Making Someone Happy Can Hurt Your Marriage

Uncategorized Nov 11, 2020

I was talking to a young man one day about his girlfriend. He was thinking about getting married, and he had questions about their relationship. Several times during the conversation, he said that something she did or something about the relationship did not “make him happy.” It was clear that this was a theme for him. She was not “making him happy.”

When I asked, he said that she wanted him to deal with some things in the relationship. He needed to do some work that took effort. It was not a “happy” time. When he had to work on the relationship, he no longer liked it.

At first, I was trying to understand what the difficulties were, but the more I listened, the more I saw that he was the difficulty. His attitude was, “If I’m not happy, something bad must be happening.” And his immediate conclusion was always that the “bad” was in someone else, not him. From his perspective, he was not part of any problem, much less...

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When Suffering Leads to Pain and When Suffering Leads to Growth

Uncategorized Nov 10, 2020

I hate exercise, but I do it. I hate lifting weights and riding my exercise bike, but I do it. I do it because, if I do, I will be healthier, will live longer, and will feel better.

So, why bring up exercise when we're talking about suffering and grief? Well, first of all, it shows you that I am naturally lazy. But seriously, I bring it up because physical exercise and suffering is analogous to personal growth and suffering. Pain can bring health. As we go through the pain of exercising our bodies, we gain strength and good things happen. But there is something else at work.

Physiologists tell us there is a reason I am sore after I lift weights: in fact, as I write this, I am really sore, as I just resumed weight lifting after several months off. I am sore because I have worked my muscles past their ability. I have stretched their capacity. After my workout, they re-create and rejuvenate and grow back to a higher level of development than before. I tear down to rebuild. And through...

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How to Process Feelings of Anger

Uncategorized Nov 10, 2020

Aspects of the self can be paired with guilt messages, and certainly, anger is one of those. Some people feel guilty whenever they feel themselves getting angry. But there is another problem with anger.

Anger is a state of protest and fight. We are wired with this emotion inside of ourselves to be “against” something. We use anger to fight injustice, unrighteousness, evil, and other bad things. Anger is a problem-solving emotion designed to protect what is good and what is valuable.

But sometimes people have not expressed anger toward bad things that have happened to them because they have happened in a context in which expressing anger would have been dangerous. So these people deny their anger.

The problem is that anger is directional. It has to be aimed at something. It is supposed to be aimed at injustice or the person who is being unfair. But if this is not possible - for example, in cases of child abuse - people will aim the anger at themselves instead. Abused...

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7 Steps to Help Someone Have More Awareness

Uncategorized Nov 10, 2020

If someone in your life behaves in a way that causes problems but he doesn’t know his behavior is a problem, you are dealing with unawareness. It can be something bothersome but not dangerous. Or it can be something life threatening, as with an alcohol, drug, or prescription pill addiction.

You may be acutely aware of the issue yourself, much more so than the person with the problem. You may want to address it with the person for his sake and yours. At the same time, you may be at a loss on how helpfully to approach him. Use the following seven steps to help that person come to awareness and find a solution to the problem:

1. Take a “Presumed Innocent” Approach
Until you know better, assume a person is innocent of bad motives or intents, and approach him accordingly. If the person truly does not know what he is doing, he needs compassion and gentleness from you. Being innocently unaware is a far cry from being resistant, defensive, or blaming. The other person may...

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What to do When Someone Gets Defensive During a Difficult Conversation

Uncategorized Nov 09, 2020

Let’s talk about people who are defensive instead of open to feedback...

I was organizing a conference with a colleague I'll call Jay. We each had different responsibilities. Jay was responsible for securing the site, making sure an overhead projector and flip chart were available and shipping books to the workshop.

The night before the event, Jay called me. "Do you have any extra copies of your books you can bring along?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I thought it would be good to sell your books at the workshop."

"But you were supposed to take care of that!" I replied.

"I had too many things to do," he said.

Trying with all my might to hang on to my patience, I said, "But we agreed that shipping books to the conference was your responsibility."

"You always concentrate on things that go wrong," he said angrily. "You never tell me about the things that I do right. Who are you to say that you always do things right?"

Jay is an example of an unsafe person. When I confronted him...

