Get help if you are unsure of your marriage or relationship

You have been married for many years. You begin to recognize that you are not as happy as you used to be. You start examining the pros and cons of the relationship. Your partner has many pluses and a few chunky negatives. You are unsure of what to do. Follow this advice for some good ideas about your next steps.


Do seek counseling

You need a sounding board to air out your thoughts and feelings. As you go through this process, you may also change your mind on a regular basis. A good therapist will help you with both your feelings and with your decision making process. If your partner is willing to attend counseling, then both of you can go through this change process together. If he or she is unwilling, go to counseling by yourself. It can only help.

Do work on identifying your goals

Most people get married and stop identifying what they want. Some people become very partner driven and forget about their own needs and wants. It’s important to identify what you want and what’s most important to you. Do you want security, independence, happiness, partnership, a friend? Can you be OK by yourself?

Identify what’s a need versus what’s a preference.

Do keep yourself in good shape

Your decision making process is largely a mental and emotional event. Make sure you keep up your physical part since mental and emotional stress will drain your physical self. It’s not uncommon to lose weight or feel tired and dragging during this process. Make sure that you exercise, eat healthy, get sleep, and minimize your use of caffeine and alcohol in order to have the energy you need to make a good healthy decision.

Do connect with others

If you are going to go through this major process, you are going to need support. Who are your support people? Consider talking to friends, relatives, etc. Find your go to people and share your thoughts and feelings with them. Ideally, find people who have stayed and those that have left. Seek out a support group. There are some amazing message boards where you can be totally anonymous and hear and learn from others’ experiences.

Do consult with an attorney

Find an attorney who specializes in family law. Since knowledge is power, get empowered. Find out the rules of the game. How does alimony and child support work? Learn about the business of divorce while you are sorting out your emotions. Sometimes knowing that it is possible to get a divorce opens what was thought to be a closed door. By contrast, knowing what a divorce might do to you and the family might get you closer to working on the marriage.


Do not get into another relationship

When people are in the decision process, they are most vulnerable. It’s easy to share pain with another person who has similar pain. The misery loves company approach seems to work to find the fix to the problem. Due to their newness, these extra relationships just seeks to cause more confusion and ultimately more pain.

Do not nag, scold, or complain to your partner

When a person is unhappy in their marriage, the person they want to tell is their partner. However, how many times does the partner need to hear about the unhappiness? I’m guessing that unless that person is hearing impaired, lacking mental capacity, or suffering from neurological damages, that number is not a high one. Why add to your own frustration by being a broken record?

Do not try to fix your partner

It’s been said many times, “If only he would stop drinking…”, “If only he would get a job…”, or “If only she wasn’t so depressed things would be so much better.” When you love someone, you want them to get better. But you can’t fix them. Encourage them to find solutions to their own problems.

Do not medicate your pain

When confusion, fear, sadness, and anger are the feelings that predominate, who wants to feel these? No one. The easiest way to get rid of these is to use quick fix band aids like drinking, drugging, shopping, spending, eating, sex, relationships and work. They all work, kind of, but ultimately cause other and bigger problems. Short term pleasure usually leads to long term pain.

Do not isolate

Sometimes you see that many other people have their lives together. They are either happily married or successfully divorced. As a result, you think that you are the only one in this state of limbo. This constant stay or go makes you want to tell no one, and keep all of your pain inside. If you do this, your pain will only grow bigger and develop into a bigger problem. You really don’t need more problems, do you?


Summary

Making a decision about changing a relationship is one of the hardest things that people do. When there are kids involved, that decision making process is even harder. Give yourself the time that you need to identify your goals, identify your actions, and ultimately make yourself happy. Although there will be some tough days, you will make the right decision. Remember change is possible.

 

 

ExpertBeacon. Expert advice for the everyday crisis

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Convince Yourself That Change is Possible and It Is What You Want

This article is reprinted from:

http://expertbeacon.com/convince-yourself-change-possible-and-it-what-you-want/#.UaODgNhZ6Kl

How many times have you said things like: If only I could lose these five pounds, I’d feel so much better. I would love to stop smoking, these things are so expensive. I want to go to the gym. I want to get in good shape for the summer.

If you’re like most people, you’ve had conversations like this about many things. Unfortunately, you haven’t figured out how to take that huge first step. Some of you have plunged ahead only to have the next step be the one that brings your change momentum to a screeching stop. Here are some ideas that will help you to start the change process.

