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Fair' is a 4-letter word.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trust Protection

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 19, 2016

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Because trust between people who know one another well usually depends on how well they treat one another (and their cars, pets, and fancy coffee makers) over time, we tend to assume that mistrust would not flare up in a close relationship without good reason. Unfortunately, some apparently normal people are sometimes prone to limited bursts of paranoia, so mistrust can also arise spontaneously for reasons that we don’t understand. That’s why it’s important to develop objective methods for assessing the causes of mistrust, whether it’s your own or others’, and whether it’s broken-espresso- machine-related or not.

-Dr. Lastname

I love my partner very much— he makes me very happy, and I feel very cherished. Despite that, however, I cannot trust him because there have been a few times that he has neglected to tell me very important things that affected us. He will keep me informed for a week or so, and then neglect it again. If I cannot trust him, can this relationship work? Can someone who behaves like this change? My goal is to figure out whether I can stay with someone I love, even if I can’t take his word. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Not Kill Your Kid

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 14, 2016

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If, like our reader from earlier this week, you’re having a tough time getting along with your teenaged kid, there are ways to keep things more civil, even if you can’t keep your kid from acting out. Here are five typical things a teenaged kid says to provoke a parent, and five responses that won’t feel as satisfying but will minimize conflict and make a tough situation easier to deal with.

1) “I’ll do [this chore] later. I’m not your slave.”

“I don’t want you to feel like a slave, though we both have to do lots of shit that everybody hates doing. I’ll put together your share of the shit list and make sure it’s fair and necessary, and we’ll discuss it. Meanwhile, I really appreciate what you do and think it’s making you independent.”

2) “You never listen to me and I always listen to you.”

“You’re right, [my illness/schedule/obligation to your siblings] doesn’t let me listen to you as well as I’d like, and I hate it, too, because you’re one of the most important people for me to listen to. But if we are both patient and persistent, I’m sure I’ll get the message.”

3) “You’re lucky I don’t tell anyone how abusive you are.”

“Anger can get both of us to do things we really regret, and I’m sorry I lost it. I’m the parent, and I’m supposed to have the experience and maturity to keep it together. I’m determined to learn from what went wrong and try to do better.”

4) “You’re lucky I didn’t hurt you because I’m stronger than you.”

“You’re right, which is why I’m glad you restrained yourself. For that matter, though you may not believe me, so did I. And that’s what we both need to get better at doing: keeping it together when we really want to kill one another.”

5) “You’re really psycho.”

“So, who’s perfect? But seriously, it’s not nice to be nasty about mental illness, especially because, if I do have a crazy, terrible temper, then you inherited it. So yes, it’s my fault, but here we are, so we both have to learn how to manage our inner genetic psycho.”

Parental Warning

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 12, 2016

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Many parents know what it’s like to hate their kids at some point in the long, close process of living together as a family, be it during the early years when they eat, break or crap on something you really care about, or during the teen years, when they metaphorically do the same. Unfortunately, some parents don’t know it does no good to hate yourself for the way you feel, so instead of trying to feeling loving all the time or running away when you’re angry, remember what you want to accomplish as a parent, whether you like your kid at that moment or not. Then learn how to keep hate to yourself while pushing the relationship in the direction you think it should go, namely towards mutual respect and away from destruction.

-Dr. Lastname

I’m a single mom in my 40s, and I am in complete awe of kids today and their sense of entitlement. My teenaged daughter down-talks to me constantly and is always arguing about every little thing. Tonight I told her to do the dishes, and when she gave an attitude about it, the fight escalated until we started hitting each other. She talked down to me and called me crazy, and I ended up putting her in a headlock and saying, “You think this is crazy, you haven’t seen crazy!” Eventually, I even said the words I will go to hell for saying–“I hate you”—and I hate myself right now. All I have ever wanted was the best for my daughter. Her father was in and out of her life and that devastated me because I know how important a father is since I didn’t have one myself. I have done everything to show her love and build her up so she would have the self-esteem to make better choices for herself, yet here I am acting like my mother, which makes me want to go play in traffic. She has been stubborn and strong willed since day one and everything I thought about having a little girl has been shattered. A factor to consider is I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago. I can’t work (but I take care of the household), am in pain a good percentage of the time, and my cognitive skills are most effected, so I can’t multi-task at all (and I have explained to her that if I am doing something and she comes in and starts talking, my brain can’t shift that fast, but she still gets annoyed when I ask her to repeat herself). I feel like my life is fucked and over and I’m depressed about a shitload of things, but mainly our relationship. What the hell do I do to change our relationship before I have a stroke? My goal is to get my daughter to see that I love her so much instead of just seeing my resentment.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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.

