How to Fix Fearful Freddy

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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.

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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.

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Lonely? Waiting For Love?

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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.

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Yes, I have a New Year’s Resolution!

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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.

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Time Matters

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“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘don’t want to.”  Lao Tzu

“Time is a game played beautifully by children.”  Heraclitus

“Lost time is never found again.” Benjamin Franklin

Time matters more to me at seventy-three than it did at twenty-three. At twenty-three time seemed to stretch out forever. I couldn’t image forty-three much less seventy-three. Now I know that time has limits. It can’t be saved. You spend it. And, I know that how it’s spent pretty much determines my future. Love, respect, and prosperity tend to come to those who spend time wisely.

Time spent foolishly can result in isolation and poverty. Think wisely about time. Ask yourself, do you take time to –

  • Relax?
  • Eat nutritionally and regularly?
  • Sleep?
  • Exercise?
  • Connect with your partner?
  • Enjoy your children?
  • Stay connected with friends?
  • Continue to learn?
  • Consider the spiritual side of life?
  • Plan for the future?

All of the above activities help you to stay in balance. For example, meditation, contemplation, and prayer help you to relax and connect with yourself and the world you live in. Taking care of your body with nutritious food, sleep, and exercise gives you energy to invest in what’s important. Time with good people results in attention, affection, and love. Personal time gives space for play and doing nothing if you want to. Planning for the future gives your life direction and learning new things enriches your life.

It’s important for you and your partner to think through how to balance out time. Failure to plan can result in things like excessive spending and an excessive amount of time devoted to work. It can also result in time being devoted to things like fun computer activities that isolate you from family and friends. The result is that you feel disconnected with both yourself and others.

Think about how you’re spending your daily allowance of twenty-four hours? Talk it over with your partner. Be sure your time is wisely invested. Time does matter.

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Take Time To Check In With Yourself

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Self-examination is critical to maintaining your body, to enabling personal growth, and to the development of healthy relationships. You and I need to know how we’re doing. Here are some things you can do –

1. Sense whether you can relax and feel accepted, alive, and whole when you’re by yourself. If you can’t, kindly ask yourself, why?

2. Think about your attitude toward your body. Are you okay with it despite its pains, weaknesses, and shape. Be compassionate. Contempt can result in more tension, more pain, overeating, etc. Kindly work for a healthy body.

3. See if your body is relaxed or tense. You can give your body permission to relax by breathing more slowly and deeply and focusing on what is beautiful, good, and true.

4. Kindly examine your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Acknowledge your mistakes, make amends, and accept forgiveness.

5. Consider the positive things that you’ve done and accept that this too is reality.

6. Focus your thoughts on the present and let yourself absorb the beauty, goodness, and truth in it. Avoid getting stuck in the past or fantasizing about the future. Say, “No,” to your mind and come back to the present.

7. Consider other people. Can you feel a positive connection with the people in your life? If you can’t, kindly consider why?

8. Consider your attitude toward the world. Do you notice the goodness and beauty that is there? Do you feel connected and grounded? If not, why?

9. Consider your attitude toward the universe. Do you have any sense of connection with it; that you are part of something much larger than yourself?

10. Do you sense that your life has purpose, that you are contributing to something larger than yourself? If not, you might think this. Purpose, love, service, and sacrifice can lead to much fulfillment and contentment.

Self-examination can be painful but it’s worthwhile. It gives you an opportunity to celebrate the good that you’ve done and the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, make amends, and change. You can learn to endure all the truth about yourself. Solitude, contemplation, and reflection help you deal with the world and fate as they are. You’ll be glad you took time for this.

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield,”

William Butler Yeats.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Gandhi

There’s A Way Out of Loneliness

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Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.  Mother Teresa

“There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.” G.K. Chesterton

Loneliness thrives when you’re disconnected with yourself and others. Today, as a culture, half of Americans live alone. Many have given up on the religious communities whose work it is to lovingly give us, wisdom, help us find a sense of purpose, and help connect us with others and God. These are places to celebrate our joys and to find compassion and comfort in our time of sorrow.

We need community and we seem to do better when we sense a connection with an ultimate sense of being that many call God. We have known this for millennia.

Loneliness can have it’s roots in the past. For example, some of you may have experienced –

Neglect. (Why would anyone want me?)
Chaos. (Who can I depend on?)
Bullying. (Why can’t I be defended?)
Rejection. (Why wouldn’t I get rejected again?)
Isolation. (How could I fit in?)
Disappointment. (Why would things work out now?)
Aloneness. (Why would someone look out for me now?)

These lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and hurt. Sometimes you can feel so hurt that you feel consumed by it. Beauty, truth, and love may feel far away. You’re not good enough; others, including God, aren’t good enough. Therefore, why would you try to find a friend? To avoid rejection, you might tell yourself that happy people live in fantasy; that they have nothing to teach you; that there’s no hope for you. But, inside, you know you need and want a friend.

There is hope –

There are people who choose to be compassionate and loving. You can be one of them.

Good, wise, people can help you be a friend and find a friend. You can choose to focus on what is good, beautiful, and true.

You can move from judgment to compassion.

Consider compassion toward yourself and others. Everyone has his/her own pain to deal with. Some had deal with the results of war and natural disasters. Some may be been deceived and think that alcoholism, drug abuse, intimidation, compulsive devotion to work, etc., are good for them. We’re all in the process of learning to live as we go along.

Connecting with yourself and others, of course, is the only way to reduce loneliness. To do that you have to be compassionate, loving, and graciously firm about what is and is not acceptable to you.

1.Learn to know yourself and be compassionate and firm with yourself.

2. Get comfort by expressing your pain to a compassionate person.

3. Give up demanding that life be your way; it doesn’t work.

4. Accept that it’s a struggle to be a person with kindness and integrity. Work at it.

5. Find compassion for others. They have their own challenges.

6. Live in the now. The past is gone; the future’s unknown.

7. Accept that nothing in life stays the same. Appreciate what you have.

8. Learn to be a good judge of people.

9. Join groups with kind people of integrity.

10. Move from self-focus to asking what the world needs from you and contribute.

Dealing with loneliness may seem like a daunting task. It can take courage and strength. You don’t need to work on it alone. Be willing to allow others to help you. This is a worthwhile task. You owe it to yourself to truly live.