Never Too Old or Too Late

Age moves. It cannot stop. Each age, we’re called to adapt. Otherwise, we fall or get stuck.

Archeology says, during Stone Age days, 25 was a ripe age. That’s too soon, isn’t it? Interesting, just a little over a century ago, 50 is already considered elderly. It’s a different number nowadays.

I’m in my “second wind” these days being in my 50s. I just feel different. A radical departure to an old script in which it’s assumed everything goes downward for those advancing in age.

Traditional model of retirement does not apply to me. I seem to be hitting my greatest strides only this later portion of life. For I continue to do visible, productive, and relevant work.

I constantly ask my self as a psychotherapist, “Am I effectively capitalizing my life experiences, knowledge and wisdom, in helping others?”

This perhaps may sound arrogant to you. But the clients – individuals, couples, and families – I’ve so far helped appreciated the wisdom and lived experiences I shared with them.

They expressed how much they value that they know their therapist is real.

Now, this is not to brag or I love talking about myself. I just want to share with you my own journey of finding a special discovery that could be helpful to you as age advances.

Longevity scholar Laura Carlstensen believes that humans catch the “second wind” once they hit 50 in which …

“the first 50 years could be spent learning and shaping ourselves into the kind of people who can spend our next 50 years giving back to our community”

The “second wind” is reinventing one’s self. A time to decide how to make a difference with your limited time, given your strengths, resources, and natural limits.

It’s never too late or you’re never too old to live your best, meaningful life ever.

As C.S. Lewis put it, “You’re never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”

When Skype Therapy Heals

Psychotherapy at a distance via Skype holds a promise. It’s mental health care for whoever needs it. Wherever they are.

This is good news!

That’s for all sorts of people.

Such as:  remotely-located farmers or fishermen, high-flying business people, overseas workers, ex-pats etc facing cultural or linguistic obstacles accessing care.

For all of them, and others, Skype promise access to psychological care. It’s a tool to help them heal.

Consider “The Skype Psychologist” at The Atlantic. It writes about a master of the Skype therapy.

It starts by directing readers attention to one promise that Skype therapy is indeed better than nothing.

Burgo, the featured Skype expert, acknowledges that screen relations treatment is not “ideal” and that it would be “better if my clients and I were able to meet in my office week after week.”

But “for people who live in remote locations where qualified professional help is scarce or entirely unavailable, connecting with a therapist by Skype is often the best option.”

Burgo further comments that he treats ”a number of busy professionals living in New York, Zurich, and London where there is no shortage of qualified therapists.”

He wants people in need of psychotherapy to avoid the hassle of a subway ride or driving to someone’s office.

Forget about that umbrella, Skype on over to the shrink. And if your car has Bluetooth why not some hands-free treatment while driving?

And if not, you can be like someone with whom he worked who “propped his iPhone on the dashboard and spoke to me while driving long distances from one city to another.”

And why not?

Rx for Panic Anxiety

Anxiety and panic always take over Nicolas. It’s been two years now. Each time, whenever he’s in public with lots of people, such as in the malls, trains, or car during traffic, the more nervous he is. His heart pounds. Sweaty palms. Tingling of his extremities. Shortness of breath.

Because of this, Nicolas has difficulty concentrating to contain his anxiety panic attacks. This makes him always carry with him a bag filled with medicines and other “crutches” in case he finds himself out of control. The condition renders him disabled to work and do daily normal functions.

Understandably, Nicolas feels embarassed when attacked by his panic anxiety. He is ashamed that he has to be accompanied by his wife or children whenever he goes out. Dissatisfied with the effectiveness of his brain drugs, he sought psychotherapy and spiritual therapy.

Dr. Elmer and Alyce Green, who practice at Menninger Clinic, once wrote in their book “Beyond Biofeedback,” that “every change in the mental emotional state, conscious or unconscious, is accompanied by an appropriate change in the physiological state.”

In his therapy sessions, including exposure therapy and exercise, Nicolas’ evolving self awareness and new habits caused an mental/emotional change deep inside him. And each progressive healing of his long suppressed wounded emotions, hidden even from him, caused improved physical changes.

Nicolas discovered in his psychotherapy and spiritual work strong conflicts about his parents and his marriage long unprocessed. He now realizes that his buried anger and other feelings had been built up so much that they can’t be expressed except through his anxiety or panic attacks.

As a result, Nicolas’ “weak links” in his physical makeup that make him susceptible to panic anxiety attacks begun to disappear. He is now able to take things easier and travel alone, one step at a time. His prognosis and progress is bright.

