How to Identify and Overcome Difficulties in Life
About, I don’t know, 7-10 years ago, I’ve got this guy sitting next to me. He’s probably mid-to-late 70s, let’s say around 75, 77 and he had spent his entire life as a boat manufacturer and mechanic. We happened to be sitting at a boat race. The way this boat race worked is we’re on the shoreline of the river. We’re sitting right here, and there’s probably 50 boats in this race. When the green flag drops, they start their motors, and they take off.
We’re sitting there, and the green flag goes down. The guys start their boats, and they start off on the race. Well, some of the boats don’t start, and one of them happened to be right in front of us. The guy’s continuing to try to start as motor. John who’s sitting next to me, he leans into me, and he says, “Hey, Jerry, if that guy tries to start that motor one more time, it’s going to catch on fire.”
I just kind of looked at him like, “John, why would you say that?” and within like three seconds, the guy tried to start it again, and boom, engine catches on fire. While these guys are trying to put the fire out, I look at him, and it was like, “How did you know this?” In a very simplistic way, he told me, “Based on this, this, and this, that was the only thing left that was going to happen.”
You could say, “Jerry, why are you sharing a story about a boat motor? What does that have to do with psychology and in your videos?” Well, remember, I’m trying to help you guys. I’ve spent my entire career working with individuals trying to help them get through mental health issues, get to emotional health, people that don’t have mental health issues but to have emotional health and be happy and live very fulfilling lives. There’s a lot of things that we deal with on a regular basis that, on a daily basis that can make things difficult.
You guys hear me talk about depression and anxiety, common colds and mental illness, they’re around all the time. Eventually, we’re going to catch it. The severity and length that we have may vary, but it will catch up with us at some time or another. That’s normal. But the point I’m trying to make is, and I’m going to use that story as an example, that things that appear to be totally random may not be. Secondly, if you can understand, you can predict, and three, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Again, I provide this information in these videos for guidance and help. Like I said, I’ve spent my career helping individuals overcome emotional challenges, and I’m hoping that I can help you identify and overcome these difficulties that hold you back. Again, one of the common things I hear from people is, “I’m depressed,” “I’m in a funk,” “I feel overwhelmed,” “I’m worried,” “I’m anxious.” Like I just said, the thing about depression, it’s like the common cold of mental illness. Like any illness, the question is, can it be avoided? Most people don’t want to admit they get depressed, and they’ll minimize it, and over time, it’ll continue get worse.
Think about it like this. If I’m physically ill, and I don’t rest, I don’t take medicine, I don’t allow myself to heal, there’s potential that I’ll get sicker. I’m going to tell you that it’s the same truth with depression. It’s unfortunate, but most of us are, when you look at how we’re socialized, are taught to understand that we don’t need to look at our feelings. We’re taught to minimize them, overlook them, don’t feel that way, “It’s all in your head,” as opposed to recognizing the connection that our feelings have to our environment and how they impact our thoughts.
When you think about it, when things are painful, we have this tendency to avoid it. We may make judgments about things, especially feelings. Then that ends up shaping the way we see the world. Then the problem becomes our thoughts about the feelings that we’re trying to endure become inaccurate, and then they make our view of the world inaccurate. The reason why I’m saying this, we may feel a specific thing, and then we immediately make a judgment about it, and then never thinking that the way that we have now interpret it, there may be flaws in what we’ve done.
For example, there could be a relationship to it, and it changes our perspective. For example, when people are depressed, there’s usually a negative viewpoint or outlook. The bad part is when it starts to, in fact, how they see the world they see themself is how they start to see everything. The way therapy is supposed to work is a good therapist is going to help people recognize the distorted ways in which their thinking, and develop a more accurate perspective.
Again, I could have a bad experience with somebody, and then I could look at it that “that’s my fault, people don’t like me, bad things continue to happen to me, I just have bad luck.” For people that have experienced traumatic situations that “traumatic situations continue to happen to me, and it must be something about me,” so they start to internalize these things. They start to believe things about themself that may not be true, and then it starts to perpetuate into all areas of their life.
Again, like I was saying, good therapy is not just coming in and talking about your feelings, but it’s being able to acknowledge your feelings and some of the thoughts that are associated with them that could be accurate. Just because I have a bad experience with someone doesn’t mean it was me. I could have multiple experiences that aren’t good with someone, and I could say, “Well, Jerry, you’re the common denominator.” May be true, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all me. Maybe I’m picking to be around people that don’t treat me well. This is where our thoughts can get in the way. Do I see the world as negatively that I’m a bad person, people don’t like me and so forth, or is it that I have associated myself with people that just aren’t very friendly?
Again, just because someone experienced something unfortunate or traumatic, it doesn’t mean that they’re broken or damaged. Again, good therapy helps someone accurately identify inaccurate thoughts that negatively influence the way they see the world and themselves. That’s why it is so important to be asking yourself why. The question why is, is you can, when you ask, “Why am I feeling that way,” or, “Why do I think something in this way?” I can figure out how my thoughts became distorted.
I’m going to interject real quick. I want to do this because I’ve been talking for a while, and some of you guys may not know who I am. For those of you that don’t know who I am, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso. I’m the clinical director at Nsight Psychology & Addiction in Newport Beach, California, and I’m here to help you guys. At Nsight, we get patients and clients all the time that have struggled with severe depression, severe PTSD, trauma, anxiety, where it’s been so overwhelming, it impairs the way they can function.
When they come, and it’s when you need treatment beyond individual therapy, they may go and have seen an individual therapist, they may have seen a psychiatrist, therapy just hasn’t been effective. It started to impair their life, their relationship, their work, so then they come in here. What they do is they spend a lot of time looking at, and this is in group and individual therapy, but they spend time looking at how it is that they feel, start to ask themselves questions on why, like, “Why is it that I feel a specific way, how have incidents in interactions and things in my life impacted the way I see myself and see the world,” and then they start to understand that, “Hey, maybe the way I was seeing things may not be totally accurate.”
I’m not saying that they say their feelings aren’t accurate. They would totally acknowledge their feelings. Their feelings are 100%. This how I feel. But the important part is how do I think about what it is that I feel and how do I see myself and my surroundings and my environment? Again, when it comes to good therapy, you don’t learn by being told something. You learn by thinking things through so you develop a true understanding. This is why you need to always ask yourself why. To work through difficulties, it takes effort. It can be overwhelming. It can be painful, but not working through them is painful as well.
When it comes to, “Hey, I have certain feelings,” I’m not going to say those feelings are right or wrong. I’m not going to be judgmental about it. What I want to do is acknowledge my feelings, and then I want to make sure that I accurately assess the situation so I can determine how it is that I came to feel this way, can I see similarities or themes in my life that is causing this to reoccur, and can I prevent it from happening in the future?
Three things. First thing you want to do is acknowledge what you feel, and then ask yourself, “Why am I feeling that way?” It’s going to take maybe more than one answer to answer all the whys. I can say, “Well, I feel this way because,” and then I only give one answer, but then why is that I feel that way? Then I might ask myself, “Well, why is it this, and why is it that?” As I’m going through this stuff, what I want to be able to do is recognize this is what’s going on with me, and that way, I can figure out was there certain things causing it, were there choices I was making that was getting me involved in it, and I can get a better understanding being able to maybe shape my outcome instead of being subjected by it. After asking myself why… well, I’m going to acknowledge my feelings. I’m going to ask myself why, and then I’m going to look for themes and see if there were certain choices that I’ve made that kind of pushed me in that direction.
Here’s the thing, if you find yourself struggling in individual therapy, you don’t see there’s enough there, it’s not creating change in your life, again, that’s what treatment programs like Nsight do. I’ll do videos later that kind of explain different levels of care and how you can get treatment and what is beneficial and even how, I’ll probably comment too about how insurance companies see treatment and how they pay for things and so forth.
But again, what you’re looking for is where you can receive support that goes beyond just talking about things and how you can build your emotional health. Remember, the goal is not just to overcome mental illness. It’s develop emotional strength, and then you can manage any challenge. Even if you can predict things that are coming up, and you can kind of see patterns and you can kind of influence your environment a little bit better, you always want to increase your emotional strength. One of the things is looking at when things occur to me, how is it that I can acknowledge what I feel, I can try to make sense of it and understand why it is it’s impacted me in a certain way, why I feel a certain way. Then I can look at how do I create an environment I surround myself with specific people or situations that actually promote growth and my overall emotional health?
Again, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso from Nsight Psychology & Addiction. I wanted to just drop this video real quick to get you guys to understand there are some predictable things in life if I can understand why things develop in a certain way. I got to start with acknowledging what it is that I feel. I got to understand why I feel a specific way, and I’ve got to make sure my thoughts are accurate in terms of why my world is unfolding in a specific fashion. While we don’t have control of everything, we do have a control of a lot of things, and that can shape our emotional health.
I’m going to leave it on this one last part too. Remember, to maintain good physical health, you got to put in effort. It takes pain. I’ve got to work out. I’ve got to eat right. I’ve got to sleep. I’ve got to make sure that I’m doing things that promote physical health, I’m less likely to feel ill. Same thing with emotional health. The real work is not done in an individual therapy session. I’m not saying work is not done there because it is, and it’s, could be very painful, no different than going to the gym, but it’s also done outside of there, that you’ve got to take what it is that you’ve learned about yourself and begin to apply it. That can be anxiety-provoking. It can be stressful. It could be depressing at times, but it’s beneficial. The more practice you get, the better you’re going to get, and it’ll continue to lead to your emotional growth and strength.
Until next time, keep looking for the answers. Look at why, and help yourself to keep growing. I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso. Nsight Psychology & Addiction, and I will see you next time.
Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Grosso is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience assisting individuals and families struggling with addiction, depression and trauma. He obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from San Diego State University before enrolling in Chapman University where he acquired a Master of Arts degree in Psychology. Dr. Grosso continued his education and received a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology with a Specialty in treating Chemical Dependency. He holds a professional membership with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).