Friday, February 24, 2012

Why does my boyfriend keep breaking up with me?

Dear Edahn,

I think I have a great relationship. My boyfriend and I have been together for many years, we enjoy each others' company tremendously, we "get" each other, and we've been able to help one another through major hurdles in life with a great sense of humor and understanding. We're the couple that everyone wants to be around, and I have never been more understood and at ease with anyone more than I am with him. 


The only problem is, every once in a while, he'll do this thing where some kind of switch will go off in his head, he'll get overwhelmed with life (usually money related stress), and out of nowhere, he'll break up with me. This has happened 3 times over the last 7 years, and usually, I'll either try to talk him off the ledge, or we'll stay together because of economic reasons, and everything will be back to normal again as if nothing ever happened. His reasons for breaking up are usually vague. As you can probably imagine, when he does these mini breakups, it takes a huge toll on me emotionally. Is the happiness and kinship I have with him worth the occasional freak outs, or is this a sign that we are truly doomed, and that my time is better spent finding someone who can stick with me?

IT SOUNDS TO ME like something is fundamentally missing in your relationship. It's like a house that looks beautiful on the surface, but has something seriously wrong with the foundation. As nice as it looks to you, to him, or to others, it's inherently fragile and unstable and I think it'll continue that way forever. Why? Because what's missing is that he doesn't see himself ending up with you. 

I say that because if he did see himself ending up with you, he wouldn't do the things you've described. His thinking and behavior would veer away form that decision every time. The fact that you have fun together and understand each other doesn't contradict what I'm saying. You can still have fun together and people can still enjoy your company. 

There are lots of things you can work on in a relationship, but unfortunately, I don't think that's one of them. Let's be clear, I said you can't "work on" it. It's possible he'll change his mind down the line, but that has to be his own choice. That said, if you continue this way, he'll always have doubts and you'll never really feel safe.

I think you should find something more stable. You'll both be happier in the end.

Got a question? Email AskEdahn@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Zen & Freud: Closer Than You Think

What is True Happiness?


Therapists can be hired for any number of tasks related to mental health. They can be asked to help someone work through grief, overcome anxiety, or develop better relationships with their parents. But if we think about the big picture, the therapist's job is to help guide people down the path of true happiness.

Of course, I've got something specific in mind when it comes to true happiness, as I imagine others do too. If Existential Psychology and Buddhism had a philosophical love child, it would look like my conception of true happiness.

True happiness is a state of being where a person is driven by their true calling. There's real meaning that can be felt and cultivated from following that calling. Their future is open to new possibilities. They feel an intimate connection with themselves, others, and the world. There is a calmness and lightness to it, and a sort of comedy.

Meditation, Catharsis, and Honesty


There's really only one gateway to true happiness, and it's by being honest with yourself. Honesty isn't just an intellectual exercise; it's also a visceral one. Honesty is when you give up trying to make yourself and your world appear or feel a certain way. See, this is how we exist all day. We're in a state of chasing. We chase after things and situations because we don't feel safe where we are. We think "this" is not good enough, so our mind starts to spin, planning and calculating how to improve on this moment and plan for the future. It's always pushing forward.

Honesty is just the opposite. Honesty is giving that up and accepting where things already are. It's not accepting an idea of who you are, it's accept the way things are. And how are they? Well, usually...confusing. Uncertain. Scary. Vulnerable.

This is what catharsis is really all about. When Freud spoke about catharsis, he was talking about accepting a deep pain that was so scary it had been buried, distorted, and repressed for years. The mind played all sorts of games to cover up that pain, and the analyst's job was to help the client be honest about the pain.

We do the same thing in meditation. You might have your own technique, but in the end, it's all the same. Meditation is practicing honesty. It's breathing how you're already breathing and generally speaking, being how you're being. It's letting go of trying to use the mind to make progress, even if the mind is trying to make progress in meditation. Meditation isn't a special state--it's how things already are.

Honesty and True Happiness


It's this acknowledgement of how things are that opens the door to true happiness. The mind quiets down because it no longer has anything to do. That's because of purpose of all the mental chatter is to flee the moment and improve upon it, but there's no longer a need for that when you face the moment bravely. You begin to feel like you're real self again, free of distortion. Your fears subside as you form authentic, genuine relationships. Your values and needs start to emerge and you know what you must do to make your life worthwhile and important.

The therapist's job, like the teacher's job, is to help others walk this path by giving them the courage to look inward and see how things already are. Whatever technique is chosen, it ultimately has to serve this purpose or it's impact will always seem shallow. As individuals and as teachers, we must find ways to en-courage our clients by modeling courage and honesty and remaining dedicated to it.

Got a question? AskEdahn@gmail.com or click here to submit anonymously.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What do you do if someone doesn't love you back?

Hi,

I need you're advice. I am horribly in love with a guy. He promised that he would be my boyfriend for 2 years. I was in a car accident recently and he doesn't know about it. We live in the same city. He doesn't know about my car accident or concussion. 
I wish I was in a romance where the man I loved actually loved me back. But instead I am in a nightmare. I just feel like crying. I want you because you seem more real to me than other people.

IS IT THAT YOU want me, or that you want someone who's more reliable in general?

When you have strong feelings for someone that aren't returned, it's really hard to step back and see what's really happening. It usually takes time and distance for your feelings to calm down so you can see the situation more clearly, but when your feelings are so strong, distance is the last thing you want.

My hunch is that if you had distance, you'd see that a person not liking you back is enough reason to walk away and move on. But I think people in your situation usually stall as long as they can until they get exhausted and decide to walk away. How much drama and anguish have you already been through? How unsatisfied have you been? How much pain has this relationship caused you? Would you be better off with a person who was more real and interested in you? These are the questions you need to ask yourself now.

In the end, as cheesy as it sounds, the love that really makes a difference is completely in your control: self love.

Like? Comment? Question for me?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Back Online

And.....we're back. It's been a while since I've posted here. I've had a lot on my mind and I'm eager to tackle some tough questions. If you've got a question for me, click here or send me an email to askedahn@gmail.com. Thanks, and looking forward to posting again.