Posts Tagged ‘therapy

18
Feb
20

Fear, a Personal Analysis of the Concept

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A wise man once said…

Fear is a reluctance to accept and learn from a possibility.

[This shall be a pooling place of thoughts and/or philosophy on the concept(s) of fear.]

Unlike denial, which is an absolute resistance to something being a possibility, fear acknowledges the possibility and responds with a frown of disapproval. If allowed to fester and grow, fear becomes a vile mold or weed that feeds off the energy that keeps its host active; it saps motivation and ambition. Some can dismiss nightmares in a short span of time; others remain troubled by them. And, still others may repeat the nightmare (in what is known as a “recurring nightmare”), similar to deja vu and a difficult reincarnation; some might say this is karma or learning a hard lesson while others would judge it as a reluctance to let go of a figment of the imagination. None of it is real…except to the one who experiences it and, perhaps, those who’ve already had the same or a similar experience.

In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke Skywalker is told Darth Vader is his father, he scowls and squeals as he says this cannot be true. He is genuinely afraid of the possibility he does not want to accept. If Luke was purely brave, ignorant and/or unafraid, he would have kept a straight face and told Darth Vader to go stick his red lightsaber where the sun doesn’t shine. And, it wasn’t “the force” making Luke afraid, either, even if Darth Vader, with his oddly skull-like mask, can be a bit intimidating.

Some fears are common, easier to share and accept as real, fears of the dark, deadly creatures, clowns, heights, cramped spaces, etc. Others are more particular and personal, fears of threatening people we’ve met, fears of dogs after being attacked by one, fears of eating a certain food after someone tricked you with a tainted sample, fears of trusting certain merchants after being duped into buying something, fears of rape after being a victim.

In regards to the last example, a fear of rape may be common, experienced by many, but every individual experiences it a little differently based upon the type of person who assaulted them. Someone first raped by a family member will not be as wary of a stranger while the one raped on the street will not be as concerned about family assaulting them. Thus, one victim may not always be able to “relate” with another; there may be resistance to comforting each other from a shade of difference.

Some say fear is good; they claim you cannot know or feel courage without knowing fear. But, how courageous are they who are programmed to fear a “common enemy” and/or follow the orders of a commander without question? Are all soldiers brave? Are they not also afraid? Are some not more afraid than brave? Are the ones who are more brave than afraid also naive? How many truly know the enemy and the reasons to be afraid and/or brave? [Gee. That’s a lot of questions I just asked.]

Fear is often, not always, broken by experience. You’ll fear cutting yourself less once you’ve cut yourself enough times and learned how to tend the wounds…and you’ll eventually, hopefully, become wise enough to avoid repeating the mistakes.

[Let me just pause right there to mention……I am not talking about “cutter” cutting. I don’t mean people who cut themselves to bleed out the pain they think this act will relieve. That is a different psychological puzzle with traces of will in the mix. A person who cuts him or her self while tackling a task, cutting wood, working with metal, etc., may be cut and learn from the experience. An emotional and troubled “cutter” ignores the lesson in favor of a sensory experience, similar to how some people use sex for pleasure and forget the emotional relationship aspect which often translates into “making love.”]

Similarly, we become less afraid of monsters and “things that go bump in the night” when we walk enough dark corridors, get tired of mysterious sounds in the dark and watch enough scary movies to make us laugh at what some deem horror. There’s a word for that, a word some may have a tough time spelling. Fear loses its strength the more we become numb to it. And, once we are numb enough to the fear, we can and must then rise above it.

I keep thinking back to a TV movie I’ve watched a few times, Merlin. In that movie, the grand wizard-in-training dismisses his enemy by ignoring her, depriving her of the response and attention she demands. He says she will be forgotten when and if people turn away from her. How peaceful and poetic is that justice? He didn’t lay a hand on her. He didn’t fight her. He just walked away from the fight and let “the powers that be” sort everything out. Now, sure, if the gods were cruel, his enemy could have stabbed him in the back or moved the sorceress in front of him in a way that would make her a constant pest to his senses. But, that wasn’t how the story ended. In any case, Merlin’s example sheds light on how we must get past our fears…but only once we’ve conquered them. Without having a firm grip on ourselves and proving a fear no longer can hurt us, it remains with us like a difficult infection or disease.

From personal experience, I’ve been living with a number of fears. Some come with/from a lack of experience; I acknowledge that. Others come from experiences I refuse to repeat, even if a harsh higher power puts me right back in the pit with the troublemakers. Some would say I need to go to the sources of my fears, face them and get over the feelings. But, there are some “sources” facing would only agitate the feelings. And, yet, I am sure facing even those sources would have some positive effect, a thickening of the skin as all repeat experiences should have. [To each their own path to recovery.]

Just imagine having a fear for more than a decade…for more than a few decades…for as long as one has been a legal adult or even longer, in some cases.

As a kid, I had a fear of the dark. It wasn’t so tragic that I needed a light on at all times or a hand to guide me to the bathroom. But, it pecked at me for a while. Then, I stubbed my toes a few times and confronted shadows; I spent more and more time sitting in dark places when I didn’t want to face scary company my parents kept and when I didn’t want to put up with guests who smoked, drank and spoke aggressively. I grew a thick skin that still has a slight fear of what lurks in the dark; I still shudder, occasionally, when I let a possibility enter my mind.

The best remedy I can give for this sort of fear is to accept whatever comes; if you are meant to die from what troubles you in the dark, you will. And, you cannot avoid it. Luckily, I’d hope, anything lurking in the dark won’t have an effect on more important matters like personal long-term finances. So, you might get assaulted and robbed of SOME wealth; but you’ll live to bank another day.

I’ve also been a victim of bullies most of my life. Pick a decade, and I can describe a few pests who have jabbed me with needles of ridicule and intimidation. I can cover one hand with the number I’ve stared down and repelled by my own defiance. The other hand holds those who eluded my seemingly limited influence. I cannot deny the possibility another won’t appear. I must accept this and be prepared for it. I should not be or have to be troubled by the possibility, at my age. But, such is life, and, so far, life keeps throwing me rockheads. [Maybe that’s why I become so fascinated with Geodude in Pokemon games. It’s a sort of therapy for dealing with bullies.]

