How to be neurotic and miserable

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Ted Crawford, Clinical Therapist

We are not suffering from a shortage of “self-help gurus”. In fact, we may be suffering from “guru-overload”. Some, like wiggling dogs scratching for an “open door”, gladly give their advice away, but most want to trade it for your Visa number. Either way, the sheer volume of conflicting ideas can be so discouraging that it makes you want to cross “get happy” off your list and just go with “not well”. Hey, it would be one less reason to spin your wheels. If this sounds appealing, or if you were considering it anyway, take notice: becoming neurotic may be freeing, but it ain’t free. It’s work. It’s digging in and focusing. Fortunately (and because I care), I offer the following to help you begin your journey. Enjoy!

Adopt excessively high personal expectations and consider yourself a failure if you don’t live up to them. For starters, when your feet hit the floor in the morning, embrace your new Life Coaches: Should, Ought and Must. Share your day with them, working, eating, inviting them into your thoughts, etc. What the heck, at days end, lend them some jammies and take them to bed with you, too! They do take up a lot of space, however, so insist that your partner make other sleeping arrangements (see, your life’s falling apart already!). With these advisors, your potential will run wild! For instance, you should be better than normal. Normalcy, of course, means “living the dream” and always keeping your head together, or at least keeping the appearance. You must obtain (and maintain) all the things that make you feel acceptable, i.e., a beautiful house, kept clean and organized, new vehicles every few years, a mega app berry phone thingy, an important looking job and, of course, you must stun people with your looks, including all the hottest clothes that a Bow Flex bod (like yours should be) can wear. How does one do all this? By “optimizing your credit utilization potential” (yes, the debt will blow your mind, but only if you waste time looking at your statements… try to stay focused here, okay?).

Re: family, yours should be a reasonable facsimile of the folks on the back of the Cheerios box: beautiful, happy and so repressed that the cardboard of the box has more flavor than all of their personalities poured into one bowl (trust me, fully developed identities only threaten your mission. These people tend to frown on being boxed in by randomly conceived notions about what’s “acceptable”… go figure). Since you and your spouse’s choice to marry indicates that you were “meant to be together”, your perception of vital issues should naturally be “as one” also. By the same logic, if you’re capable of producing offspring, surely you will be capable parents. If marriage/family problems do penetrate this system somehow, try to neutralize them as quickly as possible, with minimal discussion. Otherwise, it gets ugly, as conflict is a sign that your spouse or kids don’t love you anymore. Use a similar yardstick with friends. Seek the most attractive but plastic people you can find to call “your circle”, because those not likely to be in touch with their feelings (much less talk about them) won’t expect it from you either. Of course, close that social circle off to outsiders once you’ve got it like you like it.

NOTE: In order to keep the above expectations alive: 1) Never question your ideals or how you got them. Just assume that they are flawless, as well as your understanding of them. Also, true neurotics aren’t scared to lose their soul compulsively chasing after whatever looks like might fit those ideals. Why? Because anything less than living up to them and being fully competent in every task is pitiful, and the fear of looking pitiful fuels the OCD you need to be successful! 2) Avoid change like the plague! This same fear can also trigger the opposite approach in which you simply steer clear of all that “achievement” foolishness in the first place. After all, goals involve risks that are too… um, risky; like inviting a lot of messy “unknowns” right into your beautiful house to track up your beautiful floors! So unless change is scripted, dodge it. Is all this sinking in yet? It should be. Basically, it’s a matter of needing your life to be sanitized and sparkling, but spraying “Spring Blossom” scent all over it just in case, so you and others won’t detect anything unpleasant. Your motto is simple: “I should, therefore I must” Period. No need to complicate things beyond that, thank you very much. Leave that to those “keep it in perspective” types who can’t keep their yard (or hair) looking as fine as yours.

Ted Crawford is a Clinical Therapist for FGH’s Employee Assistance Program, which provides counseling for hospital employees and their families. He is licensed in Marriage and Family Therapy and works with clients on a wide range of issues including depression, anger, anxiety and trauma. Ted also facilitates the local Domestic Violence Intervention Program for men with anger and control issues.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

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