Times Have Changed

Times have changed.

Bitcoin … the world’s largest bank with no actual cash.

Uber … the world’s largest taxi company, owns no cars.

Facebook … the world’s most popular social media, creates no content.

Alibaba … the world’s most valuable retailer, has no inventory.

Airbnb … the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

I think you can agree with me. Times have changed. Something interesting is happening.

Speaking of Financial Therapy, consider the world’s coffee shop millionaires … has no office or inventory.

About a couple of years ago, I met a Fil-American medical doctor in the South of the Philippines.

His work in the U.S.? Provide medical services online as well as supervising hundreds of physicians doing it worldwide.

In the field of psychotherapy, counseling, and life coaching, online sessions are a growing trend globally.

Not surprising. We already know it’s possible, so accessible and convenient.

Times have changed.

We’re witnessing it every day.

To your best life change … and freedom.

Unbreakable, Permanent Solution

South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Neil-Peters, 2017 Miss Universe, has an incredible testimony after her recent win. She was “hijacked, car-jacked.” Yet she turned her experience into a positive mental health advocacy.

Neil-Peters was quoted by the news:

“Never allow yourself to be a prisoner of fear. Because if you allow yourself to be, you’re going to live your whole life in fear. Go for therapy, it really, really helps. Don’t be too proud … I can walk with you – that makes us unbreakable.”

Fear is a most common disability of those struck with psychopathology. Not normal fear. But fear that is severe. Out of proportion. It’s fear that makes one choose to remain a victim. A person whose fears have become overwhelming gets crippled to move on in life.

I’m reminded of Pablo who struggled with fear and depression a lot. He was bullied a lot in his life by his parents and schoolmates. As a result, he would have panic attacks and gasp for breath. He literally could not breathe and this happened often. Fear was strangling him.

Too often, when we meet a person struggling with unbearable pains of fear, we simply tell them “Get over it!” Or, dismiss the unreality of the source of the person’s fears. In spiritual circles, we may tell him or her, “Have faith.”

However, I’ve observed that none of these work most effectively. None is a solution to the problem of the person regarding fears. The solution to the problem of fear is love. That kind of solution is permanent. Unbreakable.

You can choose to be unbreakable in the face of any fears you experience. You can make it through any rain. And that’s love, super doses of it.

Getting the right kind love is the medicine we all need to overcome all the fears we will face on earth.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

Have you known how to experience perfect love in your life?

Addiction Unpacked

Addiction, in whatever form, is not an accident. It isn’t an unfathomable puzzle. It can be understood, unpacked.

Although it’s life-damaging for Timothy to have serial sexual engagements with strangers or regular masturbation at home, such “addiction” feels reasonable for him after his recent divorce. He is so lonely. Wounded emotionally. We can only empathize with the pain he went through.

Clearly, you can be susceptible to addictions if you lack the staples of living. You can be most readily addicted to your drug-of-choice when you lack belief in your personal value. When you lack social supports of family and friends. When you lack options for meaningful work or fun.

Nonetheless, despite the maladaptation to life through addictions, there is hope.

I’ve observed that if you’ve personal needs that are not met in a certain environment, you may become an addict to something or someone to satisfy those needs. However, you need to realize too that other people, even in the most deprived situations, don’t become addicts. Where lies the difference?

I knew of an alcoholic and womanizing patient who continued his addictions while undergoing psychotherapy. As he became drunk in his favorite bar one day, he saw his aging uncle whom he respected a lot passing by. His uncle was staring at him disapprovingly.

This patient’s uncle became his mirror of what he has become. And he didn’t like what he saw. He quitted his addictions because he appeared before the eyes of a person whose opinion he valued a lot. That means, he finally realized how much he couldn’t tolerate any more the disrespect he’s giving himself.

There lies the hope, the difference.

Clarify what you value. Keep your positive reasons for life change at the forefront. Knowing what’s truly important to you can tilt the balance permanently in that direction.

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.

People Are Lessons

People are lessons.

When relationships fall apart, I often hear sayings such as “This too shall pass” or “Everything happens for a reason.” Familiar words of comfort or perspective. Especially in difficult times, from broken marriages or friendships to all sorts of breakup.

People come into your life. Some stay long or enduringly. Some stay short. But yes, all your relationships with people happen for a reason. It’s important to see the part people play in your life or self development, regardless of outcomes.

Recently, I was speaking to a mother with her teenager son. Her son was verbally “bullying” me during our time together. Ignoring. Criticizing. Discounting. Invalidating. In the course of the mother’s account, I got informed that her son was severely bullied before in school and had lately been kicked out of school for his bullying other students on campus.

Unfortunately, some missed learning the lessons from people who hurt them. In the case of the teenager son in my session, he duplicated the same mistake in his own life rather than catching the lessons he can learn from those who bullied him in the past. Life lessons such as on how to treat others, kindness, friendship, communication.

People are lessons.

To your spouse or fiancée who loves you, you learn the value of intimacy in finding joy and meaning in life.

To a friend who taught you to save and invest money, you’re taught what’s worth buying for and what’s worth letting go of.

To a parent who worked hard for your studies and future, you can thank for the lesson of sacrifice and devotion in caring for your child.

To a loved one who betrayed or broke your heart, you learn the lesson that pain is temporary and wholeness is everything.

To the stranger who flashed a smile at you or extended courtesy to you, you learn the lesson that not all people are harmful or damaging.

People are lessons.

Let’s learn from them well as we age forward.

“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?