Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Sam is overwhelmed with expectations of criticism

The night before Sam was to meet his successful friend, his head throbbed with pain. A humdinger of a migraine was coming on. His left eyelid went into a uncontrollable spasm. He started to feel nauseous and dizzy. Sam was overwhelmed with anticipatory anxiety that Jim would criticize him. He worked really hard to impress Jim, his long time guru. Getting Jim’s praise and encouragement to start his new business was the key to taking the risk.

Getting Jim’s attention was crucial to Sam

Sam had been here before. He recalled Jim’s harsh judgments and belittling comments every time Sam put out an opinion or idea. The more Jim knocked him down, the harder Sam tried to win his approval. Getting Jim’s attention and being part of Jim’s life was crucial to Sam’s sense of self-worth. If Jim’s eyes and words of acceptance didn’t fall on him, Sam felt diminished. Jim became the source of all positive feedback and validation from the world.

If his idol crashed, what would become of Sam?

Idols retain their flawless image because the beholder needs to believe in their perfection. Jim’s mistreatment was viewed as nothing other than a reflection of Sam’s inadequacy. To view it any other way would be to remove Jim from the pedestal that Sam had built and sustained over the years. If his idol crashed, what would become of Sam?

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photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Sam’s body comes to the rescue

Sam’s body came to the rescue. Jim showed great concern when he noticed Sam’s pale face, his slurred speech and his spasmming eye lid. Jim was very worried about Sam’s migraines that kept him out of action for days. He encouraged Sam to go to the doctor, he researched migraines on the internet and took time to be with his friend. Sam got his needs met without having to destroy his ideal.

Allergic to standing up for himself

Sam was not allergic to anything except standing up for himself. The eye tic, nausea and his headaches were his ticket to getting Jim’s caring attention. Sam had to be sick before he was treated in a decent way because he couldn’t bring himself to speak his true feelings.

Sam’s choice

Sams can keep getting migraines and other physical complaints, or take baby steps to discover why self-validation doesn’t feel appealing?

Sam’s allergy clears up

Sam started therapy when Jim got fed up of pandering to his migraines. In psychotherapy Sam discovered that he didn’t want to validate himself. It didn’t feel nearly as good as when others did it. He learned that the thrill of the chase to get Jim to notice and acknowledge his existence was an immensely powerful motivator. He had been willing to suffer excruciating and debilitating migraines just so that Jim would be attentive. Now that Jim was no longer willing to play the game, Sam was forced to take care of his own self-image. It was hard and it didn’t feel real for a long time.

Eventually, Sam took ownership of the power to make himself feel good. He learned how to check in with himself, and honor what he thought and felt. He began respecting his ideas and was willing to express them.