Archive for the ‘Anger Stress and Health’ Category

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."

You might also like:

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.

anger management psychotherapy for improved communication in couples

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.

 

west los angeles therapy for self-critical depression

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.

west los angeles therapy for sadness, loneliness and depression

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.

 

 west los angeles counseling for stress and depression

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.

west los angeles counseling for depression and sadness

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.

 



Six Ways to Avoid Anger, Stress and Depression That Ruin Your Relationships

February 24th, 2015 No Comments

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

 

west los angeles therapy for anger and stress managementJuliette was at the end of her rope

Working as a risk management specialist for a large medical group was getting 36-year-old Juliette down. She was exhausted and had no energy left for her husband, 38-year-old Elliot and their 5 and 6 year old children Aden and Mara. She hated having to work, but was the only breadwinner. The pressure on Juliette made her depressed. All she wanted to do was to sleep. She left the chores to her Elliot who attended to them with pride, seeing them as his contribution to the family.

Even when she was awake, Juliette felt fatigued and disinterested in playing with her kids. She preferred to look on as Elliot engaged them in cycling, swimming and ball games. She was easily upset when things didn’t go right with the family, and felt useless as a mother, sister and wife. Depression had taken hold, and Juliette was steeped in a lack of self-worth. Her anger at having to be the breadwinner was buried in the depression, as was her disappointment and resentment towards her husband for not taking on that role.

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The happiness Elliot felt taking care of the home and family was tainted by his anxiety about Juliette’s depression. He was scared that if she got worse and couldn’t work, he would be forced to step into the breach! Since losing his sales job three years ago, he had given up looking for other opportunities having had little response and numerous applications rejected. He had settled into being the primary care taker, but Juliette’s depression was stirring up fears again. Frantic efforts to cheer up his wife, and fix whatever problems she talked about didn’t make things any easier. She just got more and more morose and shut down, hoping that he would take up the baton and support the family.

 

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They didn’t talk about Juliette’s depression or about Elliot’s anxiety that he would have to get a job if she didn’t pull herself together. They were caught in a vicious cycle where Juliette’s depression made her more dependent on Elliot to take care of parenting, housework and the children’s school issues. The more dependent Juliette became the more Elliot countered that he couldn’t get a job because he was burdened with all the child care and household management!

Depression promotes stress about not being able to cope, resulting in poor romantic relationship outcomes, says a study reported in Clinical Psychology Review, 2010.

Another study reported in Communication Monographs, 2015 monitored the communication between romantic couples where one partner was depressed.  They found that depressed members of a romantic partnership avoided talking about the depression and how it impacted their relationship, as well as about the relationship itself.  The uncertainty about the status of the relationship was the primary reason for avoidance. Women were less likely than men to talk about the depression, exacerbating the uncertainty in the relationship.

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Depressed people like Juliette are motivated to avoid negative outcomes and often use avoidance as a way of managing their relationship problems. Although it may ease the stress in the moment of choosing avoidance, over the long term, there is a price to pay. Opportunities to practice interpersonal skills are removed. Chances to deepen bonds through understanding and empathy are neglected, leading to and interpretation of each other’s behavior in increasingly negative ways.  The threats to their identity as individuals and members of a couple are never faced and resolved, adding to the stress, and deepening the depression, as reported in an article in Clinical Psychology Review, 2011

A depressed partner may take anti-depressants like SSRI’s (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Cimbalta, Effexor, Celexa etc.) and still not get any better. A recent study reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb. 9, 2015 found that stress prevents the medication from doing its job, making the depression even worse. This study described the ‘punishment center of the brain’ (lateral habenula) that rules, making a person feel down on themselves and more depressed.

Put that together with a finding that placebo pills were as good if not better than anti-depressants in affecting mood (Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 2010) we have a perfect storm of bad feeling and estrangement between a romantic couple. Putting Juliette on anti-depressants won’t make her better, nor will it remove the cause for her depression. She needs to be depressed to push her husband into being the breadwinner.

