Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Review (in Pics)

It's the end of the year and now is the time to reflect on who we are, what we've done, and where we're going.

You can do that on your own time, because I'm posting funny pictures today. New post on Wednesday. Happy New Year!












Friday, December 28, 2012

How do you find a therapist that doesn't suck?

Dear Edahn,

You've posted before about not trusting most therapists. While I didn't start out that way, a couple of bad experiences with therapy have made me distrustful, even cynical, about trying again. I have some major life issues I haven't been able to get past on my own and I would love to find someone who can help me. Neither the counselor I saw in uni nor the one I saw shortly after seemed to know what to do with me (the first said this to me; the second just repeatedly pushed a label and treatment option I didn't think was right for me and acted like a condescending ass). I'm quite embarrassed and ashamed about the main reason I'm seeking "help" in the first place and hate the notion of having to explain it over and over to different people. Because of this, I dread the "shop around" advice I've heard so often about finding a therapist. It's hard enough to get myself to go through with this initial contact stuff even once. In the past, I've put too much hope in one person and continued with them longer than I should have, partly because I wanted so much not to have to seek out someone else.

It's now been over three years since I last tried. It was never an easy thing to do to begin with, and now with all the bad memories I have, I keep picturing similar things happening and don't want to bother. I'm wondering how you'd suggest I approach this if I decide to go through with it again. What should I look for in deciding whom to contact? What questions should I ask and what should I look for in the answers? I'm afraid I'm going to be too quiet and passive to be able to advocate for myself much. How can I stand up for myself in the face of someone who's supposed to be The Expert in the situation? I have a damn hard time doing that, even when I strongly believe the "expert" is full of it.


THINK ABOUT IT THIS way. You have a goal, and you were met with certain obstacles. So all you need to do is pinpoint what the obstacle was. Then you'll know how to overcome it.

Your goal is to explore and address something bad that has happened in your past that is creating difficulties in the present, and the means you selected is psychotherapy. You met with a few psychotherapists who failed you in two ways. The first, they told you they didn't know how to help you. While disappointing, that's understandable. Just like mechanics and doctors have varying skill sets, so do therapists. Second, you found them to be overbearing, not respecting your ability to determine the course of your own therapy, and seemingly, relied on their authority/power to persuade you, rather than reasoning and common sense. The last parameter is that you don't want to have to retell to some shmuck who isn't worth your time because it's personal and painful. 

Therapy is such a bizarre relationship because on the one hand, it's professional. On the other, you're preparing for a very intimate relationship. With that said, interviewing a therapist is like going on a date, so don't feel embarrassed being forward and asking whatever you want. Most therapists have email these days. I'd suggest what you is craft a form email that states:
  1. What you're seeking treatment for, generally.
  2. Your hesitations: you were in therapy before and your therapist pushed a certain treatment on you that you didn't want and didn't listen to you. I would state what you didn't like about it (the treatment, not the therapist ;) specifically. Was it too intellectual? Too abstract? Did it neglect your emotions? Not delve into your past enough? Delve into your past too much?
  3. A few questions for them to answer: (1) Would you feel comfortable treating me, or is this outside of your skill set? (2) How would you approach treatment? (3) Do you offer a free consultation?
Go online, find a website with a directory of therapists in your area, pare the list down to those therapists that fit your criteria in terms of fees and location and whatever (hair?) and email 20 of them with your form email. When the replies start coming in, look for the one that sounds warm and smart. See if they're able to capture how you must be feeling now or how you must have felt with your therapist. That's a good indicator of a good therapist. Bonus points if they mentions something about how a client should never feel bullied by an "Expert" therapist. See who speaks to you the most and who seems like they'd be trustworthy. Then go for a session. 

To some degree, you can't totally eliminate the pains of shopping for a therapist, just like you can't eliminate the pains of shopping for a partner...but you can make it more efficient by being strategic. 

Shares appreciated! Got a questions? Email AskEdahn@Gmail.com. Have a great weekend, nerds!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How do I overcome ED?

Dear Edahn,

I have been struggling with sexual anxiety since I first became sexually active (three years ago, at 20). The anxiety gives me ED. It ultimately lead to the end of my first long-term relationship. My gf at the time was supportive, but the emotional fallout ultimately ruined things. My second relationship went better, and the ED didn't present itself until a few months in. However, the sexual portions of the relationship had started off with the use of Viagra. As soon as things became emotionally rocky though, the ED kicked in hardcore, and caused an early end.

Two years later, I have started seeing a very attractive and wonderful woman, and I think it is all coming to an end, again, because of the anxiety and ED. I have had difficulty achieving erections already, even with the use of Viagra. She has never been demeaning, and has helped me to overcome the issue in most occasions. Her patience is running thin though, and it's understandable.

Now here's the clincher. I don't think this is just related to plain old anxiety about achieving an erection. My anxiety is related to being able to achieve long-lasting and meaningful relationships, and social interactions in general. For instance, I have achieved this one through my sexuality. So if I can’t have sex, I lose a meaningful relationship. Pressure much? Also, my social life (and self-esteem) is in a sorry state of affairs, and the closer I become to a woman, the more I worry about my incompetence and inability to maintain intimacy. So we're not just dealing with performance anxiety, it has to do with all sorts of anxiety! And it's all self-feeding!

So before throwing a grenade at this relationship, like I have before, I was wondering if you might have any advice on what the best way to navigate this multi-headed monster might be.

Yours truly,
Sexually frustrated in California


YOU'VE PROBABLY GOTTEN REALLY used to being in that state of worrying when you're trying to be intimate or approaching moments of intimacy. Your thoughts start taking off, you start trouble-shooting and coming up with all sorts of plans, start trying to pump yourself up (psychologically, not penisly, but who knows), and your whole "issue" and your understanding of what it is, what causes it, and what to do comes into view. That whole state of mind probably feels very familiar to you by now, am I right?

The thing is, that whole state of mind is really the issue. It's something that you keep defaulting to when you're afraid. It actually IS fear. Fear kind of makes your mind scatter in all these different directions, kind of like what happens when you see an piece of fruit covered with ants and tap it or stomp near it...all the ants scurry about and get disoriented. That's kind of what anxiety is. And you, being smart, have your mind working overtime to examine and address the anxiety, which is another feature of anxiety.

The cause, as I see it, is basically a lack of self-love. Not the kind of self-love where unicorns are shitting rainbows into your heart, but just a healthy dose of knowing that deep down, you are a good, kind person. That kind of self-love helps you deal with anything because in the end, you know that you even if you fail locally (i.e., right now, in this moment), you haven't failed globally, as a person or a man. In fact, you can't fail globally unless you become a bad person, which you won't because bad people never have those kinds of thoughts. Self-love is kind of like emotional-insulation: even if things become really cold outside, you still maintain your warmth inside, so you don't panic anymore when you see a storm. You still might feel the anxiety, but it doesn't compound itself anymore.  

Without that self-love, what happens? Failures assume more significance than they should be allowed. Every failure takes priority. It's like it automatically takes the top comment on the YouTube video that is your life, "what a fucking loser. will never have a relationship," until the next asshole comment rolls around. Even the anticipation of failure, which is being triggered by intimacy and emotional strain, can be scary because the experience of failure is so tragic and destructive. There's no mercy. So when it's around the corner, it's all you can think of, which by itself is enough to eject you from your body and from the moment and dull your senses (penisly). 

