Archives for December 2012

Reducing Relationship Stress This Christmas

For many couples Christmas can a stressful time. What is meant to joyous and relaxing time can simply become a stream of expectation management with ‘trying to keep everyone happy’ being the ultimate goal.

The irony is the more we try to keep everyone happy the less happy we are and the more pressure we end of placing on our loved ones. Understandably, the first step in reducing our relationship stress is to let go of trying to keep your relatives, kids, and partner happy this Christmas.

This may sound ‘harsh’ however with some reflection you will discover it’s an impossible goal. Instead allow everyone to take responsibility for their own happiness this Christmas including yourself. The most painful thing about trying to keep other people happy is that ultimately we never succeed and in the process of trying to keep others happy we make ourselves unhappy by over-committing and not being true to ourselves!

Having made this decision, the next step is to identify and let go the expectations that you feel have been ‘put on you’ by your relatives, your children and your partner. To discover what these expectations are simply write down on a piece of paper. ‘With respect to my Children/Partner/relatives at Christmas I should or I have to .. and see what comes out. It’s essential that you actually write these answers down as opposed to simply think about them.

Once you have completed your list of expectations accept that while it feels like they come from ‘outside of you’ in fact these are your own expectations of yourself. Then ask yourself whether holding onto this expectations is going to give you or your family a holiday stressors free time. Finally make a decision to let this go simply by taking a deep breath and saying or writing ‘I choose to let the above expectations go.’

Having cleared the slate in terms of all the things you think you should or have to do ask yourself: ‘What be a truly relaxing, enjoyable and meaningful way for me to celebrate Christmas this year?”. You can write this down and share this with your partner and ask for their input. If there are differences between your dream Christmases, firstly help your partner let go their own expectations then explore how the essence of what you would both love can be honoured.

Once you and your partner are clear about your dream Christmas you can share this with your children and family and allow them to be involved within the terms you have set up. Remember you are not trying to keep anyone happy. Those friends, relatives and children who were going to be stressed and disappointed will find a reason to be regardless of what you do around Christmas. At least this way you and your partner will feel fantastic!

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Triggers and Knee Jerk Reactions During the Holidays

The holidays are stressful under the best of situations. Add to it a dangerous and pathological relationships and you can have a prescription for **guaranteed** unhappiness.

The pathological relationship never lies dormant during the holidays. It’s an opportunity to recontact you–of course “just to wish you a Merry Christmas.” If you haven’t already, do read The Institute’s materials regarding our ‘Starve the Vampire’ teaching on no contact! He has a million hooks he will use to get you back in…here’s one! Christmas!

A text message of Happy Holidays is not good cheer. It’s a hook.  A Christmas Card is not a mass card to everyone–it is a targeted approach for you. A gift left on your door step isn’t a thoughtful gift–it’s a manipulation because being the good mannered girl you are, you’ll call and thank him and then he’ll have you on the phone….and it all goes down hill from there.

Then there’s the mistletoe, and the date for New Years Eve, and the gift he left for your child or your parents….The holidays are one BIG OP-POR-TU-NITY for Mr. Opportunistic.

The No Contact rule still applies and he’ll be testing your boundaries to see if it applies during the holidays. If it DOESN’T apply and you responded to him or sent him a text/card/call, you have just taught him where your loop hole is. You also said something very LOUD to him. You just screamed in his ear ” I’m Lonely! Come snuggle with me.” And you know what he’s thinking, “You don’t have to ask TWICE!”

Ladies, Christmas is ONE day of the year that is laced with a lot of triggering memories. Maybe from childhood where you believe “miracles happen on Christmas” or “everyone should be together then” or the sights, smells, and memories of past Christmases with him are rehashing in your mind. Don’t stay stuck in that ‘air brushed Christmas memory’ — how about you pull out your memory list from the other 363 days of the year and how he behaved then? One night with the twinkle of Christmas tree lights and a ribbon on a gift doesn’t make a pathological man stable!

Get out of the fantasy. Christmas has a way of hypnotizing women into the fantasy of his positive behavior and his lack of pathology. Nothing changed because we hit Christmas season. It’s just a BIGGER opportunity for him to hook you.

If you’re still with the pathological person, they can be very sabotaging at this time of year wanting to strip every little piece of joy you could get from the season away. They get drunk, pick fights, say mean things to your family, yell at the kids, and don’t participate.

Don’t react. Have a great Christmas while he wallows around in that puddle of pathology.

You know one of the things we found out in our research? You ladies tested unbelieveably high in ‘sentimentality’. What are the holidays all about? SENTIMENT! If your sentiment is on caffeine, what do you think it will do? Be restrained or have a knee jerk reaction because all that sentiment is coursing thru your veins?

One slip up now could cost you a year of trying to get rid of him again. Call a support person and tell them you VOW to them not to have contact this season. Then make plans to fill up your time so it’s not even a possibility.

I have ‘lectued’ our readers about loneliness because this 4 inch stack on research sitting on my desk that you ladies filled out, tells me that you lapse and lapse and lapse again when you feel lonely. Holidays induce loneliness. Plan ahead and safe guard. “I was lonely is not an excuse for starting something that will once again destroy your life!”

Instead, do something wonderful with your kids. Get outside, take a walk, go to a movie with friends, do some scrapbooking, get some of our books to read, go to a nursing home and visit someone! Sit in a chapel alone and count blessings, walk your dog more, go to the gym! Do anything except have a knee jerk reaction to your excessive sentimentality gene!!

Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.

Fantasy And It’s Effect On Your Reality

Over the  past few months we have been talking about the power of defense mechanisms. It is unfortunately common to employ defense mechanisms that actually enhance your own emotional suffering. And of course, what we want you to employ are resources that help you recover not defense mechanisms that keep you stuck. You have suffered enough from the pathological love relationship and the last thing you need is for your own psychology to be working against you. So today we’re going to
talk about ‘fantasy’ and how that too can effect your emotional suffering.

Eckart Tollee said “Emotional suffering is created in the moment we don’t accept what is.”

Women who are in relationships with pathologicals have a very strong trait of ‘fantasy.’ Fantasy is not just merely wishful thinking but has additional components in it that effect your here and now life. Fantasy is often associated with the future and in some ways, the past.

Here’s how… women often stay in pathological relationships because they feel panic or fear of abandonment when the pathological tries to end the relationship. She ends up re-contacting or allowing re-contact because of these feelings of fear/panic/abandonment.

Abandonment is an early childhood feeling. As adults, we don’t technically feel ‘abandoned’ although that’s the feeling state we think we are having when someone leaves us. The adult feeling state is loss, not abandonment but when someone has unresolved early childhood abandonment issues, any loss will template it self on top of the feelings of abandonment. Adults are techincally incapable of being abandoned (unless you are, for instance, medically dependent.) The reason we aren’t capable of being abandoned as adults is that as mentally healthy adults, we really can’t be abandoned in the childhood sense. The feeling is an early childhood feeling usually associated with a time of parental abandonment. It is an age-regression feeling–something that pulls you back to your childhood or a very young emotional state. Every time I write about abandonment I will get a furious letter from someone INSISTING they are adults and they feel abandoned.  There are two categories in which adults go through intense feelings of child-like abandonment. One is if the adult has a trauma disorder and has unresolved early childhood issues from parental abandonment that have not been treated in therapy. In that case, those feelings often resurface attached to unprocessed traumatic feelings. The other intense abandonment feeings are often held by people with Borderline Personality Disorder who regularly feel abandoned.’ I still maintain as a former psychotherapist, that are adults cannot be abandoned unless you are elderly, medically need care, or have cognitive disorders that require caretaking. This is not to say you don’t PERCEIVE yourself as abandoned.  But if you were dropped in the middle of a city ‘abandoned’ you would make your way to the police department or social services and would be fed, sheltered, and given provisions. Therefore, you were not abandoned the way a child would experience if dropped in the middle of a city.

