10 Signs You Know What Matters | Psychology Today

K. Collins

From achievement and adventure to wisdom and wonder, not to mention kindness, innovation, and professionalism, values are those things you deem important in life. Expressions of what you care about, they profoundly inform what you pursue day to day, year to year. In so doing, they fundamentally shape the trajectory of your whole life.

Values are an inexhaustible source of motivation—inexhaustible because they are qualities intrinsic to being and doing. They are visible only through their enactments. They’re adverbs, or adjectives, or verbs: “I did something lovingly.” Because they are chosen qualities of actions, they can never be fully achieved, only embraced and shown. Nevertheless, they give life direction, help us persist through difficulties. They nudge us, invite us, and draw us forward. They provide constant soft encouragement.

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Whatever values you subscribe to, it’s important to know that valuing is a uniquely human game.

They arise from our capability for symbolic expression. There’s no domain, no age, no situation to which values do not contribute. You don’t “find” them. You choose them. You have to do the work of exploring and looking and selecting and owning.

I’d argue that it is harder than ever for people, and especially young people, to know what they value. Modern technology has created a fire hose of information in the expansion of communication media. The gush of words and images we have unleashed on ourselves risks psychologically overwhelming us.

Amidst the noise, we look in the mirror and find a person who is too fat, too old, or, irony of ironies, too critical and judgmental. We are unable to put to rest our own insecurities, many generated by media constantly pulling us into self-defeating behaviors. We are unable to sit with the pain and distress that is a normal part of the human experience; instead, we are offered ever more ways to escape it. We are unable to reach through the mental entanglement of human judgment, losing flexible contact with others. Compassion, connection, community, and peace of mind disappear into the chatter.

We’ve always struggled with these matters. But never have we had such a toxic brew in which people are comparing themselves with others, judging others and themselves, and trying hard to avoid discomfort.

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The same cognitive processes that feed comparison, judgment, and avoidance on the one hand can also enable us to create connection, community, and cooperation on the other. They can be used for good or for ill. We need to do better at creating modern minds for this modern world, so that we can more directly connect our behavior to what we deeply value.

That is especially true for our children and adolescents. Our nurturance is especially needed to help them choose what they care about beyond the evaluative judgmental mind and its yearnings. They get little help from our commercial culture; they have to find another way to relate to their own minds.

Here are ten ways to know you’re focused on what’s important.

K. Collins

1. You feel a sense of enough, rather than a need to measure whether you have more or less than others.

We have values because we are verbal, symbolic creatures who can imagine futures that have never been and think creatively about how to take a current situation and advance it. Language is an excellent tool to note and describe behavior, which allows us to gain increasing control over it. Language is also double-edged. The symbolic processes that enable us to hold values bump up against the impulse to measure and compare ourselves in ways that leave us never satisfied, never happy, never at peace.

As those uses of cognition gain ground, we become inordinately focused on achievement, money, power, and domination over others as the ultimate values: We pretend we’ll live forever, are better than others. We wind up presenting a mask to the world, which prevents us from making genuine
connections with others.

Values get you to enough; they make this moment about something that you hold dear, and then the next moment, and the next. A person with values might look back and say, “I am committed to being loving. I’m never as loving as I need to be, but I’m on that journey.”

Because what generates vitality and meaning is right up against what generates comparison and judgment, it’s all too easy to slip from enough to more. The solution is to regard values as qualities of being and doing—not as labels worn as self-righteous armor. Actions are loving or kind or honest. When, in the continuing course of life, each moment is values-connected, the journey unfolds and then one’s life is enough.

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If asked, many people would say they go to work to provide for their families. This is important and true, but it is separate from the values that nudge them forward. Valuing money as a means to autonomy and sustenance is critical and presumably close to a human universal. Valuing money as a means to an end—wanting money to be able to contribute to others, for example—is one thing. It’s another when money feeds comparison, judgment, and avoidance of the pain that comes with being human. If you use money in that pursuit, it doesn’t matter how successful you are—you always want more. It’s a thirst that can’t be quenched.

People vary on how dominant the comparisons more and less are in their mindset. In a recent study my colleagues and I conducted, we found that those who respond very strongly to more and less tend to be not as satisfied with life and to experience more negative affect than those whose response is weaker. People who always want more are miserable because they will never get to enough.

2. You can readily name your heroes.

As our heroes, we choose the people who stand for something we admire, something we would like to stand for ourselves. As a result, one way of getting at your values is to ask yourself, “Who are my heroes?” Once you identify the people who really mean something to you, who move you deeply in some way, then you can spend time examining and identifying exactly what that something is. What do they stand for, in your eyes, in the qualities of their actions?

3. You can single out the sweetest moments of your life.

Think of the most rewarding moments of your life and pinpoint what makes them so. Sometimes values are domain-specific, sometimes more general. If, for example, you are looking at work values, think back to those moments in your career where you felt especially alive, especially vital, especially moved, especially connected to life—moments that were special in some way. Then unpack that experience. There will be something in that memory that connects you to the vital source of valuing. When confusion sets in, it can serve as a light to direct you to what you care about.

K. Collins

4. You can identify your greatest pain.

We hurt where we care. Pain has large lessons to teach us. If you look inside the pain and see why it hurts, you have a precise and powerful indicator of what you value.

You can flip that pain over as if it were a piece of paper and ask yourself, What would you have to not care about for that not to hurt? That is what you value. If you were betrayed in love and the experience stabbed you through the heart, that means you care about love. If you were lied to, and it deeply hurt you, you care about honesty. If somebody showed disloyalty to you in a way that shocked you, you can be certain that loyalty and commitment from others are important to you. If you’re afraid of being with other people or afraid you may not be accepted by others—socially phobic or socially anxious—you value being included, being connected to others.

Sometimes people are not willing to feel. But I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have within a deep yearning to feel fully and openly, and to feel genuinely themselves. That yearning is invariably connected to past wounds, for which the mind’s attempted solution is to try not to feel at all.