Maybe this makes sense to you. But maybe it doesn't, because I'm not sure you've really experienced the kind of unshakable self-love (and self-compassion) that I'm talking about because you've been so used to experiencing fear and trying to work your way around it, like I described in my first paragraph. 

My advice to you is to stop thinking with about your penis for a second. This isn't just about you and your sex life; this is about you and your relationship with yourself. This is much more important than sex and relationships. Take some time to listen to your own pain, as you would for a friend or as I would for you. Just be there for yourself, without needing to sort it all out or come up with solutions. People don't really need solutions as much as they need someone to listen to them and hold them, physically or emotionally. Show yourself that you're there for yourself, that you're there to stick up for yourself no matter what, and that you won't throw yourself away because something bad happens. Because you're a good person. Really. You're a good person. 

When you see that and you FEEL that, wholeheartedly (no fucking faking!) then you'll see it's tremendous, sacred value. Practice it; nourish it; cultivate it as a way of life. Practice compassion by being compassionate to others and listening to them as much as possible. When you start to get anxious, rather than going into that trance of thinking and planning, ask yourself if you've let your self-love slip into disrepair. If you have, pull back and identify your pain. Again, be there for yourself, gently. Don't rush yourself. If you can't find that place of self-love, then identify and hold your frustration. No matter what, you can always be there for yourself. In time, maybe you'll see this as a loving wake up call to examine your life rather than an obstacle.

Your shares are appreciated! Got a question? Email AskEdahn@Gmail.com.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A new year, a new wallpaper

Hi everyone. Here's a simple wallpaper I put together. Made for widescreen formats. Enjoy. Or not. Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Trolling the WBC

The Westboro Baptist Church is an embarrassment to humanity, not just Americans. These are the people that go to funerals or children and soldiers shouting "God Hates Fags." Here's a video of a couple blokes from Australian trolling. Awesome.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Name's Edahn, and I'm an Internet Addict

So a friend asked me why I haven't posted here much lately and there are a few reasons. But a big one that I wanted to own up to is my internet addiction.

For the past 2 years, I've been completely addicted to the internet. Reddit, Facebook, Facebook, News, forums, Lifehacker...it's been a trip. And it's sucked up all my time. I stopped investing in myself in a lot of key ways. I stopped reading about topics I found interesting and meaningful--things like Buddhism, self-helpy junk (that realistically, I would have probably stopped reading anyway because it's all the same), books on history, psychology, and whatever the hell I'm interested in that very second. I stopped exercising. I stopped going out with friends. And I stopped writing too, in my journals and in this beautiful blog.

It makes sense. The internet is monetized through advertisement, and advertisement is triggered by pageviews, so websites have incentive to make you keep visiting over and over, as much as possible. But at what cost? Our social lives? Our well-being(s)? Our mediocre blogs and adoring fans?

NAY NAY!

Well, this week I gave up Facebook. A month ago I gave up the news (that was hard, but it's relieving). You may see me post here a little more often in the coming months. And yes, I realize this is part of the internet, but hopefully a less addictive part. Mind you, I never advertise and never will.

What do you think? Facebook? News? Does it enrich our life or detract from it?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Buddhist Templates

You might know that I'm obsessed with PowerPoint these days. Started my own company, crazy shit happening. It's great. I've been making pitch decks, educational decks, and templates.

Buddha made templates too, but his templates were philosophical. He said that your problems in life can be understood through a simple formula. You get attached to things, meaning that you get desperate to control them, to make sure they happen or don't happen. That makes you obsessed, and that makes you think and detach from your body and from your surroundings, the elusive "present moment." That present moment is where you find joy. So if you want joy, look at your attachments.

The template works for a lot of things. It helps you make sense of your relationships. Your career. Your body. Your future. Because we attach to all these things.

Addressing your attachments is tricky. You don't just mentally say "OKAY, THIS IS WHO I AM, I'M GOING TO BE AN ASSHOLE AND THAT'S THAT." No. And you don't just TRY and do this thing called acceptance so you can be happier, because the reason you're doing all that is because you're still attached to feeling different and to some private, idealized conception of yourself.

Attachments dissolve when you tame your mind and listen. Listen in a very deep and meaningful way.

I'm not perfect. I'm not unattached. I'm not happy all the time. But I have my moments where my attachments dissolve and where I'm quiet inside. In those moments I realize the value of nonattachment and the value of the Buddha's teachings. And I'm compelled, by some unexplainable force, to share that with others.

Want to submit a question or topic? Email askedahn@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Everyone Needs to Grow Up

I've had a lot of time to ponder conflict. As an attorney/mediator and soon-to-be therapist, I see a lot of conflict before my eyes. As a political junkie, I read about it constantly. As a human being, I get into conflict regularly with lovers, family, and sometimes friends. And as a meditator, I get to examine the roots of conflict intimately. 

Consider your relationships. You're fighting with someone and the narrative is stronger than ever. Like an attorney, you start to spin the facts and you might not even be aware of it. You paint yourself as the innocent victim and your partner as the malicious perpetrator of injustice. You know you're immersed in narrative when your partner accuses you of distorting some facts while neglecting others. Those are the hallmarks of narrative.

Step back and you find your politicians--local, state, and international--engaged in the same rhetorical warfare with each other. They're spinning facts to generate narratives that favor them and paint their opponent as incompetent, unjust, or untrustworthy. Russian, China, Republicans, Democrats and don't forget their PR wings: the news networks and blogger-infantry that support them and disseminate the narratives.

It's the battle of the narratives and most people are too ignorant to recognize it because they've been feeding on them for years and years. They've been operating exclusively within these narratives--battling with them, exchanging them, and refining them--in all aspects of their life, including their personal life, where narratives are born. 

Sit down to meditate for a while and you get to see how subtle conflict is. You start to see how all your attempts to control things, including your meditation, are forms of conflict disguised as lofty things like goals and aspirations. But they're really conflict; they're conflict with who you are, right now, with all your flaws, disappointments, and setbacks. Conflict is where most of your thinking and worrying originate. It's where the narrative in your head comes from, such as "I suck" or "If I could only be more this and less that" or "I'm not doing as well as this person or that person, what's wrong with me?" These narratives go to the heart of your self-esteem because they make you see yourself as value-less, in the same way the Fox News narratives make people hate O-Bama. And when you think you're lacking value, that's when you get defensive, paranoid that others are going to leave you with nothing, unable to admit any fault, and unable to see the inherent goodness in the people around you.

So what do we do? We can't just say "EVERYONE STAHP" because the cheaters in society will just use that as an opening to take advantage of others. One thing we can do is be more responsible about using and disseminating narratives, be it alone, with significant others, or with political opponents. We could also start to develop a sensitivity and vocabulary for identifying rhetoric and narrative. Then there're more angular solutions like inter-group joint and cooperation on neutral projects. I bet if you asked 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats to build a sand castle together, they'd end up feeling just a little less hatred towards one another. Also, it would look funny.

Email questions to askedahn@gmail.com.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Am I going crazy?

