Archive for the ‘Decision Quizzes’ Category

Preventable Medicine for Skin Hunger – the Deprivation of Touch.

Yesterday I had my regular bi-weekly full body massage.  I knew it would feel good but knowing it would feel good and the experience of feeling good are two different things.  It’s like, “Aaaaaaah that’s what I’ve been missing.”, but didn’t know it.

I often need massage because I have some injury from tennis, looking after my grandson or some other activity.  But the best massages are when I’m fully fit and healthy. After several years my massage therapist knows my body better than I do.  It’s nice having someone know your body so well.  He knows where I carry my tension and works it out of my body when I didn’t even know it was there.  He knows where I’ve had injuries and makes extra focus on those areas.

I enjoy deep tissue massage. Not everybody does.  I like the strong pressure on my skin and muscles even when it sometimes hurts.  The lighter massage feels pleasant but it does not impact me the way deep tissue does.

Yesterday, as my massage therapist was working on my lower leg, I was reminded of the experience of making passionate love in the past. I did not feel sexually aroused.  The strong pressure on my skin and muscles made me feel – it is difficult to put into words – alive, present, impacted and loved.  I did not feel loved by my massage therapist – of course we have a good report– it was the pressure he was applying that reminded me of feeling loved during passionate love-making in the past when I was touched that intensely.  It felt good to remember.

During massage I find it difficult to stay focused on the part of my body being touched.  I can do it for short times and then my mind goes off to the future or the past.  Then I’m brought back to the present by the wonderful pressure on my skin and muscles.  I stay with the sensations for awhile.  It’s difficult to stay in the moment, but oh so satisfying when I do.  I experience a pleasant kind of grogginess at the end of the session. I move slowly.

Humans need to touch and be touched.  That’s why we love children and pets because they seek us out for touch and we get our need to touch and be touched by caring for them and playing with them. Couples frequently massage each others’ backs, feet and, of course, other parts.  When my sons were teens, giving them occasional back rubs was a way I connected with them and expressed love without them thinking I was being soppy.

It is important to have regular massage treatments if you are not in a current relationship.  Skin hunger can build up over time.  Without intending to, people who are deprived often act out sexually (especially when alcohol and drugs are involved) and have regrets afterward.

In our current North American life style we often are too much in our heads – thinking thinking thinking –  which disconnects us from our bodies.  Massage helps us keep connected to our bodies and helps us remain balanced between mind and body in a healthy way.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

The Woman at Work who Grabbed onto her Desk when Panic Attacks Struck.

Once upon a time there was a woman, (I’ll call Jo) who was suffering from panic attacks.  They occasionally happened at work, or in the early morning before she got to work.  She said the panic attacks came out of the blue; she never knew when one was going to strike her.  She would be sitting at her desk at work and suddenly get a wave of panic so intense she would have to grab onto her desk so she wouldn’t run out the door. The attacks were happening more often and she dreaded the next one.   She claimed that her job was not the issue – it wasn’t difficult, just boring.  Her main focus was how to manage the panic attacks.  Her doctor prescribed some Ativan and referred her for counseling.

Panic attacks seem to occur ‘out of the blue’ but they really don’t.  They are like a tidal waves, they rise up, crest and subside.  The therapy started with helping her handle the panic attacks by breathing through them.  This helped her feel less out of control.  Then focus shifted to increasing her awareness of herself.  She was so focused on trying to avoid a panic attack that she had lost contact with herself.  She was focused on the symptom, not the cause of the symptom.

Her office job was a problem for her.  She was not just bored, she was bored to tears.  She had a dream of getting a degree in biology so she could teach, but she considered doing that out of the question.  She couldn’t afford it.

Work was not the only problem.  She and her husband were totally renovating their home and they were having lots of arguments about it.  Money was tight and she needed her income.  Quitting work was not an option.

As Jo got more in touch with herself, she realized the precursors to the panic attacks.  Gradually she became so aware that she could feel the hairs on the back of her neck go up the closer she got to work.  She no longer could deny how intolerable her job was.

Jo finally told her husband how unbearable her job was.  To her surprise, he understood.  Once the renovations were completed, they remortgaged, finding the money needed for her to go to university.

People often focused on symptoms instead of the cause of the symptoms.

Sometimes people are distracted by the symptoms, which gets in the way of finding the cause.  Other times, focusing on the symptoms helps them avoid what they do not want to face.  People are often convinced there is no solution (which is occasionally true) so they bury their heads.   But usually once they are clear what is causing the problem, they find a solution.  Once the cause is identified, even though it may be difficult, appropriate changes can be made. Change is what is needed.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

I can’t Face Putting on my ‘Monkey Suit’ and Going to Work Anymore.