[This ties a bit into how I feel about “supporting the troops.” I hear countless pleas for donations and support for forces taking it upon themselves to root out “evil,” “enemies,” “disease” and “threats.” But, from my experiences with bullies–and my fair share of ailments–it’s hard for me to buy “bully insurance.” I recall some TV shows of my youth that offered such remedies; victims would be asked by brave bigger kids to pay for the services of a protector. But, what guarantee does this provide? The brave bigger kid is not always around when a bully decides to strike; he cannot be everywhere at once and has his own life to maintain. Just as soldiers have families and friends and duties placed upon them by their governments; they cannot spend all of their time and energy on confronting things that may go boom in the night.

A soldier, in my opinion, is called upon to deal with a warring threat. War calls, and the soldier answers. If there is no war–only a fear of war or violence–the soldier is facing a vague enemy and at risk of paranoia and its ugly cousins. A soldier riddled with fear and doubt is open to sneak attacks and confusion. A soldier with a set goal in mind and the preparation to deal with anything that crosses his/her path is more likely to succeed in his/her mission.

And, as a supporter of said soldier, if the objective of the soldier in need is not clear, donated resources are at risk of waste, just as some buy groceries to satisfy a possible need but then let the food rot as they become involved in other preoccupations.]

Now, I have spilled quite a load from my busy brain. I don’t know how to conclude. So, I will leave things as they lay and let readers do with my notions what they will. Discuss.

05
Feb
20

Harmonic Resonance, Your Personal Gravitational Field

*****

Have you ever wondered what draws two people together to become lovers or friends?

How do some people attract crowds of supporters or followers while others seem perpetually alone?

Do you believe opposites attract? Or, do you avoid opposites, knowing they only lead to trouble?

Some try to scrutinize the planets and stars for an explanation. Others analyze relationships with parents and spouses and charge a larger fee for their sporadic services. I am now inclined to think there is something deeper, more hidden and inexplicable at work. It’s like writing a book; instructors provide guidelines on what is proper, and then countless author’s ignore those guidelines to write the way they choose in that moment of inspiration. It’s a gravitational pull and resistance that eludes the confines of categories, houses and types. It’s HARMONIC RESONANCE.

Being that there is likely no math, science or pre-written logic to clearly define and/or explain it, one may think there isn’t much to say about this phenomenon. So, hopefully, I don’t talk “too long” and bore you to death. But, if you find yourself intrigued, that’s a positive resonance, an attraction to my words and energy. And, if you resist, if you feel agitated or bored with my words and/or “vibe,” that’s a negative reaction. Both are a form of harmonic resonance. It’s a cosmic secret like what you may refer to as God or the gods; if we fully understood it, we might exceed our human restraints. I do not expect myself to give you all the answers to the questions in your heads; but, perhaps, I can generate some insight or shine a light on what puzzles you.

Since 2001, I’ve been a casual student of astrology. And, while the science has its merits with generating some level of accurate predictions and sorting out relationship chemistry, there remain cases in which people either do not get sufficiently thorough readings or don’t seem to reach the predicted conclusion/goal. On a personal note, I do wonder why connecting with people of a certain sign (or signs, if you want to get technical with all the aspects of moon, ascendant and such) didn’t go as well as I expected. I did my own “math” and came up wrong; or, at least, the relationships ended and left me longing.

From my understanding of astrology, it’s so complex that even avid astrologers are continually analyzing charts to process details; it’s fed by information. Provided little information, the result is quite vague and likely to be inaccurate. Provided more information and plenty of time to consider variables, and you may get a more accurate prediction…but a precise result?

[If you look at the angle of this or the arrangement of those, you might figure out what went wrong. But, what if you don’t see all the angles? What if you assess the situation with only four variables when you could have used seven? Or, what if there is no possible human ability to process the situation?]

Like objects in space, each of us generates a sort of gravitational frequency or vibration. This frequency is affected by thought and emotion in a seemingly chaotic manner. There are thoughts and emotions that we generate and alter daily and others that have existed for some time which do not change easily. The former you might refer to as impulses. You feel like spoiling yourself today until someone you meet upsets your selfish, giddy mood. The latter are more like morals or personal limitations. No matter what Roger says to Bridget, she is not going to start smoking just to satisfy some whim of his. But, with progressive or traumatic influence, Bridget could still be driven to take up smoking or some equally addictive and potentially harmful habit.

Our impulses cause minor shifts in our harmonic resonance and can steer us away from what we desire in terms of long-term happiness. But, what may be defined as core values remain a more consistent, filtering force, rejecting whatever is deemed offensive or negative. And, even beyond that hard clay, which can still be shaped by impacts upon our lives, traumas and epiphanies, there are generators at work, creating frequencies that are uniquely our own. These generators are like fate, beyond our control. We can put all our energy into steering ourselves toward or away from someone or something, but, if it is already determined that we attract or repel that someone or something, our harmonic resonance will decide the outcome.

Positive result examples:

# A man and woman meet as kids, develop a sort of friendship, become separated by school and/or careers and yet manage to reconnect, decades later, and marry.

# Two other people become good young friends but become separated when one decides to marry someone else. After some time, the two old friends reunite and rediscover a spark which leads to the end of one marriage and the ceremony of another.

# Two people, seemingly trapped in an unfortunate situation caused by hazardous weather, discover a bond which blows their minds and leads to a lasting, loving relationship.

# A boy and girl meet in fifth grade, are quickly deemed “a couple” and remain together through their remaining school years and adulthood.

# A seemingly unqualified job applicant has an inexplicably positive effect upon the person hiring new employees. The applicant, despite logical reason to be rejected, gets the job. When asked by their boss, the HR person says they just had a really good feeling about the applicant. [And, a number of other applicants walk away wondering what they did wrong.]

Negative result examples:

# A man and woman get married (for whatever reason) and soon find themselves at odds with each other. Because they are loyal to their religions and under the scrutiny of family, they refuse to divorce/separate, even though there is no love in the relationship. They quarrel more than they enjoy time together. Every year, they just keep grinding against each other and enduring a cold, miserable existence.