I visited your website and also saw that you answered someone’s question about schizophrenia, so I figured I could ask you. Let me start by saying 4 months ago I was the happiest guy around... not a care in the world. All of a sudden I felt tired and had a sore throat. Nothing too bad but the research I did to find out what was going on scared me into thinking I had lymphoma. For the next 2 weeks I had severe anxiety and sadness thinking that I had some cancer that I clearly didn't have. 2 weeks later I started experiencing numbness on my face and chalked it up to anxiety. Soon I started noticing these black spots called floaters in my visual field. I started seeing them after I had been scared that I was losing my eyesight for no apparent reason. About a month later I started having visual snow again I think this was because I was looking for it and each person has some if they look for it. For about 2 months I’ve been struggling with anxiety. Just yesterday I was lying in bed and thought that I heard a loud robotic voice. I couldn't understand what he said but I was frightened. 

Now my fear is that I will get schizophrenia and read that it isn't too uncommon. Is it time to get a psych test done? And do you think I am becoming schizophrenic? Also I do not have any relatives with it.

IT'S HARD TO SAY. On the one hand, I think everything could be described by excessive worrying which is to say, high anxiety. High anxiety can make you pay attention to things and worry about them, and even trigger depression.

What you could do is think about the things that help you relax and really calm down. For me it's watching movies alone and cooking a meal. Comedians help me relax too, and so does spending time with people I'm really comfortable with. Make a list of some things and commit to doing one thing every day.

At the same time, I'd make 3 appointments with therapists or psychiatrists. Second and third opinions are important. A good therapist will probably give you relaxation techniques (or pills, if you're okay with that) and follow up with you once a week to see if you're improving. For now, just try and relax and find some things to enjoy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Free Minimalist Einstein Wallpaper

Einstein is one of my personal heroes, Along with Desmond Morris and Alan Watts. Einstein was brilliant, dedicated, a humanitarian, a philosopher and free-thinker, and he saw the big picture. I made this wallpaper as a tribute to him. Click to enlarge and then right click and save and enjoy. Peace.

Monday, October 8, 2012

How can I help my boyfriend overcome his addiction?

Hi Edahn,

I don't understand why my 33 year old boyfriend would rather stay up alllll night playing online poker than come to bed with me, his 22 year old girlfriend. I have expressed to him how much it bothers me that he doesn't come to bed but I cant get through to him. I've tried to relax a little and play on my laptop while he is on his, but when it starts to get late and I get off, he would rather stay on. He plays all day while im gone to school and work. We started off using Sprint Hotspot for internet service, so I had the power to cut off his connection. When I did, he would completely flip out, on one occasion he even drove up the street to steal Wi-Fi service from a neighbor. It is really starting to get to me because I feel as though I'm lacking that intimacy I get from him when he actually does come to bed. It hurts my feelings that it doesnt bother him that his addiction upsets me. Please help me.

THE NATURE OF ADDICTION is that the addiction becomes the only thing that matters while everything else start to fade. It sounds like that's how you're feeling--like you've disappeared to him. Even when you're hurting he doesn't see you, and that feels like you lost something that you had that was special.

Overcoming addictions is tricky. Think about a codependent relationship. Codependent relationships are really just relationships where people are addicted to other people. When a codependent relationship ends, the obsessive thoughts start and even small things--songs, words, topics--can trigger the thoughts and feelings associated with that person/addiction. Lots of people were in a relationship like this at some point, and you probably were too. How did you overcome it? Time. Distance. Distraction. Restraint. Maybe a few other things. Those are some of the ingredients to overcoming an addiction.

Now the question is--is that feasible for your boyfriend? First off, does he WANT to end this addiction? Second, CAN HE? I don't know if he can, that's up to you to assess. Maybe this is how he plans to earn a living. Whether he WANTS to is another question. 

You can see that putting pressure on him is not working. Taking the position that what he's doing is wrong or hurtful is only pushing him farther into his own position that there's nothing wrong with what he's doing. It's almost like the harder you push on him, the harder he pushes back. Try and break that adversarial dynamic. How? Talk to him calmly along the lines of "I know you're really into this. I have my own things that I'm into. But years and years from now, when you look back at your life, you're going to ask yourself if you spent it wisely or wasted it. I know that if I devoted too much time to my addictions, I'd end up feeling like an asshole. I know you enjoy playing and I'm not suggesting you stop it entirely, but I think you should think about your relationship with gaming and how it'll play out if you aren't careful. That's it."

You have to resist the temptation to criticize him, especially if he listens and admits something is wrong. Just try and be helpful. If he doesn't come around or make progress, you have to consider if you really want this relationship.

Monday, September 24, 2012

spiritual frauds

there a lot of frauds out there in the spiritual slash healing world. I would almost consider myself 1 of them except for 1 thing. actually 2 things. first, I don't claim to be an expert in anything. second, and more importantly, I don't claim to be able to do anything.

a lot of spiritual frauds will tell you that they can do something to fix you or improve you, but that's all bullshit. because no 1 can really fix you. the only person that can really change something is yourself. insight may help you but it can never actually finish the job.

the other part is that you don't actually need any fixing. I'm at the real difference between a genuine teacher and a fraud. of fraud makes money by suggesting or implying that you are damaged and in need of repair. what a real spiritual teacher teaches you that you don't have anything wrong with you to begin with. that single fundamental insights makes all the difference.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How do I deal with a passive aggressive mother-in-law?

Dear Edahn,

You hear about crazy possessive mother-in-laws, psychotic aggressive mother-in-laws, and about the mother-in-laws who just show their hatred outright or by ignoring the daughter in law that "stole their son away". But...but, but, but what about the mother in law who is extremely nice and welcoming to your face but back stabs you every chance she gets? Yes...I'm talking about the PASSIVE AGGRESSOR.

I've known this woman for five years and she's never once reached out to me, but she hasn't ever been rude to me either. However I've recently discovered that she is constantly talking behind my back, or will be passive aggressive to get her point across that she doesn't like me. If I confront her, she will act as though I'm being crazy and deny everything. If I don't confront her, I feel like I am going to claw her face off with rage the next time I see her (Kidding...of course.) This is totally foreign to me -- what do I do?!?

THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do is remind yourself that your mother-in-law is the way she is because of factors that were outside of her control. 

Your mother-in-law is like a jelly fish. If you get close to her, you're liable to get stung. But the most critical thing you can do is remind yourself as often as you need that this person didn't choose to be this way. This is who she is because of her upbringing, her parents, her friends, her teachers, and the time she grew up in. She didn't get to choose any of those things. No one does. 

That understanding helps you let go of the blame, the guilt, the anger, and start to muster genuine compassion. It also helps you figure out what kind of relationship you should have with this person. It helps shake off the roles we try to take in these situations. Some people try and play the role of therapist. Some the role of daughter. Some the role of parent. Some the role of guardian. And some get ensnared in the pettiness and drama. But compassion helps you throw all that nonsense and fakeness out.

Throwing the roles out leaves you with your answer, because it leaves you with you. Not you the daughter-in-law, or you the bigger person, just you. You may not have an epiphany about what to do, but you'll be able to make the best decision you can in that moment. It's like chess: you may not see the end of the game, but you don't have to--you just have to make the best move you can make right now.

Just remember, it all starts with carefully considering your situation and how it came about. Do that and you'll find your solution.

Friday, August 31, 2012

When your relationship is off to a rough start...

If you just started a relationship and it's already off to a rough start, I say ditch it. Here's the weird analogy I used today, while chatting with a friend.

Say you're on an island and you decided you need to get off. At the end of the beach is a speed boat with weird controls and a possibly fucked up motor. The speed boat is fast, but the ride is horrible. You'll fall off periodically. Also, sharks are in the water. Did I mention sharks?

