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.

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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.



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 if you have any questions.


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Forty-eight Years of Commitment – And Still Going

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9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm [alone]? 12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4 ASV, The Bible

Commitments are a big deal. I was concerned about commitment right before I married my wife. I really wanted to be with my fiancee. Still a lifelong commitment is a daunting one.

My fiancee and I belonged to the same Christian denomination. Neither of us had close relatives who were divorced. The members of our churches seemed to stay together for life. They all kept their marriage vows – together for better or worse; no other sexual partners; till death do you part. And, they seemed to be okay with their arrangement. That was encouraging.
Our vows were spoken in front of relatives, friends, and church members. We were part of their group; they expected us to keep our vows to each other and to God.

In June, we’ll celebrate 48 years of marriage. We kept our commitment to God and to each other. We stayed with our denomination. We’re still active members of our church. I’m grateful we’ve worked out our differences and accepted each other’s imperfections. We’ve benefited from our arrangement. We have –

1. An agreed upon moral/ethical code. Our moral and ethical code is a time honored one prescribed by our religious group. We have both agreed to abide by it. As a result, we didn’t have to create something new.

2. Emotional security. I don’t have to compete with other men; she doesn’t have to compete with other women. We’re not looking for somebody better.

3. Affection and sex. They’re readily available. We don’t have to hunt for a lover.

4. No worries about sexually transmitted diseases. It’s a closed sexual system.

5. Physical security. Someone’s there if you’re sick, disabled, or just need help with the computer.

6. Good memories. A lifetime of photo’s and memories of being together and being with our children.

7. Secure children. Our children, and grandchildren, are wanted and have security. They don’t have to worry about their family dissolving and their home disappearing. It’s not mom’s place or dad’s place? It’s mom and dad’s place.

8. Energy to put into the community. Security issues, companionship issues, and “where do I belong issues” are resolved. Energy can be directed other places.

9. The support of our church. Our government is less likely to need to take care of us because we have the support of each other and our church.

10. A place to socialize and contribute. The same religion has united us and given us a place, our church community, to socialize and contribute.

I’m glad that I made commitments to my wife, God, and my religious community. My wife and I have benefited and so have our children and the community. Making a clear commitment and keeping the commitment is necessary for the well-being of any venture. Why should building a home and a family be any different? It’s something to think about.