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Tag: help for mood disorders

December 5, 2013

Periodically I come across videos online with young people acting out humorous skits about  humiliating experiences. In some cases it is easy to tell that these skits are based on the personal experiences of the main actor or actress while in other cases they are clearly making fun of other peoples’ misfortune.

I am going to focus on skits based on personal experiences, needless to write, making an online video to mock the misfortune of others is not okay.

If I were to meet some of the producers of the videos based on their own humiliating experience, I would like to ask them,

“Prior to making your video, did you heal from the experience?” “Did you learn the lesson you needed to learn from the experience?”

To the young girl who made the skit about how her boyfriend kept their serious relationship a secret from his family and friends and was hesitant to bring her around his family during the holidays, I wonder if she is still in that relationship? If she still is, I wonder why? Does she not consider herself worthwhile to be introduced to her boyfriend’s family and received warmly by them?

If she were a relative, I would suggest to her that perhaps she is the only one between the two, who thinks it’s a serious relationship.

To my Nigerian brethren who made the video about how Nigerian parents are notorious for beating their children who behave in non African traditional ways – that’s not funny. Yes, I know, most people think it’s funny, but it’s really not. If you disagree with me, simply  insert yourself into the shoes of the two main characters.

There is nothing more damaging to the self esteem of a teenage young man, who has put in a lot of work into toasting and inviting a female friend over to his home. Only to be walked in on by his father and beaten in front of her. Furthermore, beating a confused girl who has decided to strip before a camera only worsens her damaged identity.

“But I  no dey vex for una,”  your other videos are funny expect this one.
We have to be honest with ourselves, because lies only help us in soothing our feelings. That way we can pretend not to be bothered by events we have experienced. Events while unfortunate, provide a sliver lining for us to achieve significant growth via painful feelings.

This attitude of pretending not to be bothered by humiliating experiences, is like convincing yourself you have the ability to dodge bullets and fly like a character in a Hollywood blockbuster. However we are all vulnerable, and recognition and acceptance of our vulnerabilities gives us needed courage in accepting life on life’s terms.

If you have been humiliated or shamed, call it for what it is, because pretending not to be bothered only sets you up to experience a repeat.  When we are able to admit experiences that wound our egos, we set ourselves up for proper healing.

By healing I mean being able to acknowledge the source of the wounding, and learning the lesson you need to learn.

What are some healthy and unhealthy methods you have used to respond to feeling humiliated?

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

November 22, 2013

In a previous post, I wrote about using what if scenarios to transition from negative thinking to positive thinking.

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However, what if transitioning to a positive thought process is not enough. What if the identified positive thought is intellectually sound, but still emotionally unbelievable?

In this  video post, I discuss taking the what if scenario to another level by performing brief behavioral experiments which force you into making a paradigm shift in your thought processes for the better.

 

November 1, 2013

This Therapist’s Blog is changing names. The change means from here on forward, This Therapist’s Blog will become Road 2 Resolutions.

Change is this case is a good thing, and we plan on bringing you the same short but meaningful and insight provoking posts.

Also, the previous posts from This Therapist’s Blog will remain available on Road 2 Resolutions Blog.

Thanks for reading.

Ugo

October 21, 2013
What is stress? There is a short story circulating around the Internet about a psychologist who walks before an audience with a glass half filed with water. She asks members of the audience to guess the weight of the glass, and after several missed guesses, she tells them the answer. The answer is irrelevant, however she proceeded to explain to the audience that the longer she holds the glass of water, the weaker her arm would become, while the weight of the glass of water remains the same.

Her analogy was simple,  stress we hold unto  for a short time, isn’t a bad thing. However stress we hold unto for a significant period of time weighs on the mind,and leads to cognitive issues accompanied by poor health.

“Reality exists in the mind before it is experienced.”