If you were patient and scoured the island more thoroughly, you'd probably find something better, like a raft. The raft is less exciting than a speed boat, but it's a lot more comfortable and you won't fall off. You just sit back and relax and float in the right direction. The sharks aren't interested in your raft.

A lot of people opt for the speed boat. Sometimes they crave the excitement and get bored with the raft. Or, they don't realize there's another option. Or, they're just impatient or worried the raft doesn't exist. The raft may not exist for everyone, and it's possible that some people are quite happy living on the island. But for most people, the raft is there, and being a kind, decent person helps increase your odds.

So if you find yourself on the speedboat, circle back and find your raft. And if you're already in the middle of the ocean, then get started building one. Because in the long run, a smooth ride will help you cultivate peace inside, and that's what will matter more than anything.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How do I get the momentum back in my relationship?

Hi Edahn,

I've been dating my boyfriend now for four months. In the beginning of our relationship, he would text me everyday! I would always wake up to a "good morning baby" and we would text throughout the day and no matter what, at the end of the day he would always say goodnight! He would always send me random i love yous, check up on me and tell me how much he missed me! This went on for about 2 months until he lost his job in July. After that, he would barely text me. If i didn't text him, we wouldn't talk that whole day! He told me that he was just stressed out and he didn't want to take it out on me and that he loved me so much. That gave me some closure i guess.

What i should mention is that my boyfriend is an EXTREME GAMER! After he lost his job, he finally had time for them so now he plays them NON-STOP. Now i know why he doesn't answer me a lot anymore and why he barely texts me during the day! Its the damn computer games. He'd rather sit home and play them than hang out or talk to me and this breaks my heart into pieces. I confronted him about it the other day and all he said was no and that he doesn't put video games before me and that he loves me!

My boyfriend is a big live streamer which means, anyone can go to the site and watch him play. The other night i went on caught him talking to a girl! Later, we were in the car and out of nowhere he brought up that a person that was trolling his friend trolled him but instead of saying 'her', he said 'him'. That's what got me upset because i knew that his friend was a girl! I love my boyfriend so much and i don't want to lose him but i don't want him to lie to me! I want him to stop putting video games before me!


HI THERE. YOU KNOW, sometimes when relationships begin really quickly and with lots of intensity, they go through a cooling off phase. It makes sense because it's hard to sustain strong, intense feelings for too long. During the cooling-off phase, one of two things can happen: 1) the partners grow distant and break up or 2) the partners find a new way to relate to one another in a more stable, sustainable way.

In the beginning of a relationship, the intense feelings of love and longing that each person feels forms the basis of their bond. They're both infatuated with one another. It's almost like an obsession. But eventually those feelings start to wear off a little. Sometimes partners will try and recapture that state of infatuation through sex or by professing their love to one another because it's where they feel safe and it helps hide the feelings of distance they start to feel as their hormones begin to settle. If they keep trying to conceal their true feelings, they're end up feeling more and more alienated from each other because they're not being true to themselves; they're not being authentic.

You're both in a very delicate space right now. You have to ask yourselves how you feel around one another when you're not having sex or not professing your love for one another. In other words, when you're missing the intensity you once had. Does it feel sad? Scary? I don't think your objective should be to reclaim the feelings you one had, but to own the feelings you're having RIGHT NOW. Face the feelings of discomfort and anxiety you're having with composure and quiet strength. Don't freak out. Just be there with it. There is nothing to be afraid of. If you can do this, you'll create space for you and your boyfriend to connect in that more sustainable way, and you can start an honest conversation about the things that concern you both. It'll happen naturally. It's not something you have to--or can--plan out. If you have any questions, just leave a comment.

Got questions? Click here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dealing with a Disappointing Parent

Dear Edahn,

No one has ever been able to really give me any "great" advice on this matter, so I thought I'd see if you could. When I was six months old, my drunkard of a mother left. I had a very happy childhood nonetheless and because I had an amazing father and grandparents, I never really thought much of not having a mother or cared where she was (prison).

She has tried getting into contact with me several times these last few years and every time I even start to warm up to the idea, she falls off the wagon again. I find her pathetic not because of her addiction, but because of this sudden animosity I feel towards her. I am unsure how to come at peace with her, or how to really accept the fact that I don't have a mother figure to talk to anymore. I have a step mother but she is of no use, and often acts like a child. She can be fine at some points, but most of the time is just concerned with her children.

Any suggestions?


IT SOUNDS TO ME like the problem lies in trying to fill a hole that's already been filled. Let me explain.

Your mother keeps disappointing you. She comes into your life, shows signs of hope, and makes you believe that things might actually get better, and that you'll finally have the mother figure that you were deprived of. So you get excited, drop your guard, and let yourself feel safe with her. You start to depend on her, but ultimately she succumbs to her addiction, and you're left devastated, once again. It's sad.

But from what I'm hearing, you don't need a mother figure. You've already got one, even it your mother figure isn't in the form of a single woman. Think about it. You were raised and loved by your father, your grandparents, your family friends, and your community, and you grew up to be an intelligent, compassionate, emotionally sophisticated person. You were mothered by a network of caring human beings who all played some role in your maturation into the wonderful person you are today. 

When you see your mom, you don't need to get your hopes up that she'll finally play the part of the devoted mother because that part has been filled. She is who she is and that won't change, but that's okay because you're not missing anything. Who knows. Maybe you'll even end up playing that role for your mom. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Edahn's Formula for Choosing a Career

Dear Edahn,

I just graduated college with a degree in Economics, however, I can't help but feel like a helpless 22 year old, not knowing what to do with the rest of his life. I love playing sports and guitar, though not that good enough to become pro in either. I really don't know what the next step in my life would be, and I feel like I'm having a quarter-life crisis. Any advice? Thanks!


I THINK YOU'RE FEELING like a helpless 22 year old who doesn't know what to do with the rest of you're life because you're a helpless 22 year old who doesn't know what to do with the rest of you're life. Not to worry, it's a good sign. If you didn't, it would suggest that you never contemplated this very important question, so good on you.

I've done a lot of thinking (and worrying) about this subject, and here's the best advice I can offer you.

Ideal Career = Your Talents  World's Needs

In other words, your ideal career lies in the intersection between your personal talents and the needs of the world. If you follow this formula, it'll lead you to a satisfying, meaningful career...and life. It'll help you feel like you're making something beautiful.

Start by making an inventory of your talents. You don't have to be the best in your field, it just needs to be something you do best. You may be good at things you never considered yourself special at. Think broadly. You can be good at listening, at calculating, at analysis, at leading, organizing, defending, offending?, design, construction, writing, speaking, selling, buying, trying, lying, whatever. Talk to your friends, parents, and colleagues, but in the end listen to yourself. Make a list of your top talents. There can be more than one. Using your talents will give you automatic passion.

Next, think about the needs of the world. You don't have to be in Africa feeding hungry children to serve the world. You can do it in more subtle ways too. You can help your community by using your talents. You can help your clients. You can help educate children or adults. You can talk to people, help them get things done in their life, make them laugh, cry (in a good way), or think. There are a lot of options here. But the theme is doing things to help others who need help. For example, working in a bank to help rich people get richer would not qualify. Working at a printer to help people in your community make signs and banners would qualify.