 

 

west los angeles counseling for stressed and anxious couplesSo what can this couple do with this awful situation?

 

Attend couples therapy and begin the process of implementing these 6 essential steps

  • Discuss their expectations of each other.
  • Express their disappointments, fears and anger at one another for the roles they are forced to adopt.
  • Discuss the depression, it’s purpose and impact on the family, including the rage Juliette suppressed, about having to be the one supporting the family when she really wanted to be the one taken care of.
  • Explore coping mechanisms for the relationship stress by noticing the trigger points.
  • Begin the process of sharing parenting and household tasks
  • Shift Elliot from feeling “forced” to get a job, to “wanting” to get a job

 

 

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 relationship.

You might also like:

Expressing anger is a pain relief mechanism

Unresolved anger and stress keeps you depressed longer

Depression buries the anger that prevents you from communicating 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

 



How a Dream about an Alligator Helped Damien Choose Between His Mother and his Girfriend! Part 2

January 27th, 2015 1 Comment

Dream Analysis To Help With Anger and Stress Management

 

west los angeles dream analysis

The dream that helped Damien understand the trap he was in, fearing commitment and choices was the first of a series that helped him prepare to propose to his girlfriend and adjust his relationship with his mother. Now he was ready to propose, but how would his mother react?

The eldest of three children, Damien felt responsible for his mother’s welfare. His younger siblings were in college and his father wasn’t reliable. Damien enjoyed getting advice on ‘the right thing to do,’ from his mother, who also took care of him in ways that made their bond special.

He knew his mother wanted him to marry a girl that came from the same ethnic and religious background. There was nothing more important to him than his prospective wife and mother getting along. Would his mother approve of Leila? Would they find a way of relating without making him choose between them? Would Leila be okay with him visiting his mother after church every Sunday? Would Leila be okay with him continuing  to take care of his mother’s car insurance payments?

 

west los angeles dream interpretation

 

Then came a dream that illuminated his predicament and helped answered his question, freeing him from his self-imposed dilemmas – just like the teepee cage in the last dream.

“I was walking and saw a baby alligator. It was still attached to its mother with tissue that looked like a placenta. It didn’t hatch out of an egg.  There were zoo keepers and then there was an alligator tail coming out of my chest. It was taken out and even though there was a hole, I felt good.”

Damien associated alligators with hard skin that is Impenetrable” so he can’t get out, nor can others get in to help him. As we explored the image in the dream, Damien talked about the hard skin being a barrier to connecting with others. He noticed that he felt disconnected and awkward in groups. He was also having trouble connecting with Leila, torn between his affiliation with his mother and his girlfriend.

west los angeles therapy with dream interpretation

 

This is what we made of the dream in his therapy, using the context of is life at that time as the backdrop.

Alligators are reptiles that live in water and on land. Damien’s psyche was showing him that he is operating as a reptile. He can live in a state of unawareness, represented by the water, or he can live on land – but he can’t survive if he is still attached to his mother’s placenta!

Both the water and the placenta show his anxiety about being his ‘own man. Damien feared that without the basic nurturance from the placenta, and the womb like existence of the water he wouldn’t be able to survive successfully.

west los angeles dream analysis

The image of hope came via the image of the bit of alligator tail that was coming out of his chest.

The remnant of alligator tail symbolized the beginnings of his awareness of his own capability and wish to prove it. He is given hope that he can take himself out of his entrenched reptilian mode and live freely making choices and decisions for his life – not just being seduced by care taking and then discover that he has given over charge of his life to others.

This dream stayed with Damien for weeks.

We related his resistance to changing his ways to the ‘hard skin’ of the alligator. We connected his tendency to get carried away with his work, ignoring his personal life with being in the water, oblivious to reality. He also made the link between his growing unease with being treated like a child by his mother.