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Keep Your Peace this Holiday Season: 7 Lessons for Better Boundaries

Uncategorized Nov 05, 2020

This time of year is harder for some than it is for others. And even if this is your favorite time of the year, it still comes with its share of problems.

This year, my team and I have worked on a “survival kit” of sorts to help you with boundaries-related issues that come up the most frequently during the holiday season. Inside this guide, you’ll find lessons to offer you encouragement and strategies for addressing difficult issues.

These include:

Don’t Be Stressed or Depressed, Enjoy the Holidays: Some people get the holiday blues every year, whether it's from some bad memories or past experiences that they haven't dealt with, or simply because of the stress. Life can be messy, and in this lesson, Dr. Henry Cloud helps you navigate your feelings while restoring hope for the season.

Addressing and Removing Unsafe People: Whether you feel like a doormat or someone is manipulating you, it's time for a little house cleaning. Here's how it's done.

Codependency,...

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Just Do This One Thing Today

Uncategorized Nov 04, 2020

As Boundaries.Me members know all too well, I like to focus on One Thing. Every day I give our members One Thing to focus on in a personal video from me, and it's one small step that you can take in the right direction, every weekday. Add them all up and you're really going to get somewhere good.

Today, I want to give ALL of you one thing to do:

Be kind.

Give back better than you were given.

The returns of kindness will pay you back with a greater capacity for love, for enjoyment of all things, for a life that is never too small, a life in which you will never feel lost because you will have your people. Your group. Your family, whether by origin or by choice.

So, today when you find yourself in a situation where you have the option: be kind. When you are sitting in front of your computer, typing into the comment box on social media: be kind. When you are talking on the phone with someone that you disagree with: be kind. When you are talking with a person who has let you down for...

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How to Exist in a World with Good and Bad

Uncategorized Nov 03, 2020

The world around us is good and bad. The people around us are good and bad. We are good and bad.

Our natural tendency is to try to resolve the problem of good and evil by keeping the good and the bad separated. We want, by nature, to experience the good me, the good other, and the good world as “all good.” To do this, we see the bad me, the bad other, and the bad world as “all bad.”

This creates a split in our experience of ourselves, others, and the world around us—a split that is not based on reality and cannot stand the test of time and real life.

This splitting results in an inability to tolerate badness, weakness, and failure in ourselves and others. It leads to two basic problems: sometimes we deny the existence of bad; at other times, we deny the existence of good. We feel like we are all bad when we fail, or we think we are all good when we are doing well. In addition, we blame and punish others for failing to be the all-good person we want them...

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The Wise Choice You Can Make Today

Uncategorized Nov 03, 2020

Today is a stressful day for a lot of people. You may see them freaking out on social media, talking about how the sky is falling, disowning their families, friends and coworkers. They're shouting louder than ever today. Maybe you are, too.

No matter what happens, or what you want to happen today, one thing is true: 

You will need your relationships more than ever.

I'd like to invite you to join the best online community for identifying safe, healthy relationships and setting boundaries that work. You can join for just $9 per month (or save and get a whole year for $81). CLICK HERE

We are in the middle of hard times for reasons that go way beyond Election Day, pandemics or any other catastrophe on cable news today. In times when so many people are feeling a sense of doom, we need to be the light the shines. When so many are feeling lost and separated from others, we need to be the glue that joins. When so many people forget the things that really matter, we need to be the...

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Why We Pick the Wrong People and How to Change That

Uncategorized Nov 03, 2020

Note: This was written in the context of why we pick generally unsafe people to have in our lives and is not meant to place blame on victims of abuse. Abuse is never your fault. 


When we choose the wrong relationships, romantic or otherwise, many people just see it as a problem in the “other person.” They never get to where the real issue is and where the power to change lies.

Having said that, let’s talk about it more. First, you can see your hurt in the past two relationships has brought you some pain. It is important you get with some good people to help you process all of that hurt, so you can deal with it fully and put it in the past. Cry it out, express the hurt and anger, forgive and then, let it go. But that is not all. The next step involves the great lesson of hurt — learning.

Look at the past relationships and find the themes in the relationship that say something about you. What were the qualities you were drawn to? Were they good...

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