# A boy, looking to make friends at school, is too shy to approach the kids he views as favorable. Instead, another boy, who is just as small, lanky and awkward as him, approaches and acts as if friendship is certain. But, the first boy quickly discovers a negative feeling in his gut from the visitor’s presence. Despite the former’s effort to elude the latter, the pestering presence remains for more years than the average human should have to endure.

# A girl, deemed pretty and inexplicably “popular,” draws a shallow circle of supporters, who quickly adapt their appearance and behavior to match their “master.” Another girl, who wishes to join the circle, is not given any satisfactory reason why she cannot and is repeatedly heckled until she develops a harmful habit. The “outsider” either tries to fit in (and still gets rejected) or does not change (and cannot understand why being herself isn’t adequate for being part of the group).

# A highly qualified person engages in a job interview with an exquisitely written resume. All conventional signs point to a guaranteed job offer. But, the HR person can’t shake an unpleasant feeling they have about the applicant; the latter walks away discouraged and confused.

Some say putting a smile on your face can improve what comes next. You’ll attract more friendly faces and willing subjects with that expression. You’ll ace the job interview if you add a firm handshake (and dress appropriately…and put a bunch of profit-inspiring numbers in your resume). But, what if you cannot put that smile upon your face because your mood is too “heavy?” What if you are capable of smiling but still do not reach a positive result? Was it something you ate? Your breath? Body odor?

It is possible odor–not necessarily an odor you can compare to laundry–plays a part in this resonant chemistry. I do think pheramones are a key part of harmonic resonance. But, they are like a spark or flame to a gas; they are a reaction of energies. The output stems from vibrations created by our personal generators. The car’s engine puts out heat and vapors, and the odor of those vapors, laced with chemicals from solutions in contact with the engine, elicit an agitated or pleased response from the humans that detect them. [And, with a certain combination of elements, those car emissions could produce hazardous sparks and/or fires.]

Pheramones are the solar flares of our metaphorical hearts. If you shield yourself from the sun’s rays, you may not feel its warmth or suffer any negative side effects, but you can still look out a window (or at a computer monitor, if that’s your way) and see that the sun is shining. Given adequate time and space, harmonic resonance exceeds man-made boundaries. But, regardless of boundaries, it exists.

I do believe studies that claim perfumes and colognes mask our pheramones, our natural essences that should attract favorable companionship. And, it makes more and more sense when you think about those artificial scents like alcoholic beverages. People drink to forget things and relieve tension; but the alteration of mindset then affects the responses they get from the people around them. Yet, some love drunks like sad puppies or stray kittens, while others avoid the pet store with firm conviction, certain they would not make a good care provider for such creatures (or simply unwilling to take up the responsibility).

If putting on perfume and cologne or drinking throws you into the path of people you don’t want to meet, why bother? Don’t you want to attract people that benefit you and who you may benefit in return?

In the deepest of truths, no matter what you do to yourself, harmonic resonance is the guiding force that will ensure a pleasing result is reached…or continually bother you until you get away from a negative, menacing energy. When we truly listen to our “guts,” harmonic resonance will decide who is favorable and who is to be rejected. Unfortunately, this seems to permit a number of misguided experiences to learn right from wrong (for some, anyway).

I’d compare this to planets, moons and other rocks in space orbitting and occasionally colliding. Does Jupiter willingly bring objects into and reject some from its orbit, or does its harmonic resonance exceed the power of will? Maybe Jupiter doesn’t enjoy the company of certain moons but is presently unable to shed them.

There is gravitational force at play, and, despite the predicted orbits and cycles, unexpected abnormalities occur. We may not look far enough ahead in our “calculations” to know when some clash will occur…or we just cannot predict one. But, there is one evident detail; there is a force at work, a force that can cause you to do a surprisingly good deed for some stranger or cause an unfortunate accident.

Our moods and actions (including dousing ourselves with artificial scents) may affect the outcomes of our resonance; we may miss meeting a good match or crash into a dozen bad ones because of what we’ve done to ourselves or how we let ourselves feel/think in the moment. If we foster a bitter or sad mood, we might miss an opportunity to meet a new friend. But, if a harmonic resonance exists and remains steady, we should be able to bypass any mental and emotional barriers to connect with the “right people.” And, given the right circumstances, harmonic resonance will filter out the negative, menacing, peace-depriving forces in our lives and surround us with positive, reassuring ones.

These questions remain for me. Is this harmonic resonance always positive/pleasing in its purpose? Are we “destined” to meet a positive end, even if unpleasant circumstances get in the way? Or, are some of us “fated” to live miserable lives while others prosper? If negative results are not in the nature of harmonic resonance, why do some seem to suffer most if not all of their lives? And, how does this energy impact the length of those lives? What if the life we know is service of some sort of punishment and harmonic resonance is the shackles?

I’d like to think harmonic resonance is a guiding light that can…will lead us to those other beings that satisfy our souls and cast out those who harm us. And, I’d like to believe I will, one day, find another–if not others–who resonate nicely with me and have a positive impact upon the world, the universe, I know. Or, rather, the union will either make a positive note in history books or more simply satisfy whatever longings I have (which cannot be reduced to just “sex” and consumption). I’ve experienced both positive and negative attractions and had mixed experiences…but nothing good that has lasted and satisfied my being; I haven’t “found my place.”

And, breathe.

So, what have I given you? More headaches or a refreshing perspective?


 

I meant to add another aspect when I first wrote this.

Have you ever encountered someone who is so much like you that others think you two should be friends/lovers…yet, when you think about that “match,” all you feel is animosity?  Could it be you and the “match” have a similar resonance?  That does not mean you two are compatible, unlike atoms of the same element.  [Are there elements that don’t bond atoms?]

But, what happens if the person you admire favors the “other you” or dislikes both people with the similar resonance?  Have you ever seen someone you like marry someone like you…who isn’t you?  [I’d say those are moments when you wish you didn’t know the truth…didn’t know the outcome.]

16
May
17

The Tao of Writingbolt

*****

Every now and then, I get a moment of divine inspiration, a little nudge to create something special.  [Some call it “awen.”]  Today, it pushed me to make something like this.

