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SELF-HELP COLUMN

Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.


How to Create a Life of Love, Joy, and Happiness
by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

I recently appeared on a radio call-in talk show. I was asked to talk about alcoholism and the impact that growing up in an alcoholic family has on all of the family members. A listener called in and explained that she had been raised by an alcoholic mother and an alcoholic father. She said that at the age of thirty-two she was just now coming to grips with how she was affected by being raised by alcoholic parents. She told me that she had no intention of spending the rest of her life blaming her parents for whatever her personal struggles were. She believed that it would be far more beneficial for her to learn how to take responsibility for her own emotional and spiritual well-being. So she asked me the following question, what can I do to make my life as full of joy and happiness as is possible?

My answer was simple and to the point, “No matter what the circumstances may be or may have been in your life, you and only you are responsible for your emotional and spiritual well-being. Each and every one of us is responsible for how happy we are and how fulfilled we make our lives. There’s no obstacle big enough, no person cruel enough, no set of circumstances complex enough to prevent you from claiming what is rightfully yours—a fulfilling, meaningful life full of love, compassion, and joy.”

Having said that I then shared with her a formula for emotional and spiritual well- being. I outlined for her a path to a life in which her sorrow could be soothed by the balm of forgiveness and acceptance, where her heart could be filled with love for and by others, and that her soul could be filled with serenity. First, she needed to heal a lifetime worth of accumulated emotional wounds. Second, she needed to end the war that she waged with her Self. Third, she needed to love and be loved by the people in her life. Fourth, she needed to [re]connect with her spiritual power.

Simply put, if you live long enough, you’ll have accumulated your share of emotional wounds. Emotional wounding is simply unavoidable, no matter your circumstances, intelligence, maturity, or station in life. What are the wounds that you’ve experienced in your life? Being loved imperfectly by your parents and other family members. Experiencing betrayal by somebody you invested your love and trust in. Feeling victimized by people who put their selfish interests ahead of your emotional well-being. Being valued more for what you do and less for who you are. Being shamed for having emotional needs. Being seen as weak for experiencing and expressing your feelings.

There are six steps to healing your emotional wounds: 1.) Acknowledge what your wounds are, 2.) Acknowledge the feelings that are attached to those wounds, 3.) Express the feelings that are attached to those wounds, 4.) Forgive the person who inflicted a particular wound(s), 5.) Let go of your self-righteous indignation, and 6.) Repeat steps two through 4 as often as is necessary. You can learn more about how to heal your emotional wounds by reading Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. book, Stepping Out of the Shadows: [Re]Connecting With Your Life’s Journey.

Ending the war that you wage with your Self simply means letting go of the judgments that you hold about your Self and replace those judgments with self-love and self-acceptance. What is the war that you wage with your Self? You judge yourself for who you are. You judge yourself for what you’re not. You disown those aspects of yourself that you can’t tolerate about yourself. You belittle and demean those qualities about your Self of which you are ashamed. What are the steps to ending the war you wage with your Self? You need to: 1.) Claim those aspects of your Self that you are unwilling to embrace as authentic parts of your Self, 2.) Legitimize those parts of your Self that you hold negative judgments about, 3.) Celebrate those qualities and characteristics that make you uniquely who you are. You can learn more about how to end the war that you wage with your Self,  by reading Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. books, Moving Mountains: Magical Choices for Empowering Your Life’s Journey and Stepping Out of the Shadows: [Re]Connecting With Your Life’s Journey.

Your life can’t attain its richest and fullest potential without your willingness to openly and freely love and be loved by the people in your life. Yet most of us, when it comes to matters of the heart, are reduced to well-intended but inevitably misunderstood bumbling and stumbling souls who are more times than not inept receivers and providers of emotional nurturance. I have found the biggest problem people have when it comes to creating loving relationships is that they simply don’t know how to do what it is that they need to do. There are three critical skill sets that you need to develop in order to create emotionally intimate relationships that are energized by warmth and love. Those skill sets are: 1.) Effective skills that enable two people to feel safe with one another, 2.) Effective communication skills that enable two people to know each other, and 3.) Effective conflict resolution skills that enable two people to resolve unacknowledged relationship issues. You can learn more about how to enrich your relationships by reading Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. books, Building Better Bridges: Creating Great Relationships With the People Who Matter Most and Making Molehills Out of Mountains: Reclaiming Your Personal Power In Your Relationships. 

The last area of growth and development is in the realm of spirituality. Spirituality is an attitude towards life that involves your mind, body, and soul. The attitude is that you are the creation of a sacred or divine energy and, as such, are not only more than you ever imagined yourself to be but more than you can ever imagine yourself to be. Spirituality is the direct connection to and experience of the sacred and supreme values of life. A spiritual practice empowers one to experience that which is most central and essential to their life. The ultimate aim of spirituality is awakening—that is to know your true and authentic Self. You can learn more about how to develop a spiritual practice by reading Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. book, Stepping Out of the Shadows: [Re]Connecting With Your Life’s Journey.

Be mindful of what I said in the beginning of this article. It is not your past that is the determinant of your emotional and spiritual well-being. The critical determinant of how successful you will ultimately be at healing, growing, and evolving is your willingness to take responsibility for creating your own joy and happiness. Make no mistake, what I have outlined in this article is a lifetime of work but work that each and every one was put here to undertake.

Pathfinder’s Checklist

1.) Read a book about personal growth, relationships, and/or spirituality.
2.) Join a reading group that focuses on the topics associated with personal growth.
3.) Seek out like-minded individuals who are interested in sharing in your journey as well as having you share in their journey.
4.) Find support groups whose focus of personal growth is similar to your focus.
5.) Find a qualified individual psychotherapist that can facilitate the type of therapeutic experience that will enable you to do the uncovering and healing work described above.
6.) Find a qualified group psychotherapist that can facilitate the type of therapeutic experience that will enable you to do the type of personal growth and relationship work described above.

G.B.U.

Steve





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