Neurosis

I am almost one hundred percent sure that most people suffer from some sort of neurosis. I think we are all a little neurotic about something and it’s usually not enough to cause so much distress that we end up needing professional help.

Neurosis, as best describe to me by a former professor in layman’s term is an unusual or rather extreme response to a normal stress inducing event. For example, it’s normal to be nervous about a job interview, but it is not normal to be so nervous that you decide not to show up or make yourself sick so you can’t show up or purposely sabotage things to the point where you are unable to go to the interview consciously or subconsciously.

Normal neurosis is usually overcome, especially when it has to be. Someone who has a fear of public speaking will usually speak in front of a group if they had to. Or someone who is very shy, will usually attend a party, even if they don’t mingle with many new people.

Neurosis that is abnormal leads to illnesses such as depression, chronic anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias and in it’s extreme forms, personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Normal neurosis can usually be combated by either changing ones thoughts about the anxiety provoking event or dealing with the event in a healthy way using stress reducing activities such as relaxation techniques (breathing exercises, etc.).

I think it is important to understand yourself and your reactions to different events so that you know when you are experiencing normal anxiety and when you are being neurotic. If you get asked to dance at a party and you don’t want to, that’s normal. If you want to, but you’re nervous, yet you dance anyway, that’s normal. If you want to, but you’re nervous so you don’t… well that is a little neurotic, but nothing to worry about. If you avoid the party all together out of fear of someone asking you to dance, well, that’s a more serious form of neurosis that in it’s extreme could turn into things such as generalized anxiety disorder.

I myself am a little neurotic about more things than I probably know, but each time I discover one of  my neurosis, I try to analyze it, pick it apart and combat it with healthy behavior so that it does not own me.

Writing as Therapy

Writing to express yourself, ease pain, erase trauma and reflect and gain insight is a powerful form of therapy. This has been practice for years in the form  of journal keeping and has even been shown to positively effect the immune system. For some people dealing with certain issues, it may be too painful to try writing about them alone, without the help of  a counselor or therapist to help them deal with some of the thoughts and memories that may come rushing in, so while I encourage you to write, I want to strongly encourage you to stop writing and to seek help if it  becomes to much to deal with alone. I also want to share with you something I wrote a while ago to deal with the loss of a relationship when I didn’t really know what to do or what to feel, but I wanted to express myself in a safe place away from judgment and to ward off the feelings of depression and failure.

You told me that if I loved you, that if I believed in our love I’d let you go, knowing that someday you’d return. I didn’t want to. My heart told me not to, but I did because I wanted you to believe I was brave and confident that our love could endure both time and space apart. In reality I was petrified, afraid that letting you go would mean the end of us. Still, with trembling hands I let you go explore the world, hoping and praying that our love alone would bring you home. At first it wasn’t so bad. We emailed each other often, nothing much had seemed to change except your location, but then the emails became less frequent and our conversations seemed more distant. Eventually you stopped emailing me all together and the longer I went without communicating with you, the more it felt like I was suffocating from lack of your presence. I tried to stand strong in this growing abyss hoping that my strength in allowing you to explore would serve as a demonstration of my deep desire for you. And then you came back as promised, only this time something was different. The light in your eyes had faded along with your smile. I wasn’t going to say anything, hoping that our closeness would bring back both the light and your smile, but then you told me you met someone. I stopped breathing. I probably wouldn’t have taken another breath if you hadn’t told me to. My heart galloped inside of my chest as I saw the promise of us come to a crashing end. I wanted to remain positive, told myself that this too shall pass and somehow serve as a catalyst for what was surely to come… you and me, together forever. Somehow things didn’t workout that way. You continued to distance yourself from me, drawing closer to someone else. Months passed and I found the courage to email you again, asking simply how you were you doing. You replied with a few words I imagine, I hope were hard to type; “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m engaged to be married in June.” Time froze as I deciphered those words and allowed them to sink into my pores. I started to write you back, my words fast and angry, then I hit the delete key… thought for awhile and started again, this time my words more gentle, too gentle, too forgiving. Again I hit delete and just stared at that email for what felt like an eternity. I haven’t written you back or talked to you since, until now. Now I’ve found the words to express myself and let you know how I feel. I feel angry, disappointed, cheated and hurt, but none of those things will bring you back to me. None of those feelings will heal my heart. I love you, I probably will always love you, and when you asked me to let you go I never really did. I still hung on to a big part of you, but now I see that in order for me to heal I truly have to let you go as you have apparently let me go a long time ago. I want to be able to say I hope everything works out for you, but I can’t, at least not right now. I know that will change overtime, as soon as I fully let you go and convince myself that this too isn’t a catalyst for us to be together forever somehow, but the catalyst for me to move on with the rest of my life.

“Why Do People Try to Kill Themselves?”

