Monday, June 29, 2009

The Narcissistic Personality Disorder

MedicineNet.com for Health and Medical Information

Source: http://www.medicinenet.com

The Cleveland Clinic

Mental Health: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

* What are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder?
* What causes narcissistic personality disorder?
* How is narcissistic personality disorder diagnosed?
* How is narcissistic personality disorder treated?
* What complications are associated with narcissistic personality disorder?
* What is the outlook for people with narcissistic personality disorder?
* Can narcissistic personality disorder be prevented?

Narcissism is a term used to describe a focus on the self and self-admiration that is taken to an extreme. The word "narcissism" comes from a Greek myth in which a handsome young man named Narcissus sees his reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called dramatic personality disorders. People with these disorders have intense, unstable emotions and a distorted self-image. Narcissistic personality disorder is further characterized by an abnormal love of self, an exaggerated sense of superiority and importance, and a preoccupation with success and power. However, these attitudes and behaviors do not reflect true self-confidence. Instead, the attitudes conceal a deep sense of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem.

What Are the Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

In many cases, people with narcissistic personality disorder:

* Are self-centered and boastful


* Seek constant attention and admiration


* Consider themselves better than others


* Exaggerate their talents and achievements


* Believe that they are entitled to special treatment


* Are easily hurt but may not show it


* Set unrealistic goals


* May take advantage of others to achieve their goals

Other common traits of narcissistic personality disorder include the following:

* Preoccupation with fantasies that focus on unlimited success, power, intelligence, beauty, or love


* Belief that he or she is "special" and unique, and can only be understood by other special people


* Expectation that others will automatically go along with what he or she wants


* Inability to recognize or identify with the feelings, needs, and viewpoints of others


* Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her


* Hypersensitivity to insults (real or imagined), criticism, or defeat, possibly reacting with rage, shame and humiliation


* Arrogant behavior and/or attitude

What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The exact cause of narcissistic personality disorder is not known. However, many mental health professionals believe it results from extremes in child rearing. For example, the disorder might develop as the result of excessive pampering, or when a child's parents have a need for their children to be talented or special in order to maintain their own self-esteem. On the other end of the spectrum, narcissistic personality disorder might develop as the result of neglect or abuse and trauma inflicted by parents or other authority figures during childhood. The disorder usually is evident by early adulthood.

How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose personality disorders, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests, such as X-rays and blood tests, to rule out a physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a personality disorder.

How Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Treated?

There is no known cure for narcissistic personality disorder, but psychotherapy (a type of counseling) might help the person learn to relate to others in a more positive and rewarding way. Psychotherapy tries to provide the person with greater insight into his or her problems and attitudes in the hope that this will change behavior. The goal of therapy is to help the person develop a better self-esteem and more realistic expectations of others. Medication might be used to treat the distressing symptoms, such as behavioral problems, that might occur with this disorder.

What Complications Are Associated With Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

People with narcissistic personality disorder might abuse drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping with their symptoms. The disorder also might interfere with the development of healthy relationships with others.

What Is the Outlook for People With Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

The prognosis depends on the severity of the disorder.

Can Narcissistic Personality Disorder Be Prevented?

There is no known way to prevent narcissistic personality disorder.

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.

Reviewed by Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD

Edited by Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD, on March 1, 2005

Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005

Last Editorial Review: 9/22/2008
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment on MedicineNet.com (29 June 2009)
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=38103&pf=3&page=3
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Marie Quote

If people do not respect your parents, then they don't respect YOU! Watch out for people like this, they will take everything you have, even if you think you have nothing. You have something they want, believe me...once you doubt your own blood you are easy prey.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thoughts of the day

If people do not respect your parents, then they don't respect YOU! Watch out for people like this, they will take everything you have, even if you think you have nothing. You have something they want, believe me...once you doubt your own blood you are easy prey.

Just thoughts

is thinking that the world is a better place as long as we keep in mind that our power is either negative or positive and does send ripples throughout the world

25 Things About Me

Rules:
Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.