Once upon a time a man who could no longer function at work.  He was severely depressed on permanent disability.  He said for years he would get up in the morning, put on his ‘Monkey Suit’ and go to work.  Then one morning, after a particularly bad day the day before, he could not get out of bed.  “I just could not face putting on my ‘Monkey Suit’  one more time.

He had all the symptoms of severe depression: no energy, sad all the time, lost confidence in himself, lack of interest in anything, felt flat or numb, felt like a failure, felt like he was being punished, highly critical of himself, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, thoughts of suicide, difficulty making the smallest decisions, highly irritable, difficulty concentrating, very pessimistic about his future and total loss of interest in sex.

He stayed at home and did nothing.  He would stay up late at night and into the early hours playing video games or watching TV.  That time of the night he felt no expectations, from himself or others, to be working.  Also, he had time to himself as the rest of his family slept.  Then he would sleep late in the mornings or nap in the afternoons.  His doctor had referred him for therapy and finally, after six months, he went.

In therapy he talked about how he had never liked his work because it did not fit who he was.  He had to act like someone else to be able to do it.  He thought about changing careers but was not sure what he wanted to do.  He got caught up in the usual phases of life and needed to earn a living to support his family.  He felt trapped, so just kept on going – that is until he could no longer do it.  His life was at a crossroads.

As he talked over many sessions, it became clear to me that he was very angry on some level, although he did not sound angry or act angry.  He said he did not feel angry.  I believed him.  I knew he was out of touch with his own emotions.  Every time he put on his ‘Monkey Suit’ he had to disconnect from himself and what he felt.

One day I gave him some homework.  I suggested that he make a ‘bat’ out of newspaper  – roll up a newspaper, wrap duct tape around it.  Then find a place in his home where he could hit with the ‘bat’. I told him the ‘rules’ of doing attacking type motions.

When he came to the next session he looked different.  His face had changed. He was animated. He told me what he’d done.  He said he made five of the newspaper bats and took them down to his basement.  He hit on a pole with each ‘bat’ until it was in shreds.  He said after all 5 ‘bats’ were in shreds he lay in an exhausted heap on top of them.  He had accessed his rage and channeled it onto the pole.

As a result, he came alive, reconnecting to his emotions.  His emotions let him know what he liked and what he did not like.  Gradually he started making changes.  Over the next weeks and months he found a new meaning for his life which gave him direction.  This led to a new career which was congruent with who he was as a person.  No more “Monkey Suit’!

Sometimes, when we over ride our wants and needs, when we procrastinate in taking action to make the changes we need to make,  our body shuts down and forces us to take stock.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

The Man who Regretted his Impulsive Decision to Change Jobs.

Once upon a time, a man whom I will call Charles, was deeply distressed. He had recently changed jobs and was confused about the decision he had made.

Charles had enjoyed the work at his previous job and was very successful at it. He and his boss occasionally disagreed on how to handle situations yet they usually worked things out.  One day they had a particularly bad argument about one account. Charles was livid.

Charles was very personable, connecting easily with others in his field.  As a result, over the years, he had received a couple of serious offers from other people to come and work for them.  He was pleased about these offers but had not been interested in taking any action on either of them.

When Charles had this huge argument with his boss, he decided to look into one of the offers that particularly interested him.  He got the job and gave notice at his current work.

At the time Charles came for therapy he had been in his new job for three weeks.  Although he liked the work, he found it lonely.  He worked on his own.  He missed the work at his previous job and the people he worked with.

Through therapy, Charles realized his main motivation to change his job had been to get back at his boss.  He felt his boss did not respect or appreciate him.  His hurt shifted into anger, which acted like an engine, driving him to want to prove a point to his boss.  He realized his hurt and anger had distorted his thinking.

Also, he realized how important the people he worked with were to him and how camaraderie in the work place mattered to him.  Working with people he respected and enjoyed was part of what made him tick.

He deeply regretted his impulsive decision.  He said that if he had been more aware of what was going on for him, he would have handled the situation with his boss differently.

The Job Decision Quiz is designed to help people in situations like Charles, avoid making decisions they regret.  Sorting through the statements helps individuals identify factors important to them.  It helps them clarify their priorities about work and the work environment.  It also can point out where a person might be stuck or blocked in their decision-making.  All this can keep thinking straight.