When you try to throw away painful parts of your history, you have to pretend that the other side of that experience—the values side—can be thrown away too. To throw out the pain of betrayal you have to forget that love matters.

5. You don’t know the content, but you can identify the theme of the next chapter of your life narrative.

If you think about your life as a narrative, a story you are writing, what would you put in the next chapter if you wanted that chapter to stand for something? It can be helpful to think of values as an extension of your narrative, because they create the theme, the meaningful through-lines of our stories. The elements of the story so far—the challenges you’ve overcome, the opportunities you’ve missed or reached out for, the poignancy of love and loss—exemplify life as a journey. You don’t yet know the details of the next chapter of your life story—you might get a phone call in the next two minutes that completely changes the content—but you do know the themes, the underlying meaning, because they are the values you are choosing to live by.

6. It’s what you would do if nobody were looking.

Think of how children play. They pretend that getting to that tree before you touch them is very important. There is as much life in those next moments of tag as they can possibly muster. They’re running as hard as they can, laughing, not because it’s important but because they’re pretending it is—they are caring about a moment by their own choice, not because someone is going to applaud—which allows them to fully participate in that moment in a playful way.

Once you exit that playful space, the mind tells you, “This is important,” so you wind up putting your choices through the filter of logic—which becomes the decision maker, and you get shoved aside by your mother’s voice, a television commercial, or a wagging finger from somebody who played a role in your history.

Instead, it is more powerful to come at your values as a choice—between you and the person you sense yourself to be. It’s not unlike what you knew to do as a kid.

In workshops that I conduct, I help participants find that playful space. I say things like, “What if nobody is keeping score, what if nobody is watching, what if you were to do something and nobody would ever know that you were the one who did that?”

If somebody says, “I just really want to help people,” I’ll respond, “OK, imagine that you helped someone and it was a total secret; nobody knew.” We will actually imagine a situation in which it is possible to do something you care about and not be caught at it. That exercise strips out the possibility of a self-aggrandizing motive: “I’m so great—look, I’m living my values and everybody sees it.”

K. Collins

7. Your decisions make you feel like getting up in the morning.

Approaching actions playfully, as a game, does not trivialize them; it vitalizes
them—all because you get to choose what is meaningful. Kids do that naturally; innocence is where vitality lies. Adults have to reclaim that experience of innocence.

When you do that, you’ve plugged into the power of life itself. How do you know what your core values are? There’s a major metric—vitality. Life itself feels as if it’s there to be lived. You get up in the morning and you go, not because you’re whipping yourself, but because there is an appetitive yearning.

You’re taking yet another step forward toward something you’ll never quite reach. What matters is going in that direction.

8. You can, in only a few minutes, write about what matters. (And you should.)

There is a significant body of research demonstrating that writing about values boosts people’s ability to succeed. Asking teenagers to write about what they deeply care about in the realm of education has a profound effect on their school performance over the next several years. Writing for just 20 minutes two or three times in middle school may alter their trajectory for years. In a study published in Science in 2006, Geoffrey Cohen and colleagues at UCLA were able to narrow the black-white racial gap in achievement by nearly 40 percent as a result of three brief sessions of values writing. “The drive for self-integrity—seeing oneself as good, virtuous, and efficacious—is a fundamental human motivation,” the report began.

Recently, my group replicated and extended this work, reporting in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. During college student orientation, we exposed psychology majors to a 10-minute online program that explained in simple terms what values are—chosen qualities of being and doing—and how they differ from current goals. We then assigned a brief writing exercise focused on educational values and watched what happened to grades over the next semester. The students’ grades went up by about one fifth of a grade point, compared with goal-setting alone or doing nothing special.

Take 10 minutes and explore in writing what is of importance to you in a given area. Write about why it is important and what happens in your life when you forget it.

9. You have a strong desire to communicate your interests to others.

You want to share what you value with others, because that is simply the nature of the creature we are. The need to share what we hold dear may even be why we have the capacity to communicate in symbolic ways in the first place.

When I ask people what they deeply care about, as I regularly do, other people are always on the top of the list. People strongly care about love, connection, and belonging. They care about contributing to the well-being of others, lifting up people who are suffering, and being there for people they love.

Other strongly held values spring more indirectly from deeply social concerns. If you care about the future of the planet, part of that is caring about what our grandchildren will be seeing—whether there will still be elephants and other creatures as well as rivers for them to enjoy. Even values that appear to be more individualistic, such as the creation and appreciation of beauty, have a social motive: People want to share that beauty with others, to help others appreciate it. In my experience, 99 percent of all values are social in nature.

The process that allows us to care is profoundly social.

10. You use your mind as a tool to humanize rather than objectify yourself.

When we engage the capacity to choose and to embrace the values that inform our actions, we are humanizing ourselves, living in an intimate, committed, effective way, and moving toward the kind of life we want to produce. That process is not without difficulty, because it brings us close to the razor’s edge, where we get caught up in our own thinking and risk turning our values into a pros-and-cons list by which we objectify ourselves and others. That is how someone ends up being a workaholic and creating misery in his or her family in the name of “being a good provider.”

The mind is a problem-solving organ that allows us to deal with events in imagination before they are faced in reality. That amazing skill has, over the last 10,000 years, allowed us, a weak, slow, and poorly defended species, to take over the planet.

Some of the real-world difficulties a person faced centuries ago have been taken care of or at least diminished. We are living longer, even in the poorest countries; violence is down, despite how things appear on our screens. We have made human progress. But to keep the organ that produced such changes from turning on its owner, we need to stay focused on the kind of life we want to live—connected to the meaning and purpose we choose, instead of creating barriers to that.

In the end, choosing values is simple. But it takes a certain amount of psychological sophistication to rein in the problem-solving mind. It takes sophistication to maintain playful, chosen, conscious, human, values-based action amid the cacophony of voices coming at us from outside and from within—judging, blaming, shaming, and avoiding.

