Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. MFCC PsychotherapyHELP firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.nvo.com/psych_help How to Deal with the Irrational, Dysfunctional, Distorted Thinking and Behavior of Someone who is Making your Life --- A HELL ON EARTH! Is someone making your life a Hell on Earth? If you haven't already checked my manual, "Coping With The Disorder," at http://www.nvo.com/psych_help/services/, now is the time to do it. You can arm yourself with the strategies and techniques that work for taking care of yourself, fending off the Irrational behavior of others and keeping yourself on the calm track. So, you have been hit with the unwelcome, overwhelming surprise attack of someone else's disordered behavior and thinking. Perhaps, you have erroneously believed that you could be immune from such unfortunate instances. I am here to tell you that no one is immune to such occurrences and that it probably happens to everyone in the course of life. You are no exception. So, you better get ready to learn how to cope with the unfortunate and sometimes painful thinking and behavior of someone who is affecting your life. The following is a list of possible strategies for turning your situation into a winner's triumph. EMPOWER YOURSELF LEGALLY: If someone is harassing you or doing something that is immoral, illegal, unethical and extremely distressful, you may have to empower yourself legally. If you cannot solve the problem internally between yourself and the other person, you may have to resort to securing a lawyer and pursuing the legal path. That is why we have divorce courts and other sections of the legal system. Make friends with the legal system, police departments and other agencies that you might need in case of an unwanted struggle with a difficult and/or unreasonable, uncooperative and even disturbed person. Never go into battle, unless you have your troops lined up. Otherwise, you'll be a sitting duck, operating from a weak and vulnerable position. Before you take such action, make sure you are thinking straight and that you are operating with well tested evidence. Check out your daily thinking, assumptions and bottom-line belief systems. Don't become seduced by your own rigid, and inflexible beliefs and perceptions. RIDE OUT THE STORM: Sometimes the best solution is to ride out the storm and wait for calm waters. Don't become over-reactive! You may find yourself doing something that you will later regret. Stay within your own well-defined value system. Don't do anything to harm yourself or anyone else! Stay calm and centered! Everything passes. Do not allow yourself to be baited into something destructive. Be proactive! LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE: Even though this situation may be extremely distressful, it holds an opportunity for you to learn something about yourself, the other person, and the situation that you have fallen into. Try to make sense out of yourself and don't become exasperated because you cannot figure out the motives and intentions of the other person. Keep a journal and log all your thoughts and feelings. By writing through your difficult emotions, you'll discover hidden strengths, feelings and insights. This is a golden opportunity to learn. Stop bitching and rehabilitate yourself through self-expression, catharsis and thinking your way through it. SUPPORT SYSTEM: Take an inventory of those people who can support you emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. Make sure they do not contaminate you with their own biases. And make sure that they are truthful with you and don't just tell you what you want to hear. The people in your support system should help steer you to your own deeper reality. They should not reinforce or contaminate any of your irrational ideas and beliefs. They are there for you in order for you to get in touch with your real feelings and relieve/release pain. Hopefully, they will be supportive, neutral and refusing to take sides. Your support group should help you define your goals and look at your possible choices and options. They should never try to convince you to follow any specific course of action. They are there to give you opinions, but not to unduly influence you to do something that may cause harm. Keep it safe, ethical, moral and legal. It's okay to ventilate to your support people. But, don't make the mistake that what you are ventilating is absolute truth. You are just trying to get something out of your system. SELF CARE: If you don't make the time to take care of yourself, it will take a toll. If you need a therapist, psychiatrist, social worker, counselor, priest or Rabbi, get one or two or three if you need a multi-systemic approach. Use the research method in order to find the right professional. medication, homeopathic, orthomolecular, multivitamin treatment protocols. Health psychotherapy is a wonderful new discipline. Eat right and exercise. A good gym can get your endorphins going and will fight off stress, anxiety and depression. Don't forget meditation, relaxation methods and my wonderful “Managing Stress and Anxiety” tape. Learn how to laugh again. Humor therapy is a must for lifting spirits. You can't laugh and be sad at the same time. Think about how you can help others, especially family members. If you have an aging parent, see that they join you in laughter and fun. Seniors who are in their 80’s don't need to be working heavy issues. It's time for them to live their remaining years in as much joy and pleasure as possible. Did you ever think about Sleep Psychotherapy? Every night when you go to bed, therapy takes place in your sleep. When you wake-up, take time to sort out the new information and insights that Sleep Therapy has given you. PRACTICE NON-REACTIVITY: Responsiveness begins in your mind and moves into your heart and then your soul. Observe your mental, emotional, and behavioral reactions to the difficult person. You have the capability of recognizing when you are being reactive and defensive. Develop a proactive approach to dealing with your internal thinking and your emotional responses. Determine what are your undesirable, unwanted internal thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself if these are toxic to you. Diligently learn how to get rid of them and restore yourself to a healthy and pleasurable state of being. Remember, it's not what happens to you that matters. It's what you do with what happens to you that counts. Do what works and refuse to remain in a toxic state of shock brought on by someone else's irrational, dysfunctional behavior. You can choose how you respond to what someone else dumps on you. Don't become a victim! Remember, everything passes and there is a time for enlightenment and recovery. There is a light at the end of a long dark tunnel. You will come out in the fresh light of the sun and into the clean air of being fully alive. Nobody can take your spirit away from you unless you give it to them. PRAYER: Whenever you are faced with a difficult person who brings you harm and distress, don't fight, retaliate, or try to seek revenge. Don't give yourself permission to use those tactics. Use the most effective response that creates the greatest benefit and causes no harm. I'm talking about prayer. I have yet to see prayer hurt anyone. In fact, the scientific evidence purports that prayer is highly effective and beneficial for accomplishing worthwhile goals and healing outcomes. If you try prayer, give it enough time