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12/15/2010

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Dr. Meyer

Dear Mela, I am sorry you are feeling so bad. Have you considered talking to a professional therapist?

Dr. Meyer

Mela

Dr. Meyer I tried your suggestions but I still am feeling lost and started to dislike myself, and this feeling getting bigger like a snowball.

Dr. Meyer

Your turmoil suggests clues to your unmet needs. You feel lost, unsuccessful, and dissatisfied. What kinds of satisfactions are missing? What aspects of your self are unfulfilled - are they primitive, social, or reasonable? Think back over your early life and consider what may have been neglected. Recognizing undeveloped aspects of your self helps you know what types of growth you need. Notions of success vary enormously across families and cultures. Consider your expectations. Where did these notions come from? What is a successful grown up to you? Motherhood, marriage, and a doctorate in your chosen field leave you unsatisfied. Are you in touch with your emotional self? Your emotions are seeking expression - try to figure out what they are trying to say. Keep paying attention. March’s posts about Becoming an Emotional Detective may help you start investigating and deciphering your discontent. Perhaps you should get a notebook and study yourself rather than looking to your husband. If that doesn't help, consider some counseling or talking to a psychologically minded friend. Best of luck!

Mela

I finished my Ph.d. couple months ago. I have a nice marriage, nice husband and almost a year old baby. But I always feel like I am extremely unsuccessfull. I do not work for now. But Every minute I want to do something different. I am a very good artist (with no education) and I want to get an education on art and then I want to go to medical school to become a pediatrician, and then I want to open up a local kids bookstore, etc etc. I am already 37 and I feel lost and my husband is slowly loosing his patience with me because I bother him with the same question everyday: what to do when I grow up. I am lost. what can I do?

Dr. Meyer

Perhaps it is useful to think of your lack of memories as a clue. The next question is a clue to what? They suggest a certain amount of disconnection, although we can't be sure from what. Keep an open mind. Search for other emotional clues about your childhood. Try to imagine your inner experience during your childhood, even if you can't remember details. Think about the ongoing difficulties and major events of family lore. Use old photographs, art work from childhood, lyrics to your favorite songs as a teenager, old journals, creative writing, report cards, even old doodles. Talk to trusted others about how you were as a child. Begin to tell your own emotional story from the clues you have available. There may be some things you never know, but you can try to reconstruct some of your past emotional experience. This may make it easier to reconnect memories that have gone missing.

Kathryn

Both my older sisters were sexually abused by our ( now deceased ) father. Neither of them have ever sought counselling or therapy, beyond their Christian faith. I have no recollection of my father abusing me, but knowing what I do about the nature of sexual predators, it seems strange that I somehow "escaped" abuse. It is true that I have very few memories of my childhood. Perhaps only five clear memories prior to 10 years old. And these memories are pleasant. But is that normal to have so few memories? I don't think much of sex, but maybe that's more to being menopausal than anything else! Prior to menopause I was quite okay with sex but not permiscuous. Do you think a lack of childhood memories is
unusual?

Elsita

Thanks a million!
I will get the book.
This is an area where I really need to educate myself.
The more I understand it the more able I will be to help my daughter. She's so extremely sensitive and also so expressive
in terms of emotions. She tends to over react but I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that she demands lots of attention from me. Because she has an Autistic brother who needs lots of help. I think that it is her way to say: I need help too, even if I am not Autistic.
Thanks a lot again!

Dr. Meyer

Overall, I think the most important thing is to bring your daughter's attention to her emotions as you observe them. Basically I suggest you try to narrate her emotional experience for her when you spend time together. This helps her know who she is, and that you understand. The hardest part of this instruction is when she has emotions that you don't particularly like. For example, if she seems envious or angry when she "oughtn't", it can be hard to remain understanding. These are the times it is especially important to remember that she is not choosing her emotions, they are automatic responses beyond her control. When you are truly calm, let her know by your interest in her emotions and your accepting tone of voice (not necessarily your words) that it's okay for her to have any emotional reaction - even if it is not okay to give vent to all of the accompanying impulses. If both of you can accept her emotional reactions, even if you don't like them, then they don't need to be masked and go underground. It then becomes easier to manage the impulses that go with the emotions. John Gottman Ph.D. wrote a book called Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child that might be interesting to you.

Elsita

Here is my question:
How, as a parent, can I encourage my 7 year old daughter to be in touch with her own emotions?

Thanks a lot Dr. for the opportunity to ask questions on your blog, it's highly appreciated.
:)

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  • Dr. Meyer has worked in private practice in West Los Angeles for over 25 years, and is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA and her B.A. from Oberlin College.


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