5 Things to Consider Before Venting

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 21, 2015

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While it feels good to let someone “know how you really feel,” especially when that person is making you feel really bad, the long-term effect on your relationships can be really awful. Earlier this week, we explained to a reader why venting is dangerous, so here are five things to consider before letting loose and doing permanent damage.

  1. Think Beyond The Catharsis

Don’t ask yourself whether your statement will make you feel better, introduce more honesty into the world, or punish those who deserve it. All of those outcomes, while glorious, are fleeting, while the resentment, bitterness, and anger that follow can last a lifetime.

  1. “Nobody’s Ever Died From Bottling Up Feelings…

…but plenty of people have died from unbottling them,” is another saying we use even more frequently than the fart metaphor. Don’t think for a moment that suppressing your feelings will harm your health or fill your life with pointless frustration; venting your feelings, on the other hand, is a good way to get punched, evicted, and generally put in harm’s way.

  1. Review The Record

Remember what happened the last time you shared your feelings (or the last few times), and, frustrating as it may be, admit that you can’t find a single reason why things won’t happen the same way this time. Or find the non-military circumstances under which berating someone could possibly be a positive motivator, period.

  1. Get A Second Opinion

Before addressing an issue with someone, try to persuade a neutral party that the issue is important, something might be gained from talking about it, and there’s something constructive you can do about it. If you can’t convince them, then it’s probably best to keep the issue to yourself. If you can, prepare a statement that begins with respect and optimism, describes the mutual benefits that could be achieved with change, and encourages the other party to do what he thinks best.

  1. Spell It Out, Don’t Shame It Up

If your husband’s sexual unresponsiveness would force you to take actions he might not like—finding intimacy outside of your marriage, seeking a sperm donor, etc.—then spell it out to him as a necessity that you want to avoid, but, if necessary, are determined to pursue. Make it clear that you’re not telling him this as a threat, punishment, or expression of anger or disrespect; you’re not venting your feelings, you’re explaining the facts, and it’s the difference between doing damage and seeking a constructive compromise.

Foe Outlet

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 19, 2015

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The anger people feel when a relationship makes them feel helpless, whether it’s from disappointment or abuse, is often so painful letting the feels out seems like the only form of relief. Unfortunately, angrily releasing those feelings doesn’t make them go away; instead, it gives them life outside of your head, where they can do even more damage. So don’t vent anger before first thinking carefully about the impact it’s likely to have on relationships you may continue to need and/or value. Then, if you decide it’s worth taking a stand, compose a positive way to negotiate for what you want (elaborated upon later this week). The relief won’t be as immediate, but the possible fall-out won’t make the pain worse.

-Dr. Lastname

 


I guess you’d tell me I shouldn’t focus on the sexlessness of my nine years of marriage and instead focus on the positive experiences we have had and learn to keep my mouth shut—not release the “verbal farts” you talk about—but if letting people get away with mistreating me is what you think I’m supposed to do, then I’d rather have chronic verbal gas. I tell my friends when they are fake and shallow, my husband that our sexless marriage is emotionally corrosive and my parents that I will despise them for physically abusing me when I was a child. In other words, I tell the truth, but according to you, I should “man up” and move on and keep my feelings to myself. I don’t see how that’s better or fair. My goal is to see your point.


 

If your marriage turns out to be sexless, you’ve been the victim of child abuse, or you’ve generally had and unlucky and unhappy life, then you certainly have the right to feelings of resentment. There’s no benefit from telling yourself that you should feel good about experiencing so many bad things.

On the other hand, as you’ve already guessed, we wouldn’t tell you to express those angry feelings unless they can do you some good in the long run, and, usually, they can’t. As we say in our fart metaphor, beyond the immediate relief, venting ugly feelings then poisons the air for you and everyone around you.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Fix/Forget Your Marriage

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 13, 2015

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Earlier this week, we gave a reader advice about how to decide what to do about his broken marriage. Given the disconnect between the way you feel about a marriage and its true potential for benefit or harm in your life, it’s not an easy choice, so here’s a list of questions that will help you find its true value, regardless of your current feelings.

  1. Can I keep putting up with [habit that makes you nuts]?

Ask yourself whether there’s something specific about your partner you can’t tolerate—from the way he never replaces an empty roll of toilet paper to the way she never replenishes your shared bank account after spending too much money on booze—and whether it’s ever likely to change. Remember, people don’t change unless they decide they want to, for their own reasons, and, even then, trying hard is no guarantee. If it isn’t likely to change, consider whether it’s something you can put up with or not.

  1. Can s/he keep putting up with my [habit that makes your partner nuts]?

Ask yourself whether there’s something about you that your partner can’t stand—again, anything from just leaving your dishes in the sink to leaving for days on end without warning—and whether it’s in your power to change. If it is, decide whether you’re willing to change if changing might make the marriage work.

  1. Can I stop overreacting?

Ask yourself whether, under pressure from marital conflict, you’ve done things you think are wrong, passive-aggressive, or generally petty and destructive to your union. If so, consider whether you can clean up your act. Otherwise, you won’t know whether your bad behavior is responsible for ruining your marriage.

  1. Can I figure out the point of marriage in general?

Ask yourself, in a business-like way, what your goals are for a marriage, like companionship, acceptance, support during hard times, strengthened family ties, lower taxes, etc. Then rate your marriage according to these goals, and assess how your ability to reach those goals will be better/worse if your marriage ends, i.e., he might be a good companion and listener, but he’s not around when I really need him, so it might be better to find someone more reliable who’s less chatty and talk to a cat.

  1. Can I see through my rage?

Ask yourself whether your perspective is tainted by anger; a good partner may be infuriating, but also worth sticking it out with, while a bad partner may just make you sad. Instead, pay attention to your rating system, based on all the objective assessments above, which will tell you whether your marriage is good for your life, or whether you should start a new life as a single person.

 

Fix or Forget It?

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 8, 2015

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Deciding whether to continue a marriage and how you feel about your marriage are two very different things; you may feel miserable in a marriage that has the potential to make you happy in the long run, or you may feel ambivalent enough about your union that you tough it out, even though doing so may be the wrong choice looking forward. Making the decision is hard, but if you can be honest about your priorities, you can make the best choice for you, your marriage, and your future.

-Dr. Lastname

After too many years of passive aggressiveness by both myself and my wife of several years, we finally admitted that we do not love each other anymore. Despite that, she agreed to give it a go again, though she will not attend counseling where she thinks all her mistakes will be highlighted. She wants to begin “dating” each other again. I’m going along with this but will also be seeing a psychologist to sort out the anger I have for the wasted time. The thing is, even with all of this counseling, I don’t see myself falling back in love with her. I think separating and eventually dissolving the marriage would make me much happier; as a healthy man in my 60s, I feel I have a lot of great years left and want to spend them with someone I can really love. My older kids would probably accept the separation, so…f*ck happiness? Yield to the stupor of reality? My goal is to figure out what the f*ck is going on.

Fix it or Forget it, Should I Stay In My Marriage? F*ck Feelings

When we have to make important decisions for ourselves that also affect someone we care about, we tend to make the mistake of allowing them an equal or more important voice in our thought process. It’s a little like the old notion of having a devil and an angel on each shoulder, except in this case, you have the other person voicing their needs on one shoulder and you’re sitting cowering down by the elbow, hoping to eventually get a word in edgewise.

Considering the feelings of someone you’re strongly connected to as if they were your own is a natural habit to get into, but if you want to do the right thing by both of you, it’s a habit that must be broken. It might sound selfish at first, but when you think about it, it’s the smarter approach.

That’s because, if you over-regard someone else’s feelings when making decisions, you may well make the decision they want and then blame them for it. That’s not fair, of course, because it’s your decision to make. It’s not fair to either one of you in the long run.

So re-edit your description of your problem; you feel you don’t love your wife and have a negative, angry chemistry that doesn’t change, even when you’re not arguing. Given her age and lack of interest in treatment, you can’t expect her to change. You haven’t presented any reason of your own for staying married to her. Instead, you’ve presented her wishes as if they’re as important as your own, even though they’re completely contradictory.

Give more thought to your own reasons for staying together. Review your incomes and retirement opportunities, and consider the possible shared pleasures and interests of spending retirement time together. Ask yourself whether you enjoy your time together with your kids. Do your own arithmetic so you don’t demean your own judgment by substituting hers for yours.

As long as you make your own decision, you won’t be a marriage victim; you’ll either stay because you think you’re better off as partners through the next stage of your lives, or you’ll leave because there are too many advantages to moving on.

No matter what you decide, it should be your choice based more heavily on your priorities, not shoulder commentary, so it’s a choice you can respect.

STATEMENT

“I feel torn by my wife’s desires versus my own, but I can discover my own mind even if I’ve been married forever. I will not disregard my marriage, but I will protect my right to a better life if I determine that this marriage is fundamentally harmful to my well-being.”

5 Steps for Recovering After Getting Screwed

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 7, 2015

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Whether you’ve been unjustly fired (like our reader earlier this week) or cheated on or just ripped off at the car wash, it’s takes some time to get yourself together after being taken advantage of. Here are five simple things you can do to get your head together after being duped.

1. Don’t blame yourself for being a train wreck

After you’ve been hit hard, you can’t help feeling wounded and sensitive; when somebody punches you, they should feel guilty about the bruise, not you. Remind yourself that you’re not a loser, no matter how thoroughly you wiped out. Life is sometimes unfair to all of us, and unfortunately, your number came up.

2. Don’t mistake rumination for self-understanding

You won’t learn good lessons until later, after you’ve accepted the unfairness of life and recovered your abilities. So if you spend too much time in the aftermath dwelling on what happened to you, you’re just stewing and sulking, not making any inroads to self-discovery. Better to focus on moving forward and leave the learning until the dust has cleared.

3. List your priorities

Figure out what your most important, post-getting-screwed goals are; these usually involve work, friendship, independence, and healthy activities. Do not include getting a fair outcome, changing other people’s opinions, or feeling better soon, because none of those things are included in the whole “getting screwed” process, and aiming for them is bound to prolong your feelings of being cheated and wounded.

4. Get busy on a recovery plan as soon as possible

Once you’ve made your list, start figuring out what you need to do to reach those goals and start taking actions as soon as possible, using a coach or therapist if necessary. Getting going will help you stop thinking about what you’ve been through and get you focused on a whole new area of positive problem solving.

5. Take your time

Don’t rate the success of your recovery by how soon you recover your happiness, wealth, or reputation; you can’t control those things, so they aren’t an accurate reflection of your efforts or a reliable measure of results. Instead, take into account the amount of work you put in, despite how unhappy or humiliated you feel, and take pride in pushing yourself to get back to normal, even if it’s taking longer than you’d like.

Screwed at work? How to deal.

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 1, 2015

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Sometimes, the good guys win, but when that happens, it’s usually followed by closing credits and an argument with your friends over whether it was all worth seeing in 3D. In real life, the bad guys don’t just win more often, but they make you feel like such a huge loser that you sometimes feel like your life is over. The good news, if there is any, is that your feelings of failure aren’t exactly real, either; if you’re working to get back on your feet, despite what you’ve been through, then you’re like a big screen hero. Later in the week, we’ll spell out the exact procedure for doing so.

-Dr. Lastname

I recently lost my job thanks to some crazy bosses. They made sure they lied and set me up so that I wouldn’t be able to get unemployment. Now I technically have the time to focus on some other projects I’d put on hold, but I’m so stressed out from losing my job and not being able to help my husband out or even have the money to start my business that I can’t focus and get anything else done. I feel totally stuck and completely screwed. My goal is to figure out how to get my mind straight so I can get back on track. 

When you’ve been unfairly knocked down and don’t immediately have the resources to pull yourself back up, it’s natural to feel, to use the aforementioned clinical term, “completely screwed.” You feel powerless to fight back, pull yourself together, or do anything but curl into a ball under a bunch of blankets with a bag of Doritos for the immediate future.

What you have to remember, of course, is that you’re not responsible for doing the impossible, just for dealing with total shit as well as you can. Between your state of mind and the state of your finances, immediate recovery is just that, impossible, and when you’ve already been knocked down so hard, there’s no reason to kick yourself even lower.

Your goal then isn’t to find energy and concentration that aren’t there, or start a business with money you don’t have. It’s to take good care of yourself while you get over trauma and depression and then get back to your old priorities.

Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with your priorities or, apparently, your marriage. Depression will get better with time but, whenever it’s disabling or not, there’s good reason to seek treatment with therapy and, if absolutely necessary, medication. With time, you will learn much from the collapse of your last job that will help you find better work in the future.

Your husband doesn’t see you as a failure or slacker, so don’t judge yourself by unfair standards. Being screwed is a normal part of life and you’re learning how to survive and recover. You’re probably not even doing it badly, it’s just hard not to feel self-blame and despair. So don’t apologize to your husband or retreat from your friends. Instead, let them know you need their support while you work out a way to keep busy, exercise, and resume work.

Once you’ve been screwed, you have to accept that it’s going to be a while before you can get back on your feet. In the meantime, remember that there’s nothing about this experience that makes you a failure. Eventually, there will be much about it that will guide you in better directions, starting with up from under the blankets and off the floor.

STATEMENT:

“I feel shattered, but that’s a natural reaction to a normal-yet-shitty experience. I earned my pain the hard way, by working hard and running into trouble I didn’t cause. I will recover as fast as I can and as well as I can.”

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