“Help! Everyone in my family is crazy!”

By | Events, MyBlog, News
“Help! Everyone in my family is crazy!”

Have you ever uttered this phrase? You are not alone. I have uttered this phrase many a time. In fact, this very phrase is the reason I became a Licensed Psychotherapist in the first place. As the cliche goes, I was on a quest to “figure out my family … and myself.”

But first, before we go on a self-important rampage blaming our family for being “crazy,” let’s establish one thing. If everyone in your family iits seriously crazy, chances are, you are crazy too. However, here are the most important caveats that will weed you out from the rest of ‘em:

  1. Have you already “worked through” your crazy? Have you made changes in your life?

  2. Do you take responsibility for things, past and present, that make you seem crazy?

  3. Do you strive to better yourself? Have you already?

  4. Can you acknowledge when you are wrong or do wrong to others?

If you can honestly answer a resounding “yes” to these questions, then the good news is, you have moved a LOT further along in life than your crazy family, and you now have the right to call your family crazy without categorizing yourself in that bunch. Doesn’t mean you are better than them. But it does mean you are a whole lot more mature than they are and you can learn how to have a calm, peaceful life despite their crazy.

Here is my advice to you as you seek out that calm, peaceful life:

  • Be Wary of Questions:

Picture your most crazy family member. Is it your self-absorbed mother? Your narcissistic father? Your controlling sister? Now, recall the last time they asked you a question.

Have you figured out yet that the question is a trap? That it’s never really a question, but more of a statement/criticism/demand? It’s disguised in the form of a question, though, isn’t it?

It took me decades to figure this out with my own family members. Questions aren’t questions. Silly me all these years for taking them at face value!

Questions asked by crazy family members are statements/criticisms/judgments/and/or demands in disguise.

Don’t fall for the booby trap of the question! If you answer the question honestly, you fell for it! First, determine what the root of the question really is. And if you feel like answering honestly, by all means do, and be prepared for any following statement/criticism/judgment/and/or demand that comes next.

But also remember, you can exercise your right to ignore a question. Yes, really! Just because someone asks you a question, doesn’t mean you must answer it!

  • No Matter What You Do, It Will Be Wrong, so Let that Go

Picture your most crazy family member again. It’s painful, I know, but do it. This is a critical son of a bitch, isn’t it? When it comes to the critical personality, you can’t ever do anything right.

So stop seeking their damn approval! They can’t give it to you, anyway!

No matter what you do, in their crazy mind, it’s wrong, so let it be. No matter what your personality style is, it will be wrong, so let it be.

Are you a relaxed kind of person? They see you as lazy, dependent, inefficient, messy, dirty. Are you a go-getter? They see you as controlling (all the while not realizing their own controlling nature!) Have you started standing up for yourself and being more assertive to them? Now you’re a bitch/asshole. Let it go.

Do you cut the potato length-wise? You are doing it wrong. So let it be. They think you are wrong. But don’t worry, as long as you’ve done the 4 things I mentioned above to accept responsibility for your own crazy, we all know who is really in the wrong here!

  • You Will Never Win an Argument, so Let That Go Too

This is my most common mistake. I’m stupidly optimistic and think that one of these days, my family member(s) will “get it” and they will see the error of their ways and see how they are hurting my feelings. That one of these days, I can rationally explain something to them about me, or about an argument we are having, or about the way I feel, and they will get it. That they will man-up and say, “I’m sorry” without getting defensive and over-explaining themselves.

Boy was I wrong all this time! What an idiot I was to think a crazy family member could ACCEPT and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their crap the way I was able to do the times I did wrong or hurt someone in my life.

If your family member is truly crazy, they will never see the way they are hurting you. They  will only see the way that YOU are hurting or wronging THEM.

And be wary of any apologies you do get. It might be a fake apology just to move on from the subject. And even if it’s a genuine apology, there will be no change in future behavior. So, the same issue will keep coming up. Let it go.

  • Go Ahead, Tell That White Lie

Have you learned yet that, with crazy family members, it can be much easier to simply answer those trapping questions with lies? If it makes life easier to tell a white lie with your crazy family, then by all means do it!

Remember, the question that elicits the lie wasn’t really a question in the first place. So as long as the lie doesn’t harm anyone, go ahead and tell it and save yourself an argument. Especially if you know that they really didn’t want to know/couldn’t handle to know the truth in the first place.

Telling a white lie can close the can of worms that telling the truth would have unleashed.

Crazy family members can’t handle the truth. They can’t cope with it. If they could, they wouldn’t be this crazy.

Micro-Cheating – What it is – How to spot it!

