4 Signs You’re Giving Too Much

Helping Until it Hurts-4 Signs You’re Giving Too Much “Angel” had always been praised for her generosity. Little did she know she was giving too much. She was active in her church and a dedicated volunteer. Funerals, craft sales, committees—Angel was a Good Samaritan. One fall, a young woman at work revealed that she was about to lose the lease on her apartment. The two women worked closely together and Angel knew that her colleague was in trouble; she had survived a traumatic childhood and no longer had ties to her family. It broke Angel’s heart. She offered the woman her spare bedroom until she was back on her feet. Today, Angel says, she can’t look back on the experience without feeling embarrassed and angry. What she believed to be a well-intentioned gesture ended up straining her marriage, her relationship with her own kids, and even her health; she was giving too much. Helping becomes pathological when it hurts more than it helps. As extreme as it may sound, Angel’s story isn’t uncommon. In fact, it is symptomatic of Pathological Altruism. Unlike healthy altruism, pathological altruism is giving too much and is performed with little or no consideration of the harm it may cause to the giver or the recipient. In other words, helping becomes pathological when it hurts more than it helps. Here’s what Pathological Altruism often looks like, as demonstrated by Angel. The tendency to deny one’s own needs for the needs of others. Angel spent so much time helping her friend with her everyday needs that she ate poorly, gained weight, woke exhausted, and felt increasingly depressed. It’s a predictable cycle that flight attendants have advised us about for decades: you must put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Supreme confidence in one’s skills or ability to help. Let’s face it: Angel was not a trained therapist. She raised successful children, but it was unreasonable and dangerous for her to expect that she could soothe her friend’s serious emotional wounds. Like a novice mechanic working on a finely tuned engine, when our desire to help exceeds our skills, we are likely to do more damage than good. Inability to see the harmful consequences of your helping behaviors. As in physics, we cannot exert one force without expecting an equal or greater force in response. So it is with our relationships. By the time Angel had …

How Not to Raise a Child Sociopath or Narcissist

 How Not to Raise a Child Sociopath or Narcissist This is a question I get all of the time. How not to raise a child sociopath or narcissist. Because teenagers can look like they’re sociopaths or narcissists, but they’re healthy teens. So what’s the difference? To start, we need to understand what a sociopath and narcissist are. If we don’t fully understand this, we’re not going to be able to avoid it or avoid raising a child sociopath or narcissist. These terms have been in the news a lot, and we in psychology have them under the umbrella of personality disorder. It’s a terrible phrase, I know, but that’s the phrase we use. Personality disorders have many different forms, 2 of them which are sociopaths and narcissist. So what’s at the heart of that? People with personality disorders can’t do relationships. Some people actually can’t tolerate relationships, but they want them terribly. It’s an awful dilemma for them, and most of this is unconscious. What you’ll see is they can’t tolerate closeness, and they can’t tolerate distance. And those two things are kind of at the poles of all healthy relationships. What do I mean by that? If you’re healthy and in a healthy relationship, what that means is you’re getting close, and you’re getting distant, you’re getting close, and you’re getting distant. Let’s say you have a girlfriend, you see her, and you have a great time, and then you don’t see her, and you do other things, all healthy relationships are like that.  They Can’t Tolerate Closeness or Distance for Very Long What happens with a narcissist or sociopath, is they can’t tolerate closeness for very long because it feels like being taken over. So to them, closeness starts feeling like being invaded, being taken over, being eliminated; it becomes a terrible feeling for them. Just like distancing becomes an awful feeling for them because it feels like abandonment, a terrible loss.  Both of these feel like extremes to the personality disorder patients, so they avoid them. And how they avoid them is by wiggling around in the middle; instead of doing close and distancing they’re getting close and then doing something to break the closeness such as arguing, cheating, lying, attacking- whatever it is, they got to get away, and they do, but they can’t stay away. After they’re apart, it starts to feel like a …

