Guilt Answers

How to deal with the fear for the future, guilt,fear to never succeed,concern about others’ opinions

Dear Ashley,  you asked a multi-prong question:  1. Why is it so hard for me to achieve my goals?  2. How do I process the guilt that I feel from my past relationships?  3.  How do I stop worrying about what people think of me?    I will answer each question separately.  Here are my responses: 1. According to Freud, the unconscious ignores time. And the inability to set deadlines is a sign that an event from the past continues to work the individual, to the point of contaminating his current life. Because he does not manage to move on, he condemns himself to ignore the demands of temporality. In fact, he cannot maintain his desires because, in order to unfold, they need barriers, such as the fear that it will soon be too late to achieve them. Those who suffer from this situation often complain of breakdowns in motivation. Not going through with one's undertakings also allows one to escape this test of truth which is the confrontation with reality. As long as we have not reached the goal, it is as if anything is possible. this "tip" In particular, allows perfectionists "to continue to believe that they are brilliant and have unlimited potential". It's a way to protect yourself from disappointments, to protect yourself, from a narcissistic point of view. 2. Guilt is defined by a more or less intense emotional state where one, through the filter of his or her perceptions and his or her moral beliefs, is convinced of having acted badly. Thus, perceived as the violation of a moral rule in the system of his or her values, guilt generates more or less deep remorse and instills an intention to repair "the bad actors" or more precisely the damage caused by this action. or this behavior. It presents itself as an emotion bordering on shame and embarrassment. Answer the question "What exactly do I feel guilty about?" Allows you to put words to this emotion. To better understand it, nothing like writing: write in a notebook what you feel, the facts that led you to this feeling, and the consequences on your personal environment. Let your mind speak as freely as possible, without judgment. What was your real intention when you acted against your standards? Intention to harm, the act of revenge, malice, accident, taste for risk ... Have you experienced any form of relief or pleasure? Be honest. There is nothing wrong with accepting your bad side. Not to recognize it is to deny human nature. Everyone has the right to make mistakes. Ask yourself the question: in what state was I, at the time of "taking action"? The state of nervousness and excitement can supplant the rational brain. The impulse then takes over reason. This is how we are led to adopt inappropriate behavior. What concrete consequences followed the act that made you feel guilty? List everything that resulted: for you, but also for the person (s) affected as well as for your loved ones. Indeed, it is important to understand the extent as well as the impact of your actions. Again, to err is human. Behavior or an act can be reprehensible but what is even more so, is not to seek to repair. You became aware of having behaved badly, then analyzed the causes and consequences for you and those around you. Changing your perspective has allowed you to take a step back. How to repair the damage? It is not enough to feel bad and apologizing. Making restoration helps heal from feeling guilty.  3. We all want to be loved and appreciated for our many talents, our keen intelligence, our good nature, our bright personalities. But when we start to depend on what other people think of us and we put their opinions at the heart of our success, we get into trouble. We begin to shape our lives to suit the expectations of others and from there we enter a vicious cycle. When we hand our power over to others and admit that their impressions become how we are viewed, we lose who we really are. The only reality we can see is how we think others see us. When you focus on what's important, you think less about your individual role and more about the big picture. It takes the focus of others away from you individually. People spend more time thinking about themselves than thinking about others. If they are expressing an opinion about your life, it's probably not something they've thought about a lot but just a fleeting idea. Another person's opinion is often based not on your beliefs and behavior, but on theirs. What is good for them can be terrible for you, or vice versa. Be who you want to be from your own perspective. No one else is living your life. They might have opinions or ideas, but the only person who knows what's best for them is you. And that means you have to learn about yourself through your own mistakes and failures. Stop asking people what they think of you. Stop worrying about their opinions, especially if they are critical, unsuccessful, or unhappy. Most of the time, negative reactions come from negative people. Are you too sensitive for your own good? Do you get off to a flying start if people say things about you that you know are not true? It is easy for a sensitive nature to inflate things out of proportion, but try to build yourself a thick armor that keeps you unmoved. Overinterpreting can lead you to think that you are being judged when you are not. And even when it isn't, you impact in your own way. Learn to recognize this overeating and replace it with positive thoughts. Not all returns have the same value ...For important decisions, you may want to seek the opinions of people you trust - and forget about others. Choose people who know how to give constructive and specific feedback. It is impossible to live according to everyone's expectations, don't waste yourself trying to achieve it. Enjoy yourself and let others enjoy it as they can. Some people may not like you. And that's OK. Never allow the opinions of others to reach you too deeply because people can change their mind at any time. If you've over-invested in a previous opinion, it can leave you in awe when the person changes their mind. Life is an echo: What you project comes back to you. Caring too much about what other people think of you can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that ultimately directs your behavior and thoughts. When you worry about what other people are saying or thinking, you tend to miss very important present moments. Conversely, when you are really focused on the present moment, you tend not to worry about what will come later, including judgments. Accept yourself for who you are and be in the moment. Look for someone whose self-respect you admire to help point you towards yours. A guide can help alleviate your lack of confidence and help you anticipate your future for the better. Reset the clocks you can't stop or go back in time. At the end of the day, we really only have one life and life is short. Do you really want to spend even precious moments of that time worrying about what other people are thinking? Live a life where others tell you what you want? Or should you decide for yourself who you are, what you want, and how you plan to go and get it? You have to make a conscious effort to let go of what other people think. It is an ability that must be practiced, like meditation. But once you really understand how to let go, you'll see the world in an entirely different way. People will love you, people will hate you, and none of it has anything to do with you. Make your own choices and live on those decisions, take full responsibility for what you do and how you do it. By doing this, you will gain the self-respect you need and the power to give yourself what you want, without blaming anyone for your mistakes.   I hope this helps you. I wish you a nice day.   
Answered on 10/16/2021

How can I even help myself get rid of all the negative emotions from my past that I still carry now?

Thank you for asking this question. Growing up in a physically and mentally abusive home can have a great impact on our lives. Abuse causes self-esteem issues, communications issues, anger, isolation, and inappropriate relationship connections. What you describe as overreacting, regretting your actions, and feeling guilt are a way you are attempting to address conflict and your emotions. Consider that you have to vocalize out loud, what has happened to you growing up and start the process of healing. I would like you to consider that 69% of conflict cannot be resolved and that we have to manage conflict. That means that most conflict in our lives is perpetual and it may not change. That means that we have to manage conflict even with the people that is close to us and people that hurt us the most. This can start with accepting the way people are and putting boundaries around your emotions. Emotional boundaries start with telling someone how you feel with "I Statements" expressing how they have hurt you and what you like from them. Boundaries are very important in protecting your emotions and attempting to maintain a relationship with the one that has offended you, if you want to maintain that relationship. I would encourage you when you become angry to always use "I statements" I feel hurt when you did that to me. This will allow the person that you are angry with, to recognize where they have hurt you and also it may not lead to you become extremely angry and lead to you saying or doing something that you regret. No one can argue with you on how you feel. Expressing yourself in "I Statements" keep you from blaming or critizing the other person. Also, stay away from "You" statement, because "You" statements, put the other person on the defense and will cause verbal arguments. I hope these tips help you with your anger and help you express yourself and maintain a relationship with the other person, without regrets. I am here, if you would like to continue counseling and would like to discuss your concerns some more.
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/16/2021

How do you move on from a mistake you made in the past?