to reinforce your bank of faith. Prayer only works if you have faith in the One that you pray to for deliverance. Even if you have very little faith, you might want to give it a try. After all, if you pray for yourself and your designated enemy, you are restructuring your internal emotional and cognitive structures towards a more positive result. It is much better to seek ways to help yourself and to help the disturbing person. After all, he or she can use all the help that he or she can get. There certainly is a realm of power that is much higher than your own. Why not tap into it? When you pray for another, you're also healing yourself. When you heal yourself through prayer, you heal entire universes. It would also be a great help if you could get other people to pray for you and the afflicted person. Visit my Power of Prayer page at http://www.nvo.com/psych_help/prayerproject/. Spiritual psychotherapy is extraordinarily effective! TURN THE TIDE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE: Usually, a dysfunctional, distorted thinking/behavior person is trying to get some sort of need fulfilled by you in a destructive, dysfunctional, psychotic or neurotic way. In the process, they are driving you nuts. It's not that they are evil, although that may be a consideration. The disordered thinking certainly has a disastrous and negative effect. Instead of reacting in a negative annoyed way, think of how you can turn this situation to your advantage. Consider the gold nugget that is hidden in the other person's annoying behavior. If you think constructively, you may turn this situation into something that fulfills a need that you might have. The trick is to alert your brain to reveal to you an important need that you can get satisfied by working on this person's disordered thinking and behavior. Run a survey through your mind for past experiences where you were able to extract gold. Write down the first thing that comes to your mind where you had to deal with the disordered thinking and behavior of another person and you found a treasure trove that you never anticipated. Out of each loss and disaster, there is a golden opportunity for you to discover something that fulfills an important need in you. "There is gold in them there hills." No matter how hopeless and bleak your situation may seem and look, there is something in the middle of it that you can turn to your advantage and fulfill some greater need. In every desert there is an oasis! Without hesitation, send in your stories and examples of how you turned a very difficult situation into a positive outcome. With your permission, we will be glad to publish them, in order to help our readers. Email them to me at email@example.com. DEBUG YOURSELF: If you are subject to extreme bugging by a spouse, relative or some other annoying person, check and label your negative reactions and commit yourself to finding effective strategies that move you forward to self-satisfaction. For example, withdrawal may seem like a good idea based on an automatic response. But, as a strategy, it may not solve anything. You can only render yourself safe by eliminating negative reactions and formulating positive goals and strategies. Fighting and struggling with the irrational ideas of another person may seem like a good idea. But, you may end up reinforcing the other person’s illogical position. Don't try to make sense out of the irrational. When a person becomes disturbed, they are already beyond the pale of using logic to see the error of their ways. DON'T TAKE THE BAIT: Irrational thinking and behavior is like a shark throwing bait into a river in order to catch a human being --- You. Don't bite or take the bait. If you expect a disturbed person to understand your logic, you will end up beating your head against the wall. Learn to expect irrational thinking and responses and you won't be surprised. In other words, don't expect the other person to live up to and match your logical expectations. They are usually in denial and they think the problem is you. What a trap! How did you get yourself into this situation? You are the target of a lot of dysfunctional accusations, blaming and destructive behavior. Don't be provoked or respond to provocation. Some people just don't feel valuable enough to deserve happiness. So they behave destructively and in ways that bring them down to the levels that they believe they deserve. If you feel you are being dragged down to the level of having to fight for your life, then change your expectations! It will be difficult for you to live with lowered expectations. But, a dysfunctional person cannot perform to a level where you can get your needs met. Either work with or fire them. Sinking ships can take the rescue crew down with them. You may have to save your own self and live to love another day. You will have to decide whether you want to feel guilty or not for abandoning or rejecting a person who is pathologically afraid of rejection and abandonment. Staying in a disordered situation beyond your emotional capabilities can be dangerous to your health and well-being. Timeouts are not a bad idea. Send in your examples where you felt you had successfully resisted a provocation to enter into someone else's disordered world. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. COGNITIVE RESTRUCTURING OR CHANGE YOUR THINKING: Okay, someone is treating you lousy. You feel miserable, depressed, angry and cheated. Your world is falling apart from underneath and around you. You're probably asking, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" While you are suffering and in pain, the reasons for your dilemma may not seem apparent. But, you are a talented and resourceful human being. You will come out of this alive and better for it. Life is not supposed to be fair. Narcissistic people erroneously believe that life should be fair. But, you know better! You can refuse to make yourself miserable over anything. Where is it written that you should not, would not, and must not be free of difficult and irrational people? Accept and embrace your hurt and pain and feel it to its deepest level where it disintegrates and falls to pieces, revealing a brilliant, expansive and beautiful universe. You are also thinking incorrectly when you believe that a disordered person should, must, ought to understand and be empathic to your feelings. You are further off the mark if you believe a disordered person is capable of treating you kindly, lovingly and with good intentions. They can't feel these feelings because of their disordered and irrational belief. Why would you expect them to be sane when the world inside of their minds is out of order? You will need to get real and not ponder over the way things used to be. For now, you are confronting Disorder. CONTACT DR. PAUL BEFORE YOU FAIL: If a painful emotional situation is exacting a toll, contact Dr. Paul for therapy. Click on http://www.nvo.com/psych_help/telephonetherapy/ for information about our Telephone Therapy Program or http://www.nvo.com/psych_help/onlinepsychotherapy/ for information about Online Therapy. Feel free to call my office in Southern California at 818-882-7404. Relationship problems can be eliminated and new levels of intimacy and passion established with our “Sizzling Relationship/Ecstatic Marriages”. Go to http://www.nvo.com/psych_help/relationshipprogram/ for more information about our S.R.E.M. program. Don’t wait … break the barriers and reach a new level … life is too precious not to make changes.