Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

5 Ways Self-Care Strengthens Relationships

June 13th, 2016 No Comments

Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

los angeles relationship counseling

A LACK OF SELF-CARE LEAVES YOU DEPLETED WITH NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE AND NO CAPACITY TO RECEIVE

 

Are you exhausted taking care of your partner, your family, your extended family, your colleagues and your living arrangements?

Does it make you feel good that you attended to your partner and children, put them first and played the role of dutiful and loving care giver?

Perhaps you think that by making everything and everyone else your priority that you will be rewarded with appreciation, recognition, and admiration.

But there is probably another part of you that is aching to get off the treadmill and feed your soul. You know you are depleted and often not able to enjoy your relationship as much as you would if you didn't feel burdened with never ending duties and jobs.

You know that most of the day you shut off your feelings and needs because they conflict with your dutiful self. So you kind of 'die' inside, feeling less than human.

When you aren't able to fully enjoy your relationship, you put it in jepoardy. If you can't fully participate emotionally then the threads of connection get lose and threaten the unity between you.

In order to avoid losing your connection, you have to take care of yourself and others. It's not an either or situation, it's a "both" scenario. It doesn't mean leaving them and going on trips or avoiding chores for a day or two, but rather a recognition of your humanity and the important role it plays in maintaining and sustaining your most important relationship.

What is self Care and Why is it So Important In a Long Term Relationship?

Self-care means you tune into your feelings and needs, and take charge of getting them met. Self-care involves putting your contentment and fulfillment in your own hands, being empowered to create and utilize opportunities to have your emotional needs met – for security, stability, achievement, caring and being cared for.

Self-care is about valuing yourself in an authentic manner and taking your emotional and psychological wellbeing seriously. It’s more than just surviving physically so you can get by on autopilot. It’s about functioning as a tuned in, grounded, centered and flexible person, able to go with the flow of emotional upheavals that would otherwise decimate you.

Self-Care is relevant to both men and women struggling to keep their balance in relationships in same sex and heterosexual connections

The evidence for self-care in maintaining good mental, emotional and physical health

Science tells us that self-care is essential for healthy relationships with good boundaries and realistic expectations. Without proper regular and consistent self-care people end up in abusive relationships, co-dependent relationships, use and abuse substances and are prone to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and psychosomatic conditions like chronic pain, gastric and skin problems.

When we neglect self-care we are depersonalizing ourselves and giving the power and authority to others to value us enough to take care of us.

For example many of my clients will go on till they drop to show their commitment and martyrdom to their loved ones. They do this hoping to get permission to slow down and take care of their need for down time, alone time, play time and soul replenishing time. Then they get angry when those same loved ones respond by saying, " I never asked you to do this!" Resentment festers on both sides, and distance grows as each party tries to navigate the trecherous waters of isolation versus relying on one another in a healthy way.

Los Angeles Self- Care in Couples Counseling

Taking Care of You Own Emotions and Needs Makes Less Demands on the Relationship, Making More Time for Enjoying Each Other

 

How did you get to be this way? How have you become a master at taking care of everyone else and a loser when it comes to taking care of yourself?

Growing up in an atomosphere where your parents needs competed and conflicted with your own sowed the seeds for neglecting yourself. You were probably focused on making sure your parents were okay and were rewarded for it by getting some attention or treat. On the other hand, if you cried out for what you needed or showed displeasure when you didn't get it, you were most likely berated and or punished. So your needs became dangerous and ugly. You survived by putting all your energies into taking care of those around you, waiting for the praise and recognition, that you were important and deserved care too.

Real life examples of clients who struggle with self-care

A. Joanne, a 37 year old carer in a residential home for the elderly, cannot stop working and has projects lined up so that when one finishes she has another. She gets anxious when she has ‘space’ for herself because it echoes her childhood desperate need to “work” to please and get attention from her mother who was a work- a- holic! Now as an adult she is not able to be emotionally present for her husband, She is drowning in guilt She has to break a toe, forcing her to stop her frantic work/exercise routine and take time for some personal space. As her therapy progresses she is beginning to notice that she gets care from me just for being herself and that she doesn't need to please me in order to get it. This is the beginning of her entertaining the idea that she is worthy, and deserves to care for herself.

B. Brody a 39- year- old banker is permanently stressed out. He travels for work, has a large team to manage, and feels overwhelmed when he is at home and the demands of a wife and young children get to him. He feels guilty if he spends time with friends, sleeps too long or responds to work calls when he is home. He tries to organize activities and do practical household repairs and such to take care of his family, but never feels that he earns some "me time." He keeps waiting and hoping that his wife will see the pressure he is under and take him off the hook. But she doesn't, making him feel inadequate. Instead of taking care of his emotional needs he doubles down on doing things in the home, and then in the guise of 'fitness', goes for bike rides, in an effort to free himself of the vicious cycle.

C.Helen a 45- year- old personal assistant and single parent of a teenage boy has a hard time with self-care. Keeping house and home for her son, earning her way in life and managing co-parenting with a difficult divorcee she is easily overwhelmed. She gets exhausted, depressed, angry, protests and then drops off the world into a bubble and does nothing – giving herself back to herself in a way. She also develops pains and ‘fainting’ that make her stop being a robot and take care of herself. Otherwise she numbs herself with food.After a period of therapy when she has allowed me to nurture her, she then takes care of herself by joining dance, photography, and other creative arts classes, as well as being with friends. 

D. Tyrone a 32-year-old self made business man worried about his three young children all the time. He didn't trust his wife to treat them with care and kindness becasue of her harsh personality. He put all his efforts into ensuring that his kids had good nannies, extra-curricular activities to which he accompanied them, and most of all he made himself available to adddress their emotional hurt, anger, frustration, desires and fears. He went overboard on the latter because he didn't have those important things when he was young. He knew the toll it took on him and went all out to make sure his children didn't suffer in the same way. But while doing this, he completely ignored himself. He was tired all the time, pushed himself when he was exhausted and irritable, He hoped that his wife would notice, and learn from him so he could let go a little. But that was a pipe dream. He was always at hand to help his mother and siblings when they needed something, and they never hesitated to ask because he was so willing . Similarly with cousins and other extended family figures He was known for his unselfish devotion to duty, except that it was killing him. He didn't have any sense of self-care until his health started to deteriorate. His blood pressure rose with his weight, he started drinking and suffered insomnia. Finally well into his therapy he began to see the value of self-care. He was feeling empty and cut off from his loved ones. He gave of himself, but got nothing in return and was angry and bitter. We worked on him saying 'no' when he didn't want to do things. At the same time, we worked on his guilt about it, and his fear that he would be alone and shunned if he didn't take care of everyone the way he had been doing.

 

 

 

 

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Beginning The Act of Self-Care: Setting up strategies

One of the most important aspects of self-care is to realize when you need to depend on someone for something. Self-care involves knowing and allowing yourself to ask for help and support for as long as you need it while you are dealing with difficult issues.Recognizing your energy limitations, stress overload, need for sleep or solace is a vital component to self care. Waiting till you get ill and incapacitated or someone rescues you to ease your guilt and suffering is the opposite of self-care.

1. Develop a hobby and or interest outside the family and make it part of your life, not just fit it in if you suddenly have a few free minutes.

2. Work on being aware of and in tune with your body without trying to push yourself into exhaustion just to feel the 'burn!'

Yoga, running, hiking, biking, swiming, dancing, tai chi, etc. 

3. Make sure you have healthy boundaries with family and friends. That means not getting sucked into other peoples needs and treating them as kids, while being encouraging when they begin to take care of themselves. Healthy boundaries includes developing a skin that takes care of what you are experiencing in ways that honor yourself, without panicking or leaking out for others to mop up.

4. Make time for personal 'check-ins' to discover what's going on inside you so that you plan for and take care of your needs before they reach a crtical point. A 30 second check in several times a day works and when it becomes automatic, your awareness will ensure effortless maintaining of boundaries and satisfaction of need. That means you won't be over dependent or have others be overly dependent on you.