This is a difficult situation with no easy answers.  Forgiveness will ease the pain of the loss of your first child and free you to be open to the possibility of another and acceptance of other children.  You may mistakenly believe that your current situation is a sign of not being forgiven for the abortion.  I wish to say that God forgives human errors notwithstanding the motive or intent as long as one's current intent is repentance and an intent not to repeat the same error.  Many times people tell me that an inability to become pregnant is a sign they are sinful and unforgiven.  This is a conclusion inconsistent with biblical tenets.  I would suggest it sounds as though your heart has hardened under the pain of your abortion and that is shown in your jealousy of others with children.  I believe it is time to work through the 4 stages of forgiveness. Forgiving yourself is the door to opening you to release your mind and body from its prison of trauma-related pain.  Forgiveness is a decision to overcome the pain that was inflicted by another, in this case, your partner who wanted you to have the abortion.  Letting go of anger, resentment, and other emotions associated with injustice even though they are reasonable feelings.  Treating the offender, with compassion even though they're not entitled to it.  Forgiveness is not reconciliation.  One neither repairs nor returns what was taken away - in this case, the pregnancy.  Forgetting is not required.  You may and should remember the injustice to prevent a recurrence.  One neither excuses nor condones the perpetrator's behavior.  No legal mercy is afforded the perpetrator.  He made his choices and supported his expectations.  One is not asked to let go of what one's partner did while one personally is wishing for revenge.  Your partner carries his responsibility for his involvement while you forgive yourself.There are four phases to forgiveness.  These are phrases you would be guided through.  The phases involve uncovering, decision making, working through, and deepening one's meaning and understanding.  Uncovering - reveal the factual details to improve your understanding not only of the facts of the injustice but also its heinous impact on your life.  Making a decision whether or not to choose or reject forgiveness as an option based on your knowledge and deeper understanding of the facts.  Working to understand the offender in a new way so that positive feelings are allowed concerning the offender and oneself.  Decreasing the negative emotions associated with the injustice so that you can discern meaning in the events and visualize your growth since the abortion. There is clearly work to be done to clarify your view of the facts so that you can adopt self-forgiveness.
(Psy.D., LISW-CP/S, CACII)
Answered on 10/16/2021

Hi What could I do to stop feeling ashamed of meeting people from my past? please

At times, it can be difficult for an individual to separate causes from effects, especially when dealing with internal feelings of guilt and self-condemnation.  For this reason, it is not uncommon for people to use avoidant behavior when faced with difficult choices or situations in order to relieve anxiety. A primary cognitive theme that may fuel feelings of embarrassment and shame is the fear of exposure of the inner "real self", coupled with the assumption that this exposure of the "real self" to others will result in rejection, the loss of personal relationships, and the critical judgment of others.  Avoidant behaviors often stem from long-standing dysfunctional beliefs that can negatively interfere with social functioning.  These beliefs, though not fully expressed or articulated, reflect individuals' perceptions of themselves and others. These perceptions have been internalized as  underlying assumptions such as " I'm unlikable", " I'm different",  or, " people don't care about me".  They continually fear that others will find them lacking or "not good enough", and, subsequently, reject them. Due to these type of fears, the individual avoids social situations, relationships limiting their lives, to avoid the pain they expect to feel when others reject them. The  prediction of rejection is made the more painful to the individual because their core dysfunctional beliefs view the negative reactions of others as justified.  Individuals with avoidant behavior disorder often misevaluate the reactions of others. Overcoming cognitive and emotional avoidance will involve a range of specific techniques and cognitive-behavioral methods used to identify and test automatic thoughts and underlying assumptions. Mood management techniques are taught to manage depression, anxiety disorders, and faulty thought patterns. Individuals may also benefit from social skills training, with the goal of increasing the clients' tolerance for negative emotions.    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) strategies and, if necessary, Psychotherapy, would be effective approaches in helping the client "weed out" and address underlying feelings of loneliness, sadness, and anxiety in interpersonal relationships so that you may exchange negative thoughts and beliefs that are sabotaging you from experiencing a normal, calm, self-appreciating lifestyle- regardless of what others may say or think!  Finally learning how to "let go of the past" and move away from what "should have been" are necessary in order for growth to occur.  Create psychological distance between the present moment and the hurtful and embarrassing past through thinking kindly of the person you know you can be today.                        
(PhD, LMHC, MSW)
Answered on 10/16/2021

How can I quiet my brain?

First off...thank you for reaching out for answers. Grief and closure of past hurts are not always easy, especially if we are deprived of the opportunities to seek resolution or final words to/from certain people. Suggestions I often offer to clients to help them gain unresolved closure to their loss, past pains, or feelings of guilt, include the following... 1. If you enjoy journaling, I recommend this method for processing your thoughts and emotions surrounding past circumstances and pain. Whether this is done through a written format or through a verbal format on a recording device or app, it makes no difference. It is based on your preferred comfort level. 2. Similar to #1, I recommend drafting a letter to the person(s) you feel there are unresolved feelings or issues. As we never send our 'first draft' of assignments anyway, I recommend never sending these letters. Through writing your thoughts and feelings down with the intent to gain resolve from these nonverbal interactions with the identified parties, this act serves as a form of journaling and can lead to emotional peace (sometimes extremely raw). Typically when individuals struggle with letting go of past circumstances or pains, there is a lack of overall forgiveness, for whomever it might be intended, even if directed inward. Forgiveness is not easy and is in fact one of the hardest acts of mercy one can perform. It is not the same as 'forgetting' though. We need to learn from our past and grow into our future, and this is not possible if we remain hyper-aware of events from our past; although we do not want the same events occurring again, so we much learn from our experiences. Holding on to these pains only hurts the person bearing the pain; it does not hurt the one who owes the debt of forgiveness. So the sooner we embrace peace for these wrongs, the better off our mental wellness will be and our continued personal growth. If this forgiveness is directed inward, then we are likely battling 'shame,' which is deeper-rooted and changes us to the core. This may require outside assistance in combatting.
(MA, MBA, LPC)
Answered on 10/16/2021

How do I forgive myself for mistakes I made in my last relationship?

Hi Nick, I am really sorry to hear that you are struggling with guilt and hurt from a previous relationship. It sounds like your brain is on overdrive trying to help drill in the lesson that you learned and prevent you from not acting like that again in the future. We feel guilt when we violate our own morals. It may be helpful to reflect on what part of your actions violated your morals, to help you understand where you need to change. It may also be helpful to think through what you have done to correct this. Have you apologized to your Ex-Partner? Is this something that would be helpful for them? If it is not helpful for them and only self-serving, do not apologize to them. Figure out some alternatives. You can write your apology letter out and not send it. It may also be helpful to reflect on the ways that you are not violating your morals anymore. The ways you have learned from your behavior and are choosing not to repeat it. And actually, remind yourself that you are choosing different actions now! You are choosing to be different and show up different. That is huge and hard work. It can be important to share your story with a trusted person (a friend, family member, mental health professional, etc.). Someone who can show up for you and not add to the guilt or make things worse, but really listen and hear the ways you are feeling your guilt. It is really hard to show our guilt to other people, our instinct is to hide it away and it takes a lot of courage to show it to others. When we do the opposite of what we feel like we should do, we may actually end up finding what we need.  The last thing I want to offer you is a reminder to be compassionate with yourself. You have done the hard work to identify how you harmed someone and now you need to do the work to forgive yourself. There was a reason that you acted that way and I don't think it is because you just wanted to hurt someone, or else you probably wouldn't feel guilty. I suspect you were doing the things you thought were right at the moment, but realized later you didn't want to be doing. You are not alone in feeling guilt. We're all doing the best that we can at any given moment and we learn more and decide to readjust our behavior. It is not easy to get through that learning and relearning. I wish you luck in your journey to self-forgiveness.
(LCSW)
Answered on 10/16/2021