 

 

 


Do think small change

People inevitably think about change in large chunks. This viewpoint is a setup for failure because if your goals are too big, it’s easy to become frustrated. Think about making your changes small – lose 1 pound this week, go to gym once. If you succeed with this goal, your can take on a bigger goal next time.

 

Do some part of the change

Sometimes when people make the decision to change, they feel overwhelmed. They don’t know where to start. Should I stop drinking, eat better, lose weight, work on my relationship? Sometimes it’s just good to do some part of the change. If I want to stop drinking, maybe I should: read about not drinking, read about celebrities who have stopped drinking, or remove all the alcohol from the house. These are all examples doing part of the change process.

 

Do the opposite of what you usually do

This is called the opposite theory. Let’s say that your goal is to meet the woman of your dreams. You continue to go to places to meet this woman and strike out every time. Opposite theory would suggest that you stop looking. Do activities that enhance your well being. Mister or miss right will show up when you are not looking for him or her.

 

Do keep good data of your change

Treat your change process like a good research experiment. Write down your starting weight and other measurements like BMI, etc. and do regular weigh-ins. Log in your data weekly so that you can see the change. Your perception of the change may be different than the facts. Stay with the data, not how you feel.

 

Do allow yourself to be ambivalent

Not everyone is sold on the idea of change. In fact, most people are not. There is usually the healthy part of the person that wants to change. There is also the safe and comfortable part of the person who does not. This is normal. There is no reason to beat yourself up about things that you should want to do but don’t, like “I should want to lose 25 pounds”. You will find your way when you are ready.

 


Do not beat yourself up for perceived failures

Change is hard. No one is perfect. No one changes perfectly. Change is always 3 steps up and 2 steps back. People learn more about change from their setbacks than from their success. Be gentle on yourself, accept that these setbacks are part of the change process.

 

Do not have unrealistic expectations

It’s easy to fail when you have set up way too big a step of change, “I will lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” for example, or “I will be divorced by the end of the month.” Be realistic, the old adage “slow and steady wins the race” is applicable here.

 

Do not sabotage your successes

Ambivalence is the battle between the healthy part and safe part of yourself. Sometimes when people are succeeding in their battle to change, they set themselves up their failure – the all you can eat buffet when on a diet, the bachelor party when stopping drinking, etc. Identify the risk factors that could lead to a setback and don’t put yourself in harms way.

 

Do not feel that this is your only time to get it

Most people have several attempts at failed change before they get it right. All of these failures are actually success, because they give good information about the triggers that set up failure. They also highlight when change will be tough. When you are ready, you will succeed.

 

Do not get frustrated

It’s easy to get the “f*ck- its” about the change process and go backwards. Have patience with yourself and recognize that change is hard work. Allow yourself to have setbacks. You are human right? Remember the best hitter in baseball fails 7 out of 10 times. Have some stick-to-itiveness in the process.

 


Summary

It’s easy to do the same old same old over and over. It’s familiar, predictable and safe. You can have so much more but you have to take that first BIG step. Be aware that you may have pitfalls, but recognize that they are opportunities for learning. No one fails at change, they just get better at it. You can be safe and miserable or take the risk and be happy. You know which one works best. Hopefully you’ll pick the change side. Always remember that change is possible.

ExpertBeacon. Expert advice for the everyday crisis

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Wizard of the Desert

Milton Erickson is the Godfather of change therapy. Prior to his work, therapy was about the patient talking endlessly and gathering insight into his or her problems. Erickson, a physician by trade, started using hypnosis to produce profound change in his patients. He was rejected by the psychological community at the time for not doing “real therapy”

This video, a trailer for a movie about him, gives a great overview about Erickson. It highlights his work as well as his handicaps. His work has inspired many of the people who appear on this video.  They have written books about Erickson and his therapy. Clearly his work has been influential to me since this website is titled “change is possible”

For more information about Erickson, refer to Jay Haley’s book about Erickson

http://books.google.com/books?id=VovkFZqQfMIC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=milton+erickson+biography&source=bl&ots=Dbf6PkK4CZ&sig=oWNZK3GBs0MSiy7YKyLKk8nhBaE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1wuUUfvgEcTc4AP6joHgBg&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=milton%20erickson%20biography&f=false

Enjoy this snippet about one of Psychotherapy’s most unknown therapist.

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GPS

As a resident of New Jersey, many of our roadways leave a lot to be desired.  Some are constructed with little logic others are just long roadways filled with construction and repair.  The worst of these however is the four way dance of hell: Rt 17/ Rt 4/ Garden State Parkway/ Rt 80 intersections around Paramus.