Values set the direction of our life path. If we wander into avoidance and self-aggrandizement, we’re heading away from our own chosen meaning. The gap between the two can serve as an ever-present compass, letting us know we are straying from our gut purpose. Like a caring adult saying, “This way, dear” to a wandering child, our values can be our teacher, vitalizing our life journey when we most need a nudge.

Facebook image: Mirjana Zidar/Shutterstock

 

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The Top 3 Reasons Why You Self-Sabotage and How to Stop

Faulty thinking and fear of failure play a part.

Posted Jun 11, 2018

Stockfour/Shutterstock

Source: Stockfour/Shutterstock

It’s easy to sabotage yourself when you’re trying to meet an important goal, like developing healthier habits, getting assignments done on time, saving money, managing weight, or building healthy relationships. isn’t just one thing — it can have many causes — but the end result is that you get off track, mess up relationships, don’t get things done, or don’t perform as well as you would like. All of this can lead to feeling bad about yourself and expecting to fail, which leads to more self-sabotage to avoid facing failure head-on, which perpetuates the cycle.

Below are some of the ways in which you may sabotage yourself and suggestions for what to do instead. My colleague and fellow Psychology Today blogger Alice Boyes has an excellent new book out called The Healthy Mind Toolkit, which provides simple, practical psychological tools to help you stop self-sabotaging and develop healthy habits and attitudes instead.

Why do you sabotage yourself?

There are many reasons for self-sabotage, but three of the most important ones involve your thinking patterns, fears you may have in intimate relationships, and the tendency to avoid things that are difficult or uncomfortable. Read on to find out more.

1. Faulty thinking

Our human brains tend to be wired to cling to the familiar, to overestimate risk, and to avoid trying new approaches. This tendency, known as the familiarity , leads us to overvalue the things we know and undervalue things that are unfamiliar. And when we are under , we tend to rely on the familiarity heuristic even more. When our brains are tired, we resort to old habits and ways of doing things, even if they don’t work well. We are drawn to go with the familiar, even when a different option offers a clear advantage.

In one study, researchers asked subjects to do a complicated word puzzle. One group performed under time pressure, while the other was told to take as much time as they needed. After the puzzle was done, subjects were told they had to do another puzzle, but were given a choice between a longer puzzle invented by the same person who designed the first puzzle or a short puzzle designed by somebody they did not know. The group who performed under more stressful conditions (time pressure) were more likely to choose the longer puzzle, even though this would put them at a disadvantage. It’s as if their brains got confused trying to compare the advantages of length versus familiarity, and so they resorted to the “familiarity heuristic.”

It’s not always easy to tell when your is relying on a heuristic. Try to make important decisions when you’re not stressed and to consider the pros and cons of each choice, rather than just going with something that intuitively sounds like the best choice (but may not be).

2. Fear of or fear of rejection

We all know people who sabotage relationships when they reach a certain level of intimacy. Some people cheat, others pick fights or get controlling to push the person away, still others reveal all their insecurities or become too needy and clingy. These are all ways in which our brains fear getting trapped or rejected if we get too close. Many of these patterns are based on relationships with caregivers. If you have “insecure ,” you may unconsciously fear repeating the past. Perhaps your was rejecting or neglectful, critical, inconsistent, or you had to be the “parentified child.” Parts of our brains remember this pain and begin to act in adult relationships as if we are with our parent (or perhaps do the complete opposite in an extreme way, which gets us into trouble as well).

If your fear of intimacy or rejection is strong, it is better to mindfully allow your insecure or feelings to be there, while actively working to find healthy, mature ways of talking about them, rather than running away or pushing people away. You need to remind yourself that you are an adult now and have a much greater capacity to tolerate stress and rejection and to take care of yourself than you did as a child. Also remind yourself of what you have to gain by staying engaged. Try to be more self-aware and to notice the effects of your behavior patterns on your relationship .

3. and avoidance

A third way you may self-sabotage is by not dealing with problems until they get so big that you are forced to deal with them. Or not being able to yourself to get work done on time. There are several potential reasons for procrastinating and avoiding. You may never have learned the skills to break tasks up into smaller pieces, or you may be too tired to plan out a schedule for doing the work. Alternatively, you may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task or feel like an imposter who doesn’t have what it takes to succeed. Self-sabotaging by not getting started, staying up too late, or going out with friends or watching television instead of working is a very common pattern. In the short term, you manage to avoid the discomfort of an anxiety-provoking or boring and unrewarding task. But in the long term, the things you’ve put off come back to bite you.

You may also procrastinate and avoid because you are perfectionistic, overthink things, or can’t decide where to begin. All of these tendencies tend to have an component. You can counteract them by giving yourself a time limit to choose or by allowing yourself to make an imperfect choice. It helps to see yourself as being able to learn from experience and improve over time. This is what researcher Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset makes the possibility of failure less scary, whereas if you see your abilities as fixed, you are more likely to avoid performance situations or sabotage  yourself so your weaknesses won’t be clearly exposed.

Procrastination and avoidance (as well as addictive behavior) can also be ways of not taking responsibility for your actions. These behaviors allow you to blame outside factors, like not having enough time, if you do poorly, rather than admitting your role in not using your time well. Some of us fear success, because we shun the limelight or fear that others will expect more from us than we can deliver. But rather than facing this fear head-on, we tend to set ourselves up for failure instead.

Take-Home Message

When it comes to self-sabotage, one size doesn’t fit all. You may be too tired and stressed to think through complex choices and instead rely on easy (but inaccurate) heuristics. You may sabotage relationships, because you fear closeness and intimacy or fear rejection. Or you may procrastinate and avoid, because you fear failure or lack planning and skills. The solution differs depending on the area of self-sabotage. Getting enough rest and not taking on too much can help you think more clearly and make better choices. the roots of your fears of intimacy and rejection and taking small steps towards more closeness can help in the relationship arena. And taking more responsibility for planning and motivating yourself and adopting a growth mindset can help with procrastination at work.