Please help me out here

This is an extremely difficult situation you're in and it is completely normal to be feeling what you're feeling. I want to help you by first discussing healthy boundaries. Boundaries are something that are extremely difficult for most people, so you are not alone in this battle. But boundaries are so important to maintain healthy relationships with all the different people in our lives and especially with partners. Keeping healthy boundaries is also extremely important for our mental health well-being. My suggestion is to try to explore what your barriers are to setting and maintaining boundaries with this person. And then explore your feelings surrounding why you may have that barrier(s). It sounds like you may have some feelings of guilt or fear of what he may think of you if you were to tell him no? That is completely normal and can be a difficult thing for many. Secondly I'd like to help you by letting you know that a big part of being able to set and maintain healthy boundaries is understanding the concept that you are not responsible for anyone else's feelings or behaviors and that you can set boundaries in a kind and caring way. The problem with setting boundaries and then not maintaining them is that people learn that they can take advantage. And then you can get stuck in a cycle that looks like the one you seem to be stuck in. But again, this is such a difficult situation, and you are not alone in the struggle . The last thing I would recommend is self-care. Self-care can help us build confidence and when we are more confident we begin to understand our value and  worth. This helps us to make decisions based on what's best for us and not on what others reactions may be to our decisions.  As difficult as it may be to recieve a negative reaction from your partner when you potentially set your boundary, when you practice self-care, you can begin to find peace in the fact that you are doing what's best for you. I really wish you all the best in this situation and again remember you are not alone. You are a worthy and valuable person that deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.
Answered on 10/16/2021

How do I find a reason to continue when life events have left me with nothing?

Hello "Lost My Shoes"! Thank you for your question. It sounds like you are in a very sad state of mind. It is hard to find the good in life when a person feels like he/she has lost everything important. I am not going to be a Pollyanna and say "oh don't worry it will all be ok." I think that would be discounting your feelings and I don't want to do that.  The short version of what is likely a really long answer is that there are ways to find meaning, purpose, and joy -- even after a person has lost what is most important to him/her. There is no such thing as "one size fits all" when it comes to coping skills. Therefore, you might need to try out a number of different things until you find something that really seems to help you. I think that before I would try to come up with possible solutions, I would want to get a little history. I would hope that you would not mind talking about what has happened. How did you get to this place where you feel so hopeless? What kinds of decisions did you make that resulted in these losses? It is always easy to look backwards with regret and see what we did wrong. However, there is nothing to be gained by dwelling on the past because we cannot turn the clock back. What we can do is figure out what we have learned from these past experiences and how we can apply that learning to our life today.  How does a person rebuild his/her life when everything seems lost? It would seem helpful to start with the notion of "what do I want for myself in the next few months?" Sometimes, it feels very hopeless if the goal we are looking at is so huge that it really seems impossible to reach. So, the idea is to break it down into smaller pieces. Maybe you cannot reconstruct your entire life in one fell swoop. But, what can you do? What is the most important thing that needs to happen immediately? Do you need to find housing, a job, a support system? The idea is to start with the most basic need and rebuild little by little. Do you need to rebuild your faith? I don't mean your religious faith unless that is important to you. What I mean is do you need to gain a sense of hope? How would you do that? People find solace in a lot of different places -- some through their religious affiliations, some through self-help groups, some through friends and/or family members. Some find solace by immersing themselves in nature -- walks in the park, along the lakes, listening to the birds, watching the clouds. That might not be what will help you but again one size does not fit all. Some people will find purpose again in life by doing volunteer work. This helps them divert their attention from some of their own problems to the plight of others. There is something to be said for helping others. It typically results in a good feeling that -- even if temporarily -- replaces the sorrow and pain one might feel as a result of their own losses.  Would you benefit from therapy? Some people benefit a lot from talking about what is on their mind. Some people like to write about their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Some people learn about others and how they dealt with similar situations. Therapy can be very helpful in terms of gaining a different perspective on things -- looking at what has happened in a different way. There is something called EMDR therapy which is a therapy that has been found to be helpful with people who have experienced trauma. While these things that have happened might be the result of some of your own decisions, that does not make them any less traumatic. There are a couple of other therapies -- Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy -- which help a person manage their strong emotions and learn to accept what has happened so they can move forward. There is another therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which helps a person examine his/her thinking patterns and determine what needs to change in terms of the thinking in order to change how they feel and how they act. There is a saying "One door closed, another door open." While this might seem like a trivial statement right now, you never know what is waiting for you around the corner. Everyone has something to offer the world. We can learn from our mistakes and do better in the future. Sometimes, we can make amends with people we have hurt. That is not always possible, but we can try. We can reach out and help someone else. We can look around and see the beauty of the world. In order to do these things, though, we have to have our eyes and our hearts open to the possibilities. You asked, "How do I find a reason to continue when life events left me with nothing?" I would say that you are not left with "nothing". As long as you are on this earth, you have the potential to do something, be something, give something, learn something. It is always up to the individual person, but as long as the individual is willing to put in the work, the possibilities are there.  I hope this message helped a little bit. Thank you for reading my answer. Judi
(MA, LMHP, LADC)
Answered on 10/16/2021

I’m a compulsive liar. I keep telling the people I’m closest to lies. How do I stop?

Emma,   To stop telling compulsive lies, I would ask you what the reward for telling these lies is in the first place.  If I had to hazzard a guess it is to feel more relevant and more important and also to feel powerful over others.  Hence my question then becomes what is in your upbringing or psyche that has you feeling that you are not important, not relevant, and that you need to have power over others?  I also wonder if you feel that the truth about you is unacceptable to not interesting, hence you make up lies about it.  I would wonder what you think is boring or not likeable about yourself so as to figure out why you might lie to make a false impression about yourself.   Another idea is that you get a rush out of lying.  This would be similar to how a kleptomaniac gets a rush out of stealing.  This seems less likely when you are telling little insignificant lies like not being available for coffee and more so when you are telling lies that garner a lot of attention and sympathy like having been in an abusive relaitonship that you weren't in.  In that case you might feel a sense of heightened adrenaline and this could be part of the draw of telling lies.  If this is the case, I'd want to take a look at where else you find enjoyment in life, what else you find exciting and thrilling (that is more healthy) and try to spend energy in those areas to meet needs in a more adaptive way.   Lastly, you could intervene by using cognitive behavioral tools and throught stopping.  What this entails is basically, catching yourself in telling a lie right as the idea pops into your head.  You need to be more aware of when you are about to lie and then tell yourself "that's not even true - stop it."  If the lie makes its way out of your mouth - you can still say "I'm not sure why I said that.  That wasn't even true."  This is easier to do with little lies but will start to become a tool for being more honest.  People in 12 step programs wind up dong this frequently, as addicts and alcoholics tell a lot of lies to get away with drinking and using.  Hence, in recovery, they catch themselves lying and lable that "an old behavior" and then "tell on" themselves.  Another tool is to be fully honest with on person and make that person your accountability buddy basically.  Not that they are responsible for you changing your behavior, but at least you can check in with that person to be able to tell them if you had changed you behavior, been honest over that day or told lies.  Part of the rush of telling lies is that "nobody knows the truth" and if you let one person in to the real truth, that will diminish the power / urge to lie.  This will also serve as a model for being transparent and when you get acceptance while being honest and accountable with that person, you will see the value of those traits more and possibly want to change more.   Hope this helps.   Mark
(LMHC, CAP)
Answered on 10/16/2021

What can I do to stop feeling guilty for everything, even when I know its not my fault?