The image of pulling out the remnants of the alligator tail from his chest gave Damien the confidence he needed to propose to Leila even if it meant he would have to give up the care of his mother. His conflict about having to choose between his mother and Leila (the water or the land) dissolved. He became a fully-fledged mammal, shedding his reptilian self.

Leila accepted his proposal with excitement and much happiness. Damien was relieved and felt like he was finally getting on the path of achieving his masculine identity. He told his parents that he was engaged and welcomed his mother getting involved in the wedding plans. He was fulfilling his manly role and that felt good.

What Damien hadn’t anticipated was his mother would make a last ditch attempt to keep the placenta attached. She began giving him gifts of personal care items- reflecting an intimacy that was inappropriate for an adult male and his mother. He didn’t want to hurt her by refusing them, nor overrule her on the choice of wedding stationary she was ordering.

Reminders of the tail remnant he pulled out of his chest in therapy were immensely powerful in helping Damien find his strength to tell his mother what he wanted and what he didn’t. He cut the placenta and survived. She backed down and he didn’t feel guilty.   

Damien had many days and nights of doubt about his choice of wife. As he became more self-assured and realized that making choices and commitments (being on land without being attached to the placenta) didn’t mess up his life, he approached his wedding ‘knowing’ this was the right thing for him. The hard alligator skin was no longer needed to protect him from taking risks. He owned his warm bloodedness fully. What a gift of a dream from his psyche!

 

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 Your Dream Can Free You From Trying to Get Your Parent's Approval

How Your Dream Can Help You Overcome Bad Memories That Keep You Stuck

 

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 a Dream Can Help You Overcome Your Fear of Making Your Own Choices

January 12th, 2015 3 Comments

Dream Analysis To Help With Anger and Stress Management

making choice

Three months before his wedding 35 year-old Damien came home from working as a lab technician tired, grumpy and dreading the thought of having to propose to his girlfriend or else lose her. He hated the idea of making that decision only to find that there were better fish in the sea. He thought very highly of 32-year-old Physical Therapist Leila, but didn’t want to make that final commitment. It felt like he was imprisoning himself for life. The stress was unbearable.

Earlier that day he had felt pressurized to rush results out of his path lab to the surgeons and doctors in the hospital that demanded instant identification of the tissue and blood samples they sent in truck loads. He was concerned about the accuracy of the results, but also about annoying the medical personnel if he didn’t do things at their pace. He imagined the head of the laboratory being angry with his pace of work, and replacing him. All this anxiety and fear made him wound up in a tight ball, trying to be perfect and please everyone else except himself. He was trapped. Nothing felt good and there was no way out!

 

clawing out of a cage

Until he had this dream:

“I am in a tavern like in medieval times. I am in a cage that is like a tepee. It’s the day of my execution and I can feel the fire under be being lit. I feel trapped but then I see that the door is open and I step out. There are witches there and the give me a good meal. They say I deserve it because it’s the day of my execution. But I say it’s not going to happen and enjoy the meal.”

Damien’s dream was very disturbing to him, depicting his imminent death.

But then he discussed it with me in therapy and we understood the important message it was giving him about his own ability to feel in control and get out of his trap.

This is what we made of the dream.

The cage is what he puts himself into when he feels he has no choice – no exit strategy. His sense of having to propose and rush his lab work was like the heat of the fire in the dream, pressuring him to act. In real life he can’t see that the cage belongs to him and the door is always open – he can choose to step in or get burned alive.

But the cage is situated in a place of fun, a tavern, where people come to relax and socialize. It suggests that Damien can't allow himself to have fun with people and socialize on an equal basis. He either has to be their slave or take care of them.

Damien has problems in making decisions. It’s hard for him to just have fun – so he has to put himself in a cage to force himself to do more serious things like marry which he wants, but which also involve commitment and no turning back. The witches represent the voices inside him, telling him he has no choice and must accept his demise.

The word witch is also an echo of the word 'which' – depicting choice, that is so hard for Damien.