5. Express your feelings when they come up in the moment. That ensures that you don't stuff them, become stressed, ill and angry. Expressing your feelings in the moment educates others and maintains authenticity on both sides. Being true to yourself means you take responsibility for yourself, another term for self-care.

 

How do I as a therapist help clients engage in Self-Care?

In addition to helping my clients understand their mind-body connection, I help them view the repeated patterns of relationship interaction that create co-dependency rather than mutual inter-depenency. 

I have used art therapy – specifically collage to give them a chance to get in touch with and talk about their feelings, processing their experiences rather than just going at it. In addition I have found giving clients permission to step out of their routine and go to a museum, hike, spa, tea shop, farmers market etc. has been enormously powerful in developing habits of self-care.

 

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2016

You might also like:

Checklist That Tells if you are in an Abusive Relationship

How to Express Anger at Family Members Who Used and Abused You

How to Deal With That Damned if I do……..Damned if I Don't Feeling



7 Ways Anxiety Leads to Erectile Dysfunction

September 25th, 2015 No Comments

 

Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

 

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WHAT IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?

When a man is unable to get an errection despite stimulation from a partner or self-manipulation.

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How do you know if your Erectile Dysfunction is physiological or psychological?

When it occurs with one partner but not another it's psychological

If you can masturbate but can't get erect for intercourse its psychological

If you can't get to the point of orgasm by any means, it's probably psychological with physical underpinnings

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Anxiety and Erectile Dysfunction

Anxiety caused by relationship stress is the greatest precursor to Erectile Dysfunction that men face. The International Journal of Impotence Research (2003) reports that "anxiety plays a major role in the development of problems associated with Erectile Dysfunction."

Anxiety is an experience of anticipating a future threat or danger. The sympathetic nervous sytem gets ready to meet that danger by providing blood flow to your limbs so you can fight off an enemy or run for safety. Either way you need energy. But when you have no real enemy or threat, all that energy is floating around in the form of adrenalin, making you antsy, edgy and unable to relax. When you are in that state you are not up for being aroused sexually, because that would mean talking your eye of the potential threat.

 

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Anxiety factor one: Needing nurturing – not to prove prowess

In his late 30's Brett a tall, handsome Olympic swimming coach was ashamed to admit that he suffered Erectile Dysfunction often, just nine months into his marriage. His thirty-seven year old wife Francine, a yoga instructor seemed understanding and didn't push things, but he felt that he let her down and was an inadequate partner. Highly anxious about not being a proper sexual partner, he came to therapy and discovered that he needed to feel cared for and treasured just for being himself, but felt that his masculinity precluded him from asking for it or even admitting he needed it. In fact he felt weak, disgusted with himself for wanting soft, gentle holding, concern and comfort. BECAUSE that's how he felt when he was a young boy wanting it from his mother, who admonished him, and made him feel dirty and bad for wanting her to nurture him.

He lived in constant anxiety about coming across as a wimp. He was angry that he had to live life feeling bad about his needs. Anger toward a parent is often dangerous, since you need your parent to provide for your basic needs. So the anger gets turned into anxiety, and Brett learned to use that anxiety when he was angry about not getting his emotional needs met. He covered the anxiety with his strong, beefy bravado, but it seeped through when he felt safe in the nest of a marriage. The nurturing and understanding response he got from Francine when Erectile Dysfunction prevented sexual intercourse felt good, and that was the way Brett got his emotional intimacy needs met.

Learning how to communicate his anger at getting what he needed helped Brett feel more in touch with his true self, not this fake 'strong guy' exposed by Erectile Dysfunction. It took a lot for Brett to work through his anger, stress, and fear of having needs and speaking them to his wife. But once he took his emotional needs seriously, so did Francine. Satisfying the starving emotional hunger for nurturing allowed Brett to let go of his anxiety and his Erectile Dysfunction. 

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Anxiety Factor two: Sexual performance becomes another duty creating anxiety based Erectile Dysfunction

Married just 6 months, 36-year-old Anil dreaded bed time. His 30-year-old wife Therese read books on marriage and told him that newlyweds should have sex at least 3 times a week. A hard working Chiropractor Anil was usually worn out when he got home and looked forward to down times. But he was also keen to prove himself a good husband and do his 'duty.' He imagined that Therese, a day-shift nurse at a convalescent home expected him to do his sexual duty and make love to her just as her book said. So when they got into bed, the pressure on Anil was enormous. His anxiety about performing when he didn't really want to hit the roof. Conflicted by his own need to sleep when his body wanted to switch off, and maintaining his image of a 'good, dutiful husband,' he would begin foreplay and just as intercourse was begining, Erectile Dysfunction stopped the sexual encounter. He apologized and she said it was fine, but he felt ashamed and wondered if she would tell her friends, or complain to her parents. But the tension between them increased and affected their flow of communication. Until Anil came t0 therapy to deal with his anxiety, triggered by his shameful Erectile Dysfunction.

In therapy we discovered that Anil had grown up always wanting to be the 'good son' to his mother. Fulfilling roles in the family setting were especially important when he watched his father turn to drink after his business failed. He never wanted to be like his father, and wanted to make up to his mother for his father's failings. Little Anil took on the role of superman when it came to performing family duties of care taking, meeting expectations, doing what was asked and sacrificing his own needs. He started to judge himself by how well he performed these familial duties. You can imagine how stressed and anxious he was that he wasn't the perfect son, brother, and now husband. The huge burden of responsibility Anil adopted from his childhood to be the 'good boy' and do everything right to make up for his father's flaws, now took a toll on his marriage.

Appreciating the impossible task he had given himself, Anil worked with me in therapy to find out what HE wanted and make it okay. He learned to tune into what felt right for him, acknowledge, own and respect it before jumping in to be that dutiful person that set himself up for failure. As he became more comfortable with what he wanted, he had sex with his wife when he and she both felt like it, rather than following some standard from a book. Anil's anxiety was significantly reduced as he gave himself permission to stop playing the hero, and just be himself. They actually had more sex than before, enjoyed the spontaneity, and thanked the Erectile Dysfunction for saving their marriage.

 

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Anxiety Factor three: When a man feels used as a stud to pleasure his partner

In the second year of his marriage, Adean a twenty-seven-year old lawyer enjoyed sex with his beautiful wife Carrie, a twenty-nine-year-old court reporter. But he got turned off when she wanted to bypass the foreplay and just get to an orgasm. She pulled him to touch, lie or stimuate her in a way where she could climax quickly, caring nothing for his experience. He wanted  her to enoy it as much as he did, but lately he felt like her pleasure toy. It made him feel disgusted with the sex act when she urged him to make her body scream out in ecstacy – pushed away as if he were a dirty rag immediately afterwards. Angry and hurt, he had fantasies of overpowering and hurting her. He couldn't talk to her because it made him feel crazy that he was complaining about a sex crazed wife! But his displeasure turned into anxiety each time sex was initiated by either one of them. The anxiety reached massive proportions as he tried to control himself and just work on Carrie, until Erectile Dysfunction ended everything. His wife was immensely frustrated and complained about his lack of staying power, depriving her of her right to be pleasured. He felt shame, but also some secret pleasure. Things continued down this path with Adean suffering scathing attacks from his wife about his inability to get and sustain an errection no matter how much she stimulated him.

Adean's anxiety and fear that he may never be able to have an errection again brought him into therapy. He was able to get an errection when he masturbated and when when watching sexy pictures, but not with his wife. Adean loved to please those that he loved. He felt good making others happy, often happier than if he had just satisfied his own need. But it hurt when other people took advantage of him and never wondered about his experience. He gave the message that he was a non-person and that's exactly how he was treated. It happened within his own family when his sister always got the best of everything and he just made do with left overs. At work, he was the one to take care of his assistants and the support staff, who offered neither thanks nor reciprocation. They slaved for the other attorneys, wanting their approval. Adean was a push over.