In my experience, this often is related to shame and guilt developed by your major support systems, like your family, when you were a child. This feeling also leads to this idea that you must not make any mistakes and be perfect in everything you do, say, think and feel. It is when you give yourself credit for all that you are and all that you have accomplished and endured that you no longer accept guilt and shame. You are enough, even with your flaws and mistakes and errors. Self-compassion, self-preservation and self-love leads you to know that you do not have control over what happens in much  of  life. That you do your best and more importantly, you love everything about you. When you feel this guilt, do something comforting for yourself like go for a walk, take a bath, close your eyes and hug yourself. There is a technique called "Tapping" and a great, loving "tapping" is called "Butterfly Tapping." Butterfly Tapping involves putting your hands on your chest and alternatively tapping your fingers against your chest - like the fluttering of butterfly wings- while saying to yourself that you are loved, you are enough, and you are safe. You may want to close your eyes while doing this if closing your eyes feels comfortable. So much of living is loving yourself. Another technique that helps is art therapy , whether it is writing, journaling, drawing, painting. Another is meditative practice, Imagining brightness, lightness, and warmth coming into you as you breathe in beauty and loudly exhale pain and hurt. There are also books about Self-Love and my  favorites are the workbooks as you can journey through your reading and learning. Surround yourself with comforting, beautiful objects and let them nourish your soul while you embrace self-nourishment. Surround yourself with supportive people who embrace and fill you with comfort, safety, and compassion.  If you cannot readily find people who are able to give you grace and compassion, spend time with pets, animals and young children who only know how to  love. I wish you joy in your self- compassion journey. Be gentle to yourself. You are so important!
Answered on 10/16/2021

An abusive ex had a stroke

Hi Kish, Thank you for submitting a great question - one that many people may ask when this type of situation arises, but are often afraid to explore.  First of all, I am proud of you for taking care of your own mental health by choosing to have removed yourself from an abusive, long-term relationship. It takes a lot of courage and self-respect to finally claim your right to live life without abuse. However, the guilt, as you pointed out, can really cloud our judgment because we have already invested so much time and effort into trying to make a bad relationship better. So when we see our ex going through a major medical issue like you described, and suddenly in a vulnerable position needing help, the instinct is to feel obligated to help.   It may be helpful to consider that the guilt feelings were probably instinctual before he had a stroke, and even throughout the relationship. It is usually guilt (along with other emotions) that keep us feeling trapped in an abusive relationship. We feel guilty about everything - about our own shortcomings, about thinking about leaving, about what we might have done to deserve such treatment, about what other people will think of us if we stay or go, etc.   The preexisting propensity to feel guilty even though it may fly in the face of logic, is probably what makes it so hard, now that he needs help now that the tables have turned and you empowered yourself to get away from his control, and now you have the control to decide whether or not to assist. It is hard to feel feelings that come with being in a new or different position that are unfamiliar to us, so the mind naturally wants to talk us into going back towards the familiar. Throw in all the "shoulds" and "oughts" and the moral/value judgments we are prone to consider ("is it wrong to not help someone in need?" "does that make me a bad person?" etc.), and it turns into quite the conundrum! Finding some structure to help organize the thoughts and feelings might be best, in getting past the guilt. If you were to make a list of all the reasons that it's better to maintain distance despite his circumstances, what would be on that list? It might contain ideas such as that you left him for good reasons (like self-preservation) that have nothing to do with his health condition. That to help him would put you right back in the line of fire again and would prevent you from being able to get on with the business of healing from all the previous abuse, and remembering that there are others out there who can help him, that it needn't be you. That he can be resourceful and figure it out just like anyone else struggling with a new health condition, that you probably have tried to wear the cape one too many times for him and wound up depleted and hurt. You undoubtedly already know how that ends. Another thing to understand about guilt is that it usually arises out of a belief that we have hurt someone, and that we "owe" them something more. That you left him, is the hurt - but you have to follow that premise with WHY you left him: because he was abusive in multiple ways over multiple years.  Lastly, some say that in situations like this, someone wanting to help is less about actually helping the other person as an act of compassion, and perhaps more as an act designed to lessen their own guilt so they feel better about themselves. We have ways of making gifts of compassion sometimes, all about us, if we're honest. So you'll want to examine your reasons for feeling guilty, a little deeper. Equipping yourself with the positive, rational facts that you know to be in your best interest, remembering the reasons you left, trusting that as an adult he can and will find the help he needs and surrounding yourself with supportive people who can help with those reality checks we all need in these situations, might address some of the guilt and conflicting feelings. I hope this was helpful, Kish, and I wish you the best of luck in this new chapter of wellness! ~~Barbara
(M.S.Ed., LPC-S, NCC)
Answered on 10/16/2021

Porn addiction

Dear Jerry,   Thank you for your message and setting up a few goals that we can begin focusing on.   You mentioned that your primary goal is to address your sexual urges and addiction with pornography, and understanding the roots to it. This prompted me to be thinking if we should do a exploration on what drew us into this habit at the first place? As you might already know, we cannot just force our way out of something without understanding why we got into it at the first place, otherwise what we're doing isn't really bringing closure to it, rather we're just trying to suppress it until it comes back to surface again.   Therefore if you truly want a closure to these urges, we might want to study a bit about it and the functions it serve in your life.   Behavior is what we humans do. Behavior is observable and measurable. Whether it is walk from one place to another or to crack our knuckles, behavior serves some "function" or the other.   Sexual addiction, is definitely a behavior that has functions.   Applied Behavior Analysis, the research based approach to modifying behavior, seeks to find the "function" of an inappropriate behavior in order to find a replacement behavior to replace it. Every behavior serves some function, and provides a consequence (reinforcement) for the behavior.   When we successfully identify the "function" of the behavior we can reinforce an alternate, acceptable behavior that will replace it. When we have that particular "need" or function fulfilled by an alternate means, the mal-adaptive or unacceptable behavior is less likely to reappear. Let say if someone needs attention, and we give them attention in an appropriate way because of appropriate behavior, we cement the appropriate behavior and make the inappropriate or unwanted behavior less likely to appear.    For instance we can teach someone to respect our boundaries by responding to them only when they respect our boundaries, and ignore them when they don't.   The reason why I am bringing up functions behind our behaviors is that if we are to change a certain behavior (let say cheating for example), we must understand what motivates us / drives us to cheat. That way if we understand the reward behind the cheating (for example, being listened to, the thrill of getting to know someone of the opposite sex, fulfilling our sexual desires...etc), then we can decide how to develop alternative strategies to meet these needs without engaging in unwanted behaviors.   To begin with, let's understand the 6 primary functions behind every behaviors:   1. To obtain a preferred item or activity. (For example, we engage in sexual activities in order to meet our sexual needs.)   2. Escape or avoidance. The behavior helps the us to escape from a setting or activity that we don't want. (For example, we lie so that we won't get caught)   3. To get attention from others. (For example, we choose what we wear thinking about how we want others to look at us.)   4. To communicate. (Similar to no.3, we when we get upset we raise our voice around so that people will know that we are upset)    5. Self Stimulation, when the behavior itself provides reinforcement. (For example, we engage in gambling because the process in itself gives us thrill and excitement).   6. Control or Power. Some of us feel particularly powerless and a problem behavior may give us a sense of power or control. (For example, we put others down so that we feel superior over them, in order to protect ourselves or have control over the other person).   The next step is to identify the function behind our behaviors:   Antecedent -- Behavior - Consequence   Antecedent: the environment in which the behavior occurs, the circumstances that surround the occurrence of the behavior or people in the environment when the behavior occurs.   Behavior: The behavior, what we actually do, needs to be defined.   Consequence:  Everything that happens after the behavior, including how people respond to the behavior, what happens to us after the behavior.   The clearest evidence of how a behavior functions for us is seen in the Antecedent (A) and the Consequence (C.)   The Antecedent is everything that happens immediately before the behavior occurs. It is sometimes also referred to as "the Setting Event" but a setting event may be part of the antecedent, but not the whole.    We would ask "Is there something in the environment that may lead to the behavior (let say we tend to cheat when we feel lonely or neglected by our partner)   "Is there something that happens in that environment that seems to have a causal relationship, like after fighting with our partner, or feeling rejected?   The Consequence part: The term consequence has a very specific meaning, which at the same time is broader than the use of "consequence," as it usually is, to mean "punishment." The consequence is what happens as the result of the behavior.   That consequence is usually the "reward" or "reinforcement" for the behavior. Do we enjoy getting away from our actions? Do we enjoy the secret part in keeping a cheating relationship? Do we enjoy seeing how attractive we are by cheating? It is usually in how the consequence interacts with the antecedent that we can find the function of the behavior.   This framework might give us something to think about in terms of why we do what we do.   Once we have some answers, then it'll be our choice to decide whether or not we want to change, and how if we do want to change.   What are your thoughts so far? I hope this approach can help you deepen your understanding regarding these behaviors you mentioned.   Meanwhile I would like you to reflect on this message and share the observations and reflections you now have regarding your behaviors and their functions. Your ability to go through this process and share your thoughts here is crucial to how well you will be able to bring closures.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/16/2021

