Relate Well! Blog

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

How to Guarantee Fewer Problems in Your Life

Do you want to experience fewer “problems” in your life?  Great, keep reading.

I was talking with a couple recently, and they consistently used the word “problem” to describe many of the things happening around them.  This situation was a problem, that person is a problem, etc.  Their words sounded as though life was heavy and frustrating and they felt helpless and hopeless.   As I listened, I was reminded of how the words we choose have such a powerful impact on how we think, feel, and respond to things that happen in our lives – especially things we perceive to be negative or difficult.

I said to the couple, “I want you to consider for a moment that what you have been describing are not really problems, but rather challenges.  No one can avoid life’s challenges, but it is possible to keep them from becoming problems.”  I believe the problems many people experience are in reality challenges that were...

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Help! My Child is a Bully

As a parent, you want to help your child if he’s being harassed at school, but what if it’s your child who’s pushing others around? First, understand that even good parents who do many things right can have a child who’s a bully. If you do, it’s important to learn what influences are at work.

Researchers at the University of Arizona surveyed 6th to 8th graders. Those who reported bullying most had experienced more forceful, physical discipline from their parents, viewed more TV violence and misbehaved more at home. In that group, 32% lived with a stepparent and 36% were in single-parent households. They generally had fewer adult role models, more exposure to gang activity and easier access to guns. Researchers concluded that bullies learn much of their behavior by example, and consequently need as much help as their victims. 

Other predisposing factors include a strong desire for attention, immaturity, a lack of popularity among peers and a dislike...

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Real Freedom

As an American I am mindful of the value of being free. When our nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were focused on freedom from political and religious tyranny, and I am grateful for their vision and sacrifice. But even though we live in the Land of the Free, we can be held captive by our own tyrants – and sometimes we volunteer for bondage. It may be time to declare independence from one or more of these common captors:

Fear of Rejection – Humans have an inherent need to be accepted and loved. Yes, some are extroverts, and some are introverts so appearances can be deceiving. Extroverts often seem to interact easily with others and their fear of rejection may show up as neediness. Introverts are more likely to withdraw if they’re experiencing fear of rejection, feeling as though it’s safer to avoid contact than to risk it. Free yourself from this fear by remembering that you have intrinsic value that is not based on any...

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What Makes a Great Dad?

In last week's blog post, I discussed the importance of the father’s role in the lives of his children, but what does that mean to you in practical terms? Really, the question is, “What does it take to be a great dad?” Based on my work with hundreds of couples and families, I have found that great dads consistently practice five key principles.

Raising children is a little bit like building a home. I’m not an expert in construction, but I know that if you want to build a quality home, you need to pay close attention to the details – just as a father seeking to raise “quality” kids will find it helpful to keep these five key principles in mind. 

1. A great dad LOVES his children. Just as the foundation of a new home has to be poured before the building can be framed, a father’s love for his family is the foundation that supports and sustains everything else he does. When your actions and decisions are motivated by love, your...

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The Importance of a Dad

If I asked you to tell me about your father, you might give me a variety of responses. Maybe you weren’t raised by your biological father. Instead, you were raised by your mother, a stepfather, adopted father, or grandfather. Or your father may have raised you, but you didn’t have a good relationship with him. Or as is the case for me, your father passed away and all you have left are memories. Or perhaps you had – and still have – a great relationship with your dad.

Is the Role of a Father Really That Important?

There are those who say that fathers don’t play a significant role in the lives of their children and that, in fact, parents don’t really have the kind of influence we once thought they did. This is not true! Parents play a vital role in the lives of their children, and fathers, in particular, have a profound influence on their development. 

A survey of over 20,000 parents found that when fathers are involved in their...

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Talking to Your Kids About Financial Difficulties – Part 1

Listen to any news outlet or scroll the headlines on your phone – or just take a look at your bank statement – and it’s evident that finances are tough these days. The crunch has affected many major companies, small businesses, banking institutions, manufacturers, and individual households. And if you’re feeling the pressure, you can be sure your children are feeling it, too. 

As a parent, one of your primary roles is to educate your children about how to live in the real world, and money management and problems are about as “real” as it gets. Here are some principles to consider as you enter this vital discussion with your family.

Times Have Changed – It’s Not Your Parents’ World Anymore

Many of today’s parents were raised in homes where discussion of money was “taboo.” Some of us were told that the family finances were none of our business and some were “protected” from...

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My Hope for You as You Graduate

When I think back to high school, I remember a simple ten-word sentence that would instantly make my heart sink: “Take out a piece of paper for a pop quiz.” It seemed so unfair! But my teachers had every right to give us a pop quiz because we were supposed to pay attention in class and regularly study our assignments. If I had always done that, I would have been prepared. 

At graduation I thought I would be leaving pop quizzes behind, but I found out they are a normal part of adult life, and if I didn’t prepare for them, I would face far more difficulties than I had to. 

Adult “pop quizzes” can show up as good news, bad news, opportunities, or emergencies.  So, how do you prepare when you don’t know what’s coming? 

As a clinical psychologist, my training and experience have helped me to understand that the choices you make and actions you take will have the greatest influence on your personal, professional, and relational...

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5 Tips for Dealing with a Bull Terrier Boss

Most people have at some point in their lives had to deal with someone who refuses to lose. No matter how unreasonable their position and how obviously wrong they may be, they clamp down their jaw as instinctively as a bull terrier in a dogfight – and it seems nothing short of death will loosen it.

It’s often not that complicated to deal with this sort of person at a dinner party, where the simplest strategy may be to avoid them or to feign agreement for a couple of hours until you can escape after dessert. But in the workplace, this is seldom possible, and if the bulldog is your superior, you can come away from discussions frustrated, angry and hurt. 

William Ury, author of Getting Past No, provides five steps to surviving an encounter with a bull terrier boss, based on understanding the underlying motivations for their unreasonable decisions and resistance to cooperation. Here are five tips to help you achieve a win-win situation.

1. Control...

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Some Things Never Change

The world, our nation, and our way of living have gone through some incredible changes in the past couple of years that have been difficult and life altering. Fortunately, regarding many of the changes, you can keep the adage in mind, “this too shall pass.”  

We all need to come to terms with changes that are out of our control and make some adjustments to maintain peace of mind in the present day, but to do that, it can be extremely helpful to focus on some timeless truths that can help keep us steady in an ever-changing, aggravating, and uncertain world. 

Take a few minutes to consider these things: 

Character counts. The longer I live, the more I understand that qualities like honesty and integrity usually win over situational ethics and looking out for number one. A “win” may not look the same for everybody, but even if you don’t land the account, get the job, or receive the recognition, you’ll sleep better at night if you...

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Escape from Groundhog Day

Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day? It features Bill Murray as a weatherman named Phil with a bad attitude who finds himself reliving February 2nd, Groundhog Day, repeatedly with all its petty frustrations, pointless activity, and irritation. Do you ever feel as though you’re like Phil?

We have all heard the folk wisdom that says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. While that definition doesn’t quite cover the whole concept, it does capture a part of it. It is not “sane” (rational, logical) to expect things to change if you don’t do something to interrupt an unhealthy pattern to improve your situation. In other words, if you want something to change, you must take the initiative to change it.

I work with a lot of people who are struggling in difficult marriages, where they almost can’t remember what it was like to be attracted to their spouse or enjoy each other’s company....

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