1.) I like to chat.
2.) I believe in truth.
3.) I dislike liars who call their story true.
4.) I like learning new things.
4.) I love to read.
5.) Fantasy and Horror are fantastic.
6.) I believe that humans beings are prone to love on another.
7.) Native Spirituality is a life savor.
8.) I like to brush my teeth and then wash my face.
9.) I have wish to be a writer and publish a book.
10.) Creative minds are the best minds.
11.) I really do want world peace.
12.) I believe that facebook is also a place where I have trouble leaving it alone.
13.) I think that healing is a life long process.
14.) I attend BU to become a counselor.
15.) Our life history is a tedious process but necessary.
16.) I have had many changes in my life, some good, some bad.
17.) I feel that I remain the same person who only gets better.
18.) I love my friends in all my classes.
19.) I believe in loyalty to friends and family who hold the same values.
20.) I like the rule that states, there are no mistakes, then that means I am not a mistake nor are you.
21.) I like to be mysterious and a woman.
22.) I like the color "pink".
23.) I like to see a genuine smile on people's faces it comes from a place that makes me happy.
24.) Helping others helps myself.
25.) Children teach us how to live in kindness, they show empathy for others, and they teach us compassion and above all "love" for that I am grateful for that "gift".

I do not deny, that drug addiction and dysfunctional behaviors affected us and we fell into enabling, but DID SAY NO MORE!

* Denial (i.e. a refusal to acknowledge the alcoholism of a parent or child/teenager; ignoring complaints of sexual abuse)
* Lack of empathy toward family members
* Lack of clear boundaries (i.e. throwing away personal possessions that belong to others, inappropriate physical boundaries)
* Mixed Messages
* Extremes in conflict (either too much or too little fighting between family members)

In Dysfunctional Families

"There are four basic roles that children/adult children adopt in order to survive growing up in emotionally dishonest, shame-based, dysfunctional family systems."

"As an adult the Family Hero is rigid, controlling, and extremely judgmental . . . . . of others and secretly of themselves. They achieve "success" on the outside and get lots of positive attention but are cut off from their inner emotional life, from their True Self."

"The scapegoat is the child that the family feels ashamed of - and the most emotionally honest child in the family. He/she acts out the tension and anger the family ignores. This child provides distraction from the real issues in the family."

"A lot of actors and writers are 'lost children' who have found a way to express emotions while hiding behind their characters."

Other Stressors in Dysfunctional Families

* Parent/Child role reversal
* Resentment toward the person with the problem
* Blame primary caregiver for staying in the situation
* Individuals may be prone to depression
* Develop fear of becoming close to others
* Fear of losing the primary caregiver
* Learn to discount feelings and needs
* Irrational belief systems
* Multiple unresolved losses (real, symbolic or perceived)

Stages of Stress

* "I can do and be everything." Built in failure and guilt
* "I can't do and be everything." Self Acceptance
* "I don't want to do and be everything." Choice
* "I don't want to do anything." Burnout

Symptoms of Families Under Excessive Stress

* Constant sense of urgency and hurry
* Sense of tension underlying sharp words and misunderstandings
* Mania to escape to your room, car, office, or anywhere
* Feelings of frustration for not getting things done or caught up
* Feeling that time is passing too quickly
* Frequent desire to return to a simpler time of life
* Little me or couple time
* Pervasive sense of guilt for not being and doing everything to and for the people in your life

Transitions and Dynamics That Can Lead To Excessive Stress

One or More Persons in The Family Has Any of The Following or Has a Family History Of:

* A Mental Illness
* An Addiction To Legal or Illegal Drugs
* Overly Rigid Religious Beliefs
* An Abusive Spouse
* An Abusive Parent
* A Physical Disability
* An Emotional or Behavioral Problem
* Responsibility For an Aging Parent
* An Infant/toddler
* An Adolescent
* Adult Children Living at Home

Some of these situations may be temporary, yet without proper preparation, clear guidelines and teamwork can lead to severe strain on the primary caregiver, thus placing the family at risk for malfunctioning.

