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Life is unfair.

Friday, November 27, 2015

5 Tips for Managing Yearnings

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 27, 2015

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Even for sane people, brains aren’t always totally cooperative, reliable things; most of us deal with unwanted thoughts and urges on a daily basis, like doubts about our looks or abilities or nagging impulses to do, say, or touch things that should remain left alone, at least in public. When those yearnings are extra persistent and painful, however, like our reader from earlier this week who couldn’t shake the urge to get pregnant, there are still ways to keep your brain in control. Here are five ways to keep unwanted thoughts from overstaying their welcome.

1. Snap Out of It (Literally)

As silly as it sounds, it does help to put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you have the unwanted thought. It turns out that the distraction helps to stop a thought from turning into a rumination. If it helps to follow up this proverbial smack on the nose with a newspaper with a treat, all the better.

2. Acknowledge and Answer

Instead of taking the thought at face value and letting it get you down, respond to it by reminding yourself that you’ve made the best compromise possible, tough decisions are often painful, and you’re proud of your ability to put up with pain. If the voice isn’t going to shut up, it’s going to be told that it’s wrong.

3. Utilize Unassuming Obsessions

Since it’s fairly difficult to pull up distracting positive thoughts when you’re in the throws of heavy, nagging obsessions, try instead to distract yourself with unimportant, public ruminations, like how it’s unclear whether people watch Empire because they think it’s really good or delightfully idiotic, or why the Red Sox fired the one announcer who could make a horrible season watchable.

4. Stand up to Shame

Negative thoughts flourish with shame and secrecy—if you’re too ashamed of them to get talk about them or get help, they’ll get the run of your head—so tell those close to you that you suffer from ruminations and appreciate distraction. If you don’t want to wear the rubberband, you can ask them to step on your toe or pinch your tush if you ever, ever start to share the subject of your ruminations.

5. Seek Support

Spend time with other people who suffer from ruminations (an OCD clinic should know where you can find a support group). You’ll find many nice, otherwise sane people who experience painful, intrusive thoughts and still find ways to go on with their lives. They may also have more good hints about how to ignore the thoughts and prevent their painfulness from driving you to feel like a failure. Either way, they can help you to feel less alone, more in control, and thinking more positively about the problem in general, even if you can’t stop thinking about other things.

Strength and Fertility Test

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 24, 2015

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If you’re cursed with obsessive yearnings for something that’s out of reach, it’s natural to feel ashamed, particularly when you feel blessed in other ways and sharing your feelings would cause pain to those you love. It’s then also natural to obsess over how much you’re obsessing, which obviously just makes things worse and hard to feel anything but cursed. Unfortunately, however, ruminations are ruminations because you don’t control them. What you can control, of course, are the decisions you make about those yearnings. If you do what’s right regardless of your yearnings, you should recognize the significance of your accomplishment, and if you need tips for managing those yearnings, we’ll provide them later this week.
-Dr. Lastname

My husband and I can’t have our own biological kids, due to my husband’s infertility. We have a healthy and strong marriage, so that’s not the problem, and I’m also not mad at him for not being able to get me pregnant. I wish I was, however, because I feel like that’s an easy fix (or at least I can find plenty of how to do that online). What I am searching for is how do I stop wanting to be pregnant. We have adopted and our child is wonderful, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to carry a child of my own. As much as I have searched and asked, infertility advice is about dealing with in vitro or other fertility treatments or how to repair a marriage after infertility, not how to cope with this kind of loss, so I am searching for advice on how to move on. My goal is to figure out how do I accept my fate and stop wishing (desperately) for pregnancy. 
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5 Ways To Address Partner Flaws

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 19, 2015

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Sometimes, when you add up everything good about your spouse and subtract the stuff that drives you nuts, the marital math shows you that they’re not equal to (e)X, i.e., that they’re worth keeping around, despite their less attractive behavior. If, like our reader from earlier this week, you’re trying to stay together despite some behavior you can’t stand, here are five ways to positively address the issue without going positively nuts.

1. Be Calm and Clarify

With as much clinical distance as possible, identify a grouch-related behavior that is simple, easily defined, and well worth reducing. Possible examples include a raised voice (that can be heard clearly in the next room, or next town), swearing, or personal criticism that is more cruel than part of a constructive conversation.

2. Frank but Fair

Before beginning the discussion, announce your intentions by first describing your pleasure in your spouse’s company when he’s being nice/not doing that one jerky thing. Assert your belief that it hurts your relationship for you to hang out and engage in conversation when he’s not being his normal, nice self. Then define the behavior you don’t like without sounding critical or arguing about whether or not it’s bad; slinging insults is objectively bad, no matter who’s slinging them.

