Archive for December, 2016

A New Year: Perhaps A Heart (Love) Check Up Is In Order. Quiz Available!

Friday, December 30th, 2016

At the beginning of this new year you have probably looked at your physical and fiscal conditions, made some resolutions, stated your goals, and are trying to carry them out.  If not, you are asleep at the wheel.  In your annual check-up did you examine your love life?  Time for a heart check-up.  No, not cardiovascular condition, rather your heart relationships – yourself, spouse, significant other, children, parents.

In the priorities of your existence, where does your love life fit in?  Go ahead, list the top five priorities in your life.  Any surprises?  Does the time and money spent on your love life equate well with your other priorities?

QUIZ:  (Please answer questions 1 and 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being low and 10 being high)

1. How do you rate your relationship with your self?______ spouse? _____  ex spouse? _____significant other?_____ children? _____  parent(s)? _____

2. How important to you is your relationship with each one?

3.How much thought/time/and action do you put in during a given week regarding each one?

4. Is there something you could do to enhance the quality of each one of these relationships?

5.What typical excuses do you use to perpetuate the status quo, i.e. not interested, too busy,working, not good at it, rather be socializing, golfing, etc?

May your 2017 year be a good one based on reflecting on what’s important in your life, especially in matters of the heart. Happy New Year!

 

Holidays Are About Family And Creating Memories!

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

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)

 

Holidays Can Open Doors That Might Well Stay Shut!

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

The holidays bring out family dynamics, issues, and emotions.  Situations “trigger” reactions that usually are concealed during the rest of the year. There is a vulnerability that exists where feelings often are raw.  Many people “weird out” during this time of year.

There is no perfect family. Consequently, everyone has a weakness or vulnerability in certain parts of his or her personality.  This vulnerability can cause significant emotional,  communicative, and relational  problems between family members and spouses.

John Bradshaw, in his groundbreaking book,  THE FAMILY, describes a number of issues or conditions that people have.  The holidays exacerbate them leading to emotional pain and relational fallout.  (Excuse the length, but please don’t quit reading.  You will find yourself!)

  1. ABANDONMENT FEARS: You have great difficulty separating. You stay in relationships long after it is healthy to do so. You hoard things and cannot seem to let go of anyone or anything.
  2. DENIAL AND DELUSION: You are fantasy bonded to your family of origin. You defend your parents against any suggestion that they did less than a sterling job. You continually try to please your parents and win their love.  But no matter what you do, it is never quite good enough.
  3. UNDIFFERENTIATED EMOTIONS: You never know quite what you feel; you don’t know how to express your emotions. You cry when you’re angry; you get mad when you’re afraid.
  4. LONELINESS AND ISOLATION: You are unconnected and things sometime seem unreal. You feel lonely and never quite feel you belong.
  5. THOUGHT DISORDERS: You detail to the point of boring other people. You generalize a lot and often obsess on things you can’t do anything about. You worry excessively and intellectualize your problems.
  6. COMPULSIVE/ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORS: You use euphoric type substances to change you feelings. You use activities to distract you from your feelings.
  7. HIGH LEVEL ANXIETY: You are chronically anxious. You don’t know exactly what you fear, but you imagine the worst.  You  catastrophize.
  8. INTIMACY PROBLEMS: When you start feeling close to someone, you sabotage the relationship. You’re attracted to emotionally unavailable people.  When you could be close to someone, you are not interested.  You cling to a relationship once you’re involved.
  9. LOSS OF AFFECT AND ENERGY: People experience you as cold and mechanical. You are numb.
  10. DRIVES AND NEEDS ARE SHAME BASED: When you feel horny, hungry, want to be touched or need something, you feel ashamed.
  11. RESENTMENT/GUILT CYCLE: You feel resentment about your duties to your family of origin or to your current family, but you feel guilty when you’re not taking care of those duties.
  12. OVERLY CONTROLLING: You try to control everyone and everything around you. You try to control other people’s behavior.
  13. FALSE SELF: You pretend a lot. You gauge your behavior by how it looks – by the image you believe you are making. You wear a mask, play a rigid role, and hide your emotions.
  14. EMPTY AND NARCISSISTICALLY DEPRIVED: You feel empty and go from one experience to another trying to be satisfied.
  15. MANIPULATING AND GAMEY: You use your energy to play games with people. You manipulate to get your needs met, rather than being straightforward about it.
  16. OVERINDULGED AND OVERSUBMITTED TO: You pamper and indulge yourself. You are constantly irritated that people don’t respond to your needs.
  17. OVERLY PERFECTIONISTIC, RIGID, AND AUTHORITARIAN: You endlessly strive to do everything right. You constantly monitor yourself.  You are critical and judgmental.
  18. NEEDY AND WANTING: You feel needy and look to others to fill your needs. You married to be taken care of.

Well, did you find yourself, or parts of yourself?  Just know that the emotions of the holiday and the family “triggers” will challenge your vulnerability.  Protect and heal yourself by reaching out to others with the holiday spirit of love, caring, and sharing.

HAPPY HOLIDAY!

 

Carrying Guilt Around? Own it. Dump it. Move on!

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

One of the saddest experiences I have in my practice is working with guilt laden individuals. They are tragic. Did these people do things wrong? Yes. Do they need to be burdened for the rest of their lives with this guilt? No! The burden can be crushing and painfully infect their life.

Nobody is perfect. Let me repeat that. Nobody is perfect. Welcome to the human race where  most people are doing their best to live a life without hurting people they care about.

But people hurt people – sometimes with intention, sometime inadvertently – using flawed thinking to do the wrong things. Most people wise up, realize they made mistakes, and strive to do better. They deserve a chance at forgiveness and redemption.

Guilt is an emotional cancer infecting any effort for you to move beyond yesterday’s transgressions. It must be eradicated in order for a healthy positively esteemed person to emerge having learned a painful lesson.

Healthy Psychology and Theology give the rationale and process for such a movement forward. Let the wise heed the opportunity.

There are steps to this “coming clean” process. First step – own it. Know that you have done wrong. Two, ask forgiveness of the person you hurt, if possible. Third, forgive yourself. Fourth, let it go. Quit carrying around the baggage of guilt.

And for those who seek to guiltify or not forgive those who have transgressed you and offered a sincere apology – stop! You are only hurting yourself with this insidious anger and stifling any possible relationship with the guilty person in the future.

In summary, for those of you who are having difficulty unloading your guilt, or are a guiltifier, let go, grow up and be the loving person  you are capable of being!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

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