TheTaoofWritingbolt-the5As_martialartist-configuration-square_ap-2J

These are what I’d say are the five points to my being which have formed over time.  A decade or so ago, they may have been different.  I barely knew astrology before I was twenty-eight.  But, I wanted to craft something that centered and represented me.  It forms a sort of tree or Asian calligraphy character.

ART:  Associated with the heart, the core, the earth.  Like a tree, like earth is the base of certain philosophical images, art is at the root (though I’d prefer to place it at the top, reaching for the sky with no limit for potential.  I relate art to therapy (and occasionally dabble in art therapy as a psychology tool).  It’s nursing for the heart, for the soul.  It’s the life force that fuels/inspires most other actions/expressions/output.  It can be connected to martial arts (and yoga), as well.  Though it takes up the least room in the picture, it’s the biggest component.

AEROBICS:  Associated with the wind/breath (though it burns food and woe up like fire).  I didn’t think much of exercise as a kid.  But, as an adult, I see how it fits into the picture.  It used to be the trials of gym class.  Now, it’s a means of relieving stress and subconsciously improving my general well-being.  It’s the physical that balances the mental, emotional and digestive.  And, sometimes it brings that divine inspiration.  Generally, I am a hiker who likes to go “adventuring,” exploring foreign lands of interest, trusting my gut (even though my compass isn’t the best).  I’m not as interested in touring buildings as I am in ruins and relics found in natural setting.  I have equal passions for forests and beaches (but not much love for pollen, bugs or intense heat/sunshine).

ASTROLOGY:  Associated with the mind, a cloud, the sky/stars.  By far, this is no bigger than aerobics/exercise and Ayurveda/nutrition in my life.  But, it has been a key note in my ceaseless pursuit of philosophy and understanding.  It’s a good icebreaker in social/dating situations.  I’m no expert.  But then, we all are continuous students, in a way.  And, strangely, it has benefited me in tasks of memory and creative projects aplenty.

AYURVEDA:  Associated with fire, the combustible (like food), a source of energy and potential problems if not properly attended/balanced.  It’s the most recent point of the figure, something I came across after reading an article in a magazine while returning home on a flight; I later picked up a book on self-therapy which included a good portion about Ayurvedic medicine and nutrition.  And, while I’m quick to reject and slow to accept new philosophies, this one kinda made sense.  It just slipped into place, partly because it did NOT support the common medicine practices of taking pills for your ills.  It was strangely comforting.  A good fire can keep you warm; and the more I read, the more I felt warm inside.

AWEN:  And, at the center of it all, is what may be behind it all, divine inspiration, a gift from above, a complex puzzle box slowly unfolding or coming together to make greater sense.  [Note how two of the hands seem to be giving each other a “fist bump.”  I thought that was a nice, totally coincidental (at first) touch.]

If anyone has any input or questions about the image, feel free to share.  No need to be nervous.  I’d be willing to help you create your own “tao” image, as well, if interested.

And, as I state at the bottom, I didn’t get a clear understanding of the word “tao” from my dictionaries, but it sounded good.  😀  If you can think of a better term for this concept, I’d be glad to hear it.

16
May
17

My Response to “Self-Esteem Issues in Ohio” (Dear Abby)

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[Letter titled “Being Lifelong Target of Ridicule Eats at Self-Esteem.]

“Self-Esteem…in Ohio” is in their 30s and coming to terms with social/dating difficulties stemming from a lifetime of ridicule and, quite likely, manipulation, claiming to be more comfortable putting him/her self down than doing what makes him/her happy.

I’d say he/she is in an emotional rut, passing through a sad storm.  Sometimes we write things in the moment we are most emotional and it passes.  Sometimes the problem/feeling lingers.

Dear Abby suggests professional therapy.  I feel this is too easy to recommend without a sound system of assuring the doctor-patient relationship will work.  In a way, finding a good therapist is like dating except more expensive.  Heck, even online dating sites charge less per month to gamble with them.   So, isn’t a therapist asking more than a hundred bucks an hour for you to repeat your life history, before they remotely understand your problems, compounding the problem?

*****

Well, before I get started, I had a flashback to a time not too long ago when I found and visited the Dear Abby archives/website. I found the digital copy of the letter and a loooooooooooooooong line of responses from other people, reminding me of the old chatroom and message board days. There are many who have the same responses and a handful claiming to be in similar shoes. So, anything I could say wouldn’t be much different. And, I am not sure the “discussion” is any better than comments on YouTube, as they may be hard to read/filter.

On that note, I WILL still offer some thoughts and personal experience. After all, I am not a man of few words, usually. And, if I get carried away, it might be too much for the comment trail space. I might get more attention at the source. Yet, this is just as good, writing out my thoughts, self therapy, if nothing else.

If you can handle it, please take the time to read my “radically reduced” response (which, after two drafts, is still quite long). [I am slowly learning to curb myself and save some information for more appropriate, more fruitful settings. The general public viewing space is not the same as controlled group therapy.]

But, if you reader(s) care to sift through the website comments, go HERE.

*****

First off, I was surprised I didn’t think to ask it myself. Are you a man or woman suffering from this? I presumed you were a man like me which prompted me to respond. Some of what you said struck such a resounding tone with my own troubles.

Secondly, as I know I can say more than can fit in a few lines, if you read what I have to say and want to discuss these matters (perhaps more privately), my mailbox is open.

I’ll try to group my thoughts to address various topics…and keep the details brief.

LABELS

I don’t like to say I have a condition or disease as this only makes matters worse than if I simply think of my troubles as clouds overhead which can be diminished or replaced with sun, now and then. Better to think of the bad times as foul weather that will pass, I say.

ESTEEM AND/OR ANXIETY

I don’t consider what I suffer from as low self-esteem but, rather, social anxiety, a fear to engage people beyond a certain trust level. It’s not as bad as a gal I know who freaks out if a guy approaches her to be more than a friend. I can mingle with certain people if the “water” is inviting enough. I typically have little to no trouble talking to people who I don’t consider relationship prospects, but I cannot seem to approach any woman I find attractive. And, if I do begin talking with one who then turns out to be more than I can handle (or fear she will find fault with me), it becomes a real dire situation to get out of the mess. So, I tend to run through the scenario beforehand and avoid even a kind greeting or more than “Hi.” [I set myself up to fail before trying.]

