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Friday, July 21, 2017

Instability Insurance, Pt. 1

Posted by fxckfeelings on August 3, 2015

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Dear Readers,

As you might have noticed, the site’s been going through some changes in the past week or so as we prepare for the release of our book, F*ck Feelings (see pre-order links to the right, it makes an excellent Labor Day gift).

This week, we debut our biggest change—instead of doing two cases per post, we’re going to do two per week. New posts will still go up on Mondays and Thursdays, but those posts will contain just one case, and it’ll be the Monday case and the Thursday case that have a unique and insightful connection, as opposed to two cases within each entry.

We hope you approve of these changes, and we appreciate your patience as we revamp the site and drag it from the WordPress dark ages.

In conclusion, please enjoy FF 2.0, and also, please buy our book. These A/C-bolstered electric bills aren’t going to pay for themselves.
-Dr. Lastname

 

When people are under stress, they sometimes become different people. While nobody aside from Bruce Banner experiences a physical transformation, stress does make some people repeatedly do things they know they shouldn’t. If stress sucks you into a bad habit, learn to accept your loss of control, put shame aside and have faith that the real you is still there and will come back from your mental-Hulk state. Next time, we’ll discuss the strange flipside of stress-induced compulsion.
-Dr. Lastname

I pride myself on being a pretty independent woman, so when I realized I had to give up on a relationship that was going nowhere with a guy I liked, I barely let it phase me. Six months later, however, I fell hard for someone else and, when he dumped me, it seriously messed me up and made me miserable. That’s when I was horrified to find myself calling my previous, going-nowhere boyfriend again. Since then, I can’t seem to stop calling him, even though I feel the same old vague emptiness after we spend time together. I’ve never seen myself as weak, but I feel like an addict every time I get sad and find myself picking up the phone. My goal is to figure out what went wrong with me to make me become someone who can’t stop calling someone whom I know will leave me feeling worse.

 

Experiencing the urge to do something destructive, be it calling a crappy ex, eating your weight in Oreos, or returning to the vodka trough, isn’t always a sign of overall weakness, weirdness, or creepiness. More often, it’s a sign that a part of your brain is possessed, and Oreo-loving demons don’t get up and leave on their own.

That’s because these compulsions often have a life of their own, and sometimes independent people who are proud of their self-control find themselves struggling with the urge to do something they really don’t want to do, whether it’s drinking, eating, or over-connecting. Nobody’s immune to bad habits, not even good people. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Nuclear Over-Reactor

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 29, 2015

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Your brain’s ability to identify problems is a lot like that of a drug-sniffing dog, which is to say, despite its training and experience, it still occasionally confuses flour with cocaine or gives the OK to a cargo ship packed with heroin. In order to avoid overreacting to a non-problem or writing off something dangerous, think carefully about the consequences of problems and your intuitive response before deciding whether you need to act or sit on your hands. That way, you’ll be a more effective problem-assessor (and possibly problem solver) and more than earn a treat.
Dr. Lastname

Since my husband and I divorced, I feel like my daughter is slipping away. The divorce wasn’t bitter, but my daughter has the same sensitive temperament as my ex-husband and just generally takes after him more, so she seems more comfortable with him than with me. She and I love one another, but we don’t have the same natural rapport that she and her father have, so, all things being equal, it makes me feel a little on edge when we’re together. When I try harder to show I care (buy her clothes, take her to concerts, etc.), it seems to make her more uncomfortable. I feel like I’m losing the most important relationship left in my family, and I should encourage her to tell me why I make her nervous. My goal is to find a way to make our relationship work.

It’s natural to think you can get closer to your kid by being more like the person she’s close to. Unfortunately, trying to be like someone you’re not is like a dog trying to walk only on his hind legs; it’s hard work, curious and awkward for everybody nearby, and eventually, you’ll be unable to resist returning to a natural/quadruped state.