If he has something nice like the meal the witches offer him, he has to pay the price of death: so the choice is impossible to make. If he chooses the good meal, he gets killed by the fire the witches have lit. If he chooses to get out of the cage his core self gets annihilated by having to please everyone else. When he feels the ‘heat’ from other people to do what they want, the cage feels like a sanctuary. But soon the cage feels oppressive, killing him with its fire. So he wants out – only to find that he is in a different cage of having to take care of others.

pressing reset button and starting afresh

What did Damien learn from this dream analysis?

The idea of choice had always been hard for Damien. His whole life had been prefaced by having to be a “good boy”, doing the “right thing” to be given a pat on the back and accepted into the world of those that mattered. Despite talking about it several times, it wasn’t until his unconscious gave him the image of the open cage and the fire with the threat of dying that he began to own his right to decide what he wanted. He was so amazed that the cage door was open, that he could go out at any time, he kept repeating that part of the dream as if to absorb that it was up to him to walk out or die! It was as if new life had been breathed into him. He was being given permission from his unconscious to take care of himself with feeling guilty, panicked or ashamed.

Within the next few weeks,Damien gave himself permission to leave work at the regular time rather than work late into the night just to please others, or save his job (not get killed). He started to enjoy his time in the evening and looked forward to sharing himself with his fiancé. He was more available for the relationship and proposed to Leila. She accepted. At first Damien was content. But soon he  began to fear that Leila would just take over and make him her slave. He also began to get stressed over his mother's reaction. So tune in to the next blog post and discover how his next dream helped him over this huge hurdle.

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2014

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.

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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 Harness Your Anger, Hate and Frustration to Get What You Want

November 17th, 2014 Comments Off on Three Ways To Harness Your Anger, Hate and Frustration to Get What You Want

 

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

 

Without the frustration of error or lack-1

Are you envious of other peoples relationships?

Are you consumed with frustration that other people seem to get what they want and have the 'perfect' relationship while you are struggling to get off the ground?

When you are feeling unfulfilled and unhappy in your own relationship, other couples are viewed in idealistic terms. You imagine that just because they are out together or buying groceries together that their relationship must be warm and stress free.

You wan the same thing! You don't know why you can't have it, and you feel life is treating you unfairly, despite you being a 'good' person.

Thats what happened to thirty-seven year old Jocelyn after her marriage ended in divorce.

She was filled with rage that she had given her all in the marriage and yet it hadn't been enough to make it work.

Enraged by her husband being away a lot and shirking his responsibilities, she filled herself up with hate for him for making her end up alone with two children.

She kept the anger and hate inside, pretending that she was doing okay. But she also looked for any excuse to tear a strip off her husband when he wasn't paying what she felt she needed to maintain her household with the children. She wanted that money, and atonement money – she wanted him to bleed.

She tried to act like a single person and go out with friends but she felt even more angry that she had to start going out and date again!

Jocelyn found a million reasons why she would never find a partner again. So everytime a possiblity arose she stamped on it by saying, " I'm too fat, I'm too old, I'm not funny and I'm not sexy!"

It worked. She made sure she never got a date – it was a great way to hang onto the anger and hatred.

Yet the anger and hate never went away. In fact it got a lot worse. Jocelyn couldn't stand the fact that he was enjoying his life while her life was going down the drain.

relationship problems psychotherapy, Los Angeles

What are Jocelyn's options for dealing with the anger and hate?

She can sit back and complain about her misfortune, treating herself as a helpless victim on the one hand, and as a merciless avenger on the other hand when she gets mad at her ex-husband.

She can fill herself up with anger about life being unfair and leave no room to take in care and find a good connection.

She can blind herself to the love that is available because it doesn't match her wish to turn back the clock and force the marriage to work.

She can seethe with frustration, release stress hormones into her body and get sick.

She can have a fit about the fact that her efforts aren't being rewarded immediately or consistently,.