The feeling of ‘ending’ a relationship often subconsciously sets off childhood feelings of abandonment. These are past associations that taps into fantasy that it is happening all over again when it really isn’t. The previous male in your life who did abandon you as a child (for instance) is not the same thing as a pathological leaving your adult life.

But inside, emotionally, the child feeling state is so strong that it feels like a ‘hole in the soul.’ The fantasy of THIS (him leaving) being the same as THAT (my parent left me) takes hold and your panic makes you go back to stop the panic or allow him back in to squelch the sense of abandonment.

Fantasy is also future oriented. Fairytales are fantasy based on “Once upon a time….and happily ever after” which is all the good stuff that ‘might’ happen in the future. Nothing evokes stronger fantasy thinking than the holidays which bring up either good memories of holidays past or, the total fantasy that THIS year will be the ‘Once upon a time’ holiday.

Women stay in relationships with pathologicals based on a lot of ‘fantasy future betting’ — that is ‘he might stop acting pathological, ‘he might stop cheating,’ ‘he might tell the truth.’Fantasy betting is a lot like gambling…betting on a future that is not likely to happen with a pathological. Betting on a Normal Rockwell holiday…oh I meant ‘Norman Rockwell’ holiday—is fantasy betting as well.

Why? Because pathology is the inability to change and sustain consistent postive change, grow in any meaningful way, and the inability to for him to see how his behavior negatively effects others.

But women also stay in pathological relationships based on ‘projected fantasies’ that is, she fantasizes he will be happy with the NEXT woman and the next women will get all his good traits and none of his bad. This too is fantasy….that his pathology somehow will not effect he next woman the way it effects you. (You can’t turn pathology on and off like a light switch!)

Here’s some info:

Pathology Effects EVERYONE the SAME!! (Unless she’s pathological as well–then who cares if he goes on to have a relationship worthy of a Jerry Springer Show?).

* Women fantasize that this ‘abandonment’ feeling will effect her the way the childhood abandonment did. (And it will not–just as an FYI for you).

* Women fantasize that he will be different with them. If he is trully pathological he is hard-wired. This IS his DNA.

* Women fantazie that he will be happy in the future and she is missing out on something. If he is truly pathological,his patterns don’t change.

Fantasy is not related to the here and now. Fantasy is not being present in your real life to what is happening around you in this moment. Fantasy is ‘out there somewhere’ kind of thinking. Come back to what’s real right now. List the 5 most real points about him right here:


Now stand back, step out of the childhood feelings, and look at the list with adult eyes. You can’t be abandoned as an adult because where ever you go, there you are and you are all you need as an adult. You don’t have dependency needs as an adult like you did as a child. To be abandoned is to be dependent on the one who is abandoning. Adults are not dependent.

Your real life is going on right NOW while you are in your head about his drama and the pathological intrigue. You are
MISSING your real life that is happening right now! Drama, obsession and intrusive thoughts are usually about fantasy–the past or the present. It sure isn’t about this present moment and what’s happening right now. Such as, you might be ignoring your own health, your own self care and happiness and maybe that of your children and friends because of how much time you spend in fantasy. Fantasy is telling you ‘just a little longer and he’ll get it and then I’ll have the life I really want.’

Fantasy wants to whisper in your ear to ignore it all for a few days during the holidays when you can pretend to be that Normal Rockwell family. But on December 26th, Mr Pathology will be there in all his glittering Cluster B-ness to remind you nothing happened except a Christmas Tree.  You unwrapped a ‘gift’ of pathology because all you really wanted for Christmas was your pile of fantasy, right? NO! No adult really wants for Christmas ‘her own psychopath.’

There is stil time to straighten out your Holiday Fantasy Thinking before December 24th.  Get a hold of it so you can enjoy a pathology-free holiday.

Gender Disclaimer: The issues The Institute writes about are mental health issues. They are not gender issues. Both females and males have the types of Cluster B disorders we often refer to in our articles. Our readership is approximately 90% female therefore we write for those most likely to seek out our materials. We highly support male victims and encourage others who want to provide support to male victims to encompass the issues we discuss only from a female perpetrator/male-victim standpoint. Cluster B Education is a mental health issue applicable to both genders.