Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, is highlighted by strong emotional issues. They become especially prevalent surrounding relationships. At the core, the person with BPD has a deep fear of abandonment, identity issues and is often prone to self-harm practices and suicidal ideation. People who are in relationship with someone who has BPD are often manipulated into staying into the relationship because the radical behavior of the disorder. Feeling trapped and bound by guilt and manipulation, people often stay in the relationship with a BPD longer than they should.

As a therapist who specializes in working with BPD, I have noticed that there are quite a few intriguing behaviors that borderlines commonly have that are not listed as a symptom in the DSM-5. The first is they have a history of sexual trauma. Almost every borderline I have treated has this somewhere in their history, usually in childhood or early adolescence. The second has to deal with the concept of love and healthy attachment.

I have often said that borderlines love too hard. They want to be in a relationship with someone so bad they are willing to threaten to kill themselves. This is an example of an unhealthy attachment. We can’t expect to have a healthy relationship when we are working from a position of fear.

Borderlines often reveal that most of their behavioral difficulties began after they suffered some sort of sexual trauma either through intercourse or molestation. For some reason, it appears that most of them never put this together in their minds. They get so wrapped up in emotional survival that the idea that they feel this way isn’t tied to what happened to them. Their identify of who they are as a person has been completely altered.

In therapy I don’t turn my clients into victims. Things happen to people and then we choose how to continue to react to them. With borderlines and other trauma clients, I cannot do that. Trauma has a cause and effect on the brain that must be treated at its core root. The memory of the trauma event builds a tie-in to the motional center, henceforth, borderlines are very emotional especially when a relationship issue triggers their fear that someone is going to do something bad, like leave them. Internally, they are freaking out.

At this level, Borderline Personality Disorder cannot be treated simply by helping someone change their thoughts that lead to better emotions. The trauma has to be treated in order to disconnect the emotions from the trauma memory.

Because this is happening at the subconscious level, a psychoanalytical approach is required. This approach comes in many forms such as schema therapy which is one of my favorite approaches. Schema identifies which mode a person is operating from. There are 18 modes and a borderline can be one or all them. Therapy can then be tailored to address these specific modes. Most borderlines are operating from multiple modes which create a complex dynamic that even the most savvy therapist can struggle with.

However, with any successful plan, put first things first. Before the mode is addressed I prefer to address the existing trauma as this is often the culprit. If the trauma is resolved, then we’ll see which modes got resolved with it. The result of treating the trauma is like the clearing of a storm. At this point it is safe to say that that the client was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, comorbid with borderline features. An organic borderline doesn’t have trauma and so schema must be worked out which becomes a long haul for client and therapist alike. I utilize Accelerated Resolution Therapy for the trauma which proves very effective with quick results, typically within 1-5 sessions. This is enough to disconnect the memory from the emotion.

Another popular approach for treating borderlines is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT. While I am also trained in DBT, I still prefer the schema approach as it uses a reparenting approach instead of a soothing your feelings approach. It’s rare that I see a borderline come from a decent functional family, sexual trauma or not. Reparenting can be one of the most useful tools to help borderlines attain healthy relational attachments. It also helps them understand and gain insight into their behaviors. When we gain insight into why we do what we do, we gain power over the problem.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

We all need to be good at whatever it is that we are. Think with compassion. When people are trained from the formative years, to fear hell fire and all that would lead to the said fire, you just can’t expect them to let go of that so easily. And if anything at all, only compassion and love is going to set people free from that type of a fear. You can’t argue them out of it; you can only love them out of it. – C. Joybell C.

When you think of the word love, what comes to mind? What gives it meaning? In the mental health world I have noticed that this word does not come up very often and especially in the context of offering a healing intervention. I think the reason for this is people seem to experience love when they feel happy when their problem gets resolved. I have never read a treatment plan that involved “love thyself.”

I have discovered that there are two common roots to most people’s issues; fear and worry. This is a common thread especially for anxiety and is responsible for producing the feeling of fight or flight. If a bear chases us in the woods, this is appropriate. But when we fear the world and worry about situational outcomes it can become exhausting and manifest into long term stress. The body is not built for long term stress and anxiety. The fight or flight response is meant to be short term. It signals us to get out of our predicament and do it quickly by running and if we can’t run then we have to stand our ground.