Therapy helped Adean gradually value himself and take care of himself without feeling selfish. He mourned his losses and began to value his own needs and wishes. It took a while before Adean was comfortable putting his sexual needs on a par with Carrie's. But he realized the cost of not doing so, and became a more equal sexual partner. He learned how to communicate his experience of Carrie using him, and they refreshed their sex-life. Erectile Dysfunction no longer came between them enjoying physical intimacy. But from time to time he found that he couldn't get an errection – as soon as he noticed it, he knew he had moved too far in the direction of making Carrie the only important one, and adapted accordingly.

 

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Anxiety Factor four: When the need to converse superceeds that of sex

Coming home from a friend's house warming party 32-year-old CPA Morgan sat on his anger and hurt that Suzie, his 33-year-old partner had showed him up yet again. She was always saying something to embarrass him to make herself look good. She thought it was all a big joke, but it wounded him. Tipsy after a night of drinking, Suzie wanted to top it off with sex. He responded to her fondling, but his errection didn't hold up. Suzie grumbled, turned around and snored in her sleep, as if trumpeting his lack of ability to be a man.

He wanted to tell her how let down he felt when she talked disparagingly about him, making fun of his handyman skills,or his food tastes. But memories of Suzie dismissing his feelings as if he were a kid who wasn't worth paying attention to silenced him. Each time he tried to get up the courage to have it out with her he was flooded with anxiety and lost heart. He had made friends with a female co-worker in his Accountancy Firm, and she made him feel important. She listened and took him seriously. He had fantasies of running off with her. But he knew that wasn't the answer. While he made no scene in public when Suzie used him to humor herself, he found a new and strange power in the bedroom – his body didn't obey her, and in that way he got the upper hand. Anxiety about needing to talk about the relatoinship led to Erectile Dysfunction, which spoke for him.

Suzie seemed closed to discussing the power struggles in their marriage and the anxiety it produced for Logan. But when she realized that she might lose her husband who didn't seem to want her in bed at all, they came in for couples therapy. They benefitted from talking about their role expectations, but the breakthrough came when Morgan saw the connection between the way he felt humilated by Suzie and his father's humiliation at his mothers hand.  He had fallen into that smae way of being, and Suzie obliged by playing the part he assigned her. Suzie too realized that she had learned from her mother that men needed to be kept 'down' or else they would cheat! With a great deal of work, they were able to come up with fresh goals and free themselves of their parents way of thinking. Talking became the precursor to any sex act, to clean themselves of anything that was making either feel bad in the relationship. As relationship anxiety faded and self-esteem grew, Erectile Dysfunction became a thing of the past, but a reminder of how bad things get when relationship issues go unaddressed.

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Anxiety Factor five: When a man feels he is being used just to create babies

The wish for another baby was something 32-year-old Ken, a furniture importer shared with his wife. Dominque, a 31-year-old home maker was desperate to have a daughter. She had two sons that she adored, but she wanted to complete her family with a little girl before her biological clock killed her dream. Ken had visions of spoiling his little princess if she came along, but he didn't want to be a cog in the wheel of Dominque's ovulation cycle, her astrological charts, and her panicked way of approaching their sex life, for the sole purpose of fertilizing an egg. In fact when he was pulled into having sex at her insistence, he often lost the desire. When he wanted sex as part of the marital relaionship, Dominique pushed him away if she wasn't ovulating. He was merely a sperm donor and not her sexual partner any more.

Within six months of sex becoming a baby making endeavor, the couple rarely talked about anything else. Dominque was consumed with everything to do with having babies and in particular a girl. They drifted apart emotionally and Ken began to go off the idea of having another child if his marital relationship was the price to pay. He started to get anxious on the way home from work, and the anxiety rose to an almost paralysing levels when he was alone with his wife, after the boys were in bed. He dreaded getting texts from her to come home at all hours to have sex as many times as possible during her short ovulation time. On such a day he couldn't get an errection during one of Dominque's 'special times' and that's how it stayed for several weeks. Dominque went ballistic and anxious. She wanted him to try and ejaculate in a doctor's office and freeze it for artificial insemination, but he couldn't get an errection in those circumstances either.

Ken tried Viagra but his anxiety was so great that the drug failed to work. Even if he got a mild errection, he was sick to his stomach about having to do it on Dominque's schedule – being used just for his stud qualities. But he found himself excessively aroused when attractive women passed near him at work, or in other public places, afraid that his errection would show!

Eighteen months later, Dominque and Ken were alarmed that their marriage was threatened by the tension and lack of emotional intimacy in their day-to-day lives. Their boys were suffering, and they eventually decided to come to couples therapy. Dominique talked of her fear that she wouldn't be the kind of mother her parents brought her up to be if she was without a daughter before she was 35 years of age. She also spoke of her concern that Ken would be disappointed in her if she didn't produce a daughter because he wanted one so badly. Ken shared his sense of loss – the loss of his wife as his best friend, and sexual partner during this time of pressure to conceive a female child. Letting his wife know that he wanted her more than he wanted a daughter stabalized them. They were able to reconnect as I encouraged them to share their deepest fears and fantasies about not being the perfect spouse in terms of producing offspring. Couples therapy provided the platform for them to put their relationship at the center of their worlds, and show love sexually without thinking about making babies.

Ken's erectile dysfunction was cured and nine months after they completed the first phase of their couples therapy, Dominque conceived a daughter!

 

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Anxiety Factor six: When sex is just another demand to pretend that things are really okay between a couple

Bored with his 11 year relationship with Venus, 39-year-old Logan,owner of a Dry Cleaning business spent a lot of time online to pass the time when he was at home. He signed up for classes to refocus his mind, and chatted a lot with friends on Facebook. Venus, a 38-year-old sales assistant, had fallen into a rut and rarely wanted to go out and socialize. She was content watching TV and cooking from time to time. But she had lost her spark.  Her depressive tendencies had a profound effect on the couple's relationship. Logan loved her, but he felt trapped in an insular relationship that was slowly dying from the inside out. Venus had relied on Logan as her right arm, and thought she was assured of that for life. But she sensed that things had changed. Yet she didn't want to liven up. It was too much effort and not worthwhile.

Every Wednesday the couple had sex. It was their night to reaffirm that there was an adult sexual and emotional partnership between them. For over a year they went through a ritualistic sex act. Neither particularly enjoyed it, but it was a sign that they were still committed to each other. Out in the world Logan could still hold his head up as a loyal partner with an apparently functioning relationship. Most of their friends thought they were an ideal couple, and kept pushing them to get married. But then one Wednesday Logan was unable to get an errection. He had dreaded going to bed in order to perform this "lie" about what he really felt and it showed up with a dose of Erectile Dysfunction.

Alarmed that they might lose the only thing that proved they were still a 'unit', Logan did extensive research on Erectile Dysfunction online. He was too embarrassed to discuss it with friends, and felt less alone and ashamed when he discovered that many men experienced Erectile Dysfunction from time to time. But his anxiety got whipped up like a tornado. He was terrified that this was the first sign that Venus wasn't doing anything for him anymore, and that he would have to face talking to her about that, or even worse, consider splitting up. Time didn't make anything better between them. Each Wednesday night Venus would give him an 'out' if he wanted it, but he chose to make things work and tried his best to fantasize about sexy women, hoping it would produce an errection. But nothing happened worked. Logan took to numbing his anxiety with alcohol, hoping that Venus would just let things slide so that he wouldn't have to be a nervous wreck on Wednesdays.

Meal times and bedtimes were full of unspoken concerns about the status of their relationship. It got so bad that Logan's work was being affected. He was making mistakes with ordering chemicals and with payroll. He got short with customers. Colleagues took him aside and told him that he was putting his business in jepoardy. That brought Logan into therapy.

