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Life is unfair.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Grief Respite

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 30, 2017

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As C.S. Lewis once observed, grief feels a lot like fear—it’s just as unsettling, consuming, and uncontrollable—but it does also cause some fear, namely that the grief will never end. You can’t make it end, of course, no more than you can change the way it hurts or prevent loss from happening in the first place, but you can remember that the loss would not exist without love, and that there is meaning in loving relationships that is never lost, no matter if the person you loved is no longer there. And that meaning can sustain you through hard times, no matter how long they last, no matter how scared you feel.

-Dr. Lastname

I lost my beautiful, 23-year-old son this year in a horrific accident. I keep replaying this accident over and over again in my mind. I have two other biological children and a stepchild, but I still feel the loss of this son to an excruciating degree. I am continuing to grieve very heavily to the point that I feel disconnected. My goal is to find a way to ease my horrific grief and emotional pain.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways to Fight Negative Thoughts Caused by Grief

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 26, 2017

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One of the many ways that grief can prolong its stay in your brain is through flooding your mind with doubts and regrets, thus expanding the potential sources of pain and frustration. Then you’re not just preoccupied with mourning one loss but all the mistakes you made in relation to it, including your inability to quiet the thoughts and just move on. If, like our reader from earlier, you’re in a state of grief that you just can’t escape, here are five common negative thoughts from grief and the ways you can fight them, quiet them, and finally begin to let your mind and your heart move on.

1) “If only I’d [done that one thing that could have saved him].

After almost every huge disappointment in our lives, it’s human nature to imagine what could have been done to prevent disaster and spare pain. That’s why TV is filled with all manner of sportscasters, political pundits, and general opinion-havers, paid to fulfill viewers’ basic human need to understand whatever went wrong and figure out who’s to blame. When all else fails, we’ll blame ourselves rather then accept the overwhelming, uncontrollable power that bad luck has over our lives. So don’t be surprised if your thoughts dwell on everything you could have done, but don’t listen to them, either. Remind yourself of everything you did right, knowing that there’s only so much we can do to protect the ones we love, and that no amount of self-torture will change that.

2) “It’s just getting worse when it should be getting better.

Just as we crave reasonable, logical explanations for something as inexplicable as loss, we want to expect a predictable, healing result from something as undefined and arduous as grief. Lots of people believe that you’ll heal from loss if you’re strong and prepared to face your feelings, but most shrinks see more evidence of that’s being false than true. Grief hits different people in different ways, depending more on the usual way their personalities experience and deal with strong emotions rather than on what or how much they choose to share. Having supportive friends, a therapist, or a support group is helpful, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll feel better any time in the near future. So don’t hold yourself to some imaginary, unfair timetable for recovery, especially when doing so will just make such recovery more difficult. Instead, respect the way you get through your days that are burdened with grief and your ability to keep this uncontrollable pain from derailing your entire life.

3) “I’m in so much pain that it’s hurting everyone around me.”

In some cases, like if grief is making you mean or too reliant on drugs or alcohol, then you may be right, and controlling your behavior and preventing yourself from hurting others is your number one priority. But if it’s just that your grief is making you so sullen, quiet, and/or unlike your usual self that you feel like you’re infecting them with your sadness or driving everyone away, then stop burdening yourself with unnecessary responsibility for their feelings. Their feelings are just as uncontrollable as your own and it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect oneself from other people’s pain. If they can’t stand you when you’re in pain, they’re not true friends. If they’re your kids, bearing a loved one’s pain is something they need to learn how to do. Stay focused on managing your own pain while encouraging others to do what’s necessary for theirs, and don’t worry about bringing them down.

4) “I can’t stop thinking of all the things we never said, fights we never resolved, things we never did,” etc.

About the worst thing we can imagine in a close relationship is to have death interrupt it before certain issues or disagreements can be resolved; then you’ve not only lost someone, but you’ve lost the chance to make things right. In this situation, regret enters the picture and compounds your grief with guilt. We know, however, that there are usually good reasons for conflicted, intense feelings in close family relationships. We also know that there is often no way to resolve those feelings with words, which is why we show our love by staying connected and letting bad things pass with time, so even if you both ran out of time, there’s no reason to believe the love wasn’t always there. Don’t expect life to have the kind of tidy resolutions that movies and TV shows do; instead of obsessing over loose ends and lost opportunities, remember what held you together, how you survived the bad times and how much better your life was for the love you shared.

5) “There’s no getting over this pain.”

Not only is grief unpredictable, but it may also be eternal; to some degree, the pain of loss, especially the loss of a child, can linger forever. On the other hand, so do your memories of the one you lost, the impact he had on your life, and the love you shared. Just loving someone opens you up to a world of potential pain, but it’s also a brave, admirable act to improve and give meaning to your life and perhaps even make the world a better place. The sadness may never disappear, but neither will the meaning of your relationship or the positive influence it had on you and your world.

5 Ways To Like Being Alone

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 24, 2017

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If, like our reader from earlier, your best efforts to find someone to be friends with, let alone date, are constantly fruitless, it can be hard to deal with both loneliness and the desperation that comes with it. So, instead of letting loneliness push you to lower your standards and reach out to the wrong people, let yourself embrace being alone a bit more. While you keep searching for connections, here are five ways to like being alone so you can’t be spooked by being lonely in the meantime.

1) Seek Out Activities You Can Enjoy Solo…
Take up hobbies that you can enjoy alone or in groups, like crafting, gardening, or running. If it makes you stronger, wiser, or richer on Etsy, so much the better, but the main goal, after getting used to your new hobby, is to actually like it and look forward to it. What you’re after is not a Fortress of Solitude but a well-stocked zone in your house, well-tilled corner of the back-yard, and well-established running path where you look forward to spending time of your own and/or with some other people who enjoy the same yarn/plants/stride lengths that you do.

2) …While Soaking In Activities You Can Enjoy Solo
As smart as it is to find solo activities that can also be done in groups, it’s also worth pushing yourself to try things alone that you’re used to doing with others; from going to the movies alone to driving cross-country by yourself, take on tasks that you might be wary of doing without a partner in crime. By doing so, you’ll gain a sense of independence that will help you overcome the fear of loneliness and teach you to enjoy your own company. Plus, you will often find that people are more eager to chat with you when you’re by yourself and the best adventures are more likely to happen when you’re not part of a couple or crowd.

3) Volunteer Your Time
You may think that being alone is pathetic, but there’s nothing less pathetic than contributing your otherwise solo time to a good cause, like teaching or caring for others. Even if you don’t meet like-minded people, you’ll feel useful, not just social, and build meaningful relationships with those you help. If they happen to be people in your community, you can stay in touch over many years, but if they’re not you can learn about other cultures and widen your view of the world. In any case, you’ll start to see your non-working, not-friend-filled time as a gift, not a burden.

4) Get A Damn Dog
Cats may be fine pets (for some people, who aren’t the authors), but they tend to encourage anti-social, house-bound behavior; even if you force your cat to go out for walks, most people are keen to avoid someone with a pissed off cat on a leash. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t just loyal in-house companions; walking them forces you to be active and, if you live near a dog park, even social, although they also allow you to talk to yourself in public without seeming crazy. Most importantly, they oblige you to think about the needs of others (particularly when it comes to their need to eat, poop, not eat something that will make them sick and poop way too much, etc.), which is really what having a family, or any loving relationship, is all about.

5) Never Stop Looking For A Better Match
Just because you’ve learned to love your own company doesn’t mean you should then give up on finding someone who appreciates it as much as you do. For many people, finding worthwhile friends doesn’t result from trying to be more friendly or sociable; in most cases, there was nothing wrong with their social approach in the first place, but, for lots of reasons beyond their control, there was something wrong with the ability of their personality to mesh well with the people who happened to be around them. If you can pursue your own path until you finally meet a person or group that is a good match for you, and then enjoy, then you won’t need to fear loneliness while finding your own kind of fulfillment.