Your ideal career lies in the intersection of these two variables. For me, this formula predicted a few different ideal career choices. Some of them very clear, some of them more conceptual. But they all felt correct, and that I could choose any one and be satisfied. It could change, as you grow and develop new skills, and learn more about the world. That's okay.

In the end, there are all sorts of heuristics and formulas for deciding on a career. You might end up inventing your own formula, and if you do, more power to you.

Got a question? Click here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Teaching Kids to Respect Animal Life

Hi, Edahn

I have a very important question: at what age do you think should we have our kids acquainted with the horrors of animal agriculture? Thank you.


I DON'T THINK KIDS should be exposed to any horrors. Once they reach their teens, it's a different story. But I do advocate teaching kids about compassion and respect for life.

Animal farming view animals as products or goods and I think it's our job to make sure that we humanize (funny word) animals as much as possible. We have to create relationships between animals and kids so they feel close to them and personalize them. That's why we don't eat dogs or cats or horses. We form attachments to them. It's also the reason why we have wars. We dehumanize each other (i.e., objectify), become estranged from one another (geographically, intellectually, emotionally), and then have no problem destroying each other. That's why Gordon Allport, a very famous social psychologist, thought the answer to reducing intergroup violence was simply contact. Contact makes people interact and get to know one another, forming relationships and intimacy. It's the reason having community centers (and the urban planners who design them) are so critical today. Urban planning and overcrowding is a major problem today, and I think the primary reason we have so many random shootings. (I'll get off my soapbox now.)

There's a wonderful book called Why We Don't Eat Animals that is really phenomenal and sends the right message for kids: that animals have emotions and inflicting harm is wrong. I support that message 100%.

Got a question? Send it to askedahn@gmail.com

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coming up this week


How do I accept my mother's flaws?

Quarter-life crisis

Being vulnerable

Got a question? Click here.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Introversion or Passive-Aggression?

How can I tell the difference between a boyfriend who shuts down emotionally because he needs to energize and a boyfriend who is withholding intimacy? My boyfriend keeps making plans with me, does favors for me that inconvenience him, but lately he seems disconnected from me, less open, even less sexually interested. I'm worried he is going to have a pattern of withholding when I ask for more emotional connection. He has been open before but when I mention this he claims he doesn't remember. Feels passive aggressive to me. So how can I tell whether he's just withdrawing as an introvert or whether he's waiting on me to make up for something I don't know I did?

THE BEST WAY TO figure out which it is is to ask him in a way that doesn't come off as blaming or threatening. The tricky thing about asking for more emotional connection is that it's not really something someone can produce. There's no manual for creating emotional connection, and moreover, if you try too hard, your mind will be absorbed with thinking and self-consciousness which prevents emotional openness.

Opening up emotionally has two components: 1) the listener creates a safe environment for the other to open up, and 2) the other finds courage. Courage has to do with dropping all facades and being honest about whatever it is you're going through. It's being vulnerable and in-touch. The safe environment has to do with letting someone know that they don't have to be ashamed of who they are, and that if they reveal who they are--i.e., if they develop courage and share with you what they're feeling--they won't feel judged and won't have to defend themselves. There's nothing worse than being vulnerable and having someone start asking critical questions or try to give you unsolicited advice. Sometimes people just want to be understood and heard.

So back to you...as much as you want more emotional connection, you need to ask yourself how that request is being framed and received. Ask him. Is he taking it as a demand? Does it make him feel unsafe and inadequate (highly likely). If it does, just listen to him. Hear him out. Listening and making space for him is where the emotional connection grows from. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be emotionally connected, but you do want to ask yourself whether the means you selected are the best means available.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Destination Meditation

When I sit down to meditate, I often think "okay, how am I going to get back to that state of calm and peace?" But I soon remember that I never actually went anywhere, I just stopped moving for a bit.

Monday, July 2, 2012

How do you adjust after you move away?

Dear Edahn,

I've graduated from college six months ago and have yet to find a job. I've relocated across the country away from all of my friends and family about two months ago, and thus far have yet to meet anyone at all. I'm starting to have anxiety, stress, and anger and have begun to take it out on my new hubby. I feel very much unlike myself and have no idea how to make things better, and I can feel myself slipping into a bitter depression. Any suggestions?


OKAY, IF YOU HAVE a laptop, here's what you can do. For the next 2 weeks, go to a new cafe every day with your laptop and do your job searching from there. At the end of the 2 week period, pick the cafe that seemed the friendliest, or the one where people seemed to know each other. From that point, do all your work/searching from this cafe with your laptop. Say hi to the cashier and ask them how they're doing (but don't get into a long conversation). When you sit next to someone or see someone you recognize, just say "hi" and offer them a little smile. Nothing fancy. But keep showing up consistently, maybe 4-5 times a week. 

Now, if you don't have a laptop, this is what you can do: first, get a laptop, because what is this? The 90s?
Second, find one thing that you like about your new place. Doesn't matter what or where, just something you can like for whatever reason. The less sense it makes the better. It could be a garden, a road, a street, sitting outside at a cafe, the sound of the birds in the morning--whatever. Try to find something that you can enjoy alone. Don't tell anyone what it is, just enjoy it as you can. Also, get a laptop, because they're awesome.


Thanks for the likes and shares. If you have a question, go here

Friday, June 15, 2012

Do men ever change?

Phrightening Photoshoppery
Hi, Edahn

Since you can answer any question... why do you think women change and men don't? To understand that would help relationships immensely. Thanks.

WELL, TO BE HONEST, I can't say with certainty that women change more than men. I've witnessed change and stubbornness in both men and women, but let's assume you're right. I'll give you a few possible explanations.

The boring explanation is that men are socialized to be more assertive and aggressive than women by their families and culture. A dad might counsel his son to stand up for himself and fight a bully, but might tell his daughter to talk to the teacher or try to befriend or reason with a bully. Culture also plays a big part in this. We watch TV shows and movies with assertive males and conciliatory females from a young age.

Another explanation might be that women are better at listening and adapting because they're more attuned to other people in general. Women are the default caretakers, both in the wider animal kingdom and even among humans. They carry their baby, nurse it, and nurture it. Roughly 84% of single parents are mothers, not fathers. Being able to read and relate to others might give them an advantage in compromising, looking at themselves, and making adjustments.

The interesting explanation has to do with dominance. Someone with typical alpha male characteristics like aggression and dominance eschew compromise and listening since an alpha male is possessed by a need to control and conquer, both physically and verbally. In a disagreement, an alpha male would be more likely to assert their position and get their opponent to submit. I do think women possess characteristics of dominance, but I also think men seek women that are slightly less dominant than they are. If that was true, you would see a trend whereby men would seem more stubborn than women. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Advice, and Other Stuff

I was thinking today about stuff, my life, and values. My values come from one place, which is the same place I think all real values come from: a place of inner-quietness. That's when I remember what's really important to me, and what just seems important. Important things are self-respect, self-compassion, and self-connectedness. The unimportant things are making people like me and doing things to earn the respect of others.

It's from that place that I try to guide myself and guide others. It's the only thing I know that will never steer me wrong with absolute certainty. It's the place I try to tap into when writing here on this blog.

At various times throughout the lifetime of this blog, I've thought about closing shop for various reasons. But I'm glad I didn't, and I really appreciate everything I've received from writing this blog and the people who have written in. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How do I Stop Fighting with My Soulmate?

