Don’t Let Toxic Family Members Shame You into Compliance

Uncategorized May 20, 2020

Holly was one of the angriest women I had ever seen in my office. She was angry at her family’s excessive expectations of her. Her mother expected her to call her every week and to accompany her on shopping trips. If there was a family function, Holly had to be there. Her father expected her to come home for Sunday dinner. Her brother expected her to come to all of his sporting events.

And if she didn’t, Holly’s family shamed her into submission.

I agreed with Holly that her family’s expectations were extreme, but when I suggested that her family wasn’t going to change and that she had to free herself from their expectations by changing her attitude, she became angry with me. She felt that if I didn’t see her as a victim, I didn’t care. I assured her that while she had indeed been victimized growing up, she had to stop allowing herself to be victimized by freeing herself from both her family’s expectations and her expectations of them....

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How to Find the Courage To Trust After Being Hurt

Uncategorized May 20, 2020
 

In Episode 24 of The Dr. Cloud Show, we had a caller who wanted to discuss some of the betrayal she's experienced in previous relationships, and how it was affecting her current relationship with her boyfriend.

According to the caller, she said that her boyfriend had not done anything to hurt or betray her a year into their relationship, but she was living with anxiety about the possibility of it happening.

This is something that comes up a lot ... Someone was hurt in a former relationship, and they carry those hurtful experiences into new relationships. They see patterns of a previous mate and the think that those patterns automatically translate into red flags in a new relationship. While that might be true in some instances, I'm going to give you a 5-step checklist to work towards trust in your future relationships.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Does your partner understand your needs?

2. Do you feel like their motives and intentions are for you?

3. Do they have the...

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Your Boundaries Aren’t a Weapon for Your Parents Use Against You

Uncategorized May 19, 2020

Can you please do something for me? Would it be ok if I asked you for some of your time, your money, your energy? Would you mind making a sacrifice so that I could avoid having to do something that I am perfectly capable of doing myself?

If you're anything like me, you want to say “yes” every time someone asks for something from you. I really want to do whatever is going to make someone happy, and I bet you often feel the same way. However, we know that if we did this, we'd never have any time, money or energy to meet our own needs.

A woman I know, Lisa, once told me, "The biggest problem with telling my mother no is the 'hurt-silence.' It lasts about forty-five seconds, and it always happens after I tell her I can't visit her. It's only broken by my apologizing for my selfishness and setting up a time to visit. Then she's fine. I'll do anything to avoid that silence."

Lisa's mother has turned Lisa's personal boundaries into an offensive weapon that she can use to get...

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Are You Building The Environment You Want or Just Allowing Things to Happen?

Uncategorized May 19, 2020

Recently I was discussing personnel issues with a CEO. I asked him why he thought those problems were there. He talked about some reasons, most of which had to do with the various players involved, and also the “constellations” of a few teams. But then I asked him a simple question. “And why is that?” I asked.

“What do you mean? I think it is the reasons I just said.”

“I know the reasons you said, but why do those reasons exist?” I continued.

“I don’t get it. What do you mean?” he asked further.

“Who is the leader? Who is in charge of the culture? Who is in charge of the ways that it is working, the fact that all of that exists?” I pushed.

He just looked at me, and nodded. “I am,” he said.

“So what kind of culture would you like?” I asked. “What kind of culture would drive the business forward if you had it?”

When he thought about that, he looked upward, lost in thought...

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You Can’t Control Everything, but You Can Choose How to Respond

Uncategorized May 18, 2020

I remember one woman whose mother would almost beg to babysit her children and then gripe about the inconvenience for weeks to come. She could not acknowledge that she had chosen to take care of the kids, and her daughter had not "made" her do it.

We negate that we have choices about how we spend our lives and time. We may complain about how bored we are, but do not accept responsibility for learning a new skill or hobby. We may gripe about a "crummy" person at work, but we don't take proactive steps to improve our situation.

There are certainly things in life over which we have no control, but we always have a choice about how we will respond to these things. Our choices determine our direction in life, but if we do not own this fact, we don't know where we are going, and we resent where we end up as if it were someone else's fault.

Complaining and griping without trying to do anything about a situation is the essence of denying choice, and it renders us powerless and resentful....