References

Boyes, Alice (2018). The Healthy Mind Toolkit. TarcherPerigree

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sexandrelationshiphealing.com Here you will find basic information about healing from sexual and romantic betrayal and the trauma you’ve experienced. You will find this material useful as you travel the road of healing. Is Your Significant Other a Sex Addict? How Can You Tell? Read More Getting Help for Your Sexually Addicted Partner Read More Betrayed Partners: 6 Do’s & Don’ts Read More What is Infidelity? Read More Why Do Men Cheat? Read More Why Do Women Cheat?

Partners – Sex and Relationship Healing

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Her Cheating Heart: Understanding Why She Cheated on You | Psychology Today

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First things first: If you’re female and reading this wondering why I’m only writing about women who cheat, know that a post I published a few months ago — “13 Reasons Why Men Cheat” — has become one of my most widely read, with over 1 million views.

But now it’s time to look at female infidelity.

There is a common (mis)perception that it’s only men who step out on their partners, and that women are always faithful. To that I say: Who are all these men cheating with exactly? Do heterosexual men only cheat with single women and each other?

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The simple truth is that approximately as many married, heterosexual women cheat as married, heterosexual men. Research suggests that 10% to 20% of men and women in marriages or other committed (monogamous) relationships will actively engage in sexual activity outside of their primary relationship. And these numbers are likely under-reported, possibly by a wide margin, thanks to denial and confusion about what constitutes infidelity in the digital era. For example: Are you cheating if you look at porn? If you flirt on social media? If you have a profile on Ashley Madison that you check regularly, even though you never hook up in person?

To help couples answer these questions, I offer you my fully functional digital-era definition of what it means to cheat:

INFIDELITY (CHEATING) IS THE BREAKING OF TRUST THAT OCCURS WHEN YOU KEEP PROFOUND, MEANINGFUL SECRETS FROM A COMMITTED PRIMARY PARTNER.

I like this definition for four primary reasons:

  1. The definition speaks to the most basic element of what happens when we cheat on our partners. We betray their trust. In such cases, even more than our sextracurricular activity, it is the lying and the secrecy of betrayal that wounds a beloved and unknowing partner (male or female).
  2. The definition encompasses both online and real-world sexual activity, as well as sexual and romantic activities that stop short of intercourse: everything from looking at porn to kissing another man/woman to something as simple as flirting (now commonly referred to as micro-cheating).
  3. The definition is flexible depending on the couple. It lets couples define their own version of sexual fidelity based on honest discussions and mutual decision-making. This means that it might be just fine to look at porn or to engage in some other form of extramarital sexual activity, as long as your mate knows about this behavior and is okay with it.
  4. The definition helps the cheater understand that the problem he or she created occurred the moment he or she started lying to accommodate or cover up his or her infidelity. The harm is not a spouse finding out the bad news, the harm is that it was covered up.
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None of that, of course, explains why women cheat. Nor does it address the fact that women and men often cheat for very different reasons.

So, Why Do Women Cheat?

Typically, females step out on a committed partner for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They feel under-appreciated, neglected, or ignored. They feel more like a housekeeper, nanny, or financial provider than a wife or girlfriend. So they seek an external situation that validates them for who they are rather than the services they perform.
  • They crave intimacyWomen tend to feel valued and connected to a significant other more through non-sexual emotional interplay (talking, having fun together, being thoughtful, building a home and social lifetogether, etc.) than sexual activity. When they’re not feeling that type of connection from their primary partner, they may seek it elsewhere.
  • They are overwhelmed by the needs of others. Recent research about women who cheat indicates that many women, despite stating that they deeply love their spouse, their home, their work, and their lives, cheat anyway. These women often describe feeling so under-supported and overwhelmed by having to be all things to all people at all times that they seek extramarital sex as a form of life-fulfillment.
  • They are lonely. Women can experience loneliness in a relationship for any number of reasons. Maybe their spouse works long hours or travels for business on a regular basis, or maybe their spouse is emotionally unavailable. Whatever the cause, they feel lonely, and they seek connection through infidelity to fill the void.
  • They expect too much from a primary relationship. Some women have unreasonable expectations about what their primary partner and relationship should provide. They expect their significant other to meet their every need 24/7/365, and when that doesn’t happen, they seek attention elsewhere.
  • They are responding to or re-enacting early-life trauma and abuse.Sometimes women who experienced profound early-life (or adult) trauma, especially sexual trauma, will re-enact that trauma as a way of trying to master or control it.
  • They’re not having enough satisfying sex at home. There is a societal misconception that only men enjoy sex. But plenty of women also enjoy sex, and if they’re not getting it at home or it’s not enjoyable to them, for whatever reason, they may well seek it elsewhere.

As with male cheaters, women who cheat typically do not realize (in the moment) how profoundly infidelity affects their partner and their relationship. Cheating hurts betrayed men just as much as it hurts betrayed women. The keeping of secrets, especially sexual and romantic secrets, damages relationship trust and is incredibly painful regardless of gender.

If a couple chooses to address the situation together, couple’s counseling can turn a relationship crisis into a growth opportunity. Unfortunately, even when experienced therapists are extensively involved with people committed to healing, some couples are unable to ever regain the necessary sense of trust and emotional safety required to make it together. For these couples, solid, neutral relationship therapy can help the people involved to process a long overdue goodbye. But cheating doesn’t have to be seen as the end of a relationship; instead, it can be viewed as a test of its maturity and ability to weather the storm.

Partners – Sex and Relationship Healing

Healing Underlying Core Issues: Key to Lasting Recovery

Many people who suffer from substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety or a combination of these often find themselves at a crossroads. When we’ve gone through a challenging experience, it’s difficult to think clearly. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and out of sorts.

Children and young adults are too young to cope due to their limited life experience and not having the proper brain maturity to handle the situation.

As we age, these unaddressed issues may increase in intensity as the underlying core issues get pushed into the subconscious mind where they cycle repeatedly. This causes extreme distress as we expend tremendous effort to keep these issues from entering our consciousness.

Underlying Core Issues: Unfinished Business

Underlying core issues can be unresolved traumatic or impactful events that haven’t been properly addressed, leaving us unsettled and overwhelmed, often without understanding why. Underlying core issues can arise from being abused, witnessing abuse, being the abuser, being abandoned, or going through great loss. They can also stem from thoughts of unworthiness, loneliness and hopelessness from the collection of events which compose our lives. Gestalt Therapists call underlying core issues “Unfinished Business.” In order to profoundly heal, “Unfinished Business” must be addressed.

After a trauma, people generally cope in a number of predictable ways:

  • Acting out – using substances, addictive habits, and risky behaviors;
  • Rationalizing – minimizing the impact of the situation;
  • Staying busy – by distracting ourselves, we won’t have to deal with it;
  • Repeating the behavior – often abuse is handed down generation to generation.

Underlying Core Issues Are Like a Splinter

Imagine you have a splinter deep in your leg. Your body is perfectly capable of healing over the splinter while it remains in place. In fact, healing can become so complete that it is no longer visible and you forget all about it.

But let the slightest pressure hit that spot and your pain returns anew and worse than before! The splinter is still there and in fact has festered, making it more painful than when it first went in.

This is the way an underlying core issue affects our lives. We try hard to mask the symptoms, hoping they will heal over and cause us no more pain, but in truth this isn’t so. An underlying core issue is waiting just beneath the surface for the slightest provocation and when triggered can explode forth with unnerving veracity.

Identifying and Healing Underlying Core Issues

Identifying underlying core issues requires a straightforward technique which can be mastered. It is as simple as taking a current emotional reaction and riding it back in time to the first time you remember feeling that way. What was going on? Who was there? Where do you feel it in your body? At The Clearing, identifying underlying core issues is the first step toward issue resolution. The ‘splinter’ is gently removed so healing can once and for all be complete.

The good news is it’s treatable. As mentioned above, simple and elegant processes allow the underlying core issue to be identified and healed, the ‘splinter’ is gently removed so healing can once and for all be complete.

Residential Treatment Needs a Facelift

Presently the residential treatment industry is in dire need of an overhaul; its overwhelming focus is on ‘coping mechanisms’ which don’t address the underlying core issues causing the disturbance in the first place. This is what makes The Clearing’s program so unique. Our focus on addressing the underlying core issues which lead to substance abuse and mood disorders is unprecedented. We do so as a team – all participants go through the program from start to finish together; doing so allows us to follow a curriculum which progresses substantially day by day.

About The Clearing

The Clearing is a residential treatment center located on beautiful San Juan Island, Washington. We created The Clearing in response to the pervasiveness of treatment centers that focus more on luxury than modern, evidence-based therapy.

Our approach is based on healing the underlying core issues that cause addiction. If you’d like to learn more, contact us, or download our free eBook:

This post was written by Joe Koelzer

Joe Koelzer is a co-founder of The Clearing. He has years of counseling experience and a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. After observing how depression and substance abuse impacted his wife’s life, Joe realized how broken our current system is for addiction and related mental health treatment. He witnessed firsthand how an evidence-based approach coupled with Spiritual Psychology saved Betsy and enabled her to gain control of her life. In co-founding The Clearing, Joe realizes his dream of creating and sharing this innovative approach with others in a structured clinical setting.

Related posts:

  • Why Go Through Residential Addiction Treatment With a Cohort?
  • Two Tools to Help You Evaluate if You’re Ready for Residential Rehab
  • Non 12 Step Rehab: A Side-By-Side Comparison of the Best Programs
  • The Evidence Based Treatment Center Seattle Residents Need
  • Detox in Seattle: Only the First Stop on the Road to Recovery

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How to Help Someone With Depression

Some people who experience problems with substance abuse struggle with depression at the same time. Therefore, you may be wondering how to help someone with depression. The information below will help you understand depression more fully. In doing so, you can provide vital support to those you care about.

Understanding the Significance of Depression

When thinking about how to help someone with depression, it’s important to fully understand this condition. Specifically, those with clinical depression face an extreme degree of sadness that can linger for months or years. They may find it impossible to have a normal daily routine, care for their families, or maintain a job. Moreover, when depression combines with substance abuse, the results can be devastating for the entire family.

Learn How to Help Someone with Depression

If your family has been affected by substance abuse and mental illness, it only makes sense that you find yourself thinking about how to help someone with depression. For example, the following tips can give you a place to begin offering support for your friend or family member:

Provide a Listening Ear

In some cases, those who face depression feel alone in their struggles. Therefore, simply knowing you are there to listen to their concerns may make them feel better.

Avoid Placing Blame

Those who face depression in conjunction with substance abuse probably blame themselves for their issues. While this may be understandable, placing blame on the person doesn’t help the situation to improve.

Educate Yourself

Offering support will be easier if you understand what he or she is dealing with on a daily basis. Try to learn as much as you possibly can about substance abuse, addiction, and the emotional instability that can result from these issues.

Locate a Professional Treatment Center

They might not be able to find adequate professional treatment on their own. However, as a caring friend or family member, you can help them locate a proper professional rehabilitation center that handles their specific needs.

Seek Professional Treatment And Care

If you are searching for a depression treatment center in WA, you may be overwhelmed by the number of choices available to you. However, it might help to talk to your family about what you want from a treatment facility. Discussing concerns, problems, and goals openly can help you all choose the best treatment center for your specific needs.

The Clearing is a residential addiction treatment center in the San Juan Island, Washington area. In fact, understanding what we treat can help you ensure your needs are met properly. For example, our programs include:

  • Non 12 step rehab
  • Group therapy
  • Residential addiction rehab
  • Medical detox program

You don’t have to remain under the control of an addiction or mental illness. You can overcome these problems with the help of a caring treatment center. Therefore, contact The Clearing at 425-678-3566 to learn how we can help you today.

This post was written by Clearing Staff

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Understanding Anger: Is it Harming Your Mental Health?

Did you know that stuffing down your anger impacts your mental health?

Serious conditions associated with stuffed-down anger include depression, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, and others, according to the nation’s top mental health experts.