Kiss-Cam Win
My boyfriend and I have been together for over 3 years. Since the day we met it has been an instant spark and our relationship has always been extremely passionate. We have that relationship where you just know that you've found it: real, true love and a soul mate. 

We began having fights like normal but we really started hitting some trouble last year when it started becoming a constant thing. They can range from idiotic pointless fights to his girl-friends or exes. I know he's faithful; I'm just a jealous person.

I know I get angry way too easily, and I've improved a lot, but I still get ticked off and start arguments about little things. Even if we resolve it I can't seem to let the anger go. His problem is that even when I am calm and try to talk to him about something he gives me one word answers or says "I don't know" or makes a sarcastic comment. 

We both think that the problem is that we never went through that awkward, getting-to-know-each-other-and-not-ready-to-fart/go-to-the-bathroom-in-front-of-the-other phase. We didn’t allow ourselves to learn about each other; how we fight, how we deal with stress, how we deal with problems, how we defend ourselves, how we react, etc. Do you think this is what the problem is? We both feel like we need a blank slate. How do we fix us? 
I THINK WHAT YOU'RE asking for is how to transform (or restore) your relationship. It's possible, but it takes time, effort, and commitment. Truth is, you could spend time trying to explore how things have changed and why they're not working, and could probably come up with a bunch of really interesting theories for your mind to wrestle with and enjoy. But that's not what's really going to help you. What's going to help you is developing a new interaction style and putting the old one on hold.

So we have to ask what a good pattern might look like for you too. Right now, things are tense. Your jealous thoughts (let's call them fears) are getting triggered easily and seem to linger. Your boyfriend sounds like he completely checks out when you guys are arguing. Maybe he feels like you're dominating the conversation or bullying him. It's not that you're intending to bully him, but maybe you're dismissing him or out-maneuvering him in the fight. Or, maybe he's just tired of being accused of things that originate in your own personal fears. Make sense?

So I ask you: what would it look like if things were better? How would you be interacting with each other? What would you be doing, and what would you be saying? How would you both be feeling? What would your body feel like? Picture yourselves walking down the street or sitting in a restaurant with humble smiles. You're talking, cracking up here and there, sharing something meaningful or something completely pointless. But you're connected to one another. It's not too intense or too dramatic. It's more just...nice.

The thing about passion is that it fades. Not just fades over years, it fades over minutes or hours. And when it fades, that loss of connection and intensity can be painful, so much that couple begin lashing out at each other. It's not really sustainable. You have to find something in the middle that's less intense and easier to maintain. 

What I want you to do (you or both of you) is spend time visualizing that more stable, nice interaction. Ponder it during your shower or whenever you have time. Develop as clear a picture as you can of the two of you interacting in different situations. Imagine how you'd deal with your fears, and imagine how you'd deal with your frustration with his jokes--wisely and lightly. Then try it on. Don't discuss it, be it. Over time, you may start to see some shifts in the way you guys interact. It's important that you keep up the visualization exercises even when they seem pointless. Give it 3 months and if you don't see any results, I'd recommend finding a therapist. My heart goes out to you guys. It's a tough situation.

Got a question? Go here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Improve Self-Esteem after a Bad Relationship

This question is a follow up to this post.

And what about the self-esteem? What if I feel I am completely useless and no one will ever like me?

I'M A FIRM BELIEVER that self-esteem is something that everyone already has. Therefore, self-esteem isn't something you need to work to get, but something you need to work to uncover.

Uncovering self-esteem isn't really an intellectual process of analysis and thinking. It's really more anti-thinking . You can uncover it by stripping away the layers of self-doubt, self-judgment and future-thinking, and just looking at the person you already are in a very simple and quiet way. Looking at yourself that way and being with yourself that way makes you embrace the person that you are and see the value that you already possess. Again, it's not an intellectual process, it's just a process of being with your thoughts and feelings. You can call it authenticity. I call it Rest.

It makes sense to me that you feel so distanced from your natural self-worth, because your relationship was incredibly complicated. How often (and how deeply) did you feel like your natural, best self? How frequently did you feel calm and connected? In a relationship fraught with conflict, betrayal, and judgment, I would venture a guess that you felt this rarely. If you think you were completely yourself, then I would challenge you to contemplate the question who am I, in my heart?

In my previous post, I suggested you stop ruminating about the relationship and focus on yourself, your hobbies, your friends, the things that you forever enjoyed that made you feel like you. Try it. By doing that, you'll start to feel those layers of doubt and judgment will start to melt away and you'll naturally start feeling more authentic and more in touch. Your self-worth will slowly start to radiate out of from you, and along with that, a very sacred thing: hope. You'll start to see the possibilities for a satisfying life within reach and find the means to make it happen. Like you did long ago.

Got a question? Go here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

How do I move on?

Hi, Edahn 

I really need a word of advice. I have been in relationship for 10 years and I truly love the guy. He's been openly cheating on me all these time but because I was so happy with him I tolerated that. I hoped we would get married, but he's recently married somebody else. I'm 37 years old and alone. I'm crazily in love with him and I can't control my emotions. I'm depressed all the time, I cry (even at work and when other people are around) and I hate the girl he's married. It's been a year and I still haven't moved on... What should i do? I don't want to be miserable and lonely any longer...


THIS IS A SITUATION where you need to be aware of the difference between reality and perception. We tend to think that our perception is the same as reality, but there are lots of times when our perception gets distorted. One of those situations in being in love. When you fall into love (which is kind of like infatuation) your body and brain are going nuts. Neurons are firing, hormones are releases, and your emotions are all over the place. One of the key things that happen when you're in love is that you do things to preserve the relationship. There are obvious things, and then there are subtle things. 

Obvious things include not cheating. Subtle things include ignoring obvious character flaws, excusing misbehavior, and overlooking serious problems. It's hard to really recognize when you're doing this because your mind will conjure convincing explanations and justifications to protect the relationship, but if you look for patterns, you'll see them. You'll also starts to see your friends--who aren't as susceptible to distorted perception--telling you that you need to move on.

Now let's get to you. This is what I see: (1) you were very much in love; (2) hard as it may sound, he was not deeply in love; (3) you're still in love. In love in not the same as loving. Loving is feeling close and connected, whereas being in love has a more possessive quality to it. Being in love comes and goes, whereas loving someone is both more rare and more special.

It sounds to me like you're still very wrapped up in all your feelings and desire for this guy, and that those feelings--the in-love feelings--are preventing you from accurately assessing this man and this relationship you had with him. What you need, in my opinion, is to put this all down for a while. Your feelings will still be all over the place, but what you can do is let them be there and not fuss with it. Give yourself a break from all of this for a while. Let yourself breathe. Get back into some of the old hobbies and projects you had before you started seeing this man. As much as you can, stop obsessing about the relationship or what he's doing now, and stop talking about it. Obsessing will just refuel the emotions that are preventing you from moving on. 

It sounds counter-intuitive because most people would tell you to talk it out. I do think there's a time for that, but the time for that will be when your body and brain chemistry have normalized and you can get better evaluate this relationship and what it was really worth. That doesn't mean you didn't love him, and it doesn't mean he didn't feel a lot for you. But there's perception and there's reality. Over time, as things start to calm down, I think you'll start to see the difference, and that'll help you get the closure you need. 