I’ve tried various methods of countering my anxieties. One, which has yet to work well though I love the idea, is delivering thoughts on paper. Rather than speaking with the person directly or trying to get an email address/phone number (as some seem to make appear so easy), I would write my thoughts in a note and pass it to the person or get someone to pass it to the person. I never passed notes in school, ironically. But, I’ve done it on the job (hoping to avoid a boss telling me not to socialize on the job by inviting the person I wanted to speak with to find me after work).

You’ve probably heard the bits about loving yourself before you love another and being comfortable alone, too. I don’t know what to think of these philosophies, but they give me a headache.

I was a kid who spend adequate time alone because Mom and Dad were not available or interested in what I liked to do, other than art, and I couldn’t do art all of the time. [That’s a whole other ball of wax, source of childhood trauma.] I could occupy myself and say I was okay. But, as I matured, I needed some social connection. I had heard “no man is an island” and took it to heart. I just wasn’t very good at getting off my island and joining the natives of another. And, no one was going to show me the ropes without sounding suspicious.

We’ve likely both been “okay” on our own long enough. How long do we have to go alone before we connect with someone? Right? And, how do we define loving ourselves? How do we know we pass the test and can move on to the next step, loving someone else? Who verifies our abilities?

TALKING DOWN ABOUT ONESELF

I don’t recall doing this in my youth. What I do recall wasn’t so much me talking about myself as it was conveying what others had said/done about me. I guess it was my way of taking a punch instead of fighting back. I’m not exactly a fighter, but as the saying goes, “corner a cat and get scratched.” [I’ve had my moments when I lashed back at those who went too far.]

However, as I entered my teens, I started to seriously wonder what was wrong with me. I can relate to what you say about not making yourself happy. For the longest time, I have put up with crap, figuring I could do no better. I would not say I have low standards by any stretch, but I have taken chances without making sure the decision was right in my gut. And, usually, when I don’t follow my desires, I run into trouble. Yet, if I only listened to my inner voice, I’d probably be more anti-social than I already am, because, I suspect, some of the voices inside me have been shoved in there by my family and peers. And, why do I want to listen to them?

THERAPY AND SELF-HELP BOOKS/EXPERTS

Whenever someone has no better advice or assistance to offer, I see this often. “Get professional help.” As if it were so simple. If you’re lucky, insurance may cover some or all of it. But, I doubt it. And, from my experience, it was more harm than help, especially when my family did whatever the professionals prescribed without considering its impact on me. As a minor, I was not to be trusted; I might as well have had rabies or be told I was due to be “put down.” In short, my trust in therapy ended when the last pill I was convinced to take nearly ended my life. When professional help goes that far the wrong way, you either get mad or you die obeying strangers.

I’ve encountered many “self-help” books, too, by self-proclaimed life-experts. I would snort at these quite hastily, wondering what makes anyone an expert on life when they are still living and learning as I am. Especially, if that life expert is younger than me. After all, what is the sense of life experience if someone can live it all before another? Just because one tree figures out how to produce apples faster than another does not make it wiser or all-knowing about fruit production. [This logic might also be applied to the medicine field and how pill manufacturers fail to grasp the concept of every body being potentially different; we can’t all be lab rats just to satisfy someone’s curiosity.]

Maybe I am not being fair. Maybe there are still good therapists in this world. But, I have yet to meet one. And, after my horrible experience, I am inclined to reject the idea.

If you DO consider professional help (in other words, advice and/or assistance from someone outside the circle that knows you already), I hope you can do as much research as possible and defer the expense.

I think therapy works when we accept someone’s way of thinking into our own. I’ve read some self-help books that have fairly good ideas. I just have a hard time trusting my soul to a book instead of someone I can see with my own eyes and hold with my hands. [I suppose this could have people questioning my ability to believe in a god, my religion. After all, what is faith in a god other than trusting stories passed down about someone I cannot see or hold?] So, if you tell yourself to have faith in the words of another, it’s likely you’ll adapt and do your best to make that work.

I guess, because I’ve “been there, done that,” it’s hard for me to trust, again.

Suggestions for countering these problems:

1) Well, I already gave one about labeling conditions/difficulties.

2) As for the lack of confidence to engage others or feel better about ourselves, I wish I could find a good therapy group, if I cannot do better at making friends on my own. I’m not likely to seek such a group out, sadly. I have doubts about therapy and professionals but DO think a group is better than one-on-one.

I had brief experience with group therapy and campfire discussions. But, I could feel, rather quickly, a sense of community. When everyone in the group contributes, there is less likelihood of distrust. You slowly let your guard down and accept not being alone with the problem. I had a good time with my senior (high school) retreat when the group was able to divulge personal trials. Suddenly, those who appeared flawless were just as fragile as I, and I wanted to reach out to them, to hug them. [Sadly, the trip did not end as well as it started.]

HOWEVER, be sure you are in the right group and gauge your experience day-by-day. Because, I was placed with one group who had different problems than my own, and it made no sense for me to spill my emotions to people who could barely speak for themselves and/or comprehend my woes.

3) I have repeatedly tried something over my lifetime which doesn’t exactly accomplish much other than shaking an emotional load off my shoulders. Whenever someone made me feel “less than” or hounded me (like a bully), I would concoct a tall tale. [This probably contributed to some calling me a liar at the wrong time, like the “boy who cried wolf.”] It’s sort of like the advice some give about wild animal encounters; you make yourself look big. That’s what I did without attempting to be cooler or dress differently (as many would do). I talked big and fabricated details, hoping to steer away whatever was looming over me like a plague. It doesn’t necessarily make me feel better about myself, but it helps to steer the threats away.

Consider this a last resort strategy. Some days, I’d just want to get home and unwind. And, I’d tell myself this strategy accomplished the bottom line. It got me out of the line of fire. But, if the problem didn’t stop

4) I like how people describe Conan O’Brien as having “self-deprecating humor.” People like him are able to stay modest and have a sense of humor about themselves, so it’s less likely to get or feel hurt. In some foreign films, you might hear “fight fire with fire” or “counter poison with poison.” Even in common medicine, a vaccine is often a re-built virus used to counter another.