Wracked with guilt Logan needed permission to have negative feelings about a relationship that was no longer working. We learned that he had promised himself that he would never be like his father and leave his long time partner. He worked on his need to feel good only by proving that he was better than his father. Logan's guilt diminished when he discovered that he had been attracted to Venus because of her 'neediness' – and his need to care for her – to make up for what his father did. That was the point at which he allowed himself to find out who he was – other than the 'anti-father person!'  For a long while, Logan was unable to come to terms with the fact that his relationship with Venus was not based on true connection and that he needed to address that.

Provided with the tools to communicate his true self in therapy, Logan found the courage to talk to Venus and found to his surprise that she already knew the relationship was flawed, and although angry at having to end her dependent ways, she agreed it was better to separate. They were able to have 'comfort' sex as Logan regained his ability to have an errection, and found a way to part in a way that allowed for sadness at the ending of a pairing, but also hope that a more authentic one was possible for both.

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Anxiety Factor 7: When a man feels responsible for initiating sex at all times

Settled into a comfortable life with his wife, 33-year-old Dylan, an audio enginer, missed the early days of his relationship with 29-year-old Amelia, a mexican food franchisee. She was the one who came onto him, and made the first move in bed. Now she participated, but never showed that initial enthusiasm. She didn't take the lead, and Dylan felt less attractive, and less wanted than before. Initiating their sexual romps made him feel heavy, as if he was the only one who wanted to be physically intimate. Sometimes he felt he was forcing her to play the dutiful wife, and other times he felt that he had a right to experience his conjugal rights.

Lost confidence and concern about not being desireable made Dylan extremely anxious whenever he thought about having sex with his wife. He agonized with the pros and cons, trying to grapple with the burden of initiating sex when he felt so bad about himself as a lover. One night he had planned to take the lead and started caressing Amelia's arms and back as they settled into their bedtime routine. But instead of getting aroused, he was flooded with anxiety and was unable to get an errection. While Amelia didn't push him away or stop him from continuing the foreplay, Dylan felt she was just 'going through the motions.' He tried to stimulate himself but that didn't work. Amelia wanting to get the whole thing over with, also tried hand stimulation, but his anxiety over powered everything else.

A low grade depression took over from his anxiety, while Dylan tried to regroup from this wretched experience. Amelia tried to brush it off, but it was a serious blow to his manhood. He began to crave porn, strip clubs and hand jobs in order to wipe out his embarrasing experience. He restricted himself to hand jobs, and stopped trying to have sex with wife for quite some time. When he finally decided to try again, anxiety about failing to get an errection produced Erectile Dysfunction. Dylan's brain had made a strong connection with touching his wife and failure. Knowing that he was able to get errections with hand jobs, he entered into therapy and worked on the anxiety and fear he harbored towards his wife. First we talked about his experience of women in general and in particular his cold and neglectful mother. He had never felt wanted by her, especially when she said she never wanted children. She rarely held him, so he grew up longing to be as close to a woman physically as possible – to "get inside" – so he couldn't be ignored. When he met Amelia, she was so warm, affectionate and wanting him for sex that he believed his wish had come true. But now things had changed, and he was once again feeling the pain of being rejected in the most intimate of places.

Now Dylan's experience with his wife was bringing back all the hurt and powerlessness of his childhood. As he processed those wounds and began to heal, he brought Amelia into couples therapy with him, because he wanted the relationship to work. She came to help him and to restore their floundering connection. Invited to talk about their experience when one or other was the initiator of sex, they learned that they both wanted to feel desired and attractive, but that when Amelia was the one taking the lead, she sensed his need to be enveloped and comforted through sex, making it more like a maternal act. When Dylan initiated sex, then she felt more like he was a man wanting his wife as a woman rather than a mother.

Relieved at understanding each other's perspective, they fell into a more spontaneous pattern of love making without putting all the focus on who was initiating sex. Dylan no longer suffered from Erectile Dysfunction having treated the wounds of the past, showing up in a more emotionally mature place, where Amelia could enjoy taking the initiative and being the one on the receivng end. Of course Dylan too had what he wanted, a wife that took the initiative in bed.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Why your sex life goes from  fantastic to boring  in the blink of an eye

Why your sex life is non-existant and how to get it going again

Why your sex life doesn't work and three ways to revive it

Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.



4 Ways Your Partner’s Anxiety Style Causes Conflict in Your Relationship, and 4 Ways to Solve it

August 19th, 2015 No Comments

 

Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

 

west los angeles therapy for anxiety problems

Have you ever felt that your loved one took out their anger, frustration and anxiety out on you?

Do feel like a walking target for your family member’s angst with the world, just because you are there?

Maybe you have spoken up and said that you don’t want to be their dustbin and or punching bag, and yet it has stayed exactly the same. You continue to feel the butt of your loved ones stress and worry and anger that their world isn’t right. There is a constant undercurrent of tension and conflict in your relationship and you can’t seem to fix it.

There is an explanation for your partner taking it out on you.

It all hinges on your loved ones Generalized Anxiety Disorder,  (GAD). This disorder is the cause of more marital conflict than any other major anxiety or mood disorder. Those who suffer from it worry constantly, but the way they express it in their personal relationships varies. Research, reported in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2011 describes four different styles of interaction that GAD sufferers use, impacting marital conflict.

You may be seriously impacted by your partner’s way of showing their anxiety, and if you recognize it in one of the examples below, you can use that information to manage your conflicts more peacefully.

 

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Anxiety Style 1 – Cold and Harsh

Anxious about being accepted into the elite management group at his Internet Company, 33-year-old Noah seemed to walk around with a permanent frown, living in a world of his own.  His 32-year-old wife Tori, a pastry chef at her own café, complained of being met with angry and mean remarks when she tried to engage him in day-to-day conversation. Tori didn’t know what she had done to deserve being treated this way, especially as she had been the one to encourage and support him in his efforts to climb his career ladder. She had made allowances day-in and- day-out when he didn’t join in family activities, busying himself with boning up for work hurdles. It hurt her deeply that she was carrying the weight of family life, and it wounded her in an already sore spot – her need for physical contact. His words of attack were the only thing she received, and it stung.

Noah is a great example of a person with GAD who expresses his anxiety in his most intimate relationships by being cold, and harsh. In his place of heightened anxiety, the world seems a threatening and unpredictable place. Any change in his experience of the world could make him feel inadequate, unacceptable and a complete failure. So he had to make sure no one, especially his wife, could penetrate his safe zone. Tori had a way of finding just that spot that made him feel like a loser, and all those other awful feelings cascaded like a gushing waterfall, drowning him in fear and shame about not cutting it.

His cold way of expressing anxiety turned the couple in warring factions. They were constantly on guard for a surprise attack, armored up to take the blow. Not a good recipe for togetherness, tenderness or touch.

Solution: Talk to him about his fear of failure and sense of inadequacy. As soon as you name it you can discuss the impact it has on each of you, coming up with healthier ways of feeling good enough. Go to couples therapy and discuss the impact on the relationship – open up a dialogue and learn a new language to talk about rather than fight about the hash and cold way anxiety destroys the relationship.

 

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Anxiety Style 2 – Intrusive

Looking forward to having her partner home after the work day, twenty-nine-year-old home maker Kendra, texted Romero, her 31-year-old man and asked if he was on his way. He didn’t respond because he was in a meeting. Kendra’s anxiety kicked into high gear. It was as if she was invisible and forgotten about. Her texts became more urgent, fast and furious, using up that adrenalin caused by the anxiety. When he finally got home, she kept asking if he was okay, and whether he liked her hair, the food she made, the DVD set she bought for him; desperate for an update on whether he was “okay” – and therefore available to him.

