Attachment Answers

Tell me why the guy chose her over me never said he liked me hurt me bad and now I’m scared

Hello, Thank you for reaching out to Betterhelp. I am so sorry that you are going through this and are going through so much pain. It sounds like he really meant a lot to you, and it is awful when they do not feel the same way. It also sounds like you were not able to fully express how much you cared about him.  So what now? You might expect me to say that there are plenty of fish in the sea, which is true. But we also have to work on your skills as a fisherman. ;) What I would first have you focus on is self-love, self-compassion, and confidence. The truth is you are enough. Always have been. Our mistake is letting other people they have that power over us. They do not. We can either look at as him choosing another person over you OR he made a choice, unfortunate for him, because he missed out on an incredible person, YOU.  Let us get started on self-love. Some of us look at that word and cringe. Like, what does that even mean? It sounds cheesy because others have defined as so. But self-love is important. It means treating ourselves like how we want others to treat us (duh), but you would be surprised at how much we can get used to. But as long as we remember how bright our own lights shine, we won't even focus on the shadows.  Self-love starts with being honest and real with ourselves. It is taking a mirror and looking at the reflection of our soul. We have to understand who we are and things that we can improve.  Physical Changes: A lot of us neglect our physical selves. This can include eating junk food, not drinking enough water, low physical exercise, postponing that haircut, even indulging in a new lipstick. All of these are important because they boost us up. We expect significant others to do nice things for us because we would do the same for them. If this is not true for you,  please continue reading. Let me ask you this, so how can we expect something from others that we are not even doing for ourselves?  Girl, buy yourself flowers and chocolates because YOU CAN. You will get it right every time because YOU KNOW YOU. It hits different, trust. You would be surprised how many of us are not meeting our basic needs. We treat our bodies like crap without a second thought. We passively mistreat ourselves. That is not okay.  We do not prioritize drinking water. That doesn't sound too harmful, right? Well, have you ever seen a plant that has not been watered? They look so sad, they slouch, 0/10 confidence that is for sure! When you drink water, your body will thank you. No one else can do this for you. The exact same thing with eating. Have you ever gone to the movies and ate a whole bucket of popcorn? Have you been able to eat that same bucket of popcorn at any other setting? Why do you think that is? Because we are distracted with the movie. We are not consciously eating. We are somewhere else, in a different galaxy. This can be detrimental because we end up consuming more than we need to. It is like overfilling your gas tank with crappy fuel. How do you expect it to run? Think about long term? We are misinformed to think that we can run like a Prius.  So next time you are consuming a bag of chips, ask yourself, "Why am I eating this? Does it make me happy? Or does it help me escape?". I am not saying eating a bag of chips is bad by any means. I am saying that I want you to be conscious and MINDFUL. Savor it, enjoy it, be intentional.  Now for physical activities. We are accustomed to overworking and sitting our desks for hours on end. Yes, this means you are a hard worker. But your body also needs to move because it is also a hard worker. Our bodies are meant to be used. PLEASE USE IT. Go for a walk, do yoga, stretch, etc. This helps release those feel-good hormones. Who doesn't like to feel a natural high? Emotional Changes: The way we talk to ourselves is indicative of how we let others talk to us. We have that inner voice that can often be an inner critic. Be aware of this. Our inner critic is also developed from people in our lives who have been overly critical, negative, naggy, and all those not-so-fun things. I have had clients identify them as their parents, bullies, siblings, and ex. It is amazing who we let overstay their welcome in our heads.  If this, is you, I want you to close your eyes and imagine that person who is overstaying their welcome in your welcome. Now, you are going to kick them out. Go ahead, open the door, and ask them to leave. Now SHUT THAT DOOR.  Now I want to imagine someone in your life who has inspired you, motivated you, encouraged you. Someone who would come and help you whenever you need it. Do you have that person in mind? Good, now imagine them knocking on your door. Now open the door and let them in.  Remember, you have control over that door. That door represents boundaries. The same door can be used to let someone in and kick someone out. It is powerful. It is your power. See, I told you that you have always been enough.  I am a firm believer in energy. You feel it when you walk into a room, haven't you? You feel it when someone is off, sad, happy, angry all of the above. Every day, you carry energy. It is always your choice on where you will allocate it. Sometimes we waste it on others. You might be commuting to work, and someone cuts you off. You flip them off or you mutter a few words under your breath. That took energy. You can use that same energy and say, "Well that was shitty, but they probably have somewhere to go." Same energy, but you carry it differently.  Your energy can also be used by other people. I am sure you have heard the term "energy vampires" before? We have a lot of those people in our lives. It can be difficult when it is family, friends, co-workers, or even part of your job. What I encourage all of my clients learn are "assertive boundaries".  These are the "I-Statements" that allow you to use your power. You can say, "I appreciate you considering me, but I am going to decline" or "I see that you are upset but I am going to walk away so this does not escalate", or "I would appreciate assistance with this large project."  These "I-Statements" will be applied in your relationships. This is where you express your needs and communicate your emotions.  So this is just a snap shot of what your trusted mental health professional can help you work on. These are the things that will build that strong foundation for future relationships. So I hope that you continue the self-love, self-compassion, and always know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.       
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I deal with sexual guilt?

You raise a great question. What is guilt in your mind? What is your experience of it? Questions to ask...Are my decisions to have sex consistent with my values and life priorities? Is sex a choice or a need? What is the function of sex in your life? When you answer these questions with curiosity, not judgment, you will have a better grasp of the issue as it relates to you. As you process, this question remember you are a woman of value!  What is guilt? Wikipedia says it is feeling responsible or regretful for a perceived offense, real or imaginary. Can be part of the grief reaction. Usually is experienced if your actions are not consistent with your personal values. COMMON CAUSES Guilt can be normal and is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming, and interfere with daily living. Otherwise, it is an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Once you grasp the meaning of guilt you can answer the other questions and determine is sex as you experience it,  a choice or a need. Let's explore the need as a form of avoidance of other issues or of control. Many men and women who suffer from sexual trauma commit to never being in a situation they they are not in control. Is this you? Does the belief you need to be in control feel true to you?  Is your sexual expression a need? An obsession with sexual thoughts, urges, or behaviors that may cause distress or that negatively affects health, job, or relationships. This is a form of dependence and is a function of something else and a form of bondage.  What is the function of your sexual expression? Adventure....... anxiety reduction........control?  Each of your answers indicates of different course of action. I encourage you to talk to a counselor to address your responses unless the function of your sexal expression is adventure........ then as long as you are taking precautions enjoy and realize you are not doing anything wrong. You can work on changing your beliefs that create the feelinbgs of guilt.  You matter and how you value yourself and the live you live,  is the greatest priority in maximizing your potential.  In each action you take and decision you make, once you make a decision the decision makes you. This is why you have to follow the values you desire to live by. Sex can be an integral part of a meaningful relationship or more for fun or sport. What does it mean to you? What is it's function? Adventure? Avoidance? 
(LISW, LCSW, LICDC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I handle my partners emotions while taking care of myself?

