When Damocle’s Sword Drops


Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. Henry Ward Beecher

Have you ever wondered whether you did something to tempt fate? Well, I wrote about anticipatory anxiety and shortly thereafter my employer closed his business. And, after absorbing that naked truth, I learned that I had a serious staff infection. I almost felt singled out. What did I do to deserve this?

Of course, I don’t really believe that the universe is out to get me. But, “why me” still comes to mind. Of course, no one can answer that question. I know that. And, I know that two crises can happen at the same time just as two waves at the surf can hit one after the other.

But, looking at my situation philosophically doesn’t do much for decreasing my anxiety. Neither does, “Good luck buddy.” I appreciate the good intention but what, really, is good luck and can you give it away?
But, the worst “cheery” statements go something like this, “Suffering leads to understanding and suffering builds character. You’ll appreciate this later.”

At this moment, I don’t find myself particularly interested in character building. Neither am I particularly interested in increasing understanding. I’m not unhappy with my character or my understanding. I’m unhappy about my income and my health. I need assurance that things will work out and that I will be okay. But, no one can honestly give me that assurance.
I’ll have to live with uncertainty, and good luck with that! Dealing with anxiety is a little bit of a task like trying to roll a boulder up a mountain. It’s hard to move the boulder and one could be run over by it.

Now, as a matter of fact, nothing terrible is happening. The infection is responding to treatment. And, I’m still earning some money. But, although things are okay, my mind can perversely wander to from to “The business isn’t stable; I still could lose my job,” and “This kind of infection could kill me.”

Fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, shallow breathing, disturbing dreams, and irritation still occur and it’s annoying. At times I feel myself somber, walk with my head down, and have a strong desire for chocolate and chips. Preoccupied, you know; like the wheel is turning but the hamster isn’t running very fast.

At this point you might say, “Well, my good psychotherapist, why don’t you do something, help yourself? My response is, “It’s easy to teach; hard to practice.” Uncertainty brings out in me the same emotions that everyone else feels.

Okay, so, what did I do? Well, I did review what I’ve recommended to others –

Take time to talk things out and accept comfort.
Replace negative thinking with positive thinking
Use inspirational material and positive prayer.
Breathe slowly to promote relaxation.
Eat nutritionally.
Control anger.
Be aware of the good in life – good people; nature; work.
Consider humor.
Use psychotherapy and medication as-needed.


Here’s what I found to be helpful to me (keep in mind that we’re all different. You might find other things more useful) –

1. Talking things out with my wife helps. I’m concerned about losing money, needing to apply for another job, and losing contact with people I’ve worked with for years. My wife’s attitude and comments are helpful. So is snuggling.

2. Outdoor time helps to clear my mind. Morning and evening with nature is delightful. I particularly enjoy watch watching the birds and hearing them sing. I’m ambivalent about the squirrels that scoop up my bird seed with their busy little paws.

3. Meditation and prayer give me a sense of living with an Ultimate Reality/God/Jesus who is loving, wise, and strengthening.

4. Friends from church ask how I’m doing; it’s nice to know somebody remembers and cares.

5. Humor. I’ve been going to work and coming back from work with Bertie and Jeeves. They are a creation of P.G. Wodehouse. It’s understated British humor that I love.

6. Our children, grandchildren, and Mazie, our dog, lead me into the delightful areas of play, discovery, and beauty.

Yes, progress is being make at work and with my treatment. I’m not quite as uneasy. But, the business train isn’t moving very fast and, the infection isn’t completely gone. So, I’ll say a prayer, get a hug, grab a cup of coffee, and keep the chocolate available. Is that wrong?

A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world’s torrent.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How to Fix Fearful Freddy


A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world’s torrent.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Freda’s tired of Freddy’s “I’m going to lose everything” mood.” Yes, he could be laid off. But, he hasn’t been. Freda’s tired of Freddy’s watching TV and soothing himself with beer, chips and ice cream. She’s tired of being a single mother and going to bed alone. So, she told him –

Freda: “This moodiness has to stop. It feels like you’re preparing to be hung.”

Freddy: “Would you be happy with the sword of Damocles hanging over your head? It’s like waiting for a hurricane to hit.”

Freda: You haven’t lost your job. You’ll find another one if you do. Your supervisor likes you and he’ll write a good letter of reference.

Freddy: “It might not be that easy. What will happen if my money stops coming in? How will you feel about me then?

Freda: “We’ll adjust. We love you. Besides, I’m still working.”

Freddy: “I love you too. It just feels so damnably humiliating.”

Freda: Let’s stay focused on what’s actually happening now. You could work on your resume and see who’s hiring engineers. And, you could talk with Dr. Jones about medication to lower your anxiety.

Freddy: “Thanks. I’m sorry. I know I’m overreacting.”

Freda: It’s okay. Let’s relax and have some fun tonight.

Our imaginary couple, Freddy and Freda, are beginning to talk things out and Freddy is feeling more hopeful. Medication can help move him out of immobilizing fear and so can support from encouraging family and friends.

Anxiety is part of life from birth to death and support is needed from birth to death. Infants fear separation. Children fear abandonment and punishment. Adults fear failure. In our advanced years we fear abandonment and death.

Brain research is uncovering new ways of handling anxiety and rediscovering old ways. For example, compassion, touch, meditation, and prayer have soothed people’s minds for millennia.

Focusing inward with breathing exercises can calm the limbic system and stimulate the executive part of the brain. Yoga has helped many people. Oxytocin, the feel good hormone, seems to reward people who maintain good social bonds. Exercise allows the body to better handle increased stress hormones. Medication and psychotherapy can help with anxiety, panic, depression, and other psychiatric disorders.

So, in psychotherapy, I review with my “Freddies” how they can better handle the threat of a job loss. Drinking bourbon, eating chocolate chip ice cream, and zoning out with the TV, although understandable, are not a recommended stress reduction routine. Therefore, I talk with my “Freddies” about the dangers of abusive drinking, junk foods, and watching negative TV shows. A little alcohol can help the body relax and positive, humorous, TV shows can be up lifting. But, more than a beer an hour might work as a depressant, and violent, conflictual, TV shows stimulate anxiety and depression.

In psychotherapy, my “Freddies” learn to monitor their thoughts and replace self-defeating thoughts with positive ones. “Freddies” can refocus to the positive truth about today. Psychotherapy can also be used to deal with past trauma when past anxiety is flowing into a current stressful situation that appears, on the surface, to be similar.

My “Freddies” can decide to eat nutritionally, exercise, snuggle with their “Fredas”, and practice their religion. Good nutrition gives bodies the fuel they need. Exercise results in more alertness and energy. Snuggling fills emotionally, and a religious community can encouragement. Religious practices can help “Freddies” feel love, strength, and guidance from God (higher power).

So, can “Freddies be fixed? Of course they can. Attitude and habits determine “Freddies” level of contentment and inner peace. My “Freddies” do best when they strive to be –

Thankful. Appreciate the incredible opportunity to live, love, and explore. Celebrate love, beauty, truth, opportunities, and accomplishments.

Encouraging. Courageously follow your interests, experiment, and consider failure a part of learning. Encourage others to do the same. You’ll feel more alive.

Peaceful. It’s easier to be close to calm, peaceful, people. You’ll feel more appreciation and love.

Forgiving. Let go of resentment and anger; make it easy for people to relax and get close to you. You’ll feel less weighed down; you’ll have more energy.

Compassionate. Feel yourself in another’s position and respond with kindness. You’ll have gratitude and help when you need it.

Generous. Consider sacrificial giving a part of loving others. It’s the only way to build a loving family; a loving community.

Mindful. Slow down, be aware, of how you’re relating to yourself, others, nature, and God (higher power). You’ll respond more realistically.

Playful. See the humor in life; don’t take yourself too seriously. You’ll live a longer, happier, life

Realistic. Life is what it is; people are what they are. You’ll have better outcomes if you accept this and not try to change people. Make realistic decisions about when to give, receive, compromise, and set limits.

Courageous. Accept that something worthwhile is learned in the struggles of life. The heroes in our stories are better persons as a result of the challenges in their heroic journey. They’re tired and weary but they’ve learned from their experience.

My primary message is don’t let anxiety rob you. Prepare for difficult times by being a helpful, positive person – then you won’t be alone when Damocles sword is threatening your position. Family and friends will be with you. You’re a person who’s valued and loved.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Helen Keller.

26495576 - teamwork hearts hugging people


Couple U And The Future

IMG_8613Two years ago I launched Couple U as a place to put information for my patients. Now information is totally available and accessible.

I also thought couples could comment on my posts and share helpful ideas. For example, “Here’s what I found helpful, perhaps this could work for you.” This hasn’t worked out and that’s okay.

My patients are my first priority and my blogs will focus on their concerns. Posting will continue at its current pace because I’ve been very busy at the office. Hopefully, the posts will be useful to both my patients and those of you who aren’t seeing me professionally.

I will work to offer the best information available on healthy marital relationships. This information will continue to come out of research, professional training, and wisdom literature.

Research discovers facts by investigation. For example, researchers can investigate why some couples stay together and others separate. What are successful couples doing that others aren’t? Research findings may help you understand current and past trends and what they may mean to you. For example, half the population is single, more people are living together without marriage, and both partners are often working full-time. What might that mean to you?

Professional training includes research and what clinicians have discovered through practice. For example, you can teach listening skills and other skills. Clinicians can learn what is pre-marriage counseling and when you can do actual marriage counseling.

Wisdom literature (religion and philosophy) addresses what builds good character, strength, and a good life. It addresses how to gain the strength and courage to do what is right (Prayer is an example.). Wisdom literature survived over millennia because of its value.

Here are three quotes from wisdom literature –

An unexamined life is not worth living.
Socrates, (469 BC – 399 BC) Greek Philosopher

Prayer, meditation, mindfulness, and psychotherapy, use self-examination. Without self-examination you’re at the mercy of past unconscious programming and your instinctual drives. Socrates knew this millennia ago.

Here’s a quote from the Buddha:

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. Buddha (6th to 4th century B.C.)

This quote could be part of today’s yoga class, martial arts, psychotherapy, or sermon.

You’ll like the next quote; it’s very relevant today.

32 But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. 33 Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. 34 For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. 35 He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.
Proverbs 6 (10th and 6th century B.C.)

Adultery has created problems for millennia.

It’s important to consider findings from research, professional training and experience, and wisdom literature (religion and philosophy). All are useful.

Information is only a beginning point. But, it’s only marginally helpful. Knowing what to do isn’t the same as doing it. My blog will work at providing ways to help you both think and act wisely.

You may need encouragement, a reminder, psychotherapy, and/ or medication to help you gain the courage and self-control you need. Religion and psychotherapy can help you deal effectively with fear, depression, laziness, pride and resentment. Family, friends, and a healthy religious group can provide encouragement and strength.

Couple U will continue to connect you with helpful articles, blogs, websites and books. You may question why some of the information is on the site. For example, David Brooks’ book, The Road to Character, isn’t focused toward couples. It’s on the blog site because character development is essential to a good life. Jay Heinrichs,’ Thank You for Arguing, isn’t focused toward couples either. But, it’s a great book if you want to discuss something in a helpful way.

My part is to help you develop and keep up loving relationships in a beautiful and yet at times tragic world. Loving relationships are possible as you relax and deal realistically, lovingly, firmly, and compassionately with the truth about yourself, human nature, and the world you live in. You save yourself pain and gain satisfaction as you align your life with truth – the way things actually work.

My wife’s uncle, uncle told her and her sisters that people need three things:

Someone to love.
Something to do.
Something to look forward to.

I believe he’s very close to the truth.

I welcome you to the blog. Posting will be sporadic but, hopefully, useful. I hope that you have a great summer. Your comments are welcome.



Disappointment in Love and Marriage?


The only life worth living is a life you are truly and honestly passionate about.
Albert Einstein.

When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you’re sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship. Joseph Campbell

If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.
Yogi Berra

Here are three examples of love and romance going south. Think about what they have in common and how you might advise a friend:

Brian: You want to leave? Just like that?
Sandra: Well, you know, we just fell in together. You needed a place to stay and I offered you a room. It’s not working for me now.
Brian: It’s been two years; I thought we were doing great.
Sandra: Well, I’m thinking that I need a change.
Brian: “Wow, I thought you loved me.”
Sandra to friend: Sharing expenses and sex were nice but I’m just not into Brian.

My take on it: Don’t assume that you know your lover. Ask where he/she is headed.

What do you think? How would you advise a friend?

What about this situation?

Ella: “Turn off the T.V. We need to talk.”
Michael: “Just a minute, the Redskins are about to score!” (Redskin fans know this is really important.)
Ella: “You’re always watching TV; we need to talk. Now!”
Michael: “Why?”
Ella: “I want to get married and have a baby.”
Michael: “What? With me?” (Confounded)
Ella: “Yes, you. Why not? It’s been two years.”
Michael: “I like it this way. I’m not into marriage and children.”
Ella: “You never told me that?”
Michael: “You never asked.” (And, he goes back to the game. After all, it’s the Redskins.)

My take on it: If you really want children, or anything else, you better ask your lover before you’re really attached emotionally.

What do you think? How would you advise a friend.

Henry: “Hi honey. Thought I’d call and let you know what happened at lunch. A brilliant idea came to me as I was drinking my coffee. I’ll get home as soon as I can but, again, I may have to work all night.”
Mary: “What, again? I might as well be single. It seems like you’re spending more and more time at the lab.”
Henry: “ Science is demanding. But, my invention could revolutionize my business – and our life!”
Mary: “I didn’t get married to go to bed alone and bring up our children by my self! Maybe Ken from daycare can stay with the children while I go to my garden club meeting tonight.”
Henry: “Ken who?”
Mary: “Oh just a man I met at daycare. He likes the kids and seems safe.”

My take on it: Before you marry get it straight about time devoted to work and time devoted to personal life.

How would you advise a friend?

So, what do think these examples have in common?

I see lovers making –

Unilateral decisions
Reactive responses

What do you see?

I believe that assumptions and unilateral decision-making will almost certainly lead to disappointment among lovers. You can’t know what your lover wants without asking. “Where is this relationship headed” is a very good question.

Living together, sex, even marriage, can give you the feeling that you’re a couple without there being any verbalized commitment to how you’ll live as a couple. You may give your all only to find that for your lover –

The in-love feeling wasn’t there or died.
He/she is looking for someone better.
A permanent live-in lover is scary.

Consider inviting your lover to share his/her hopes, dreams, and expectations and share yours. This along with planning can avoid much in the way of assumptions, unilateral decision-making, and disappointment. Compassionate, loving, articulate people can honestly share their hopes and dreams and determine whether they want to commit to a shared future (marriage).

Of course there is an alternative to talking things out – never commit yourself to anyone or anything; just drift along and see what happens. Maybe true love is a myth.

But, the result could be this –

You: “This place makes me feel young again!”
Friend: “Are you nuts. There’s no one here over twenty-five. It’s a pickup joint. Have you forgotten how old you are and that I’ve been happily married for twenty-five years.
You: “We’re not two old for this place. Let’s see what happens.”
Waitress: “Hi pops. Lose your daughter?”

Actually, years of drifting may not look so pretty. It’s the clearest path to loneliness in old age. (You may not care about that now but you will.)

Commitment to someone, commitment to worthwhile work, and looking forward to something positive in the future all lead to contentment.

I wish you the very best that life has to offer.


Lonely? Waiting For Love?

  • 13903882_s

Photo from 123rf.com. File name: 13903882_s.jp

Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Mother Teresa

Loneliness is painful.

  • You want love, affection, and companionship; not loneliness.
  • You want to live with someone; not alone.
  • You want someone available for conversation, outings, etc.; not, “When can we get together?”

So what do you do while you’re waiting for that special person?

You remember, “Living alone doesn’t = loneliness?” It’s true. You can live alone and not be lonely. It just takes work.

True, living alone isn’t as convenient as saying to a husband or a wife, “Let’s go get some pizza.” You have to make calls, get ready, and get out of the house. It does take energy, persistence, and determination. But, living alone doesn’t = loneliness.

You may ask yourself, “Is it worth the effort?” All that calling and planning and then your friend opts out at the last-minute and you find yourself thinking unkind thoughts. You may even use a few words of a religious nature. Of course it’s irritating when people don’t follow through. But, my training and experience says it’s worth the effort to support healthy relationships.

You really need to get out of the house.

  • You need the positive energy that good people bring with them.
  • You need people to help you celebrate and mourn life’s events.
  • You need to hug and be hugged.

You’re free, of course, to retreat to the recliner, chips, and TV. It’s convenient and comfortable. Who doesn’t enjoy a good movie or a good book – especially if it’s a dark, rainy, miserable day? You really don’t have to do anything with friends. You can sit at home with your pets.

But, as I stated in the previous article, you suffer when you don’t accept life as it is for us humans. The truth is that you’re a biochemical electrical creature who’ s energized by good people. You actually really need good people in your life.

You may wish you were self-sufficient but actually life is too beautiful and too terrifying for that. Both wonderful and horrible things happen on planet earth. You need to travel with a group to celebrate good times and to find solace when difficult times arrive.

It all comes down to, “What are you willing to do?” What are you willing to do to keep yourself positive and healthy?

My professional, and personal, experience leads me to recommend your being proactive in at least three major ways:

  • Be ready to date so that you’re open to a new compatible person. For example –

Be social; stay used to being with people.
Don’t give in to anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Get help if you need it so that you’re a positive person.

  • Develop and support loving supportive relationships as a single person so that you’re being loved as you are. You’ll do better if you’re not starved emotionally.
  • Robotically get yourself to events where it’s possible to meet new people around your age. Go whether you feel like it or not. Act like a robot who’s programed to go out.

You may not feel like doing any of these things and of course you don’t have to. However, isolating leads to depression, then to anxiety, and then to even more depression and anxiety as you realize how alone you really are. Your friends drift away. Family doesn’t find you very inviting. Few people are attracted to depressed and anxious people; they’re emotionally draining. It eventually comes down to you and your pets and even your dog may not seem as excited to see you. But, your life doesn’t have to come down to this.

Here are a few things that elevate mood and energy. –

  • Use music, religious faith, beauty, and meaningful work to energize you.
  • Buy an affectionate pet. Petting, touching, is good for you.
  • Use meditation to increase your ability to connect with yourself, others, nature, and God.

Passively waiting is rarely a good strategy. Give yourself a chance. Be ready so that if the right person shows up you’re emotionally there. Why should you use lose a good opportunity and let someone else enjoy the relationship?

You’re not alone! Family and friends can still give strength and courage. Groups give helpful ideas and encouragement. Physicians, professional psychotherapists, and counselors work to decrease depression and anxiety and help people stay focused on their goals. Support is available. Be courageous and get the help you need.

Here are my main points –

  • A single person need not live a lonely life.
  • It always takes an effort to stay connected with people.
  • It’s worth the effort.

If you’re feeling lonely ask yourself –

  1. What’s my next step so that I’m loving and enjoying people?
  2. How can I get myself to do what I know I need to do?
  3. What help do I need?

I wish you the very best.

Feel free to comment on the article in the space below. You can email me at cmosemann@cox.net if you have any questions.


Photo from: 123rf.com. File name: 33844845_s.jpg

Yes, I have a New Year’s Resolution!


Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln

This year I decided to make a New Years resolution. What harm could it do? Well, my mind replied, “It could lead to injured pride.”

I ignored the threat and moved on. So, what resolution? Lose weight, cut back on caffeine, exercise? All of these would be good. Wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t benefit from having a really healthy body? I certainly would. But, the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I woke up with a new thought, “You really need to grow up.” It was a little shocking, but true. (Have you ever had a shocking realization about yourself?) I do need to grow up. I don’t mean physically although that would be nice; I mean emotionally. It really is time for me to be more accepting of what is – of things as they are.

Now this wasn’t a new revelation. It’s just that I really wish people made decisions my way – in the world, in our country, at work and at church. (Perhaps you have similar feelings.) Sometimes I find myself having conversations in my head with people from work or from my church explaining how things need to be and they’re listening attentively. But, then another part of me says, “Are you out of your mind? That’s not happening.” That brings me back to reality. Just like me, other people have the power and the right to make their own decisions. My wishing for a different world, and my complaining, changes nothing. I know that, but I still whine and complain.

There are, of course, things that I can do – give to charities, vote, and make suggestions. But, wars will still rage and people will still make what I see as stupid decisions. So, what’s left? Of course, one option is still open – complain to who ever will listen. For example, “I would have done it this way, etc.” But, do I really want to be an armchair critic?

As I reflected I sensed that it was time for me to put focus on a project that I have control of. No more focusing on other people’s work. Man up, focus on my own project and do it as well as I possibly can. No more excuses; get help where it’s needed and do my best. Nothing ventured nothing gained kind of thing. If it’s done poorly or stupidly I’m in control. Change it. Take control. I can get help if I get discouraged. It’s time to stop making excuses for myself.

Of course the down side of taking control is the possibility of failure. I might make a really unfortunate (translate stupid) decision. What would people say about me? Well, most likely, what I’ve said about them. Actually, I’ve gone through a business failure. It was humiliating and depressing and I seriously looked for someone else to blame. But, did I survive? Yes. Did I learn something? Yes. Well then, my mind seemed to tell me, “It’s time to suit up and really get into the game. See what you can do if you single-mindedly focus your energy on it.” I hesitated. Actually, I like control and success; not control and the possibility of failure. But, yes, people do say that failure gives you the experience you sometimes need in order to be successful. That’s fine for others to say; but it’s hard for me to accept. However, it seems to be the truth and I’m working to accept it.

I made my New Years resolution. My 2016 resolution is to focus on writing and photography and see what happens. How successful will I be? I don’t know. But, it does seem like an adventure and it should be more rewarding than complaining. I think my wife will be pleased.

You too may have have made a New Year’s resolution. If not you might consider it. It could be fun. What could you do that might make 2016 an improvement over 2015? You might find the effort rewarding. And, you might find yourself with a grateful partner. It might be worth a thought.

Image ID : 49037552
Copyright : Wavebreak Media Ltd  (Follow)

I Like Christmas

IMG_1356 Nativity Wall Hanging 2

Photo by Christian Mosemann

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Washington Irving

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To me, Christmas means beautiful lights, music, food, and laughter; the look of anticipation in the eyes of young children. My church will have it’s Christmas breakfast. We’ll sing the wonderful old traditional songs. Our minister will remind us of our reasons to be hopeful and that giving blesses both the receiver and the giver; that love and compassion still exist and that we can, with help, be transformed into compassionate, loving people.

But it can be a lonely time of the year. Avoid loneliness by joining people who are helping those in need. Find a way to help a religious group or a community organization assist those in need. Let them enjoy Christmas too. Consider the gifts and abilities you have and what the community needs from you. You’ll feel more connected as contribute. It feels good to contribute to the well-being of others. Isolation only leads to bitterness.

The focus of the season is still love, peace, and giving. You can be part of this. You can choose to compassionately love and give to others. The amazing thing is that we can choose to give no matter what our circumstances might be. You can know that you connected, helped someone else, and in the process, helped yourself.

Christmas is a reminder that we can find beauty and good in this world of ours. May you have a truly merry Christmas.

IMG_1365 Bears and Tree

Photo by Christian Mosemann