He found it all exasperating, and ignored her frantic efforts to pierce his personal space and invade him. But his shield only made Kendra’s anxiety worse. She kept intruding on him – in the bathroom as he got washed and changed and then again as he ate. There was no room for him to unwind and relax. Eventually he blew his top and went into his home office, put on his headphones and watched a movie online. Kendra became frantic. She needed to be center stage in his mind, but at every turn he was avoiding her. Within ten minutes Romero was interrupted with the news that the faucet sink was leaking, that their DVD player wasn’t working and umpteen ‘check-ins’ about whether he wanted a coffee.

Kendra is an example of a person with GAD whose anxiety comes out in a way that intrudes on their significant others personal space, thoughts and actions. The intention is to take their partner’s attention away from everything else, and put the focus on the anxious one, creating a feeling of security and safety as the attachment feels more real. However her way of doing it unsettled Romero, who instead of finding a way to reassure and comfort her with a connection, escaped instead. Kendra’s manner of addressing her anxiety backfired, causing conflict and distancing. Hardly conducive to a warm and empathic couple relationship.

Solution: Become a mirror for Kendra’s fear that she doesn’t exist unless she is in your face. Each time she intrudes tell her that she is anxious you will forget her, and then give her times when you are available to help her feel more secure. Go to couples therapy and learn about the triggers that make her anxious and intrusive and how your responses may reinforce rather than calm it.

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Anxiety Style 3 – Nonassertive

Seeing her 10-year old daughter scolded by her dad, Tamara, a 28-year-old medical insurance agent felt anxious. One part of her wanted to comfort her daughter Holly who had lied about her homework, but a bigger part of her didn’t want to get involved. She was anxious about upsetting her 31-year-old husband Liam, a film set gopher, and losing his love. She stayed quiet and got on with clearing up after the evening meal. Her heart raced when her daughter asked her to take her side. She opted out, being non-committal. When Liam attempted to get her to back him up, she wriggled out, not wanting to be part of the parental discipline machine.

Holly felt let down and betrayed by her mother’s apparently uncaring attitude, while Liam was furious about being turned into the ‘bad cop’ parent. He was disappointed and felt alone in the parenting arena.

However awkward the sensation of being noncommittal, Tamara avoided the consequences of upsetting or hurting the two people she loved most in the world. She allowed them to call the tune and went along with whoever was ‘driving’ the scene in the moment. If Tamara wanted to go to the mall, then that’s where they went. If Liam yelled at her for not putting gas in the car, she allowed it, apologizing rather than sharing where she was coming from. Her anxiety about losing the thread of connection with her loved ones, turned her into a placid ‘non-person,’ allowing them to control her life.

Tamara is an example of a person with GAD who deals with her anxiety about upsetting and therefore losing loved ones by being nonassertive – effectively eliminating herself as a separate person with a mind of her own. She believes that if she stands up for herself no one will tolerate it and she will be abandoned. However, her stance simply makes them angry, disappointed, resentful and upset that they don’t have a partner or a parent! A poor set of ingredients for a strong, healthy and resilient adult romantic partnership.

Solution: Show Tamara that you are aware of her fear that she might lose you if she showed up as a person in her own right. Tell her that by not showing up she is the one cutting the ties! Go to couples therapy and learn how to encourage her assertiveness in a safe way.

 

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Anxiety Style 4 – Exploitable

Logan, a 27-year-old mechanical engineer hated bureaucracy. He put off renewing licenses, filling out administrative paper work, and most of all he loathed anything having to do with lawyers and courts. When it came to claiming on insurance for out of pocket medical bills, or household losses, he couldn’t face it. The thought of any interaction with these agencies made him feel anxious, inept and overwhelmed.  

His partner Michelle, a 30-year-old grant writer got upset when Logan left things till the last minute and then got really worried, coming to her to sort things out. His anxiety made him nauseous, his hands shook, and to all intents and purposes he was debilitated. Concerned for Logan, she tended to his discomfort and soothed him by telling him she would take care of things. She completed all the transactions that needed to be done if they weren’t going to be without insurance, or be penalized for late payments.

Logan is a person who expresses his anxiety about not feeling competent or adequate to exploit loved ones into caring of him, so he can rely on them and feel secure.

His anxiety is relieved as soon as he can depend on Michelle to take over and make him feel okay about it.

Logan is relieved of his anxiety two-fold. First he got the reassurance and loving concern he needed when Michelle attended to his nauseous feelings, and trembling. Second, he managed to pass on his jobs and have them completed.

From Michelle’s point of view, her initial concern for Logan turns into annoyance, a feeling of being used, and eventually resentment and hate. Their relationship becomes one where Logan is dependent on Michelle. It is out of balance and unstable.

Solution: As soon as you become aware that you are being pulled into doing things that Logan has left undone and that are now urgent, remember that it is a sign of being exploited by his anxiousness. Let him know that you know he is depending on you to take care of things, and that you will for now. Go to couples therapy and start a conversation about Logan’s dependency needs so that he no longer has to get nauseous and tremble to justify them. Talk about your needs and how you want them fulfilled, so that you both get to a place of interdependency – a healthy balance.

 

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Is anxiety your relationship glue?

Two ways to avoid the shame of being needy

Four ways to deal with a hostile and aggressive partner

 

Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

 


 



How Therapy Can Prevent Premature Aging By Tackling Stress and Depression

July 14th, 2015 No Comments

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

west los angeles therapy for stress

 

At the age of 37 Brittany, a quality control manager, woke up each day wishing the night had lasted a little longer. That awful feeling of dread permeated her body with sweat. She had been slipping at work and the factory owners had noticed that she wasn’t her usual sharp self. It didn’t seem like she was trying any less hard or with less interest in her job. But the jeans coming off the production line and shipped to stores were being sent back with broken zippers and fabric tears.

Even though she was still relatively young, she felt as if she were 20 years older, and  her recent annual physical showed that her heart, blood pressure and skin were all showing signs of deterioration usually seen in older people. Her 50 year old husband Derek looked more like her son and with commensurate energy!

Too tired to cook in the evenings, Brittany’s kids ate fast food. The guilt stressed her out some more. Brittany’s husband tried to understand his wife’s reduced interest and ability to concentrate on family life. She seemed to forget even the most routine of things, like the meds their son needed for his asthma.

 

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Stress and Depression Alter Your View of Reality

 

Trying to Manage Stress and Depression on Your Own Makes Matters Worse

Withdrawing into her shell to hide from this awful experience, Brittany became depressed. It was a low grade depression that lasted for years. She was too ashamed to seek help and didn’t want to take pills. Her doctor had previously noticed how anxious and stressed she was, and offered anxiety medication. But she declined, thinking she could beat it on her own.

Not able to connect with her family because of her depression, she became a stranger to her family. There was little conversation other than routine matters, because Brittany slept most of the time she was home. It was as if she was an elderly frail person who appeared to be in early dementia due to the effects of stress on her memory. Derek and their two young teenage boys felt helpless. They had lost their upbeat, energetic, sharp and funny family member who was always there to rely on. Nothing they said or did cheered her up. She complained of pain which turned out to be arthritis following early menopause.

The depression led to Brittany having to take more and more time off work. She was relieved when she couldn’t go in, but later felt self-loathing and critical of herself. Depression feeds on those two factors, making her more stressed and less able to function normally. She was often unaware of the time, and as days rolled into one another, her personal hygiene suffered. Friends stopped dropping in and calling, and her sons barely poked their heads into her bedroom door. Derek tried several times to take her to the doctor but she was too scared to face her condition, and was terrified of being told that she needed to see a psychiatrist.

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Stress and Depression Accelerates the Aging Process

Brittany’s problems stemmed from having reduced levels of the hormone klotho that regulates the aging process. When women are stressed and depressed, they have lower levels of klotho, making them less cognitively proficient, adding to the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, as reported in an article in Translational Psychiatry, 2015.  This hormone appears to be the link between chronic stress and premature aging diseases and death. It has a protective function in maintaining mental acuity and physical health.