Dear Sam,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand the difficulties you and your partner are going through, especially on how they are much controlled by their emotions.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I make friends as a young adult?

I think that forming and cultivating relationships is something that is important to everyone regardless of one's age and/or experience. That also happens to be part of the reason why I think it's so distressing if we feel like we struggle in our efforts to connect with others. Humans are social creatures and I think COVID has really highlighted over the past 18 months just how much we need to feel and be connected with each other. I remember as a young adult how intimidating it was because the whole world was right before me. I recall wrestling to come up with answers to questions for myself and/or others like: What kind of person do I want to be? What kind of life do I want to live? Will I be able to share that life with someone else that appreciates it? Will I be able to get the education/experience that will allow me to launch a meaningful career that also allows me the flexibility to travel or have a family, etc.? Speaking from my personal and professional experiences, my encouragement to you is to take the time to yourself to reflect on how you might answer those questions (or any others you may have) and to write them down in a journal or notebook. If you've already done that or are doing that now, when was the last time you re-read what you wrote? In the past, what has helped you connect better with that close friend at that particular time? What did you focus on then or are you focusing on now that helps you feel better about who you are and what you are doing with your life? Being honest with yourself and finding others that appreciate you sharing your authentic self with them will go a long way in you making friends that you can care more deeply about, and you will eventually find others that share a similar affection towards you. This process isn't easy, but the pursuit of it is worth it. "Birds of a feather flock together", but sometimes we have to migrate a little further to find our "birds". I think you can potentially find good people that you can form good relationships with in any place, but it seems to me like the more successful relationships/friendships are more likely to come out of places that encourage growth and service like work, school, and/or church/service organizations. If you're not already doing anything in any of those areas, it might be worth it to reflect on any potential opportunities that have recently come your way, or that you might be open to in the near future. There are also many books that speak on how to cultivate good friendships so I would look for one that speaks to you and your situation. You'll want to make sure that you are focusing your efforts not just on reading or putting yourself out there socially though. Keep doing your best to be the best friend you can be towards those around you, and sooner or later you will find that others will do that for you as well. Focus intently on things that fill you with hope and help you work harder towards having the relationships you want to have in the future. Nothing works until you do and if you're noticing that you're waiting around for someone to come be a friend to you then you'll find it a harder, more time consuming process than if you are actively seeking out others to whom you could be a good friend. I can't remember who said it, but a quote comes to mind, "You'll make more friends trying to be a good one than you will waiting for a good friend to come around". I wish you the best in your endeavors to be a good friend to others, and I hope you find the friends you're looking for.
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 10/18/2021

how to have control over my feelings

Dear Ellie,   Thank you for your message and I am sorry to hear what you have experienced in the past year in your relationships. Thank you for your courage in sharing with me your pain.   “If you are brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~Paul Coehlo   Closure is something everyone would like. We would like validation and understanding after a relationship has ended.   We can accept that someone doesn’t want to be with us. We can accept that the relationship has changed or that they want something else. What we can’t accept is our partner’s inability to communicate that fact effectively and tell us what went wrong.   Unfortunately, sometimes your partner does not have this same need, or they may have the same need but they’re better at hiding it and pretending they don’t. They would rather just push you, and their feelings, away.   In my experience, people can’t always be honest with you because they can’t be honest with themselves. It isn’t about you. We always want it to be about us and our flaws and failures, but it isn’t.   Many people don’t know how to deal with the emotions that come with a breakup, so they prefer to avoid their feelings altogether, and this is the most likely reason they won’t talk to you. It has nothing to do with you or the relationship or something you did wrong or that you weren’t enough.   I’ve dealt with trying to get closure a few times, and it’s awful. No one likes to be ignored, and no one likes to not get answers to their questions. But, what you have to learn is that any answer you get won’t change anything, and it may or may not be the truth anyway.   I can only control myself and my actions and how I deal with the ending of another relationship that I thought could mean something.   If people want to be in your life they make an effort. If they don’t, then you are better off without them.   If you are struggling with getting closure with an ex, ask yourself why you want to talk to them. Is it to get them back? Is it to get them to validate the relationship? Is it to try to get some type of reaction, or any type of reaction?    If you are making up reasons why you need to talk to them, then perhaps you need to get closure from yourself. If they won’t talk to you, reaching out will likely cause you more pain and frustration. So instead, I suggest the following:   1. Write a letter.   Write one every day if you need to. Don’t send it; just get the feelings out there. You can write them here if you would like. :)   2. Write out reasons why they may be avoiding you that have nothing to do with you.   We all create explanations in our heads as to why our ex won’t talk to us. We imagine they think bad things about us, they don’t want us, that we weren’t enough, or that everything was our fault. Thoughts in your head are just your interpretation of what happened, and they are usually incorrect.   What if what they are really thinking is this? Do you think they are going to tell you?   I’m afraid to be open and be hurt again. I don’t think I can give this person what they need. Being vulnerable is too scary. He/she is too good for me. My abandonment issues have triggered my unconscious need to be alone.   3. Unless this was your first love, remember that you loved before and you got over it.   You control whether you move on. And you can decide if you want to wallow in self-pity and misery, or pick yourself up off the floor and be the spectacular, amazing person you are and get out there and show yourself to the world.   4. Take your feelings and write them on little pieces of paper.   “I am hurt.” “I am angry.” “I am sad.” “I am devastated.” “I am heartbroken.” “I feel rejected.”   Get a fireproof bowl and fill it with some sand. Put all the little pieces of paper in the bowl and light them on fire. Watch the words burn and with them, let the feelings go.   5. Be alone.   Be still. Cry and be sad over the loss. Accept that what once was, is no longer, and what you thought would be will never be. If it’s meant to be in the future, it will find a way to work itself out. Maybe now is just not the time.   6. Live in abundance.   They are not the only person in the world. There are literally millions of single people in the world. If you had love before, you will have it again. Stop thinking that you’ll never find someone else so wonderful. If they were so wonderful they would still be with you. They aren’t. They’re gone.   What is it you are really hoping to hear? Do you think most people can admit their fears? Of course we all would like our partner to care enough to tell us the truth no matter how much it hurts.   There are a million reasons that relationships don’t work and tons of reasons why your ex won’t talk to you. Don’t take on their issues and make them your own. Realize that we all have insecurities, and not all of us can understand how they impact us.   I’m sure you would love for your ex to say, “You are truly amazing and wonderful, but I don’t think we are a match.” The reason most won’t say this is that they don’t want you to come back at them with all sorts of reasons why you are a match, so they’d rather avoid the topic altogether.   For whatever reason, your ex has chosen to cease all communication with you. The best thing you can do is take it as a sign from the universe that it’s time to move on, and that any person worthy of being your partner would never leave you in the lurch like that.   Remember this saying, “If not this, something better.” These words sound stupid and irritating when your relationship has just ended, but they are true for a reason.   We don’t’ always get what we want, but we get what we need. Change is inevitable. Change is good. If it was meant to be, it would have been, and if it is meant to be, it will be.   Unfortunately, life does not always go along with our pre-conceived notions of how things should be, and people aren’t always what we want and need them to be. Life isn’t always wrapped up in a pretty package with a bow on top.   Sometimes you get closure and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the lack of closure is the very lesson that you needed to learn. Maybe you needed to learn to validate yourself and accept yourself.   Consider seeing this person as a gift sent to you. They were brought to you as a reflection of yourself. Thank them for being a part of your journey and send them on their way in your mind.   Lastly, if you are waiting for your ex to give you closure, it might be time to dig deep inside and give it to yourself.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

how can I break this obsession?

Dear Lavieenrose,   Thank you for your message and I am sorry to hear about your break up. Thank you for your courage in sharing with me your pain.   “If you are brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~Paul Coehlo   Closure is something everyone would like. We would like validation and understanding after a relationship has ended.   We can accept that someone doesn’t want to be with us. We can accept that the relationship has changed or that they want something else. What we can’t accept is our partner’s inability to communicate that fact effectively and tell us what went wrong.   Unfortunately, sometimes your partner does not have this same need, or they may have the same need but they’re better at hiding it and pretending they don’t. They would rather just push you, and their feelings, away.   In my experience, people can’t always be honest with you because they can’t be honest with themselves. It isn’t about you. We always want it to be about us and our flaws and failures, but it isn’t.   Many people don’t know how to deal with the emotions that come with a breakup, so they prefer to avoid their feelings altogether, and this is the most likely reason they won’t talk to you. It has nothing to do with you or the relationship or something you did wrong or that you weren’t enough.   I’ve dealt with trying to get closure a few times, and it’s awful. No one likes to be ignored, and no one likes to not get answers to their questions. But, what you have to learn is that any answer you get won’t change anything, and it may or may not be the truth anyway.   I can only control myself and my actions and how I deal with the ending of another relationship that I thought could mean something.   If people want to be in your life they make an effort. If they don’t, then you are better off without them.   If you are struggling with getting closure with an ex, ask yourself why you want to talk to them. Is it to get them back? Is it to get them to validate the relationship? Is it to try to get some type of reaction, or any type of reaction?    If you are making up reasons why you need to talk to them, then perhaps you need to get closure from yourself. If they won’t talk to you, reaching out will likely cause you more pain and frustration. So instead, I suggest the following:   1. Write a letter.   Write one every day if you need to. Don’t send it; just get the feelings out there. You can write them here if you would like. :)   2. Write out reasons why they may be avoiding you that have nothing to do with you.   We all create explanations in our heads as to why our ex won’t talk to us. We imagine they think bad things about us, they don’t want us, that we weren’t enough, or that everything was our fault. Thoughts in your head are just your interpretation of what happened, and they are usually incorrect.   What if what they are really thinking is this? Do you think they are going to tell you?   I’m afraid to be open and be hurt again. I don’t think I can give this person what they need. Being vulnerable is too scary. He/she is too good for me. My abandonment issues have triggered my unconscious need to be alone.   3. Unless this was your first love, remember that you loved before and you got over it.   You control whether you move on. And you can decide if you want to wallow in self-pity and misery, or pick yourself up off the floor and be the spectacular, amazing person you are and get out there and show yourself to the world.   4. Take your feelings and write them on little pieces of paper.   “I am hurt.” “I am angry.” “I am sad.” “I am devastated.” “I am heartbroken.” “I feel rejected.”   Get a fireproof bowl and fill it with some sand. Put all the little pieces of paper in the bowl and light them on fire. Watch the words burn and with them, let the feelings go.   5. Be alone.   Be still. Cry and be sad over the loss. Accept that what once was, is no longer, and what you thought would be will never be. If it’s meant to be in the future, it will find a way to work itself out. Maybe now is just not the time.   6. Live in abundance.   They are not the only person in the world. There are literally millions of single people in the world. If you had love before, you will have it again. Stop thinking that you’ll never find someone else so wonderful. If they were so wonderful they would still be with you. They aren’t. They’re gone.   What is it you are really hoping to hear? Do you think most people can admit their fears? Of course we all would like our partner to care enough to tell us the truth no matter how much it hurts.   There are a million reasons that relationships don’t work and tons of reasons why your ex won’t talk to you. Don’t take on their issues and make them your own. Realize that we all have insecurities, and not all of us can understand how they impact us.   I’m sure you would love for your ex to say, “You are truly amazing and wonderful, but I don’t think we are a match.” The reason most won’t say this is that they don’t want you to come back at them with all sorts of reasons why you are a match, so they’d rather avoid the topic altogether.   For whatever reason, your ex has chosen to cease all communication with you. The best thing you can do is take it as a sign from the universe that it’s time to move on, and that any person worthy of being your partner would never leave you in the lurch like that.   Remember this saying, “If not this, something better.” These words sound stupid and irritating when your relationship has just ended, but they are true for a reason.   We don’t’ always get what we want, but we get what we need. Change is inevitable. Change is good. If it was meant to be, it would have been, and if it is meant to be, it will be.   Unfortunately, life does not always go along with our pre-conceived notions of how things should be, and people aren’t always what we want and need them to be. Life isn’t always wrapped up in a pretty package with a bow on top.   Sometimes you get closure and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the lack of closure is the very lesson that you needed to learn. Maybe you needed to learn to validate yourself and accept yourself.   Consider seeing this person as a gift sent to you. They were brought to you as a reflection of yourself. Thank them for being a part of your journey and send them on their way in your mind.   Lastly, if you are waiting for your ex to give you closure, it might be time to dig deep inside and give it to yourself.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I end a toxic relationship?

It sounds like you started dating your current guy fairly quickly after your divorce.  Sometimes relationships that are started so close to the end of a previous relationship are not all that we expect or want them to be.  Sometimes we have to take a little more time to get to know a person in a relationship sort of way.  We may meet someone and get to know them as a friend or an acquaintance and realize that they are completely different from what we initially thought once we begin a relationship with that person.  That sort of thing can happen to the best of us.  It is a very common occurrence, so please don't feel like I am coming down on you about that.  Many of us have been in that situation before because it is very easy to get into it.  Especially when we are vulnerable after just recently ending another situation. Right now, though, it sounds like you are meeting the real person.  Having an addiction can be difficult to deal with, but having two different addictions can be doubly difficult to manage.  And it can be just as difficult for the partner of the person with the addiction.  Feeling as though you have to beg for attention is not a great feeling, and I agree that you deserve better than that.  I would wonder why you don't want to break up with him after mentioning that you feel like you have to beg him for attention, you are crying multiple times each week behind his actions, and you know he is not the type of guy you want to be with. Sometimes we can fear being alone and will settle for less than what we deserve because of it.  That is not always a good idea though.  This could lead to you resenting him later on down the line because you know that he is not what you want, just like you know that you deserve better than what you are getting.  One thing you can do would be to make a list of the pros and cons of being with this guy.  List all the ways that being with him is beneficial to you and your emotional health.  Then list all the ways that being with him is detrimental to your overall well-being.  Look at which list holds more weight, and do what is best for you.
(LICSW, PIP)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do you cope or what can I do when I’m feeling like an emotional burden to everyone around me.

Hello Lily,   Thank you so much for the question! Relationships can be very challenging, to say the least, and factoring in untreated mental illness can create even more challenges but thankfully nothing cannot be resolved or overcome.   One of the things I always inform my clients of is that our parents are our first teachers and teach us ultimately how to relate to the rest of the world. As a child, we model our parents’ behavior on a conscious and subconscious level then go out into the world and we further shape our personalities and the like. Self-reflection post-relationship is key as you will want to look at your patterns of dating as far as the type of person you find yourself gravitating towards and perhaps what red-flag behavior you might have missed along the way.   I would strongly recommend you take time out for yourself so you can reflect on what you want for yourself, out of life, and what you can do to reconnect with yourself. I have a caretaker personality by nature and find myself putting others first and myself last, then you may be suffering from burnout fatigue. One way to remedy this is through acts of self-care/attention/focus. After a break-up, time is needed to refresh, recharge and it would be a good idea to take a hiatus/ social media holiday to take full time for yourself to allow closure to manifest.   When you are spending time with your friends you want to be mindful of how much and how long you are discussing your ex as friends may begin to experience burnout from hearing conversations about your ex. I would encourage you to limit the time and conversations about your ex and then focus on cultivating and nurturing the friendships you have.    If you are going to be in regular communication with your ex, you may not be able to have a sense of closure but will absolutely need to set boundaries moving forward and holding them accountable for their actions.    Lastly, it is very nice of you to help your ex sort out his mental health and the like and that speaks to your values and character. Helping others is a wonderful thing to do and one of the best ways to help someone is by encouraging self-sufficiency so they can learn to empower themselves.   I wish you well!
(B.S., M.S., &, PsyD., Graduand, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I stop focusing on the people who reject me?

You have great insight! I hope you are able to make sense of your behavior with my response. People who are not interested in you will invoke that reaction: the need to have that person's attention. It triggers what you experienced in childhood, but it manifests into this preoccupied behavior and sense of anxiety as an adult. You become addicted to what you did not have in childhood in seeking this with this person or any avoidant person. Almost every negative emotion you experience is the direct outcome of an attachment. I am wondering if there is a fantasy that you have about this person? You built an attachment with someone who does not know you, yet, they can stir you into feeling a certain way. Usually, when you fantasize about someone, you build a false belief about that person and become attached. What can you do? Well, if you are holding on to a false belief, namely, the belief that without this particular person in your life, you will not be happy. It requires you to stay present and drop the false belief. You do not need this attachment, nor can you go back in time to fix it, but you can change your perception. The way you perceive this person is not realistic. You need to reflect and think, what is this false belief? Why am I clinging to this person? You will see these are barriers that will keep you unhappy. You no longer need to feel the way you did in the past or make sense of it now. The way to win the battle of attachments is to drop them, they only hold you back, since it draws you back into childhood unmeet needs. You will need to see the bigger picture and you will encounter resistance from your heart, but once you see a false belief, the attachment losses its force. Make your choice: do you want your attachment or your freedom and happiness? A way to think about, "I am not attached to you at all. I have merely cheated myself into the belief that without you, I will not be happy". 
Answered on 10/18/2021

Can I be strong enough to help my boyfriend confront his demons after he’s cheated on me?

Hi There,    Thank you for sharing a very profound question, which will be helpful to others.  I want to acknowledge that loving and providing support to someone even after they have hurt you does not mean you are stupid; it means they are essential to you and you care.   Often, when we are confronted with a break in the relationship, such as infidelity, the complexities of our emotions arise. We do not give ourselves mercy and grace to navigate the challenges that have occurred.  So, no, you are not stupid.  But I do think you have answered this question for yourself.  You shared that you are navigating anxiety, which has debilitating effects, as well as experiencing self-doubt, and a lack of confidence.  There appears to be a lot of confusion surrounding you. When there is this level of internal chaos after a grievance such as infidelity, I question to what extent you could be helpful to him without being harmful to yourself? I think the best thing for you to do going forward is to spend time on reflection and healing for yourself while showing him grace.  If you are battling anxiety, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence, none of the decisions you will make will be sound, nor will you be sure of them; it may only lead to further confusion and additional harm.  I am going to use the airplane analogy here.  Every plane ride before take-off consists of a stewardess providing instruction in case of an emergency.  The instructions consist of when your oxygen mask deploy for you to put your mask on first before assisting anyone else with their mask.  The reason behind this is that if you experience a significant loss of oxygen to your body, it will result in hypoxia.  Hypoxia can cause confusion, cough, nausea, rapid breathing, changes in skin color, and headaches.  If oxygen deficiency continues over a long enough time, it can cause unconsciousness, permanent brain damage, or even death.  It appears that perhaps with the circumstances, you will have to put on your oxygen mask first before attempting to put an oxygen mask on your boyfriend.  Focus on your stabilization and healing while recommending him to do the same thing.  For now, this would be the best option for you moving forward.  Sending grace and compassion your way. 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do I stand up to people who hurt me and still love myself?

This is such a great question and one that is so critical for social and relational development. I see that you are able to recognize when people aren't treating you in a way that fosters a healthy connection with them and that is actually the 1st step: recognizing when your expectations arent being met. That is so critical.  I wonder if the difficulty with "putting people in their place" is due to your thoughts about where they will go? Validation seeking typically is caused by a lack of confidence that the people that you care about will still care about you enough to stay in your life after a situation of potential conflict. That need to have a relationship is normal because we ALL need love and acceptance. It becomes harmful when that need puts us in the position to be harmed or otherwise disrespected. Healthy relationships are the ones that heal us and teach us, but that also respect and accept us; whether we completely agree or not.  I might also take a look at how you were raised. Only because, there can be many indicators there to show us how this need took its shape. What experiences did you have? How were you parented? What did those relationships look like? What were your early dating experiences? All of these answers can help shape the path that causes this thinking that you are experiencing now to take its current form.  Lastly, determine for yourself what you want and need in a friendship. What does that need to look like for you to feel healthy, supported, and cared for? It may be difficult to hold someone accountable to a standard that you haven't even created for yourself. Once you are able to determine what you need that to look like, you can lovingly redirect those in your life that have meaning so that you advocate for yourself but also preserve the integrity of those relationships that mean so much to you to begin with. I hope that makes sense.  For some of these things, I recommend actually speaking to a counselor in order to uncover and resolve any of the long-standing issues that may have come from your past. Then you will be much more equipped to work through the challenges that come with developing a healthy mindset to go into these relationships. Good luck to you moving forward. Take care! 😊
(MAMFT, LPC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Why do I let people take advantage of me

This is such a great question and I want to support the fact that you have identified both the behavior in your friend AND the behavior pattern from your family. It is really important to have that insight to be able to move away from people who behave this way.  In psychology, we know that people who want to please others struggle to find happiness. As a people pleaser, you are not able to find contentment because all of your energy, time, and resources are actually flowing out to others (because you often go out of your way to please someone, even when you know they are using you). That means that when it comes time for you to take care of yourself - give yourself your valuable time, focus on what you need and want, asking for help from a trusted person, or setting clear boundaries so you are not pulled into interactions with someone who uses you - you do not actually have any energy or time or resources left. You already gave them away to someone else.  Generally, a person who wants to please others, who tries hard to make others happy, is a person who is carrying unresolved insecurities and low self-esteem. It also sounds like in your case (and this is very common) that you were brought up in a family where you were taught to be in a role where you were expected to try and please others. So I imagine when you interact with your friend, it feels like a situation that is both upsetting and familiar, and that sometimes the amount of energy it takes to resist that friend feels overwhelming, so settling back into an old pattern can feel like the only possible option. And sometimes, saying no feels like too much because saying yes has become a habit, especially in relationships with this already established pattern.  Boundaries are a really important part of being able to move away from these behaviors and these types of relationships, and I would suggest work with a professional to improve your boundaries. However, there are a few suggestions I will put here that you can start to use to build those boundaries (and your comfort with boundaries) now in your day-to-day life.  One of the best ways to address this struggle to set those boundaries is to ease into a place where saying "no" becomes much more your "habit" instead of "yes". There are some great techniques that you can use to stop or end a conversation with this friend, to buy you some time to think things through, and to work yourself toward being more comfortable with saying no to your friend or to anyone else.   One option is to choose a new default answer. This means that you do not say either yes or no, but you instead buy yourself time and space to think. It can be "let me get back to you" or "I will think about it". This then gives you the chance to prepare yourself to say no, and to do it on your own terms, or to answer yes, but to do so because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. This also helps you to identify the poor boundaries the other person has. If you give an answer "I will get back to you" and they respond by pushing you, you know that they are not respecting that boundary you just set with your answer. It can help you to remind yourself that their behaviors are unhealthy and perhaps even toxic for you.  One other way to start adapting to this now on your own is to write down your goals. So the idea behind this action is that when you know what you do want in life (the kinds of friends, the type of work, the day to day interactions, the opportunities you are looking for, the type of social engagements and relationships you want to have) you are better able to stay focused on those things. If you are focused on what you want, it begins to become easier to say no to anything that falls outside of what you want. It sounds like right now you know you do not want this person to be in your life, but that perhaps you do not know what you do want. It is often easier to know that something is not working or to know that we are not where we want to be or do not have the relationships we want. However, it is important to actually put down (on paper or in our phone notes!) what it is we do want. When those things we do want are clear and we can return to that list over and over again, we can keep ourselves connected to what we want throughout our day. This means that when someone toxic or someone who does not respect our boundaries tries to get us to do something we do not want to do, we can keep focusing on how what they want does not help us get to what we want. It does not help us meet our goals and it does not help us to feel safe, healthy, or cared for.  These are only two of many adaptations you can make to start trying to remove this person from your life or re-establishing healthy boundaries if that person makes the choice to respect them. Additional boundary work and some self-esteem work would be advisable and I think you can find that through a mental health professional or a support group that specializes in boundaries and healthy relationships.  I hope this helps you to be able to start feeling more comfortable saying no and focusing more on yourself and what you need so that you can find healthier relationships in your life with people who respect the boundaries you set and care for you as you deserve to be cared for.        
Answered on 10/18/2021

Am I an unforgiving person?

Dear Moringa,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me the struggles you're experiencing in your relationship, resulting in not being able to trust.   Trust is a word we hear a lot. Recently I heard a story on the radio about investment fraud In which one of the victims of the fraud said, "I'll never trust anyone again." A strong statement about trust and one worth exploring.   What is trust anyway? The definitions of trust indicate that trust in another person imposes upon him a duty of care that asks him to be someone we can rely upon to do what we have asked of him. It seems straightforward to understand when we read it, but what happens when we examine the way trust works? Trust requires a relationship between two people, and all relationships are complex.   As we experience relationships, we come to realize that in a relationship, two people never fully know one another or can expect that the other person will do exactly what we want to have done. This is particularly true if we ourselves are not certain what we want and need or how to ask for it.   Where do we learn to know what to expect of our relationships? To know how to relate to another person we start with knowing the only person we can really know, ourselves. If we want to trust someone else, we begin with first learning who we are, what we want, and what we know about ourselves as we grow and change. We explore our strengths, boundaries, and limitations. Knowing who we are and what we are capable of, we learn how to trust ourselves.   One of the key approaches in our work here is to help folks who are sensitive to go from feeling vulnerable in their sensitivity to feeling powerful in their sensitivity. We may not be able to change how easily we feel sensitive about things due to our past experiences and traumas, however, we can continue to practice making choices that would empower ourselves even when we feel sensitive.   When we are able to create this "inner peace" within us and feel grounded, we will see ourselves being more capable to take care of others, because we have taken care of ourselves. We'll go through this process together. :)   One of the keys to making that transition is to start feeling safe & comfortable in your body and to create that safety for yourself wherever you go.   Situations that can trigger a feeling of unsafety   When we are sensitive, many situations can trigger a feeling of unsafety. For example, we can feel unsafe when:   We feel judged and/or rejected   Our finances are unstable   We feel a conflict between people (even when it’s not about us)   A situation reminds you of an earlier situation that felt unpleasant or unsafe   We get ‘triggered’ and our old wounds/hurts to come to the surface   We feel threatened by our surroundings/environments that remind us of our past   You can even run your life in a default setting of feeling ‘unsafe’ just because of all the energies you feel around you.   The result is that you leave your grounding and that you feel unstable, worried, uncomfortable, and out of balance. You move from your heart back into your head.   How can we feel safer?   Feeling safe is partly an inside job and partly an outside job. If you are in an environment that just isn’t right for you, where you don’t fit in and don’t feel a connection with people, it will be hard to feel safe and comfortable there.   This is not as easy as it looks.   In the context of our everyday activities and familiar circumstances, we may assume we have done this and already know ourselves. We may apply labels to ourselves and say we are “fierce” or “shy” or “lazy”, but labels do not invite knowing. They make categories. Do we actually know ourselves? Unfortunately not much may challenge our assumptions about ourselves until a major shift in our lives comes along. Then in the face of a significant change, we may understand we have not looked as closely as we might.   If the change is physical, we may begin to look deeply at our physical patterns of expression for the first time. We may have been unconscious of the ways in which our movement patterns, strengths, and weaknesses are unique. Now we ask: How do I get things done? What are my strengths and limitations? How do my strengths work with my unique movement patterns? How will I negotiate around my limitations?   If we don't know what to expect of ourselves, it can be very hard to trust the people helping us. After a sudden change in our physical abilities, we may feel deeply invaded. We all have boundaries - places where we feel vulnerable and want to keep ourselves separate from someone else. Where are our boundaries, and how do we protect ourselves if we cannot walk away? This is vital to discover at a time when we may need assistance in ways we have never needed it before and would prefer not to admit this need.   If we have a financial problem we may look at the decisions that led to the problem and judge ourselves harshly for making a mistake - not remembering that hindsight is 20/20. We may not realize that there were things we assumed and didn’t challenge or examine or learn that we had better learn now. Being critical of ourselves, we may be reluctant to look at our actions clearly and learn from them.   Building trust in ourselves requires us first to look closely at ourselves, being honest about what we discover. Then we must practice compassion for and acceptance of the person we are discovering ourselves to be. Being willing to know is not the same as harshly judging. Harsh judgments close us off to ourselves. Compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance open us up and allow us to learn.   If we know and accept our limitations without fighting that knowledge, we can learn to communicate what we know and don't know about what we can and cannot do. We come to understand that everybody has limitations. We see that we and our relationships are always transforming - never remaining static – giving us endless opportunities to keep on learning.   Building a relationship with another person is done a step at a time as we explore the ways we can interact and care for one another. When we know ourselves, we do not expect that simply because someone is an expert, she knows what is best for us. She will know many things we do not know and will have much to teach us, but she doesn’t know us. We are the only ones who can have that specialized knowledge. In a relationship, each person can regularly communicate what he knows to the other and both can learn where to trust the other. Perhaps that also goes with building relationships with ourselves and our inner being?   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I earn my trust in people back?

Dear Eru,   Thank you for your message.   Like what you've said, what you have witnessed and experienced in the past most likely conditioned you to avoid all emotions and to disassociate from those situations so that you could function and survive, by doing so perhaps we have learned to suppress most if not all unpleasant emotions. We have done the opposite from what we should be doing, to understand and accept all emotions without judgment. Yet you're not the one to be blamed for that, your brain did what she thought was the right thing to do to keep you alive, by protecting you from these unpleasant emotions because she thought they would harm you.   After all, we are all humans, and sometimes I say to myself that since I'm a human I might as well learn to live as a human, which means not to force myself against my feelings, rather learn to float and accept all of the experiences as I go through in life.   According to recent psychological researches, one of the main causes of many psychological problems is the habit of emotional avoidance. This may seem surprising because the attempt to avoid negative emotions appears to be a reasonable thing. After all, negative emotions don't feel good, and they are often linked in our minds to negative events that we want to avoid or forget. Moreover, we are all familiar with the momentary relief that avoidance can provide. If the thought of speaking up upsets me, then I can make myself feel better by deciding not to speak. Indeed, avoidance is an effective solution in the short term. Long term, however, it becomes a bigger problem than whatever was being avoided in the first place. And life, if you're at all lucky, is a long-term proposition.   Avoiding a negative emotion buys you short-term gain at the price of long-term pain. When we avoid the short-term discomfort of negative emotion, we resemble the person who under stress decides to drink. It ‘works,' and the next day, when bad feelings come, he drinks again. So far so good, short-term. In the long run, however, that person will develop a bigger problem (addiction), in addition to the unresolved issues he had avoided by drinking.   However, there are several reasons why emotional avoidance could be harmful.   First, as we all know and experience, important goals, and pursuits in your life may inherently involve going through some challenging times and situations, and an unwillingness to ‘pay the toll' for the trip may narrow your life horizons needlessly. Over time, avoidance becomes a prison, because after a while you begin to feel the need to avoid many situations, people, experiences, and places that may bring the negative emotion to mind, stir it, or remind you of it. And the more you avoid, the weaker you feel, the more your coping skills diminish, and the less of life you can experience.   Meanwhile, attempts at avoiding negative emotions are usually futile. Telling yourself that a certain emotion is intolerable or dangerous traps you in constant vigilance regarding the very thing you're trying to avoid. You become hyper-vigilant about any possibility of this feeling arising. The fear of the impending negative experience becomes a negative experience in itself.   Plus, emotional avoidance often involves denying the truth--not a good foundation for a healthy life. It's like someone who looks out the window, sees snow falling, and then tells himself: "it can't be snowing." Clearly, it can, and it is. Granted, you may not like snow. But denying the fact that it's snowing is unlikely to solve the problems posed by snow.   Also, avoidance lengthens the period of anticipation, and anticipatory anxiety is usually a much more noxious condition than the actual situation being anticipated. This is mainly because when you anticipate, your imagination is unbounded by actual situational demands. You can go anywhere in your head regarding something that hasn't happened yet, and so you'll often go wild with negative, catastrophic scenarios. In contrast, once actually in the feared situation, your mind becomes bounded by the parameters of what is happening around you. And what is actually happening is usually less than spectacular or catastrophic. Real catastrophes are, after all, really rare. Reality generates many fewer extreme situations than the unbounded imagination.   Now, before we discuss a more healthy way to handle negative emotions, we need to understand the function of emotions in general. You can think of your emotions as a source of information. Your emotions tell you something about what's going on with you and around you. Emotions, however, are not the only source of information available to you. You also have your rational thoughts, your stored knowledge, and experience, your values, and your goals. Information provided by emotions needs to be appraised and evaluated in light of these other sources in order for you to decide how to behave in the situation.   Regardless of our emotions, we always have choices of action. Our decision will depend on synthesizing knowledge from many sources. For example, if you and your child are approached by a wild dog while on a nature hike, you may feel fear, and with it a desire to flee, but decide to stay and fight the dog to protect your child. In this case, your values ("I have a duty to protect my child") dictated that you ‘disobey' your fear. Emotions, when viewed as part of a spectrum of available sources of information, are a bit like the weather report. They are important to know, consider, and understand, but they are not necessarily the overriding factor in your life plans.    When the weather is bad (not to your liking), it doesn't mean you have to deny it, focus all your attention on it, or cancel your plans because of it. What you need to do is accept the weather and adjust your plans accordingly. If my goal today is to pick my son up from daycare at 4:00, and it's suddenly snowing, and I don't like snow, I will not waste my energy raging at the sky, nor will I leave my son stranded. I will put on a parka, leave home 15 minutes earlier and drive carefully to get him.   As a human being, we are going to have all kinds of emotions, just like there are all kinds of weather. These emotions are, more than anything else, just a part of being a living human being. By accepting your emotional life, we are affirming our full humanity. Emotional acceptance is thus a far better strategy than avoidance.   Emotional acceptance refers to the willingness and ability to accept and experience the negative emotion, to acknowledge and absorb it. Acceptance offers several advantages. First, by accepting your emotions, you are accepting the truth of your situation (it is snowing). This acceptance means that you don't have to spend your energy pushing the emotion away. Instead, once the emotion is acknowledged, you can then turn to pursue the behaviors that are aligned with your goals and values.   Second, when you accept the emotion, you are giving yourself a chance to learn about it, become familiar with it, become skilled in its management, and integrate it into your life. Avoidance doesn't teach you that, because you can't learn to do something by not doing it.   Third, acceptance is implicitly akin to saying, "This is not that bad." Which is the truth--negative emotions may not be fun, but they won't kill you; experiencing them as they are--annoying but not dangerous--is eventually much less of a drag than the ongoing (failing) attempt to avoid them.   Finally, when you accept a negative emotion, it tends to lose its destructive power. This is surprising and counterintuitive to many people, but if you think about it for a while, you will see the logic of this approach.    Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How can I work on bettering myself and finding my own worth and being more secure with who I am.

Hey BotTyler. You are really having a rough time with things. There are two main themes showing up here. One is self-worth as you indicated and the other is self-sabotage. I define self-worth as knowing your value as a person and believing you are worthwhile and deserving. It's about believing that you are good enough without doing, having, or proving anything. This is an inside job, it starts with practicing kind self-talk (the way you talk to yourself about yourself). On the other hand, self-sabotage can be summed up with the phrase, "There is comfort in the chaos." This is the case because the chaos is familiar and therefore comfortable. I imagine you are finding yourself in a relationship situation that may be different from what you may have generally experienced and/or what you may have learned about relationships. The unfamiliar is anxiety-provoking. Thus, throwing a wrench in the works because we are used to dealing with the drama. The tape recording on a repeat of the negative self-talk about your worth influences the situation as well. We develop a specific set of habits, or coping skills, to cope with a specific set of circumstances. The problem here is engaging in a specific set of habits that don't work in a different situation, in this situation. Learning healthy coping skills that are relevant to this particular situation can help to manage feelings and improve communication. Another influence in this situation is fear of abandonment/rejection. We want connection and are fearful of it at the same time. Often some of the most painful hurt we experience happen in the context of a relationship (or several). Over time with repetitive hurts, we come to learn that relationships aren't safe. If you're feeling anxious (from old habits and a new situation), are fearful of being hurt (rejection/abandonment), and then self-sabotage (if I push the other person away first, then they can't push me away). This appears to be a pattern that frequently plays itself out based on the information you provided. Relationships can be scary, yes. But, you get to choose who you take an emotional risk with, not everybody is deserving of your vulnerability. The good news is that you don't have to stay stuck in these patterns. You can learn different ways of navigating relationships. I hope this was both helpful and insightful for you.
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 10/18/2021

Am l overly attached to people or there's something wrong with me? How can I fix my broken soul

Hello!  I am glad that you reached out. I am sorry to hear that you have been feeling this way. You would benefit from working on your confidence and self-worth. Therapy can be an effective treatment for a host of mental and emotional problems, including relationship problems and building your self-worth! Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person can often make you feel better. It can be very healing, in and of itself, to voice your worries or talk about something that’s weighing on your mind. And it feels good to be listened to—to know that someone else cares about you and wants to help. While it can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members, sometimes you need help that the people around you aren’t able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a therapist or counselor can help. While the support of friends and family is important, therapy is different. Therapists are professionally-trained listeners who can help you get to the root of your problems, overcome emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health problem to benefit from therapy. Many people in therapy seek help for everyday concerns: relationship problems, job stress, or self-doubt, for example. Others turn to therapy during difficult times, such as divorce. But in order to reap its benefits, it’s important to choose the right therapist—someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience to help you make changes for the better in your life. A good therapist helps you become stronger and more self-aware. Finding the right therapist will probably take some time and work, but it’s worth the effort. The connection you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust—someone you feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and intimate secrets, someone who will be a partner in your recovery. Therapy won’t be effective unless you have this bond, so take some time in the beginning to find the right person. It’s okay to ask questions when interviewing potential therapists. The good thing with Betterhelp is that you have many qualified therapists to choose from. As you start to resolve your past and current issues you are more likely to have control over your thoughts, increased self-worth, and be on a path to a healthier future and in healthier relationships!  I wish you the best of luck moving forward!
Answered on 10/18/2021

My husband leave me . and I could not accept this . I love him so much . he said I have anger issues

First, have you tried couple therapy? If you asked your husband, would he do couple counseling with you? Has he already moved on? If he has left you and is not interested in communicating with you anymore, there is little you can do. It is not healthy to force people into anything. If you are meant to be together, he will come back. Life has a way to work out that way. But there is no timetable for if or when. Meanwhile, you are in a transition in your life. Transitions can bring all sorts of stress: abandonment, rejection, fear of the future, figuring out what you really want if you have to care for yourself and your pregnancy, etc So, in the meantime, seek your own therapy. You will have to learn to live independently for some time. You will have to learn to overcome your anger issues if your husband was right about that. You may have grief from relationship loss to overcome, you may have self-worth or self-esteem concerns. You will need a lot of support from family and friends. If you need a place to stay, do you have a family member or a friend that can give you shelter temporarily? You will have to look at your resources (financial, and relationships) to figure out what to do next and make a budget. You may need help from a social worker here if you don't know where to start or how to figure certain things out. If you are spiritual/religious one option is to ask the God of your understanding for help. A common mistake here is that a lot of people try to control God. If you truly believe in God, you have to let God solve this problem, and trust the process without interfering/controlling/losing patience. Meanwhile do what you can to bring yourself to a place where you can be in a relationship: love yourself, learn about co-dependence, learn about the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman, learn about what makes a relationship work, etc This may not be what you wanted to read. But know that I am talking from experience.
(MSMHC, LPC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

My Relationship patterns keep repeating itself

Dear Tiff,   Thank you for your message and for allowing me to understand more about the dynamics in your relationship.   Through your words, I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving/helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor, I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggles is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

