[Time to Read: 3.7 mins] We have not had a working garage at my house for 17 years. By “working garage,” I mean a garage that houses cars. I think the last time I had a car in my garage was 1997. At that time, the car I had in there came out and a lot of other “stuff” went in. The garage became a storage area.Recently, I purchased a very nice car and realized that I needed to clean out the garage so that I could store the new car in there.
I think there are at least five necessary points in a proper apology:
- The apology needs to be initiated by the wrongdoer and not prompted by the one wronged.
- The apology needs to be sincere.
- The wrongdoer needs to understand that the apology is a result of his/her actions.
- The wrongdoer needs to understand that to the best of his/her ability, said actions will not be repeated.
- The wrongdoer needs to make restitution if possible.
Have you, like me, ever been on the sofa in your pajamas on a Saturday night? And on said Saturday night, have you ever scrolled through your Facebook or Twitter to see everyone else out and about, posting photos of their exciting lives? What do you say to yourself in that moment? And how does that feel?
Have you ever logged on to your favorite social media website to see — or make — a status update like this? “I can’t stand when so called friends trash talk behind your back!” “Today I realized how much I hate certain people.” “Why can’t people just mind their own business?” Well, it may be true. You may be feeling distressed over a betrayal in friendship. You may be feeling angry at a friend or loved one. You may be feeling overwhelmed or intruded upon. But what is it that you actually accomplish with a passive-aggressively worded post, like the ones above? What are the alternatives? And how can you respond when you see one? First, let me be clear: Airing your dirty laundry on the Internet is a bad idea.
If you are a human on planet earth, there is at least a decent chance that your answer to the above is “Yes.” Assuming you did respond in the affirmative, now answer this: Do you ever feel like you have to provide some kind of explanation or excuse for your declination? One of the traps we often fall into in our social lives, and perhaps even professionally, is feeling the need to EXPLAIN our actions or decisions to others.
In the 1950s, there was much research on why people behave as they do, including a study by Solomon Asch on the power of conformity. Conformity is allowing yourself to go along with the decisions of others even when you disagree. Thinking for yourself, among other factors, means recognizing that at times you are going to get it right and other times you are going to make mistakes. The trick is not making somebody else’s mistakes.
A review of our human history leaves no doubt that unspeakable acts can be perpetrated by ordinary people. Panic, desperation, duress, indoctrination, and dehumanization can render humans capable of many atrocities. There are a number of psychological studies that show ordinary people, at the direction of only perceived authority are capable of harming others. In 1961, Psychologist Stanley Milgram performed an experiment on obedience to authority figures at Yale University.
A delusion is a persistent belief despite evidence to the contrary. It is not an illusion because it is not a perceptual distortion; it is a delusion which is a distortion of thought or a belief which is not based on fact. People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behave in dysfunctional ways to diminishing their anxiety. The compulsion typically has nothing to do with actually reducing their anxiety, but as long as they do something, it makes them feel better.
1. I don’t believe in reinforcing my kid for doing what he should be doing anyway. Yes, that may be true but the evidence shows that they are not doing it. The only way to begin to put it into a child’s behavioral repertoire is to reinforce the target behavior until the behavior becomes a habit. Then the reinforcer can be withdrawn. You have to let them know that the reinforcer is temporary. When you want to establish a behavior, you want to use a reinforcer; when you want to extinguish a behavior, you use punishment.
When one individual or group intimidates another individual or group, either physically, emotionally, or verbally, that is bullying. Bullies pick on people for any number of reasons; to invoke fear, entertainment, or to get others to comply or obey under duress. Typically, a bully is a predator; somebody who has high but unstable self-esteem. During the periods of instability, bullies behave in ways that will allow them to regain that sense of high self-esteem. One of the easiest ways to do that is to put others down which gives them the perception of lifting themselves up.
A number of people come to me ask, “Should I be on medication?” I usually reply with the suggestion that they first try psychotherapy without medication to see how the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) works and then, if necessary, try medication. There are a number of reasons why I believe it is best to start REBT without medication. One is that I want my clients to use their emotional distress as part of the treatment. They need to recognize and say, “This really hurts and I don’t want to feel this way.”
In my last blog,”The Bystander Effect Part 1,” I talked about the reasons why people may hesitate to intervene in a crisis, but there is another side of the coin. The research revealed, in addition to why people don’t get involved, there are times when people are more likely to help. The reasons for that include:
- When the emergency is clearly unambiguous, such as the events of 9/11 or a house fire or auto accident, people are more willing to offer their assistance and help.
- If somebody else has already intervened.
Imagine a birthday party for a two-year-old girl. There is a big cake, candles have been lit, and many party goers to sing happy birthday, but where is the video camera? So dad steps away for a moment to get it, thinking “there are plenty of adults around to watch the birthday girl, she should be safe.” As dad returns with the camera he finds that his birthday girl had reached over and burned her finger in the candle’s flame. He thinks, “How the hell could this have happened? She was surrounded by adults, but still managed to burn her finger just the same.”
I had a female client who had difficulty returning to work. She spent a lot of time at work, often not getting home until 9 o’clock most nights which was one of the reasons that led to her becoming very anxious and fearful. Also, she had an intimidating boss and she thought coworkers were talking about her and conspiring against her. Her anxiety and fearfulness got to such a point that she did not want to go back to work.She came to see me and we started therapy. At the same time she was looking for someone who could prescribe medication for her and she came across a nurse practitioner. Part of the treatment for anxiety is processing the emotions and thoughts behind it, but exposure to the anxiety provoking stimulus is also very important. It’s like Grandma always said, “you need to face your fears and that’s how you get over them.” However, what can and typically happens is in an effort to avoid feeling anxious, you avoid facing the fear stimulus. Granted, to avoid facing some fears would be prudent, but going back to work isn't one of them.