So, rather than simply shoot yourself down, have a sense of humor about your shortcomings. Find a way to turn a negative into a joke. So, at least, if you DO find yourself in an awkward situation, you can make light of it. And, try not to let yourself wonder if your date thinks you suffer from anything just because you make jokes or put yourself down. Don’t double the weight already on your mind.

5) Think outside the dating box. If you view a date in any particular way and figure it’s a hopeless case, try designing a different date (like drawing a new map for how to walk through a park or a new menu for your favorite restaurant). [IE Some expect sex on a third date. I don’t care for this “rule.” I must assure myself I don’t have to follow it and set my own rules. And, if my date doesn’t agree, I don’t have to continue dating that person.  Of course, I may be good at designing, but I lack the drive or self-assurance to put my designs into reality/action.  Which is why I see myself as a good interior decorator.  hehe  I design the room but don’t necessarily have to do all the remodeling.]

I’ll take a chance in saying something about my dating history.  I’ve probably gone on a handful of dates, altogether.  My first date was as much a disaster as it was a relief.  I was once accused of standing someone up and ran into an emotional dispute IN PUBLIC (which I dread) as a result of me pursuing the relationship that, apparently, wasn’t to be.

I do better befriending a person and then trying to arrange times we can hang out together casually, instead of trying to follow some schedule every few days, weeks or months.  [And, the people I usually befriend come from my workplace.  I don’t go to “normal” hangouts to meet people because I don’t have a group of friends to join me.]  I’ve “dated” people through emails and chat rooms before meeting them in person.  I can’t say I’ve had much success, but it certainly feels better getting what you can for free or little money than paying some agency of faceless strangers to hopefully find you a match.  My methods are not conventional.  But, I’m not sending disturbing nude images to people just to get a rise out of them, either (like some who deter people from trying anything online).

6) Exercise is good. I agree with those who recommend exercise for improving psychology and the mood. [Posture and what we do with our hands also play a part.]  I didn’t get it until my twenties. In school, I wasn’t exactly lazy, but I didn’t do anything to “work out” other than play video games and the occasional sport practice by my own rules. I never lifted a weight or ran a mile (which proved to be a cause of great distress and embarrassment). But, once I started walking to get groceries, etc., I found myself melting pounds and stress away. I recommend bringing a headset radio/MP3 player to give yourself something to “suck” on and tune out the traffic. But, if you like walking among nature and listening to every little sound, have at it. I tend to dwell on negative thoughts without my music.

7) Diet may be a factor.  Consider what you eat regularly but don’t guilt yourself for enjoying the occasional comfort food.  A few tips in this area:

a) Moderation is a very important word.  If you find yourself eating a whole bag of chips or candy, stop.  Nor do you need to eat a whole head of lettuce in a day to say you’ve had your veggies.  Have a little of every food group or flavor type, and your taste buds will feel fuller sooner.

b) There are self-help books that talk about how what we eat impacts both physical and mental health.  Look into Ayurvedic medicine, the use of herbs and various food groups to address internal issues like nerves.  I’ve heard pumpkin seeds and shrimp are good for countering nerves, but I’ve seen minor results, at best.

c) Know your body type.  Some people are just genetically built to change weight/shape as the seasons shift.  Some, like me, don’t gain weight much because of a hyper metabolism.  Others are designed to be stout.  Once you know your type, accept it.  [I would presume this is a step to that “self love” requirement, but it’s not often someone will address it this way.]

8) If you haven’t already, consider looking into astrology and figuring out who to avoid, who to approach and what you can do to appeal to those you do approach.  You might be surprised by what clicks with another person, finding new connections/commonalities.  I personally find the subject full of possibilities and creatively inspiring.  But, that may just be because of my “sign.” 🙂

9) When all else fails or seems too complicated, don’t forget to take deep breaths and blow the negative thoughts and clutter from your mind.  I’ve had many bouts with panic attacks.  [Another topic for another time.]  Some nights, I’d go to bed worried I’ll forget something important that just crossed my mind.  I need to have faith and tell myself what matters will be there when I wake.

10) Art is often my therapy.  I can craft in many forms.  There is no specific yoga pose or martial art I have to follow.  I just have to pray for creative inspiration and appreciate it when it comes.  There’s a whole study on the use of mandalas and adult coloring books you might investigate.  Or, try what my family call “doodle challenges” in which one person draws a line or shape, and another (or yourself if you really must do this alone) turns that shape or line into something.  It’s sort of like finding shapes in the clouds.  [This is not directly helpful to dating, but it may be good for clearing the distressful clutter from your mind/heart.]

[I’m sure I’ll think of more and reconsider some of my verbiage in good time.  🙂  Again, if interested, I’m willing to compare notes via email and, eventually, other means.]

 

I normally copy this to a special blog page I created as an archive.  But, it doesn’t seem to be working, today, in case anyone wonders why the response isn’t there (or the link here).]

28
Feb
17

My Response to “Achiever Mom” (Carolyn Hax)

*****
You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.  [You may find a loose end or two as my response kept evolving over a few days.  I finally just decided to post what I had.]

Achiever Mom is concerned about her son who is twelve years old, not exceptional in sports or academics and void of any interest with which she feels able to relate. She mentions her husband as a socially anxious under-achiever and highlights a moment in which her son supposedly chose to forfeit a spelling bee due to a lack of interest in winning/trying. Claiming she grew up grasping at every opportunity she could, this incident made her angry at him for not being more ambitious to achieve greater status.

Carolyn Hax does a decent job of asking Mom to accept her son as he is and let him find his own way. But, Hax seems to be making the assumption the son bailed on the challenge, knowing it would irk his mom, making the son appear more devious than he may be (which could have a negative impact on what the mother does next).

While overall content with the article/response, I felt there were a few details missing, details that might need light shed upon them to better understand and direct the situation at a crucial stage. This case also touches on a personal one, which motivates me to speak out. Thus, the following response is more about my experience and how it may be related to the situation at hand than added advice.