By | MyBlog, News

 

What Is Micro-Cheating

Micro-Cheating relates to the subtle things someone in a relationship can “do” or “say” that opens the door to the possibility of engaging in an infidelity that is emotional or physical. This can entail putting on special cologne or clothing when you know you will see this person, not mentioning your partner in a discussion with others where there may be an attraction, or describing your relationship with your partner to this person in such a way that minimizes it…e.g., “I’m dating some.” or “We hang out.” etc.

Are you or your partner doing it?

Your partner can be doing it in front of you or behind your back. It is important to trust your instinct as information.  The following are some of the most common ways your can spot a micro-cheater:

 

“You’re Crazy!” If your partner tells you “You’re crazy” when you bring up these potential micro-cheatings , this can be a red-flag because a non-guilty partner is likely to have more empathy/less defensiveness.

 

“You don’t have to go.” If you partner is too quick to not invite you to events, this can be odd and a flag for micro-cheating. It can show they want options open and/or to seek out some “singles-type” attention. They could be downplaying the relationship to those at the event and want to appear more single than they are.

 

“Their Phone Makes Them Giddy.” If they are increasingly distracted, animated or smiley on their phone in a way you have not noticed, this could certainly be a flag. Their phone could seem guarded, “needed in the bathroom,” under lock and code, etc. If there is a need for security, there can be things worth hiding.

 

Micro-cheating can be considered an “over-developed” pattern of behaving to protect yourself from either being too close – or making the wrong decision in a relationship. Though potentially well-intended, the consequences can be less closeness with your partner, guilt, and possible loss of your relationship if things progress.

If you or your partner are giving the impression that you are in a committed relationship, yet either of you are micro-cheating – it can helpful to come to terms with the fact that you cannot try to have roots and wings at the same time without feeling stuck– there is no living thing that embodies both.

If you are mico-cheating or with a partner who is and have questions, do not be afraid to reach out.

info@CBTIofSoCal.com / 800.317.8010

Goals we WISH our clients would consider, but would never demand the do!

By | MyBlog, News

Many people have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy and to “self-actualize” would mean you were at the top of what one can reach as a “whole” person. What is missing is the fact that we are social creatures. Often, when people come to therapy, the problems more often than not are discussed in the context of their relationships with others. Unless we have goals involving striving to be alive, healthy, happy as well as healthy relationships with others, we are likely to develop problems to our problems.

The following are potential goals you can choose to take on in your personal growth that can certainly enhance your mental health and happiness, but of course we know your journey is an individual choice and that you must do what is right for you:

Living cooperatively with yourself and others – You can strive to be “your own person” and work toward your own life goals, while also trying to live cooperative with others remembering you are a member of a social system. Shifting from an “either/or” to an “and/also” mindset that includes interests that are individual as well as social. Though you work to become a good role-model, you do not insist that your way is the “right” way, but encourage others to find their “right” way.

Look to increase your self-awareness of your positive and negative emotions (and refuse to be ashamed for them, or to “act” on the negative ones). You can strive to change yourself, keeping any rage or panic to yourself as you work on making self and environmental changes to improve them. Accept that you know yourself and that you probably do not know yourself as much as you think you do and keeping learning. Continually seek to discover what you want and take steps toward it, not fretting about looking down different paths.

Accept you will never have 100% certainty in anything and there will be times of ambiguity in your life. Look to life as an adventure and an experience where you can learn and where mistakes are tolerable.

Build tolerance. Look to open your mind to things being neither all black or all white/all good or all bad. People who are emotionally sophisticated have a cognitive flexibility, and take an unbigoted view of the people are world around them.

Commit yourself to not just short-term fun, but to longer-term pursuits where you can deepen your interests, skills and connections. Engage in projects or tasks. Take healthy risks and look to double your failures so you may increase your successes.

Build creativity by wanting the approval but never having to have the approval of others. You can strengthen your creativity and innovation to solve problems in your own way instead of what you feel you need-to go along with for others approval. You can share your ideas with others but not be dependent on their approval of your ultimate solution or execution of it.

Build a scientific mindset. Look at events through an empirical lens. Look at the evidence, logicalness, and helpfulness of the beliefs and assumptions that you hold. Be willing to put them on trial and test them out when possible.

Refuse to globally rate yourself or anyone else for that matter – Judge your and other’s specific behaviors as good or bad not yourself or others in a global manner.

Engage in “hedonic calculus.” Many pursue happiness today because they are afraid they may not be here tomorrow so they over drink, spend, or game, etc. – though, tomorrow they may very well wake with a hangover, broke, and falling far behind in their work. Strive to balance the pleasure in the short-term with more long-term pleasures. Spend time enjoying the now, but invest time that will make tomorrow better and that will not have long-term consequences.

These goals are likely held in the back of many cognitive behavioral therapy practitioners minds. Of course we would want to hear about what is most important to you and collaborate with you on how to get there.

 

Dr. Paul DePompo

Let us know your thoughts at info@CBTIofSoCal.com