Our family didn't know what was happening when it happened to us

Dysfunctional Families Part I: Stress Management
by LuAnn Pierce, MSW, CMSW

The term "dysfunctional families" has been used and abused so much over the years that it is hard to define. In order to define a dysfunctional family, one must first know what a functional or healthy family is.

While there is a lot of difference in what is normal for families, there are some common traits found in families that are considered to be healthy, and other traits found in families experiencing excessive stress which can lead to "dysfunctional" behavior.

Without taking cultural, economic, or social consideration into account, the following information highlights some common traits of healthy families and warning signs that a family may be under too much stress and in danger of becoming "dysfunctional."
Characteristics of Healthy Families

* The family is open to others from outside of the immediate family system.
* They allow outsiders to enter the system and members are allowed to go outside of the system for help when needed.
* Parents set clear generational boundaries. Parents assume the role of primary caregivers and children are secure in their role as siblings, children and individuals.
* The family recognizes that stressful situations are inevitable and temporary. They recognize that stress can be positive if handled appropriately.
* The family works together to minimize stress. They focus on their strengths as a family and as individuals.
* The family works together to find solutions to problems. Their energy is focused on solutions, not blame.
* Family members focus on what is controllable. They make the best of situations over which they have little or no control.
* The family develops and revises rules to deal effectively with day to day life. When they are under stress they work together to revise existing rules and evaluate the results.
* Family members recognize that decisions and routines are flexible. Rigid rules and expectations are challenged as a family.
* Family members feel empowered as a result of effectively dealing with stress. They see challenges as opportunities rather than roadblocks.
* Family members recognize the difference between the symptoms of stress and the sources of the stress. They address the source of the stress.

Areas of Stress For Healthy Families

* Finances
* Dealing with children's behavior
* Insufficient couple time
* Lack of shared responsibility for household upkeep
* Communicating with children
* Insufficient time for self
* Guilt for not accomplishing more
* Couple/relationship issues
* Insufficient family play time
* Over-scheduled family calendar

Healing the Wounds, Having Family Unity How to have a Fun Family! by LuAnn Pierce, MSW, CMSW

Now that we have an idea of what constitutes a healthy family and some common stressors for families, we can look at ways to prevent a family from becoming "dysfunctional" during times of change and stress. Since families are made up of individuals we have to take into account ways for individuals to take care of their own emotional needs.

One basic truth most people in 12 step programs come to terms with pretty early in their recovery is that we can only control and change our own behavior. If we could control or change the behavior of others, our efforts to stop loved ones from drinking, using drugs, gambling would have worked long ago. I tell people that if I could control what others do or think, everyone would be happy, healthy and financially secure. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of control over anyone but myself.

First we need to identify the basic needs of human beings so we can understand what drives us to do the things we do. Our basic needs are:

1. To be capable and successful at something.

People who are not succeeding in at least one area of their lives often feel hopeless. Those who are resilient and have adequate support can move on from failure and keep trying. However, those who have a history of repeated failures may give up, which can lead to depression and despondency. This pattern may begin at an early age, especially in children who do not do well in school or who receive other negative messages about their worth as human beings, such as verbal, emotional and physical abuse.

Some may channel their talents in alternate ways that are illegal or socially unacceptable, yet that give them a feeling of success. One thing you can do for yourself, and your children, is to find something at which you excel and do it! Doing so builds self esteem, increases competence and can give you the courage to take on bigger challenges. Set up ways to succeed in life by doing what you do well.

2. To feel cared for and belong to a group.

Everyone needs to care for and be cared for by others. This need never leaves us. Many people do not get their need for belonging met through their immediate families, because the people in their families are not capable of caring for them. Longing to be cared for by our parents and immediate family may never go away completely, and is a loss that we may spend a lifetime trying to fill.

That void is sometimes filled with unhealthy habits and relationships. It is a loss that must be grieved, people that must be forgiven and hurts that must be healed to enable us to live a healthy life. As we mature, we have more control over who we care for, and where we get our needs for belonging met. We can choose our own network of friends and family members, and choose to care for and be cared for by people who are more capable of giving and receiving love.

Many people who aren't yet skilled at caring for other people, have learned to care for themselves and others by caring for pets.