How do I forgive myself and stop hating myself?

Forgiving ourselves is honestly the hardest thing to do.  We already know that God forgives us, but when it comes to forgiving ourselves, well that is a whole other story.  According to Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and have come short of the Glory of God.  Even Paul who suffered great persecution for Christ, asked the question, "Why do I do the things I don't want to do, and the things I should do, I don't do?"  I know this is probably not what you want to hear, or you have already heard it.  I know your pain and the guilt you are feeling and so does Jesus.  Satan knows your weaknesses and he will use them against you in every way possible.  He will beat you with your guilt if you allow him to.  You are MADE in Christ's image therefore you are beautiful, inside and out.  When you repented for what you did, you made ALL things new.  Do you believe God tells the truth? Do you believe in his word?  From what I read, I would have to say, Yes you do, therefore according to God's word in 2Corinthians 5:17 If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new. In Psalms 103:12 it tells us that he has removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west.  The problem is that you are looking at yourself carnally and not spiritually.  Satan is reminding you of your sin.  Before you gave up your virginity however you were already looking down on yourself and wanting what others had.  Sister,  sin is sin to God.   If your coveting you are sinning. If you are lying you are sinning.  Don't let Satan tell you that you will never be able to give your husband your virginity. You are a new creature in Christ, ALL old things have passed away, behold the NEW woman.  Walk-in righteousness.  Walk in the spirit and rebuke Satan and call him the LIAR that he is.   When I was a little girl, I asked my pastor why is it when I try to do good, bad things happen? He asked me by saying "When you go hunting with your dad and you shoot 2 pheasants, 1 is dead and 1 is wounded, which one do you go after first?"  I said, The wounded one.  He said, "Why is that?"  I said, "Because he is still able to get away and the dead one isn't going anywhere."  My pastor then said, "That is exactly what Satan does.  If you are already dead (he has you) then he does not need to mess with you, but if you are trying to serve God (wounded) then he is going to mess with you because he doesn't want you serving God. When this happens Cysie (nickname) you need to look up and say WELL PRAISE GOD!  I MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!"  Satan wants you because he knows God has a MIGHTY plan for you.  Do not be like Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus while walking on the water.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and you will not sink, he will walk you through this.  I have a song for you that I feel God would like you to listen to.  It's by Carrollton "Tell Me."  I hope this helps and in the meantime, I will pray for you, my sister.  God Bless You.  
(MS, LCMFT, LCAC)
Answered on 10/16/2021

I’ve done a lot of past mistakes and I suffer from ocd anxiety guilt shame.

Thanks for sharing your question with Betterhelp. The Betterhelp platform provides online therapy services to help guide its members in understanding their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Oftentimes these concerns are impacting our relationships, and our daily functioning. Therapy with Betterhelp is a way to gain further insight into these concerns; gain psychoeducation related to our symptoms; and learn new techniques to support our management of the new behaviors. I would first suggest an assessment or an initial appointment with a mental health provider is important. This opportunity would allow for you to further explain more about your experiences and behaviors in a safe space. The mental health provider would be able to provide reflective listening, empathy, and guidance to properly address your needs.  I acknowledge your efforts in reaching out. I understand you are seeking a better understanding of your thoughts and behaviors. It's also noted that you are aware of how your behaviors and how they have impacted you. Asking this question suggest that you are seeking support in understanding more about yourself, which is commendable. We are all human and make mistakes therefore, its important to be kind to yourself and employ self-compassion, positive thoughts. Acknowledge where you are now and how your past is simply an opportunity to grow and learn. You may benefit from therapy services to learn and practice techniques self-soothing techniques and forgiving yourself. Perhaps, identify triggers and develop new ways to process your thoughts and feelings related to your history of "stolen some drugs and the guilt and shame and anxiety isn’t letting me live a normal life as I deserve to". I hope you find this response helpful. For next steps in connecting with a mental health professional here on Betterhelp, please visit the website www.betterhelp.com and click on the "Start Therapy" button. Please fill out the short questionnaire to provide some general and anonymous background about you and the issues you'd like to deal with in online therapy. It would help match you with the most suitable therapist. Your answers will also give this counselor a good starting point in getting to know you. Best Regards, Teisha Levi, LMFT
(MA, LMFT, Author)
Answered on 10/16/2021

Depression/substance abuse

Thank you so much for putting yourself out there and attempting to seek some guidance. Having a loved who suffers from mental health issues and substance use is extremely difficult and can bring so many challenges in all facets of life.  Starting with "how to deal with a loved one who is suffering with anxiety, depression and substance abuse to alcohol".  Some things I may write here you may already be aware of and others maybe not. When it comes to any sort of substance abuse it is something that only the person abusing can change. Though others may be affected by this, the person abusing needs to have the desire to heal and if not that is their choice. Like the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink. This brings up an important point, control and choice. You have control of yourself and the choices you make, not anyone else. This is an important shift in focus and thought process as you do not have control over them. You can support them by being there with them and continuing to show them the love you have for them as long as you are safe in doing this. Also, an important point to remember is you must take care of yourself as well. Having your own self-care routines. A metaphor I like to think of is when you are on an airplane and the flight attendants go through their safety protocols - they talk about when the air pressure in the cabin drops to a certain point oxygen masks are deployed. The next thing they say is the important part to remember for our purpose. You must place the mask over your head and help yourself before placing the mask on the person next to you. In essence, you must make sure you are healthy and taking care of yourself before helping someone else. This is imperative when there is a loved one struggling with mental health and substance use.  In terms of mental health help, you can support by being there and talking with them. If it is something they are willing to go to counseling for this can be beneficial too, checking in with a primary care doctor to see if there are any biological reasons why this is happening is important as well.    To help someone who feels helpless without letting it affect you is difficult. It is something that you must be able to cope with when not interacting with them. Doing things you enjoy, spending time with friends and enjoying hobbies. Possibly even counseling to discuss these feelings you are having and develop strategies to cope with the feelings. You can only do your best and nothing more. 
(LMF, RDT)
Answered on 10/16/2021

How do I get past hating myself for a mistake I made?