My boyfriend asked for space a day after saying he loves me

Dear brokenhearted girl,   Thank you for your message and I am sorry to hear about your breakup. Thank you for your courage in sharing with me your pain.   “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~Paul Coehlo   The closure is something everyone would like. We would like validation and understanding after a relationship has ended.   We can accept that someone doesn’t want to be with us. We can accept that the relationship has changed or that they want something else. What we can’t accept is our partner’s inability to communicate that fact effectively and tell us what went wrong.   Unfortunately, sometimes your partner does not have this same need, or they may have the same need but they’re better at hiding it and pretending they don’t. They would rather just push you, and their feelings, away.   In my experience, people can’t always be honest with you because they can’t be honest with themselves. It isn’t about you. We always want it to be about us and our flaws and failures, but it isn’t.   Many people don’t know how to deal with the emotions that come with a breakup, so they prefer to avoid their feelings altogether, and this is the most likely reason they won’t talk to you. It has nothing to do with you or the relationship or something you did wrong or that you weren’t enough.   I’ve dealt with trying to get closure a few times, and it’s awful. No one likes to be ignored, and no one likes to not get answers to their questions. But, what you have to learn is that any answer you get won’t change anything, and it may or may not be the truth anyway.   I can only control myself and my actions and how I deal with the ending of another relationship that I thought could mean something.   If people want to be in your life they make an effort. If they don’t, then you are better off without them.   If you are struggling with getting closure with an ex, ask yourself why you want to talk to them. Is it to get them back? Is it to get them to validate the relationship? Is it to try to get some type of reaction or any type of reaction?    If you are making up reasons why you need to talk to them, then perhaps you need to get closure from yourself. If they won’t talk to you, reaching out will likely cause you more pain and frustration. So instead, I suggest the following:   1. Write a letter.   Write one every day if you need to. Don’t send it; just get the feelings out there. You can write them here if you would like. :)   2. Write out reasons why they may be avoiding you that have nothing to do with you.   We all create explanations in our heads as to why our ex won’t talk to us. We imagine they think bad things about us, they don’t want us, that we weren’t enough, or that everything was our fault. Thoughts in your head are just your interpretation of what happened, and they are usually incorrect.   What if what they are really thinking is this? Do you think they are going to tell you?   I’m afraid to be open and be hurt again. I don’t think I can give this person what they need. Being vulnerable is too scary. He/she is too good for me. My abandonment issues have triggered my unconscious need to be alone.   3. Unless this was your first love, remember that you loved before and you got over it.   You control whether you move on. And you can decide if you want to wallow in self-pity and misery, or pick yourself up off the floor and be the spectacular, amazing person you are and get out there and show yourself to the world.   4. Take your feelings and write them on little pieces of paper.   “I am hurt.” “I am angry.” “I am sad.” “I am devastated.” “I am heartbroken.” “I feel rejected.”   Get a fireproof bowl and fill it with some sand. Put all the little pieces of paper in the bowl and light them on fire. Watch the words burn and with them, let the feelings go.   5. Be alone.   Be still. Cry and be sad over the loss. Accept that what once was, is no longer, and what you thought would be will never be. If it’s meant to be in the future, it will find a way to work itself out. Maybe now is just not the time.   6. Live in abundance.   They are not the only person in the world. There are literally millions of single people in the world. If you had loved it before, you will have it again. Stop thinking that you’ll never find someone else so wonderful. If they were so wonderful they would still be with you. They aren’t. They’re gone.   What is it you are really hoping to hear? Do you think most people can admit their fears? Of course, we all would like our partner to care enough to tell us the truth no matter how much it hurts.   There are a million reasons that relationships don’t work and tons of reasons why your ex won’t talk to you. Don’t take on their issues and make them your own. Realize that we all have insecurities, and not all of us can understand how they impact us.   I’m sure you would love for your ex to say, “You are truly amazing and wonderful, but I don’t think we are a match.” The reason most won’t say this is that they don’t want you to come back at them with all sorts of reasons why you are a match, so they’d rather avoid the topic altogether.   For whatever reason, your ex has chosen to cease all communication with you. The best thing you can do is take it as a sign from the universe that it’s time to move on, and that any person worthy of being your partner would never leave you in the lurch like that.   Remember this saying, “If not this, something better.” These words sound stupid and irritating when your relationship has just ended, but they are true for a reason.   We don’t’ always get what we want, but we get what we need. Change is inevitable. Change is good. If it was meant to be, it would have been, and if it is meant to be, it will be.   Unfortunately, life does not always go along with our pre-conceived notions of how things should be, and people aren’t always what we want and need them to be. Life isn’t always wrapped up in a pretty package with a bow on top.   Sometimes you get closure and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the lack of closure is the very lesson that you needed to learn. Maybe you needed to learn to validate yourself and accept yourself.   Consider seeing this person as a gift sent to you. They were brought to you as a reflection of yourself. Thank them for being a part of your journey and send them on their way in your mind.   Lastly, if you are waiting for your ex to give you closure, it might be time to dig deep inside and give it to yourself.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021

How do you approach getting back together after a break up when they don't want to see you still?

Experiencing a breakup is an emotionally distressing experience. Not only do you lose the person you had an intimate connection with; however, you also lose the version of yourself you got to be while being with that person. At least for a little while, and it is difficult to adjust to the change. It is even more difficult to accept what happened. What you are going through right now can feel devastating because it feels like a decision about your life has been made for you. This is why sometimes going through a breakup can have you feeling powerless. You asked about getting back together after a breakup when the person does not want to see you. The answer to this question is this you cannot control another person's decisions. In circumstances that involve other people, we cannot make them do the things that we want. Even if it is unfair and irrational that this person will not speak to you, it has to be their choice to communicate with you. That is what makes what you are experiencing so difficult. You want to resolve this, but your ex will not give you that chance. Time might help that person calm their frustrations and become a bit more rational. However, getting back into a relationship after a breakup requires both of you to be willing and wanting the same thing, or at least being open to that discussion. What you can do now is surround yourself with an encouraging support system who will listen to you and not offer you their opinions of what they would do. Rather, to be with you as you go through this devastating time. I am sorry you are hurting, and I know this is quite a distressing experience that will impact you for a while. It is easy to ruminate now about everything that happened, and those emotions can be powerful distresses that create anxiety. I know this is not the answer you wanted to hear, but as much as we would like to control another person and give us the chances we feel we deserve, life is more complicated. You have to focus on the facts and begin to process through what this is for you. This is not an easy time, and I encourage you to get support and surround yourself with a support team. This could include a friend, a family member, and a therapist. Going through a break is difficult, and I am sure you need support. You can begin keeping a journal and processing your thoughts if you do not have someone around you to support you, then find things you can do to keep yourself occupied when your thoughts become too heavy. Processing and allowing your emotions to exist is important, but thinking too much can be painful. Please reach out for therapy if you can or post another question if you have any additional questions. I do wish you the best of luck and take it one day at a time.
(MA, LMHC)
Answered on 10/18/2021