Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How do I handle my jealousy?

Hi Edahn,

I read your posts on psychcentral and felt you really knew what you were talking about and maybe could help me. The issue I am have is trying to eliminate or control my extreme insecurities. My fiance told me last night after thinking about this in his head for 4 months that he doesn't know what to do other than postponing the wedding because he feels trapped, helpless, and walking on eggshells. I know I do have a problem since it have dealt with a lot of things in my life such as anorexia, supporting myself, having a father who would verbally abuse me. I am constantly facing anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, and while I do trust my fiance wholeheartedly it comes off to him otherwise. 

Some of the things I do include: asking him why is he looking at a girl and did he think she is attractive and if he wants to be with her. I know that is crazy. I have gotten better since we started dating, however it isn't enough for my fiance to not feel this way. I need advice on what I can do to cop with my insecurities and what you feel we should do about the wedding?

I'M GOING TO save you years of therapy by giving you some big clues as to what's going on. Your dad put you down when you were young. He made you feel like you were useless and lacked value. When people are in relationships, they're deepest fears bubble up to the surface and start making a mess. For you, it's the thought that you lack value, and that people will leave you for someone better. There's more to it, including the fact that everyone's born with this fear (in my opinion, at least). But that core fear has been agitated and worsened for you because of your difficult upbringing.

You've been dealing with that fear by sending it out for verification (asking/accusing your fiance) and then, once you've been assured that he isn't leaving you or thinking about it (and that you're valued), your fears are muted...until the next time. What you need to do is learn a totally new way of addressing your fears and thoughts. It starts with recognizing what's happening, which you can now start doing...right? Right. Maybe you hold his hand or hold your own hand, figuratively. You're learning how to live in peace, with joy, without succumbing to persistent fears.

Going deeper, you'll benefit more from making an even broader shift in your life. Pay attention to the stories in your imagination and find themes...jealousy, conflict, admiration, attention. We all have them. Find a way to be compassionate to yourself. Be curious. Improve yourself but love yourself as you do it. Open your heart to others. Keep your mind sharp. These are things that everyone has to do, not just you, but it'll pay off. 

As for your marriage, it's not my place to tell you what to do. It's your life. You decide how to decide, you take the risks, you live with the results. Find peace in your heart, even for 5 minutes, and think about your situation again. See what feels right and trust it.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What should I do if my friends won't help me?

Hi, 

I was browsing Google for help and stumbled upon one of your answers at Psychcentral. If you still like giving advice and have the time I would truly appreciate it. You have an interesting take on relationships and what to expect from others. I only have one friend which is my ex-boyfriend. We were, and still are, incredibly close. He broke up with me because I have some depression-like issues and he was not happy having to care for me all the time. He says it brings him down, so while I cry he would just ignore me. I started acting like a child to get his attention. 

Since he is my only friend and person I can come to with my problem, my need for his care when I feel depressed of course did not vanish because he broke up with me. I now feel worse than ever. I am not looking for advice on what to do for myself (I have a plan on what I need to do), but I am so torn between if I should remain friends with him or not. If he is not there for me when I need him, and he ignores my crying while I am reaching out, should I just stop hanging out with him altogether? I literally have no one else.

WELLLLL, I THINK THE first issue is how you see the problem. You seem to think that your plan of what to do for yourself and your issue with him are separate, but they're not. They're linked to one another. You're turning to him to soothe your feelings of discomfort, and he does it through feeling bad for you. He's literally taking your bad feeling away by feeling bad himself. Now it gets complicated, because on the one hand, we expect our partners and friends to listen to us and support us, but on the other hand, we have to solve our problems wisely.

What's happening now is that your feelings are turning outwards and becoming his problem. They're not really healing, just being soothed for a few hours, and at his expense. Instead, you need to find better ways to heal in the long-term, and better ways to deal with your depression in the short-term. You've been dealing with it the same way for 4 years, which means it's going to take some time to develop new habits, new insights, new ways of perceiving and reacting. A good therapist, some careful introspection and analysis, an open mind, and discipline will help you develop new coping skills. Most of all, you have to be patient and honest with yourself--not getting upset at how "damaged" you might feel, but also not making excuses for yourself to indulge in your feelings and feel sorry for yourself. I think the more you're able to "hold" those feelings and moods on your own, the easier you'll make new friends and keep the ones you already have.

Send all your good, bad, and WTF questions to askedahn@gmail.com.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Some Big Fundamental Truths

It's been a while since I've posted, and I want to write something, but I don't have a prompt. So I'm going to just go ahead and spill the contents of my brain onto this blog post. Ready go.

