Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development
It’s that time again – time for little ghouls and goblins, superheroes and princesses to swarm into the neighborhood and charm you into giving them some candy. You may even see a miniature Count Dracula looking like he’s checking out your jugular vein.
Halloween and trick or treating is all in good fun, but I’m wondering if some time in your life you’ve known a warm-blooded vampire – an Emotional Vampire, that is. You might recognize them as someone you’re afraid to ask, “How are you?” because you suspect they’ll overflow with more gory details than you want to know.
You’ll know you are dealing with an Emotional Vampire because the relationship isn’t characterized by a healthy give and take. After spending time with the EV, you don’t feel uplifted and energized. Instead, you come away feeling drained and emotionally exhausted. In most cases, they are not deliberately sucking the life out of you;...
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone always got along and communication was always agreeable? That, of course, is a fantasy that will never happen as long as human beings co-exist on Earth. The reality is that there are times when discussions must take place that involve disagreement or confrontation of a behavior or situation that needs to change, whether you like it or not. You may know someone who enjoys a good argument or seems to relish stirring up discussion about difficult subjects, but that doesn’t describe most people. It is more likely that you would rather run the other direction – and you are not alone!
I would have to say that fear of confrontation is one of the most common issues many of my clients face. It’s not uncommon for people to literally become sick to their stomachs at the thought of having to confront for fear of having it turn into a conflict or facing the possibility of rejection. Consequently, these same people often experience low...
Back in the “olden days” when my children were still living at home and our main source of communication was a house phone that we all had to share, most of the calls received in our home were either for my daughters or my wife. If it hadn’t been for solicitors calling during the dinner hour, I would rarely talk to anyone on the telephone. One of the reasons they received more calls was because they highly value conversation and close friendships and go out of their way to cultivate them. It’s not that I (or other men) don’t value relationships, but we don’t tend to need as many relationships or as much contact in order to feel emotionally and relationally satisfied. In general, women rely upon and desire close friendships to a greater degree than men.
Even though it is a healthy, normal difference between many men and women, it can sometimes create tension for a couple. I hear it in marriage counseling sessions sometimes: the woman can become...
As a psychologist, I work with people every day who want to improve their relationships with friends, co-workers and family members. Here are ten things I recommend to everyone desiring healthy, more satisfying relationships:
1. LOVE WHO YOU ARE FROM THE INSIDE OUT. Remember Stuart Smalley of SNL fame? Stuart was famous for his sappy daily affirmation, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” You may not want to fall into that shallow facade of self-worth, but the truth is that many of the things people do to sabotage or undermine their relationships are fueled by low self-esteem and insecurity.
When you can honestly identify and genuinely appreciate your gifts, talents and abilities as well as acknowledge and work on your weaknesses you will be less inclined to compensate for your insecurities by finding fault in others, being self-absorbed and/or overly guarded and defensive. When you love and accept yourself it’s a...
In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman introduces the concept of “repair attempts” to keep conflict from derailing your marriage. According to Gottman, the success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether their marriage flourishes or flounders. Along with Dr. Gottman’s principles, I’ve included my own practical applications for your marriage. Practice these reparative strategies regularly and watch your friendship grow.
A repair attempt is defined as any statement or action—silly or otherwise—that prevents negativity from escalating. Here are a few examples of phrases that can be effective repair attempts. Keep in mind that the absence of repair attempts is a strong predictor of marital failure.
“I over reacted, I’m sorry.”
“I can see my part in all this.”
“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
We have heard it countless times: “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.” The reason this phrase is so applicable to life is that it speaks to the fact that the habits we develop will drive the direction of every area of our lives. Good habits lead up toward success and satisfaction. Bad habits lead to problems and frustration.
My work with clients often involves helping them understand and apply the power of habit. The ability to develop desirable behavior patterns such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, managing finances, using good communication, etc., all require the knowledge associated with building solid habits.
I have posted this “poem” before, but we all need to be reminded of the power we can harness to improve our lives, so let’s take another look:
I am your constant companion,
I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at...
We live in unsettling times in many ways. We are constantly reminded of the need to protect ourselves from identity thieves, credit card scammers, people laying in wait in parking lots to hi-jack vehicles and sociopaths tampering with packaging in the grocery store. We are bombarded with headlines that scream about lies from politicians, fraud by financiers and broken trust in celebrity marriages. Almost everywhere you turn, you are warned not to trust anyone. We are conditioned to withhold trust.
This conditioning impacts every area of life, and the workplace is no exception. In my work with organizations I often discover that there is a common problem for leaders – employees who don’t trust them. The challenge for leaders and managers today is breaking down the barriers of suspicion and self-protection and learn how to earn the trust of their employees.
I came across an article in Forbes Magazine by Glenn Llopis that listed seven characteristics that undermine the...
We recently escaped the brutal Arizona desert heat with a road trip to San Diego. Paradise, right? Fog in the morning, beach temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, beautiful scenery and stunning colors, and an enormous number of vehicles displaying Arizona plates vying for parking spots! I expected peace and quiet, yet what I experienced nestled in this supposed utopia was… conflict. Conflict all around me.
A young family in the restaurant battling the cries of their kids. At the beach, young people were arguing what bathing suit was the sexiest (someone tell me when thongs became the norm on beaches!!!), and at the hotel swimming pool where a couple held hands coming in but stormed out 30 minutes later. As you know by now, in relationships, in families, at work, conflict is ever present. The goal is not to avoid conflict, but rather to embrace and grow through it.
In his book Take the Stairs, Rory Vaden shares how cows and buffalo react differently when storms roll off the...
I will be talking with Dr. Randy Carlson on the Intentional Living radio program Tuesday, August 22nd. He has asked me to spend a few minutes talking about the importance of counseling and how it can potentially save a person’s life.
As I consider how to describe the value of counseling, a few things come to mind.
At some time in everyone’s life, something unexpected and painful can occur. Death, divorce, injustice, rejection and serious accidents can bring about intense emotions or slow-burning resentment. Counseling can help you identify and manage the hurt or anger that could lead to destructive decisions and negative reactions. Lashing out in anger or holding on to resentment can have long-lasting devastating consequences and derail the healing and recovery process. Letting hurt and anger go unattended will steal the peace and joy from your life.
Statistics tell us that 40 million Americans over 18 suffer from anxiety disorders. Almost all of us have...
The other night as we were finishing a particularly great meal, I said, “I could eat that every day.” At that time, I meant it. The taste lingering in my mouth, the feeling of being full and the fun of sharing a meal with people I love had created a wonderful sense of satisfaction. But then I began thinking about what I had just said. When we step back and consider a statement like that, we realize that even good things, in excess, eventually lose their appeal.
You know the old saying, “Variety is the spice of life.” The reason steak or lobster is such a treat is that most of us don’t have such rich and expensive food that often. I know a family who raises their own beef so at their house, steak is “the usual.” Since they eat steak so regularly they consider it special to have macaroni and cheese or take-out chicken!
Let’s face it – there’s such a thing as having too much of a good thing. If we create a standard of...