I was asked that question earlier this morning by a client who had tried to kill himself over the weekend. At first I found it strange that he would ask that question. The answer of course is that there are a number of reasons a person may think suicide is the answer to his or her problems. Those answers are generally irrational at bese. I replied to his question by asking him why did he try to kill himself. He hemmed and hawed for a momment and then replied that he was tired of all of his physical ailments (back problems, body aches), that he didn’t feel appreciated by his family any more (especially his wife) and that he just wanted to take an overdose of sleeping pills (which he did) and sleep forever (which thank God he didn’t). So why do people try to kill themselves? Name a reason, and there’s probably someone who has tried to kill themselves because of it. Generally it’s because of irrational thoughts, poor impulse control, poor coping skills, feelings of hopelessnessa-suicide-note-photoshop-876693_1024_768 and lack of insight. The key is to help them find hope and a reason to live. One of my favorite quotes is by Viktor Frankl: “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”

“I dreamt my teeth fell out!”

dream_standard_1280x960A friend of mine recently told me she had a disturbing dream that her teeth had fallen out. Alarmed, she called me and I quickly consulted two dream books, both of which stated that dreaming your teeth are/have fallen out can mean multiple things, but generally the end of a relationship or the the fear of being lied to/cheated on. My friend quickly acknowledged that she is afraid of both, her relationship ending (which isn’t going so well) and being lied to by her boyfriend who has lied to her multiple times before. What I found interesting besides the dream and it’s possible interpertations is how she felt felt during the dream about her teeth falling out. She told me she felt disgusted and I took that a step further to say that she feels disgusted with the thought of a) losing her relationship and b) being lied to by her boyfriend… again. After some thought, she agreed with my analysis and not that it was some sort of breakthrough, but it did help her realize that her dream wasn’t just about losing her teeth, but about her fears.  I think it’s important when trying to analyze your dreams to not only look at who was in the dream or what was happening in the dream, but how you or the people in the dream felt about what was happening. I believe looking at that will potentially give you greater insight not only into your dreams, but into your reality.

Why Do Men Cheat?, cheating, affa

divorceI know this has been one of those questions that’s been around forever and there are a million different theories to why men cheat, but after looking at some research done by Gary Neuman, LMHC, author of “Why Men Cheat”, I have finally found an answer I agree with.

In his research, Mr. Neuman found that an overwhelming majority of men stated that the reason they cheated was “emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling under appreciated. A lack of thoughtful gestures.” Mr. Neuman goes on to explain that “Men are very emotional beings. They just don’t look like that. Or they don’t seem like that. Or they don’t tell you that.”

A lof of times in relationships we fall into routines and unintentionally we take our spouses for granted. No longer do we give praise to the other person for doing the things we think they are “supposed” to do. This is where the other woman often comes in, making the man feel appreciated and valued. It usually has little do to with sex, although Mr. Neuman discovered that the frequency of sex, not necessarily the quality of sex was also an important factor in why men cheated. It also has very little to do with looks, as the man that Mr. Neuman surveyed usually said the other woman looked no better physically then their wives. What it has to do with largely is the man feeling appreciated and admired because men are often insecure, rather they know it, admit it, or not, and are always seeking for someone to make them feel good about themselves.

The number one thing to take from this is to make your man feel appreciated and valued, like he is a winner or eventually, another woman will. Not all men will cheat, even when in relationships where they feel devalued, but your relationship will be much better if your man is happy and feels like your hero even if you’re really the superwoman in the relationship.

90/10 Rule

Have you ever heard of the 90/10 rule? The 90/10 rule states that you have to take 90% responsibility for what is going wrong in your relationships with other people, your job, etc. It doesn’t mean that you are always wrong and other people are always right. What it suggests is that you examine yourself more so than pointing fingers, blaming and ridiculing others. This is important because the only person you can change is yourself! Let me give you an example of the 90/10 rule:

Suppose you are in a relation with someone that is going into it’s 7th year and you’re unhappy because after 7 years he still doesn’t respect you, he still lies to you about where he is, he still hasn’t set a date for your wedding and he still makes you cry when he ignores you…

The 90/10 rule would say that 90% of this is your fault, not blaming you, not punishing you, but saying you should take responsibility… take responsibility for staying with a man for so long who doesn’t respect you, take responsibility in the fact that you lied to yourself when you said he would change, take responsibility in the fact that perhaps you don’t like to be alone and therefore are willing to put up with someone who lies to you and keeps putting you off and again, take responsibility in the fact that your fear of being abandoned is what caused you the pain, anxiety and sadness that makes you cry when he ignores you. Now that this much responsibility is yours, what do you do with it? You change it! You stop giving him the power that has always been yours! You examine yourself and stop being a doormat, you deal with your anxiety and stop allowing yourself to be treated in a way in which you know you deserve better.

When you use the 90/10 rule you’ll start looking at all things different in your life. You’ll be able to stop being mad at people who won’t change and except that you had a big hand in all the chaos and YOU CAN CHANGE! You’ll start having conversations like: “You know, I want to apologize for being so angry with you for stringing me along for seven years. It’s my fault for being so afraid of being alone that I was willing to be hurt and hang all my hopes on a future with you. Now I know it’s really more about me than you and I refuse to be so afraid of being alone that I’m willing to be hurt. I have to deal with this issue on my own and that means being on my own, even if it hurts because I deserve so much more for myself.” Okay, maybe that’s a little corny, but I hope you get the idea. If you don’t, email me at newattitudecounseling@gmail.com and we can disuss the 90/10 rule in more detail. I’ve personally used the 90/10 rule to deal with some anxiety issues and it definitely works… it takes time and patients, but on the other side is freedom.

