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Tag: anger

March 28, 2014

Have you ever played Pac Man? You know the addictive video/computer game where the main character is a yellow circle with a mouth, chasing down dots and consuming ghosts when they turn blue? Well if you have ever stood behind someone playing the game, you would notice that the ghosts all move in specific sequences. As a matter of fact, if you focused on the red ghost, you will soon come to memorize the sequence of movements for the red ghost, which remain the same as the player advances through each level, with the only thing changing being the speed with which the ghosts move through their sequences. The obvious reasons the ghosts move in sequences is because they have been programed to move that way. So while it may seem that the ghosts are busy collaborating with each other, to chase down and catch the Pac Man, (which adds to the excitement of the game) in actuality the Pan Man is busy trying not to bump into the ghosts as it makes it’s way around the maze collecting dots.

 

I have used this analogy before in a previous post, and I am using this analogy in today’s post to emphasize the importance of self forgiveness and how to forgive oneself. Some people find it hard to forgive themselves due to a cognitive bias, where they come to learn new information which changes their beliefs, but they come to see themselves as having always believed the new information in their past. This makes it especially hard to forgive oneself for past transgressions, because even though you did not know better, you have come to convince yourself that you did.

 

This is where the Pac Man analogy comes in, just like the ghosts in the game are programed to execute a sequence of movements regardless of what the player does, our beliefs program us to execute a sequence of behaviors, with the exemption that the behaviors are modified depending on the stimuli. However, if a person is raised to have a negative view of the world most of the time, while his or her behaviors may vary from one stimuli to the next, they will generally be mostly negative.

pac man

 

If you have recently come across new information which caused a paradigm shift in your beliefs and values, and you find yourself experiencing significant guilt over past behaviors, it may stand to reason that your previous beliefs motivated you to commit such transgressions. It’s not that you should not be held responsible for actions that may have hurt others or otherwise, but that understanding is the key to forgiveness.

 

Our beliefs dictate our actions.

 

If you have recently experienced an awakening to a brand new you, and you find your enmeshed with feelings of guilt and disgust with your previous actions, then forgive yourself. Understand how your beliefs at the time influenced your judgment, then make amends to those who you harmed, to include yourself.

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January 24, 2014

To bring about real change in your relationships, you have to have a clear understanding of who you are and how you relate to the world around you, this process is counter intuitive because you have to learn to accept yourself unconditionally, before beginning the process of change. This is because in any relationship you find yourself in, you are the only variable which you can control.

Life is about relationships, from friendships, work, to our more intimate relationships, it is easy to recognize flaws in others and how these flaws have played a role in the failures we have experienced in our relationships. In most cases where people readily point out the flaws in others they are usually accurate, unfortunately pointing out the flaws in others when it comes to evaluating our flawed relationships is really a small part of the equation.

Let’s say you have experienced a string of poor work experiences, and you have one horror story after another to tell about supervisors and coworkers from hell, it would then become a fair question for someone to ask you how it was you came to routinely find yourself in those bad situations? If you were cognizant enough to realize that these were bad work places then it stands to reason that you should have been cognizant enough to recognize that you were not fit to work at these places before applying for the job.

Perhaps it is you, pertaining to how you relate to the world around you and those to whom you are drawn to? Regardless, if you have found yourself in a string of bad relationships it is long overdue for you to recognize and accept your personal flaws.

A man out of the group in the queue

When it comes to how we see ourselves, some people have a blindspot. This blindspot results from our innateness as social animals to fit in and belong with the larger group. So if you happen to have been raised in an environment where getting in line with everyone else was the expectation, the idea of who you are, is probably significantly different from who you really are. In today’s world, mass media plays a very influential role in getting others to embrace identities that don’t fit with who they really are. This is done by exemplifying certain types of people in a positive and flattering light, while barely mentioning others.

If you are a chronic consumer of media, and you want to see yourself in  a positive light, if stands to reason that you will come to mold your identity after those being modeled. The problem with this is that you would be focused on trying to address problems that don’t pertain to you, which only creates more problems for you.

So how do you learn about yourself? Well, on a personality level you can take a personality test like this one, or this one. Secondly, regardless of the outcome of any personality test, learn to present yourself as you are to others around. Specifically, practice being brutally honest with yourself and others at all times. Being brutally honest doesn’t mean that you tell everyone about your private affairs, but it means that you should become more cognizant of the narratives you tell yourself and others in an effort to blend in.

Our subconscious always knows the truth, and this truth about who we really are is always nagging at us at a times. This is why when people are trying to run from who they really are, they make up these false narratives, regarding their past and present in an effort to impress others.