What if Brittany had addressed her stress in therapy at its earliest stage?

She might have felt safe enough to talk to her family about her fear of letting them down, and being less than perfect. They probably would have reassured her, and as a family may have distributed the stress more equitably. The likelihood of depression would have been minimal. Brittany would have developed emotional intelligence skills that would have kept her stress under control.

What if Brittany had taken preventive action by attending therapy and learning the source of her stress before it led to depression?

She would have stopped the stress from becoming chronic and harmful to her memory and physical health.

In therapy she would have learned how to understand and accept that she couldn’t control everything and everyone.

She would have learned to express her feelings in the moments of uncertainty and unpredictability, freeing up space to think and use reasonable logic to manage here anxiety.

Most of all Brittany would have made the connection between her childhood relationship stress and her current relationship stress, so that she could separate them out, and use her adult intelligent mind to cope differently.

What if Brittany had gone to therapy when she became anxious about losing her job?

She would have learned that it was normal but coming from a place inside her that lacked confidence and always wanted to prove herself.  Treating herself as human rather than superwoman might have been a goal, together with being comfortable talking openly about her shame about not being good enough – thereby removing the harmful effect of stress on her hormonal system.

Practicing a non-judgmental and more self-compassionate stance towards herself would have kept those klotho hormones at their optimal levels, so that she looked young and kept her faculties razor sharp. That would have meant quality experiences with her family and colleagues.

 

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Five Benefits of Mindfulness

Unresolved Anger and Stress Keeps You Depressed Longer

Pull Out the Roots of Your Anger and Stress By Exercising Amid Nature

 

 

Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Fastest Way to Recovering From an Anger-stress Induced Depression

June 22nd, 2015 No Comments

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

stress-induced depression

 

Thirty-five-year-old plumber Tyler got angry with Gemma, his thirty-seven-year-old partner for inviting his brother over for the weekend pot-luck event. She knew that he didn’t get on with Roy but she kept trying to get them together. Tyler didn’t speak to Gemma unless it was absolutely necessary. He was civil in front of family and friends, but the stress was killing him. He was too tired to fight!
 

The folk music she put on while the guests were out on the patio grated on his nerves. He hated it, and Gemma knew that. But she went right ahead and turned the volume on full blast, disregarding him. Feeling himself get more stressed, Tyler played with the dog for a few minutes to calm himself down.

 

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Over the last year Gemma seemed to do things that made him feel like she didn’t think of him, and nor was she interested in catering to his tastes. Feeling unacknowledged over and over again made him feel small and devalued – two key ingredients that made him insecure and stressed him out. He could do nothing to control it, and this weekend was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When the guests had gone, Tyler didn’t have the energy to clean up. He crashed on the sofa and slept for over 24 hours – straight, as if he had been drugged.
 

Waking up the next night, Tyler’s heart was heavy. He didn’t want to get up; he wasn’t hungry and had no interest in checking the messages on his phone. It was as if he were in a parallel world, looking at himself, lifeless and unmotivated to attend to his work calls or the notes left by his angry wife.
 

Tyler had fallen deep into a stress-induced depression. It had been creeping up, and now he was in a weird place – he wasn’t exactly numb, but he wasn’t full of the joys of spring either. His anger was subdued but so was his ambitious nature.  Nothing seemed to matter that much, except the hopelessness that he felt.
 

Gemma nagged to no avail. She tried to bring him back to normality with seductive acts, and dangling vacations in front of him, but nothing jump started his motor. He stayed in this morose, worn out, hopeless place, anxious about doing anything but hiding out.
 

What’s going to become of Tyler, his health, his marriage and his business if he stays locked in this stress-induced depression?


It’s a good bet he will suffer loss of self-worth and feel powerless. He will probably be zonked out on medication and or alcohol to make things easier. He may lose his wife and business if he remains in this awful place.
 

The secret to getting out of a stress-induced depression
 

Research published in the journal Nature in June 2015, found that focusing on positive memories could ‘override’ the negative effects of a stress-induced depressive mood. Stress is known to damage the memory centers of the brain, making it harder to learn, or unlearn and retain the new information. But a deliberate focus on past positive experiences can dampen if not negate the harmful effects of stress that triggers a depressive state.
 

Recalling those positive experiences alters the neurochemistry in the brain by neutralizing the effects of stress hormones in memory cells of the dendate gyrus area in the brain.
 

recovering from depression

So, how can Tyler use this research to counter his depression and empower himself again?


1. Recall times in his marriage with Gemma when he experienced her as caring and sensitive to his needs.
2. Re-live and recapture the good feelings of lovability and self-worth he once enjoyed by using photos and videos of better times.
3. Listen to music that evokes those happy times.
4. Watch shows that remind him of his carefree, humorous and wild times with or without Gemma.
5. Eat foods that he once enjoyed and looked forward to.
6. Share all of the above with Gemma.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Six ways to avoid anger, stress and depression that ruins your relationships

Anger makes you swing from one type of depression to another

Pull out the roots of your anger and stress by exercising amid nature

 

Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

 

 

 



Why Men Who Fear Women Become Raging Bulls

June 11th, 2015 No Comments

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

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Are you a man who is an obedient, loyal, dependable guy with your female partner?

Do you give her the authority to make decisions, take the lead and initiative on parenting, spending money and organizing your social life?

Then you may be very conflicted about having no power yourself just so you can ensure that you are loved and cared for.

Maybe you just don't know which part of you to go with?

What will the consequences be if you take on a more authoritative role?

How will it be if you continue to avoid asserting yourself?

You know that inside you there is a raging bull ready to smash everything that smacks of needing to depend on your female partner for care.

And it comes out when you can't take being the obedient little 'good boy' any longer.

If this your only exit strategy and does it actually work?

This video gives you a deeper look at the two waring sides of yourself you carry as a heavy load.

You will also get a wonderful tip on how to quell the war inside you, and peacefully co-exist with both sides in balance.

 

 

 

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Feeling insecure in your relationship makes you more prone to angry outbursts

Should you apologize after an explosion of anger?

How to manage when two parts of you want different things

Disclaimer: this video is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

 



Dream About Failing an Interview Helped Damien Trust Himself (Part 3 of Damien’s story)

April 24th, 2015 No Comments

 

Dream Analysis To Help With Anger and Stress Management

West Los Angeles Dream Analysis and Psychotherapy

 

After a great deal of doubt and uncertainty about choosing the right woman to marry, Damien finally married his fiancé. He felt peaceful and solid. The pendulum that swung between his attachment towards his mother and that toward Leila kept still. Working on the dream images about the day of his execution and that of the alligator had soothed his conflicted soul and allowed him to make the choice that had been so stressful.

The first few weeks of marriage were good. The couple settled into a routine as he went back to work and Leila became a home maker. He enjoyed being welcomed home with a nice meal. Talking to his mate about his challenges at the lab where he worked was relieving. Having company watching TV and a warm receptive body next to him at night was comforting.

But three months into the marriage, Damien found himself wanting to do his own thing after the evening meal.

He went back to doing the solitary things he used to do before he got married. Leila read books about married life and fed him information about what couples should do at certain points in their marriage – such as have sex three to four times a week in their first six months together. They were supposed go out with other couples twice a week, and visit in-laws at least once a month.

Damien and Leila operated on rules rather than on what they spontaneously felt and wanted. He became restless and started looking outside the relationship for stimulation and fulfillment. He wanted to learn more about money, cosmology and geophysics. The joy he first felt on going home after work dissipated, and he was hungry for something else.

Until he had this dream and we worked on it in his therapy.