As the researchers and authors of The Effects of Anger on the Brain and Body(published in the National Forum Journal of Counseling and Addiction) wrote:

“Holding back anger can lead to mental illnesses including depression. An emotion such as anger will not go away if ignored. It will only get stronger and can cause severe problems.”

According to John Schinnerer, an anger management coach and expert, other ways that chronic anger can affects a person’s well-being include: “anxiety, addiction, depression, fatigue, decreased immunity, insomnia, brain fog, low self-esteem, and a higher probability of abuse.”

Clearly, unaddressed anger has the potential to devastate your life. It’s imperative that you address it effectively. So, how do you do that?

Read on to learn …

  • Why anger arises from underlying hurt
  • How to heal hurt
  • Strategies to burn off “hot” anger
  • The relationship between anger and depression
  • How to forgive your judgments and limiting beliefs

When we understand the true nature of anger, we’re empowered to address it in a healthy way.

Understanding Anger

The first thing you need to know is that beneath every feeling of anger, there is a hurt that is present. As Dr. Martha Beck noted, anger arises within us “when something that we need is absent, or something that we cannot tolerate is present.”

When we don’t have what we need, or we’re in the presence of something we can’t tolerate, then a part of us is hurting, by definition. We don’t have what we need. There’s a gap there, and it hurts. If we’re in the presence of something we cannot tolerate, then we’re hurt, as well.

Beneath every feeling of anger, there is an underlying hurt that is present.

How to Heal the Hurt from Anger

You may be thinking, “Okay, well, I understand that in order to heal my anger, I need to heal the underlying hurt, right? How do I do that? How do I heal the hurt?”

Well, the answer is very simple. It’s not always easy, but it’s pretty straightforward.

When we apply love to the parts of ourselves that hurt, then we heal. When we apply love to the hurts that underlie the anger, that’s when we’re able to heal and move on from the anger.

Then, of course, the question is, “How? How do we do that?”

Most of us did not learn this in our family systems or in schools, unless we were very fortunate, and we had some teachers or parents or authority figures who were very aware and very in tune. By and large, our culture does not teach this. There are not a lot of opportunity for us to really learn how to heal that underlying hurt.

The good news is that you can always start where you are. Now is the perfect time to start. Here are some ways that you can apply love to the parts of yourselves that hurt, and thereby heal your anger.

Strategies and Tools for Anger Management

First, here’s a strategy to burn off some of your hot anger.

Use this when you’re really upset and you just want to explode. Instead of yelling at someone else, do this to manage your anger. The tool is called Free Form Writing.

To start, go off by yourself. Find someplace that you won’t be disturbed. For those of you who are parents, locking yourself in your car is a really good way to do this. If you say, “I can’t find time to do these exercises, and I don’t have the privacy,” then the next time you drop your kids off at school or at a sporting event, go park the car somewhere, and lock the doors. Voila, you’ve got your private time.

Once you’re alone, set the timer on your phone or on your watch for a minimum of 10 minutes, ideally around 15, but 10 is the bare minimum for this exercise.

All you need is a pen and a few pieces of paper, nothing fancy. You set your timer for 10 minutes, and then just put pen to paper and write.

Let yourself be as raw and uncensored and as politically incorrect as you want to be. No one is going to see what you write. No one is going to reread this – not even you! – so for 10 minutes you just let your anger flow. You get it out of your body, and you get it onto that paper, and you just write and write and write all the things that you’re pissed off about. “I hate this, and I hate that, and I can’t stand it, and it’s awful.” Say whatever you want, curse, swear, anything.

Again, nobody’s going to see it.

When that timer goes off, you stop. Then take that piece of paper and destroy it. You can shred it, or ideally, burn it; burning is very cathartic. Of course, be safe. Dispose of the paper in the safest and most complete way you can. If you are not able to burn it, you can rip it up and put the pieces in water, so that the ink runs, and so it’s destroyed. Then you throw the soggy mess in the garbage.

It’s important to do a really complete destruction of whatever you wrote, because you just want to release that anger. It’s all about releasing the emotion. That’s one way to let the steam out.

Anger and Depression

Depression is anger turned inward. When we turn our anger inward, and we don’t allow ourselves to express it or even to feel it fully, then it becomes depression.

Depression may seem like sadness, hopelessness, and that’s very much a part of it, but it begins with the experience of turning our anger inward and refusing to feel it. If you’ve dealt with depression, it’s particularly important to have a time where you are letting your anger flow, so that you’re not just stuffing it.

Free Form Writing is a way to let yourself be honest about what you’re feeling and tap into the anger that underlies depression.

Once you’ve burned off hot anger, and you’re willing to work with those unresolved issues that were contributing to your anger, then what do you do?

The Nature of Anger and Unresolved Issues

First, most anger points to unresolved issues. If you’re angry and you’re stressed, then you typically have an unresolved issue. There’s no judgment here. This is not bad. All of us have unresolved issues. It is a part of being human, so there’s no need to judge yourself.

Instead, you can just say, “Oh look, I’m really pissed. I’m feeling really angry right now. This is my latest opportunity for growth. This is something else being revealed to me that needs to be healed.”

When you do that, then you can take that next step forward in your own growth and development.

By contrast, if you refuse to deal with your upset and you stuff it or pretend it’s not there, then you can’t evolve and grow past that sticking point. Life is going to keep throwing things at you that’s going to bring back that original, unresolved issue.

It’s similar to a prerequisite class in college; you have to take Psychology 101 before you can move on to Psychology 102. You can’t bypass an unresolved issue and just think, “Oh, I’d rather not do that one. I want to do another one.”

It’s going to come back. It will be a prerequisite on behalf of your growth, so you might as well deal with it now.

Anger and Addiction Recovery

Unresolved anger leads to unresolved core issues. In our experience running a successful Non 12-Step rehab, virtually all the folks we see with addiction problems have been struggling with underlying core issues.

One of the powerful techniques we use to work with anger is based in Rational Emotive Therapy (RET).

The idea behind RET is that we all experience reality subjectively.

None of us have a purely objective view of the world, because we filter everything through the lens of our perceptions, thoughts, experiences, and memories, so there is no template for this is exactly what happened. 10 different people witness an event, and they have 10 different experiences of that event.

That’s important because when we start to work with our anger, we need to look at our subjective perceptions of events in our lives. We need to look at our judgments, our limiting beliefs and our projections … all the concepts that we build around the events of reality.

Humans love to tell stories, and we are gifted with imagination, and we love to make things mean something.

For example, suppose your spouse walks into the room and doesn’t speak to you, and you assume that they’re judging you.

However, maybe their experience is that they’re just distracted. Maybe they didn’t even notice that you were looking at them.

Even if someone says, “I hate you,” it can cause you a different degree of upset depending on what you make it mean.

If you’re making that mean, “I’m a despicable human being, and I don’t deserve to live,” then that’s pretty upsetting.

If you’re making that same statement mean, “That person is really in pain, and they’re lashing out at me because they’re hurting”, then your level of upset is different.

Rational Emotive Therapy helps us to identify our judgments and our limiting beliefs, because these are the things that are causing us the anger, not the external event.

It’s our internal reality that is causing the internal anger.

Judgments, Anger and Addiction

In order to do this inner work, we begin, as we always begin, by centering ourselves and our loving hearts.

Pick an image or a relationship or a memory that really brings you to a place of unconditional love. Some people imagine their partners or their pets or a dear friend, something that allows you to tap into that energy of acceptance and love within yourself.

Then, when you’re in that place, you ask yourself, “What was it that triggered my feeling of upset? What happened in the real world? Then, what did I think about that?”

For example: “My spouse walked through the room, and I looked up at them, but they didn’t look back at me.”

You would write down what happened: My spouse walked across the room. I looked up, and he/she didn’t meet my gaze. That’s the factual statement of what happened.

Then you ask yourself, “What are my judgments about this event?” A judgment is anything that sounds like should, would, could. For example …

  • “He should have looked at me.”
  • “I should have tried harder to get his attention.”
  • “He shouldn’t be so cold.”
  • “I’m not worth looking at.”

Judgments can be against the other, against the situation or against reality, or against yourself.

Once you have those judgments written down, look at your limiting beliefs.

Liming Beliefs Definition

Limiting beliefs are more global rules about the way the world works and any thoughts or ideas that constrain us in some way.

They often feel really heavy, and they bring us down. Limiting beliefs are generalizations that we’ve created about the way the world works. Often, it’s hard to identify them or see past them, because they tend to operate in our subconscious minds.

Examples of limiting beliefs include but are not limited to:

  • I can’t tell the truth because I may get judged
  • I don’t want to get close to this person because I may be heartbroken
  • I don’t want to ask for what I want because I might get rejected
  • I can’t trust people because I’ve been burned before
  • I can’t pursue my dreams because I might fail
  • I can’t do X because of Y

Your limiting belief might be, for example, “My spouse should always know what I need. He should know. He should just know that I needed contact in that moment.”

Then, walk yourself through a process of forgiveness for those judgments and for those limiting beliefs.

Here’s a helpful template for dealing with limiting beliefs:

“I forgive myself for judging myself as … (fill in the blank), and the truth is … (fill in the blank). In the first blank we fill in our judgment. In that second blank you fill in what the voice of unconditional love would say.

In this case, it might be, “I forgive myself for judging myself as unworthy, and the truth is that I am loved, and that I am cherished, and that I am worthy.” If that doesn’t ring true for you, that’s fine. Another example might be, “ … the truth is that I accept myself.” You judged yourself as unworthy, but now you accept yourself. You’ve made a shift.

Overcoming Limiting Beliefs

Similarly, the framework for forgiving a limiting belief sounds like this. “I forgive myself for accepting the limiting belief that …” Fill in the blank.

For example, “I forgive myself for accepting the limited believe that my spouse should always know what I need; and the truth going forward for me is…”

Then you fill in the blank, again tapping into unconditional love.

For example, you might finish with, “I can take care of my own needs,” or, “My needs will always be met, somehow, some way. I will always be provided for.”

At the end, of course, always remember to praise yourself for a job well done.

Offering yourself forgiveness and forgiving these judgments and limiting beliefs is intense work on both the mental and the emotional levels. So, remember to congratulate yourself for doing it at all, because it is brave. It contributes to not only your well being, but to the well being of the world, because when we heal our own anger and our own hurt, that affects everyone around us. Healing ripples outward.

Would you like to learn more about anger, mental illness, limiting beliefs and how it can contribute to addiction? Download our free eBook, “Healing Underlying Core Issues.”

theclearingnw.com · by Caroline McGraw

http://www.bevillandassociates.com

Yes, Using Porn Is Cheating. Here’s Why.

I’ve heard it said that there are men who don’t look at porn, and then there are men who are breathing. If recent surveys are any indication, porn use has become the norm among men, not the exception.

Still, I get a lot of questions from women who are feeling the heartbreaking impact of porn on their marriages. To them, porn feels like cheating, and for good reason.

It is.

I understand why many don’t think this is true (reasons I’ll address below), but first it is important that I define some terms.

By “using porn” I don’t mean merely seeing it. It’s hard not to walk about in public places or go online without seeing something that is at least meant to titillate the eyes of men. When I say “using” I mean intentionally taking porn in through one’s senses with the intention of being turned on and then, most likely, masturbating or at least getting sexually aroused.

By “cheating” I mean that using porn is breaking a vow—either implicitly or explicitly—made to one’s spouse. This is because marriage is, in part, about sexual exclusivity; it is about “forsaking all others.”

The Slippery Porn Slope

Take some steps with me down a morally slippery slope.

Step 1: Let’s say I were to visit a prostitute and have sex with her. That would be cheating on my wife. I assume no one would debate me on this point.