Ultimately, by getting to know yourself and accept yourself, you will find yourself successfully addressing the right problems in your life.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

 

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January 12, 2014

Why do people sometimes accept the cliche that they are not ready for to accept change that is clearly overdue in their lives? In this video, I discuss why you are more ready for change than you realize.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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January 6, 2014

I recently came across YouTube video by TYT (The Young Turks) about a research study on fairness and money. Actually what drew me into watching the video was the video title, “How Being Rich Can Make You A Dick”

The video is about a study conducted by the University of California Berkeley on on the advantages of having wealth. According to the study two participants were kept in a windowless room and were asked to play a game of monopoly. One of the players was given an unfair advantage during the start of the game by way of extra cash included with bonus cash for every move he made, while the other player received less money all around. During the course of the game, the researchers observed that the advantaged player displayed more aggression and arrogance during the course of the game, as compared to the other player. Looking at the TYT video, it appeared the main host Cenk, was alluding to the idea that having wealth over others makes human beings more arrogant and less empathetic towards others with less wealth. If this is what he meant, I would have to disagree with his misinterpretation, and here’s why.

People have an innate sense of fairness, because people who are sound of mind have awareness. Awareness affords us the benefit of knowing right from wrong. So if I give my six year old two dollars and I give my three year old (who just witnessed my interaction with the six year old) one dollar, my three year old is going to ask why the six year old received more money. Why would the three year old ask this? Because her expectation that I give her the same amount of money I gave her brother is reasonable, this is what her sense of awareness informs her.

The concept of fairness is so ingrained in our DNA that you see it play out in the workplace. Once at a former job, a human resources manager who got fired, sought her revenge on her last day by “mistakenly” sending out an email to all members of staff that listed our positions and our respective salaries. I became so angered when I noticed that two of my co workers were making more money than myself that I resolved to ask for a pay raise. The next day in my boss’s office, in anticipation of what my grievance was about (I am guessing) , my boss gave me a pay increase which equated to what my coworkers were making. So I believe that it is reasonable to write that given that my boss clearly valued my work, his sense of awareness informed him that I was not going to be happy with the report I received via email and he also anticipated that I would approach him for a pay increase. While I was pleasantly surprised by his response, it made a lot of sense.

We all know what is fair and what isn’t, so what does this have to do with the study? My interpretation of the study is this; the reason for the boisterous  behavior of the unfairly advantaged monopoly player is because that player was overcompensating for his feelings of inadequacy.

Consider this scenario, let’s say I am sprinter, and I  am preparing for an upcoming race, when my coach approaches me with a proposition to use steroids or some other type of growth hormone to win the race. If I accept my coach’s offer, it simply means that he does not believe I will win the race and that I agree with him. Heck it could also be presumed that my coach may not be a big believer in my abilities as a sprinter. So even if I use drugs to cheat the race and I win the race, my feelings of inadequacy wouldn’t go away.

Chances are high that due to the turmoil I will experience internally, I will act out behaviorally even after I have won the race. I may display a great deal of arrogance and immaturity, just to overcompensate for my feelings of inadequacy or feelings of being a fraud.

I do not believe that inheriting money from your family leads to feelings of inadequacy, however money that is stolen or earned through ill gotten means certainly can level leads to feelings of inadequacy. So if I were to rob a bank or a store, what I am telling myself and others through my actions is that I do not believe I have what it takes to make a honest living.

It’s like the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people,” so when you see people behaving arrogantly, they are probably  coming from a place of inadequacy.

The video is below.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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January 1, 2014

Depositphotos_29652003_xs

It’s the new year, and the time has come for most people to make a New Year’s Resolutions which about 85% to 90% are going to break. The truth is that most people who make New Year’s  Resolutions have no intention of breaking them, they truly want to turn over a new leaf and experience a new chapter in their lives where they hope and intend to find some level of happiness and fulfillment. So why do people break their New Year’s day Resolutions?

The answer is not a simple one but it starts with the subconscious. The beliefs maintained by our subconsciousness, represent the foundation for our belief system, regardless of what beliefs we hold in our consciousness. The reason for this is that most of our core beliefs are learned from our immediate care givers during our early life experiences. As you can imagine, children aren’t exactly known for their sophistication in thinking, so this translates into latching unto anything you hear from parents, guardians siblings and peers, you name it, it’s probably going to stick, even if it makes so sense. The role of a child is to fit in, no matter what, as a result children rarely critic the information they receive, they simply encode the information and act out on it if necessary.

Take for example, beliefs about violence. You can publicly state that you do not believe in violence, because as an adult, you have come to learn that violence solves nothing. However, what if you grew up in a violent family and community? Chances are your knee jerk reaction to feelings of disrespect from someone is a violent urge, despite your commitment to renounce violence. This is because our subconscious is more influential than our conscious, and in order to rid yourself of those violent urges for good you need to identify what your hidden beliefs are in other to change them for good. This applies to resolutions to lose weight, improve finances, improve relationships and so on. The reality is that if you have ever committed to a resolution, only to fail, it’s because you hold unto a hidden belief that contradicts that goal.