Of course, besides psychotherapy and spiritual therapy, Nicolas utilizes all possible medical, nutritional, and alternative natural treatments to cure his anxiety panic attacks as well as prevent reoccurrence. It’s holistic treatment – body, mind, emotions, soul.

Meet Alan

Meet Alan.

He had a very bad temper. Verbally and physically, he’d lash out.

One day, his father gave him a bag of nails. Alan’s father told him that every time he loses his temper, he has to hammer a nail at the back of their fence.

By the end of the 1st day, Alan hammered 20 nails into the fence. Over time, Alan learned that each moment he is able to control his anger, the number of nails he has to hammer into the fence reduces.

Finally, the day came when Alan doesn’t lose his temper any more.

Alan reported the good news to his Dad. His Dad commended him and then took him by the hand to lead him to the fence.

Alan’s Dad says: “You’ve done well, my son. But look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. But it won’t matter how many times you say ‘I’m sorry,’ the attack left a mark.”

Verbal wounds can be as severe as physical wounds.

To ensure you don’t leave a hole in your loved one (e.g. spouse, child, friend) because of anger or some internal issue, you need to bring light into your hidden darkness. Once you process your open wounds, you’ll stop hurting others and have better control of your emotional world.

How are you feeling?

Feelings and psychological wellness are closely intertwined.

Sophia began her therapy session extremely raging and throwing tantrums at her husband, Tim. When I asked about the nature of her rage and upset, she reported her husband’s infidelity and sexual addiction. The cause was reasonable, of course.

But we decided to work on Sophia’s out of control emotions first because it was unhealthy, and causing her inability to function and cope with the stress needed to appropriately move forward with her husband.

Observe clearly the difference between “healthy negative feelings” and “unhealthy negative feelings.” Healthy negative feelings are those of sorrow, regret, sadness, annoyance, or disappointment when you don’t get what’s important to you.

Unhealthy negative feelings, on the other hand, make you feel unduly depressed, panicky, self-pitying, angry, or even violent.

Realize that you are capable of changing your “unhealthy negative feelings” into “healthy negative feelings.” In my therapy and counseling sessions, I work with counselees to take their depressed feelings, for example, until they only feel sorry and regretful.

I encourage them to take their panicky, self-downing feelings into the session until they only feel concerned and apprehensive.

Don’t give up until you actually change your feelings into healthy ones. It’s a key to pressing on in your overall recovery.

The Love of Money

“Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.” – Voltaire

Today, lots of people get wounded by “money.” Psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

We live in a world where people are measured by their net worth. As a result, individuals often get intimidated by the cultural consciousness and deception that says they are what they earn. They appraise their self-worth with monetary worth.

Men sacrifice inner fulfillment and joy for higher salaries. Women marry for money or “convenient meal ticket.” Young people cheat or commit crimes to get what they want. Parents and children alienate each other due to money issues. Government officials turn corrupt for money.

Real-life examples of “money disorder” are endless.

We have no quarrel with “earning” money. We all need it to live and have means to provide for ourselves and those who depend upon us.

But its entirely different from basing our self-esteem on it. That’s already “serving” or loving money. When such is the case, ethics, morality, or integrity matters less than the fact that we get rich or the money.

Too many people bring unnecessary pain (even tragedy) upon themselves because the love and focus of their lives are wrongly placed.

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

If you uproot this, you’ll get well

A significant block or hindrance to healing and wholeness is what I call “bitterness roots.”

In my much younger, immature years, I have had numerous times and situations when I thought I’ll never be able to let go of bitterness in my heart. I felt that what was done was just too much for me. I felt justified in the inner anger and resentment I was carrying. I was astounded at the unbearable pain inflicted in my heart.

And I could not believe, on top of all these, when I learned that I had to forgive all the people who hurt me if I am to be whole again. If I had not known this powerful block to my healing, I might have remained stuck in my misery. Processing this at the right way was the completion of my recovery, allowing me to be of help to heal others.

Bitterness is a cancer on the heart, mind, and soul. I don’t know of anything that more effectively keeps a person from fully experiencing life than this feeling of bitterness and resentment. The damaging “bitterness root” is within you, not the person who wronged or hurt you.

The bitterness and anger feels like you’re given a sense of power. But actually, it robs you of your power. It wastes your time and energy that should be redirected to rebuilding, and poisons your mind and other aspects of your life.

As someone cleverly puts it, “Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head.”

That is why – for your sake, not for the sake of the wrongdoer or offender – you must work out the therapy process by learning to forgive. I’m not saying you do it instantly. It’s a process rather than an event.

But now that you see it, you can start to let go of the “bitterness root.” It is a beginning step away from a wasted life focused on the past rather than growing in the present and preparing for the future.