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How to Confront a Toxic Parent's Behavior

Uncategorized May 17, 2020

Recently a woman asked, “How can I confront my mom to open up and be more involved in my life?”

“Well, have you asked her?” I responded.

“Sure! I told her that it would be nice if she asked me how my life was going, but she still didn’t do anything.”

“Well, let’s not say that you asked her anything. Call it a suggestion, or maybe a mention of a good idea. But, there was no direct request. If she didn’t respond, you probably need to ratchet it up a bit and say something like, ‘Mom, you rarely ask me about myself; I seem to be the only one asking you about your life. I’d like you to ask me how my work, kids, and activities are doing.’ ”

It is easy to be indirect with parents, given all the emotional complexities involved. Sometimes a person will even think, “She is my mom. She should know I need this without my being blunt about it.” But if what you have said is not getting through, you...

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You Can Create Separateness from Your Mom and Thrive

Uncategorized May 17, 2020

Julia was in her early 30s when she began discussing the ideas of separateness, differences, and boundaries with her mother. It wasn’t easy at first: Mom thought Julia was rejecting her as a person. But they both persevered in the relationship. Mom agreed to respond to Julia’s truth and try not to hear it as pushing her away.

Julia told her mom, “Mom, when I tell you I can’t bring the kids to visit, instead of withdrawing and being hurt, would you just tell me you’re sad about it, and would you try to understand?” Mom learned that Julia’s differences were for Julia, not against Mom. And she began to respect, not resent, her daughter’s independence.

In fact, Mom became even more supportive. When Julia came for a visit, her mother surprised her by saying, “Let me take care of the kids while you and Rich leave for a few hours. You two probably don’t get enough time together.” They gratefully accepted. Then, when the...

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You’re Never Responsible for Your Parents’ Feelings

Uncategorized May 17, 2020

Micah had taken an overdose of drugs. At 24, he had dropped out of school and was living at home. Since his parents were “good Christians,” his behavior was very upsetting to them. It tarnished their image to their group of friends, so they brought him to therapy.

As Micah and I began to explore why he was suicidally depressed, I discovered that his parents were having serious marital problems. They would get into screaming fights and then wouldn’t speak to each other for days. They would bring Micah into conflict. Micah’s father would ask Micah’s mother something, and vice versa.

At other times, Micah’s parents would both confide in him about the other person, instead of confronting each other directly. Micah’s mother told him that she could never stand to be left alone with his father. If Micah left home, they would divorce. If that happened, she said, she would commit suicide, implying it would be “Micah’s fault.”

Micah...

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How We Find Safe Relationships with Others

Uncategorized May 17, 2020

After 30 years in the profession of helping people, I have come to understand something: we cause much of our pain by the people we choose. In every kind of clinical issue that psychologists deal with, relationships are a big part of the picture in some way.

Consider these questions:

• Are you experiencing the same problems or feelings that you’ve experienced in previous relationships?
• Do you find that you continually pick people to fall in love with or become close friends with who hurt you in some way?
• Do you find yourself wondering if there are any “good ones” out there?
• Do you often go through periods of emotional turmoil as a result of choosing someone who wasn’t good for you?
• Is “How did I get myself into this?” a frequent question you ask yourself?

A lot of people can relate to these feelings. Their relationships leave them lacking in some way, leaving them to wonder why they end up in the situations they do....

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Why You Shouldn't Even Try to Please Everyone

Uncategorized May 16, 2020

To some extent, we’re all guilty of people-pleasing, some more than others. But there are so many reasons not to please everyone that it would be difficult to list them all here. Seeking others’ approval steals time, energy and focus, and even if you did make everyone happy, you’d be worse off.

If you are making everyone happy, you are also making some of the wrong people happy! You’re trying to please people who are judgmental, controlling or arrogant, people who require others to do what they want them to do before they extend approval. So, to keep hurtful people happy, you must do some things that are not good in the long run. You have to make some bad choices to keep these people smiling.

So, here’s what you do — You make decisions based on what is best, not on who is going to like it. Here are a few examples:

  • Choosing a profession that is right for you, even if your friends or family would like for you to do something different.
  • Standing up...
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