Valentines Day

happy-valentines-day1Happy Valentines Day, but is it really? Some people think that Valentines day is all about love and romance and that if you’re not in a relationship that there is no way to have a happy Valentines day. I beg to differ. Valentines day is about love, but it doesn’t have to be romantic love. You can share Valentines day with family, friends or heck, treat yourself.

Don’t get down and depressed if you’re not in love, infatuated or even in lust this Valentines day. Use it as an opportunity to express your love to others or perhaps even more importantly, inward to yourself.

One last word of advice. If you can’t change the circumstance, change your attitude towards it. Trust me, it works. Have a happy Valentines day no matter what the circumstances.

December

The month of December was ALWAYS my favorite month of the year, mostly because it was the same month as Christmas, my Birthday, a lot of my close friends birthdays, and my dad’s birthday which is today.

Well in December 1999 that all came to an abrupt end because my dad died in December after getting hit by a truck. My whole outlook on December changed. My close friends who shared birthdays in December with me and I all grew apart (for the better; two went to prison and one was shot and pralyzed while selling drugs) and as I got older, my birthdays seemed less and less like a celebration and more like an inventory of my past and present failures.

My challenge this year is to recapture the joy of December, my favorite month. To remember the way the cool, if not anemic December weather here in Florida brought a smile to my face. To enjoy the Christmas lights and festivities, even if I have to do them by myself and to not run from the things that bring me anxiety (like visiting my father’s gravesite on his birthday). It’s been easy for me to push the good memories of December to the crevices of my mind and almost make them all but forgotten and treat December as just another month in the year, perhaps even a sadder one and letting melancholy set in. I think often we let events, people and circumstances in life steal our joy and that in turn is giving them too much power over our lives. I’ll write more about that in a later post, but right now I would like you to think about something that has robbed you of some joy, rather it’s a bum leg, a hectic work schedule or years and years of putting your children first while letting yourself slip away to the point that you don’t recognize yourself any more (you’re no longer YOU, but Bill’s wife and Sarah and Megan’s mom). Recapture yourself and the things that make you happy if just for a moment.

The Season for Thanks

Okay, I know that this is a little late for a Thanksgivings post, but I was thinking about writing this as I was trying to entertain family and friends over the holiday and didn’t find the time or the solitude to write a decent post until now (ironically while I am at work).

Giving thanks isn’t something that should just be done during Thanksgiving of course, but throughout the year and everyday actually. While watching Oprah one day I heard Dr. Oz say that gratitude was one of the key elements to living a long and fulfilled life. I agree. I think those who are thankful for what they have are overall happier than those who take for granted what they have. What I would like to challenge you to do right now is stop and make a list of some of the things you are grateful for and why. If it’s a person, maybe you can even take this excercise a little bit further and tell that person that you are thankful/appreciative of them.

I for one am thankful for my health, because my nephew has battle cancer on and off for multiple years now and continues to be plagued with various infections and was recently hospitalized. I am thankful that he is currently out of the hospital and that despite my pre-hypertension, regular headaches and tiredness, am overall in pretty great health. I am also thankful for my job, although I sometimes hate it, I love the fact that I get to do what I went to school for and actually get to interract with clients that need my help on a daily basis. I am thankful for my family; this Thanksgiving holiday together helped me see how very disfuctional we actually are lol, but I am thankful for them all the same. My list of what I am grateful for can go on and on, and it should and so should yours. If you want to share some of the things you are thankful for please do so, I would be glad to hear them and celebrate them with you.

-T.

Crisis

The Chinise pictogram for the word “Crisis” is a combination of two words; danger and opportunity.

Within crisis, within your personal crisis, there is potential danger and potential opportunity, especially for change. Many people faced with crisis, rather it be cancer, war or may have you, see that crisis and danger as a great opportunity for change and personal growth.

Ask anyone who has had a near-death experience (terrible car accident, gun held to their head, terrible illness) and see how it has changed their way of thinking. What you will find is that many of them now actually live life more than they did before, are more aware of not only their own existence, but the existence of others. They become less afraid of fear and rejection and more willing to try new things and embrace new experiences.

 I will elaborate about this much more later, but right now you can take advantage of any crisis you may be experiencing right now rather it be the loss of a job, house, or whatever it may be, and stop ruminating about how bad or terrible it is, and discover the opportunity in it, especially the opportunity for personal growth. 

You can also look at it in another way. Whenever there is crisis that does not directly affect you, there is still opportunity there for you to either help directly or at least reflect on it. An earth quake in China can give you the opportunity to donate to charity or in the less, appreciate that today, in this moment, you are alive and have the opportunity to make any changes you need to make to live your best life ever, rather it’s apologizing to a love one for a wrong did long ago or to quite going to a job you’ve hated for the past 10 years.

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