3. To have power and control.

All of us have a need for power and control over our lives, minds and bodies. We exercise this need in highly individual ways. Some openly try to meet this need by bossing others around. Others are more subtle and meet their needs in a passive manner, by acting helpless and needy. Some ask for what they need, ie. "I need a hug, will you hold me?" This is the middle ground that we should strive for and it takes the three steps of identifying our needs, making them known, and asking for what we want.

Doing this can be difficult because we risk rejection. It may help to realize that the person you approach also has needs, and a refusal doesn't mean you are being rejected, but that the other doesn't have what you need at that time. Sometimes, people don't have the emotional energy to give, even if a hug is all you ask for, as their own emotional needs are not met.

If you respect others' needs, you are less likely be hurt if your request for emotional support is denied. To respect others' needs you must first know, accept and respect your own. Forcing someone to give emotional energy against their will is a violation of their power and control.

Whether emotional or physical, the end result of being forced is feeling violated. Many children grow up to be victims, because we force them to say and do things that are socially acceptable, yet that disregard their feelings and rob them of their own power and control. Protect your power and control, and respect the power and control of others by allowing them choices.

4. To give of ourselves and help others.

While we must take care of ourselves and our own well-being first and foremost, we also need to give to others. It is in giving love, care and generosity that we receive what we need in return.

These things are not returned because they are owed it to us, but because as other peoples' needs are met, they have the emotional energy to give as well. When in relationships with people who take and are unable to give, the "taker's" needs are so great that they drain the life from us, and we may become emotionally depleted, bitter and resentful.

This is the classic co-dependent relationship, which is often found in families with addictions, physical or emotional disabilities and other dysfunctional relationships.

5. To be stimulated and have fun.

As we get older and work harder, caring for ourselves and others, this need is often overlooked. For mental health, it is vital to keep the fun parts of life alive, so whatever yours are, do them! It should not be necessary to be with other people to have fun, so if you're unable to have fun alone, work on your relationship with yourself. If you don't enjoy your company, others won't either. Many of us don't know ourselves very well as adults.

Sometimes we put limits on ourselves based on old beliefs that keep us from having fun. If you believe that adults shouldn't ________, re-evaluate that belief to decide if it is still rational by your standards today.

Being an Enabler in a Codependent Relationship By Expert Author: Lori Klauser

An enabler or rescuer is a person whose actions make it easy for someone with an addiction or who is dependent upon something to keep on in their poor behavior. The person you are aiding could be doing any of the following: drinking too much, abusing drugs, getting arrested, gambling, have an eating disorder or even working too much or not enough.

If you are protecting or covering up for another by making excuses or lying for them, you can become overly dependable to compensate for them. The intent is to give support to the other that they might end their substance abuse or whatever it may be that is their addiction. To the contrary, by helping in such a way, you are making it possible for the dependency or bad habit to continue. No matter how well-intended your actions may be, by saving them from unpleasant situations, in reality, you are helping them avoid responsibility they should be taking for themselves and their behavior.

Maybe you find yourself thinking or focusing on the others behavior and problems more than your own or are feeling anxious about their behavior and are constantly checking up on them. Maybe you even blame yourself for their problems. Maybe you're not even conscious of the fact your actions and behavior of becoming a caretaker is enabling the person.

A lot of the time when a codependent enables another it is satisfying a need within them to feel needed and to provide order within what they see as a chaotic situation. Whether you provide the other in some way or sometimes by saying nothing, you are enabling.

Enabling can be a clear sign of low self-esteem. It can be because you haven't acquired the skill to be able to say no. It could be the fear of losing the other person's love. Every time you respond to what you see as negligent behavior, whether you say so by speaking up or not, you become a rescuer and enable their behavior to continue.

As codependents, we struggle with the need for being in search of approval from others. We also fear being abandoned or rejected, which is why we end up rescuing or enabling another. In our minds, we believe we will be found worthwhile and a success because we've helped another. Maybe we're just avoiding conflicts and problems that we know would arise if we were to voice our opinions. As an enabler, we are determined to protect the other person even if we must sacrifice something in our own life. We believe we can "fix" whatever problem the other faces. We always think it is the other person that is the one who needs help. When it comes right down to it, it is both who are in need of guidance.