I am so glad that you reached out for help, and that you talked with your doctor about a prescription to help with your symptoms. There is no shame in seeking out support from medical professionals, that is wisdom to know that you needed a little help! A huge part of the human experience is making mistakes, we all make them from time to time. It sounds like you have been really beating yourself up for several years about this choice that you made, and I want to offer some suggestions and support to better understand perhaps why you are “stuck” in that space of time and in your life. People who struggle with depressive and anxious symptoms (or guilt and shame) often think in terms that are global, stable, and internal. I want to break each of those terms down individually to best understand this way of thinking. These terms are kind of like a fun-house mirror. They distort and twist our thoughts, feelings and beliefs into a different version of reality that feels so real.Someone who is struggling globally thinks in terms of all or nothing. For example, they might think everything in their life is broken or damaged or destroyed because of one mistake they made. This feels like a global problem that is impacting every single aspect of their life, everywhere that they turn. But pause for a second and ask yourself – is this mistake still affecting every aspect of your life? Or are you allowing one mistake to impact and cloud everything else, even things that are positive in your life? Pause and reflect on the good things that you have going for you right now. Someone who is struggling in terms of stability, they think in terms of always and forever. Those funhouse mirror thoughts, feelings and beliefs convince us that we will always feel this way, and we will never feel better. Our stability feels like forever, that we will always be stuck in this churning loop of guilt and shame over a choice that was made. But ask yourself, there was a time when you were happy before, you can be happy again! Finally, someone who is struggling internally takes on all of the guilt, shame and blame as their own. They may even take responsibility for things that are not theirs to hold. They think that everything is their fault, and they cannot see that most situations have shades of gray, most things are not so black and white. When bad things do sometimes happen, even just by chance, they may even start to believe they deserve pain, hurt and guilt in their life. Ask yourself, do you feel you deserve to be happy? I hope the answer is a resounding, “yes!” So, what do we do with these distorted thoughts, feelings and beliefs? How do we find the happiness beyond the pain, guilt and shame of a past indiscretion? The first step is to recognize these thoughts, feelings and beliefs for what they are, a distorted version of the truth. When we know that they are distorted, we are able to challenge and ultimately change our thoughts, feelings and beliefs. We can ask ourselves, what evidence do I have to support what I am thinking, feeling and believing? If we do not have evidence to support what we are thinking, feeling or believing, we can begin to replace those distorted ideas with kinder, gentler and more forgiving ideas. If a dear friend approached you with the exact same situation, what advice would you give them? Would you tell them that they need to punish themselves for the rest of their life? Or that they deserve forgiveness? Treat yourself like that dear, treasured friend; you deserve happiness too! Forgiveness is possible, even for ourselves. It is a challenge for sure, but everyone is capable of forgiving with hard work and patience. One of the first things is to name and recognize your mistake. Write it out, tell your story and own your choice. Do not edit yourself, and do not leave any details out. Own your choice, every part of it. After that, you can begin to look at your mistake as a learning experience and an opportunity for growth. Are you a different and maybe even a better person because of the choice you made? Will you commit to not making that same kind of mistake again? Can you help someone else learn from your mistake and be a blessing to them? Can your words and support impact someone else’s life who may be facing a similar choice? There is a concept called post-traumatic growth, that basically states that we really learn to live when we can find the deeper meaning in our suffering. This was clearly a very difficult moment in your life that has impacted you profoundly. Is there a deeper meaning to the pain you have been through that you can see? Continuing to punish yourself can sometimes feel like penance or making amends, meaning if you forgive yourself, you must somehow be saying that it is okay what you did, or that you approve of your choice, when that is just not the case. Forgiveness is not approval, it is not condoning or validating the choice you made. You can forgive yourself and still not be okay with the choice that you made and wish that you could have done things differently. Forgiveness is acknowledging that you made a choice you are not proud of and acknowledging and honoring that punishing yourself for the rest of your life will not change the past, it will only make your present and most importantly, your future, unhappy. Forgiveness allows you the opportunity for growth, compassion, kindness and love to re-enter your life, for you and the people you care about. 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/16/2021

How do I develop tools within my control to self-actualise and meet my full potential?