The other day I had the misfortune of driving in this area, but fortunately I had my GPS.  I plugged in the address and I was off to my destination.  When it said turn left, I turned left.  When it said make a right, I followed the command.  Blindly trusting my GPS, I followed her every direction and sure enough, in spite of the the tortuous  and confusing area, I reached my location.  Upon completing my mission, I reflected upon my blind faith of this mechanical device. I  made a decision to  turned my directionality over to my Garmin.  I thought about how interesting this is–many people will trust a machine to make them safe but do not listen to their internal GPSs to help them with important life altering decisions.  Why is it that we are so willing to turn left and right on the highway because Garmin says so, but are so unwilling to go left or right in life?  Why do we negate our own “gut feeling” and do unhealthy, illogical or irrational actions?

A typical GPS answers the questions:

Where am I ?

How do I get to my destination?

How long will it take to get there?

Many people come into my office asking similar questions.  Some of them do not know their “destination”- they just want it to be different from where they are right now.  Many of them have been “off course” for many years and have come to therapy for some map guidance.  They have been ignoring their own internal GPSs.   This has led to issues such as addiction, infidelity, depression or anxiety.  Some of them are so lost they cannot make a simple left or right; they are stuck.

How does a person begin the process of using their internal GPS? For many people this will be a hard task.  Some people are so distant from their internal mechanisms, that they either do not listen to their inner voice, or the voice they hear is a critical, self-destructive one.  They need to change their self- loathing  sounds to ones that have positive affirmation and positive self-talk.  Other people have GPS settings that are other directed.  These people lack confidence in their decision making and need lots of reinforcement and approval from others.  They need to work on healthy risk taking and challenging their “catastrophizing  what if” thoughts.  When people challenge these thoughts, they discover the world hasn’t ended and they are more competent than they initially believed.  Regardless of the degree of the issue, the person needs to rediscover their inner self and work on the belief that they are ok.  If they develop that inner confidence they can take better care of themselves.

For the sake of my own self care, I’m glad that my excursions to driving hell are minimal. On these occasions, my external GPS gets me to where I need to be.  Although working with an internal GPS is not quite as easy as putting in an address, the outcome of getting to where you need to be is quite rewarding.  Remember change is possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Favorite books

My office is full of conversations.  Many are sad and painful.  Others are joyous and happy.  When a client has lots of pain, particularly in the beginning stages of therapy, they need as many resources as possible.  I will often recommend that a client get a particular book in order to continue their progress between our sessions.

At my pinterest  account, some of my favorite and most recommended  books are  pinned.  They are listed with a brief comment about each book. You can find the list  here.

Let me know which ones  you’ve read that have been helpful .  If there are ones that are not listed, let me know those as well.  Happy reading!!!

 

 

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An Amazing Story

From Lifecaster

“The Beast and the Angel”

Filmmakers:
Adam McKay and Shira Piven
Location:
Los Angeles, CA

As the teenage leader of the popular 1960s Detroit band, The MC5, Wayne Kramer is a pioneer in America’s punk rock music scene. Rolling Stone magazine listed Kramer as one of the top 100 guitarists of all time. Kramer and The MC5 believed that the power of music could change the world, but personal issues and drug addictions tore the band apart, and their dream died.

In the mid-1970s, Kramer pled guilty to a cocaine-dealing charge and spent two years in federal prison. The Clash wrote a song about Kramer during this time called JAIL GUITAR DOORS. During this devastating time for him, Kramer turned to music to heal his anger and pain. When he was released, Kramer continued to play music and perform, and then he co-founded Jail Guitar Doors USA as a way to continue to heal his pain and rehabilitate prison inmates by allowing them to communicate in non-violent ways through music.

But this is a difficult journey for Kramer. As much as he wants to put aside his past, he knows that in order to achieve his goal of helping others like him, he must enter a place he never wanted to return to, and somehow use his skills and his pain to reach current inmates through music to help them heal.

Kramer must now fight with prison administrators for access and convince prisoners to trust him. If he succeeds, Kramer will take a path that combines music and tragedy to reach the goal he’s had since he was a teenager: to show how music can change world for the better—one inmate at a time.

For more information: www.waynekramer.com

Kramer talks about how he made this significant change in his life:

change is possible

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Stuck in a Moment

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

                 Bono

 

Royce White is a professional basketball player.  At least he and his current employer, the NBA’s Houston Rockets want him to be one.  Royce has yet to play a minute this season in spite of the fact that he was their number one draft pick.  You may ask why is this?   Royce White is challenging the Rockets and ultimately the NBA’s way of looking at mental illness.  White has both Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obesessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) and wants to have his own mental health Physician to determine if he is fit to play on game days.  White sees mental illness and physical illness as the same and has asked the Rockets to see things his way.  The Rockets just want him on the floor to shoot, rebound and score, the same traits that they saw in him in last year’s NCAA’s basketball tournament.  The conflict between the Rockets and White has led him to be suspended by the team.  Mr. White is stuck in a moment that he cannot get out of.