So what does love have to do with fighting or fleeing imaginary bears? Well, for clarification, the imaginary bears are a metaphor for things in our lives that cause problems and discomfort. There are two ways to deal with this and it has to do with how love is observed, either as a noun or a verb. Love can be an object of desire and/or an action of desire. For example: I am in love with you…and/or… I love you.

If we practice self love then as a person I can say that I love myself. A word of caution: this form of love is very different from malignant narcissistic self love. Narcissists play a game of manipulation to turn attention to themselves, both positive and negative, and get very jealous when your attention is not on them. This is about self esteem. Narcissists can appear to have high self esteem but this often their grandiosity at work, “look at how wonderful I am.” Self esteem is a foreign concept to them and if you have a fair amount of it yourself the narc will often get jealous and try to manipulate your attention from yourself back to them.

This is about seeing yourself as someone of value, honor, dignity and respect. This is healthy self love, and because of this healthy self love your actions produce positive outcomes. It involves practicing self compassion and doing the things necessary that indicate recognition of the intrinsic value you hold of yourself. A narcissist does not understand this, rarely recognizes it in other people (lack of empathy is a symptom) and begins to scheme up another way to get the attention back on them (drama).

I was listening to a story once about a young man talking to a guru ( I think it was Stephen Covey but cannot confirm) who was struggling to make a decision to leave his wife. He was talking about how he did not understand how to tell his wife how much he truly loved her and no matter how hard he tried he felt that she was not reciprocating. He felt defeated and invalidated and so he tried more and more to express his love. As a result, he felt she was not part of the relationship and after a few years of heartbreak he was contemplating on getting out, he was feeling tired and defeated.

The man was asked by the guru to explain his love for her. He said he was in love with her. The guru responded “then LOVE her.” Huh? It’s an action, it’s a verb. We can say it all we want, but then what?

It’s like this, we cannot ask of love from others, it must be shown, thus reciprocated. It is an action. To love ourselves requires action and this is how we get out of our problems. We can’t sit and worry. To overcome our fears and worries is paramount to being our true selves and when we give ourselves permission to be that person it frees the heart of the burdens that keep it caged up. When we love life, it loves us back and our own personal light shines forth.

So how does a person overcome worry and fear? It requires us to have the courage and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to others and the world around us. Do not be afraid to go out and jump into life’s playground. With it comes a whole host of things that most people worry about. Suffering, pain, defeat, the what if’s, etc. and on it goes. But without entering life’s playground, we miss out on the good stuff too, the good stuff is found in the same places as the bad stuff. It basically depends on where the focus is, on the negative stuff or the positive stuff, or is there a healthy balance between the two? This is why love can be joyous and love can be difficult when we love enough to allow ourselves to just be ourselves.

A few quotes for the road:

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

Read Full Post »

Work DisputeWatch out!

When a codependent has a break through and they find their voice and how to make a stand in their life things can get a little rough. It follows the old cliche that things might get worse before they get better.

Underneath all of the self sacrifice that has been stuffed down and stacked up inside resurfaces going in the opposite direction. Instead of self sacrifice in order to get love from another person, this new found sense of freedom and independence turns into tough love. The codependent understands that it is okay to express themselves, their opinions and not worry any longer about what others think about them. It’s not that they don’t care, they just no longer worry about it.

Now comes the good and the not so good.

The good is personal freedom is often being experience for the first time in a very long time and quite possibly for the first time in their lives. This is not a move toward self-centeredness but a move toward self care taking and exercising some personal independence. It’s moving the self out from the subjection of others and into being objective in relationships and the environment in which they work and live.

Being objective in any situation means that the opinions, thoughts and feelings formed are unique to the individual who is experiencing them. These thoughts, feelings and opinions are viewed by the person who is holding them as just as worthy as anyone else, so there is a bit of self esteem that comes with this new freedom. It goes like this “my thoughts, feelings and opinions are just as valid as anyone else.”