Thank you for reaching out and being brave. Based on what you are sharing, you may be experiencing some symptoms of depression. But you will need to address it with a mental health professional. You can obtain one through Betterhelp. You can use code: sharethecare for 1 free month.  Life is full of ups and downs. There are moments where it feels like a rollercoaster. Emotions fluctuate throughout the day; this is normal and expected. For example, you wake up at 6 am and you FEEL tired. You pet your dog, and you FEEL joy. You get hungry and you FEEL grouchy. You go to work, and you FEEL excited. Your manager gives you a warning and you FEEL upset. You get home and FEEL tired. It is a myth to FEEL happy ALL day. This is not realistic. A lot of things happen in one day. The problem is, the false expectation of "being positive, think positive, just be happy" mindset that we are pressured to have. This only opens the door to, "If I am not positive, then I am negative."  We need to consider the in between. What perpetuates negative thinking is the constant thoughts of worst case scenarios. But we should also consider best case scenarios. The other scenario that we often bypass is the "okay" case scenario.  Example: You are in law school and have a test coming up. You have had difficulty focusing and feeling anxious about the test. You feel a lot of pressure from your parents, and you are worried that you will never be a lawyer.  Worst case scenario: You fail the test, your grade lowers. You may have to retake the class. Best case scenario: You pass the test.  Okay case scenario: You pass with a C, but you have chance to raise your grade by doing well on other tests and homework assignments.  Example 2 You and your partner are not speaking to each other because of an argument you had earlier in the day. You worry that they will stop caring about you and will realize that they are better off with someone else.  Worst case scenario: You guys break up.  Best case scenario: You guys make up and proceed as if nothing happened. Okay case scenario: You guys break up and you are able to cope with it.  You guys make up, but you guys need to improve your communication skills to maintain the relationship.  Other approaches that can perpetuate these negative feelings and continue the rollercoaster cycle, are untreated mental health symptoms and suppressed stress. Below is a list of coping skills that can help manage symptoms and stress:    Emotion-Focused Coping Skills Sometimes we are not able to resolve the problems that are causing our negative stresses. In such situations, we would employ emotion-focused coping strategies that help us to navigate and process the emotions coming from that source of stress. The idea is to reduce the emotional impact of negative emotions and stress. Examples include working a difficult job that you don't want to leave, a loved one falling ill with a chronic sickness, or facing legal troubles. None of these particular things have an easy or simple resolution. Why not just quit the job? Well, some careers come with stress, but they are fulfilling and what a person wants to do. Social work is a good example, as it is a stressful field that generally provides a lot of meaning to the people who work within it. What kind of techniques work with emotion-focused coping? 1. Distraction. Negative thoughts and emotions tend to spiral and get worse the more we ruminate on them. Distracting oneself is a viable way to combat these negative emotions. Force the thoughts from your active thought processes by engaging in other mentally stimulating activities. Logic puzzles, sudoku, crossword puzzles, or jigsaw puzzles can be an excellent tool. 2. Emotional expression. The act of channeling one's emotions into art is a practice as old as humanity itself. Turning the negative energy into something positive by creating is a tangible way to vent out difficult emotions and process them. You don't necessarily need to be good at the thing you're doing for this to have a great benefit. Draw, paint, sing, dance…do whatever will help get that emotion moving out of you. 3. Meditation. Meditation provides a number of mental and physical health benefits. By taking the time to still the mind and empty oneself of thought, you give yourself an opportunity to put a pause on everything going on in your life and mind. It helps to draw you into the present moment where there might not be a necessity of dwelling on or dealing with those negative thoughts and emotions. 4. Prayer. Spiritual and religious practices can be an excellent way to unload negative emotional energy if you happen to be of a spiritual inclination. Prayer is similar to meditation; in that it is an opportunity to rest in the present in a moment of peace and quiet. Many people use spirituality as a means of coping with the stresses of life. 5. Medication. Medication is technically an emotional coping mechanism because it is used to curb the emotions associated with a negative experience. A person who is experiencing overwhelming anxiety may need medication to keep their mind on track, because it is causing too much of a reaction to negative emotions. Medication is a healthy coping mechanism so long as it is used as directed and not abused. 6. Reframing. A problem is no longer a problem if you choose not to view it as one. It is much easier to keep a positive attitude about life when you decide that the negative experiences you meet are just challenges to help you grow and develop as a person. Yes, that's not possible with every negative experience you'll have in life, but it is a powerful tool you can apply to many life challenges. 7. Exercise. Though it is physical activity, exercise helps us deal with our emotions by giving us a place to channel them. Anger and frustration can be easily channeled into physical activities like weightlifting or running. And one can use lighter exercises to help work their way through sadness and pain. Physical exercise is also a great tool for combating depression. 8. Positive Thinking. Positive thinking can sometimes evoke an eye-rolling effect for people who have been stuck in the negative for a long time. But the more a person can find a way to find the silver linings in the difficulties of life, the easier those difficulties become to manage. If you're wary of the whole idea of a positive mental attitude or think it's superficial, just focus on trying to not interpret every bad situation as negative. You don't have to be fake positive, just try too not be negative. 9. Journaling. Journaling deserves its own mention because it is a specific type of writing meant to help process one's emotions, achieve goals, and process thoughts. It is a deliberate action where a person purposefully writes about their challenges with the express purpose of processing and finding a solution to them. Journaling is a fantastic tool for self-improvement and stress management that can be employed by anyone. 10. Disengagement. Sometimes a situation is past the point of no return. Sometimes there is no positive or necessary outcome to be had from a situation. Sometimes disengagement and removing oneself from a negative situation is the only way to deal with it. Disengagement becomes a problem when it's the primary means of coping and becomes avoidance. But there are some situations where disengagement is the only option. Problem-Focused Coping Skills Instead of managing negative emotions by addressing the emotions, sometimes it is a better idea to use problem-focused coping mechanisms. A problem-focused coping strategy requires you to identify what the problem is and take direct steps to curb, change, or rectify it. Though this may seem simple at first glance, the actual source of the problem may be deep beneath the surface. Let's say your job is stressing out. Well, why is it stressing you out? Is it the work? The workload? The commute? Your coworkers? Your boss? Any one of these things could be the problem. The actual problem and source of the stress will determine what solution you need to use to fix it. Maybe you love your career but just don't like working for your boss, so you can opt to look for other job opportunities in the field. Problem-focused coping skills are generally better than emotional-focused skills because they focus on dealing with or removing the source of stress. That's not always a possibility. You can't take a chronic illness away from someone. And some people do not have the personality to take on difficult people in their lives in a head-to-head way. What is some problem-focused coping techniques? 1. Disengagement. Disengagement can be a problem-focused coping technique when it is used to remove oneself from a stressful situation for good. Perhaps it is time to let a relationship end, quit that job, make that move, or do whatever it is required to eliminate a source of stress from your life that isn't going to get better or change. 2. Time Management. Many people are stressed out because they can't seem to find enough hours in the day. Time management is an excellent solution for those that feel like they don't have enough time to get everything done that needs to be. It's also worth noting that sometimes it's not a lack of time management, but rather the person taking on more than they can reasonably handle. They may need to drop some activities. 3. Request Help. A request for help can significantly lessen stress in just about any area of life. Too much to do at work. You might need to bring it up with the boss so you can receive help. Too many chores to do at home. Might be time to ask for more help from whoever else you're living with. The stress might be coming from somewhere bigger than that, requiring professional intervention. 4. Medical Management. Illness and health are common contributors to stress. Medical management by an accredited professional may be necessary to address physical health concerns, like with diet, exercise, or chronic illness management. Getting those problems under control can significantly reduce stress and help you be a happier person. 5. Problem Solving. The best way to counter stress about getting things done is simply to do the things. Identify the problem and take action to correct it. The quicker you go about doing that, the less stress you will experience because of the thing. 6. Psychotherapy. Therapy is an excellent tool for stress management and problem solving. It has the added bonus of being an actual safe space to vent one's innermost thoughts. Having and confiding in friends is all well and good, but they are not always a good source of information and may not be able to help you. Mental health problems should be addressed with a therapist. 7. Coaching and Consulting. Coaching and consulting are a field that sits in kind of a gray area. There are no real mandatory legal requirements or certifications to call oneself a coach or consultant. But there are several avenues of life where a "professional" isn't necessarily the right choice. A person can learn a whole lot from actually doing and experiencing things. And if those problems happen to be something that is outside of the scope of an accredited professional, a coach or consultant with experience with that problem may be a good solution. 8. Break Problems Down. Problems become more stressful when they feel overwhelming. Breaking those problems down into smaller, more manageable chunks is an effective way to cull the stress down to a more manageable level. Take the example of finding a job. Finding a job is rough and tedious even in the best of times, but it helps to break that down to a more manageable level of just submitting five applications a day until you find something. 9. Taking Control. A person's stress level can climb dramatically when they feel like they are not in control of themselves or their situation. Instead of sitting in that anxious space, it can be a good idea to take control of the situation and start working your way toward a solution. Granted, not everyone has the personality or demeanor for doing this, particularly in a group setting. But if you are getting stressed out from the aimless nature of a project, it might be time to offer to lead the way through it. 10. Acceptance. Acceptance is a powerful coping tool because it puts you at ease with whatever situation you're in. If you can't change it, there's no real point in stressing out over it. It is what it is. To practice this, one must be adept at identifying what is within their control and what is not. Any situation that you are not in control of or cannot gain control of doesn't necessarily need to be worried about. It's true that you might need to deal with whatever the situation is, but after some time and practice you can choose how to feel about it. Avoiding Negative Coping Mechanisms Negative coping mechanisms can trap a person in a destructive, emotional spiral. There are obvious negative coping strategies such as promiscuity, substance abuse, emotional eating, escapism, and self-harm; and then there are not so obvious ones. Most of the emotion-focused coping mechanisms can devolve into negativity if they are a constant escape hatch for a situation that needs to change. Avoidance is an easy negative coping mechanism to slip into. The problem might be ugly, painful, and difficult to deal with, but it's going to need to be dealt with one way or another. A person may be fearful of confronting the issue or not want to accept the truth of the situation. Instead, they choose to avoid making a decision about the thing. They might do so by binge-watching television, sleeping, or focusing on fixing the problems of other people. Fixable issues need to be confronted and fixed. Issues that can't be fixed need to be acknowledged and managed. One must take some time to really analyze the situation and make sure they are following the right path for coping with or changing their situation. I wish you joy on your journey to wellness. :)   
Answered on 10/16/2021

I have no idea what to ask. I know I need to speak to somebody but I don’t know where to start.

