The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Happiness Lost

I can't feel emotions due to my unaffectionate dad and I abandoned my own kid.

(this is raw unedited text, computer transcribed directly from the audio, without voice inflection, pauses etc. Sometimes this results in the text implying the opposite of the intended meaning.)

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Hi, Dr. Kenner. I just can't feel anything. happiness, love. What does it mean? I'm not a happy human being. Everything started when I was a kid. I'm an only child and I always wanted to be accepted by my dad. He's never said he was proud of me or that he loves me. Nothing, absolutely nothing. Since childhood, I've been trying to prove to my dad and myself that I am worth something. I love Tom, in my teens, and I became a father when I was 18. I married and divorced a few years later, I couldn't handle family life, the routine, it was too much. I was struggling. One day, I packed my backpack. And that was it. I never came back. I love my 12 year old daughter, Mary. And I call her by phone twice a year, I'm getting a chance to see her she doesn't live in the same country. I've made many other poor choices in my life. I cheated on a girlfriend, I drink too much. How do I become happier? Joe.

Joe, you need to stop running. You need to, if you can, get some professional help. You sound open to it now. And what do you do? At first I want to deal with your daughter, then I'll go back into talking a little about a bit a little bit about your past relationship with your dad and your choices you made. So what do you do when you meet up with your daughter? You know, she's already she's already a 12 year old kid. Now. What do you do?

Well, you want to acknowledge the truth to her. You don't want a lot of lies, you don't want excuse making you know, my dad made me do it or something. And you want to do it in a way that doesn't stress her out that doesn't add layers of adult stuff into her very young life. So you want to do so in an age appropriate way. In fact, what I might even suggest is to check with her first to make sure she wants to meet up with you. You know, she may not she's 12 years old, and it's a long time to go without having a dad in her life or someone that will call so what maybe twice a year. And she may have another person in her life that she considers a dad and it may just really mess up the waters and you know, make things really confusing for her. So you might write to her in advance or email her or maybe talk to her mom. And you might ask if you do it directly with her, you might say something along the following lines, of course, you'll find your own words, you could say this again to your 12 year old daughter.

Hi, Mary. This is awkward for me since I so regret having left you in the past, I've made excuses for that, that I never felt love from my dad. But that's even more reason that I should not have abandoned you. Since my life was such a mess at the time. And I'm only starting to learn new skills. Perhaps my leaving home spared you having to deal with my drinking etc. Of course, it would have been much better if I had learned how to cope better earlier without the drinking. And I imagine it was very difficult for you. Now we have the opportunity to meet. First, let me know if you want this. I want to meet with you only if you have some interest in doing so you can use it as an opportunity to ask me questions or to fill me in on your life, you know what's important to you. Or we can just keep it very low key if you prefer. I wish I had not run away in the past but have to accept that I did. Let me know what you would like.

And I might not sign it dad because I don't know how she sees you. So these are my words, I don't have your full context and they're not going to replace your words you need to be true to yourself. And you want to make sure you don't overload her. She's a 12 year old kid with telling her details of your life and varied kind of sordid stories that that just are going to take away her childhood or her teenage years. And so again, you can try this type of approach if it fits the situation. Again, I highly recommend therapy and you can go to a website, Academy of That's Academy and it means CT is cognitive and find a therapist near you. If you choose to directly meet up with her, find out what's on her mind and let that lead the conversation. And again, you cannot going to be able to force any outcome if she gives you that opportunity. She's her own person and she'll make her own decisions regarding her relationship with you. Now I want to say a word about the whole you know, why are you not feeling anything? Why don't you feel happiness or love and you're not a happy human being? What I'm hearing in that is a different question . . .

Hey, I got to interrupt this because we've got to pay some bills. 30 seconds. That's it. A very quick and then Ellen will be back.

Romance. Oh, I wish guys knew more about what we want from a relationship. Boy, I wish I knew more about what I want. Where's that ad I saw? Here it is - the selfish path to romance. A serious romance guidebook. Download chapter one for free at selfish and buy it at Hmm, the selfish path to romance. That is interesting.

Now I want to say a word about the whole you know, why are you not feeling anything? Why don't you feel happiness or love and you're not a happy human being? What I'm hearing in that is a different question . . . How do I build good character into scrubs discover psychological independence, so that I don't keep coping by running away from responsibility and making very bad choices. So you are talking about self esteem and let's talk about your dad first. So your dad never said he loved you. He was hands off emotionally off father and that is very painful for any child to have to live through. It doesn't need to destroy your life. You didn't get what I call week.

Dr. Locke and I in our book, we wrote a book, which you can get at my website, Doctor, Dr. k e n n e r .com. It's called the selfish path to romance, how to love with passion and reason. At the beginning, we talk about how to make yourself lovable. And it is wonderful when you get that psychological visibility from a parent, you have not done it with your own child. And so you will need to really really do a lot of rethinking and I really think therapy will help. What I want you to know about self esteem is that it comes not fundamentally from your dad's evaluation of you or from anyone else's evaluation of you. It comes from your own knowledge of the choices that you have and are making the art making is very good because that means you can change your choices around and, and make yourself into a better person, improve yourself and improve your self esteem in the process, or build self esteem. If you've made poor choices in the past, you first want to be able to recognize them. Right?

That takes a lot of strength because most people just keep running and running their whole life they drowned it and alcohol and you're looking to return it around so you can again feel okay feeling again, when we just make a lot of bad choices. And we're left with a lot of bad feelings about ourself. Many people try to run away psychologically, not just physically I know you're running away physically, but they deaden their feelings. They say don't feel the negative feelings in your subconsciousness. Okay, honey, I hear you and you're not going to feel the positive ones either. So you want to stop running away from yourself. You want to learn some good cognitive therapy skills, especially premise change. You want to focus on whatever strengths you do have accurate strengths and build on them. And again, I highly recommend cognitive therapy, and I wish you the best and I wish certainly wish Mary the best. People can change but that'll be up to her what she decides to do with her relationship.


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Here's an excerpt from the selfish path to romance the serious romance guide book by clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Kenner and co author Dr. Edwin Locke, who is world famous for his theories on goal setting:

It's important to understand what and why something makes your partner angry. Often when a partner angrily overreact to a trivial matter. It is due to a series of actions causing resentments in the past that were never openly resolved. Such resentments are held and stored subconsciously, ready to explode like an overinflated balloon with only a small provocation. outbursts against a partner can also be the result of displacing anger caused by outside events, such as failure at work onto a partner which is obviously unjust. anger issues must be fully resolved and then replaced by positive such as love, communication, admiration, gratitude and caring if romance is to thrive.

You can download chapter one for free by going to, and you can buy The Selfish Path to Romance at