 OR

She can use that  frustration and the excess adrenaline that it produces to make it happen for her.

 

glad to be with each other

Three ways Jocelyn can use her frustration, anger and hate to get her share of the good things in life

1. Tune into the discomfort in her body whenever she is frustrated, revengeful and angry. Notice the enormous energy that could overwhelms her, but is at her disposal to channel –

2. Imagine the choice she has –

  • use the anger, hate and frustration for destructive purposes – throwing a tantrum because she isn't given what she want.
  • use the energy to get in touch with DESIRE.and use that force to open up a space inside where she can allow others to touch her, make her laugh, care for her and make her feel wanted.

3. Frustration is the mother of desire

Choose the second more hopeful option and put herself out there as the valuable person she is. Emotional energy can be used to wake up DESIRE for life and all that it offers. Without desire there is only destructive tendencies because no one took care of you the way you wanted. Fierce desire makes you walk through fire and wade through snake filled swamps.

When Jocelyn wants her life to be happy with a new boyfriend more than she wants to feel the power of anger, then she uses frustration transformed into desire to get her wish.

She needs to look for and take what she wants, not wait for someone to rescue her. That's where the frustration comes in handy. It catapults Jocelyn into a 'must have' place rather than a ' have to wait and see' place or a passive aggressive place just to get even. Taking revenge and punishing will only keep Jocelyn in a strait jacket of rage hoping it will burn the reality of the broken marriage into it's original attractive experience. Desire on the other hand is self-empowrering because it comes from the frustration of not being gratified by the person you depend on to care for you.

 

As the famous British Psychologist and Pediatrician Donald Winnicott said – a mother has to refrain from indulging a child all the time or anticipating every need. Without the feeling of frustration the child will never want to do something badly enough to grow and develop the skills and the pride of self-care.          

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2014

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.

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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



How to Deal With The Anger and Stress Caused By Interfering Mother-in-Laws

November 4th, 2014 No Comments

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

 

marriage counselingArguing with your Spouse About Mother-in-law Problems Makes you Angry and Stressed

 

The power of a mother-in-law to interfere in a marriage causes intense negative feelings that can destroy the spousal bounds

Angela and Josh a newly married couple were at logger heads about Angela's mother telling him how to treat and take care of her daughter.  She kept calling and texting him about Angela's food needs, her anxieties, her need to get pregnant and the need for child to be a son.  Josh tried to talk to Angela about his distaste for being told how to be a good husband by his mother-in-law, but Angela secretly smiled. She was thrilled that her mother was on Josh's back to do the 'right thing' by her, because she was too scared to do it herself. She loved that her mother was her champion, and whipping up her husband to do the same.

What Angela didn't appreciate was that Josh was feeling emasculated and furious. He was angry about the temerity of his mother-in-law to tell him what to do, as if he knew nothing of his wife's needs. He was fuming that he wasn't given a chance to find his feet in his new role as a husband., But most of all he was livid that his wife enjoyed seening him as a puppet controlled by her mother. Lurking underneath all that rage was shame – making him feel small, powerless and inadequate.

 

alone in empty place

Caught Between His Bossy Mother-in-law and His Uncaring Wife, Josh Buckled Under the Stress

Josh's anger made him want to punish Angela. He wanted her to feel the threat of losing him, and he withdrew. He couldn't take the feeling of being helpless to manage his mother-in-law without upsetting his wife and feeling like he was to blame for causing friction in his new marriage.

Feeling Trapped Between a Rock and a Hard Place Creates More Stress Because Josh Keeps His Anger Hidden

Telling his mother-in-law nicely to back off didn't work. She was too strong a personality and insisted that she needed to help him be a good husband – and that without her he would fail – just like her husband failed her – and she wasn't going to let that happen to her precious daughter.

Getting his wife to speak up on his behalf didn't work either. She didn't see why it was such a problem, and told him that he should be grateful to her mother for giving him such good advice!

making choice

What are Josh's Options?