That’s why a major requirement for partnership is finding someone who can accept your temperament the way it is, which might also explain why your partnership with your husband wasn’t sustainable. Either way, you can still have a successful partnership with your kid, even if you aren’t 100% compatible. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Risked Off

Posted by fxckfeelings on May 7, 2015

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Most tough decisions involve competing risks of the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you don’t variety; tougher still are those that factor in someone you care about, so now they’re damned if you do or don’t. In evaluating risk, however, we often over-fear threats that cause pain but aren’t dangerous and under-fear true dangers because they won’t hurt until they happen. So if you’re realistic about rating risk, and don’t overreact to the risk of emotional hurt, your decisions will often become clearer. That will make it easier to damn your doubts and do the right thing.
Dr. Lastname

I can’t really get into the specifics of my job (for reasons that are about to become obvious), but I work in a partnership with another woman at a job where a mistake could cause serious injury, and my partner is always drunk. I’ve tried to talk to her about it, because I’m an alcoholic myself (two years sober, in the program), but she denies everything and changes the subject. I don’t want to bring it up with the higher ups, however, because, even though her being drunk puts us both in danger and scares the shit out of me, I know she’ll lose her job, which will just make her drinking worse. My goal is to figure out what, if anything, to do about it that won’t get her in trouble or both of us in a dangerous situation.

While Alcoholics Anonymous believes that there are no “former” alcoholics, there are many different kinds, e.g., active, in recovery, functioning, possibly just French, pickled, etc.

As an alcoholic in recovery, you should know that AA also says that we’re only as sick as our secrets. And your secret, about her secret, could make you both very sick indeed. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Messed Friends

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 30, 2015

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When relationships fail—and unfortunately, most relationships are as likely to succeed as a Ron Paul presidential campaign—most people focus on figuring out what went wrong at the end. The more useful insight to search for is what went wrong at the beginning, because the problems probably started when you chose the wrong person to trust or the wrong reason to get attached in the first place. When you need to figure out what went wrong, don’t trust your intuition or your version of events. Instead, assess relationships, past, present and future, according to your standards of decent behavior and moderate expectations. Then you’ll be able to determine what went wrong and whether you need to be more selective or more reasonable the next time you put yourself in the running.
Dr. Lastname

Years ago, I was hired by a wealthy guy to plan one of his big parties, and he really liked my taste, so we hit it off as friends. We enjoyed both working together and socializing with our spouses over the years, so I assumed we were good friends, even though I knew he had been very critical and dismissive of other people who worked for him and had a reputation as imperious and nasty. I don’t know what happened but, shortly after planning for our last event got underway, he started to show me the same nasty side he’s turned on others, blaming me for things that weren’t my fault, not accepting explanations, and making demanding phone calls. When he finally fired me, it was a relief but I also felt hurt and tortured by thoughts of what I could have done to prevent this. My goal is to deal with my feelings and figure out a way of getting some relief.

As a provider of luxury services, you’re probably aware of the “princely patron” syndrome: the wealthy client who acts like a generous big shot in return for attention and admiration. Such people are also known as monsters, Trumps, and, most relevant to your situation, Royal Assholes™.

He may give glowing recommendations for you to famous friends and an intimate position in his life, but if you don’t give him full royal deference in return, you may be headed for the gallows. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Cast Iron Boundary

Posted by fxckfeelings on April 23, 2015

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Unlike territorial boundaries, which are marked on maps, with road signs, or even—looking at you Canada—guarded by polite-yet-firm officers in fun hats, interpersonal boundaries are often much more ambiguous and rarely agreed upon. Still, people who worry about invisible boundaries and try in vain to locate them are more likely to blame themselves for an apparent violation, whereas people who don’t notice even well-marked boundaries are likely to blame the guards that reprimands them. Before you become your own, impolite border patrol, get a good idea of what boundaries you think are reasonable, whether you’ve respected them, and whether your can stay on course or rethink your maps in the future.
Dr. Lastname

I can’t stop wondering what I could have done to keep my roommate from angrily breaking our lease at the last minute. He claims it was impossible to live with me because I was a shitty roommate who stayed up too late Skyping with my girlfriend in the living room and making noise (she’s working overseas for six months and the wifi sucks in my room, so it was fairly unavoidable). If I’d known that we were being loud or bothering him, I would have immediately searched for an alternative, but I really didn’t know he could hear us. And I tried to keep quiet anyway, wore headphones, and was always PG when he was home, but it obviously didn’t work. I knew he might have been bothered about something, but the first time he told me what he was pissed off about was when he told me he was leaving in two weeks. I feel like a jerk for what I’ve done, but I’m also terrified about finding someone new so I can still afford to live here. My goal is to figure out what I did wrong so it doesn’t happen again.