A common reason people struggle with stress is due to a refusal to accept that they are dealing with circumstances out of their control. Often times we have a narrative in our heads regarding how we believe certain experiences should unfold and how we will respond accordingly. This is both a strength and a weakness, because our ability to practice foresight allows us to plan ahead and prepare for the future. While on the other hand, we have a tendency to think ahead of ourselves and develop unrealistic expectations on how things should unfold simply because we planned ahead. It also doesn’t help that we are inherently pleasure seekers and often times the realities we create in our heads are designed for us to feel good about ourselves and the situation. This also presents with an irony of us being unprepared to deal with circumstances we believed we were prepared to deal with.
So what is stress? Stress is a phenomenon that occurs when people over a significant period of time continue to respond to the same life challenges with antiquated strategies that they have repeated tried in the past with limited to no success. After repeated attempts at addressing the problem, they then brood over the matter consistently, only to attempt using the same ineffective strategies once again. In such circumstances, a cruel thing can occur. The situation can resolve itself only to reoccur again, leading the stressed person to believe that the strategies they employed actually were effective, when they were not.
An example would be a panic attack sufferer coming to believe that his or her hyperventilating and overreaction to the episode of panic is what led to the end of the panic episode,  when in fact the panic episode coming to end was caused by the depletion of adrenaline in the person’s body. This then begins a vicious cycle, as the person now develops anxiety due to his or her attempts to anticipate when the next panic episode is going to occur.
The solution to stress is to practice accepting life on life’s terms, this process involves internalizing a great deal of humility in coming to accept when narratives we tell ourselves on how our lives should unfold are proven to be flawed. When we come to accept our narratives are flawed, then next step is to make revisions to the new narrative based on new information acquired from our experience.
If I were an audience member when the psychologist in the short story was giving the presentation, I would have raised my hand to catch her attention. If she had noticed me, and called for me to speak, I would have recommended that she drink the water, and then put the glass down. This for me would represent the metaphor of coming to accept reality for what it is (drinking the water) and exercising the courage to rewrite your narrative, (putting down the glass).
Ugo is a psychotherapist and a life coach.
October 18, 2013

Over the years I have noticed a trend with people who struggle with anger management, they are usually people pleasers. They bend over backwards most of the time to please others,  mostly because they are fearful of conflict. They desire to not ruffle any feathers, they prefer to get along for the sake of getting along with others even though,  getting along with a specific group will cause them anguish.

That is, until the last straw breaks the camels back, then  they explode. They then take on the label as angry people. It is only after they have internalized anger management skills that the passivity that’s to present itself. It then turns out that they suffer from codependency and that they need to learn self advocacy.

Self advocacy is the process where people learn to set healthy boundaries in their relationships. They learn to say no when they need to say no, and they learn to accept that other people are responsible for their own emotions, negative or positive.

Often, people who struggle with passivity, grew up with one or more abusive care givers, where as a child they learned to survive by predicting when a caregiver would become upset and using manipulative techniques to manage the emotions of that caregiver. Unfortunately that attitude carries over into their adult years, where they attempt to please people in their lives, for fear of being ostracized. Given that it is not possible to please anyone, they find themselves experiencing plenty of frustration in their personal relationships, with periodic episodes of restorting to poor anger management.

So how do these people develop self advocacy skills?

With self advocacy, there are two specific habits to practice, and these habits are getting into the habit of accepting when others are in a bad mood and setting healthy boundaries for self. The process of practicing these healthy boundaries involves the same skill set, with the practice of not being reactive to negative feelings.

So when a person who struggles with passivity or co dependency feels the urge to pacify an adult who is angry, they practice becoming mindful of this urge and doing nothing. When this same person is setting a healthy boundary with others, they will practice becoming aware of their fear of being rejected by the other person, leading to the urge to set no boundaries. They will then choose to set their boundaries regardless of their fears.

Being mindful and not being reactive to negative feelings, is something that can be practiced in imagined scenarios. I have found that when clients practice self advocacy in imagined scenarios, they become better prepared to practice self advocacy in unexpected real life scenarios.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.

October 17, 2013

In this post, I will use a fictitious question and answer scenario to describe what I do as a psychotherapist. This question and answer scenario is based on several exchanges I have had with people over the years who asked me what I do for a living.

“What do you do?”

“I am a psychotherapist, and I help people solve problems.”

“Really? Interesting, what type of problems do you help people solve?”

“I help people solve problems they unintentionally create for themselves. Often times when people by coincidence develop a pattern of unintentionally creating problems for themselves, it leads to the mental health suffering.”

“Hmm.. do you have an example?”

“Sure, let’s say you have a friend who happens to be in a physically abusive relationship. From your stance the solution is simple, you then advise her about this solution, which is to leave the relationship, right?”

“Yes.”

“But your friend doesn’t heed your advice and continues to be involved with her abusive partner. The reason for this is that your friend, most likely from her early life experience has come to embrace a set of beliefs accompanied with values which has led her to develop a set of priorities that put her at a disadvantage in personal relationships.”

“Maybe she felt neglected as a child by her caregivers and her response to the neglect was to place a high priority of staying in a relationship, no matter what. Perhaps because she has come to see herself as unlovable, and undeserving of a healthy relationship, even though it is what she truly wants. As a result her current beliefs and values creates a cognitive blindness towards her true worth and value as a human being, and just how easy it is for her to find a healthier relationship.”

“If I were to work with such a person, I would help her come to understand how irrational her current beliefs about relating to others are, and how her insistence in sticking it out with someone who abuses her only leads to her getting emotionally re-injured. Further, I can help her develop alternative beliefs and values that lead her to accepting herself unconditionally with genuine compassion. This mentality will then help her successfully seek out relationships where she is valued and respected.”