Got a question? Go here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dating a Man with Kids

Dear Edahn,

It's happened once before, and it's starting to happen again: I seem to be doing this thing when I date men with kids, where I admire and love that they are so committed to their kids. It makes me respect them and even like them more. I think I can deal with it. Then, a little into the relationship, I start resenting the kids and the attention the man gives them and the way they impact our relationship (logistics, attention, time distribution). It happened in my last relationship where eventually just couldn't stand the kids and even the fact that he had kids with another woman. The kids did nothing wrong, the man did nothing wrong, and I did nothing wrong in order to bring on these feelings in me. I just went from liking them and finding them wonderful, to resenting the heck out of them and feeling extremely insecure.

I'm starting to date a man with one older kid (in her early twenties), who should be on her way to becoming independent, but I'm noticing that he seems to coddle her. What are your thoughts on this, and is this something I should work through (by myself or with a professional), or should I end the relationship with him and forget about dating men with kids?


SO IT SOUND LIKE you're attracted to his sense of loyalty, but get disappointed when you realize that the loyalty primarily belongs to his children. The truth is, I don't think that's ever really going to change. He can be loyal to you, sure, but his primary loyalty will always be to his children. I think most parents are like that even when they stay married.

It seems like you want a guy to make you the primary target of his devotion and loyalty. Nothing wrong with that, but we it should be recognized and acknowledged so you can see the conflict you're having in plain view: you want something that most likely, you won't be able to get from this person.

I haven't had much luck changing my fundamental needs, nor do I think they should be changed in your case. Rather than injecting yourself into situations like these that are destined for conflict and disappointment, I think you'd be better off looking for that same quality of loyalty in other, single men. I assure you it's out there.

Got a question? Go here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How do I deal with partner's exes on FB?

hi edahn,

Recently I've found myself in a relationship. The first really important one in a very long time. It's going well and I feel very secure and happy, except when I have to deal with facebook. I have to say it's been almost 4 years since my last very serious relationship and I don't remember having to deal with these sorts of things. You know what I mean... pictures of exes and your current bf hanging out with the ex gf doing stuff that people who are together do.


It seems strange to me that while I don't feel threatened, it still makes we feel kind of weird. Early on in our relationship I did mention to my current beau that his ex sure did seem to be interested in everything he posted. His solution - validate my feelings and cut his ex of his fb. It's not what I expected, but that's what happened. I suppose I was satisfied. He really is wonderful and creative, but I'm wondering if it's normal to feel a little inferior of your partner's exes simply because of fb. It's kind of dumb........................right?


RIGHT.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Self-Improvement is a Hoax

-_-
So often, we (and I) think of growth as a process of becoming someone else--a better version of yourself. But it's in moments of extreme honesty and contemplation that you realize that you never grow by becoming someone else. You grow by becoming who you already are.

The person you already are isn't conceptual, so if you're thinking "I'm caring, I'm funny, I'm word savvy" you're on the wrong track. If you're using adjectives, you're not talking about who you already are, you're talking about a conceptual, mental image of who you are, and that only exists in thought.

The person you are is happening right now. It exists outside of language. You can feel it right now. When you breathe and just sit here, looking at your monitor, that's who you already are. When you slowly start to feel the tensions in your body and the strange feelings they associate with, that's who you already are. When you simple exist with no particular goal, not to analyze, not to find an answer, not to get anywhere, that's who you already are.

Self-improvement is a hoax. You can't really improve yourself because all virtue comes from becoming who you already are, not anyone else.

Got a question? Go here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thoughts on Job-Skipping

I look at my parents and I look at our generation and I wonder how things are different. My parents have financial stability. Some of my friends seem to have it too. They seem to. They have a set career path in a stable industry and they look like they're going to have their jobs for a very long time. And frankly, they don't seem unhappy about it either. I envy them sometimes.

Then there're my other friends who seem to be drifting from job to job. They don't really build much from one job to the next, but seem to move from island to island. It's less certain and much more volatile. They won't have pensions and probably won't have retirement accounts either.

I sometimes wonder whether this is the new model for living...just trying to get what we can in a world that sees employees as products rather than people. It's sad to say, but it's hard to deny. People are treated as tools that fulfill a certain job. There's still some camaraderie, sure, but it's not like a family or an army unit. In those groups people rescue one another. They did things together and built deep relationships and loyalties. You would stick up for your fellow troops. Now things are different. It's not easy to build strong loyalties in an atmosphere that encourages dispensing people in the name of efficiency and other bullshit values that should never trump basic humanity.

I don't think we can change the system. We can just change how we would do things if we were in power.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Compulsive Planning

Today's post is about compulsive planning. Obvious confession: I'm a compulsive planner. I rarely act. I like to plan and design things. Doesn't matter what it is, I just like think about possibilities--weigh them, compare them, contemplate them--it's all very enjoyable for me. And when it comes time to act, I hesitate. Even when I do act, I end up reconsidering whether the strategy I selected was right. Because I just love planning that much. Can you relate?

In some ways, it's really helped me. Planning and strategy are involved in everything you do. You can use it to predict people, predict your environment, the economy, your business, and your life. To some degree, you always need to be aware of what's happening in case you need to make an adjustment. When circumstances change, your strategy may need to change too. Like me. I went to law school but it wasn't until afterwards that I started to learn more about myself and my values and the kinds of things I want to accomplish that were in line with those values. My original strategy--be a lawyer, make some money, have a family--had to adjust.

Another nice thing about compulsive strategizing is that there's a niche for you in a business. If you're good at strategy, at reading situations and finding solutions, you can land yourself a job as a strategist or business guy. That's nice.

But there's also a down side to it. You don't always have a person in your group to implement your wonderful plans for you. Example: your personal life. In your personal life you can get stuck in stages of planning. I know because I do. You hesitate to act for fear of choosing the wrong path, and when you do act, you don't fully commit. That can happen in your job, in relationships, even in your personal interests. These things require commitment to develop properly.

So how about you? Compulsive planner? Professional life strategist?

Question? Go here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How do I get my boyfriend to stop ignoring me?

Dear Edahn,

 I was wondering what to do about my situation with my boyfriend (he's 22 and I'm 18). We have been together for around 4 months now and he's a great bf. The only issue I have is that whenever I drive to see him he will be playing his video games and hardly if at all acknowledge me. Recently I came over to his house to spend a few nights and that's when the video games and ignoring start. He also will ditch me to go to his friends house or even when we have decided or made a plan (just the two of us) he will cancel it or bring his friend along.

I'm not sure what to do at this point either. I told him how I felt about it and he kinda felt bad but he does this all day. He plays video games instead of looking for a job (we have a baby on the way and I already have college and two jobs to boot). 

AW MAN, WELL, LET me start with the good news. Actually, it's all gonna be good news. The good news is that he feels bad. That's actually great news. It means he's able to reflect on his actions, see your perspective, and feel healthy guilt. If you didn't have that--if he just argued or shut down--then you'd have a real problem. 

So he feels bad, but what happens? Sounds like nothing much is happening. That's expected from someone with an addiction; they keep falling back into bad habits.

