Tuesday, August 30, 2011

7 Steps to Quickly Assess for A New Friend or Mate

In this fast paced world, we don’t always have the luxury of time when it comes to deciding whether or not we want to invest into getting to know someone.  All too often, we meet people at work or at gatherings for brief periods and may be missing real opportunities for a good friend or love relationship because we didn’t dig a little deeper.  We can all use some help when it comes to making a decision on whether or not we should look more closely at the possibility of a relationship.  Here are seven time saving steps to look into when meeting a new potential friend or mate.     
      1.  Can you talk easily with this person about a variety of topics?  Introverts have more difficulty with this task so they might be forgiven for this.  
     2.  Does this individual ask you questions about yourself and show interest in your responses?  This shows interest in you as a person and bodes well for future encounters.  
     3.  Does this person have an aspiration that he/she is actively pursuing?  Just talking about a goal does not count here.  They must be making some kind of progress on achieving what they desire.  Are there any signs that their actions or abilities are in conflict with actually achieving the stated goal?  
     4.  What are his/her first thoughts when they wake up in the morning? People will often think about those things that are important to them when they are waking up.  But, the mood they awaken with is an indication of their temperament.    
     5.  Will this person help a stranger?  This indicates their sense if civic duty, as well as, their ability to respond empathically with others.  Without empathy, they are never going to connect with you in a meaningful way.  Now, a narcissist might help out a stranger as well, but only if it bolsters his public image.  You can suss out a narcissist through questions 2 and 6 if they slip through this question.  
     6.  Can she/he discuss an embarrassing moment with you?  If not, then they are not willing to be vulnerable and are more interested in creating an image for your consumption rather than being a real human being with you.  They may actually expect the same from you too.    
     7.  Are they genuinely happy for a friend who is successful? This is important because envious and negative people have a difficult time doing this.  They view another's good fortune as it relates to themselves, against which they do or don’t measure up. These are the kind of people who have the potential to sabotage another in defense of their own inferiority feelings.                                                                                                                    For more information on Dr. Jim log onto his website at www.LAtherapist.com.  For free listens and self-help audios log onto www.TheDrWaltonSeries.com.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Danger of Narcissism and Acting

The danger of method acting is that the actor is trying to replicate real life emotions by drawing on real life experience.  For most actors this is not a problem but an incredible skill that furthers them in a stellar career.  However, there are those few who confuse the conjuring up of other personalities in the name of acting with their own personal identity. 

By looking for approval from others to determine the value of the actual self, actors can take a wrong turn that can lead to a self-destructive disavowing of their own imperfections and personal growth.  This leads them down a road to where they are rewarded to the degree that their selves do not count.  When this occurs, the individual loses the ability to distinguish the difference between self and other.  Any separateness is then seen as a sign of weakness that must be eradicated.

If an actor becomes hung up on their image, they cannot distinguish between an image of whom they are pretending themselves to be and the image of whom they actually are.

When this occurs, the individual identifies with he idealized image of the self and the actual self-image is lost.

The denial of actual feelings becomes the disturbance.  They minimize their own feelings while taking on an “acting as if” quality to the feelings that seem to be expressed.  Their behavior is not motivated by actual feelings; rather their behavior is contrived and calculated to enhance their own sense of grandiosity in the eyes of others.  These people are predisposed to depression. 

The actual self-image, to these people, is not acceptable.  Their bodies are not living aspects of themselves, but rather they view their bodies as instruments made to bend to the will of the mind.  So, the body works as a slave to the mind to express the intentions of the mind devoid of feeling.  It performs like a machine or statue without a true sense of self.  Expression is contrived rather than organic. 

If an individual’s ego becomes inflated by success, they lose touch with the reality of their body.  Many people have public images based on their accomplishments or social position; this does not mean that they have a disturbance.  They do have a problem if they begin to base their own personal identity on the contrived public identity instead of on their own internal drives and bodily feelings.

So, it is important for actors to maintain a certain public image that their fans expect of them.  However, it is equally important that the actor does not abandon his or her own true identity for the public identity in their personal life.  If this occurs, there is a disturbance between the imagined self and the actual self.  This would lead to loss of self, grandiosity, and sever depression. Seeking out a qualified therapist would be a good first start to resolving this.

I was recently asked a question about Heath Ledger and whether his celebrity status led to his suicide.  I responded by hypothesizing that his ego probably took possession of his character as a defense against feelings of separateness and neediness through his recent divorce.  Both separateness and neediness are seen as a weakness that must be eradicated by an individual who has lost his true identity.  By possessing his character in a grandiose way, he may have denied his own true and personally unacceptable feelings.  The more grandiose he grew, the deeper and more hidden the depression probably grew. 