1. He can continue keeping silent and seethe inside as he allows himself to be disempowered.

Risk – he might cheat or take a mistress who allows him full control. He may conquer his shame by feeling his power in another relationship.

Benefit – he doesn't upset the applecart of mother-daughter alliance against his entitlement to be a full partner in the marriage, excluding the third party of his mother-in-law.

 

2. He can let the stress get to him by getting sick – then his wife might refocus her lens on him and their marriage.

Risk – the shift in focus will probably be short lived. His wife and mother-in-law may join forces and continue their close relationship, leaving him on the sidelines.

Benefit – he doesn't hurt anyone's feelings, and still hopes that Angela would choose him over her mother.

 

3. He can decide that he isn't going to be ousted from his rightful place in the marriage, and reclaim his position and power by telling his wife what he wants

Risk – his wife may have a small tantrum, and his mother-in-law may have a huge tantrum. He might feel guilty and scared that he won't be able to pull it off.

Benefit – he gets his wife to redraw the boundaries between her mother and herself, committing to Josh and their marriage.

 

WHICH SOLUTION DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO WORK BEST?

Yes, you are right, the one where Josh reclaims his wife and makes the marriage a priority.

What shoud have happened before the marriage?

Mothers-in-laws can't intefere in a marriage unless there is a huge hole through which she can enter and divide a a couple that wern't really a strong and united coulple in the first place. Ideally the couple should have formed a bond that made their union solid and made it known to all other family members that no one could come in and operate with either of them in ways that they had done before. Josh and Angela had not shifted their allegience from family to each other fully enough, so Angela's mother had a wide berth.

close couple

HOW DOES IT WORK OUT?

1. Once Josh takes ownership of his role in taking care of Angela, his demeanor and attitude will give off the message that his mother-in-law is no longer the boss.

2. Then Angela receives the same message and invests in her husband as a good partner and care taker. She relinquishes her primary tie with her mother and makes it with Josh.

3. Next Josh and Angela work on making their union water tight. They agree to express their needs, fears, wishes and disappointments directly to one another, so they can fine tune their relationship while it is still new and maleable. They get to avoid resentment and hate building up and making them sick or tearing the marriage into a battle zone.

4. Josh and Angela give each other the chance to repair hurts, understand and empathize with each other's unfulfilled needs and frustrations, while navigating their way towards a more wholesome connection. That enables them to grieve their losses and move on.

5. The couple learn to read each other's body language and signals for care and become the go to people for one another. They learn from their mistakes rather than bury them.

6. Both Angela and Josh make a pact to tell each other what they feel, need, want and expect at the time that they are aware of it. That's how they avoid building up anxiety and stress related insomnia.

7. Finally, Josh and Angela make sure that any holes that might appear in their relationship are noticed and promptly sewn up by attending to the issues – underlying negative emotional experiences that are bubbling beneath the surface. Taking preventive action rather than waiting for a crisis is a fool-proof method of never having to deal with the anger and stress of an interfering mother-in-law.

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2014

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.

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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

 

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Pull out the Roots of Your Anger and Stress by Exercising amid Nature

October 21st, 2014 No Comments

 

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

inflamed intestinesAnger and loathing leads to stress and depression

 

The Path From Anger To Stress to Depression

Anger and hatred often go together when you don't get cared for in the way you want and expect. If your expectations and hopes are dashed over and over again, the anger and loathing get bigger and more ferocious.

But you are probably too scared to let it out.

You feel love and hate for the person at the same time. These two contrary feelings put you in a bind.

You can't walk away, and you can't express your rage.

You fear that if the one you are upset with will crumble. Then you won't have anyone to be be attached to, and being alone is more frightening.

You imagine that the person you are mad at doesn't care about you – in fact they hate you and  are just one step away from walking out on you!

So you keep it all in, seething inside with no room for anything else.

All that scary anger makes your body release stress hormones to cope with the intense anger that threatens your heart, blood pressure, digestive system and mental well-being.

Chronic stress not only causes several serious health problems, but often leads to a long and unrelenting depression. You may not even be aware of it, because you have got used to the exhaustion and sense of depletion that comes with being stressed. You already feel depleted, so adding demotivation and lack of vitality isn't such a change.

depersoanlized

But depression is serious.

Depressive symptoms

  • Your self-esteem and confidence plummet.
  • Your sleep cycle is disrupted. You may sleep for longer periods or not get much sleep at all.
  • Your appetite may increase or decrease.
  • You lose your libido.
  • You are more prone to pain – headaches, back aches, joint and muscle pain.
  • You can't relate to people socially and curtail your activities.
  • Your concentration wanes and you are more ambivalent when it comes to decision making.

 

west los angeles therapy for self-hate

Depression is Anger Turned Inward

Pretending and or denying your anger and fear about the disappointment in your significant relationships alters the trajectory of the anger towards yourself. You are more willing to kill off your real-self than destroy loved ones and be alone. That is psychological suicide.

Anger turned inwards makes you false to yourself. Your pretence turns you into an inauthentic person, and your psyche can't survive under that constant murder of your true self.

Depression is often brought on when we move too far away from our true selves to be something or someone that we think we should be to gain some sort of prized place in society.  Skewing yourself too far in one direction is not psychologically healthy, so depression puts the brakes on.

 

 nurturing the relationship

When you garden, your body gets rids of harmful enzymes accumulated during stress induced depression.

A recent article in Br J Psychiatry, 2014, revealed that the effect of antidepressants on allieviating depressive symptoms was largely controlled by expectations of those taking them. Given that these medications are not guarenteed to help you, why not turn to what is known to help in the short term and in the long term?

The journal Cell, Sept, 2014 published an article proving the biolgical effect of exercise in nature (such as gardening) being especially beneficial to stress induced depression. Harmful kynurenine, a substance produced by stress, is converted by muscle into a neutral chemical, detoxifying your system.

Gardening is connecting with nature in a hands on intimate way. It's as if the act of getting involved – getting your hands dirty so to speak is a way of you touching your own roots and feeling your own soul in an authentic way.

Planting and hoeing, trimming and cleaning – it's a metaphor for what you are doing inside your psyche. That's why it's so healing. And if you are growing produce you are also taking charge of feeding yourself something real rather than some arbitrary goal of reaching some status in life that may or may not be nourishing

Gardening also helps you feel good about yourself when you see your efforts bloom in a tangible way that depends on no other person. There is an immediate response from seeds when they germinate, or a plant that wilts and dies if you put it in the wrong type of soil.  In addition gardening means dealing with nature that you can't control perfectly – insects, weather etc. That is something that is part of the depressive process – to mourn the loss of what you can't control and learn to adapt and be more flexible to what life brings – rather than try to fit some predetermined goal.

Gardening provides something to look forward to each day, several times a day when you go out to check how your plants are doing, and care for them in the tiniest of ways – removing a dead leaf, or dead heading a spent bloom.

Exercising in natural surroundings is the key to relieving the symptoms of depression by being in touch with nature, Ecopsychology, September 2014, and gardening is a great form of physical exercise.

So get gardening, even if it is one pot with one plant indoors or a few on a balcony. One large container can give your vegetables and edible flowers, scent and color – that you help nurture and create. When you do it you eliminate stress and create a more wholesome you. Then you can express your anger without fear of loss.

 

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2014

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.

 

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Three Ways to Control Emotional Eating When Under Stress

October 6th, 2014 No Comments

 

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

gluttony from stress

When you are overwhelmed and feel like you are sinking in quicksand, your body wants to flee from the threat. But your life style and schedule keep you trapped in a very a very stressful situation.

You feel out of control

You feel helpless

You feel angry and resentful

You are terrified of failing or having a breakdown

You put even more effort into trying to be perfect and get everything done the way it should be so you can meet your own high standards and expectations

You imagine others complimenting you and envying you

BUT THE STRESS GETS TO YOU AND ALL YOU WANT IS FOOD. YOU WANT THE COMFORT AND THE NUMBNESS THAT EATING CAN BRING.

YOU WANT THE CALMNESS OF AND PEACE THAT CHEWING AND TASTING AND STUFFING YOURSELF BRINGS

YOU WANT TO FILL THAT HOLE CREATED BY ALL THE ENERGY YOU LOST STRESSING OUT OVER YOUR SCHEDULE

SO YOU GO TO THE FRIDGE, YOU ORDER IN, YOU GO TO THE STORE AND BUY ALL THE JUNK FOOD YOU NEVER USUALLY ALLOW YOURSELF

YOU DESERVE IT FOR ALL THE HARD WORK YOU HAVE DONE.

EXCEPT ——————————- YOU KNOW YOU WILL REGRET IT. Why self-sabotage?

 

Here are a few ways to control emotional/stress eating:

 

1. Research, prepare and cook something good for yourself. You take care of yourself in several ways that reduce stress

  • taking time out from your routine gives your body a chance to build up reserves and recharge your battery.
  • focusing on your personal needs for a while balances your psyche so that your judgement remains sharp and unimpaired.
  • you give your creative processes a chance to get juiced up when you switch to thinking about choosing, buying ingredients and preparing a special meal for yourself.
  • the sequence of actions that you engage in to make your meal steadies your emotional rudder, since you bring order and timing into the equation.

PLUS 1:    Being aligned with food gives the brain the message that it is being de-stressed.

PLUS 2:   You don't get more stressed by depriving yourself of the comfort of food – you just give it to yourself in a more controlled way.

balanced poseThe perfect balance

2. Since stress floods the bloodstream with adrenalin it's good to use it on getting all those odd jobs done that have been on your mind 

  • Use up the adrenalin so that you don't feel the negative effects of stress – only to crave food in ever increasing amounts.
  • You will feel accomplished and  in control – the most effective antidotes to stress.
  • Your food cravings will have be satiated with the rewards of taking care of yourself and getting your house and environment in order. The neurotransmitter – dopamine – that triggers the reward centers of the brain to make you feel good, will give you lots of 'pings' for completing all those unfinished jobs, as it would if you ate food. So do the jobs, feel rewarded, and you won't want to stuff yourself with food.

 

leaving your markLeave your imprint on the paper and turn the darkness into a more tolerable shade of grey

 

3. Write letters to the people who are causing relationship stress. It's a proven fact that putting things into words, calms the brain and reduces stress – without the calories!

  • Composing a letter to someone who has just stood you up or has hurt you yet again, makes you aware of the pain that you need to feel in order to process it and make room for more soothing experieces. Food would just bury the pain in the short term, keeping the feelings in tact for the next time you get burned and have to experience it as a double whammy.
  • So be good to yourself, and feel the pain as it comes – so that you can externalize it in words towards the person who hurt you. Putting your experience into a story that explains your side of things gives you a boost. You are no longer invisible, helpless or a martyr. You are taking care of yourself by speaking up.
  • The act of writing to the one who hurt you gets your psyche to feel assertive and worthy. You aren't just swallowing the pain, which is what you would be doing if you ate to numb yourself- literally and figurutively.
  • Writing to the ones who caused you pain also organizes your past hurtful experiences. You get to see a pattern. The pattern gives you valuable information of what to look for next time before it's too late.
  • Putting pen to paper or typing on a keyboard also enables you to appreciate that you are actually coping with the bad feelings. You have survived and can write about it. You dont need all that junk food to pacify you. Knowing you are still alive and haven't crumbled is an enormous boost to your sense of competency and sense of self-empowerment.

 

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.

 

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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