The best decisions evolve from knowing oneself clearly.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

Make Relationship Changes Now (Pt. 3): Don’t Agree to do Anything that You Really Don’t want to do.

It’s a given that people in relationship need things from one another. Sometimes you want to do what is needed to be done. Sometimes you don’t want to, but you don’t mind doing it. Occasionally you really do not want to do what your partner needs you to do.

It is important to know two truths:

Saying ‘no’ to your partner does not mean you do not love him or her.

Saying ‘no’ to your partner can actually make your relationship better by avoiding problems.

How to avoid backing yourself into a corner.

1) Ask for time before you agree.

When your spouse asks you to do something that you are not sure you want to do, ask for time.

Example: “Let me think about that and get back to you.”

2) If you can’t keep your promise, inform your partner ASAP

Example 1:

“Last week when I promised to ………, I forgot that my brother is coming into town so I can’t do it.”

3) Renegotiate with Your Partner ASAP

When you have already agreed to do something that later you realize you really do not want to do, use the After-the-Fact Communication skill with you partner.

Through discussion the couple can come up with another solution that each feels OK about.

Example 1:

“I know that yesterday I agreed to do …………… but I’ve had a chance to think about it and I really don’t want to do it. Let’s talk about it.”

Scenario 1: Yesterday Fran had promised she would make dinner today for Eddie and herself. During the day she realized it was going to be too stressful for her to do that. She phoned Eddie and says I’ve had chance to think about it and I would rather meet you for a drink at Bottoms Up and then go for seafood at Kettle of Fish. It’s on me. Are you OK with that?

Scenario 1:

Susan and Bill have a schedule about who picks up the children from daycare. Susan has been asking Bill to pick up the children on her days more and more often. While he is OK about doing it occasionally for her, doing it too often interferes with his work. He began feeling stressed and resentful toward her. Bill told Susan what he felt and through discussion they found another option – Susan’s mother was able to pick up the children one day a week which alleviated Susan ‘s stress level and tight schedule.

Or:

Susan may say she did not realize that she was doing this. She may have thought Bill was OK with it because he never complained. She may ask him to pick up the kids today but she will make more of an effort to keep her commitments in the future.

_____________________________

Marriage and long-term relationships require a lot of collaboration. Couples are always asking each other for help, for favors, for support, for input, for backup and to do work. Couples who work together as a team feel good about each other and the good feelings they have help them deal more easily with what issues and problems they have. Each feels connected to the other and not alone in the world. This is the ideal.

In courtship this is often the way it is. Lovers in love want to all sorts of things for each other. Making the your lover’s life easier gives you pleasure. You enjoy their appreciation. When you lover does something for you, you feel loved and valued. You want to return the good will. A positive interactive cycle develops between the couple and gains momentum. As long as the giving and receiving is reciprocal, all is right with the world. The couple will work well together.

As relationships shift from courtship into permanent on-going day-to-day living, couples settle into patterns with each other. The first year of living together is about developing these patterns, some of which are conscious and some of which are unconscious.

Life is life. Things happen. Life busy. Sometimes we agree to do something for our partner without thinking about it. Perhaps we just want to ease their life. Other times we want to avoid an argument and our partner’s wrath. We could be distracted when we agree to do something and not think it through before we agree.

What happens when we agree to do something that we realize that we can’t follow through on? Well that’s easy. As soon as we realize the problem, we can use the After-the-Fact Communication skill to go back to our partner and let them know.

But what happens when we agree to do something that afterwards we do not want to do? Perhaps we even realize we don’t want to do it when we agree to it but we don’t say so.

Some people will go ahead and do it because they’ve given their word. If they do not feel resentful about it, there is no problem. But they realize that for their own good and that of the relationship they need to say ‘no’ to something that they really do not want to do.

But all too often what happens is the person does not go to their partner with the problem. They intend to do what they agreed to, but they procrastinate and procrastinate and procrastinate. Now there is a new problem between the couple.

“You said you would ……… and you haven’t. You’ve let me down. You’ve made be look foolish. You’ve caused me more work. I can’t count on you. I can’t trust you. You lied to me.”

Avoid these problems. Don’t agree to do something that you really don’t want to do.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea Mackay

Make Relationship Changes Now: (Pt 2) Be Nicer

Research shows that in courtship there are 20-50 positive interactions to every one negative interaction. That is a lot of nice behaviors! No wonder courtship is so enjoyable. In happy marriages there are 5 positive interactions to every one negative interaction. In unhappy relationships there are many more negative interactions to each positive interaction. When there are more positive interactions than negative interactions it is easier to over come or recover from difficulties in a relationship.

