Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Being more “extreme in our personality styles” may create some challenges that we need to overcome

In counseling, we often see the “extreme” of personalities. Being outside the bell curve, these groups tend to face more challenges, as society is geared for the majority in the middle of the curve. 

They may run the risk of adjustment disorders, often manifesting as the “fight or flight” responses, if they and their families don’t know how to navigate it better. 

We see the extreme emotional personalities who follow their hearts, but don’t have enough “headiness” to ground them. They may struggle with excessive drama in their lives. 

We see the extreme “heady” people, who don’t have enough emotional sensitivity to soften them and empathize with others. They may struggle with social interactions and relationships. 

We see the extreme “outer compass” folks who care for the opinions of others too much that they forget who they are and to be who they are. 

We see the extreme “inner compass” folks who know who they are, what they want, but find it hard to follow and conform to social norms and expectations. 

We see the extreme extroverted folks who live outside their heads frequently, but need more quiet moments to deeply reflect. 

We see the extreme introverted folks who prefer to live inside their heads, but need to get outside more to seek and explore the outside world experiences. 

There are many more....

Sunday, September 12, 2021

“Togetherness” and drama are in the opposites of the same coin

“Togetherness” is great because life is truly a team sport. The trouble is, togetherness brings with it lots of dramas. 

When drama escalates to a certain point, many of us may want to run away from it. This is experiential avoidance. This leads to another set of problems. There is now less togetherness and connectedness. 

Togetherness, connection, relationships, friendships, work relationships, and families are on the same coin as drama. They are on the opposite sides of the same coin. We can’t have one without the other. 

Choose togetherness, but make sure we don’t run away from dramas too easily. There are ones that we do have to run away from of course due to safety reasons. 

For many cases, we have to learn how to deal with the dramas in more healthy ways.  Hard work for sure but a worthwhile pursuit. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

What’s the “recipe” for more happiness or inner harmony

I often think the “recipe” for happiness or inner harmony is actually relatively simple. 

Be clear on our values, and create a life that is congruent with those.

It’s simple, but it’s definitely not easy. Nothing worthwhile is ever really easy is it?

When we are able to live a life that is congruent with our values, we will find more happiness, inner peace and harmony.

When our life is moving away from our values, we will find unhappiness and a lot of inner conflict.

The problem is, many of us don’t really know what our values are.

So what are our values?

Make a list of all the things we really love, and together with all the things that we really hate. Underlying those, are our values, if we look close enough.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Learning how to forgive is not an easy thing but is very important for our own mental health and well-being

“How to forgive” is often one of the most difficult things for people, even for those who actually want to forgive. It can be a common source of pain and suffering for us. 

Forgiveness is sometimes more about understanding, what’s the underlying beliefs that are holding us back from letting something go. Once we have clarity around that, we can defuse, zoom out, or “make room” for them. We may even be able to change or fine tune these beliefs over time.

So what are the common culprits?

1. If someone does something wrong, they must be punished or have consequences.

2. Life should be fair. We must have justice.

3. Letting go is the same as giving up.

4. It’s unfair. Why do I have to let that go.

In the words of old wisdom.....

“Holding on to anger or resentment, is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”.

So consider letting it go. It will lighten our load to focus on the things that we can change or matter to us at this point in time. We are doing it for our own mental health and well-being. 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Shifting our relationship with thoughts and feelings from unhealthy to healthy

In counseling, I often observe the following patterns in our patients around their relationship with thoughts and feelings. 

1. Subconscious and reactive to internal and external thoughts of others. This may lead to unhealthy OCD features with various themes depending on the content of those thoughts. 

2.  Subconscious and reactive to their feelings and the feelings of others. These may lead to excessive impulsivity, drama, and relational issues.  

3. Conscious, deliberate, and mindful with internal and external thoughts, leading to more meaningful and effective actions. 

4. Conscious, deliberate, and mindful with their feelings and the feelings of others, leading to more meaningful and effective actions. 

Counseling is often about introducing folks to more of the latter two experiences, in order to regain balance and make No.1 and No.2 more reliable over time.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Be a contrarian in the mental health space. What’s that?

After years of playing in the mental health space, one can’t help but notice certain repeating patterns in many folks. Many have this common tendency to “zoom in” on the unhelpful thoughts and feelings, and “zoom out” from the more helpful ones.

It’s almost like the stock market. People sell when they should buy, and buy when they should sell.

Be a contrarian in the mental health space perhaps.

“Zoom in” and be grateful for the positives, and “zoom out” from the negatives.

“Zoom in” on the things that matter deeply in the here and now, and “zoom out” from the things that doesn’t matter or those that we cannot change.  

We may just get the result that we want.....

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Self-care is critical in order to look after others more effectively

It’s really hard for many folks to balance the schema of “self-sacrifice” vs the schema of “entitlement”. 

I think it’s partly because folks may not be aware of these two opposing forces within all of us.

It’s the inner conflict between “focusing on the needs/wants of others” vs “focusing on our own needs/wants”. Too much of one over the other will cause problems. Too much of both at the same time will cause lots of problems too.

During times of stress, “entitlement” will become stronger. It’s natural. It’s a “self preservation” mode.

The problem is, for those with high “self sacrifice” tendencies, if we don’t look after ourselves well first, stress and entitlement will kick in. This may make us less effective in our role.

We simply can’t give what we don’t have.

So what’s the main point?

For those who are in a role of looking after others, looking after ourselves well biopsychosocially first is critical. If we are well, giving care to others will be easier, and with much less inner conflict. If not, it can be painfully difficult.