My definition of anxiety is that people with anxiety issues think way too much about things that most people don’t think about at all.  On HBO’s Real Sports, White showed us his excessive thinking.   He was obsessed with other people’s driving and texting.  He shared about his fear of flying, and showed us his excessive organization of his closet.  It’s very clear, after the Real Sports segment, that although White may be a great basketball player, it’s his anxiety that has placed him in his current position.  This does not make him unique at all.  Many clients that I’ve seen over the years are stuck in their anxiety.  They have irrational thinking, avoid scary places, and feel terribly out of control.  In addition, they are constantly having “what if” thinking about everything.  The amazing part about my anxious  clients is not their disorder, but how they change.  Whether challenging their perceived “safety zone”, changing their thinking, or by taking healthy risks, they manage to step by step feel better and get better.  It’s a fascinating journey from stuck to free.

Although he is stuck in a moment that he can’t get out of with his career, Royce White has great goals.  He said during the interview that he wants to be a good person because he knows that anxiety can lead to alcoholism, drug addiction, homicide and suicide if not properly treated.  I too have seen this  phenomena about untreated illnesses leading to bigger problems.  Perhaps Bono knew this as well since “Stuck in a Moment” is written about the deceased INXS singer Michael Hutchins who committed suicide.   The Royce White’s of the world or any of my clients,  need to know that if you are that stuck there is hope. The last line of the song gives us this-   “It’s just a moment, this time will pass”

 

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Hall of Shame

The Major League Baseball writers decided Wednesday to not accept Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens into its Hall of Fame.  They were not accepted into the hall due to the allegations that they used performance enhancing drugs(PEDS).  It was a huge statement by the writers to say that ballplayers who take PEDS in order to improve their performance are not Hall of Fame worthy.

This  Hall of Fame voting  got me to think more intently about this issue.  Would I take PEDS  to improve my performance– to  hear clients better, to become more perceptive,  to develop more insights and make changes occur faster?  People would get better faster, and would make more long lasting changes.  As a result, I could see more people, improve the quality of more client’s lives, and make more money.  There is no doubt that this would lead to appearances on talk shows, and calls for keynote addresses at conferences.  They would  hail me as that famous psychotherapist with that great new therapeutic technique in which people got  better, faster.

On the down side, every now and then I would act out in rage and yell at my clients for being stupid.  Most of them would know that this was just a therapeutic technique to get them better, and would ignore my behavior.  In addition, there would be a little buzz about how an above average therapist turned into a mega superstar in a short period of time.  There would be some allegations from a client who saw some pills on my desk—(he came in too early for his session). These would be explained  to the questioners as my vitamins that keep up my energy level.  I would explain to anyone who asked about  my new found success,  that it was a result of  working hard, and training regularly to become a better therapist.  When the state and federal boards would investigate allegations of Performance Enhancement, I would simply deny ever using PEDS.  When reporters and other investigators would come around asking questions of my use, I would deny over and over and over again that I had ever used PEDS, period.   Due to the embarrassment, the anguish, the sense of failure, the humiliation, my fading reputation,and the public’s loss of faith in therapy, I I would never own up to using PEDS. I would hold that secret forever.

Although Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens did not get into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, but they can be admitted to a far better place.  They are important entrants  into  the Hall of the Shame. This is a place where Bonds, Sosa and Clemens, can feel the remorse, guilt, shame, embarrassment and self loathing about their behavior. It’s a place where smug, arrogant and self-centered people hang out because they’re better, smarter, more manipulative, and more creative than the rest of the world.    In fact, The Hall   is a place where many of my clients had taken up residence until they realized that they could get out.  They recognized that by admitting what had happened, it gave them the freedom to begin to make change.  They were no longer bound by the code of secrecy.  They could make life style changes, become honest, and have integrity. They could change many of their behaviors and work on having a path of doing good and right deeds. They left their Hall of Shame plaque behind and moved onto living a healthier life.  The Hall of Shame is not a place that many people want entrance to, however it’s a place where addictions, infidelity, mental illness,  physical and sexual abuse take you to.  The best part, is that unlike the Hotel California, you can check out and leave it all behind.

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