————–

Achiever Mom, you be careful with that boy. I don’t want to scare you, but soon, he will be entering high school, that tumultuous stormy sea between Scylla and Charybdis that tests youth’s metal. He will face temptation, heavier work loads and peer pressure like he has never known. He will be torn between convention and rebellion, between practical and unorthodox. And, if you so much as twist his wrist in an effort to tell him “how it’s done” or fail to teach him how to accept defeat, you could scar him and the connection you have for life.

If you don’t mind reading a novella, I’m content to sit down and discuss this with you for the moment. Getting all of the thoughts out and answers we might benefit from is a tad hard to achieve in half of a newspaper page. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable, take a deep cleansing breath, maybe fix yourself a calming drink and have a go at this.

[FYI, I speak from experience; I was a boy much like your son. I had a father who (without any “inheritance”) boasted military experience (in “peace time”) and a mother who was the self-proclaimed ruler of discipline and organization (as well as the queen of denial). But, I didn’t bail on the spelling bee. I simply fell short and discouraged myself from trying, again, because I had been built up to think I was smarter than I performed and acknowledged for a skill I must not have valued much (until I was older and learned to care more about the full use of words than just spelling them). I made one mistake and didn’t have the nurturing I felt necessary to continue or didn’t see the logic in trying, again. I had no “failure coping skills,” no interest in being less than the best and, to be quite honest, little to no interest in glory from spelling.

There were many other instances in which I had gut instincts to go one way and my parents insisted I go their way. And, in short, because they only accepted doing things my way after it was too late (after I paid the price of going against my gut feeling) or after lengthy protest and stressing out, a rift gradually grew. In just a few years, it grew to the point I lost sight of the childhood love I had for my parents. And, to this day, that love is razor thin; it’s an obligation and an oath, not a comfort or treasure.

I had a hard time talking with my parents about nearly every concern on my mind. And, there were plenty in my early teens. Certain tasks or challenges were deemed too dangerous or unfit for me before I could even attempt them. Where I wanted to try was not always approved. The more often I quit, the less my parents approved of me; and the more I disliked myself. Yet, I could not see any merit in continuing what discouraged and/or hurt me, as well as what seemed “too hard.” I was told I was a good student, but that didn’t seem the case when it came to learning from/with my parents. Confusion does not make a good foundation. And, when later asked by others why I couldn’t do something, I felt too embarrassed to say no one never taught me or that I was afraid to learn. Nor could I easily take what others taught me and apply it at home without my parents objecting strongly.]

Your last little paragraph kind of says it all. You are a tightly wound violin string ready to snap at the kid for a “mocking bow” and potentially never succeeding at anything. You may say it was so, but I don’t know and doubt he was mocking. Nor would I be so harsh to assume he will never succeed at anything; that’s just devastating talk. Get that junk out of your head, doing a weekly sweep if necessary.

[That reminds me of a time when my mother thought I was “faking” weakness/illness/injury. I was actually physically, mentally and emotionally hurt; and she thought I was faking. I don’t remember her saying so when I was in the moment. But, hearing her thoughts, decades later, hurt almost as much as they would have had I heard them as that kid. It explains why I felt so abandoned and helpless at the time, left to fend for myself like a baby bird that fell from the nest. Yet, I didn’t do so well fending for myself. Had I been a bird, I probably would have died or been eaten.]

Whether or not you shake your head at my earlier assessment, let me ask you a valid question (or two). How successful are you, really? [That might have shed some light on the situation.] Are you the “breadwinner?” Are you at the peak of your career path? Or, are you “content” with much less than you yourself could have had yet wishing–as many do–for your children to “have a better life” while losing sight of what you experienced?

Understand that some things never change; but others do. Tools that were available when you were his age are not the same now. Opportunities you had then are not necessarily available now. Others you did not have are. Circumstances are slightly different.

———
This next portion is going to sound much like what Carolyn said with a few different words. You might find a few new perspectives. But, you can skip past it, if you prefer.

Instead of focusing on the word “succeed,” right now, put the phrase “stimulate the happiness of others” up over your work space and do everything in your power to guide your son toward what makes him happy (not what makes you happy). In time, I would guess (I mean, what do I know?) this will turn into success once he feels good about what he can do before assuming he can or must be successful.

Teach him a lesson my parents had a hard time–if not failed at–grasping: how to experience failure and deal with it. Don’t teach him to fear failure and fear trying things you feel he isn’t fit or right to do (like laundry, cooking and other household chores), just because he doesn’t do them your way or makes a mess. [Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t follow directions well; and it doesn’t have to be a “disability” or “attitude problem.”]

The scariest part of the coming years could be letting him do what he chooses and being ready to cushion any blows that come from those decisions, not letting him take over your house and lifestyle but allowing him to mold himself rather than have you pick the shape he takes. If there is competition, let him decide to enter or avoid it. Encourage him to discuss what is happening in his life without framing the moment with past experiences and assumptions/predictions. Then, if you see an opportunity for him to take a chance with good odds, kindly nudge him.

Say something like, “Hey, you’d be good at that. Why don’t you give that a try?” And, leave it at that. Or, provide the tools/supplies without any pressure to use them. [If you must, try a little negotiation. Say you’ll do ____ for him if he does ____ for you (for himself). And, don’t cave if he resists. But, don’t deprive him of necessities, either. Don’t take away his ability to connect with friends, regardless what he has done (and not from what he MIGHT do).] If he turns away from the challenge, don’t fight his decision. [However, if his life takes any scarier turns, if he withdraws so much from interaction, chores and challenges that his life seems in jeopardy, other action will become necessary.]

———

The first line of your letter that jumped out at me was where you mentioned your son being nervous and not wanting to be there. [Actually, the first was his saving grace, his sense of humor. I seem to have survived this long with that little life preserver, myself.] While nerves and refusal may be signs of weakness one could halt by pushing the weakling into the fray of battle, it might also have been an area of achievement he had little interest in pursuing. And, pressure to do something we do not instinctively favor could be unnecessary pressure, like peer pressure. Just because our peers tell us we’re uncool for not doing what they do; that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to do things differently.