For example, I once worked with a client who was making good progress in losing weight. When she visited her grandmother who she had not seen in months, she was advised by her grandmother to stop losing weight. Now here is the sad part of the story, my client, in spite of the weight she had lost, was still overweight. When we processed this incident, we came to an agreement that given the amount of time she spent as a child with her grandmother, it stood to reason that she held unto a hidden belief that she should be extremely overweight.

This now leads to the question, how does one access and change unhealthy beliefs in the subconscious mind?

Before you make your New Year’s Resolutions, here are two techniques to assess and change how you view yourself in your subconscious mind.

Write  5-10 Minutes a Day

Write whatever comes to your mind for a period of 5 to 10 minutes every day. Do this for about one week, the goal of the exercise is to familiarize yourself with what truly motivates you. You might surprise yourself, with what thoughts come to mind. If you do this for one week you will come to observe a reoccurring theme with your seemingly random thoughts, and the entire process might trigger some long forgotten memories.

If this process brings to the surface some long forgotten trauma, please schedule an appointment with a therapist.

Meditation

A recent Harvard research, provided evidence that meditating induces changes in a person’s brain, to the extent of positively influencing emotional regulation and access to memories. So what does this mean? It means that if the practice of meditation is powerful enough to influence change on the brain’s structure and functions, then no matter how ingrained a belief is in your subconsciousness, you can still change for the better.

With what you have learned about yourself with the writing exercise, the next step is to use meditation to begin the process of visualizing the changes you want  in your life. For example, if you have come to learn that you see yourself as undeserving, based on your writing exercise, then you will focus on seeing yourself as being deserving from a place of gratitude. Once you have done some work on the theme of being deserving, then you can transition into meditating on your actual New Year’s Resolutions, diet, new source of income etc..

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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December 26, 2013

Why are disappointments so difficult to bear for some people? One reason could be because some people place all their stock for being happy in one basket. Specifically in regards to setting goals and expectations for the future. I often see this with people who struggle with mild depression, and procrastination. If you ask them what they want to accomplish, they are quick to inform you about their dreams, but some where along the way they lost motivation once the going got tough. When this phenomenon occurs it is because there seems to be an expectation that happiness can only be achieved once certain desires, goals and expectations are met. For clarification, my definition of happiness in this post refers to feelings of prolonged content and acceptance , versus joy which is shorter lived.

Where does happiness begin and where does it end? If you read or listen between the lines, sometimes when people are discussing something they want to accomplish, it appears that their beliefs about happiness stem from hidden statements such as, “I can only be happy if..” or “I can only be happy when..”

Ambitions, desires, goals and  accomplishments are all part of the wonderful attributes of the human experience, specifically they bring a sense of meaning and purposefulness to the experience of life. However, what happens when your narrative changes? What happens when a goal you set out to achieve with all your heart is not realized due to circumstances beyond your control?

Postponing your happiness today based your hopes and dreams for tomorrow is a recipe for a case for acute and prolonged depression. I have worked with people who were so caught off guard by a sudden and unexpected change in their fortunate situation that they spent more years depressed compared to the years when they were thriving.  What If you could begin experiencing happiness today, inspite of what your current circumstances are? What would that look like?

From my perspective what happiness today would look like would be living your life from a place of gratitude. Recognizing what you have going on for you and seeing any challenge in your life as an adventure and an exciting part of your journey. So even if you are confronted with disappointment from not having realized a goal, it would be easier for you to grieve and transition with your experiences into your pursuit of another goal.

So instead of the hidden statements such as,  “I can only be happy if…” or “I can only be happy when…” replace them with “I can experience happiness regardless of my circumstances.” This type of thinking leads you towards regarding your goals and ambitions with a different attitude. An attitude that leads you towards focusing on the process, rather than the outcome.

So when the going gets tough, you can always draw energy from your feelings of consent and happiness, because you understand that challenges are a natural and occurring phenomenon in our lives.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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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.

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November 25, 2013

A college student I worked with was experiencing difficulty in school, in regards to completing and turning in her class assignments. One day she mentioned to me that perhaps she suffered from attention deficit disorder . I responded by reminding her about how we had rescheduled our agreed upon appointment two weeks prior because she had to take an examination, which was three hours long. I further reminded her that during our most recent meeting, she had informed me that she had passed the examination.

“People with attention deficit disorder struggle to pull that off,” I added. As it turns out, her lack of motivation was caused by her not knowing what she wanted to study and that she was only pursuing the major of study she was enrolled in to impress her parents. This revelation came out after she came to realize that she was able to concentrate for hours at at time as evidenced by how well she had done on the three hour exam. The difference was that over the years she hadn’t been doing it on her own terms.