Relationships are interactive. You and your partner co-create the dynamics in your relationship. You cannot create what happens between you and your partner all by yourself. Believe this, even if your partner is constantly letting you know in various ways that “It’s all your fault.”

On the other hand, you can make changes all by yourself and those changes will impact upon your partner. Your partner usually, I repeat usually, responds to your changes with their changes. Maybe the change will be positive. Maybe the change will be negative. But be sure, that there will be some kind of change. Keep the behaviors that enhance the relationship and discard those that make it worse.

Begin with small positive interactions. Too much too soon can feel awkward and uncomfortable for each partner.

To be nice is to be kind, considerate, thoughtful, appreciative, helpful, affectionate, caring, thankful, tender and warm. It is also to acknowledge your partners efforts, abilities, talents, skills, sorrows, struggles and hardships.

When you start making changes be prepared for some resistance. Relationships develop repetitive patterns and each partner will have habitual ways of maintaining the status quo. Often when one person changes the other will respond with behaviors that attempt to get their partner to return to the old behaviors. That’s normal because we all like familiarity and find change unsettling. Don’t hold that against your spouse.

Don’t expect positive change from your partner any time soon. Once a partner realizes that the change is for real, he or she will adjust. So be patient. If, your true intent is to control or manipulate your partner, or to show you are better than your partner, then your relationship will become more troubled than it already is. If, in your heart, you are motivated by love for your partner and a genuine desire for a better connection, then the changes will most likely enhance your relationship. Only you can decide the quality of your intent.

Often one partner starts being nice (or nicer) again to their spouse only to find there is no reciprocation. Or worse, the reaction is sarcasm, as in, “Oh, you’re sooo sweet.”. Or just silence. Or skepticism, as in, “What do you want from me?” Or sabotage, as in “Cut the crap.” After a short while the one who initiated change gives up and goes back to the old ways, feeling powerless and even more discouraged.

When you want change, decide to be nicer to your partner without any demand or expectation that they respond in the same way. This is key! If they respond to niceness with niceness – Great! But if they don’t, it probably means they are wary of being taken in and afraid of being hurt (again). By continuing to behave according to your goal of enhancing your relationship, in spite of your partners negative reactions, you will be doing what you want to do. You will feel good about yourself. You will be able to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I know I am trying by best”. Over time your partner experiences your efforts as genuine and enduring – i.e. believable, not just a flash in the pan. Over time, ongoing positive behaviors are likely to soften resentment, heal hurts and demonstrate genuine intent to improve the relationship.

Whether your relationship endures or not, you have nothing to lose by being nicer to your partner and a lot to gain.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea Mackay

Do it Yourself Relationship Help at B-Sort.com

Make Relationship Changes Now: (Pt. 1) Going to solutions too early.

One of the most common mistakes couples make when they are talking is to attempt to find a solution too early. In general, it is normal for men to jump at finding a solution when their partner starts discussing an issue. Sometimes it is the other way around with women assuming they know what their partner wants or needs before they have enough information.

Men and women have different styles of communicating. As Debroah Tannen describes in her article “Can’t we Talk”, found at www.h2limousine.com, men usually talk to gain status in relationship and women usually talk to make connection.

Before you offer a solution you need to know what the problem is, or , if indeed, there is a problem at all. To find this out, you need to know your partner’s point of view on the issue. What do they think, what do they feel about it, what is motivating their behaviors?

Usually the listener wants to give their point of view before they have clearly and fully heard their partner’s point of view. That is what makes most discussions or arguments go off the rails, morphing into a battle of “I want to tell you my point of view before I hear your point of view” or “I want to tell you what is wrong with your point of view.”
Before you offer a solution, find out more information. Listen closely to your partner’s point of view. Keep it simple, say, “Tell me more.” Be curious. Find out your partner’s thoughts, feelings and actions about the issue. As you listen, avoid being judgmental in words, tone of voice, and other non-verbal gestures (e.g. eye rolling, fidgeting).

When you have done this you will have a better idea whether or not there is a problem. If there is, you will be clearer as to what the solution might be. If the purpose of the discussion was to connect, a solution may not be necessary or even wanted.

When you have done all of this, you can give your point of view and your partner will most likely be open to hearing it.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea Mackay

Do it Yourself Relationship Help at B-Sort.com