“I was on a scooter following two policemen up a mountain. My scooter was semi motorized and half the foot type one.  At the top of the mountain was this big building. It was like a business building, rectangular with several floors. It was black. When I got there I was in a black suit. I went in for an interview. I thought there would be just a few others but the hall was full of people and they were looking at me. I was given an assignment. I had a syringe in a black bag. It had medicine in it but I didn’t know that. I was told to go out into the forest around the building and find the medication that needed to go in the syringe. I was out there for 4 hours and couldn’t find anything, Then I thought I found it and went back inside the building. The interview was over. I was told I had failed, because the medication was already in the syringe and I should have known that.”

 

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Damien was shocked as he told me his dream.

He couldn’t get over the fact that he had lost an important opportunity because he didn’t realize that he “already had the answer.” We likened this to his experience of the marriage – that he saw it as a job that needed doing, without realizing that it was already done and all he had to do was recognize it and use it to feed his soul, but, that he didn’t trust himself.

Similarly he and his wife sought rules about how they should conduct their marriage so that they were within the bounds of normality as if they had no sense of it in their bones. No wonder it wasn’t working! There was no juice in the books his wife read or in the cosmos he was chasing for answers to personal contentment. The dream demonstrated that he already possessed the things that were potentially fulfilling – all he had to do was recognize it, develop the emotional desire to see it, trust it and use it.

The color black is a prominent feature in the dream – his black suit, and the black building, showing how everything on the outside is black. He is unable to see his authentic self through his black suit. Nor can he see through to the real workings of the building (a representation of him that is rule bound with the rectangular hard angled exterior) because it is black. The dream illuminates his insides – showing  him that he has a reliable core, despite past bad experiences – it’s okay to trust his instincts and his desires, his intuition and his beliefs.

 

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He didn’t need to climb a hill follow two policemen to motivate him into being whatever his fate had in store. That suggests that he is now ready to give up depending on parental figures (the policeman). He didn’t need to be his own judge and jury like the people interviewing and judging him. He had already made it.

The scooter he drove was part manual and part motorized indicating that Damien was partially on the way to automating his way of operating in the world, making it less burdensome – trusting that the machine would work.  TRUST in his core self was the issue at stake and he came face to face with it in this dream.

Damien is learning to trust his gut in his waking life, but he is struggling with being an emotional intimacy with his wife. The next dream will bring that drama on stage..

 

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

How a Dream Can Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Making Your Own Choices    (part 1 of Damien's story)

How a Dream About and Aligator Helpd Damien Chose Between His Mother and His Fiance  (part 2 of Damien's story)

How Your Dream Can Free You From Trying to Win Your Parents Approval

Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.



Shameful Anger is Detoxifed By the Pain of a Bone Fracture

April 7th, 2015 1 Comment

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

 

   west los angeles therapy for anger and shamephoto copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

A long awaited vacation was coming up for thirty-nine-year-old Alex who was looking forward to seeing his younger sister Fiona, 3000 miles away. He wanted to go with her to an exhibition of ancient and modern pottery that they both loved. Practicing throwing pots in a class on ceramic ware, he had made a gift for Fiona’s family using a special design with a color tint of his creation.

A week before his flight to Salem Oregon where Fiona lived with her husband and two children, Alex began to imagine that Fiona would be too busy to join him in visiting the exhibits and having fun at their old haunts. He recalled previous occasions when he had high hopes of rekindling their childhood closeness, only to find that she was either non-committal, busy, or with him in body but not in spirit.

 

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Not wanting to be disappointed again, Alex began to talk himself out of the trip.

It wasn’t that big of a deal to see the pottery exhibition! Fiona wouldn’t like his gift anyway! She would have other priorities and just pay lip service to him. He would be alone and wouldn’t enjoy anything!

So different to the bond they had shared growing up, trying to support each other against a critical mother and a stressed father who never made them feel loved and valued as kids.

When had they drifted apart? How did Fiona become so difficult to pin down when he wanted to be with her and share his life? Why was it that she could call him up when she couldn’t sleep and talk about her troubles with her husband Jeremy, but not tolerate hearing about his life experiences?

 

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Five days before his departure date Alex was ready to cancel the trip. His right foot had swollen up and looked bruised

He had no memory of twisting it or hurting it in the last few days. He was in pain and couldn’t imagine walking around exhibits or waiting in line to get on and off the plane. He was furious that this injury should happen at this particular moment, spoiling his vacation and reunion with Fiona.

He huffed and puffed feeling that life was unfair. The angrier he got the worse the pain. Just doing the most basic of self-care activities increased the pain, until he got a CT scan that showed a tiny fracture.

As he spouted anger about his foot needing to be put in a special boot, it became apparent that Alex’s anger was deep and as penetrating as the pain in his foot. Good job he was already working on his relationships in therapy – the pattern of connections that usually made him upset, disappointed, resentful, anxious and of course angry.

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Once his foot was encased in a boot to allow it to heal, Alex was able to focus on the real reasons for his spoiler voice dousing his desire for the sibling reunion.

As we talked about Fiona rejecting him in his imagination, it became apparent that Fiona’s husband was the ‘third party’ interloper that he was viewing as an enemy.   Jeremy’s presence became the ‘fracture’ in the sibling relationship. Fiona had mentioned that he was a bit jealous of the special world she and Alex went to when they were together. That set of some anxiety and anger for Alex. That made him want to cancel the trip because he didn’t want to deal with Fiona and her jealous husband. He wanted her all to himself.

Alex was proud of the relationship he had with his sister. It transcended their unhappy childhood, his unhappy marriage and divorce, and Fiona’s on-again-off-again marriage. He could always claim Fiona as ‘his.’ He was her brother before she married and had children. She was more ‘his’ than belonging to her husband or children. He enjoyed exerting that right – it felt legitimate. It felt good and powerful and intoxicating. It was a victory – putting to rest all those times he tried and failed to get his dad’s attention on him and away from her mother. Now he could do that with his sister – get her all to himself – away from her husband and kids – what a triumph!

When Alex realized what his hidden motives were, he had the opportunity to think about having a good bond with Fiona while honoring her marriage and motherhood. In therapy he was able to acknowledge his need for possessive victory and talk more about the thorny issue of the triangle – Alex, Fiona and her husband.

 He was grateful to his bone fracture, the pain it caused and the chance it gave him to understand his emotional pain regarding his special relationship with Fiona.  These shameful emotions were too much to bear up front, and needed to go first through his foot – to be externalized, before he could manage to confront them without shame. Alex was able to bypass the shame and find ways to connect with his sister without trying to extricate her from her family – less competition, less possessiveness and less jealousy and less victory – all boiling down to less pain.

 

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2015

 

AUTHOR OF 'Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationships."

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Expressing anger appropriately is a natural pain relief mechanism

Is fear of standing up for yourself causing you allergies?

Fear of disapproval and rejection brings on Tinnitus

 

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond.



Three Ways to Control Rage When You Feel Abandoned

March 25th, 2015 1 Comment

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

Los Angeles Anger Management Therapy

 

The sounds of begging and pleading for another chance fell on32-year-old Trudy’s deaf ears. Her 35-year-old husband Max had promised to stop using alcohol and drugs umpteen times, but he never got sober for more than a day or two. She had been let down too often, and now needed to protect herself from being seduced by those pitiful eyes, and his attentive ways.

Enraged at losing Trudy and their 5 year old daughter Sasha, Max spent most of his time enraged that he couldn’t get Trudy to listen to him. There was no other woman for him. He wanted her to pick him up when he was down and do the same for her. The only problem was that he remembered the good times and she remembered the bad times.

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Owning up to his misdeeds wasn’t a problem for Max.

In fact the sooner he admitted fault, the sooner Trudy's heart would soften and he would get the gentle loving he yearned for. He openly admitted that he wasn’t reliable and didn’t act responsibly. But when Trudy accused him of not being emotionally available for his family he exploded! Those accusations made him feel completely misunderstood. But when he tried to put her straight, she just talked over him, shutting him down. Rage built up and out came the bad language, accusing Trudy of never seeing any good in him and making him feel worse, when he was already owning his stuff and making efforts to improve.

