  Most of us try to learn from our mistakes to that we can be more successful in the particular endeavor/opportunity/relationship at hand. Thus, whenever I come across an article pointing out mistakes I pay attention to see if I am making that mistake and, if so, how I can correct it. May I presume that you have a similar outlook? This “mistake” article focuses on some of the mistakes men make with women. I will present the view as presented by Stephanie O’Neill (those in quotation marks) with a few comments where I feel differently or embellishment might be appropriate.

The “MISTAKES”:

  1. NOT LISTENING:  “The number one complaint of women is that men don’t listen to them. Women get a dopamine hit (feel good chemical) which build bonds through conversation. Women talk to connect.  A man thinks she is talking to tell him something.” Men would be wise to get those ears in prime working condition as well as saying things such as “Tell me more”, “That’s interesting”. Might even look at her some!
  2. NOT OFFERING HELP: Men often are not attuned to seeing what a woman is doing to make the household work or what might be done in that vein. It would be nice to say “what can I do?” or noticing something that needs to be done – and then doing it. Examples dish washers usually need to be emptied and put up and trash usually can be taken out.
  3. THINKING MEN AND WOMEN ARE ALIKE: “When men “give” it’s often based on what they want, not what their partner wants.” I don’t like this one for its overly stereotyped statement. Yes, men and women are different (insight of the millennium) and I think most men are very aware of that – sometimes painfully so. I would prefer a statement that says men often are not very attuned to a woman’s thinking and/or needs and the consequent behavior required.
  4. MISUNDERSTANDING THE “SILENT TREATMENT”: “The silent treatment is not meant to punish – it just means she’s hurt and can’t speak.  Silence is not a good sign.”  Here men should ask what’s wrong. Come with compassion so a woman feels safe enough to express her real emotions.”  Too often men get defensive and withdraw instead of staying engaged and assisting in working through whatever caused the “silent treatment”.
  5. FAILING TO COMMUNICATE: “Women say men don’t tell them what they are thinking. Men save words and don’t explain well. Often the wrong message is sent or received.” Yes, men need to speak up more and contribute better. However, a fundamental difference between most men and women is that men go into much less detail than women. I continually say to couples in counseling that men should talk more and listen better and women should give more bullet points and less details and not detour into ancillary subjects.
  6. THINKING THAT PHYSICALLY PRESENT IS ENOUGH: “A man believes if his body is in the house it’s a form of intimacy. Women want more.” Examples would be more reaching out – physically, emotionally, and mentally. O’Neill suggests the “Three T’s”: talking, touching, and tuning in. Remember that song, “Reach out and touch”.  Worth trying.
  7. FEELING HURT BY A WOMAN’S DISTRACTIONS: “Women multi-task. Men feel hurt or less important and they get their feelings hurt.” Not so sure about this one. How many men really get bent out of shape when a woman is doing something else while communicating with her man?
  8. NOT GETTING HOW WE OPERATE: “A man screens out everything irrelevant to his task” Women multi-task, men are more focused.  I think Ms. O’Neill should have quit after Number Seven.  This one seems redundant.

I guess the reason for the O’Neill article, as well as this one, is to help men, and women, realize some of the “mistakes” that individuals make in a relationship that deter a closer bond. It never hurts for each person to raise his or her awareness of what “mistakes” are occurring and how they may be limiting the relationship.  Perhaps some “good communication” dialogue between you and your loved one might uncover a mistake or two in the relationship that could be corrected!  If so, this writing will have served its purpose.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates

A Parent’s Marriage Has A Significant Affect On A Child’s Brain Development!

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

In my practice I do a lot of counseling with regard to relationships, anxiety, depression, addiction, self esteem and many other issues that need to be addressed in order for a person to move forward in life. Today I would like to isolate one factor that affects all of these concerns – your parent’s relationship.

Were your parents happily married? Their relationship is a key factor in most all psychological concerns and problems. A child enters this world with an expectation of two parents who love each other and from whom the child would receive continuous love, safety, guidance, and nurturance. Well, rarely do most children have these expectations met to the fullest degree, BUT to the extent that a child does not there will be negative ramifications in one area or another.

I have been astounded over the years to realize the tremendous impact a parent’s relationship with each other has on children for the rest of their lives. Why is the parental relationship so impactful?  It is because they are the earliest and most significant people in a child’s life.  Their imprint is huge.

Because of this early on impact I facilitate in therapy an emotional regression process that helps the child connect with his/her earlier life, particularly early childhood. In early childhood the limbic portion of the brain is most susceptible to the emotional climate in the home. The chief influencers at this time are the parental figures, or lack thereof.  A child’s brain is like a sponge absorbing every emotion present in a household and thus creating a particular brain wiring, influenced also by the genetic orientation passed on by the biological parents. Recent research has measured the emotional reaction if children as young as three months.

Examples of disturbing impacts on a child’s brain that gets encoded deeply would be parents that fight a lot; parents that are not nurturing and supportive; parents that are significantly absent; divorce; angry outbursts by either or both parents;  physical and sexual abuse; alcohol or drug addiction of either or both parents.  All of these conditions lead to a child’s deep seated fears, insecurity, and low self esteem. The ramifications of these mental hurts may vary in style depending on the genetic wiring.  Some children will be overly aggressive; others withdrawn; some will be excessively controlling and strong willed; some will be overly pleasing and compliant; some may become perfectionists, others who become slackers who give up easily.  Bottom line here is that a child has a basic brain wiring that puts him/her out of balance – not on a healthy track for living a healthy life.  Life choices will have a serious underlying “Achilles heel” which will sabotage some life endeavor, i.e. marriage, career, health, etc…

It is important to understand the impact of your parents, both the positive and the negative. If you are a parent realize the awesome influence you have on your children. Know all you can know, do all that you can, to give your child the best opportunity to develop his or her full potential. “The best gift you can give to your children is two parents who love each other.”!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”     Socrates

“I’ve Gotta Be Me! I’ve Gotta Be Me!” And You?

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

A client said these words to be last week, “I’ve got to be me before I can be with someone else.  I’ve got to find my next direction before I can commit to another”.  Profound.  I will elaborate.  Shortly after I heard the song “I got to be me” on the local radio station.  “Aha”, I said, this is an article.  This is about a person developing his/her full self and then sharing life with another person committed to being the best s/he can be.

First let me quote some of the song lyrics, and maybe you can sing along as you read them:

“Whether I am right, whether I’m wrong.  Whether I find a place in this world or never belong. I’ve gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me. What else can I be but what I am.

I want to live, not merely survive. And I won’t give up this dream of life that keeps me alive. I’ve gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me. The dream that I see makes me what I am.

I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be. I can’t be right for somebody else if I not right for me. I’ve gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me.  Daring to try to do it or die, I’ve gotta be me.”

The gentleman client of which I spoke above has experienced failure in marriage.  Part of the reason was that he did not know himself well and what kind of person he needed to complement him.  He tried to fit into the other person’s life without really knowing himself well and what he needed to have a fulfilled life. He was classically co-dependent.

In order to have a healthy marriage over time each person must have a sense of identity, a dream/purpose to live through the various developmental stages of one’s life.  There must be a developed core person that is self confident and adaptable to the various challenges presented over his/her lifetime.

So, how do you find out who you are?  It is not easy.  It is not what you do, it is who you are.  Too many define themselves based on what they do, usually some type of career or life choice. Ideally, what you do should flow from who you are – not the other way around.

You identity begins with the genetics bred into you by your parental lineage. Your brain, your operating system, then develops based on the environment in which you live.  The earliest years are the most impactful depending on how well you are nurtured, safe, motivated, and mentored to develop your full potential.  In relationships the right side of the brain is particularly significant as this portion of the brain contains your emotional capacity.  Depending on the emotional security present, based on your life experiences, your self esteem will impact the kind of partner that you seek and attract.

Respected Reader, no matter what stage of life you may be living, I invite you to explore the deepest sense of identity that you can muster – to find the core “me” that may be hidden or buried by your misguided or detoured choices. May the “ME” that you find and develop be reflective of a person who loves him/her self, has current purpose, and joyfully shares life with a person who has advanced to a similar life awareness and expression.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Why IN The World Did You Have Kids? A Quiz?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

In my practice I work with adults and children.  Some of these “children” are six, some are in their sixties.  Most of these adult “children” are physically and intellectually developed for their age. Unfortunately many are emotionally under-developed for their age.  This emotional weakness has led to poor decision-making, especially in the arena of marriage and parenting capabilities.

Perhaps YOU are one of these emotionally underdeveloped “children” who are trying to have a good marriage and raise healthy kids.  Why do you have these kids to raise?  Do you fit into any of the following scenarios?

 

  1. You were a teenager filled with lust, but no control or values in regard to sexuality.
  2. You thought “withdrawal” meant  you could not get pregnant. Surprise.
  3. You thought birth control worked 100% of the time. Surprise.
  4. You wanted a baby (doll) to play with so you could feel grown up and important.
  5. You wanted a legacy of your noble personhood to leave behind.
  6. You felt you would be “incomplete” without bringing a child into the world.
  7. You reached the age when you felt you needed to get married and have kids.
  8. You were getting old and needed someone to take care of you.
  9. You were mature, fiscally stable, in a committed loving relationship, and decided with your partner to create a family and learn how to raise them.

Which scenario best fits you and your choice, or lack of one?

Upon your child’s birth, did you decide to:

 

  1. Quit school, work at Wendy’s, and raise the kid in poverty and ignorance?
  2. Get back to work as soon as possible and turn your kid over to day care to raise?
  3. Make as much money as possible while working a lot and traveling often, thus assuring that your child would not have your secure love and guidance?
  4. Move often so that your child would  be emotionally insecure and afraid to get close to anyone?
  5. Socialize and be gone often so that an empty house and babysitters were your child’s environment?
  6. Make sure that you did not communicate with your teenager, or question and investigate him/her as s/he develops new friends and life style?
  7. Smoke cigarettes and pot, drink excessively, and generally set a poor example for your child?
  8. Not communicate with your child’s teachers, be unaware of his/her study habits and grades?
  9. Have a lousy marriage so that your kid would be insecure and have no role model?
  10. Give your child a stepparent from hell that would further mess him/her up?
  11. Have a good marriage and parenting partnership, living your values, knowing and meeting developmental needs, expecting high standards, establishing definitive consequences for behavior?

I encourage you to look in the mirror. Where are you in regard to having a good marriage and parenting well your kids? Also, try looking around you and seeing how your neighbors, colleagues, friends, and your children’s friends’ parents live their family life. What do you see?

I invite you to be the parents you wish had raised you, parents who loved each other in a committed way, while learning and implementing parental guidelines in a loving manner, giving you emotional well being.  You owe it to the kids you have, or will have!

Seeing, Valuing, Welcoming All Humans: A Privilege

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

In my therapy practice I work with many types of people. Over the many years I have had sessions with individuals ranging in age from four to eighty plus. I’ve worked with people having diverse racial make-ups. People come to me who are very religious and those who claim to be agnostic. I’ve counseled individuals and couples, both gay and straight. When I have the privilege of working with a person who asks for my assistance I see the whole person, bringing no bias or judgment. I am in a profession to help each individual and couple become the best they can be – healthy and happy.

For this epistle I would like to focus on the gay and lesbian population. It has been an enlightening and enervating experience. For many of that sexual orientation life has not been easy.

The most important insight that I have gained, and I invite all people with a rational mind to realize that sexual orientation has a largely biological component. One does not choose his or her sexual orientation. As one fifty-five year old client said to me with tears in his eyes, “John, who would choose this?” He had suffered much discrimination over the course of his life.

Another example I will never forget was when a twenty-one year old devout Christian college man came to me after attempting suicide. His Christian church said he was going to hell unless he became straight. He tried his best to change his sexual orientation, but his nature could not change. He despaired over this judgmental exile.  I helped him accept who he was. I also was able to find a Christian church that welcomed gays. He now is happy, in a committed relationship, doing well professionally, and still is a man of faith.

Other poignant experiences with those of a gay orientation that have touched my heart and opened my mind are counseling teens who are aware of being gay but are afraid to tell their parents and “come out” and let their peers know of their sexual orientation. Fear, self loathing, and loneliness are pervasive among these young people.

A recent suicide by seventeen year old Josh Alcorn of Kings Mill, Ohio was a painful reminder of sexual orientation issues for teens. Josh wrote these words in his suicide note:                                                                        “I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body and I’ve felt that way since I was four. At fourteen I told my Mom who I was and she reacted extremely negatively … that God doesn’t make mistakes… that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. … That won’t do anything bu make them hate themselves. That’s what it did to me. My Mom started taking me to a therapist, but only would take me to Christian therapists who were all very biased so I actually never got therapy. I got more Christian telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help. He signed his suicide note “Leelah”.

Life presents many challenges for all of us as we seek direction and fulfillment. Individuals with a gay and lesbian orientation should not be burdened by the judgment and discrimination of those that are blindly ignorant. (For those who cling to the Bible as the source for their judgment and discrimination. The Old Testament allows slavery and bigamy. For example Abraham, who lived to be “one hundred and seventy five”, had three wives and one of them was a slave. The Love commandments of Jesus superceded the Old Law. The historical evolutionary Bible must be viewed within the context of the culture, customs and knowledge of the times as any serious exegetical Biblical scholar knows).

I wish that every person could sit with me during my sessions and witness the pain and searching desire that people from all walks of life privilege me with the openness of their raw humanity  – all God’s children!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates