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Archive for June, 2009

This is the second blog entry in the series: How can therapy help me?

In a previous post I discussed how therapy helps people make the changes they want. In this one I continue the discussion.

OK, so you think this business of “living in my parent’s house” is what is going on with you. So, how does therapy help get you free to set up your own “place” to live?

From the previous blog, you understand the concept of adapting to your environment and generalizing, so that you assume what you learned about yourself,  other people and the world is pretty much the way you originally learned it to be in your family.

How do you unlearn  these “negative  beliefs”  that are not true?

1) Identify those pivotal times when you made theses decisions about yourself, other people and the world. Therapy helps you find the incidents( or the general atmosphere) where you decided  on these beliefs that were intelligent conclusions in that world you lived in.

(2) You get a chance to change these beliefs.  You get to see how you came to create these beliefs. Then, looking at the situation with your own adult eyes,  and through the clarity of your therapist’s eyes,   you can change the conclusion that you made as a child. Why is the therapist helpful? Because we see ourselves through the eyes that our parents gave us. The therapist, because (s)he didn’t grow up in your family, sees the situation for what it was.

For example: Your older brother was a science whiz and he and your Dad did all these science experiments together. They never included you.  You remember the time Dad got so frustrated helping you with your math homework.  “What is the matter with you – don’t you get it?”   When the family gets together with relatives everyone gushes over your brother and his science awards….you hang around the edges, pretty unnoticed.  You are shy, and your mother needs you to “act right”  (her version) in front of everyone:  “Why don’t you just go over and say hello, they are your cousins, you look silly just standing there, what will they think of you?” Doesn’t take much of this is you learn you are pretty inadequate and feel ashamed of yourself.

Many of us have had much more extreme situations in out families that made it abundantly clear we’re not lovable, worthwhile, or deserving.

Making these changes often feels risky  – and I will go into that in my next blog.

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This is the first entry in a series : How can therapy help me?

Wouldn’t it be great to be happy all the time?  Life doesn’t dish out constant happiness, but all of us should be happy, joyful really, at least some of the time.

If you don’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have depression…there can be lots of reasons.  A big one is that many of us are living as if we were still in the world we  were born into – in our original families.

This is nothing to feel stupid about or condemn yourself over. When you were a kid you were  smart and you learned quickly what was going on in your world.  If there was a lot of anger and criticism, abusive treatment that no kid deserves, or high standards that no kid could attain, you probably  figured out the best way to cope with what you had to live with.

The problem is that all of us human children, (because we can’t afford to learn every new circumstance from scratch,)  generalize what we learned in the  world of our parents and siblings to what might happen outside the house with other people, and we were on guard for this to happen again.  This expectation of what is likely to happen  lasts — we generalize what we learned as children to the world we live in now. Many people  live like this much too long in their lives –  basically trying to  protect themselves from what isn’t out there any more.  Therapy helps a lot.

There are other underlying reasons  that keep us humans from being ourselves and enjoying our lives. Perhaps you are living someone else’s definition of who you ought to be.  Maybe to  be a good person in your family you took care of everyone, to help out your Mom, or because nobody else was paying attention, and now you have a knee jerk response of taking care of others over your own needs. Maybe your father was impressed with people who had a lot of money and you’ve become just what he wanted you to become – a successful business man, only you hate it and want to be home more.  Some people  stay married because their folks would be horrified to have a divorse in the family. There are endless varieties on this theme, and not much joy.

This discussion is continued over the next few blogs.

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