Posts Tagged Feeling
If you’ve ever been in a controlling relationship, you know how easy it is to get caught in its web. It usually starts out with a simple suggestion like, “Do you think that outfit is the best you can do for the banquet tonight?” or “I think you’re better off ordering the salad,” or “You should get a real job and stop all that nonsense about making it as an artist.”
At first, you take their suggestions as a reflection of their love and concern for you. After all, their comments are not that far off base, and you certainly don’t want to appear unappreciative or defensive. At this stage of the relationship, you want to please your mate, not alienate him or her. It’s more important to appear receptive and understanding of your partner’s opinions than to challenge them.
Some time goes by. You now notice that your significant other’s opinions of you continue to be critical. Only now, there is an emotional undertone that suggests if you don’t abide by his opinion, he will be angry, punitive and emotionally manipulative.
The scariest times come when you believe the threats of rejection and abandonment.
The cycle has repeated itself in such a way that somehow, you’ve become sucked in and are believing the rhetoric. Or, at the very least, you’ve been trying to manage the critical outbursts. You’re now so consumed with keeping your partner’s emotional judgments at bay that you have trouble considering if his demands have crossed over into an abusive and inappropriate arena. Your judgment is clouded.1
You continue to ask yourself, Is it me or him? You feel anxious around him, believing that somehow you can make things right again; you want to feel the love you did when the two of you first got together. Deep down, your biggest fear is that his opinions of you are right … that there really is something wrong with you, and you just may not be lovable the way you are.
The bad news? You are now caught in the web. The good news? There is a way out. It is so important to understand what control is really all about. Let me show you the way.
Why Do People Want to Control Others?
- Their own sense of helplessness and powerlessness
- Getting someone else (like you) to make them feel okay
- Wanting to hand-off their own anxieties so they don’t have to deal with them themselves
- Ensuring that you will never abandon or reject them
- Projecting their deepest fears of being inadequate and unlovable
A person’s controlling behaviors are virtually never about you.
Take Control Back
Here are five steps to getting out from under a person’s control:
1. Get your power back.
The quickest way to do this is to be willing to walk away from the relationship if need be. This enables you to move forward with the next steps from a place of power, not a place of fear.
2. Set limits on his criticism and emotional outbursts.
Let your partner know that you are open to hearing his concerns about your actions and how they impact him, but will no longer engage in conversations that attack who you are as a person.
3. Consider your partner’s concerns.
What are you willing to do for him? What is completely off the table? Make sure you align these requests with your personal well-being and integrity. Don’t agree to do things simply in order to keep the peace or save the relationship, especially if deep down you know it isn’t right for you.
4. Be clear and honest with yourself first, then your partner.
Consider your values, goals and needs. Make sure your decisions are in alignment with your highest self, needs and all. Let him know what you can and can’t do for him. Whatever you do, do not be intimidated. Have a powerful “no” and make it clear that he will need to accept the “no.” If he can’t, then it may be best for the two of you to part ways.
5. Find people and experiences that celebrate who you are.
Find ways to reconnect with the powerful person you truly are, i.e. someone that would never tolerate being treated in such a manner. Engage and connect with other people that support and love you for exactly who you are.
At the end of the day, only you can decide if his controlling behavior is something you are willing to live with or not. Relationships should be something that supports your growth, not something that diminishes it. Love celebrates who you are; it does not put you down. You deserve to have a powerful and loving relationship. So start with yourself. Love yourself enough to take the first step in reclaiming you.
Most couples deal with issues of control; it is a common tension that arises from time to time. However, if you and a loved one are struggling with how to deal with control issues constructively, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help. I want you to have the best possible outcome when it comes to strengthening your relationships.
As a recent private practice consultation group that I was leading came to an end, we took a few minutes to celebrate the growth and successes of each group member. I asked what each group would take away from their consultation group. One therapist turned to me and said, “Thank you for giving me the permission to succeed.”
I have never really thought about my private practice consulting services as giving colleagues “permission to succeed,” but it seemed to fit. I asked myself, “Where did I get the permission to succeed?”
As I thought about it, I realized that my dad had modeled for me personal and professional success. As a child, I watched his music career flourish, how much he was energized through self-expression, and how he was motivated to inspire others through his work. My Dad’s modeling taught me that I, too, could create a professional life where I could express myself, be creative when faced with challenges, and inspire to make positive change.
I grew up believing that everyone had permission to have an amazing, creative and fulfilling life. I think that’s partly what inspired this blog. I want you to create a thriving private mental health practice that fills you with joy, that works for your life, and that reflects who you are.
When I saw my Dad a few weeks ago, on Father’s Day, I made a point of thanking him for giving me permission to succeed. I let him know that I really valued that gift that he’d given to me — the belief that I could find success and personal fulfillment in my professional life.
Do you need permission to succeed in your private practice?
“‘No’ may be the most powerful word in the language, but it’s also potentially the most destructive, which is why it’s hard to say,” saysWilliam Ury, director of the Global Negotiations Project at Harvard University, and author of”The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes.
Ury believes that saying no is so difficult because it surfaces the “tension between exercising your power and tending to your relationship.”
In other words, you want to put your foot down and be true to your convictions. But you also don’t want to estrange yourself from friends and family members. You want everyone to like you.
My neighbor often asks me to go on errands with her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so I often say “Yes,” when what I really want to do is to say, “No.”
That’s why many people choose avoidance (like pulling down the blinds and telling the kids not to answer the door when the neighbor comes calling). Unfortunately, this gets you neither respect of your opinions or warm fuzzies from friends.
A winning solution, says this negotiation specialist, is to sandwich your “no” between two “yeses.” That way you can assert your stance without alienating allies (versus enemies, which you don’t really care about, right?).
Take my wimpy approach to my neighbor dilemma. I suspect Ury would council me to push my double jogger over to my neighbor’s house, invite myself in, and tell her something like this:
- “Your friendship is valuable to me. And I care about you.” (That’s the first “yes.”)
- “However, given all of my demands between the kids and work and all the extras I do, I just don’t have time to run errands with you.” (That was my “no…” which I can’t picture myself saying in a thousand years. I’m way too much of a people pleaser.)
- “But maybe once and awhile I could go to prayer group with you.” (Another “yes.”)
The conflict expert also suggests (and this is especially important in political and business negotiations) that we focus on common interests with a second party, rather than specific positions; that we develop an alternative plan to a negotiated agreement; and that we devise a plan that is easy for people to agree with (use lots of logic).
In a culture so demanding of our time and productivity, Ury claims that it’s more important than ever to say no. Because, according to him, “to say yes to the right things, you have to say no to a lot of other things.”
That’s pretty much Commons Sense 101, but I can surely benefit from a refresher.
When you don’t have depression, a bad day might mean sadness and murky musings. But the gloomy thoughts and feelings tend to dissipate, and you bounce back in a day or two, according to Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of Living with Depression.
However, if you’re struggling with depression, a bad day is filled with profoundly “cynical, pessimistic and distorted” thoughts that you just can’t shake, she said.
A bad day leaves you emotionally and physically drained. Serani, who’s experienced depression, described feeling “emotionally wrung out” and “physically limp and bone weary.”
“Depression is an experience of depletion,” she said. “You’re worn down, hollowed out, devoid of enthusiasm or vitality.” You feel like nothing is worth fighting for, she said.
That means that on the days you need it most, soothing yourself can be excruciatingly difficult. But there are ways you can feel better — without having to take big steps.
Research has found that awakening our senses helps to immediately improve depressive symptoms, Serani said. Here, she shared several strategies to stimulate each sense.
Seeing. Natural light is one of the best ways to stimulate your sense of sight. “When even a single photon of light enters the eye, it lights up the entire brain,” Serani said. Light activates the hypothalamus, which regulates mood, sleep and appetite. Not getting enough sunlight causes a disruption in all three, Serani said.
“Light also activates the pineal gland, a tiny pea-shaped brain structure, which essentially runs our circadian rhythm, also known as our body clock,” she said. This gland produces melatonin, which controls our slumber and wake cycles. Darkness leads to an excess of melatonin. “[This] makes us sleepy, fatigued and listless, worsening our already depressed state.”
Serani suggested opening the shades or curtains, and sitting by the window as the light pours in. If you’re able to, venture outside for more sunlight, she said.
Smelling. Breathe in fresh air, spray fragrance or take whiffs of a scented candle, Serani said. Smell the aromas of your favorite dish, which you can cook yourself or ask someone else to make. “When we smell something, its scent takes a direct route to the limbic brain, awakening memories and positive emotions,” Serani said.
Hearing. “Listening to music, sounds and a human voice activates the brain’s reward system that releases the feel-good neurochemical dopamine,” according to Serani. That’s why she suggested listening to upbeat music or soothing sounds or even an audio book.
Open your window and listen to what Serani called “life-affirming sounds,” such as birds chirping, the wind blowing, children laughing or even cars moving.
Touching. Take a shower, which is more like a “medicinal tonic, with its warm water and soapy textures,” Serani said. Feel the warmth of a tea-filled mug, the softness of the couch or the comfort of a loved one’s hug, she said.
If you’re able to move your body, take a walk, meditate, stretch, run an errand or play with your kids, she said.
“When we move our bodies and when we touch, muscles tense and relax, releasing toxins and feel-good hormones and endorphins.”
Tasting. Savor your favorite foods and meals. According to Serani, complex carbohydrates, protein, nuts and leafy greens can boost serotonin synthesis. (Starchy carbohydrates can increase fatigue, she said.)
Drink green tea and coffee, which some research has shown may improve mood. Too much caffeine can heighten anxiety and irritability, however, according to Serani.
If you’re experiencing a bad day, just try to remember that stimulating your senses can help you feel better. Thinking about it might help you actually do it and get you back on the road to wellness.