Self-Relationship: 10 Ways to Create a Happy Moment

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

imagesNo, this isn’t meant to be a cure for depression, but we all deserve a good moment. A happy moment can both break a string of negative moods, and it can also pave the way for more positive moments. Here are ten suggestions for putting ourselves in a good mood:

1) Listen to, or watch something funny. Laughter has a way of completely wiping out a negative mood.

2) Compliment people you don’t know. It’s amazing how a bit of genuine positive energy towards others can in turn make us feels good, too.

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Relationships and Social Anxiety: Who Are We Really Hiding From?

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

686178444_1357090354People often prefer to believe that it’s possible to hide pieces of ourselves that we don’t want people to see, often exaggerating certain qualities in order to conceal others:

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.

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Relationship Killer: “You should have known what I want…”

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

frustrated-coupleMind-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.

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Depression: Unrealistic Expectations for Happiness?

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

Depression-in-Women-in-the-MoviesIn working with people who struggle with depression, there has been a noticeable pattern of how people tend to approach the idea of happiness. The fantasized expectation is that a person becomes happy, and then stays this way…forever. If, at any point, the happiness goes away, then it means they’ve become depressed again and have failed in their quest to maintain happiness, and are therefore “not happy.”

Sound reasonable? It isn’t. It’s a perfectionistic belief that is bound to cause defeat — which is what generally happens with fantasies of perfection. Though depression isn’t as simple as a product of a distorted perception of happiness, the mindset that people “become happy” and fully leave sadness behind can make it tougher to fight against depression.

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Personality Disorders: Life In a Bubble

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

borderline-personality-disorder4We 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).

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Why Relationships Break Up

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

304638-3217-2There are many perspectives on why relationships don’t always last, and more than one theory has validity to it. I’m going to present a theory I call the “broken mirror” theory.

Attraction has many levels to it, as well as a deep psychology underlying what draws us to certain people. But one general concept seems to have more influence in attraction than others: the people we are attracted to are mirrors of ourselves and our histories.

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Life Is a Fluid, Not a Solid

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

UnknownWhat does that even mean, anyway…life is a fluid? (Some may prefer to say “liquid”, but I’m sticking with “fluid”).

People often perceive life as a series of idealized milestone events, all of which have general time markers on them. Some learn to drive around age 16-18; at 18 they graduate high school and maybe go to college; at 21 they can order a drink; at 22 enter the “real world” or consider graduate school; maybe late 20′s early 30′s get married; couple years after, have children; then the extended period of work and family life; then children off to college 18 years later (with the repetition of milestones along the way for the children); then retirement around 65-70; then eventually, we’re done.

While obviously there are exceptions to these milestones, it’s striking for how many people this is the somewhat “solid” perception of life. The problem is, life isn’t usually so easily planned out, and when things don’t go according to this type of plan, it can lead to depression, anxiety, hopelessness, lowered self-esteem, and other manifestations of fear and disappointment.

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Hiding Behind Technology To Be Mean

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

Typing-ComputerHave you ever heard anyone use the phrase “hiding behind your computer?” It’s something that’s become increasingly common in the world of technology. People somehow feel safer and stronger to be mean, breakup, or communicate other negative emotions to others when they do it through email, text, IM, etc.

Why is this easier? It may not be the answer you think.

The obvious answer is that it’s less threatening to be mean — or disappointing in other ways — to a person when not face-to-face, or voice-to-voice over the phone. Some will say that they don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings, or face the consequences of irritating or disappointing them — such as seeing their facial expression change, or risk being yelled at, or some other notable and visible reaction.

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Ending Arguments

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

couple-arguingRelationships all have their bumpy moments. Some happen more than others, but relationships that last are able to move forward from these moments without getting caught up in the bumps for lengthy periods of time.

One of the notable issues I’ve witnessed time and again in my practice are opposing (and complementary) processes that often occur between people in relationships. What tends to happen in an argument is that one person wants to immediately resolve the issue, while the other wants to get away from the conflict.

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Grudges: Who Really Suffers?

By Nathan Feiles, LCSW

UnknownHow many times have you been on the receiving end of a grudge? It’s not an easy place to be. Generally when someone has a grudge against you, anger, blame, contempt, and other forms of hostility and aggression are being projected. Often, grudges are done in silence (passive-aggressive). For some people, being on the receiving end can be a stressful position to be in, especially if what people think of them tends to be a worry.  Some people, however, are just able to move on living their lives and let go of people who tend to hold grudges towards them.

While the relationship suffers for everyone who’s involved, what grudge-holders don’t always understand is how much strain on themselves holding a grudge causes. It takes a significant amount of mental and emotional energy to keep the steady stream of hostility and aggression (or passive-aggression) that supports a grudge. This kind of cognitive-emotional process is commonly seen in people who aren’t able to ‘let go’ of, or resolve issues that present in relationships.

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