  1. The reason the world is all fucked up is that we don't really value virtues like honesty and character. We glorify attributes like success regardless of its cost, which is often integrity. If people can get away with lying or bending the truth, they're encouraged. There's no real accountability, and no honesty. People fuck things up like the environment or an ecosystem, take as much as they can, and then ignore their conscience that says quietly "hey. shithead. don't do that. that's not right." Without that voice, people take all sorts of liberties, hurting others, lying, bending the truth, rigging systems, taking what hasn't been given to them, and generally causing imbalance and pain. It's not a failure of religion; it's a failure of society. 
  2. Part of the reason for the lack of virtues is that we don't have any allegiance to our communities--no pride. We don't feel responsible to be good people because we don't feel like anything bad will happen, and we don't feel guilty because we don't know the people we're fucking over. Our societies are overcrowded and we don't have ways to meet naturally in safe, wholesome environments. Our meeting places--bars, clubs--are too goal-oriented and the alcohol brings out people's sexual needs rather than their social needs. How many of us actually know our neighbors? How many people in your neighborhood have you eaten with? This isn't a failure of people; it's a failure of urban planning.
  3. Lots of us are single, and even people that aren't single are probably living like they are, in the sense of how alone they feel deep down. It's even worse when you're in a relationship and you feel lonely. As a therapist, I've run into a lot of clients who've shared the same story structure. Bad relationships all resemble each other because their architecture is fundamentally identical. The story is this: people are happy. They get into a relationship and it's exciting. Then they start to feel self-conscious. They try and bury it or ignore it, but deep down, it's there. It makes them unhappy, and they start to identify traits in their partner that they believe is triggering their unhappiness. It is triggering, but the unhappiness was already there. It's there because people think they're going to get kicked away when someone realizes they're not that great.

    The antidote is simple: kindness. Look at your experience carefully and you see that fear preys on desperation: a nervous and flighty mind. You can't have desperation where your heart is open. Your instinct is just to accept and help and stay calm. True kindness--when you're just helping without trying to get recognition--whether public or private--is the kind of action that opens hearts and changes the way you process the world.
That's all for now. Peace out. Write me a question if you've got one.

ES


Monday, December 30, 2013

New Presentation: The Quotable Pope

I like this new Pope guy, so I created this presentations for fun, to spread some positive gossip about him. Enjoy!




Friday, December 27, 2013

When Life Doesn't Meet Your Expectations, also, Babies

Hi Edahn,

I found your blog just a few weeks ago and I find your humor and wisdom incredibly comforting. I'm hoping that you can help me with something.

Does anyone in a stable, heterosexual relationship on this site find it necessary to have the "what would you want if I were to get pregnant discussion?" I think it's an important discussion to have, and one I've had with two men in our late 20s who I have been in stable relationships with. They've both answered that they know for sure they would want an abortion since they're not ready to have kids until they're independently wealthy.

I'm firmly pro-choice, but I've always known that, for myself, at my age (28), I would want to keep the child. Hopefully I'm never faced with that choice, but emotionally and financially I know that keeping the child would feel right to me. However, knowing that child wouldn't be wanted by my partner puts a definite kink in things. I feel like I would be compelled to have an abortion if the child wasn't wanted by my partner as well.

I'm having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that these men have no emotional attachment to pregnancy. To have their minds made up that an abortion would be their definite preference in any unplanned scenario just strikes me as a bit callous and extreme. I didn't realize there are so many men out there whose first instinct is actually abortion, even in a stable relationship with a partner they trust.

I can't help but take this all a bit personally. Any insight you can provide about what is going through a man's head when faced with this question? Are there any men out there who understand that pregnancy is a possible outcome from sex, even protected sex? And that abortion isn't just a given if that happens? 

A VERY WISE PERSON I know once told me that life doesn't always unfold according to your expectations. She was right, and she touched about a personality trait that, I think, lies at the bottom of your dilemma.

Some cultures (American, Canadian, British, German, Chinese, Eastern European) place a high premium on planning, strategy, and stability and eschew improvisation. Members of that culture are expected to carve out a path and walk it, carefully. When obstacles arise on the path, their habit is to remove them. Other cultures (French, Spanish, Latin, and Italian come to mind) are more comfortable with improvisation and creating new plans to replace old ones. 

I think what you're experiencing in these men is their commitment to their plans. In those plans, babies come after financial security is achieved (and probably marriage), so the pregnancy is out of order. Sounds pretty harsh, huh? They're less emotional about their decision because they haven't really embraced the emotional impact of bringing a baby into the world. It doesn't reach that point. 

The experience is very different from the person bearing the child, because (1) the alternative scenario is much more salient, due to the fact that you're the carrier, and (2) you've probably fantasized about the experience much more than any man you're dating, seeing as how bearing children is something that distinguishes you from half of the planet. Other factors are probably also at play, like your personality, your comfort with improvisation, and your own criteria for bearing children, which might be lower than your partners'.

So where does that leave you? On the one hand, you could try dating people who are more spontaneous and comfortable with changing plans, but I think the planning mentality is probably attractive to many people--men or women--because it signals security. I think you should talk about your thoughts with your partners. You might freak them the fuck out, but you might also encourage them to broaden their approach to life. As the Tao says, "To bend like the reed in the wind, that is the real strength."

Thanks for the great question. Keep working through it. I think it'll help you grow. I hope you find someone special to have those babies with. --ES