Once we realize things are the way they are because of our enabling and when we decide to seek help, where do we turn? First, it is important to realize that we are not the cause of the other person's problem. We must realize that we cannot control the other or cure what we see as their problem. It might be hard, but we must stop coming to the others aid. Don't lie for them or try to cover up or make excuses for them. Set limits on what you will or won't put up with or do. Once the other realizes that you won't be coming to their aid or rescuing them every time, they will become accustomed to taking care of themselves more often.

Excerpted from I'm Sorry By Jay Krunszyinsky

When you were a child, did you grow up in a home where your parents or caretakers took little to no responsibility for their problems or behaviors? Did you witness a parent support the behavior of the other regardless of how destructive it was? A parent providing this support was an enabler. A parent bases his or her enabling on manipulation and dishonesty that hurts others in subtle ways. Children are robbed of their ability to see a relation-ship clearly due to the inconsistent messages of the enabling parent. Children are also reinforced for depending heavily on their codependent parent, which robs them of their own development in decision-making.

Angela Miller wrote about the enabler:

When not in check, I will:

Pick up your shoes
Carry your pack
Pay your traffic ticket
Lie to your boss
Do your homework
Remove rocks from your path
And strip you of the joy
Of saying, "I did it myself!"

Do you possess codependent traits? Codependent personalities evolve from attempts to keep some type of order in a hurtful relationship. The term codependency refers to a relationship where one or both parties enable the other to act in certain maladaptive ways. Many times, the act of enabling satisfies a need for the codependent person because his or her actions foster a dependency from the other person or persons in the relationship. Did your family have an alcoholic or drug-dependent parent? To enable the parent with the addiction, the codependent parent makes excuses and lies for the addict, which enables the addiction to continue. Codependency is reinforced by a person's need to be needed. The enabler thinks irrationally by believing he can maintain healthy relationships through manipulation and control. He believes he can do this by avoiding conflict and fostering dependency. Is it rational for someone to think that he can maintain a healthy relationship when he does not address problems and he lies to protect others from their responsibilities? The way a codependent person can continue to foster this dependency from others is by controlling situations and people around him. As a child, you may have been reinforced to comply with actions and decisions of a parent instead of being afforded opportunities to challenge those actions that you found to be wrong. Can you see how these types of messages could foster the development of irrational thinking? The ongoing themes in a codependent home are to avoid conflicts and problems and to make excuses for destructive or hurtful behavior. Scott is a seventeen-year-old boy who knew that he needed to be by his mother's side in order to protect her from his father. His mother told him how much she loved him and needed him. Scott was a well-built boy who was popular in school. Many of the girls in his class liked him. He grew fond of one of the girls and asked her out on a date. Scott's mother did not approve of him going out with the girl. She went to his father and stated that he needed to do something about his boy who wanted to have sex with girls. Scott and his father got into a physical confrontation, resulting in Scott having to go to the hospital to get a cast put on his broken arm. Scott could not understand why his mother lied when the doctor asked how his arm was broken. Scott and his mother's relationship improved once he stopped dating. Can you relate to Scott? Over time, children develop a dependency on their codependent parent to help them through their life. Their codependent parent's need to be needed makes his relationship dysfunctional and filled with hurt. In many instances, hurt can result from the codependent parent's attempts to keep the peace in the family. Over time, the only way a code-pendent parent can accomplish this is by being manipulative and controlling of relationships. He often controls these relationships by provoking the abusive parent to carry out undeserved punitive action to further promote the child's dependency on the codependent parent.

Why does enabling cause so much hurt in a relationship? What is the harm with trying to keep the peace? Part of this was answered in the previous example. The power afforded to the codependent person in a relationship reinforces his need for control even if he uses inappropriate means to fulfill his need to be in control. A second and overlooked reason centers on the inconsistent messages and unclear expectations presented by someone who is codependent. These characteristics contribute to a relationship filled with irrational thoughts and behavior. This kind of relationship has no clear rules to right and wrong behavior. There are circumstances within a family's composition that leads a parent to act in irrational ways. This, in turn, can contribute to the child's irrational thought processes. Did you know that close to sixty percent of families were headed by a single parent in 1994? Did you also know that 75 percent of families with children had both parents working? These numbers demonstrate the various roles and challenges parents take on today. Did your parents take on job and social roles that took their attention away from you? Many parents are forced to work because of the costs to raise a family. In some families, both parents work in the pursuit of more material wealth. Each endeavor is admirable as long as the family is grounded in a morality that places importance on the relationships within the family unit. A child who experiences rejection from his parent due to these factors will make attempts to redirect the parent's attention. If this fails, the child will find other means to meet his needs, many times acting in maladaptive ways to cope with the stress in his life. He may demonstrate addictive behavior, social withdrawal, or even violence.

THE AWAKENING...

As bad as we hate to admit it..
We all reach this level at some point and time in our lives.

A time comes in your life when you finally get it... when in the midst
of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and
somewhere the voice inside your head cries out: ENOUGH! Enough
fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child
quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you
shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle
of wet lashes you begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is
your awakening.

You realize that its time to stop hoping and waiting for something to
change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over
the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not
Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world
there aren't always fairy-tale endings (or beginnings for that matter)
and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you,
and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone
will always love, appreciate, or approve of who or what you are... and
that's OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And
you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself, and in
the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop bitching and blaming other people for the things they did to
you (or didn't do for you,) and you learn that the only thing you can
really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always
say what they mean or mean what they say, that not everyone will
always be there for you, and that it's not always about you. So, you
learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself, and in the
process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance. You
stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as
they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties, and
in the process a sense of peace & contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world
around you is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have
been ingrained into your psyche. You begin to sift through all the
crap you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look,
how much you should weigh, what you should wear, where you should
shop, what you should drive, how and where you should live, what you
should do for a living, who you should sleep with, who you should
marry, what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of having
and raising children, or what you owe your parents.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And
you begin reassessing and redefining who you are, what you really
stand for. You learn the difference between wanting and needing and
you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or
should never have bought into to begin with, and in the process you
learn to go with your instincts. You learn that it is truly in giving
that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and
contributing. You stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer"
looking for your next fix.

Your learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the
outdated ideals of a bygone era but the mortar that holds together the
foundation upon which you must build a life. You learn that you don't
know everything, that it's not your job to save the world and that you
can't teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and
responsibility and you learn the importance of setting boundaries and
of learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the
one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love: Romantic love and familiar love. You learn
how to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to
walk away. You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a
relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more
intelligent, more loveable or important because of the man or woman on
your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn to look at
relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be.
You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn
that just as people grow and change so it is with love.

And you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your
terms. And, you learn that alone does not mean lonely. And you look in
the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a
size 5 or a perfect 10 and you stop trying to compete with the image
inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack up." You also stop
working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over
and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are
perfectly OK and you learn that it is your right to want things and to
ask for the things that you want and that sometimes it is necessary to
make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love,
kindness, sensitivity and respect and you decide you won't settle for
less. And you allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you to
glorify you with his or her touch... and in the process you
internalize the meaning of self-respect. And you learn that your body
really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with
respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and
taking more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue diminishes the
spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest.
And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take
more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that for the most part, in life, you get what you believe
you deserve..and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling
prophecy. You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for
and that wishing for something to happen is different than working
toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to
achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You
also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it's OK to risk
asking for help.

You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber
baron of all time: FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and
through your fears, because you know that whatever happens you can
handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live
life on your terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to
squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that
life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you
deserve and that sometimes "bad" things happen to unsuspecting, good
people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things. You
learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers.
It's just life happening. And you learn to deal with evil in its most
primal state: the ego.

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment
must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out
of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit
when you are wrong and to building bridges instead of walls. You learn
to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we
take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can
only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft
warm bed, a long hot shower.

Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and
you make yourself a promise never to betray yourself and never, ever
to settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime
outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make a
point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every
wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a deep breath and you
begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

Accept Me

Accept Me

By David W. Edgerly, Ph.D.
Copyright Celeritous Dancer, Chtd. and Best Selling Authors, LLC, 2000
This article may not be reproduced in part or whole without express written permission.
Most people want to be accepted, at least by those they care about. In many marriages this notion of acceptance becomes one of "accept me as I am". More powerfully stated it becomes "If you loved me, really loved me, you'd accept me as I am".
This nonsensical notion stems from some gross misconceptions about something popularly called "Unconditional Love" or "Unconditional Acceptance". I used to take the position, that perhaps with the exception of a parent to a young child, there was no such thing as unconditional love. After much discussion with people I now believe there may be such a thing as unconditional love between adults.
However, unconditional love is not relational love. It, if it exists, sits separate from relating. There is no such thing as unconditional relating. All relating is conditional, therefore all marriages are conditional and all marital acceptance is conditional.
To explain this I'd use an example many people turn to as an example or model or unconditional love: their dog or cat. Oddly, the reality is this is the perfect model of conditional love, or relating, at it's best.
Assuming you have a dog or cat with which you have a great "love" relationship I'd challenge you to run an experiment. In two simple steps stop feeding your pet and stop paying any positive attention to it. In a very brief time your "friend" will begin behaving differently toward you. If you want to speed up this experiment simply throw your dog or cat into the wall twice a day.
The reason the animal's behavior will change is the way you and your pet relate is built on a smoothly functioning set of conditions. You feed and attend to your pet in warm kind ways and it will, in turn, respond by attending to you, with affection, work, entertainment, or whatever it is you get from your animal.
The reverse of this experiment would also work. If every time you got home your cat clawed through your skin, or your dog punctured your leg with a bite, it won't take long for your behavior, and probably even your feelings toward the animal to change. Maybe you'll still love your animal, unconditionally, as you take it to the humane society and get rid of it. Or, out of some bizarre sense of obligation and/or guilt, you'll keep it around as some sort of perpetual nuisance in your home.
Let's put the notion of unconditional acceptance into human terms. One of the concepts people seem to like to draw on is "it's just the way I am". How absurd. Would you accept your child stealing money from you, or cheating on exams? Would it work if they said, "it's just who I am, a thief and a cheat"? Maybe your neighbor sets fire to your house and explains "it's just who I am, an arson". If it doesn't count for other people than it doesn't count for you.
Unconditional love or acceptance has nothing to do with relating. Again, all relating is conditional. So, if you've craved some sort of unconditional acceptance as part of relating to your spouse, you really do need to live on Mars or Venus…maybe it exists there. In this world relating is conditional.
This means, if you want your partner's acceptance and love you have to behave in ways which elicit it. Likewise, in turn, if they want your love and acceptance they must elicit that.
One of the common phenomenon which exist in relationships is the use of coercion to elicit behavior. For some this coercion comes in the form of intimidation (usually in the form of intensity). For others it comes in the form of the use of guilt. Some even bring "god" into the picture as the source of coercion. Partners attempt to elicit specific behaviors through these techniques. Sadly, in the short run the techniques often work. That is, the coercion elicits a very specific and limited piece of behavior from their partner. However, the ramification of coercion is alienation.
What these people don't understand is relating, whether with a dog, or a partner, is conditional. If they wanted certain things, like warmth or affection or fun, then they need to behave in ways that elicit these rather than coerce them. It is necessary for them to change their behavior and attitudes and then those in their life will respond in kind.
As a young man I was hostile and angry. Oddly, so was the world. This reaction from the people around me was used to continue to justify my hostility. And people continued to treat me accordingly. Today, almost everyone I meet is nice to me. It seems so simple now, but it really was an "ah ha" experience when I realized I was eliciting exactly what I got, and didn't want, from people.
Most of us crave acceptance from someone. If you do, then behave acceptably.

By David W. Edgerly, Ph.D.
Copyright Celeritous Dancer, Chtd. and Best Selling Authors, LLC, 2000