From time to time, I encounter people who become upset with me because I tell them they can get better, when they believe  they can not. There is another story of a client who used the analogy of a blind man, he informed me that telling him that he could get past his depression was like telling a blind man that he could see again. I then informed him that while blind people certainly couldn’t see, they could still get around  and function on par with their sighted fellow humans.

The human mind is neuroplastic, it has a remarkable ability of reorganizing itself to help us  address our everyday issues in life and thrive, regardless of the trauma experienced and survived. What remains is for us to believe in our ability to adapt and change.

Your Brain is “Neuro-Plastic”—It’s Moldable & Changeable from Josh Kastleman on Vimeo.

 

Consider this study, involving hospitalized depressed men for the effectiveness of fluoxetine in treating depression. The men were divided into two groups, one group which received the actual treatment and the second group which received a placebo treatment. Both groups showed dramatic and significant improvement in their depressive symptoms, as evidenced by self reports and scanned images of changes in their brains’ glucose metabolism using positron emission tomography (PET). This is one of many studies that shows that power of simply believing, through the effects of placebo.

PET scan 1   pet scan 2    pet scan 3

The truth is that we are able to accomplish any feat we set our minds unto. So if you are experiencing difficulty in consistently accomplishing a task, or following through with agreed upon expectations, perhaps it has nothing to do with your ability but your willingness, influenced by other factors.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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November 22, 2013

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

What if_01(blank)      What if_01(filled)

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.

 

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November 14, 2013

I am pretty certain I have used this pac-man analogy on a previous post, but I will use it again. Once upon a time, I went on a pac-man binge, and achieved a ridiculously high score, (I would mention the score but I don’t remember). The only thing that led to my demise in  the game was cognitive fatigue.

So how did I do it?

I came to the realization that I had memorized the patterns of the ghosts. As a matter of fact the few things that changed during the course of every game I played was the increased speed of the ghosts, the points and my proneness to making errors in  the game.

So how does this work as an analogy?

The patterns of the ghosts where based on the programming instructions written by the programmers who created the game. If you were to go to the apple app store or Android market and purchase a pac-man game, the only way you would be able to change the patterns of the ghosts would be the hack the game and change specific instructions dedicated to the movement patterns of the ghosts.

People are remarkably similar, this is because our habitual behaviors are dictated by what we believe. Every belief we hold unto comes with specific sets of instructions of what to do in response to any circumstance. Whether these instructions help us solve our problems is a different story, but instructions as dedicated by our beliefs cause us to execute a predictable repertoire of behaviors which vary according to the circumstance.

Having this understanding about your fellow human beings is half the battle towards getting past resentments and putting a stop to passive aggressive behavior directed towards you. Half the battle because once you realize that the other person is motivated by a set of beliefs and guided by specific instructions, you cease to take the behavior personally and learn to respond accordingly to behaviors you come to predict.

Take for example,  if you have a co worker who habitually presents with a passive aggressive attitude towards you and other co workers. Perhaps he makes inappropriate jokes, and becomes hostile and easily angered during disagreements with others. It’s easy to get sucked into the chaos if you find yourself engaged in a heated exchange with such a co worker. You may come to take his attitude towards you personally, and without realizing it, you do your best to help explain to this co worker your side of the story, but to no avail.

The Technique

The best response to this scenario and other similar scenario is a two fold technique. First, you should come to understand and accept that this person is operating on a set of beliefs that dictate his behavior of passive hostility towards others during disagreements. (It is important to note that you are not required to figure out what his beliefs may be, change is the responsibility of the individual.) Secondly you should understand that it only becomes more and overtly  hostile if you engage in kind. So do nothing.

It is important to note that doing nothing is only reserved for non life threatening situations. (I will write a post on how to respond to threats in the near future.) Doing nothing is an effective technique for back handed compliments, insults, nasty rumors, hostile glares etc.. The problem people have with doing nothing is that they have unrealistic expectations of what would happen in the event they practiced doing nothing and the harassment stopped. Some people have shared with me that they expect the harasser or passive bully to become apologetic and nicer towards them.

Do nothing doesn’t change a harasser’s attitude, it only confuses them and brings the undesirable behavior to a stop. The reason for this is because there is no corresponding hostile reaction from you to confirm their biased belief which justifies in their minds their decision to harass you. With confusion comes a lack of direction and with a lack of direction comes cessation of the unwanted behavior.

Please note that this technique is only reserved for passive-aggressive, non harm threatening behaviors. For bullyish behaviors that cross the boundaries of physical contact and or violation of personal property there exists a different set of techniques, which will be discussed in a different post.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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