How to Overcome Intimacy Issues

  Let’s talk about the Intimacy Now Online Course And how to overcome intimacy issues The Intimacy Now online course is my course that offers a way to help people in areas and places and situations that I have never been able to reach before. It teaches the participants how to overcome intimacy issues and solve destructive relationship patterns. Any barriers preventing you from seeing me, such as time, distance, space, money, whatever it is… Is taken away with this course, which I love. The more people I reach, the more relationships I can change, and that’s what I love to do. The Intimacy Now online course was started last spring, and we had a great turnout. We also received great feedback which was very uplifting to me, and very rewarding for me. But more importantly, the people who joined got great satisfaction out of the program. Naming things like, “It was the first time I had practical psychiatric help as opposed to psychobabble.” They were able to apply it to their situation and benefit from it. Some people said that they were happy for the first time in their relationship, ever, which is pretty big. And other people talked about the different ideas and advice that I gave and how it helped them turn something specific around, such as their ability to talk about negative emotions with their spouse or significant other. What to do about those tense moments after a fight, how to give your spouse what they need without being a yes-man- you know to lose your backbone, how to get what you need, how to handle being on a separate page and on and on. Lots of great feedback. This course was me compiling every aha moment in the therapy session. Killer advice from killer therapy sessions where someone said, “Oh my gosh, I never thought about it that way,” or “Oh my gosh, that worked so well.” I took all those moments, and it boiled down to six pieces of advice to fix the most destructive relationship patterns. And teach couples how to overcome intimacy issues. Questions and Answers Q. How can you answer my question on a general course because it’s so specific? A. Well, after doing this for 20 years- helping professionals of all kinds to fix their relationship problems, really, everybody’s details are different- that is true. But it all comes down …

Poor Parenting and The Dynamics Behind it

Poor Parenting and The Dynamics Behind it If you think the scariest hood to be in is Parenthood, then you’re right, but there’s a way to make Parenthood a little less scary. A lot of people ask for parenting advice or have parenting questions and poor parenting concerns. This is not just me as a psychiatrist, talking to you, I’m also a parent, and I really believe that parents help parents. Parenting isn’t about a checklist of how to do something right. It’s hard to know when you’ve gone off course, and, if you’re off course, it’s hard to know how to get back on course. If parents help each other out, then we’re helping our whole community and our entire society. I do have adult kids, and I can empathize greatly. I have been through a lot of the struggles that you’ve been through with my patients, my clients, and in my personal life. What are the dynamics behind poor parenting? We hear different names such as a helicopter parent, snowplow parent, and I have a phrase I’ve used for a long time called tractor-trailer parents.  There is a lot of people who are afraid they are one of those parents or worried they’re going to become one of those parents. I always start any session or any treatment by stating, if you understand why poor parenting is happening, then you can stop it. It’s important to understand what’s going on, to see the patterns behind the poor parenting, and to come to realize it’s not what you want to be doing. If you don’t understand the patterns, the dynamics,  and what’s going on underneath; it’s a lot less likely you’re going to figure out what’s wrong and where to go that’s better. The dynamics of the controlling parent The dynamics of the controlling parent, in general, this is the issue here. It’d be easy to say controlling parents are control freaks. That’s part of it because nobody likes to feel out of control and certainly parents don’t want to feel out of control. Parents may fear if they’re losing control, that’s making them a bad parent. Parents are, by definition in control when their kids are not. So it makes sense that control plays a role in all these different parenting issues or problems. It’s not just a lack of loss of control that parents are fighting when …

Common Problems with Blended Families

The Three Biggest Parenting Mistakes in Blended Families Divorce and remarriage are significant life events, and when those changes also involve kids, the stakes multiply for everyone. Many couples, of course, create happy blended families with lasting bonds, while others face challenges their marriage cannot withstand. What’s the difference? Learn about the three most common and biggest mistakes parents make when blending their new families, and what it takes to avoid them. Mistake #1: Allowing step-parents to discipline their step-kids Overstepping disciplinary boundaries is, by far, one of the most common problems with blended families that I see. In some cases, parents want the blended family to function just as the original family did. In others, biological parents feel overwhelmed by the demands of parenting and want a partner to share the responsibility. Some others worry that if a parent does not discipline a child, the child will not respect them. But here’s the bottom line: Disciplinary decisions are the sole responsibility of the child’s biological parents. Step-parents have no disciplinary role. Here’s why: By the time we start disciplining our biological kids, we’ve had years to develop a relationship with them. Over the years, that closeness helps balance the inevitable distancing that follows discipline. In other words, a healthy relationship helps cushion the blow of discipline. When a step-parent disciplines a step-child without that relationship cushion, they are bound to alienate that child forever. The parent-child relationship required for healthy and effective discipline takes years to develop and cannot be rushed. Mistake #2: “Pushing” relationships It’s a natural instinct to try and force the new family members to like each other. A divorced mother wants her kids to like her new husband. A divorced dad wants his kids to like their new step-siblings. A new step-father wants his wife’s kids to like him. However, parents must remember they cannot force their kids to like anyone, including a step-parent, step-sibling, or an ex-spouse. After all, this change in family circumstance was not the child’s choice. Instead of pushing relationships, maintain as many of the old family routines as possible while everyone learns to adjust. Emphasize respect and allow relationships to grow at their own speed. Blending new families can be a long process. It is filled with trial and error. The more parents can maintain stability for their kids, the better it is for everyone to adjust in both the …