How to Identify and Overcome Difficulties in Life
About 7-10 years ago, I’ve got this guy sitting next to me. He’s probably mid-to-late 70s. He had spent his entire life as a boat manufacturer and mechanic. Also, we happened to be sitting at a boat race. The way this boat race worked is we’re on the shoreline of the river. So, we’re sitting right at the starting line. There are probably 50 boats in this race. When the green flag drops, they start their motors, and they take off.
Well, some of the boats don’t start. One of them happened to be right in front of us. The guy’s continuing to try to start as motor. John, leans over towards 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 and said, “John, why would you say that?” Within like three seconds, the guy tried to start it again. As a result, there was a loud, Boom! The engine catches on fire. While these guys are trying to put the fire out, I look at John and said, “How did you know that?” 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 your videos?” Well, remember, I’m trying to help you all. I’ve spent my entire career working with individuals. The goal is trying to help them get through mental health issues and get to emotional health. Therefore, not struggling with mental health issues. Instead, they have emotional health and tend to 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.
Depression & Anxiety – The Common Colds of Mental Health
You all hear me talk regularly about depression and anxiety. They are like the common colds of mental illness. Eventually, we’re going to catch it. The severity and length may vary, but it will catch up with us at some time or another. That’s normal. I’m going to use that story as an example to make my points.
- Things that appear to be totally random may not be.
- If you can understand, you can predict.
- It doesn’t have to be complicated.
I provide information in these videos for guidance and help. Like I said, I’ve spent my career helping individuals overcome emotional challenges. Additionally, I’m hoping that I can help you identify and overcome the difficulties that hold you back.
Some 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.” As I just said, depression is 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. As a result, they will minimize it. Over time, it will continue get worse.
Think about it like this. If I’m physically ill I need to rest. Similarly, If I don’t take medicine and I don’t allow myself to heal, there’s potential that I’ll get even sicker. I’m going to tell you that it’s the same with depression.
Why Do We Avoid Talking About Depression & Anxiety?
It’s unfortunate, but, when you look at how we’re socialized, we’re taught to understand that we don’t need to look at our feelings. We’re taught to minimize them and overlook them. We’re told “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 we have this tendency to avoid things that are painful. We may make judgments about things, especially feelings. Then ends up shaping the way we see the world.
How Does Avoiding My Feelings Create More Problems?
The problem becomes the thoughts about the feelings which we’re trying to endure become inaccurate. Then, they make our view of the world inaccurate. Here’s the point. We may feel a specific way at the moment, and then we immediately make a judgment about it. Therefore, there may be flaws in the way we interpreted those events in the moment.
For example, when people are depressed they may have a negative viewpoint or outlook. As a result, that starts to shape how they see the world. Above all, how they see themselves. A good therapist is going to help people recognize the distortions in their thinking, and help them develop a more accurate perspective.
I could have a bad experience with someone. Then I could look back at it and think that’s my fault. Maybe, I start to think people don’t like me. Perhaps, things continue to happen to me and I just have bad luck. For those who have experienced trauma the process may be similar. They may think, “traumatic situations continue to happen to me. It must be something about me.” They may start to internalize these things. They may start to believe things about themselves that may not be true. Then it starts to perpetuate into all areas of their life.
How Can Good Therapy Help?
Good therapy is not just coming in and talking about your feelings. It’s a process of learning to acknowledge your feelings and some of the thoughts that are associated with them. Then determining what might be accurate.
Just because I have a bad experience with someone doesn’t mean it was me. I might even have multiple experiences with someone that didn’t go well. I could start to think, “Well, Jerry, you’re the common denominator.” That may be true. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all me. Maybe I’m choosing 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 in a negative way? Am I a bad person? Do people don’t like me? Or, is it that I have associated myself with people that just aren’t very friendly? Just because someone experienced something unfortunate or traumatic, doesn’t mean that they’re broken or damaged.
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. When I start to ask myself, “Why am I feeling that way? Why do I think something in this way?” I can figure out how my thoughts became distorted.
What if Individual Therapy is not Enough?
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. I’m here to help you all. At Nsight, we have clients who have struggled with severe depression, severe PTSD, trauma, anxiety, where it’s been so overwhelming, it impairs the way they function in life.
It started to impair their life, their relationships, their work, so then they come here. What they do is intensive work in group and individual therapy. They spend time looking at how it is that they feel. They learn to start asking themselves questions like, “Why is it that I feel a specific way? How have interactions and things in my life impacted the way I see myself? How I see the world?” 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 learn to 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? How do I see myself and my surroundings and my environment?
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.
I’m not going to say someone’s feelings are right or wrong. I’m not going to be judgmental about their feelings. If I’m the person struggling, what I want to do is acknowledge my feelings. Then I want to make sure that I accurately assess the situation. Then 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? Can I prevent it from happening in the future?
What Steps do I Take to Work Through My Feelings?
- You want acknowledge what you feel.
- Then ask yourself, “Why am I feeling that way?” It’s going to take more than one answer to answer all the whys. I might say, “Well, I feel this way because…,” and then I only give one answer. I might have to examine my own responses a couple of times. Then I might ask myself, “Well, why is it this, and why is it that?”
- As I’m going through this with my feelings, I want to be able to recognize what’s going on with me. That way I can figure out what specifically is causing me to feel this way. Were there choices I was making that put me in a situation that was not good? If so, I can take that knowledge and next time I can shape my outcome instead of being subjected to it.
- After asking myself why and acknowledging my feelings, I’m going to ask myself why. I’m going to look for themes. I’m trying to see if there were certain choices I’ve made that pushed me in a direction I didn’t want to go.
What you’re looking for in therapy is receiving support that goes beyond just talking about things. You want to work toward 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 though can’t predict the future, you can start to see patterns. Then can learn to influence your environment a little bit better. You always want to increase your emotional strength. If I can acknowledge what I feel, I can try to make sense of it. I start to understand how events have impacted me and why I feel a certain way. Now I can look at creating an environment that I want to be in. 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’m going to leave it on this note. Remember, to maintain good physical health, you have to put in effort. It takes pain. I’ve got to work out, I need to eat right, and get enough sleep. I need to make sure that I’m doing things that promote physical health, so I’m less likely to feel ill.
The same thing is true 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 could be very painful. No different than going to the gym. But, it’s also a process of taking what 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. It will 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).