Dealing with Feelings
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The Lambda-Mu chapter had as a guest speaker Dr. Sandra Cole the director of the University of Michigan gender program recently. In a question and answer session one of the wives likened the adjustment to finding out that their husband was a CD to grieving. because she felt she had lost part of her husband.  

The shock of finding out that your SO is Transgendered is very much akin to grieving, the following is an attempt to help you deal with it.

The process is

An event of sufficient magnitude to be allowed without justification
Not self contained
Without order or sequence
A "feeling state" (Not a Stage)

Key concepts

What you are feeling is the spontaneous, natural, necessary feeling-based process that moves one to separate from a lost dream, fantasy, illusion, or projection into the future, impels a search for meaning in the light of loss, and then guides one to more authentic being, expressed through new attachments that are more congruent with one's evolved, natural self. The process is driven by the interplay of denial, anxiety, depression, guilt, anger, and fear, each of which serves a specific function. Denial and anxiety are forces that govern the process of separation from the lost dream, and impel one to undertake the search for new meaning. Depression, guilt, anger, and fear are the affective states that impel the examination and redefinition of core existential values, and prepare one to recommit to the existential tasks of authentic being.

Feeling states

Denial helps one buy time to find the inner strength and external resources that are needed to cope with a feeling of loss. Through the gating process of the layers of denial, one is eased into an unacceptable, incomprehensible reality in manageable steps.

Anxiety first mobilizes energy, and then impels one to examine personal definitions of competency, capability, value, and potency, and how such assumptions shape one's beliefs about the nature of the universe and one's place in it. Ultimately, guilt prepares one to make commitments, and to assume accountability for them.

Anger impels one to examine core assumptions about the nature of fairness and justice, and how such assumptions shape one's beliefs about the nature of the universe and one's place in it. Ultimately, anger prepares one to maintain boundaries that are consistent with who you are.

Fear impels one to examine the basis of one's personal courage, and how such assumptions shape one's beliefs about the nature of the universe and one's place in it. Fear prepares one to face the dilemma inherent in risking attachment. Ultimately, fear impels one to search for the courage to be.

Transition is the phase shaped by the dynamics of denial and anxiety, and focused on the discovery and the adaptation of self.

Active growth process shaped by the dynamics of depression, guilt, anger, and fear, and focused on the discovery and separation from the injured self.

Transformation is the process shaped by the dynamics of congruence and the performance of existential tasks, focused on the uncovering and empowerment of the whole self.

Relating to those in crisis:

In the process of trying to "help" loved ones and friends as they struggle to deal with the problems they encounter, "helpers" often feel at a loss to know what to do or how to do it. In addition, knowing when enough is "enough" is an illusive bit of knowledge. We somehow know that we are supposed to "relate" to the people we are trying to help but the definition of "relate" is not always a clear or consistent concept. Further more, we are often left with an uneasy feeling that, though we have "related" to the person's feelings and issues, we have just not done enough. The concept of ENUF was formulated by Dr. Kenneth Moses and Dr. Robert Keamey to answer the question, "When is enough ENUF?"






Empathy is the concerted effort to gain an accurate perception of another's experience, and then to share that perception in one's own words, unique style and personal manner. It must be intentional, focused and accurate. It is more than " active listening".

Non-judgement is achieved through the helper maintaining a focus that removes the element of judgment, positive or negative. It is not the task of the helper to determine whether the person being helped is functioning "good" or "bad", rather the task is to gain an accurate perception of the person's experience.

Unconditionality is the name given for the beliefs that helpers hold for the person they are helping. An unconditional posture basically holds that a person cannot earn respect, value or caring, nor can they lose them. People are respected, valued, and cared for simply because they are.

Feeling-focus is a way of looking at the experience that the person shares. This focus is contrasted with the content as understood by the helper. To facilitate or "help" the person who is sharing the experience. The helper must first focus on that person's feelings, which are the indicator of the connection between the underlying issues and behavior on the surface. Only the person sharing the experience knows what it is until it is shared and understood by the listener.

DENIAL INTERVENTION: Helping with Stuckness

Although denial is a part of a normal, necessary and healthy process, sometimes it is advantageous for all concerned to facilitate the process. When contemplating such an intervention, it is important to remember that one does not give up denial unless it is replaced with something that will work better. A genuine, meaningful relationship often outweighs the benefits of denial. Therefore, all of the following interventions are done within the context of ENUF.

Level of Denial: Intervention:

Facts Gather behavioral observations from the individual and other first hand sources, and restate those facts without imposing conclusions or judgments.

Conclusions, Provided the individual with impersonal, unbiased exposure to experts through books, films, or, preferably, in person through support groups.

Implications, Process and confront resistance to change by requiring a commitment and follow through on a helpful task or action.


Last modified: 12/24/13