“Thank you Mr. Uche, that was very informative.”

“Thank you for your time, and you are welcome.”

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC

October 16, 2013

In this video, I discuss a brief strategy for dealing with boredom. The brief strategy is to do nothing, but listen to your breathing for a period of ten minutes. After ten minutes has elapsed, you should seek to engage in a productive task. More than likely a commitment you have been procrastinating on.

In this video I also explain that boredom happens when we have become over stimulated with pleasure arousing behaviors, to the extent that we experience feelings of numbness whenever we attempt to reengage in behaviors we derived pleasure from. On a biological level this occurs when the glands that produce dopamine, the hormone and neurotransmitter which communicates pleasurable feelings to us, become exhausted and depleted. Further, I explain in the video that this phenomenon occurs from practicing the mindset that we should always find pleasure in every thing we do.

This mindset isn’t realistic, as in life inevitably, we are going to find ourselves engaged in activities which we don’t enjoy doing, but are activities of necessity. An example I give is changing a baby’s diaper.

Ultimately in the long run, the best response to boredom is a preventative one, which is to embrace a mindset of living a goal oriented lifestyle which involves having to do things from a place of meaning and purpose, instead of  a constant search for pleasure.

With a mindset of living your life from a place of meaning and purpose, you will no doubt engage in a significant number of pleasurable and non pleasurable activities.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.

October 15, 2013

There have been recent studies to date like this one, that have found evidence to support the theory that rejection is processed in the same pathways and centers in the brain as physical pain. These evidences have been documented primarily through verbal expression (regardless of language) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fmri) where blood is observed and documented in functioning areas of the brain when people experience any degree of social rejection.

 

For example, this recent article discusses a study where participants where asked to participate in a virtual game of ball tossing, where the participant experienced social rejection after the other two participants stopped passing him or her the ball. In reality the other two participants did not exist, it was merely a computer simulation. However after the exercise, the participants were asked to document their feelings about the experience, while undergoing an fmri scan. It was discovered that the participants experience of rejection where registered in the same regions of the brain known for registering physical pain. Even more striking in this study is that researchers discovered that upon the experience of social rejection, the brain produced it’s own opioids to ease the pain. It was further observed by the researchers that individuals who tested as having more resilient personality traits produced more opioids in response to social rejection than others.

 

In the latter part of the article, it was theorized that perhaps people suffering from depression or social anxiety have an abnormal opioid response system and how this research would provide drug companies with more information for making medications that treat anxiety. 

 

What if you didn’t need medication to deal with social rejection, real or perceived? What if having a resilient attitude influences your brain chemistry to producing more opioids in response to social rejection. Or perhaps, what if the opioids are produced in response to a mental decision to accept the pain of the social rejection for what it is and move on.

 

From time to time, I come across research that suggests the reason we experience pain from social rejection is due to our instincts as mammals to bond to our caretakers when we are children. However, children experience pain a lot differently from adults, this is mostly because children have very little information about their world to establish a frame of reference for pain, physically and emotionally. Hence when children experience pain they often become alarmed and cry out for assistance of an adult caretaker, who hopefully will bring some comfort into their world. 

 

As adults, our experience of pain is significantly different, this is because with experience we have come to establish beliefs about which experiences with pain, emotional or physical are more alarming than others. Take for instance, some days ago I accidentally burned myself on my clothing iron. The actual experience lasted less than a second. I was ironing a shirt, my hand accidentally made contact with the hot end of the iron and I took away my hand instantly. Despite the pain I experienced afterwards, I was not alarmed. I simply continued ironing my shirt, knowing that my hand  would hurt a little for a while afterward before healing, which is exactly what happened.

 

Now what if a person could develop that same attitude towards social rejection? Years ago I was invited to be interviewed for a job I had applied for. The interview lasted for approximately an hour and fifteen minutes. It was interesting as somewhere during the interview it turned into an oral examination of my clinical knowledge, and literally a written exam. I did well with every question I was asked, and two months later when I suddenly heard from them and was offered a job, I respectfully declined. 

 

I declined because throughout the interview, I perceived nothing but hostility from the lead interviewer. The lead interviewer never returned my smile, ignored my gesture for a hand shake while everyone else on the panel shook my hand and expressed politeness skills. I felt confused and upset by the hostility of this interviewer and once I found out that this interviewer would be my supervisor if I was hired, I made up my mind that I would not take the job.

 

From my perspective I was simply listening to my feelings. Even though rejection does hurt, I believe that I am not entitled to be liked. Therefore it is irrational for me to intentionally associate myself with others who reject me. Like the pain from the hot iron, I did a cost benefit analysis and made a decision to not involve myself with that organization. Once I decided that job was not for me, I felt better during the interview as I came to recognize that the lead interviewer had no power to give to me, what I couldn’t get for myself.