In a relationship there is a dynamic that sometimes emerges where one person becomes dominant and the other becomes submissive. Usually the submissive person is the Chaser or “Love Slob”; the one that loses him or herself by being totally absorbed with the life of the other person in the relationship, the “”Chasee””. The “Love Slob” typically gives up the individual aspects of their own life such as their friends, their activities, and what they like to do, and lose themselves in the person that they are involved with or married to.
When people come to see me, they are usually in trouble. Some aspect of their life is in distress and needs help. They view me as an authority figure who has the information they need or the processes that will make things better. My job is to help them understand what is happening in their lives and give them tools to cope with the issue. I have my diplomas and credentials, including my recently completed Fellowship at the Albert Ellis Institute, all of which says that I have the knowledge or “book learning,” and I know what I am doing. But I’m sure many clients wonder if I practice what I preach. Have I done what I am asking them to do? Do I continue to follow the principles I’m asking them to follow?
The title of this blog is usually the lamentation of someone experiencing low frustration tolerance (LFT) that can and does lead to dysfunction. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)provides us with help to tolerate higher levels of frustration so we can function. Ideally REBT would like us to change our beliefs and cope with the elegant solution rather than changing the Activating-event (A). In this way we are more likely to be less disturbed and ultimately less disturbable. Certainly this seems the way to proceed if the Activating-event cannot be changed. If the person, place or object of the Activating-event cannot be changed, would it serve a therapeutic purpose to alter or remove oneself from the influence of the Activating-event rather than changing the Belief (B)?
It sounds simple enough, but believing seems to be easier said than done. This seems especially true when disputing and practicing rational beliefs. If we simply took the rational belief at face value and believed it, the process of change would not be so difficult. It seems we understand the process of change intellectually, but it takes something more to accept change emotionally. In order to persuade ourselves or our clients, that the rational belief is the healthier choice and that truly believing it is essential for change, we actually have to believe the rational belief. So then, how do we come to believe?
Three Sense of Entitlement types have been recognized:
- Spoiled Entitlement
- Dependent Entitlement
- Impulsive Entitlement
In therapy, when ascertaining the emotion (the “C”), terms that vary in intensity are often used synonymously by many clients when asked to describe their emotions. For example, in an REBT training DVD, a client was asked by a therapist to describe the emotion he was experiencing in relation to an Activating event (the “A”). The client’s response was, “I felt irritated . . . full of rage!”
If you therapeutically treat children and/or adolescents with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, you often hear parents ask the question, “Can you get my child to behave?” However, the question a parent should really be asking is, “Can you help me get my child to behave?” What we have here is a psychological “chicken or egg” dilemma. Who do you work with first?
Procrastination! It may not be a four letter word, but some consider it a curse word nonetheless. Approximately ten years ago I purchased a book on overcoming procrastination . . . I still have not read it. Oscar Wilde once said, “I never put off till tomorrow what I can do the day after.” Procrastination usually refers to the deferment or postponement of tasks or actions to a later time. Three criteria are often posited to classify a behavior as procrastination:
As a therapist, I am in the business of change. I help facilitate changes to thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, but who is ultimately responsible for the change? Is it the therapist’s, or the client’s responsibility?
A therapist’s responsibility is to act ethically and competently toward his or her clients. It is up to them to be the best facilitator of change, but the burden of responsibility for the change falls on the client! It is the client who must perform his or her share of the therapeutic work.
It’s Your Fault, Not Mine!! It seems that in today’s society, more and more people are shirking responsibility for everything from cheating on an exam, to petty theft, to grand larceny, to murder.
- So and so made me do it!
- It wasn’t my fault.
- I had a bad childhood.
- It’s the violence on TV.
History is replete with examples of human atrocity. On January 8, we were faced yet again with an apparently senseless act of violence in Tucson, Arizona that left 14 people injured and 6 dead.With 24-hour cable news and the Internet, we are inundated with story after story illustrating man’s inhumanity to man. To the general public and as reported by many news anchors, these acts are believed to be the work of a “psychopath” or a “sociopath.” But, are all these acts really committed by someone suffering from psychosis? Consider for a moment, that the urge to aggress against another individual can be committed without an underlying mental disorder. The distinction is whether a person who commits a human atrocity is “Wicked Sick, or Wicked Bad.”
In working with the Anger group participants at the Albert Ellis Institute and my own clients, I have observed that a lack of assertiveness often goes along with anger. Those with anger issues often suppress their anger rather than functionally processing their irrational beliefs and perceived injustices. Incident by incident these individuals collect and store their anger until one day they explode and respond aggressively. After a number of these aggressive, angry outbursts, the individual will often develop a reputation as an “angry person” who needs anger management.
That angry exclamation is often voiced when we believe our expectations are not met by the world, others, and/or ourselves. Expectations are not problematic in and of themselves, but when couched as a demand rather than a preference they can lead to an unhealthy negative emotional response which can result in self-defeating behavior. Expectations are a natural part of the human experience; it is almost impossible not to have them. However, sometimes expectations can be more rigid demands than flexible preferences.
Awareness is the state or quality of being aware of something. In life, being aware is the first step in deciding if action is warranted or not. How can one be unaware? People behave in certain ways because they get pleasure from that behavior. Even behavior that is seemingly negative, can be reinforcing in the short term, so they continue behaving that way, totally unaware of the long term consequences.