Step 2: However, let’s say that when I met with the prostitute we didn’t actually touch each other: I just watched her have sex with someone else while I masturbated in the same room. (Weird, I know. But just go with it.) Would that be cheating? Both in this case and in the previous case I am seeking the services of a prostituted woman for sexual pleasure—seeking out and enjoying the body of a woman who is not my wife in order to be sexually gratified. Could a man rightly say, “Yes, I pleasured myself in front of a hooker, but we didn’t touch each other. I stayed faithful to you”? I don’t think so. The pretense of no physical contact doesn’t matter because the action still violates the spirit of the sexual exclusivity.

Step 3: However, let’s say I didn’t visit the prostitute in person but only interacted with her online through erotic video chat. Let’s say I masturbated during the chat session while using the video image as the source of my fantasy. Is this cheating? Has the lack of physical proximity suddenly changed the situation that it is no longer breaking my marriage vow? I don’t think so.

Step 4: Now let’s say that instead of engaging in the video chat live, the prostitute recorded herself for me so I could masturbate at my convenience. Is this still cheating? Am I now suddenly remaining faithful to my marriage vows because someone hit the record button? No. That’s just stupid.

Step 5: Now let’s say the prostitute has a business card with a fancy title on it: “Pornographic Actress.” She even has a website with a resume listing of all the films she’s been in. Her pimp—I mean, agent—pays taxes and everything. Totally legit. Let’s say I reach out to this prostitute and pay her to view her recorded videos which she gladly sells me. Is this cheating? Does the change in title and the veneer of professionalism change the nature of the act? No.

Step 6: Now let’s say that this entire enterprise is industrialized so that this woman is part of a large network of other prostitutes who are doing the same thing. Much like walking into a brothel, I can pick the woman I want when I want, pay my fee, and enjoy her body for my lustful purposes. Is this cheating? What about the industrialized nature of the product changes the nature of the act? Nothing.

And on this last step we have arrived at what the modern porn industry is. This is why using pornography is cheating. It is engagement with a digital prostitute despite one’s vow to forsake all others.

Hold On, I’m Not Convinced.

I can hear the screeching of mental breaks right about now. Many are thinking, “Wait a second. Something major has shifted between the first scenario and the last. No one sees porn as digital prostitution. If this was the way our culture understood porn, it might be one thing. But very few people who watch porn go online thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get sexual gratification from a digital prostitute.’”

This is a good objection. After all, motive and intention count for something when it comes to the promises or vows we make. If I sign a contract saying I will not share proprietary information from my employer, but then forward a work e-mail along to a friend, not knowing it counts as “proprietary,” I’m not guilty of intentionally breaking my promise (even if my employer has grounds to fire me). Someone who uses porn might think along the same lines: “I’m just watching video clips made by actors and actresses, not intentionally seeking digital interactions with a prostitute.”

I agree, but motives only carry some of the weight when it comes to our moral decisions. The above slippery slope is not as much about motives as it is about the nature of the actions. Behind the making of pornography are real people really selling themselves for the sexual gratification of viewers. The medium doesn’t change the fact that a prostituted woman was used for her body and sex appeal, no matter the viewer’s understanding of the act.

This is why so many women say using porn feels like cheating: the act of seeking out another woman for sexual pleasure—even if she is hidden behind a veil of pixels and a sleazy acting agency—is not a movement towards faithfulness, but away from it.

Why Cheating Matters (and Why It Doesn’t)

However, by saying that using porn is breaking a marriage vow, I am not prescribing a specific reaction we should have to it. The six-step slippery slope presents six different scenarios, each having their own gravity of the offense. They may all be cheating, but they all show different levels of intensity.

We need to turn the tables on those who ask, “Is using porn cheating?” and address why it matters.

  • For some, when they ask, “Is using porn cheating?” they bring a lot of baggage with the question. They think, “Since porn is cheating, I can never forgive you.” “Since porn is cheating, I have grounds to divorce you—and I will.” “Since porn is cheating, I will lash out and cheat on you.” These dispositions are, quite frankly, completely separate issues to address. To say a man has broken his marriage vow by seeking out porn is one thing. To say that he cannot be forgiven, that he should be divorced, or that he deserves revenge are other matters altogether.
  • For others, when they ask, “Is using porn cheating?” they simply want their spouse to know that when they said, “I do,” they expected a spirit of monogamy. Yes, the world is full of sexual temptations. Yes, they know their spouse is full of hormones and attracted to other people walking about in the world. But they expected to be the focus of their spouse’s sexual energy, attention, and devotion. When they vowed to “forsake all others,” that is what they promised and what they expected in return.

The Heart of the Matter

Two facts lie at the heart of the issue.

First, people often desire the perks of marriage, but marriage vows are not taken seriously. As such, we find ourselves straddling two worlds. In one world, we embrace an idyllic picture of finding “the one,” growing old together, loving and serving another person until death we do part. In the other world, we enjoy the convenience and self-centeredness of solo-sex in front of the computer screen. These two worlds mix like oil and water in our miry hearts. Before long, you will either have to abandon pornography or abandon a genuine spirit of monogamy.

Second, people have been blinded by the sense of distance the digital world places between ourselves and the real world. We believe something doesn’t count as much if it is “online” or “on television” or “just fantasy.” We rename offenses: stealing becomes downloading, cruelty becomes speaking one’s mind, and exploitation becomes entertainment. We have settled for what Chris Hedges calls an empire of illusion. “Pornography does not promote sex if one defines sex as a shared act between two partners. It promotes masturbation,” Hedges writes. “It promotes the solitary auto-arousal that precludes intimacy and love. Pornography is about getting yourself off at someone else’s expense.”

So, He’s Cheating. Now What?

If your husband (or wife) is engrossed in porn, you are right to feel like this is cheating. He is defrauding you of something that should be your exclusive domain. You are not a prude for thinking this. You just take your vows seriously, as everyone should.

But where do you go from here? Start by getting educated about the addictive nature of pornography and the steps other couples have taken to take a new direction. Contact us 205-610-9319

 

by Luke Gilkerson · January 19, 2015

http://www.bevillandassociates.com