3. Brace Yourself

Even if your spouse agrees with your goals, he or she may complain that your new rules are destroying his spontaneity and causing him to second-guess himself and feel perpetually self-conscious. Don’t argue, but express confidence in your observations and the long-term benefits of change. Show no guilt and offer no explanation when you implement your plan, just support and assurance that this transition period will soon pass.

4. Extend the Experiment

Whether you try withdrawing in response to negative behaviors or lavishing praise on ones that are positive or both, refine your methods as you observe how they work. Don’t expect to get your husband to see what he’s doing wrong or agree to change. Remember, your goal is to protect yourself, even if you can’t reduce his inappropriate behavior.

5. Embrace an Exit Strategy

If you’ve done your best to alert your spouse to his bad habits and he still can’t reign them in, then your next best strategy is to avoid being in the presence of that behavior altogether. Put together an escape plan that will protect you from having to listen to further grouchiness while also discouraging it. For example, you can leave the room, put in ear plugs, or go for a walk. Because if s/he can’t keep bad behavior under wraps, you can always keep up good methods for getting around it or, if you really can’t take it, getting a good lawyer to get out of the marriage entirely.


Posted by fxckfeelings on November 17, 2015

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You’d think that people would want to stop doing things that are irrational and painful, but it’s because they’re uncontrollable that they’re doing them in the first place without being able to stop. In any case, don’t let your allergy to irritability control your partnership decisions. Look at the whole person before making up your mind about the value of preserving your relationship. Then, if you decide it’s worthwhile, we’ll have tips later this week for using your acceptance as a tool in negotiating a better relationship that any (mostly) rational person could agree to.

-Dr. Lastname

My husband has been diagnosed with ADHD, takes meds for ADHD, and sees a psychiatrist twice a month. A couple times a week (sometimes more) he gets angry/irritated with me for the tiniest of missteps. I’m usually surprised and I never know what will set him off. I’ve been seeing a therapist who helps me to maneuver around it and not take it personally, etc., but it always stings when he gets pissed at me. It seems kind of human to flinch when anger comes at you out of the blue. Plus, he denies that it’s anger, even though if any human were to overhear his voice and see his face, they would say, “wow, he’s pissed at her.”  He’s really wonderful in many ways (which is why I’m trying to find a solution), but I don’t know if this is something that can be resolved. I have a metaphor for the situation: its like we have this lovely glass of water, but he keeps pissing in it, then says, “just drink it, it’s just a little piss.” Well, no thanks. I know sometimes bad and unfair things happen and when they do, by all means, get angry…but his anger is way out of proportion. My goal is to have peace and harmony in our marriage. 

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5 Tips for Overcoming Love Addiction

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 12, 2015

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Breaking the cycle of addiction may be a boon to reality television producers, fancy rehab centers, and the makers of terrible coffee in church basements, but for the addicts themselves, the rewards are a lot more hard won. Whether you’re hooked on a drug or, in the case of our reader earlier this week, a bad relationship, getting clean is always a difficult process. While 12 Step programs have a lot to offer anyone trying to get clean, we humbly offer these five steps specifically for those trying to move on from a bad relationship.

Five tips for overcoming love addiction:

Step 1: Step Back For Perspective

Without allowing yourself to mention your current partner, describe the qualities a prospective partner must have before a relationship has any chance, not of starting, feeling good, or being exciting, but of lasting and bringing more to your life than it takes away. If your list is more about how a guy smells or what a girl’s legs should look like than whether s/he can pay bills on time or be trusted with a car, then you’re doing it wrong.

Step 2: Stick To Your Guidelines

In the presence of a trusted friend or therapist, honestly and carefully assess your current partner’s ability to meet the requirements listed above. Give yourself credit for every time you can admit they don’t have what it takes, but take away that credit (and then some) for each time you attempt to re-open the discussion by imagining something you could do to change them. This isn’t about changing them, but changing your priorities and ability to tolerate too much BS.

Step 3: Find Support

Since the worst partners are often the hardest to leave, strengthen your partnerships with friends and family, because their support is invaluable. Talk to them about your helplessness with your addiction, which is, of course, the first of the actual 12 steps. Give them permission to stop you by any means necessary if you want to change the subject from what you should do next to what you could say or do to get him to see that he’s done wrong.

Step 4: Stick to the Script

Once you’ve become certain that you need to move on, and you’ve lined up allies to help you, you might still need a little reinforcement when it comes to delivering the news to your ex-to-be. Write a paragraph that describes your requirements in a partner and states, with regret but without anger, the requirements you believe he’s unable to meet. If you sound like you’re trying to persuade him to meet your requirements, or that you’re open to argument about whether he is or isn’t eligible, then enlist one of your friends to edit that garbage right out.

Step 5: Step Away

If at all possible, go on vacation with friends, because the best way to put distance between yourself and a bad relationship, at least at first, is to literally go far away. While you block him from your phone and drop him from social media, give yourself a chance to go through withdrawal in pleasant, nurturing circumstances. It’s a quick trip to relationship rehab with lots of distraction and a built in support group who will help you come up with a strategy if you’re ever tempted to slip. Getting over someone is hard, but if you can get your priorities together, get reinforcements, and then get away, you can get on with your life.

Pattern Demolition

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 10, 2015

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Louis CK once said that no good marriage ends in divorce, but it’s also true that really bad relationships seem to go on forever; those connections built on intense neediness and over-responsiveness tend to get stuck in a death spiral as both parties endlessly circle the emotional toilet, never quite flushing their connection away. That’s because, once you care deeply about someone, it’s hard not to become over-attached and treat his or her commitment problems as if they were misunderstandings that might be your fault, even if that someone doesn’t treat you well and isn’t great partnership material. All of this can be avoided if you learn how to withhold commitment until you’re sure a prospective partner has the right qualities, regardless of how intense your need and attraction. Later this week, we’ll explore the five steps of bad relationship recovery, but you can’t recover until you know why it’s good to walk away from your bad relationship in the first place.

-Dr. Lastname

I’ve been in a relationship off and on for almost a year, and the reason for the “offs” is his fear of everything— three times he’s done the same thing and broken up with me for “a possible problem,” or “fear of ___,” or whatever stupid reason, but in the end I always find him and we get back together. I know this is a bad pattern. I mean, it’s pathetic to keep wanting to be with him after how he’s been such an asshole to me for no apparent reason. He chooses to treat me as if I were shit, as if he wants to hurt me badly while pretending it’s nothing. I know I should be mad and write him off as an asshole, but I can’t. I keep justifying his actions, because I know what he’s been through. Anyway, I love him and I hate that I can’t love myself enough to stop looking for him despite all the mean things he’s said and done to me, how he’s treated me like a toy. When I finally did stand up for myself recently and say some really mean things, he didn’t react at all, won’t respond to my apology…I don’t want to keep waiting for him to talk to me and my head knows that it’s stupid, but my heart keeps wanting to reach him. I’m not trying to be a victim—I believe that everything that happens to us is the consequence of our choices—but I need to know how to choose better for myself. My goal is to figure out how to get over this guy and the rut of our unhappy relationship.

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5 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 5, 2015

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If, as discussed earlier this week, you’re a shy person struggling to get by in a socially-driven world, there is hope. Sure, you may never feel comfortable as a party animal (without employing some unwise methods that will lead to a very uncomfortable trip to rehab), but you can find ways to feel less like a trapped animal at parties. Here are five techniques that anti-social people can use to survive social situations.

1. Accept Your Social Impairment

Respect your anti-social nature and don’t apologize for appearing anxious, feeling a lack of social enthusiasm, or dreading the event in the first place. Instead, develop your own criteria for considering social events necessary and worthwhile. For example, it’s worth pushing yourself to go to a beloved cousin’s wedding or your boss’ birthday party, but you can feel OK about skipping your creepy neighbor’s Pig Roast.

2. Try Fear Management

Research all available anti-anxiety and anti-shyness techniques and treatments, then sample those that seem reasonable for your specific issues and budget. There are plenty of non-medical treatments out there, from books to therapy to breathing techniques, that will make parties less painful. If they are helping, however, be willing to try medication if necessary, understanding that effectiveness is often no more than partial and requires tolerance of side effects.

3. Own Your Awkwardness

Once you accept your own social shortcomings, it’s easier to learn to tell people that you occasionally suffer from anxiety; you shouldn’t feel obliged to share this information with everyone—after all, you’re part of a group least likely to throw a parade in their own honor—but not to hide it from those important to you. Imply that you’re comfortable with this fact of life and are not sensitive to their reaction; even if you aren’t so comfortable, fudging it puts them at ease and can reduce your anxiety about your making them anxious.

4. Forecast Your Fears

Since social gatherings feel like risky stunts, it’s important to have several escape and emergency plans in place. Prepare plans A, B and C for managing that anxiety in a way that will reduce symptoms, save face, and allow you to emerge unscathed. Just knowing that you have plans in place will have a relaxing effect and it make it easier to relax (slightly).

5. Take setbacks in stride

No matter how solid your management plan or how long your panic-free streak, there’s always the possibility that things will go wrong and you’ll be struck with an outburst of social anxiety, shyness, or self-criticism. If and when that happens, don’t take it as a crushing defeat or failure. Instead, take pride in your persistence and willingness to tolerate these painful feelings for a good cause. You’ll never conquer your shyness entirely, but, as we always say, you can keep it from conquering you.

Social Strife

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 3, 2015

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In a society where all the spoils seem to go to the outgoing, being shy or anxious can feel like being cursed. Just because you can’t make direct eye contact and small talk, it’s easy to feel like a failure, clam up even more, and become convinced you’re doomed to a life of banishment. In reality, however, some people are shy and self-critical, no matter how hard they try to become outgoing, and many shy people still find ways to get ahead, no matter how much they hate getting trapped at parties. There may be no real cure for shyness, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a curse, either.

-Dr. Lastname

I’m terribly self-conscious. It makes me extremely shy, self critical and lonely. I don’t talk to people much. I’m terrified to speak to a group of people. It takes me too long to do projects since I’m avoiding mistakes. I’d love to say f*ck my self-consciousness, self-criticism and self judgment. It comes over me, however, like a wave and I don’t overcome it. These negative feelings affect me both emotionally (panic, frustration, resentment) and physically (sweating, shaking, shallow breath). I’d rather be social, self-accepting and a more agile and accomplished performer at work. My goal is to be able to tell my problem to f*ck off and become the person I’d rather be.

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5 Steps to Keep A Kid Safe… and Keep You Out of the Crosshairs

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 29, 2015

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If, like our reader from earlier this week, you’re frustrated with your inability to help a child in a bad living situation, you can feel as trapped and tortured as you imagine the child does. There are things you can do to help, but if you’re driven by passion, not patience and care, you might end up doing more harm than good.

Here are five steps you can take that have a good chance of getting a child to safety and keeping you out of the crosshairs.

1) Align With The Authorities

Never protect a child from neglect or abuse before first notifying a state child protective agency. It’s not just the law, it’s also your best protection against taking too much responsibility while also having no authority. If you’re working with the people who can actually make a difference, then you won’t feel like it’s all up to you.

2) Take Stock, Then Take Action

Assess your own needs and other priorities before over-committing resources, factoring in state benefits and possible legal fees. If you’re really upset, you may feel like your only choice is going after the problem with everything you’ve got, but if you’ve got limited time and resources, barreling ahead means sabotaging your own efforts.

3) Give Up The Guilt

After taking every reasonable measure, don’t let your fear of possible neglect blackmail you into assuming full responsibility if you don’t really have the time, energy and health. After sharing your concerns with the state, offer to contribute whatever caregiving you can and no more. Learn to be satisfied with your best compromise, not the best, period.

4) Avoid Exploitation

If you feel your care is being misused by a child or her parent, define standards for good behavior and enforce incentives that need to be met before you give your time. Good behavior, for those whom you shelter, includes doing work (school work, chores, a job), avoiding self-destructive behavior (drugs, bad friendships, self-harm), and not being mean. Then reward those behaviors with incentives include money, car access, and, of course, praise.

5) Advocate for Yourself

Once you’ve set limits you believe are fair and taken actions you believe are smart, don’t second-guess yourself or your choices, or appear wishy-washy. If you gain the authority of custody, use your authority fairly without getting bogged down in self-doubt or explanation. Most importantly, keep reminding yourself that you are an outsider trying to do the right thing without being sucked into chaos.

Vexed Generation

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 27, 2015

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Ideally, being a grandparent offers the best of both worlds; all the fun of playing with kids with none of the pesky responsibility that comes with being directly responsible. If the actual parent isn’t responsible, however, then everything gets flipped on its head, and you’re in a worst-of-all-worlds scenario where you have all the protective instincts of parenthood without any of the authority to do something about it. So, if you feel a grandchild needs your help, don’t let your protective instincts take over, because charging in is never as effective taking small, careful steps. You may not be able to get the best results for you or your grandchild, but will certainly make things better.

-Dr. Lastname

My adult daughter and her toddler live with me and my husband because she has failed to maintain employment to take care of herself. She has had opportunities to work but always quits because of “issues” she has with the jobs. She is irresponsible, manipulative, and is a liar. If I put her out, my grandchild will suffer from poverty and lack of nurturing (the child’s father is not in the picture, so help from him is not an option). My goal is to find a way to handle this without hurting the child.

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