Nixed Company

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 10, 2017

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When you’ve searched high and low for companionship with no results, it’s easy to conclude that, as you’re the only constant factor in your search, you must be the problem/cause of your own loneliness and misery. And of course, trying harder, especially when you aren’t actually doing anything wrong, will only wind up making you feel more unlikeable and hate yourself more. In reality, of course, much of friendship depends on factors you don’t control, like chemistry, the kind of personality you got at birth, and the way you mesh with your local pool of friend candidates. So if love and friendship don’t come easily to you, despite good strong efforts, never assume you’ve failed. You may have found something in life that won’t come easily, but a weakness in relationships need never stop you from finding ways to leading a full and independent life until you discover the right person or people or share it with.

-Dr. Lastname

 

I’m a (maybe over-)educated female in my late 30s who just broke up with what seemed like an emotional/verbal abuser after a very rocky three year relationship. My major issue is that the past many years (20 in total with bursts of good-ish relationships) I’ve been very lonely, mostly because I move around a lot for work and making friends is very hard in new cities. I keep bumping into deadbeats and weirdos, and at my age, most people (especially good people) are too busy with their lives to be looking for friends. So I’m busting my ass to be social, going on hikes with lots of depressing divorcees, to eco-festivals, to any group activities I’m interested in…progress is very slow and shaky. And I’m making a go at dating again (yet once again in my life), this time with more courage than my previous/difficult breakup with the same guy. I quit therapy because it was too expensive and slow, and besides, what I’ve been sorely lacking these past years are FRIENDS. Instead, despite all my efforts, I’m dealing with empty weekends, sending messages (text, FB, etc.) to people who said let’s have a coffee and never respond. I am getting a few replies but with people busy things often get cancelled, especially by the most interesting folks, and I wind up hanging out with the outsiders and deadbeats I should probably avoid. It’s hard, but I’m trying to hang in there and keep pushing. And BOY do I drop everything if I get a chance to see people that I consider worthwhile. My goal is to figure out if there’s something, *anything* I can do—from trying a new way to expand my search to moving to a whole new country—to find the kind of relationships that will make my life feel whole.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Words with Amends

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 20, 2017

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If someone breaks up with you for what you perceive to be unfair or unfounded reasons, one of the ironic effects of of the unjust uncoupling is that you can become so filled with confusion, pain and resentment that you can become the very kind of negative person your ex accused you of being in the first place. While there’s no reason to like the negative person you’ve become, there’s every reason to fear the results of sharing your feelings with your ex, even if you’re desperate to share something with her to win her back. Finding something sweet, giving and positive to think about and say may then seem like a good, positive solution that could restore your self-esteem and do some good. If being with her makes you become such a bad version of yourself, however, there are reasons to think twice about offering to help your ex feel better and instead use a different approach that will make you the better person you used to be.

-Dr. Lastname

I have an ex-girlfriend that suffers from depression and also has Aspergers. When she broke up with me, she accused me of being a liar and becoming a different, uncaring person over the course of the relationship. I don’t think any of those accusations are true, or that she even believes them, and I haven’t been able to get over her. Even though she said harsh words to me, I do not think she meant them and it was just the depression and Aspergers talking, especially since she told me she’s been depressed her entire life. I know that this might sound selfish and dumb, but I want to write something that could express that to her and maybe help her in the future. I will admit that I still like her and that’s why I’m writing, but I also really want her to be happier overall. My goal is to be able to get her out of her misery and be able to have a better life. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Makeshift Friendship

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 6, 2017

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It’s hard to knock the idea that being helpful to your friends is good for everyone, but when you’re always there to help and they only come to you in a crisis, that’s a good recipe for being used and becoming resentful. Even if being helpful will make you feel good about yourself in the short run and win you gratitude, it’s only worth it if you’re also mindful of your own needs and the character of the so-called friend requiring your assistance. Otherwise, your giving instincts can expose you to harm, exhaustion, and a whole bunch of other not-good stuff.

-Dr. Lastname

I’m a women in my 20s with a good tech job, but I feel like I’m always ignored by everybody, almost like I don’t exist. I do have many friends, but even they aren’t real with me— I feel that they don’t really care about me and are only good to me when they need something or need a shoulder to cry on. Then, when they feel better or have happy news to share, they find someone else to take it to, which doesn’t make any sense to me. I feel like everybody throws their problems onto me so they can go off and be happy, but I’m left here all alone to deal with the sadness on my own. My goal is to feel acknowledged and loved, not ignored and used. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways Get That Shitty Self Doubt Out of Your Life

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 7, 2016

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If, like our reader from earlier this week, you’re often plagued with uncertainly that’s beyond problematic and into the realm of downright paralyzing, here are five tools you can use to fight crippling self-doubt.

1) Compose Your Personal Code of Conduct

Pretending you’re judging the work or moral conduct of a friend, define standards for deciding whether his or her performance and character are good enough, avoiding the impossible standards of perfection you usually impose upon yourself. Spell out the standards you’re using to making your decision, and make sure to account for you/your friend’s circumstances, shortcomings, etc. when deciding how high those standards should be set.

2) Generate An Internal Judge Judy

Become the judge in your own internal court of perfection, using your new code to consider and rule on whatever nasty accusation your brain throws your way. Don’t hesitate to confer with a friend or therapist, but remember, once you’ve rendered a decision, it carries the weight of the Authority of your Code. As in Judge Judy’s court, all decisions are final.

3) Push Back Against Persistent Doubt

If your inner-Judy disagrees with persistent accusations made by the Prosecuting Center in your brain, use that gavel to talk back. Don’t expect the prosecutor to shut up or go away, but do take the time and effort to state your own opinion and do so with sincerity, confidence, and conviction. Your job is to stand up for yourself and the firm values that you’ve established (and not tolerate any nonsense).

4) Shut Out the Ceaseless Retorts

Having done what you should to discredit your brain’s unfair accusations and criticisms, and knowing that your mental prosecutor never sleeps (which is why your nastiest doubts appear in your nightmares, and why people still show up to Judy’s court in ripped dungarees), don’t give your doubts more attention than necessary. Whenever you recognize an old criticism you have previously reviewed, judged, and declared invalid, ignore it using whatever technique works for you, e.g., meditation, exercise, a distracting binge watch, etc.

5) Self-Respect is Your Standard

Keep in mind that your primary goal is not to quell your self-doubts but to meet life goals despite them, which can include educating yourself, working your dream job, building friendships, finding the right partner, and possibly raising kids. If you’re able to do those things while dealing with the pain of self-doubts and the extra work required to manage and deal with them, then you deserve respect and should consider yourself a success, no doubt about it. On to the next case on the docket.

Blame Reliever

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 22, 2016

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It’s hard not to feel guilty when things go wrong, and guilty feelings may be particularly bad for just those who deserve them the least, i.e., those who are generally self-critical and insecure. If you’re someone who’s gone through a bad stretch and can’t help but feel bad and responsible for letting it happen, learn how to rely on specific information and common sense to figure out what you should really take responsibility for, if anything, and how to use your conclusions to fight a compulsive sense of having done something wrong. Instead of endless punishment, you deserve a fair assessment of the facts.

