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Life is unfair.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

5 Tips For Dealing With An Asshole™ Parent

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 10, 2015

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Having an Asshole™ parent is never easy—just as our reader from earlier this week, along with countless other readers/comedians/former Presidents over the years—but you can make it easier if you refuse to accept all the blame foisted upon you by their loving Asshole™ arms. Here are five ways to define your responsibility for the happiness of an Asshole™ parent, and, in doing so, quietly declare your independence.

1. Exact Expectations

Ask yourself what kind and how much support, contact and company you would expect from your own adult daughter, assuming you will remain blessedly free of Asshole™ genes by that stage. Give particular thought to what you would expect if you were sick, in trouble, or just trying to keep in touch.

2. Put Her In Perspective

During the above process, ask yourself whether, assuming you’re well, not in crisis, and not an Asshole™, you’d feel entitled to impose all your needs on your adult kids. In all likelihood, you would consider it your job to prioritize their needs ahead of your own and to hope they would do the same with their children.

3. Push Perspective Further

Ask yourself whether, like your mother, you’d consider yourself entitled to tell your kids anything you felt like saying, or to unload your disappointment with your friends or other relatives, or whether whining is ever good for anyone. If you’re answers are all “no”s, then tell yourself “no” when you want to feel guilty for not giving her an ear when she wants to do any of the above.

4. Assess to What End

If you still think you owe it to your mother to be her ever-patient audience, then ask yourself how much happiness it actually gives her, and for how long, for you to be her punching bag/emotional support, and whether that happiness is worth the cost to you in terms of loss of energy, privacy, sanity, etc.

5. Put it in Writing

If your values tell you that your mother’s expectations of you are unreasonable and her approach is harmful, and/or making her happy is not worth the cost, prepare a brief statement that you can stick to, no matter how powerful her combined Asshole™/parenting powers. In it, assert that, though you really like to make her happy, you have different views about the amount of sharing that is good for a relationship, and that prevents you from complying with her requests. Now you’ve defined your responsibility to her, but more importantly, you’ve defined it for yourself, so no matter what she thinks, you know what’s right.

Mother Posterior

Posted by fxckfeelings on December 8, 2015

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We may not have written the book on Assholes™, but, as authors of a thoroughly informative chapter on the subject, we know a lot about the uncanny ability Asshole™s have to make others, their children especially, feel responsible for their unhappiness. So if you’re the unfortunate spawn of an Asshole™ (who’s also unfortunate enough to not own a copy of our book) who wants to have a life of your own, define for yourself what it means to be a good son or daughter and live up to your own expectations, not your parent’s. As long as you can bear the pain of Asshole™ guilt-slinging, you can ultimately be proud of your own decisions, and, hopefully, another family member can give you our book as a stocking stuffer.

-Dr. Lastname

My mother is a real piece of work. My previous therapist is of the opinion that she most likely has borderline personality disorder and is a covert narcissist, but of course that cannot be verified because she won’t enter a therapist’s office long enough to be diagnosed. In the past year, I have finally opened my eyes to the emotional abuse of my childhood and the unhealthy enmeshment of my adulthood. I am determined to break free of her controlling and needy behavior. I’ve accepted the fact that she will not change, so I have been setting boundaries such as no longer allowing her to gossip to me about other family members, not visiting as often, and reducing phone calls to once a week. But in her eyes, this is Bad Daughter behavior and it cannot be tolerated; when she questions these boundaries, any reply from me other than total submission and groveling is met with rages for my “snippy” tone and how I think I’m better than everyone. She sends me 10 page letters about how she can’t believe a daughter would treat her this way and then lists all of the ways the numerous people in her life continue to disappoint her. When I don’t respond to those, she enlists my sister and brother to do her bidding and guilt me back into submission. She has said to me numerous times that she is entitled to say anything she wants to me and I’m obligated to take it because she is my mother. I want to live my life free to make my own choices about how I choose to spend my time, without being called to account for my comings and goings. I want freedom and peace! My goal is to effectively learn to say to myself “f*ck Mom’s feelings” and just go on with my life. 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.

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.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Harking Validation

Posted by fxckfeelings on October 6, 2015

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One of the greatest paradoxes of the human mind is that the people who hate themselves the most seek the most adoration from everyone around them (see: comedians, musicians, popularity-obsessed teenaged girls, etc.). Unfortunately, the most common self-treatments—addiction, exile, and/or rhinoplasty—are only slightly less successful than actual therapy, even when you know where your feelings come from and are well motivated to change them.  Fortunately, however, no matter how much self-hate you feel or validation you seek, you can prevent those needy feelings from controlling your life, even if you can’t get rid of them.

-Dr. Lastname

I guess I would put my problem in the category of a self-un-acceptance— I don’t like that I’m constantly trying to make people like me. I would say that I am very quick to see and try to work on my flaws. I actively try to talk less and listen to others more, engage and be interested in those around me, support and understand others, make others laugh, smile more… I am a bit of a validation junky. I admit that my actions are sort of selfish in that I love to feel accepted by others, yet I never actually do feel that way. I’ve had many friends who basically say what others think is completely irrelevant, but I disagree— If everyone around you thinks you’re an asshole and has no interest in being near you, then that seems totally relevant and a good clue that you may need to do some self reflection/improvement. My concern, however, is that I take this to the extreme, and now I almost don’t want to be in social settings or meet new people for fear that they will be so annoyed by my mere existence. Is this a rational concern I should keep listening to, or should I wait to be worried about how bad I suck when someone says something? My goal is to figure out if I should I say f*ck the haters and embrace my neurosis, or vice versa.

When you identify yourself as someone who deserves rejection, just because you always feel rejectable, you give your feelings a power of judgment they don’t deserve. The haters aren’t your problem, your hateful thoughts are.

By your own account, your friends don’t reject you or tell you that you’re a jerk; that’s just your inner-hater talking. So it seems grossly unfair and unrealistic for you to judge yourself according to those feelings, just because they’re strong and persistent, when you haven’t carefully considered your self-criticism and consulted your inner-friend first.

Instead of pursuing validation like it’s a drug, draw up your own list of personal values and important qualities and decide whether your behavior is good enough to meet them. Include values like independence, being a good friend, doing your share, and working hard. Ignoring your feelings and focusing solely on your behavior, judge yourself as you would a friend, which means your standard is good enough, not perfect.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Five ways to deal with getting the cold shoulder from your adult kids

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 18, 2015

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As shown by our post earlier this week, “Empty Mess: Distant Daughter,” being rejected by your adult kids can make you feel like a failed parent. If you do the recommend assessment of your own parenting and fulfill your own guidelines, however, you can continue to act like a good parent no matter how badly you’re treated. You just have to do the following:

  1. Assess Your Parental Job Performance

Ask yourself whether you’ve done a reasonable job as parent—not perfect, just reasonable, because doing your best, not the best, is any good parents’ goal. You can’t control whether your kids like you, just whether you do the job as best you can.

  1. Put On A Positive Face

When your kid finally graces you with his or her company, don’t share anger or hurt. Keep it friendly while showing interest and confidence in your own role. If you know you’ve done your best to parent him or her, then you have nothing to be angry about or ashamed of.

  1. Don’t Appear Naggy or Overeager.

It’s hard to be around somebody cloying, whether they’re a parent or not, so keep the pressure off. And if they want to burden you with guilt, blame, or undeserved demands or obligations, stop the conversation as quickly as possible.

  1. Accept Distance

If you can’t keep your cool around your kid during the few visits they do allow, use media that allow you to edit out anger, hurt and over-eagerness, such as text and email. Just make sure not to overdo it.

  1. Don’t Ask Why

Instead of obsessing about went wrong with your relationship with your child, remind yourself that many things you don’t control can damage that relationship, no matter how good a parent you are, and that it takes a super-parent to remain positive and firm in the face of heartbreak. You may not always be close, but you will always be there for your child as his or her parent.

The Doctor is In Fxck Feelings

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.”

How to MOVE ON.

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 25, 2015

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What to say when you can’t let go!

Not surprisingly, ending an important relationship—be it with a person or even a job—usually stirs up negative feelings because the circumstances requiring the relationship to end are rarely pleasant, agreeable to all parties, or completely without alternatives and drawbacks. The way to make the best of moving on is to do your own assessment of whether it’s necessary and whether you lived up to your obligations and kept your promises before walking away. Then prepare a statement of your thoughts about the ending, omitting any mention of anger, doubt, or guilt.

Moving on is hard. Don’t make it harder by expressing all you feel. Make it easier for yourself and others by celebrating the positive and accepting what can’t be helped.

Life is Unfair.

Breaking up with a boyfriend after not getting along for far too long

You must be able to assure yourself that:

  • you can’t make the fighting go away by talking about issues with him, a shrink, or anyone else
  • major, possible steps to make things better between you two, like cutting back on your hours at work or moving house, aren’t likely to be worth the hassle
  • his good character traits and ability to function as a partner don’t outweigh the bad chemistry

Script: “You know how much I value our relationship and the many good things about you as a person, but after everything we’ve tried, I can’t see a way to stop the fighting, and I think it’s better for both of us to admit defeat and move on.”

Leaving a hated boss on not-hateful terms

You must be able to assure yourself that:

  • you’ve done everything possible to make the relationship work well enough to make working there bearable.
  • there’s no possible way to stay at the company under different management
  • you’ve got a better opportunity or can survive unemployment

Script: “I’ve learned a great deal from this job and your leadership, and I’m sure what you’ve taught me will be of great help in my new position [without mentioning that what you’ve learned is how to survive a bad boss].”

Breaking up with a girlfriend who expects commitment you can’t deliver

You must be able to assure yourself that:

  • her good character traits and ability to function as a partner don’t outweigh your belief you can’t give her what she needs in the foreseeable future
  • you aren’t just panicking in the face of a possible (and terrifying) life-long commitment
  • you will be strong enough to resist the urge to still see her occasionally and string her along

Script: “I know how happy we are together, but you’re looking for the kind of commitment that, sadly, I can’t provide, and I’d rather end things now before you get more invested and a separation would be even more painful.”

Distancing yourself from an alcoholic parent or sibling

You must be able to assure yourself that:

  • providing him or her with close support doesn’t have enough positive impact on his or her health and welfare to justify the amount of pain and distress the relationship causes you
  • you have made every reasonable attempt to get him or her to consider getting sober
  • there is nothing you can do to change him or her, period

Script: There is no script at first you because you just have to distance yourself without declaring that you’re doing it or apologizing for it. Then, if he or she’s upset, say, “I know we’ve had so many good times together, but I need to focus more on my own well-being now by spending more time with kids/job/baking hobby, and I look forward to you getting more involved in those aspects of my life once you become sober and more independent.”

Distancing yourself from a friend who has gradually become someone you don’t like

You must be able to assure yourself that:

  • there’s nothing positive or helpful you haven’t already said
  • you’ve been a good friend and done your share; otherwise, try to even the scales
  • s/he’s not going to change and that whatever you like about this friendship does not outweigh the dislike

Script: Again, forego an announcement in favor of just returning calls and messages less and gradually fading away. If challenged, say, “I think you’ve been a great friend, but chemistry sometimes changes, no matter what you or I might want, and I think right now we’re both better off spending more time apart.”

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5 Types of Back-to-School Drama Parents Are Likely to Encounter (and How to Deal With it):

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 21, 2015

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Fxck Feelings - Back to School

Back-to-school time can bring emotional issues bubbling up to the surface as personality conflicts and intense power dynamics pop up and throw you and your family off-kilter.

Here are five all-too-common back-to-school issues and our advice for dealing with them.

1) Your Kid Hates His Teacher

It’s terrible to imagine your child feeling miserable for an entire school year, but as your kid’s number one teacher (tenured in perpetuity), you’re the one to help him manage frustrations and make the best of them. So take time, gather facts, and see if there’s something you can do to improve teacher-child communication or their attitudes towards one another, or have a positive talk with the principal about finding a better match for your son. Otherwise, do your best to teach him that learning is more important than any single teacher, that surviving the year is more important than showing your teacher he can’t get away with being a jerk, and that he can get through tough times like these with his family’s support.

2) You Hate His Teacher

Of course, if you hate your kid’s teacher as much as he does then you can at least validate his views, although it will take a lot more discipline and self-restraint to get through the year. If your kid is fine with his teacher but you aren’t, then you’re stuck keeping your feelings to yourself, at least at home. You could try having another positive pow-wow with the principal, listing reasons why a different match would be more successful. If your kid seems happy in the class, however, then you’re probably better off following common logic and avoiding the principal’s office entirely. If your kid can survive a year with this jerk, so can you.

3) You Hate The Other Parents

If you don’t like the values or characters of other parents in your neighborhoodand, given how passionate some parents can be about their specific choices and yours, this is not an uncommon scenario—school can be more alienating for you than for your kid. Your job is to keep your frustration to yourself and help him feel he belongs in class, whether or not you feel you belong. Your hope is that the kids are better than their parents and that your kid will find friends he likes in his class, even if you can’t.

4) The Other Kids Hate Your Kid

If your child is being picked on, definitely try to work with the school and other parents to stop bullying, but be prepared to get a lot of defensive responses because no parent wants to admit that they’ve spawned a bully and schools often lack the resources to really tackle the problem. Coach your child on how to handle bullies or just avoid them, but be sure to let your child know that you think he’s fine, even if he’s a social outcast for the time being. There may currently be no friends at school, but there are always friends at home.

5) You Hate Your Kid

Every parent fears having a kid s/he really doesn’t like, so commend yourself on surviving this living nightmare. You can see a therapist or ask yourself whether you’re overly irritable with everyone and need to improve your behavior and/or try medication for improving your mood, but if the answer is that it’s just your kid that’s a jerk, then you’re stuck. So if you’re burdened with unavoidable negative feelings, build up your ability to be a true professional, regardless of how you feel. Teachers have to spend huge amounts of time with kids they hate, so you can, too.

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