Now the not so good, but it often gets better. Just like any new skill learned it takes practice to get the hang of it. Here is another cliche; “it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it. ” Here comes the stuffing. Like an overstuffed pillow, when the zipper first gets cracked open all the stuffing comes flying out all over the place. The idea is to treat it like a balloon, let out more air than is coming in bit by bit.

Usually the first few attempt come across as angry and brash. By validating and accepting themselves they struggle with the concept that they are doing harm or wronging another person by not putting the other person’s needs first. The codependent is finding their voice often for the first time and is learning how to communicate it. This takes time and practice. In this phase, learning self forgiveness goes a long way. Arguments may erupt, especially with family members who may not understand and only see a shift in behavior. Family and loved ones, not fully understanding what is going on, have to make adjustments as well since the dynamics of the relationship have changed.

One of the most common reasons why codependency happens is that somewhere along the road of the life the codependent learned to allow others to validate them. When they feel this validation is when they feel accepted, loved and liked as a person. When they move into this new sense of freedom they have learned how to accept themselves and not seek this validation from others. This can be a difficult behavior and habit for the codependent to detach from and learn new ones.

Learning how to live up to other people’s expectations is a tall order to fill. The codependent struggles to fit in with changing scenarios and compromises their true self in order to feel accepted or loved by others. People in healthy relationships have a genuine respect for each others thoughts, feelings and opinions, not because they match theirs, but because they are comfortable in their own skin, and their own right. It kinda follows one last cliche, “We can agree to disagree and still be friends. ” How is this possible? Because dropping codependency is about someone who accepts themselves for who they are, not who they think they ought to be in the eyes of another.

Read Full Post »

Hope“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

Hope can be a powerful force. It drives the future with a sort of romanticized vision with excitement and enthusiasm. Whether it is with marriage, having children, an exciting career or a certain lifestyle, hope and dreams drive the motivation and inspiration to achieve that dream.

Sometimes, however, those dreams get crushed. Reality steps in and begins to paint a bleak picture of that future and over time the anticipation begins to fade. The vision gets lost, the hope disappears, motivation wanes and life can feel stuck. It’s almost as if the color gets washed out of the dream and it loses its luster appearance and develops that sense of hopelessness.

How does someone who is feeling in despair about their life bring hope back into the picture? Feeling like being in a hopeless situation does not necessarily mean they have to abandon hope itself. How a person chooses to view their situation can make a big difference. There is a quote from the Greek Philosopher Epictetus that says “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”  Pastor and author Max Lucado in one of his devotionals UpWords points out this example regarding someone who is optimistic in the midst of a hopeless situation…

On the wall of a concentration camp, are carved these words:

I believe in the sun, even though it doesn’t shine.

I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.

I believe in God, even when He doesn’t speak.

Whoever wrote these words may have been in a tough place, but they refused to surrender their heart. Viktor Frankl in his book “Mans Search for Meaning” talks about how after being held prisoner in a Jewish concentration camp during WWII he lost his wife, children and all his possessions. He explains how he developed the mindset that even though his captors have taken away everything from him they cannot take away “my ability to choose how I respond.”

So what is a person to do when they find themselves suffering, in despair and feeling hopeless? These are normal feelings, however uncomfortable as they may be there are some questions that a person can ask that may alleviate unnecessary suffering. Eric Thomas is a motivational speaker that often talks to college students who are failing or dropping out. He tells them to “get a reward for the pain they are enduring, to go through it, they are already in pain, get something for it.” Mr. Thomas was homeless and took 12 years to get a college degree. He suffered, he endured but when he decided to change his mind about his situation was when things began to change. He helps other students come to this reality.

The people and quotes mentioned have some things in common for not losing hope even though their situation seemed hopeless. They kept their dreams alive by changing the way they looked at their situation. Here are some of the common characteristics they share regarding resolve and keeping their hope.