 

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Other times Max broke down in tears of helplessness. Trudy responded by bucking him up only to then get enraged herself and hold him accountable for the things he did that had wounded her – and that still stung.

“What about the time you left Sasha alone in bathroom while you went to get high?”

“You weren’t there when I made dinner, night after night!”

“Your place was full of drugs when I brought Sasha to see you! What if I get labelled a negligent parent for leaving her with you in that place?”

 

Max wanted comfort and numbness of his bad feelings, but he was treated like a naughty boy who needed to acknowledge his sins

She became the authority figure reminding him about his transgressions just when he was vulnerable, making him squirm in shame. The shame turned to guilt, and guilt fueled anger. Max exploded again. This time it was be more like a tantrum, destroying things around him, just as Trudy’s way of interacting had crushed him.

During his most vulnerable moments with Trudy, Max wanted her comfort and understanding, but he got a reminder of how bad he could be. The experience felt like abandonment.

Max wanted Trudy to be there and know how wretched he felt, but he felt scolded. She wasn’t there in the way he needed, adding to his sense of abandonment.

When Max tried to defend himself against her recalling his past bad actions, she shut him down by talking over him. He felt abandoned again, because he was alone in his world, while she had flown to another.

Max didn’t help himself by exploding each time he felt abandoned. All he did was make Trudy feel more righteous in keeping her distance.

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Abandonment anger is explosive and tenacious.

So how can Max control his rage and then have a meaningful relationship with Trudy?

  1. First he has to cry out his deep wound of abandonment instead of using drugs, alcohol and Trudy as plasters. He needs to mourn the loss of having someone reliable to fill that empty emotional hole. Until and unless he does that, he will always “use”, while desperately attempting to get Trudy to step in there, so he doesn’t have to feel the pain.

 

  1. Max needs to learn how to express his feelings in words rather than just explode when he can’t get through. In order to express feelings he has to be willing to feel them – not numb them with substances or get Trudy to put her finger over the hole! That’s where therapy comes in. Getting in touch with the hurt, pain, rage and fear of being alone and abandoned requires a therapeutic relationship of trust, safety and learning where he is accepted and tolerated – so that shame doesn’t undo him.

 

  1. Next Max can learn the vocabulary of feelings and describe them accurately as he feels them, writing them down as a story or letter to Trudy, Sasha or whomever he is feelings things for and about. Research has demonstrated the value of writing about experiences to help calm the anger and become more coherent.

 

  1. Lastly, Max can learn in therapy how to do reality checks. He needs to discover whether he just wants to be rescued as a way of receiving love (co-dependency) or whether he wants a relationship of equality and true partnership. He can reflect on this as events arise with his therapist and then make a commitment to a healthier way of life. Rage will be needed no more.

 

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2015

 

AUTHOR OF 'Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationships."

You might also like:

Feeling Insecure in a Relationship Makes You Prone to Angry Outbursts

Do You Numb Yourself to Avoid Angry Outbursts, Only To Have Them Later On?

How to Get Your Loved One to Prove Their Love Without Using Anger?

 

 

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond.



Anger Makes You Swing From One Type of Depression to Another

March 13th, 2015 No Comments

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

 

west los angeles therapy for anger and depression

Sadness, loneliness, lack of energy, withdrawing from the world

 

You may find it hard to believe that anger may be at the root of your sad and lethargic feelings when you get depressed. But the link between anger and depression has been established centuries ago by the Greek philosophers and then more scientifically by the turn of the 19th century.

Treatment with SSRI's is the most widely practiced medication route. But recent research shows that there are two types of depression and that SSRI's are at best no better than a placebo (sugar pill) and that where they are effective, they are more helpful (with psychotherapy) for one  more than the other.

 

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Depression triggered by anger at yourself

When you are down, do you find your critical and judgmental voice beating you up because you didn’t match your ideals? Do you feel like you let yourself down even though you did your best? Anger at yourself makes you more likely to experience a war within yourself that exhausts you and makes you want to step back from life so that you don’t have to fail again, and hear the self-torturing condemnation that goes on inside your head.

An article reported in 2009, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, describes the strong relationship between anger and depression, with guilt and shame strongly featured in the mix.

Words from loved ones that attempt to make you feel good don’t work because they feel so unrealistic and therefore not worth taking in. You can’t be comforted, or allow yourself to go easy on yourself.

A 2002 study reported in Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, found that self-critical  or introjective depressioni is based on negative self-evaluation of self-imposed unrealistic standards of perfection.

In addition, growing up with at least one harsh and judgmental parent, made you fearful and mistrusting of people who supposedly want to take care of and comfort you. Not only did you internalize that harsh and critical voice but you were suspicious of anyone offering a soothing balm!

The stress of having to bear your own condemnation and wrath is painful, and chronically so. Your suffering may be so overwhelming that it becomes a pain in your body. It could be headaches, back pain, muscle or joint pains. Your type of depression is linked to stress induced physical pain because you have closed the door for emotional comfort or compassion.  

Antidepressants like Cymbalta  target physical pain but they don’t really work for introjective depression because the area of the brain that is responsible for rage doesn't respond to this class of drugs.

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Taking the exit ramp to the empty-lonely road, tends the mental lashings and restores your sense of well-being.

Sometimes your harsh judgmental attack on yourself makes you isolate yourself from the world which is more tolerant and compassionate than you are in the moment. So you end up feeling empty and alone when the punitive voice has done its worst. The shift to a more lonely and fearful place may help you seek comfort and security in others to make you feel worthwhile again.

Ironically you have shifted to the opposite pole of depression to escape the discomfort of this one, as you will see below.

 

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Depression based on anger at others

If you feel lost, alone and empty when you are down, it’s most likely brought on by anger at losing a relationship that you relied on. It could be a friend who doesn’t call anymore, a close family member who moved away, or a mentoring relationship that came to an end. You may find yourself trying to fill that hole with food, alcohol, work, or being busy just to numb yourself and feel stabilized again. Or you might get clingy with others, feeling unsafe and scared to be on your own.

The 2002 study above found that the empty sad type of depression, known as anaclitic depression was characterized by a need to get reassurance and approval from others by meeting their high standards. So if you are not ‘perfect’ as others apparently expect, you risk losing them, you get stressed and insecure, and your feelings of self-worth plummet.

Growing up trying to please your parents or other loved ones and not succeeding made you feel ‘insufficient’; and so you attempted to win their approval by trying harder to be what they wanted you to be, losing yourself in the process. Having lost yourself, you are empty and scared.

When you constant efforts to be accepted, and “good enough” for significant others fail, you fall into a depressed state. You get angry at others for not acknowledging and rewarding your efforts, but you can’t show this imperfection, and get put in the reject pile for good!

Antidepressants such as SSRIs when they work at all, are better able to alleviate anaclitic depression because the symptoms of sadness can be lifted when more serotonin is made available.

west los angeles therapy for stress and depression

 

Self Criticism helps you armor up and prevent yourself feeling so sad again

You may begin blaming yourself for ever letting yourself get attached because it just ends in abandonment, so why bother? You armor up against being sad and empty again by beating the drum of strength in not needing anyone ever again.


To escape the weak feelings of anaclitic depression to move towards introjective depression, evaluating yourself harshly and engaging in a lot of critical self-talk so that you will feel strong and not need anyone.

BUT, you are still depressed and continue to shift between the self-critical to the sad and lonely and back again.

 

Anger at not being perfect is at the root of both types of depression, brought on by lack of adequate acceptance and nurturing in the early years.

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Working in an accepting, tolerating therapeutic relationship where you can express your anger – AND your guilt and shame about it is the best long term solution.

 

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2015

 

AUTHOR OF 'Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationships."

You might also like:

Four ways to silence your self-critical voice

Six ways to avoid anger, stress and depression that ruin your relationships

Depression buries the anger that helps you connect with loved ones

 

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond.