When the Going gets Tough, The Tough get Going!

71f2c07d6ea971d201b760dd723662a8I often use my own personal experience to highlight elements of my posts. Even in therapy, my own stories shared sparingly and at the right time can help others to put their own stories into perspective. The Native Americans believe in their culture that life is about stories. When one story ends, another begins and the telling of stories and understanding them is the key to solving problems and moving on in life. This, I buy into and believe, in that we can all learn from each other’s stories.

This is one of those times and on this occasion,  I am learning from my own story. At this present moment, I am in Europe,  Spain to be precise, and away from home for one night. Even though it is a short time to overcome, it puts many things in my life in perspective. My recent posts have pontificated about happiness and what elements we need in our lives to make us happy. There were various factors highlighted but nothing specific. This is because happiness and what it means to us is as individual as we are. If someone had asked me what made me specifically happy, I would have a clear answer. This answer would come from a base of healthy self esteem, personal growth and independence on my part. All factors that have embroidered my happiness.

My clear answer would be sharing my life with the woman I love.

Now I know we all say that as a default answer and one that you might expect but I have the clearest evidence possible to make that claim. Firstly, I now know that I spent the majority of my life with the wrong people (we do not know this until we find the right one). Given that experience and the lessons learned, I am in a position to know what is right for me and what I can reasonably offer to the right relationship. I have truly found the one.

For me, we have everything we need to maintain a healthy long term relationship and it is not about honeymoon periods or infatuation, we are long past that. We have the basis of honesty, trust, respect and mutual benefit. However, you can never test those things until you get to difficult times. We have had these in abundance.  For example, we have moved across continents  (more than once), been apart for long periods and endured emotional, logistical and organisational challenges frequently. All are enough to fuel tension and possible conflict. It would be very easy to lose yourself in blaming and finger pointing when things get tough or don’t go as you expect.

What I really love about us is that we slip immediately into problem solving mode, solution focused and work together to get things done.  We dont just compromise, we find new solutions and any conflict is dealt with with this in mind.Whatever, the issue, it is always that thinking that emerges. I personally, didn’t believe that existed and had maybe given up hope of ever finding it.

This single factor, in my opinion, is the key to happiness with another person. When you have this, you can conquer anything.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE

 

Why Codependents Are Sometimes Resistant To Therapy

Free From Codependency

branding-images_client-wallsIt is wrong to assume that if codependency is identified as an issue, the person concerned is codependent with everyone in his or her life. There is usually only one or a number of people (or thing, e.g work, substances) but the typical behavior associated with codependents does not necessarily get projected on everybody. The “object” of codependency is usually a very strong (mostly negative) influence on their lives and all focus is placed there. They are very resistant to realising this as it often defines them as people. Their struggle is them.  Their “object” is their whole life and only by fixating on this, will they  get what they need.  Until a point of real awareness occurs, they will defend their object with all they have and even though they will incessantly complain about the “object”, on one else can. It once heard it described as a form of…

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What Makes Us Happy? Further Thoughts

Just recently I wrote a rather philosophical post pontificating about What Do We Need to Make us Happy?. As I generally do, I placed this article on various websites for people to read and comment. On one particular site, the article generated a fair amount of interest and discussion from many people who all offered their ideas about happiness and how to achieve it, recognise it and maintain it. Much of the content lacked specifics as you might expect but generally most people thought along the same lines. Loving yourself, having the right partner, having sufficient funds to live, the right job, having kids, etc, etc. This proves exactly what I wrote about. That while there are some elements that determine happiness, it is as individual as we are.

It set me thinking. While all or a combination of the above can be seen as a recipe for happiness (which ones depend on the individual’s situation), there is an added element that is often overlooked (actually more than one) that in my opinion goes a long way to providing a basis for personal happiness, irrespective of whether you are in a relationship or not, good or bad job or to a certain extent, rich or poor. That is to see that life is truly a series of problems that need to be solved. Our issues (and ultimate unhappiness) come from either not facing them or not having the ability to recognise or face them. These problems then stack up and affect every aspect of our lives. As one of my favorite authors famously wrote :

Life is difficult..one of the greatest truths. …Most do not see this and spend most of their life moaning more or less incessantly that life should be easy. Life is a series of problems..do we want to moan about them or solve them? Discipline is the basic set of tools that we need to solve life’s problems. Without discipline, we can only solve some of life’s problems. With it, we can solve all problems.

Scott Peck was certainly onto something in his best selling book “The Road Less Traveled”. In my opinion, he truly gave us a blueprint for happiness. His basic tack is that we do not see challenges and problems as true opportunities for growth and we spend much of our time avoiding the pain that goes with such growth by employing various methods to “make ourselves happy”. Of course, some challenges are bigger than others but there are people who cannot realistically face even the smallest issue.

The first tactic we employ in the face of challenge is instant gratification. This explains everything you need to know about comfort eating, shopping, overspending, relationship-hopping, many addictions and more. The need to feel “good” in the face of challenge will drive a lot of people in this direction while they procrastinate about what to do…or in effect what not to do. Delaying gratification (facing problems and then after treating ourselves) takes discipline and a strong will and very few have it. Where this comes from is not always clear. Too loose or too tight boundaries experienced as children could be one element. However, ineffective parenting is often seen as a root cause. We often lose the ability to delay gratification after a certain age and even though some children can retrieve this ability, some never will. They never learnt (or better, were never taught) to delay gratification as children. Many over-stressed parents do not have the determination to teach problem solving or to say no to children. How many parents do you see giving in to sweets or television for an easy life?

While we are enjoying ourselves in the face of challenge, what we are truly doing is hoping that if we avoid the issue for long enough, it will either go away or someone else will take care of it. We are just shirking responsibility. However, when children grow up in a household where they are told one thing and they see their parents doing another, it is no wonder that discipline and responsibility is lacking. I remember from my own experience being told about the dangers or risks of this or that and seeing the very people warning me doing exactly that!! What a message for a child!! It teaches that you do not really need to do what you say. Many parents do not confront children for their lack of responsibility and it becomes a default method of problem solving. Why face that issue when I can do something more pleasurable for me and no-one will bring me to task about it!!??

Even if sometimes we are forced to face something, how many of us give up easily before really trying? How many of us say “it’s too hard,too painful” ? How many of us take the time to really solve the problem before giving up and moaning and proclaiming to the heavens that “my life should be easier than this”?

Yes, Scott Peck hit the nail firmly on the head. Solve the problems that come your way, large and small, face the pain that is associated with it and we can transcend that view of “life is difficult”.

One Thought Away From Relapse

Free From Codependency

relapse1When you recognize and become aware that you are indeed a codependent, the hard work really starts.

Even codependents who have a good handle on their triggers and situations that could cause a relapse have to fight hard to keep them in check. As one of my recovering patients said quite rightly “You are only one thought away from relapse”.

I know from my own experience and that of others that even the smallest relapse back into codependency can be a devastating feeling associated with doubt, guilt and shame. The very emotions that helped to create the codependent in the first instance. To some, the hard productive work done in recovery is overshadowed by this perceived “failure”.

Often, the relapse is down to contact with a former “object” or someone or something that triggers similar feelings. Once that happens (and depending on the state of recovery), it might take some…

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Press Release: What Are You Prepared To Do For Your Relationship?

Ebook - Our Quest For Happily Ever After.. & Why It sometimes does Not Work

“Being involved romantically with another human being is to use a famous quote “the best and worst of times”. We proclaim our love, often far too quickly, and make irrational decisions. We believe we can take on the world and our own world is in order. Though when it goes wrong, things swing quickly in the other direction. Such is this thing called love”. (Our Quest For Happily Ever After And Why It Sometimes Does Not Work, 2016. Dr. Nicholas Jenner).

Let’s be honest, when it comes to relationships, we often try it and we often get it wrong and most of us have no idea why. We think we do but we are generally clueless. The fact is that we are all largely unprepared for what awaits us when we start on that quest for happily ever after.

In his new e-book “Our Quest For Happily Ever After… And Why It Sometimes Does Not Work”, Dr. Nicholas Jenner asks the critical questions that help couples to realise what they can do to build a secure base for their relationship. Any couple having difficulties or embarking on the journey of life together might do well to ask themselves:

  • Do we really understand our relationship in terms of how we see love, our partner and how our early attachment to our parents all play a significant role?
  • Are we aware of how it can go wrong, how we can handle conflict effectively, and overcome the inevitable rough patches that will certainly come?
  • Are we able to imagine moving on if it does not work? Can we even see when we might need to?
  • And if we stay, are we prepared to look at our relationship and ourselves in order to bring things back on track?

Dr. Jenner provides the answers to these questions and more and challenges the reader to go back to basics. Through his tried and tested concepts, he sheds light on relationships that often fail because the couples involved have forgotten the fundamentals of human interaction. They forget to listen; they forget to communicate what they are feeling or thinking. They make assumptions without having any real evidence in front of them. They blame their conditioning, their childhood but sometimes fail to realise that they have choices; choices that can make or break their relationships. They fail to realise that doing nothing is also a choice.

The consequence of doing nothing is that they live mediocrity. They have mostly given up and have accepted wrongly that the relationship is in such a deep rut that it seems impossible to save. Yet, they unhappily stay and avoid making the tough decisions that could make all the difference. So is there really any hope for a successful relationship? And what does it take to get there? Dr. Jenner answers: 

“Relationships are the most frustrating; complicated joint venture we can ever become involved with. Yet, they are the most rewarding and intriguing experience we can ever have if we get it right with the right person. Building a relationship on the four pillars of Trust, Honesty, Respect, and Mutual Benefit will virtually guarantee success. It may take some time and a few bad experiences to finally get it, but the journey is worth undertaking. Reach for the ideal, allow yourself to believe it exists. Nothing is perfect but very good and excellent can be had with the right work and insight”.

 Dr. Nicholas Jenner’s Bio:

In his long career as a therapist, Dr. Jenner has been at the business end of changing the way couples and individuals think about themselves, others and the way they see the world. Using effective methods and applying realistic thinking, Dr. Jenner helps the people he works with to realise their full potential. With couples, he helps individuals to make use of their strengths to bring about function and harmony. Working on the conditioning they brought into the relationship, he teaches them to make use of the window of opportunity they have to manage conflict and enhance connection.

 

How Controlling Codependents Get What They Need

Free From Codependency

puppeteer controls a businessman holding his strings, the concept of control of businessNarcissists always get a bad press and probably rightly so. (At this point, we should note that we should only use the term narcissist when someone has been officially diagnosed with NPD. Also, there are degrees of narcissism). The common belief is that they are void of compassion and empathy and are not capable of “love”, so fairly unsavory types. This is, in my experience, more or less true and if you have the misfortune to become involved with one, your life is destined to be troublesome.

To say the least, as we know, the laws of human attraction tell us that codependents are more likely to have this trouble than others. “Give and take” takes on a whole new meaning here! However, when it comes to methods used to keep a partner in line, codependents also have an array of tools to make this happen.

One such method is…

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What Really Makes Us Happy?

happy-person-jumping-happy-person-5I had a very interesting conversation recently on just this subject. My discussion partner was, at the time, pontificating about money. His argument went something like “Many people are only interested in the accumulation of wealth but once they have it, they are still not happy. It is not how much money you have but what you do with it that counts”. This set my mind working and it countered his rhetoric with the notion that this could well be applied to many other aspects of our lives. What if “it is not how much you have but what you do with it” could be looked at in relation to relationships, free time and so on. Could this be a basis for general happiness?

As humans, we are always striving for that extra that we think will make us happier… more money, a better relationship, better career, bigger house or faster car. Some, of course, will do all of this and more. What determines who is a mystery but the majority will strive most of their lives to get anywhere near the utopia they seek. Yet there is no guarantee that even if we finally get there, that we will be happy. All it means for most is more work, more stress, more pressure and eventual frustration. Not the best recipe for happiness.

In fact, what we generally do is highlight “doing” and totally reject “being”. The harder we work, the more money we will have, the less free time, the more work we can do, the more money we will have. The more “doing”, the happier we will become with our bigger car, house, etc.

For me happiness is the not the constant striving for material items, even we are largely judged by society (at least in the West) on how much or how many we have. No happiness can only be found in “being” and this only happens in the present moment. How many of us can truly say that we even try to appreciate what is going on around us and to accept what we are and have? Most of us spend a lot of our time analyzing the past and worrying about an imagined future including the aforementioned strive for wealth.

Many clients I have seen over the years have been stuck in this cycle of thinking. It can, left unchecked, lead to such disorders as anxiety, depression and an overall sense of dissatisfaction. I can also be the basis for rumination. “Being” gives us the ability to stay solidly grounded in the present where conscious decisions can be made and we can find acceptance for ourselves. Could it be in the end that happiness truly is a state of mind?

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE

 

What if?… Fuel For Rumination

ruminationOne of my favorite saying is… “If you are depressed, you live in the past, if you are anxious, you live in the future, if you are ok, you live in the present”.

True as this statement is, it does not start to describe the processes that drive the disorders mentioned. However, when I deal with clients who suffer from depression and anxiety. Rumination is a key element of their thinking. Rumination of course, takes you out of the present moment and leaves the mind vulnerable to irrational thinking.

When we ruminate, we are in effect asking our mind to solve problems, something it will gladly do. This is in contrast to reflection where we stay in the present moment to analyze and learn. One of the drivers of rumination (among others) is the “what if” question. “What if this or that happens?”, “What if she or he leaves me?”, “What if I do this or that?”, or “What if I had done this or that?”.

Once this type of thinking process starts, rumination is inevitable and can last for hours, even days. It can ruin moods, start depression, fuel anxiety and sabotage plans made. It is also extremely hard to counter and can become habitual. With some, once triggered, it can become an automatic response to issues that might be easily solved by staying “present”.

I have found that two methods really help with the issue. They are difficult to practice but once mastered bring high reward. Once is conscious thinking, this means learning to recognize when rumination is starting and “dragging” yourself back into the present moment. This can be done by being aware of what is around you, in that very moment using senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste. Some will use items such as raisins or chocolate to help this.

The other is a classic CBT tool known as a thought or mood diary where thoughts and feelings can be logged and assessed. Over time, this can help to identify triggers that can foster rumination.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE

Codependency : That “Treading On Eggshells” Feeling

Free From Codependency

Walking-on-egg-shellsAs I have mentioned here a few times before, I suffered badly with codependent issues. Even though I have largely overcome these, there are still some clear traces that I constantly work on (or have to work on).  One of these and one that I see often with clients is hyper-vigilance, not in the sense of physical threat but mostly to do with observing a partner’s behavior for signs of change. For codependents who constantly live with insecurity, these signs could mean a lot.

Many clients who have noticed this element in themselves take any perceived change as a possible signal that they are about to be abandoned. In reality, there is usually nothing to be worried about or there is an issue that is not much to do with the relationship. What it does to a codependent is foster an attitude of “treading on eggshells”.  They feel that the…

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