Never Growing Up

His name was Peter. Age 25. He talked a lot. In session, he liked to monologue. Joke away. But he’s not really saying much that matters. His feelings were often exaggerated, easily provoked, even silly.

When asked what he’d do now after having graduated from college, he paused a little. Then, he said he’d go back to college and take another bachelor’s degree.

Totally unrelated to the first one he took, he said in jest of his next college course, “I’d like to make a difference in the world by studying the oceans and underneath them!”

Then, he sipped his coffee and ate a lot of cake in front of him. At 5’8″ and almost 300 lbs., he professed his love for food.

My years of counseling teenagers, university students, young adults, middle-aged or senior men, and couples revealed to me a widespread psychological affliction in our society. It’s a syndrome in our society that’s causing a lot of problems in all walks of life.

Clinicians call it the “Peter Pan Syndrome.”

You remember the happy-go-lucky character of Disney’s Peter Pan, right? That’s where the psychological syndrome was named after.

Peter Pan symbolizes everlasting fun and youthfulness. He rejects all things Adult. He avoids growing up vehemently. He wants to remain a boy forever.

Unknown to many of my patients (including their parents, spouses, or friends who care for them) is a chilling reality. They are unwittingly following in the footsteps of Peter Pan.

We have a mental health problem of a man-child caught between the adult man he doesn’t want to become and the child or boy he could no longer be.

As Peter Pan himself said in the play, “No one is going to catch me, lady, and make me a man. I want always to be a little boy and to have fun.”

Forgive me for hyping a psychological claw to unearth this often hidden Disorder. Reversing the process of this syndrome is crucial to the stability of our families and society.

It’s never too late for an adult man to grow up and for his loved ones to offer aid to make that happen.

Enjoying Your Age

Life is short. Each one of us goes through its seasons. Childhood. Youth. Adulthood. Old age. And then, we passed on to the next season beyond earthly existence.

Through each season of life that passes by, we’re all called to develop accordingly. Based on age where we find ourselves in. Developmental tasks are a given. We fulfill them, we grow. We find wholeness and happiness.

As author Bo Sanchez says, “Every season requires a response. Don’t mix them up or you’ll have problems. During spring, you plant. During summer, you work. During autumn, you harvest. And during winter, you renew.”

I’m reminded of a 30-year-old single Mom with two young children, ages 3 and 5. Struggling financially to support her self and two kids, she applied for an OFW contract job in a Middle East country. She got the job.

In the days following, she experienced tremendous panic anxiety. Her present moments had been a mental pain for her as she imagined leaving her kids to work overseas. Sleepless and depressed, she sought outside help and comfort.

Shortly, it dawned on her what’s truly more important to her. She realized more and more that she will never get this season of her life back at home with her little kids. She cancelled her trip for overseas work and started a new business instead with close friends.

Most importantly, she’s able to prioritize mothering her kids she called “gifts and blessings.” At this season of her life, she felt much happiness with her little ones at home who want to snuggle and just simply spend time with her.

Enjoy the age where you’re in! Maximize the gifts and blessings of your season of life.

“I Was Wrong”

“I was wrong.”

Those words are one of the most difficult things to say for most people. Whoever we are. Whatever our situations or circumstances.

Perhaps this is the tragedy of fraternity student members of Aegis Juris at the University of Santo Tomas. These frat officers and members were caught in a major hazing scandal that led to the death of a neophyte.

Based on latest news, these young men, along with their “big brothers” and lawyers, have become so vehement in their defense. Despite obvious evidences, they insisted that the hazing did not take place or they were not involved if there was one.

The need to “cover up” the crime and wrongdoing so offended the senators who were hearing the case. This led to the imprisonment of its frat leader as well as the victim family’s call to disbar the lawyers assisting the cover up.

What was the main crime?

I think it’s not so much the initial mistake or wrongdoing done as it was their insistence on their own innocence. I believe this case is a poignant illustration of the disastrous results of being unable to say, “I was wrong.”

I’m reminded of one of my patients, Charle. One of the clearest indicators of his psychological and emotional illness is inability to admit and deal with self-destructive behaviors. He specializes in self-justifying and self-excusing.

When I asked the father, who used to abuse Charle physically and verbally since childhood, to join in family session, the request was turned down. He said his son was to be completely blamed for his condition.

Medically speaking, if a person has a wound, he has to admit the wound. Then, allow a doctor to open it up and remove all foreign articles so he can heal. Once the infected area is cleansed and treated, tissues can be new again via healing elements.

Such concept is at work as well in psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing. Shameful acts, wrong attitudes, dysfunctional behaviors need to be admitted as they are. Taking responsibility for them starts a person’s healing of his mind, emotions, and spirit.

Self-justification and mental health. Do you want to be right or well?

Do You Procrastinate?

“Procrastinatis.” Not taking action.

After doing psychotherapy consulting for many years, I’d come to see a most common cause of why people don’t heal and get whole …

… and that is, most already know what to do to heal. Especially after they’ve gained knowledge from their therapy work.

They’re not just doing it.

Meaning, procrastinatis. The envisioned personal mental health recovery is already in their heart. They’re not just taking action to make that vision a reality.

Worst, others eventually quit or prematurely terminate their process.

This truth actually applies to any other area of our lives. Starting a dream business. Nurturing or saving a relationship. Losing weight, get fit. Finish a worthwhile project. Turning away from sin and to God.

And … much, much more!

If you’re guilty of not taking action on what you need, here is one solution.

Rocking chair.

That’s where 81-year-old Fernando, father of one my patients, is. In his procrastination and vices all these years, he never held a good job or built a solid business. Just his wife who worked to support him and their children.

Reflecting on his life from the rocking chair, he felt so sad. Depressed. His mind and heart was full of regret. He remembered he was given lots of opportunities and resources when he was younger. To which he uttered, “What a waste.”

At the same time, he beheld the oppposite in his imagination. He set worthwhile goals. He took action on each of them without delay or quitting. He imagined the feeling of being a successful multi-millionaire businessman. He became a loving and responsible husband and father. His wife and children loving and respecting him.

From the rocking chair, he discovered a solution. But he ran out of time.

Heal your “procrastinatis” … before it gets too late.

Knowledge is Never Enough

In my practice of therapy and counseling, I’ve always found one thing: knowledge is never enough.

At best, I helped my counselees see and know the psychodynamics of their emotional or mental disturbances.

But, I’ve always realized that their knowing is not the same as their capacity to change their thinking, their emoting, and their behaving.

Their knowing has always been inadequate to stop them from self-sabotaging.

One counselee I had recently gained insight. Her rage or uncontrollable anger is traceable to her unconscious hatred of her mother.

In her work and social relationships, she realized how she has been “transferring” that feeling into other females who have similar traits to her mother.

Surely, she understands how she got the ways they are — but not what to do. Not the ability to apply what she already knows.

Insight and expression of repressed feelings alone don’t work in my sessions. Something needs to be incorporated in order for a broken person to heal.

That sets me to do some tall thinking about psychotherapy. I went back to tools of therapy and started giving application assignments, among others.

Data alone is not enough for deep and lasting personal change. The truth is, most of us are very good at identifying what’s wrong with us and our experiences.

Yet that knowledge in and of itself rarely produces deep level personal healing and recovery.

In fact, without the appropriate steps and frames, insight may result in “re-traumatizing” a hurting person.

So, make sure you have insights plus the experiential aspects in your recovery journey.

Is The Money Following You?

One of the things I often hear women in our society say is to find and marry a rich man. And indeed men often receive extra attention from women because they’re wealthy. It appears to matter less for a lot of these women if these rich men are corrupt, addicted, or abusive in some way.

I’ve heard of a Mom recently who wished a high paying job for her son. And it stopped there. She didn’t mention intrinsic values such as passion, fulfillment, or satisfaction. Her point for her son seemed to be to simply get a job that pays well, whatever it is.

I have no fight with making money. In reality, it’s a need we all have as part of our definition of adulthood. Making money is having the means to provide for our selves and families. It’s freedom from having to depend on others at least for our basic needs.

However, I’ve seen too many people wound or defeat themselves with money disorders. Their emphasis is wrongly placed. Either they focus too much on money that they compromise their health and values. Or, they just do what they enjoy but they couldn’t earn enough to support themselves and those who depend upon them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that “we are all born to grow rich through the use of our faculties.” Money is likely to follow the person who works with the natural talents, gifts, and passions given him. That frame allows him to make healthy choices, sound timing, and superior energies.

I have Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees in the fields of psychology, counseling, and divinity. Once, I had false starts receiving offers to engage in other professions that pay much. Despite my investment, time, and effort, money did not follow. They were not meant for me.

Eventually, I chose to do work I love which focuses on helping people heal. I took my chances to go into private practice as a psychotherapist. How I discovered how so good and excited I am at this work! It turns out to be the right choice. The money followed, flowing naturally in abundance.

What I especially like is that I call my own shots … and branch out into cyberpreneurship leveraging what I already love doing! Rather than being intimidated by a culture that equates lots of money with worth as a person, my focus was on helping people and not making money.

Is the money following you? As long as you have the right focus and proper use of your in-born talents, it will. People who could handle the issue of money could manage their mind.

Watch Your Brain Nutrition

Natural brain nutrition is essential for our mental health. Healthy foods and supplements have a positive effect on the serotonin and dopamine levels needed by the brain.

Serotonin used in the brain is known to affect mood and social behaviors. It also moderates appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire/function.

Dopamine, on the other hand, functions as a neurotransmitter (a chemical released by nerve cells or neurons to send signals to other nerve cells). Dopamine affects way we perceive pleasure/rewards.

Mental disorders, such as clinical depression, addictions, or personality maladjustments, partly stem from a relative deficit in serotonin and/or dopamine levels.

Natural foods to keep our brain “healthy and happy” – counterbalancing serotonin and dopamine levels – include oily fish, whole grains, blueberries, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, eggs, chickens, brocolli, nuts, among others.

It’s interesting to note that, in two studies in the American Journal of Psychiatry, it’s found that the highest suicide rates are found among those with the lowest protein levels. Proteins are building blocks of brain neurotransmitters.

Natural brain supplements are especially helpful. They are known to have a positive effect on serotonin, dopamine, and protein levels of the brain.

I often recommend Transfer Factor Plus and Brain Recall supplements (http://drsubida4life.com) to my clients, which balance serotonin and dopamine levels as well as increase blood flow in the brain. Many of my clients report how these supplements strengthen their focus, impulse control and overall immune system.

Nowadays, our common diet is filled with fast-food meals and harmful ingredients. This modern-day food “norm” has a negative, even a toxic effect, on the brain and our mental health.

The way to go is natural brain nutrition through healthy foods and supplementation. When psychopathology symptoms are present, natural brain nutrition is often life-saving.

Don’t forget it!