 

Perhaps pain experienced during social rejection is relative, perhaps the more pain you experience in response to social rejection and the more it lingers, is indicative that you believe that without acceptance from that particular group you will not be able to get a particular need met. Perhaps people who are resilient to social rejection, are resilient because they believe that there is someone for everybody.

 

Personally I believe in life, we always have options. For everything that does not go your way, there is always an opposite occurrence waiting for you to experience.

 

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC.

October 13, 2013

Should your success come at the expense of others? One of the common themes I notice with people who struggle with anxiety is the idea of cut throat competition. The idea that their ability to be successful is being measured against someone else’s partaking and doing better than them in the same activity.

Of course it doesn’t help that this mentality is still enforced in various institutions of learning to include various occupations. Don’t get me wrong competition is a good thing, in order to achieve any measure of success you need a good frame of reference. However, that doesn’t mean that you should experience reoccurring episodes of anxiety over the idea that you that someone does something better than you. For instance in my field of work, I am always on the lookout for new strategies for helping clients. This means that I am more than willing to learn from someone who has figured something out that I find of value. So that means encountering someone doing something better than I, fills me eagerness and excitement at the possibility of learning something new.

If you find yourself in an environment that encourages cut throat competition, where the idea of someone doing something better than you spells some type of doom for you, then you are living in a unhealthy environment and at best you should leave. If leaving such an unhealthy environment isn’t necessarily the best feasible option for you, then at the very least you should begin practicing the process of abandoning the mindset that others should not be better than you at certain or various skill sets. Also yes, I do recognize that with the abandonment of said mindset, it will motivate you to leave the environment. By the way, leaving such an environment can be literal or metaphor for changing the types of people you associate with.

In reality, there is always someone who’s better than you at particular skills, and subsequently there is always somebody who you are better than at particular skills. It is irrational that this should spell any measure of doom and gloom for anyone, on the contrary it’s a good thing. It is a good thing because, it means that you can always learn something new from someone and you can always teach something new to someone.

Our ability to succeed, comes from the relationships we forge with others, if you are using what you know to help others, you will find yourself surrounded by others with the same mindset.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC

 

October 12, 2013

If you do not know why you are doing what you are doing, then you carrying out a suggestion, which may or may not benefit you. None of our actions happen as a result of happenstance. Our motivations as human beings can be broken down into two primary categories.

Category number one would be that we have purposefully chosen to engage in a behavior for reasons that are of personal and pragmatic value to us. Category number two would be that we subconsciously engage in a behavior because that behavior has been suggested to us. Furthermore the more sociable we are, the more likely we are as human beings to carry out the suggested behavior simply because we have evolved to have a yearning to belong to a larger or more successful collective. Being a part of a group successful in getting their collective means met, increased the probability of our ancestors surviving. With the modern era, the rules of survival and thriving has changed. Yes, it is in your best interest to still be part of a collective, however the best group to be a part of are those who share the same beliefs and values as you do. So in order to find your group, you have to first know yourself.

Take for example, my five fingers shoes.

After college basketball and my military experience, the chronic pain in my knee was starting to get worse. It was through research that I came across information that barefooted running and walking was optimal for my knees. A primary reason for my chronic pain was the result of an active lifestyle using shoes my body had not evolved to thrive in. Once I switched over, my knees no longer bother me. My use of these unconventional footwear despite stares is an example of engaging in purposeful behavior for pragmatic reasons.

Consider this other example, I was at the bank the other day, and while waiting in line, I look up at their television screen to see an advertisement by the bank. They were pitching an investment service of sorts and it was centered around an attractive black woman. So in one clip you have a banker speaking with the woman as they both smile and nod with each other, and in the following clip you have the same woman leaving a high end store (my perception) with shopping bags of incremental sizes in her right hand, hung over her right shoulder as she turns to smile for camera.

My interpretation, the bank is pitching to minority professionals the idea of success. They want me to believe that if they help me invest and manage my money, I will have plenty of money to go shopping. The problem I have with the advertisement is this, I still don’t understand the service being pitched and I feel that I am being distracted with suggested shopping fantasies.

One has to wonder why the bank simply couldn’t go into details about their service and leave it at that, but instead they give little information about the service they are pitching, and suggest that you will have lots of money to spend at expensive stores.

The frightening thing is that suggestibility is a daily encounter we experience everyday, and they are usually more potent and subtle. If you don’t like the idea of being easily influenced, the response is to get into the habit of asking yourself, why you are making the decisions you make. If you can’t come up with a logical reason, then the decision was most likely suggested to you.

Influence or otherwise you want to get into the habit of making decisions that mean something to you instead being easily manipulated.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching practice.

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