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Tag: 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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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October 11, 2013

In a 2009 article published in Scientific America, the authors Paul Andrews and J Thompson proposed that depression is an evolutionary adaptation. Their argument was primarily based on the presence of a gene in the brain called the 5HT1A receptor, which binds to a well known neurotransmitter called serotonin. It is a popular theory that low serotonin production in the brain is associated with depression.

The authors of the article seemed to suggest that people who suffer from depression have evolved to solve complex problems at the expense of their well being and personal relationships, with one of a evidences presented being the observed reduction of depressed symptoms in rodents missing the 5HT1A receptor, this is because the 5HT1A receptor in rodents is 99% similar to that in humans. Furthermore the authors state that the next generation of antidepressants are being designed to target the 5HT1A receptor.

As a therapist I have mixed feelings about this theory. First, I believe it’s true that we have evolved to solve complex problems, and I believe that feelings of sadness, fear, disappointment are good negative feelings that we have evolved to experience in order for us to learn important lessons about getting our needs met and surviving. Secondly, I believe that depression is a consequence that occurs when we refuse to accept negative feelings in our lives and acknowledge difficult truths.

In the article, the authors cite a study, where they observed the mood of research subjects when solving complex problems like a math equation. The authors reported that the more depressed the subjects were, during the test, the higher their scores were.

It does make sense that anyone who is focused on solving a problem would become less sociable, experience less joy and overall present with a serious affect. However I don’t believe that this is considered depression.

Depression is anger turned inwards, this occurs when we buy into messages that tell us we must feel good as often as possible, and that not feeling good is a bad thing. When in fact, our feelings are like temperature gauges, they inform us of how well things are going our way or otherwise, in regards to getting our needs met.

When we fight against the messages our minds relay to us about the world outside of our heads, our minds fight back. When we experience inner turmoil, we are likely to go into shut down mode. This is usually evidenced by not following through on dire commitments despite consequences, and chronic lethargy.

In summary I believe that our feelings are an evolutionary adaptation, for problem solving, to include serving as cues for encoding information into long term memory, and memory is important for problem solving, (think frames of reference). Depression on the other hand, is a natural and logical consequence of what happens when we chronically refuse to accept our difficult feelings.

Furthermore, I do agree with the author’s encouragement for rumination. I do encourage clients to ruminate and document their thoughts, with one condition, that they accept and practice making peace with their fears.

Some months ago, I wrote a detailed post on  types and causes  of depression, you can check out the post here, and you can read the Scientific America article here.

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

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October 9, 2013

In this video I discuss three cognitive tools a person who struggles with anxiety needs to learn in a therapeutic relationship. They are embracing fear, acceptance of life on life’s terms and practicing courage.

Embracing fear:

Fear is a survival mechanism, for worst case scenarios it alerts us to life threatening situation and to a lesser extent it alerts us when our ability to get our needs met becomes threatened. Our sense of fear is important information we need to embrace, as it provides us with crucial information we need towards taking care of ourselves. When we are resistant towards acknowledging our experiences of fear, we spend more time running from the experiencing fear than tackling the cause of the fear.

Acceptance:

Anxiety has a lot to do with not being able to accept a lack of control over circumstances that influences a person’s life. People who struggle with anxiety have a tendency worry over things that could possibly go wrong in their lives. Learning to accept life’s possibilities as is, through cognitive strategies goes a long way towards achieving peace of mind. Another term for acceptance as it relates to anxiety is learning to accept life on life’s terms.

Practicing Courage:

Practicing courage, means practicing the courage to change habits that don’t work for us. It is natural to experience resistance to change because as creatures of habit, we have a tendency to hold on to things that don’t work for us, mostly because we have convinced ourselves that they bring us comfort. Our habits are usually formed as a response to the narratives we have come to believe regarding how our lives should unfold and seldom as a response to our experiences with real life. Practicing courage, means letting go of our narratives, and re writing our personal stories based on our true experiences with life.

 

 

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

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October 7, 2013
When you change the way you think, you change the way you feel, however change can be for better or for worse. This is because the thought process that leads to practicing change can be either a strength or a weakness. It can be a strength because if you change your thinking to be closely aligned with reality as possible, you will experience more feelings of optimism. You will experience more feelings of optimism because when your thoughts closely match the reality of any situation, you will experience more success in coming up with effective solutions to address your experience, even if the effective solution simply calls for acceptance.

On the other hand, if your thinking isn’t aligned with reality, then you will experience more failures in coming up with effective solutions to address things not going your way. Even worse, since our thinking directly influences our habits, flawed thought processes lead to bad habits, and bad habits create more problems. As a result, if your thinking is not closely aligned to reality, you are likely to experience episodes of despair, frustration and hopelessness, due to the double jeopardy of your habits creating problems for you, and your poor success rate with thinking up solutions that work.

So how do you make sure that the change in thinking you are making is healthier? The answer is a straight forward one, if you are buying into a new idea, or rather, a new way of thinking then there are two rules of thumb to abide by;

The first should be a new way of thinking that calls for regarding others the same way you want you be regarded.

Take for example, someone who struggles with co dependency; in other for a habitual co dependent person to influence the nature of his or her relationships with others, he or she would have to become more assertive in interacting with others. It is not unusual for assertiveness to become confused with overt aggression towards others. I have witnessed people, once they came to the realization that they had allowed others to take advantage of them, they became retaliatory, and began trying to take advantage of others.

With proper guidance, these people can learn to practice assertiveness and compassion for others at the same time. This is done by coming to unconditionally accept and regard others as human, the same way you should regard yourself. So if you want to be forgiven for past transgressions towards someone, then you should be willing to forgive others who have wronged you.

The second role of thumb, should be buying into a new way of thinking devoid of entitlement ideology.

For example, people sometimes buy into a new way of thinking regarding how they believe others should treat and regard them. This is simply a recipe for hate towards others that you feel mistreated by. In truth, we are not entitled to be liked or receive good favors from others. People get their needs for social acceptance met by interacting with others whose beliefs and values closely match theirs. This process involves, willing to forgive rejection from others and focusing on others with shared beliefs and values.

When we focus on how others should not treat us, most of what we begin seeing are those we disagree with and resent.

When we focus on how much we resent or hate anyone it leads to increased feelings of anger and anger leads to feelings of false empowerment.

In summary, a healthy way of thinking should encourage you to practice regarding others the way you want to be regarded, and let go of expectations on how others should regard you.

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

 

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October 4, 2013

There is a ubiquitous message out there, that the best response to pain and suffering at the hands of “wrongdoers” is to create awareness. How this awareness is usually created is to inform the wrongdoers about the emotional impact their actions have had on yourself. In some cases this message of awareness turns into an attempt to shame the wrongdoer into ceasing the wrong doing behavior against your person hood. I call this message, validation seeking behavior. This validation seeking behavior should not be confused with the concept of a positive peer culture, (later in this post I shall explain what positive peer culture is.)

Validation seeking behavior is the process were you go about convincing others that you are truly suffering from wrong doing from others or other circumstances beyond your control. The belief with seeking validation is that if you do a good enough job in convincing others (including wrongdoers) that you have indeed suffered, it would provoke significant compassion in the hearts of others that they will reach out to help you out of the problem or crisis you are experiencing.

The belief of seeking validation has three potential flaws, and they are as follows;

1. What happens when those that receive the message of your pain and suffering don’t care? This especially applies to wrongdoers, as in order for them to have acted out on the wrong doing behavior, they must have thought it through and they clearly didn’t care enough to consider the emotional impact it would have on your life.

2. What if those that receive the message are in the same boat as you? You would think that this would be a good thing, but if you have a group of people going through a period of suffering who believe that seeking validation for their suffering is their ticket out of suffering, what you really have are a group of sufferers competing with each other about who deserves more sympathy.

3. What if those that receive the message and feel sympathy for you, are willing to help you but don’t know how to help you? This is a scenario that I can relate to, quite often I meet with people who spend good money with me to lament their pain and suffering and after I have acknowledged their pain and suffering, I ask them one question;

“What does wellness look like for you?” The response I typically get after I pose this question is silence followed by the answer, “I don’t know.”

Here lies the ultimate flaw with validation seeking, now that your pain and suffering has been acknowledged, now what? Earlier in this post, I wrote that validation seeking behavior should not be confused with positive peer culture, and here is the reason why; A positive peer culture is a culture where people come together with the common interest in helping each other solve problems. 

Positive peer cultures are formed all the time, from school clubs to business associations, these are groups formed by people who have willingly identified an ongoing problem in their lives and have a healthy idea of what their lives would look like without these problems even if they do not have a working solution.

The idea that we need to seek validation for suffrage we have endured is a dangerous one, dangerous because it also contains a hidden and false message that human beings are not supposed to experience pain and suffering. In truth, the purpose of life is to pursue goals that are consistent with the meaning you have given to your life, through good times and bad times. Suffering, regardless of the cause is inevitable in the lives of every human being and once we buy into messages that lead us into believing that we are not supposed to struggle we develop a false sense of entitlement that things should always go our way.

The only person who should validate your pain and suffering is you. Your ability identify and interpret your pain and suffering is the first step towards seeking solutions for the problems you are experiencing.

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

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