Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development
I am always encouraged when a couple seeks counseling to work on a problem in their marriage. It seems so easy today to throw in the towel as soon as one or both people feel unhappy, misunderstood or disrespected. But in most cases there are a few simple (not necessarily easy) things that can produce life-changing results.
In my work with couples, I have discovered four key elements that must be consistently present in order to have a strong and fulfilling marriage.
Put each other first.
As simple as this sounds, it may be the hardest thing you will ever do. Our inner instinct is naturally “Me first.” “What do I want?” “What makes ME feel good – or bad?” “How is my spouse failing to meet MY needs?” Putting someone else above ME is an act of the will and takes practice. But all couples can experience intimacy and satisfaction when both partners are willing to cultivate an attitude of humility and giving. It may seem awkward...
Paula R. Starker, RN
You don’t need to go far from your front door to notice that people avoid it. The driver in the car next to you talks on his smart phone or sings along with music from his satellite radio. The shopper next to you talks on the phone (and you listen!). People work out at the gym or the park or take bike rides arrayed with a variety of earbuds and headphones entertained by their favorite music play list or podcast. We are swept away into the steady stream of communication, information and ideas that flow into our minds 24/7. Natural opportunities for solitude, which were once an integral part of life in generations past, are avoided and drowned out.
Did you know that your need for solitude is as basic to your well-being as your body’s need for food and sleep? Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception (Harper and Row, 1970) suggested that our sense organs, nervous systems, and brains are basically eliminative in nature. They keep us from being confused...
We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s the little things in life that count.” There’s a lot of truth in that, since most of life is made up of a series of little things.
Everyday life consists of innumerable moments, in which we work, play, interact with other people, and just exist. The things we do in those moments are the things that put a positive or negative spin on each day we live. If you pass a stranger on the street, do you choose to smile or to look away? If an old friend comes to mind, do you take a moment to write a note or pick up the phone to call, or do you let the thought slip away? If you find yourself with an hour of quiet time, do you spend it constructively, or just passively watch another television program?
Little things make a difference in the big picture of life. You don’t have to solve all of your problems at once or fill every minute of your day with important activities, but moment by moment, you can make little...
I want to share a truth that was first revealed to me by my mother when I was a child, then later reinforced through my own life experiences:
“What you expect has phenomenal power over the quality and course of your life.”
Your expectations about your relationships, work, finances and every other area of life are almost always either positive or negative; they are rarely neutral.
Good and positive expectations trigger excitement, optimistic anticipation, encouragement and hope. In fact, the absence of good expectations is a definition of hopelessness. Negative expectations such as, "People won't like me," "It's going to be one of those bad days," "My kids are headed for failure," or "I will never be out of debt" often lead to discouragement, unhappiness and poor choices.
Of course in real life, bad things do happen. No one is immune from disappointment, rejection, and bad news at times, but if you expect these themes to be a regular part of...
Hi, everyone! In place of our usual blog post, I want to take the opportunity to introduce myself as the newest member of the Relational Advantage team! My name is Kristen Linaman-Weleba and I am a certified teacher and Licensed Professional Counselor. Most importantly, I have the joy of being a wife and mom to my husband and two children.
I received my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona and my Master of Science degree in Professional Counseling from Grand Canyon University. I began my teaching career working with elementary age students and then transitioned into teaching middle and high school. For the last few years I have been a therapist at a residential treatment facility.
Every year while in the classroom, I encountered a small group of children and teens who not only struggled academically, but socially and emotionally as well. I knew how to address many of the academic challenges, but I recognized that these students would likely...
The speech that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King made on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial never fails to inspire me as he fought for equal rights during a difficult time. He eloquently expressed some deep truths and values for every precious member of the human race. One sentence that always stands out is, “I have a dream that one day my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Regardless of the color of your skin, your physical traits, your education level, your income bracket or any accomplishment you may have to your credit, the one thing that will help you sleep at night – or keep you tossing and turning – is the content of your character.
Have you thought about the character traits that are shown in your life? Would people describe you as mostly honest or dishonest? Hardworking or lazy? Generous or stingy? Brave or cowardly? Positive or negative?...
When it comes to relationships, let’s be clear – the last thing you want to do is trust someone who is not trustworthy. In fact, it’s foolish to trust a person whose behavior is characterized by lies and broken promises.
But one of the biggest challenges in many relationships is the difficulty some people have with being able or willing to trust someone who is truly trustworthy. These are often men or women who have been hurt or taken advantage of by important people in their lives, resulting in a conditioned response of suspicion and fear. Sadly, this virtually guarantees that intimacy will suffer significantly. The absence of both trust and intimacy can often give way to a vicious cycle of conflict, abuse and isolation.
If your capacity to trust others is limited because of the insecurity and vulnerability created by abuse, keep in mind that there is hope. The trauma of abuse frequently triggers the development of irrational beliefs...
In a recent coaching session, a client asked if I could help him break the habit of interrupting. He told me that several team members had confronted him about frequently talking over them – interrupting. They were honest enough to tell him just how much it had become a consistent source of frustration for them. In collaboration with my client, we came up with several strategies that ultimately helped him to virtually eliminate his “communication destroyer” habit.
One of the quickest ways to shut down communication is to interrupt. When someone repeatedly interrupts others it not only derails communication, but it also diminishes the trust and respect people have for them.
If your relationships are compromised due to a habit of interrupting I encourage you to read and practice the 10 Tips to Help You Stop Interrupting below.
Live, Work and Relate Well!
1. Write your thoughts down so you...
Building and maintaining a strong and loving family in today's culture takes a determined will and a conscious and sustained effort on the part of every family member. With so many things competing for our time and attention it is easy to lose sight of the value and significance of the close, loving relationships our families can provide.
It's often been said that when a person comes to the end of their life they realize that the only things that really matter are the loving relationships that were established and cultivated throughout the years - especially those with family.
If you want to build a firm foundation of love and support for your family that will stand the test of time and weather the storms of difficult life circumstances, we encourage you to embrace these ten resolutions for building a strong family.
As a family, we commit to...
Some people have the “gift” of gift-giving. They have a knack for knowing what will make someone happy and finding it. They never get tired of hearing, “It’s perfect! How did you know I wanted that?” Most of us aren’t quite that gifted, so we turn to other people or even the Internet for ideas.
A recent browse on the GiftAdvisor.com website revealed hundreds of ideas. For example, the plant-lovers in your life might like the Avocado Tree Starter Kit or the Redwood Bonsai Forest. Campers would appreciate the Jerky of the Month Club and your favorite thrill-seekers would be ecstatic to receive the Shotgun Ride-Along in a Stock Car. Your Irish friends might like to own a tiny plot in their homeland for only $29.99 and for those who appreciate the finer things in life you can buy a membership to the Lobster of the Month Club – but be aware that you can buy 11 acres of land on Mars for about the same price!
At this highly consumer-driven time of...