Roommate dynamics are often tricky, especially in situations where the only thing you have in common with the person you share your most personal space with is the inability to afford your own apartment.

Even so, when someone whom you’ve lived with departs on bad terms, it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve failed, even if they’re a near-stranger whom you don’t like very much and wouldn’t spend time with in any other context.

Most conflicts in roommate situations arise from the fact that parties often assume that their boundaries are the norm and are thus universally understood and respected, despite the fact that people’s ideas of what’s appropriate in a living space can vary wildly, e.g., some people don’t mind sharing their food while others believe in separate, padlocked fridges. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Foe Future

Posted by fxckfeelings on January 15, 2015

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When it comes to navigating through problems in a relationship, you can’t always trust your ability to recognize the difference between major issues that can be worked through and those which mark the end of your journey altogether. Even if you can see what terrain lies ahead, there may still be no clear route to getting past the issue. So don’t assume you should have an intuitive relationship GPS to tell you how to overcome problems and know which are predictable or your fault. When things go wrong, re-analyze your plans and prepare to accept sudden changes to your destination.
Dr. Lastname

After some rocky years, I’ve worked hard to build a supportive relationship with my son, but I’m worried about his new girlfriend. He’s crazy about her, and she seems to like him, but she was so surprisingly critical of him and everyone else at our first meeting that I left feeling very worried. He explained afterwards that she’s very sensitive because she was abused and that she’d made it clear to him that she was sorry that she had lashed out, but that didn’t do much to ease my concerns. Then again, if I asked him why she treats him badly and why he puts up with it, he would just stop talking to me. But if I say nothing, I’m worried I will lose him to a very unhappy relationship with a difficult woman. My goal is to save him from rejection or worse without possibly sacrificing what we’ve struggled to maintain.

Any time parents take on the responsibility of saving their kids, there’s often a huge sacrifice involved, i.e., a savings account, a kidney, or, if you’re literally taking a bullet for your kid, a pulse.

Thankfully, saving your kid from a bad relationship need not be your responsibility, nor must it require a huge sacrifice of any kind, from losing your life to your fragile relationship with your son. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Fie, Anxiety!

Posted by fxckfeelings on November 3, 2014

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Sometimes anxiety and depression are not illnesses, though they may feel like it; they’re part of every human’s normal alarm system, warning you that something painful or soon-to-be-dangerous needs your attention. When anxiety and depression randomly tell you that the world sucks, however, that’s when you cross the line from normal to unnecessary, requiring attention. Either way, never rush to discount what anxiety and depression have to tell you about the world, but never believe them until you’ve assessed the alarm and reached your own conclusion.
Dr. Lastname

My anxiety has been better lately, but it kicked up last weekend after my roommate’s friends broke a window in our apartment while they were tossing around a football. My roommate’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t want to pay for the window because he says the landlord doesn’t take good care of our apartment in a bunch of other ways. Now I’m starting to worry about what will happen when the landlord sees the damage and whether it will come out of my security deposit, which seems unfair, since I wasn’t even here. Anyway, my goal is to figure out whether I should up my medication because the stress from this whole thing is really hard to take.

Anxiety, like tiredness or anger, isn’t inherently problematic; if we never felt these things, it would be a big problem, and a probable sign of drug use, lobotomy, or being dead.

The issue, of course, comes with feeling anxious too much, or tired all the time, or angry at trees for being lazy. The current anxiety you’re feeling is the regular kind; it’s your response to your roommate’s actions that need rethinking. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Walk Away Glad

Posted by fxckfeelings on September 18, 2014

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Many relationship blow-ups are due to the most fleeting of bad moods; who knows how many divorces could have been avoided if both parties had just been well-rested, fed, and/or not stuck behind that school bus on the way home from work. The most dangerous bad moods, however, are the ones that don’t have a simple/stupid source, and if those cause someone you’re in a relationship with to push you away, you don’t have much room to negotiate. If they simply want to be alone, and have no blame to bestow, you’ll often do best to keep your distance while leaving the door open. If, on the other hand, they want to dump on you for something you know you haven’t done, use their push as a head start to get away as quickly as possible. In any case, bad moods can make relationships difficult, but moody people can make relationships impossible; stay away unless you’re good at protecting yourself and putting their moods second and your needs first.
Dr. Lastname

I’m in high school and I’ve been very good friends with this one guy for a very long time, and he’s kind of a passive, detached person; he generally doesn’t really care that much about most things, but it really wasn’t that big of a problem. At least until recently, since he’s started acting like he doesn’t care about our friendship. I know that he isn’t worth it, but we’ve been friends for such a long time that I don’t just want to let go. When I asked him why he was so bitter, even towards me, he said that he didn’t want any friends because everything is temporary, he doesn’t care about anything, etc. Now I know it sounds cool to be like, “fuck other people, I’m alone,” but I’m afraid he’s going to end up alone and sad if he continues to be a dick like this. My goal is to make him less bitter and be my friend again.

