People love to make fun of the stereotyped therapy party line: “How does that make you feel?” Yes, it’s one of the biggest cliches in the therapy field, however what this question stands for still remains an important piece of psychotherapy.
When people come in for therapy, it’s generally because they aren’t happy with the way they are feeling, in one way or another. Whether it’s about relationships, depression, anxiety, stress, jobs, career, or any other areas of life, the reasons people start therapy is both to help the concrete, external situations, but overall it’s how these situations makes someone feel that matters most. Basically, if you’re feeling good about something, then you probably wouldn’t seek emotional help with it.
It can be difficult to appreciate who we are. There’s so much each of us has to offer to each other, and so much to offer the world. It would be nice if everyone could look at themselves and realize the power they possess within themselves.
Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy. We feel the pain, hurt, and rejection more than we feel the happiness, satisfaction, achievements, general positives, and so on. As a result, we end up with depression, anxiety, addiction, repeated unhealthy relationships, and more.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just let the negatives roll off of our backs, rather than holding onto them to the point of emotional injury? Obviously, it’s not a conscious decision. We don’t desire to hold onto the negatives, but when the hits are painful and repeated, eventually we’re going to get hurt. I imagine it more along the lines of rug burn. At first, it’s not such a big deal, but if you experience it repeatedly, it becomes raw and painful.
How many times have you ended a relationship and continued to be at least somewhat involved with your ex? At first, there is the pain, or the relief, the anger, sadness, etc. But as time goes by, people often end up drifting back together — they start talking, having sex, spending time together, and soon they’re a couple again, even if unofficially.
This is a highly common thread in relationship breakups. People want to believe that when they break up from a relationship that they’ve ended the relationship. But this is generally not so simple. What people refer to as the breakup is really more of an announcement to their partner that they’re going to attempt a commitment to separation from the relationship. An actual breakup that lasts takes much more of an active commitment than people tend to realize.
This year on Christmas day and New Year’s day, try turning off your phones, tablets, and computers for the day. Be in the present with those closest to you and try to disconnect from mental escape routes, such as texts, emails, social media, etc. It may be a challenge at first, but it will help open connection with your loved ones. People tend to feel quite liberated when spending a day apart from technology. See how it feels for you.
Nathan Feiles, LCSW
Relationships in Balance
This is the “part 2″ to the article “10 Signs You May Be in an Unhealthy Relationship“.
It was brought to my attention that in the first article I made points of the things to keep an eye on, however I made few suggestions of how to handle those ten points. So this article is to address how to handle the ten signs of an unhealthy relationship that were listed in the previous article.
Technically, a relationship needs to only be defined by the people who are in the relationship. What is a “good (or healthy) relationship” for two people may be completely different than a “good (or healthy) relationship” for two other people.
However, there is a difference between a relationship having its own shape and character, and a relationship that is either harmful or generally unhealthy for one or both partners. These relationships can be difficult to spot from the inside because one or both partners grow accustomed to the life of the relationship. Denial can also be a factor due to fears of change, failure, or otherwise. So while it may seem like it should be obvious when you’re in an unhealthy relationship, it isn’t always so simple.
Here are some signs of concern within relationships. Note, the presence of one or more of the following signs doesn’t necessarily mean you should end your relationship. These are things to keep an eye on, and if they persist, may need further attention in order to improve the state of your relationship.
As we well know, while the holidays can be a source of joy for many people, the holidays are also a source of sadness for many others. If you’re someone who finds it generally depressing to check your Facebook wall and see all of the images of happiness, then imagine all the television shows and commercials, the decorations in stores and on people’s homes, the grocery stores, and shopping malls all reflecting the enthusiasm of your Facebook wall, with a joint holiday theme. It may sound nice if we’re living in your favorite holiday movies, but not if you’re someone who struggles just to get through the holidays each year without breaking down.
Some may try to act in an overly nice manner in order to avoid being seen with anger or hostility; some may try to speak with perfect grammar and vocabulary, so they aren’t seen as uneducated or immature; some may act more aggressively and tough in order to hide perceived weaknesses, such as caring, empathic, and loving qualities; some may be overly accommodating in order to cover up tendencies toward rigidity; some may try to appear more “businesslike” in an attempt to conceal a less organized and less adult version of themselves; some may show excessive happiness and heightened energy level while trying to prevent people from seeing internal feelings of sadness and emptiness; etc.
Mind-reading. It’s one of the easiest ways to cause ruptures in friendships or in relationships. It’s not the people who try to read minds that cause the problem, it’s the ones who hope or expect that the other person will read their mind that becomes problematic.
This is a very common phenomenon. It usually comes out as, “get a clue”, “you should just know what I want”, “can’t you take a hint?”, etc.
The hope is that someone will do something nice without being asked, or it can be used in the negative — hoping that someone will know when to give space or not do something. But it usually doesn’t turn out as hoped.
We could call it “Life in a Bubble”, or just as appropriately, “Life Inside-Out.” Either way, being in a relationship with someone who deals with a personality disorder is likely to be difficult. This also holds true for relationships with family members and friends who struggle with personality disorders.
While there are several types of personality disorders, the ones that get the most attention these days are Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders (closely linked with these are Antisocial, Paranoid, and Histrionic Personality Disorders).
Reality to a pathological borderline or narcissist can be similar to living life in a bubble, or inside out. Rather seeking stability, there is a subconscious pull to create chaos. Therefore, the person surrounds his/herself in a bubble of chaos. All who enter this bubble will most likely experience the chaos (usually the people closest to the person).