  • They keep their vision alive by changing their tactics. They understand there are different paths to achieve goals.
  • They learn from life. The take what they learn and apply it to future situations. A setback is not defeat or failure, it’s a learning experience. They gain understanding from it and move on.
  • They keep negative self talk to a minimum. Negative self talk rarely helps achieve goals or inspires hope. Self talk is habit forming, monitor which language is being used.
  • They don’t worry about what others think. This is different than caring, worrying about what others are thinking requires time that could be put toward a goal or self improvement.
  • They understand that results may vary. Two people can do the same thing but they don’t let the results define or validate who they are.
  • They rarely let their emotions cloud up their reasoning. Emotions can tell a person a lot about what they are experiencing in life. Emotional reasoning is about “if it feels bad then it must be bad.” Staying objective and being reasonable is about taking another perspective, or to think of alternative viewpoints. What is another way of looking at the situation that contradicts the bad?

Life can be difficult and at times it can feel hopeless. Changing the view of a situation can go a long way in turning things around. Take some time to examine life, find the good, monitor the self talk, take a different path and look for renewed hope.

 

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis

Read Full Post »

pararescue impFamous author and inspirational leader John Eldredge takes a minute to talk to the nature of a man’s heart. John often writes demonstrating the overlooked masculine side of Christ that men so fondly resonate with. While Eldredge is famous for his book Wild at Heart, this excerpt is taken from another one of his books “Waking the Dead.” John asks a very important question and the expectation of where someone might think of where they should be in life. Where is yours, do you quest to fulfill unmet expectations or are you sleepwalking through life?-BM

From Waking the Dead

John Spillane is a para-rescue jumper sent into the North Atlantic, into the worst storm of the twentieth century, the perfect storm, as the book and film called it, to rescue a fisherman lost at sea. When his helicopter goes down, he is forced to jump into pitch blackness from an unknown height, and when he hits the water, he’s going so fast it’s like hitting the pavement from eighty feet above. He is dazed and confused—just as we are when it comes to the story of our lives. It’s the perfect analogy. We have no idea who we really are, why we’re here, what’s happened to us, or why. Honestly, most days we are alert and oriented times zero. Dazed. Sleepwalking through life.

Has God abandoned us? Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as “part of life,” suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know—we’ve been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that’s true, then why didn’t he _______? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help you out more.

Either (a) we’re blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn’t this where you land, with all the things that haven’t gone the way you’d hoped and wanted?

An excerpt from

Read Full Post »

To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity- Søren Kierkegaard

forgivenessForgiveness of past hurts, pains and the injustice of past events in our lives can be difficult to process through. This can be especially true if we are feeling guilty or perhaps shameful of something we did in our past where we recognize the pain and suffering we inflicted on others.

One of the most difficult parts of forgiveness is forgiving ourselves. It is typically much easier for people to forgive others for past offenses. They let it go and move on.  When it comes to self forgiveness it has to be approached from a different mindset. For comparison sake, when we forgive others we can let the problem remain with the other person. When it comes to ourselves we carry it with us everywhere we go, that is until we choose to let it go.

Letting go as a choice is easy in theory, actually doing it is another story. If the guilt of not letting go is carried long term it can manifest and turn into resentment, depression and anger. Finding the right tool to facilitate letting go is the key. Adopting a different mindset is a good technique. Adopting this technique is to challenge yourself by saying something such as “what am I benefiting from by hanging on to this?” Or, “What purpose does it serve to keep beating myself up with this guilt?”

The idea is to stop beating ourselves up. Give ourselves some slack and drop the resentment and guilt of past deeds. One last thing to try, if you were the one who was wronged by another person, what would you say to that person if they asked you for forgiveness? Would you grant it? If the answer is yes then ask yourself the same question of you. Grant yourself forgiveness, let it go, leave it in the past and move on. When we practice self forgiveness the end result is often peace, freedom and learning some self love and appreciation.

Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

More about Brian M. Murray

http://www.lifeworksgroup.org/Page.brian.html

 

Read Full Post »

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Controlling Behavior in Relationships

Sometimes when getting married, people may unknowingly be getting involved with a controlling manipulator. Controlling people manipulate others seeking personal gain in return. It’s a power and control play. They manipulate their spouse, or significant other, into doing whatever it is they want. They do not invest time nurturing the relationship and do this by making everything all about them. It’s a toxic personality.