Before you make it your goal to reclaim a lost friendship, take a second to reconsider, not because your ever-detached friend might not be worth fighting for or just doomed to a life of dick-dom, but because you probably haven’t lost his friendship in the first place.

From what he’s said, you have no reason to think his feelings about you have changed. All that has changed is his mood and attitude towards the world, which, at this time of life isn’t that unusual. That his adolescent attitude has changed in a negative/apathetic direction is even less rare. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Messed Friend

Posted by fxckfeelings on July 3, 2014

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One of the common mistakes in one-sided relationships is that the wrong side—the jilted side—tends to feel responsible. People tend to blame themselves when the other person doesn’t do their share, act respectfully, or just return a damned text. In any case, talking about it doesn’t usually change character, behavior, or interpersonal chemistry, so trust your judgment and do what’s necessary to find friends whose commitment meets your standards and drop those who don’t. When you use good judgment in relationships, there’s no need to blame yourself for someone else’s bad behavior.
Dr. Lastname

Please Note: In honor of both Canada Day and Independence Day in the US, we’re going to take Monday off so we have the time to celebrate most of North America. We’ll be back on Thursday, 7/10.

I’ve been going out with a girl I get along with pretty well, and we’ve been comfortable about making it exclusive for the past eight months. I always have the feeling I shouldn’t push things too far though, and the other day, I really needed her help because I was moving into a new place. When I asked her, she said sorry, but she needed the time to see some friends and take it easy. It pissed me off, but now I wonder whether I’m just being needy. My goal is to figure out whether I should say something or whether her behavior means a whole lot.

There’s a world of difference between being needy and simply needing; being needy usually causes nothing but anger and bickering, but needing a little deserved help is nothing unusual, and nothing your average friend would refuse. Unfortunately, this friend is not average (and might not be a girlfriend for much longer).

Instead of mistrusting your standards of give-and-take in a good friendship, you should wonder whether your girlfriend knows how to be a friend, and whether it’s time to tell her to take a walk. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Shrug It Out

Posted by fxckfeelings on June 5, 2014

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The need to talk out a problem is one of those unfortunate instincts, like walking off an ache or steering out of the skid, that’s intended for survival but is more frequently sabotage. If somebody doesn’t want to talk out a conflict, either because they can’t own up to it or just don’t want to, you should resist the urge to press for negotiations and take a moment to ask yourself whether talking would actually help, or just stir up trouble. Most of the time, it’s better to shut up and make the best of flawed relationships, because usually, if somebody refuses to talk it out, they’re not being difficult, they’re doing you a favor.
Dr. Lastname

I’ve been very supportive with my brother when he was first getting sober, which is why I was so surprised and hurt when he recently attacked the way I manage the family business, which he usually has very little to do with. He implied I’d been keeping him in the dark and cheating him out of his share. I kept my cool and decided to just let it lie and wait for him to come to me calmly, and now it’s a month later and he’s acting like nothing happened. Looking back, I know he’s done this before–attacked me verbally, then forgot about it entirely, including apologizing—but I don’t see how we can be friends if we don’t have a talk about this and try to clear the air. My goal is to try to get through to him this time, because I can’t tolerate this level of nastiness.

Since you know your brother’s habit of venting and vanishing all too well, perhaps it’s time to see your brother’s behavior as less temperamental, and more like a version of Tourette’s Syndrome. It’s not a nice habit, but it certainly isn’t personal.

After all, you and others have tried and failed to get him to see that he has nasty spells hurt people and drive them away. For you, it means you can never fully trust him or let down your guard. For him, it means he’s always going to be damaging relationships and there’s nothing that friends or shrinks can do about it. If he could keep his venom to himself, he would, but the venting is beyond his control. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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