He was able to express rage through his character without expressing sadness or fear.  His apparent taking on the character off the stage was probably intended as a defensive maneuver intended to frighten others and insulate him from having to express genuine emotion. 

This power may have been used to deny his hidden, and self-unacceptable, feelings of helplessness and dependency on others.  The more he engaged in the character, the more it would have reinforced his underlying insecurity and the more lost his actual self would have become.  This, in turn, may have been what led to his suicide.

Most actors are able to avoid such confusions of actual vs. false selves.  However, they must remain alert and vigilant to the danger.  They must remember to remove the public image self when in the presence of their private lives.

For more information on Dr. Jim, log onto his website at www.LAtherapist.com.  For information on Dr. Jim’s self-help series and for free samples, log onto www.TheDrWaltonSeries.com

Monday, August 15, 2011

Setting Boundaries with a Friend

I'm posting a Guest Post by Allison Gamble:

Setting Boundaries with a Friend

Let’s call her Lisa. Lisa was my best friend. A promiscuous version of myself. And that was alright - funny, even, with the crazy situations she found herself in - until she set her sights on my roommate. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to know that’s where it got hard.

Friends are essential in everyday life. We depend on our friends to help us in tough times and laugh with us in happy times. Unfortunately, sometimes friendships can cross a line. Finding Lisa’s black lace garters in my living room? Definitely a boundary crossed. Detailed accounts of Matt’s sexual prowess? Another boundary crossed. Lisa roaming the apartment in the sheet off his bed? I found my boundaries shrinking in around myself closer and closer as she crossed every comfortable line in the sand I’d drawn around myself. Then, when my boundaries outlined a tiny square in the center of my bed, she decided to come in one day and lay down next to me to talk. I didn’t have a roommate and a best friend anymore. I had two roommates, and no space to myself.

To paraphrase Paula Cole, where did all my boundaries go?

Tips on Setting Boundaries

•            Make strong expectations of cleanliness
•            Set specific days of the month for bills to be paid
•            Ensure clear boundaries of personal space
•            Establish a firm understanding regarding dates and visitors

Sounds easy right? Think again. If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to rock the boat. It was easy to stay quiet and let Lisa have run of the house. But in their sex-haze, Matt would leave dishes in the sink for days, and I made the mistake of washing them myself, murmuring to myself in anger at this violation of my basic rights as a bill-paying resident of this apartment.

That’s where I went wrong. When you’re setting boundaries in your relationships, the most important element is letting everyone know just where your boundaries are. I shouldn’t have assumed that Lisa knew that it wasn’t appropriate to go into my room after we had redefined our relationship. When we were friends, she had spent the night in my bed with me, happy as kittens in a basket. After we had redefined our relationship - at parties, I introduced her as “Matt’s girlfriend,” not “my friend” like I had for years - I needed to tell her that I wanted my space back, that she could go into my room when given permission, not whenever she felt like it. I should have told Matt how I felt about Lisa spending the night every night. I gave away my voice, and no one could read my mind.

One of the trickiest situations is to have a friend move into the other’s home. They can be the best of friends; however, living with each other can drastically change things. They will learn personal things that probably did not want to know about the other person, and vice versa. It will be necessary to learn to share not only the TV, bathroom, washer/dryer but also bills and household chores. It’s wise to take on a roommate as far as money goes; but a person will need to ensure that the boundaries are clearly laid before the roommate sets up housekeeping.

Of course, friends do not have to share a home or even an office space to have respectable boundaries set. Our world is filled with technology that makes most people accessible whenever or wherever we may be. Because of the technology tsunami, many friends find it difficult to set boundaries on their personal time. Maybe I would have been okay with Lisa had I not been at the ready with a cellphone whenever she texted. Or maybe not. Either way, I needed to tell her that I needed space, and eventually I did.

When I finally opened my mouth to speak up for myself, Lisa and Matt were surprised. I seemed okay with everything. Of course I did. I was repressing my feelings in favor of theirs, and I let myself be miserable when I should have spoken openly and honestly about what I needed. My relationships with both of them are slowly rebuilding. We’re not as close as we used to be, but that’s no more their fault than it is mine.

Robert Frost opined that “good fences make good neighbors.” Does it mean that we have to be uncivil about it? Not at all. It does not mean that we have to be a door mat, either. Real friends enjoy each other within the given boundaries of friendship. When both sides respect the other, they can expect a lasting relationship.        

For more information on Dr Jim log onto LAtherapist.com.  For free audio listens and other products, log onto TheDrWaltonSeries.com