Relate Well! Blog

Addressing the all-important and often perplexing topics and issues related to enhancing your personal growth and professional development

How Counseling Can Save Your Life

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...

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Do You Know What Really Makes You Attractive?

In his book, Be a People Person, Dr. John Maxwell identifies some of the personal characteristics that make people more attractive. He points out that it is the charismatic quality of an individual’s personality that makes them come across to others as warm, engaging and popular.

Dr. Maxwell uses the word CHARISMA as an acrostic to identify the specific traits he believes will draw the attention of others and help you improve your ability to relate well. Each of the traits in the acrostic below can be developed no matter who you are. I have added a few thoughts to Dr. Maxwell’s list to help you apply each concept to your own interactions with other people. I encourage you to commit these traits to memory and make the effort to consistently practice them in your relationships at home and work.

Concern: What you show – You have heard the saying that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. Ask people about themselves and genuinely...

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Don't Let Your Thoughts Fool You!

I was reading an article on the internet called the Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time and it was very entertaining. My favorite was about BBC TV conducting a prank interview with a London University professor who claimed to have created the technology to transmit odors through television. His invention was aptly named “Smellovision.” He performed a demonstration using coffee beans and onions and asked viewers to report if they detected the aromas. According to the article, numerous people reported being able to smell the coffee and onions and some even said the onion made their eyes water!

We laugh at their gullibility, but we should also pay attention to the fact that our brains can play tricks on us. Sometimes we need to evaluate the thoughts we think and make sure they are based in truth and reality, because our thoughts direct our perceptions and feelings, which results in our actions. So, our thoughts play a primary role when it comes to our...

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Counseling or Coaching? Getting the Right Kind of Help

A new year often inspires us to evaluate our lives, which frequently makes us want to change whatever is not working well or build upon what is. It can be helpful to bounce your thoughts and feelings off of someone else who can offer perspective and help you discover what is – or isn’t – within your power to change.

Since the 1980’s there has been a growing interest in the field of Coaching. There are several different types of coaching, e.g., Executive, Personal, Career, etc., and each serves a specific function related to helping someone achieve desired results. With the rise of coaching as a profession have come questions concerning the differences between the practice of coaching and counseling. Let’s look at these two different services in an effort to help you decide which one is right for you – counseling or coaching.

What is Coaching?

According to the International Coach Federation, coaching is an ongoing relationship between the...

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If You Care, You Can Help!

People who are facing difficulties sometimes choose to talk with a “professional” about it – a psychologist, physician or pastor. But more often, people go to their friends first. If a friend in need calls you, don’t panic. I understand that having someone share difficult issues, painful experiences or intense emotions can be intimidating because you don’t think you know enough to help. But the good news is, when a friend comes to you and pours out their heart about a problem in their life, you don’t have to have all the answers. The most important thing is that you care.

The listening and caring professions are thriving because people have a deep need to be heard and understood. Sometimes factual information and intervention are needed in order to solve a problem, but many of the issues people face in their relationships just need to be talked out with someone who cares. Parents of toddlers or teens need to be able to talk to someone who knows...

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Marriage is Alive and Pretty Well

We have all heard that the majority of marriages end in divorce, and if you believe what you hear, you may think the tradition of marriage is doomed.  But I recently read the research published by Shaunti Feldhahn based on census statistics and many other sources.  In her book, The Good News About Marriage, she and her research assistant, Tally Whitehead, dig deep into facts, figures, trends, and urban legends about the state of marriage today.

The full scope of marriage research is too overwhelming to summarize in a blog post, so today we will look at two significant statistics about women that give us reason to hope.

In an excerpt from her article, The Numbers, Shaunti says, “The percentage of women still married to their first spouse and second spouse, on average, is 71% and 65% respectively.  Note that although 41% of the baby-boomer generation (the highest-risk group) was divorced by age 50-59, their high divorce rate is primarily because of second and...

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The Secret to Aging Well

If you ever suffer from insomnia and find yourself watching late night infomercials, chances are you have been tempted by products that are “guaranteed” solutions for aging well.  Many people today are obsessed with trying to discover anti-aging secrets in nutrition, exercise, skin care, strong relationships, and the list goes on, in an effort to stay young – or at least young at heart.

Recent research conducted by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, reports evidence that suggests if you want to age well you may need to learn how to effectively let go of regrets.

The poem Maud Muller by John Greenleaf Whittier ends with the well known line, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!”  Do you agonize about missed opportunities? Are you still fretting over decisions gone bad or risks you were afraid to take that may have paid off handsomely? If so, you...

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Why Most People Avoid Conflict... and Why You Shouldn't

If you can think and talk, and if you ever come in contact with other people, there is the potential for conflict. Conflict is an inevitable, completely normal part of the human condition, yet most people readily admit that they intentionally avoid anything that even remotely resembles disagreement or confrontation.  In fact, much of my work in relational counseling and coaching involves helping people to understand – and even embrace – the value of conflict and overcome the fears that feed their aversion.

There are a number factors that can influence conflict avoidance, such as self-doubt, lack of assertiveness, inadequate communication skills, fear of rejection, disapproval, criticism, loss of security and more.  In other words, people avoid conflict in order to minimize perceived threats to their self-esteem and sense of well-being.

Let me be clear – I’m all for avoiding real danger and I never recommend that anyone intentionally subject...

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Discouraged? How to Stay Up in a Down World

Looking at all of the bad news, tragedy, and hardship that floats through the world today, be it on television, the Internet, or word of mouth from friends and neighbors, there may be times where you feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Sometimes, you may even just want to curl up into a ball and stop all the noise from creating such a catastrophic uneasiness.

For many, the challenge of rising above the pain and discouragement of life is very difficult. Although you can not eliminate grief and disappointment from your life, the effective tips below can help you in your effort to stay up in a down world.

Live, Work and Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

How to Stay Up in a Down World!

1. Look beyond your circumstances

Whatever you’re going through today won’t last forever. You can rise above the pain and sorrow by focusing on the hope that better days are ahead. Optimism isn’t the opposite of reality – it’s just the best way to view it.

2. Focus on what you have rather...

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Getting Control of Your Anger - Part II

In my last blog I shared the first four of seven practical tips for managing your anger well. They were:

1.  Understand what anger is

2. Control your initial response

3. Acknowledge your anger and its source

4. Tell yourself the truth

Those are the critical first steps to balancing the inner issues (thought processes) that set you up for either success or failure in anger management. Now let’s look at some external actions and choices you can make to help you put a stop to unhealthy reactions to anger.

5. Limit Your Exposure to the Things That Trigger Your Anger

Repeated exposure to stressful images, thoughts and situations can intensify your emotional response. If you find that your anger escalates when you watch the news, read the newspaper or talk about an offense or injustice with a friend or co-worker, then you may need to significantly reduce or eliminate these activities. This could mean hiding posts from certain Facebook friends or other social media connections...

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