The controlling person often sees others as a way to serve them or to provide something for them. People are to be used. This type of behavior is often found beyond marriage extending into family and their workplace. People seeking power and position in the workplace are notorious for manipulating others. They lack empathy and absent of compassionate behavior toward their spouse, and usually toward others in general. They can, and often, are very charming at first, that is, until they don’t get their way. Once they don’t get their way this is when the controlling power tactics show up. The superficial charm didn’t work so now force, manipulation and coercion is used instead.

The manipulation is a system of power and control tactics used to control the marriage or relationship. Listed here are some common areas that a controlling person will use to manipulate.

  1. Threatening behavior and intimidation. Examples of this behavior include the use of hard looks (staring) and body postures (stern,rigid), yelling, throwing and smashing objects, showing weapons, punching walls and the destruction of other property. Threats to hurt other people the spouse cares about and at times may threaten to kill themselves to get others to respond to their demands.
  2. Verbal and Emotional Abuse. This includes name calling, constant criticism, correcting your comments, being humiliated or put down in front of others, insulting the spouse’s heritage and family, silent treatment and guilt trips.
  3. Extreme jealousy. attempts to control who their spouse hangs out with and keeps constant tabs where ever they go including constant calling and texting their phone. At work they may email them or call demanding their attention. The manipulator doesn’t want any other person in their lives for the basic reason they are jealous of others getting attention. Remember, to the manipulator it’s all about them.
  4. Using the children. This may include putting pressure to get pregnant, using the children to force the spouse to stay home, threaten to call the state for abuse or neglect, charming the children with gifts to put a negative spin on the other parent (known as “demonizing”, common in divorces).
  5. Money. This includes putting the other spouse on a tight budget, demanding information about how every dollar was spent, expecting favors in return for spending money on them, playing king or queen with the checkbook. Playing king or queen is about spending money on themselves but refuse to allow the other equal portion. This includes belittling the other by telling them they are not worth what they want to spend or they don’t deserve it.
  6. Gaslighting:  Gaslighting is quite possibly the most covert of all tactics. This is a non-clinical term used to describe a manipulator who tries to convince you that how you perceive a certain situation is not what it appears. In other words, your thinking is wrong and the intent is for you to question your won sensibility about a given situation. If gaslighting is done long and frequently enough the victim may even begin to question their own sanity. If you run into a person who gaslights chances are you dealing with the most extreme of all manipulators, usually on the narcissistic and sociopath line of thinkers. Don’t try to convince them of what they are doing, they won’t see it, and again, they will try to convince you that you are the one who is seeing it wrong. These are the crazy makers.

One thing to remember is that a person who is a manipulator in relationship is usually doing these things based on a deep rooted irrational fear of loss of control. Internally for the manipulator, it becomes a power struggle after the ego feels threatened and must take action against you to protect itself. This often when the abusive behaviors show up as indicated in the list.

Know When It’s Time To Get Out

Any time a relationship becomes physically or emotionally abusive it is time to get out. The emotional abuse, manipulation, power and control tactics are all warning signs that something is toxic. Common reasons people don’t leave a relationship, marriage, job etc. is because they feel helpless or powerless, or that the manipulator will actually carry out the threats.

Getting out requires planning, or restructuring of how you live your life. In the workplace it requires boundaries which will be discussed in another blog topic regarding Toxic Bosses. There are many resources available online or in the community that outline what is needed to create a safety plan if you find yourself in a dangerous marriage or relationship. Confronting a power controlling person can and often makes the situation worse. Getting out safely is the main goal…and keep it covert. Stealth is the name of the game when trying to get away from this type of person.

If you or someone you know may be in a marriage or relationship who has been manipulated in some way to the point they are afraid to reach out for help know that help is available. Below are some resource that can be very valuable.

http://www.resourcepoint.org/guides/guides_entry/domestic_violence_guide/

Hotlines and Helplines

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Florida hotline:  1-800-621-4202 (TTY)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: