You & My Practice

Smiling and white-knuckling it, feeling used, misunderstood, ignored, or stuck…

You pleased others, performed as well as you could, fought your habits, kept the peace, and endured anxiety and disappointment. Tried to be good, hardworking, quiet, self-sufficient, normal, while not sticking out too much. But, even if no one says it, you feel judged and looked down upon if you don’t satisfy or keep up, and sometimes people do criticize or comment, and harshly.

You avoided inner and outer conflict, hoping for luck to give a total win, then just hoping for a partial one…

But your efforts did not lead to stable relationships, appreciation, love, or a feeling of safety. Or, bad things did happen anyway. Either way, now you’re confused. You thought it was probably your fault, somehow. So, you tried harder to ‘figure it out’ and repeated. But the tired routine of self-compromise, self-doubt, and crumbs of hope was finally not enough, and led to its own problems.

I’m Dr. Chris Michael, a licensed psychologist and therapist in Claremont, CA, and by distance technology throughout the state.

These days, I rarely treat people who are entitled, exploiting, or bullying. Usually, they don’t see their problem anyway. I do sometimes watch them in documentaries, while fooling with a guitar or petting a black cat. I learn about such people in continuing education, to help those who do not know how to handle them. I am a psychologist and therapist for the person everyone else sees as basically ‘together’ but is having trouble maintaining, or has recently lost, control.

You might feel you have lost control because the methods involved either:

1. Giving up too much control to keep others happy and pacified, or

2. Working even harder, when your energy is already tapped out

I help lifelong (or even professional) rule-followers, pleasers, and helpers, who are concerned about losing in a battle with difficult people, the strains of life, or burnout.

Many have been in situations like yours. Often, outside help is needed. Why?

It’s not about figuring out a secret formula, micro-analyzing, or a ripoff course in mind-reading or fortune-telling. But we of course wish or assume problems could be solved that way. I offer the next best thing, in fact, the only workable thing: a caring-yet-objective relationship you can depend on for support, insight, and guidance.

Such a relationship helps you accept hard things and examine your emotions, values, context, and options for effective action. Trying to read minds and do what they want, worry superstitiously to somehow control the future or others, etc., will not work That just leads to eventually being unfulfilled, further self-critical, regretful, or resentful.

So…what do YOU want?

I tell clients we can have some control over our lives, but humans often want total control. When I say ‘control’, you might think of forceful, bragging people on reality TV…or at the office…at the gym…or in line at the DMV…or in your home. Those are not the only ways control concerns come up. In fact, everyone is always trying to control one another, and to ‘self-control’, in one way or another.

Control-seeking can have subtler ‘flavors’: people-pleasing, over-thinking, overdoing, or avoidance.

So, in summary, I specialize in what is eating you: The problem of getting more choices and freedom in life without harming others, being used and abused, getting stuck in ‘try again’ routines, or a feeling that you will never measure up. A different solution is to try changing the measuring stick you’re using.

When you cannot see how to get unstuck, you can start to worry something will crumble. Let’s make sure it’s not you.

Long waits and searches are common when seeking mental health help. Typically, I answer within a business day. For a brief consultation call or email me securely, or request an appointment today.