Some adults might recall being kids pushed to take up musical instruments but, later, giving up these lessons to take up medical or financial jobs. They might look back and question their parents’ pressure to take interest. [Or, if they are so fortunate, the former kids might integrate those lessons into adult life and be some amazingly, envy-worthy, diverse people.]

[I personally was adept at math because I had a brain apparently gifted at absorbing equations. But, would I pursue math contests? No way. Too boring. I’m a creative spirit. There is no creativity in math, other than creating problems and, later, solutions. I don’t mind problem-solving. But, I guess I have little to no interest into imagining problems in terms of numbers and variables. My mind is more geared toward seeing social, arrangement/composition or regulation problems around me and figuring out solutions.]

One other thing about your letter that sticks in my mind: You briefly mention the husband being socially anxious and an under-achiever who struggles to get jobs. Yet, you love this guy; you married this guy, right? [That may be a tiny weight off my shoulders, an ounce of hope.] But, how much do you love him? And, could it be your marriage is merely another challenging opportunity you took upon yourself? Did you enter this family structure like a school contest, hoping to work your way up the ranks from district to state, mold the members like clay sculptures until they won the blue ribbon at the county fair? In other words, do you love your husband (and your son) for who he is, for being part of your life? Or, do you see them as works in progress you just haven’t been able to fully improve to the best of your ability, yet?

What would you say or have done had your husband not “inherited” any money? Would that have any impact on you marrying him? Was the money or family status a push toward the thought of a stable future/home?

I wonder, how does your husband feel about you (and the kid/s)? Do you have more than one child? That too could be a big factor in this pressure-to-achieve situation. For instance, how does this son get along with his siblings? How “successful” or “driven” are they? Might this son feel pressured to be like them when he is not?

[I knew a few “only childs” and saw how their parents treated them like pet projects, like singular rockets filled with hopes of greater success than any family of six or more could achieve.]

How would the husband feel being labeled an underachiever? Does he accept this like a healthy bowl of bran cereal to stabilize his diet? Is he comfortable not doing as much as some, accepting that some people are tortoises while others are hares? Or, do the words cut a little deep, leave him a little less eager to try?

———
Here comes some more advising verbiage. Again, breeze past it if you’d rather read more unique material.

At twelve, your son is at a crucial time of development, sure. [Heck, every year between birth and whatever number you want to use for labeling adulthood is crucial.] And, you could fortify this by giving him a swift kick into some regimen like boarding school or a “balanced diet,” and trust this will keep his back straight, his shoulders back and his elbows off the table. But, what is more important is a trusted family member fortifying him with experiences, both good and bad.

He needs to be free to try things, learn how to do them both your way and his own way and experience failure to learn from his mistakes. You’ve probably heard similar advice elsewhere. It just might not have stuck with you or found purpose. Well, I’d say the purpose has been found. It’s your son. And, he needs his mother to still catch him when he falls but to let him fall, as well, and learn what comes with failure, including the steps to recovery.

A parent who is driven by only success and grabbing every opportunity might not be relaxed enough to say, “It’s okay if I don’t have any interest in ___. Maybe I’ll give it a try; and, if I don’t like it, that’s fine. I’ll do better at something else.” You might get upset if you take on a crossword puzzle and leave half of it blank. You might cut interests out of your life because you did not excel at them. Or, you might think you have to be good at everything.

———

Which brings me back to the father in the picture. What’s his input with the son? How does he nurture the boy? Is his method annoying to you? If you answer the last question with some form of “yes,” that says plenty. Maybe a lack of desire to compete and excel could be directly or subtly linked to an unhappy union in which two committed lovers–role models for the boy–are anything but encouraging images at the finish line. The boy might not want to complete the race because the prize at the end of the road is not worth his time/energy. [Or, maybe, it’s not you he’s looking at but other families falling apart.]

———
One last push to sound competent and professional. These moments just pour out of me like a leaky boat. It’s the chatty therapist in me.

Get to know your son and his interests. [If at seventeen he still likes the cartoons he watched at five or keeps a stuffed animal on his bed, don’t harp on that being a bad thing.] Let him decide when it’s time to keep or part with something. Don’t assume his decisions or ways are bad ones. Teach your son how to pick himself up and try, again. Don’t insist he must continue or be smarter or more successful than he feels fit/able. Or, live with the possible failure of staying connected with your son; accept that he will likely cut ties with you or resent you if you push too hard or fail to fill in other gaps.

You can’t guarantee success no matter what method you try. You, too, must be able to cope with “failure” and still find happiness, contentment. Otherwise, this life is a miserable one.

———

Phew! And, breathe. [This is just the tip of the emotional iceberg for me.] If you manage to find my lengthy thought process here and wish to continue, feel free to contact me.

08
Dec
16

My Response to “Fantasizing in New York” (Dear Abby)

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Now available for your viewing and opinion on the designated page

A married woman claims to be bisexual while in her second marriage to a man.  [Her first marriage was to a woman.  I presume she married both rather quickly and recently unless she married the woman outside of the US or “on the down low.”]  She wants to pretend her husband is another woman during sex.  He is decidedly heterosexual and monogamous with next to no tolerance for her alternative notions.  I have a fairly strong response to this which contradicts the professional advice she was given.

30
Dec
15

I Love My Pill TV…NOT!

*****
If you live in the USA and are without cable TV, you might develop a case of BMO, bad medicine overload. Please continue to process the following statement while I flash a variety of unrelated happy images across the screen.

-Bad medicine overload strikes five out of five Americans who do not skip or are unable to flip channels when commercials for hazardous drugs prescribed by professionals begin.

-Bad medicine overload strikes these folks every five to seven minutes when a new commercial break is taken.

-Doctors who are not really doctors recommend hitting the Mute button when a commercial break starts to prevent such side-effects as: brain melt, loss of hearing, loss of sanity, coma of the eyes, paralysis of the bladder, raging mouth diarrhea and possibly death.

-If you or someone you know is struck with a case of BMO, don’t call your doctor. Turn off the TV, step outside and get some fresh air. Rekindle an old hobby. Put on some inspirational music. Pull the plug. Or, if necessary, dispose of the TV and never look at a newspaper advertisement or magazine, again. If you can do none of these, seek help from a friend, not a diploma or license to practice medicine/therapy.

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