-Dr. Lastname

I often find myself on a streak of “wellbeing,” then out of nowhere I manage to fuck up whatever I had going for me, royally. Almost like I have a problem committing to something for too long. Just looking for some realistic advice as to why this may be. My goal is to figure out some realistic systems I could improvise to better cope with this dilemma.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

5 Ways To Kill Those Brokenhearted Statements

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 17, 2016

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Sometimes, as with our reader from earlier this week, our brains can ruminate obsessively after a relationship, despite being told by our heart, gut, and feet that it’s time to move on. Here are five examples of the constant regrets your brain can shoot your way after a broken heart, and how to refute them.

1) “I’ll never find anyone else like him.”

“When I look at my list of requirements for a marital partnership—someone who’s dedicated, open, is accepting with accepting parents—I know that not being with him, or someone like him, is actually a good thing.”

2) “Sex will never be like that again.”

“As hot as the make-up sex was with my ex, it would be easier to be with someone I fought with and made-up with less, even without the passion-driven follow through. Better to be out of that hot-but-going-nowhere relationship and moving towards the future I always wanted.”

3) “If I didn’t ask for too much, we would still be together.”

“If I imagine what life would be like if we had married, I can see that he’d frequently be absent, unwilling to share tasks, and unable to explain how he spent his money. In other words, I’d always be asking for what I deserved, and still not getting it, or getting anything but angry.”

4) “If I knew how much I was going to miss him, I would never have let him go.”

“I also know that I can assign more value to relationships than they deserve, and can certainly get too invested in someone who isn’t as invested in me. So, even though I miss him a lot, that doesn’t mean that what I miss is worth trying to get back. It’s more important to get over missing him by moving forward and finding someone who’s better for me, not sinking backwards.”

5) “If I was a better person/more like the girl he now loves, we wouldn’t have split up.”

“I know my ex didn’t want a committed relationship with me or anyone else prior to our splitting up, so as much as losing him hurts, cutting him loose wasn’t personal. I left him because I knew what I wanted in life and he clearly wanted something different. I know it was the right thing to do even if it broke my heart, and even if I can’t stop feeling wrong about it.”

D’oh Regrets

Posted by fxckfeelings on March 15, 2016

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You can’t stop love from making old flames live in your memory and obsessions, and if you have the kind of brain that tends to make personal connections easily, your ex can feel like a phantom limb that you head and heart still feel long after he’s gone. Instead of waiting forever for the memories to fade before dating again, however, learn how to define the kind of future relationship that you think would be good for you, regardless of how much you long for your ex. There are ways to resume your search, even if your heart isn’t in it and your phantom feelings are.

-Dr. Lastname

Like so many people, I am struggling to get over a serious past relationship whose ghost just won’t go away. My ex-boyfriend and I had a five-year-long relationship that I confidently assumed would lead to a life together. We had a very pleasant daily life, enjoyed frequent activities with a circle of friends and shared values, important life events and love. Unfortunately, he was unable to move past the boyfriend/girlfriend stage, was never able to clearly communicate why to me (although I’m sure his parents’ snobbish disapproval of me had something to do with it), and a year ago we made the decision to end our relationship. This was an painful process that I am still not completely over— I feel rejected, insulted and strung along, not to mention robbed of my future with him for unfair and unfounded reasons. In the midst of and despite this grieving, a platonic friendship of mine transformed into more, and became serious rather quickly. This new person loves me in the way I always wanted my ex to love me— makes me a priority over his job and himself when needed, spends time on our relationship, spends time with me and his family together to make sure they understand who I am and enjoy being around me. It’s just … I pine for my old life with my ex daily. I know in my rational brain that there are very good reasons why I am not with my ex anymore. I just can’t seem to remember them. I actively dread the day when I will run into him in town with the new woman his parents finally approve of. I feel guilty when I have these thoughts, because I know I am very lucky to have found a new person who has an open heart that’s full of love for me, but I also can’t help but wonder if I was too hasty with my ex, if we could have compromised somehow. This conflict is distracting on multiple levels and keeping me from moving forward. My goal is to get over these feelings of rejection and resentment as soon as possible, and begin to fully appreciate the new person in my life the way he deserves.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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