Dear Eddie,   Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been suffering from abuses from your father. I agree with you that it is difficult to think about leaving when we are so scared of not knowing what to do with ourselves should we leave, therefore during this time we must learn and gather strength to build our security, confidence and assertiveness so that we can better respond to abusive behaviors.   Meanwhile perhaps it is also important to understand the nature of abuse and see if there is anything we can do to change in this pattern so that at least we would limit the damages that we suffer from these abusive behaviors.   Dealing with emotional abuse is something that many men and women face in relationships. Whether it's a marriage, a friendship or even a familial relationship, learning how to cope with emotional abuse can become a reality.   The first step in dealing with emotional abuse is learning to spot the signs. If you're not aware of the emotional abuse, you can't make it stop.    The first sign of emotional abuse might be just something in the pit of the stomach, a vague feeling that something is "wrong." It's only by further assessing these feelings and the relationship that emotional abuse can be seen and stopped. Often it comes in comments that makes you feel being put down, not being appreciated, not being respected, not being worthy etc. I could sense that these are some of the comments and feedbacks that you have been receiving, perhaps so much so that you no longer think it's wrong. That in itself, is a sign that you have internalized these abuse and started to believe in them.   In short, in an emotionally abusive relationship one party will try to control and dominate the other party by using abusive techniques. There becomes a power imbalance in abusive relationships where the abuser has all the power and the victim feels that they have none. However, victims really do have the power in this situation to stop the emotional abuse, but it can be difficult.   Coping with Emotional Abuse   Emotional abuse doesn't have to go unchallenged and coping with emotional abuse is more than just learning to "live with it." Emotional abusers are just like bullies on the playground and just like bullies, their abuse can be handled.   Use these techniques when coping with emotional abuse:   Understand the abuser – while it can seem counterintuitive to have compassion for the abuser, sometimes changing the way you view the abuser can give you insight into coping with the abuse. Often abusers are insecure, anxious or depressed and remembering that may help you to keep the abuse in its proper context – the abuse isn't about you, it's about them.   Stand up to the abuser – just like the playground bully, emotional abusers don't like to be challenged and may back down if you challenge their abusive tactics.   Find positive ways to interact with the abuser – if you can handle the abuser in a neutral way, you may be able to see the positive in the abuser and find new ways to interact with him or her that is positive. This is mostly seen in workplace environments.   Change the subject or use humor to distract from the situation.   Never support acts of emotional abuse of others.   How to Stop Emotional Abuse   Dealing with emotional abuse isn't always an option though, particularly in severe cases or in intimate relationships.   Abusers don't stop emotional abuse on their own and it is up to the victims and those around them to help stop the emotional abuse. Although a victim may feel "beaten up" by the emotional abuser and may feel like they are nothing without him or her, the victim still can still stand up to the abuser and assert their own power.   Stopping the emotional abuse takes courage. Use these techniques when stopping emotional abuse:   Regain control of the situation by acting confident and looking the abuser in the eye.   Speak in a calm, clear voice and state a reasonable expectation such as, "Stop teasing me. I want you to treat me with dignity and respect."   Act out of rationality, with responses that will help the situation, and not out of emotion.   Practice being more assertive in other situations, so you can be more assertive when being emotionally abused.   Surely these techniques are easier said than done, therefore we can work together to practice being assertive and keeping a healthy boundaries so that we can start limiting some of these damages we receive from abusive behaviors.   A first step as we talked about is to understand the cycle of abuse. We can't do anything with something that we don't understand. Therefore I am sending over a guide that talks about the cycle of abuse, would you mind taking a look and send it back with a few thoughts after you have looked at it? That way we can be on the same page in addressing this issue.   At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   After all, you are not alone, there are many many others who are suffering in the ways that you suffer, and there is hope. We can go through this together.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/16/2021

Why is it so hard for me to let things go and move forward.

Your question is one that so many people struggle with on a daily basis.  They feel like they have gotten over the past and then it rears its ugly head and takes you down the road of what ifs and beating yourself up all over again.  I think one of the biggest reasons that people often struggle with moving on and not dwelling on the past is because they struggle with a healthy understanding of what forgiveness means.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what has happened is “ok”.  Forgiveness means that you are choosing to let yourself off the hook for what has taken place.  Often it is easier to forgive others while we hold ourselves to a different standard of being perfect.  Let me encourage you to truly forgive yourself for what has happened in the past.  That means letting yourself completely off the hook!  Sometimes you will have to remind yourself when those thoughts start creeping back in that you have forgiven yourself and engage in thought stopping in order to change your thoughts and refocus on other positive thoughts.  There are thoughts that come into our head and they aren’t always helpful or accurate.  When we stay focused on these unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts we begin to believe them.  The great news is that you have the ability to change your thoughts to accurate and helpful thoughts.    Unfortunately it sounds like the neuropathways in your brain are well trodden and so you go down the path often thinking and holding on to the past.  It will take some time of you reminding yourself that you have forgiven yourself before your brain starts to heal.  This is where thought stopping and changing your thoughts is really going to become important for you.  Give yourself time and space and permission to struggle on this journey.  This isn’t something that is easy to overcome!  Let me encourage to engage in counseling as you walk on this journey.  It isn’t that you aren’t able to navigate this alone, but with the help of a counselor they can assist you with walking on this path of healing and overcoming the hang ups that are currently weighing you down.  Blessings to you on this journey!  
Answered on 10/16/2021

Is it my fault for all the bad things that have happened?

This is a common question that many people ask. It is not your fault that bad things have happened to you. The first thing one should consider doing is examining the situations that have happened to them in life and try to look at it from different points of view. To address this you have to first look at it from a different perspective. Meaning, bad things have happened but that doesn't mean those bad things have to shape your future.  What I mean by that is you can own that something bad happened to you but that does not give a reason for life to bad all the time or that one has to live thinking that every time I turn around it something bad happens to me because bad situations follow me. It is time to change your mindset, by exploring the bad things and understanding that the past is the past doesn't mean it didn't happen but that it doesn't have to continue to determine what happens now. Your father made choices that were wrong because they harmed you but those were his decisions. This is not easy because you are now letting go of the responsibility that this bad event was not caused by you or not your fault. When we can change our mindset it allows us to see the event differently and place responsibility on the individual who made the choice. If dad was the one that made a negative decision. Then it should be my Dad made a negative decision that hurt me. Now you are unpacking the pain and recognizing that you did not cause your pain but you can heal from it once you let it go. I would suggest that you review past events and look at how many of those situations were by your choice or someone else's choice. The choices that you made, own those, and explore why you made them. This is where you explore am I making bad things happen because I choose to or because I was taught this learned behaviors. This too allows an individual to then look at the situations of your past differently and explore how can I make different choices that will then lead to decrease in bad situations happening. So, my recommendation is not to lump all the bad things as this is my fault but explore who made the choice that caused the event and then explore what you can change in you and your environment to remove the thought process that bad things happen because it is your fault. Thoughts leads to feelings leads to action and this is a cycle we all live in.
Answered on 10/16/2021