Communication: Post III

It is important communicate directly, clearly, and honestly. Sarcasm, manipulation, and passive aggressive behavior have no place in a truly healthy relationship. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t criticize your partner. If they say or do something that bothers or hurts you, express your feelings about it. For example: “When you raise your voice at me I get scared.” “When I am speaking to you I sometimes feel you aren’t listening.”

These were just a few tips that could go a long way toward improving your relationship.

Are All Counselors, Coaches, or Therapists The Same

Not all professionals working in the area of “mental health” or “coaching” have the same level of expertise or the ability to connect with you. To be honest, I have worked with clients who had previous experiences with other professionals with approaches that were ineffective and offered poor advice. Some of the suggestions and advice was damaging. I have been astonished and disturbed many times with some of the stories clients have told me.

Some professionals use insight oriented approaches and can take years to see any positive results. Other professionals offer little or no help in finding a client’s solutions. They do little more than listen (I am sure many of you have experience with this approach). Others give advice and tell the client what they should be doing and how they should live. (I think we all have friends and relatives who do that quite well.) These are some of what to consider when deciding what road to take. There are hundreds of books, publications, and websites offering self-help and pop-psychology. It all gets quite confusing.

What I believe to be most important is finding someone you can really talk with and share yourself with who really gets who you are. Someone you feel safe with and someone who engages with you in a conversation rather than talking at you or just listens. I believe the best approach is to have a dialog with the goal being finding solutions that work for you. I do not believe that all professionals are equal and can offer the same level of help. Finding someone who fits you is really what is most important.

Communication: The importance of Honesty

When we first meet someone most of us tend to be pretty open about whom we are, our likes and dislikes, as well as our sexual preferences. After all, we have nothing to lose and can easily move on to another potential partner. I have observed over the years that couples tend to become less open and honest about their feelings, thoughts, or desires because of potential conflict or being judged by their partner. Over time they have more and more of an investment in the relationship and more and more to lose.

They eventually get into a pattern of being whom or what they think their partner wants them to be and hide who they really are. They are not intentionally deceiving their partner. They are, “not wanting to hurt them” or “avoiding a potential fight” or “they won’t understand.” They take the path of less resistance. In fact, this attitude and belief places barriers to communication and intimacy. This is very destructive to the relationship and lays a foundation of false security and can be very manipulative (even if that is not the intention). Ultimately it is disrespectful of the partner and the relationship.

It can be very difficult to maintain vulnerability with a partner and risk being judged by someone who’s opinion of us is extremely valuable to us. But, in order for relationships to continue to grow and be healthy both partners need to take the more difficult path and stay open and honest even if we are certain our partner will react in a less than positive manner. Without the facts, you and your partner will be unable to explore differences and resolve conflicts. You just pretend.

When couples come for counseling, all the things that were unsaid, all the anger and resentment that grew over time shocks, surprises, hurts, and angers the partners. They find out all the things they never knew. It is far easier to deal with these issues as the surface than having them all dumped at one time.

My advice to couples is to stay honest and open and vulnerable. If your partner is to have a relationship with and love you, then make sure it is you they see and not some version of you that you are trying to project. Who you are is good enough whether your partner agrees with you or not.

Improve Your Relationship

The biggest problem couples seem to have lies in communication. Being able to engage in open, honest, and effective communication is central to maintaining a healthy and rewarding relationship. Mis-communication increases conflict and stress and can ruin relationships. Listening and understanding what your partner is saying is crucial to good communication. It is helpful to reflect back to your partner your understanding of what they say. “What you said was…….. Is that correct?” Make sure what they intended to communicate is what you understand. Make sure they understand what you are trying to communicate. This will go a long way toward decreasing unnecessary conflicts.

If you believe communication is problem in your relationship add this simple step. It will help you and your parent be more effective communicating with each other and improve your relationship.

Can Anxiety Be Controlled Without Medication?

Anxiety is one of the most common emotional issues dealt with by people in our society. It is common for many people to rely on medication to control feelings of anxiety. Millions of people carry Xanax and take them when they feel anxious. It is not uncommon to hear, “Do you want a Xanax?” when a friend or acquaintance becomes distressed. Medications like Xanax are highly addictive and one of the most abused drugs on the market. It is easy for most people to get a doctor to prescribe this medication. It may reduce the symptoms temporarily, but does nothing to deal with the underlying issue that is the source of the anxiety. Medication does not allow people to develop the skills necessary to manage or overcome anxiety.

Anxiety is the result of our thoughts and the meaning we give to these thoughts. This is the source of all of our emotions. Most of the time people who become anxious are concerned about something that may or may not happen at some future time. This sets off a variety of physical reactions to these thoughts and that is how we recognize our anxiety (distress, panic, worry). In order to overcome and manage these symptoms people can learn to relax, focus on the here and now, and change thoughts that may be caused by irrational beliefs. People are fully capable of learning how to manage anxiety without resorting to the use of addictive medications.

This is a major part of how I have been helping my clients improve the quality of their lives.

Is Dissociative Identity Disorder Real?

Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) which was formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder is probably the most controversial and misunderstood psychiatric diagnosis. Many people including some mental health professionals continue to question if this disorder is real. It is also confused with schizophrenia which is a psychotic disorder in which people have visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations. Many jokes are made about this disorder. It has been portrayed in the movies “Sybil” and “The Many Faces of Eve.” It is believed that .01 to 1% of the world population has this disorder and is more commonly diagnosed in women.
People with D.I.D. have been the victims of severe and continuing abuse as children. Their personality becomes fragmented and parts of them will “rescue” the victim by allowing them to dissociate during episodes of abuse. When “the host” returns, she/he may have no memory of the abuse. The victim can continue to fragment and develop any number of “alters” in order to deal with or cope with different situations. There is plenty of information on the internet about this disorder. Therefore, I will not go any further into the details of the disorder or how it is treated. Due to the questions about this disorder, the myths associated with it, and the jokes made about it, many people who have D.I.D. feel a great deal of shame. They fear coming forward for help and work very hard to conceal the disorder from others. They need to know that they will be accepted and understood in order for them to receive the help they need.
There is no doubt in my mind that this disorder is real. It is also a difficult disorder to treat and requires intense and long term treatment. I have worked with many people with this disorder in the past 15 years with some pretty good results. This is a valid disorder that is separate and different from other disorders listed in the D.S.M. (the diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric association).