What I suggest you do is take a page out of behavioral psychology. Do you watch the Dog Whisperer? He uses a lot of behavioral psychology and you could learn a lot just by watching a few of his videos. Basically, he makes a change in attitude and then keeps an eye on the subject (le dog) to make sure it stays on track. Same idea for your BF. Talk to him again. Tell him that you have a baby coming and that it's time for you guys to sit down and get serious. Ask him what kind of marriage he wants to have, and tell him what kind of marriage you want to have. Together, ask yourselves whether both of your actions are leading to that ideal relationship and what could be done to improve things. Of course, it's cool if he plays video games, but it needs to be budget his time better and he needs to keep his commitments to you. This is a good time for him to speak up about things that bother him. You might have some things about yourself that YOU have to change, too. (Be prepared!) 

You can even extend this into a conversation about what you both want out of life in general. Do you want to see a change in the world? Contribute to a cause? Start a cause? Be good people? Develop a skill to perfect? Addictions will fuck up any plan simply because you need to dedicate time to meet those goals. 

Now comes the behavioral part. Come up with a few simple ways to get your relationship on track towards that ideal vision. Come up with things that are easy to follow and remember. For example: "hang out ourselves, once a week, no video games" would be a good one. Another one would be "limit game-playing to 1.5 hours a day." Another one is "hang out as a group at least once a week." Try and work together rather than against each other, and try to be reasonable and flexible. These are big steps for him.

The important thing is that you guys stick to the rules you create and remind each other when a rule is broken without penalty (without it turning into a fight). You'll slip up here and there, but if you guys keep your focus and positivity and work to help each other and yourselves, I think you'll be just fine. Let me know how it goes, ok?

Got a question? Go here or email AskEdahn@gmail.com. If you like an article, feel free to share it with your FB friends (HINT HINT).

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Presentation: Anxiety, Zen, and Enlightenment

This is my newest PowerPoint creation. It's also a tribute to my hero, Alan Watts. If you enjoyed it, consider sharing. New question/answer tomorrow. Till then, America! :)

Anxiety, Zen, and Enlightenment  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How do I deal with my boyfriend's kids?

Dear Edahn,

I met a guy who I really get along with. He has a five year old and 2 older daughters, 25 and 32. I'm younger than he is and have never had kids. The 5 year old loves me to bits but the older girls are harder to deal with. 


The older one has 2 kids who come over all the time and trash the place. The 25 year old has a boyfriend, but he's gone every other week. During that week, she spends a lot of time at her dad's. The daughter has a 5 month old son herself and can't seem to do anything without her dad. She needs him to go shopping with her because it's too "hard" to shop with a child. If we're both at the house, she'll decide to go to the store for food and asks her dad to go with her. She pulls him away when I'm there. It's not just because I'm new and she's possessive; I think she has always been like this. I think he goes along with whatever she does to keep the peace. He relies on her too, for babysitting needs. Do you think I should leave? I love him but it doesn't outweigh the family issues.

IT SOUNDS TO ME like your boyfriend has an issue with boundaries. He's letting him oldest daughter (and her kids) do what they want with the place, and letting his younger daughter take up his time--time you consider "yours." Why is that? These things have multiple causes. Maybe, as a single dad, he's letting his children do what they want to keep them happy and close. Maybe he never had boundaries himself. Maybe he likes feeling useful. And then, maybe it's part of an implied bargain as you suggested.

A couple of things are clear to me. One, that if this is a longstanding issue, he is going to have to intervene to change things. Two, that changing things is going to be tricky: his daughters are not going to want to change; they may take his attempt to put up a boundary as a threat; he is probably getting certain payoffs (like usefulness, attention) from the arrangement; and he isn't going to want to risk his relationship with his daughters.

One of the issues can be dealt with easily, and that's the older daughter's kids cleaning up after themselves. You can have a talk with him and explain some of what you've seen and how having boundaries and teaching responsibility is healthy for a child. Not to mention, having a clean house is healthy for everyone living in it. He doesn't need to have a big drawn out confrontation with the daughter. When the kids start playing, he can say "okay kids, the last time you came here everything with a huge mess. I had to call Shrek just to help me clean it up! So this time remember to put everything away before you leave. Okay?" (Depending on how old they are, of course.) Ten minutes before they leave, he should announce that clean up time has started. He shouldn't let them leave until everything is put away and it's important that he not let anything slide.

The more complicated issue is with the younger daughter. It sounds like she's not comfortable doing things alone. Maybe it makes her feel lonely. One thing you can do is get to know her a little more. You don't have to be her mom. Just get to understand her world, without judgment. Maybe you can join your boyfriend and his daughter when they go shopping. The other thing you can do is try and schedule time in with your boyfriend. Plan some time for yourselves in advance. Show that you understand his situation, but explain that you want time with him alone. Don't try and convince him to change, just help him see the reasons why. Ask him to respect that and let him know that it's important to you and to your relationship. He'll have to learn how to say "no" to other requests that conflict with your time. 

If he can learn to set up boundaries, them maybe things will work out. If not, then you need to ask yourself what your life will look like with this person and whether you'll be satisfied or not.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

My Boyfriend and I Keep Fighting


Hi,

My boyfriend and I keep fighting. It is almost a year. I believe it is always me. Three years ago I broke up with my ex-fiance who I found out was cheating on me so now I have trust issues. However, back when I first started dating my boyfriend he went to a concert with some girl behind my back and I just recently found this out within the last two months through a photo on Facebook. He swears nothing happened, but yet he ignored me the entire night and made me believe he was with his sister. Today, he texted me asking if I was at work. His phone died but I didn't know and kept asking why. Eventually he texted me back and then ignored me. I'm fucking up my life because of the emotional drama. Granted this was my fault, but still.

Every time we fight, I am told I am a horrible cleaner. On Saturday, I cleaned because his daughter was coming. He got back and he was being a jerk so I was texting my mom trying to figure out why he bought her here if he wasn't feeling well. He threw my phone across the room and broke it in front of his daughter. I was shaking. I cry often. The emotional drama is taking a toll. Every time we get back on track something else happens. He always threatens that he will leave. He just has no where to go and almost everything in the apartment is mine. I already know I'm not getting money back for the car I paid for.


THERE'S A LOT GOING on here, so let me try and deconstruct it. First, it sounds like you haven't healed completely from what was obviously a very, very hurtful betrayal by your ex. I get the sense that whenever there's even a whiff of possible infidelity, you get flooded with all the memories (or at least feelings) from your last relationship and go into alert-mode. You say it's just "your issues" but maybe it's not so simple. The guy has given you an explicit reason not to trust him, and there may be other implicit reasons too, things you're picking up subconsciously about his character.

Second, he's very on-edge. He goes from normal to agitated very quickly, and when he does, he's putting you down very harshly, telling you you're incompetent and disposable. Now his anger has turned from verbal to physical. It's abusive, and it's totally inexcusable.

The fact that it keeps happening over and over isn't your fault. There are lots of factors that contribute to fights like these. The main issue, as I see it, is that you guys trigger something unstable in one another. That may be because of your past, but more likely it's because of the way you talk to each other and the way you've hurt each other. Bickering, yelling, stonewalling, and ignoring might look like little things by themselves, but over time the accumulate and cause damage. They start to automatically trigger emotions like resentment and anger even when nothing is happening. If you're not good at managing those feelings they're going to make your interactions with each other more hostile.

Here's the bottom line. It sounds like he's using you and abusing you. This kind of abuse is dangerous because it erodes your self esteem which compromises your common sense. Don't let it drag out any longer. Move one and find a warm therapist to talk to about what happened with this guy and your ex and you'll be fine.

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