Saying No is Enough — You Don’t Have to Justify It

Uncategorized Sep 19, 2020

Psychologists spend an enormous amount of energy building psychological tests, assessments and the like, and then administering them to people to help them understand themselves. This practice is very helpful in many settings, from work, to education, to couples and individuals. Insight into ourselves and others is really helpful for a number of reasons. I believe in good, validated testing.

But one of the best tests for our psychological well being, the tenor of the family or work culture we live in, and the health of our relationships, is free and can be self-administered. All you have to do is monitor the internal response you have when you want to say the word “no.”

Let’s start with ourselves. What happens when someone you love, someone you want to please or maybe even someone whose anger or frustration you fear, wants you to do something that you do not want to do? I do not mean the kind of need or desire that will call for sacrifice, effort or even discomfort...

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3 Types of People Who Are Sabotaging Your Life

Uncategorized Sep 18, 2020

When you need to execute an ending of some sort, there will be people in your circle who will try to fight it or slow it down, because even if you aren’t paranoid, it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t out to get you or sabotage you. You have to be ready for that to occur, recognize it as inevitable and deal with it. Otherwise, other people will be in control of your life and decisions.

External resistances are those that come from other people. Their challenges and questions are not the helpful kind that a good confidante might provide. Sometimes the people in our business and personal lives actually stop or hinder us from making decisions they believe are not good for us. Right or wrong, they are acting out of what they believe are our best interests. That’s not the kind of resistance I’m referring to here. I’m referring to resistance from people who have ulterior, self-protective or self-interested motives.

Self-Absorbed Resisters

People will put...

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9 Traits of a Healthy Friendship

Uncategorized Sep 12, 2020

I received a message from an answering service one evening, and it told me that one of my clients was suicidal. I called Theresa on the phone. She was distraught.

“Tell me what happened,” I said.

“It’s not going to work, “ Theresa replied, sobbing.

“What isn’t going to work?”

“Telling other people about my problems,” she said. “I was talking to one of my friends tonight and told them about my depression and the problems with my boyfriend, and she really came down on me for being depressed and all the other stuff that’s been going on.”

“What was said?”

“Well, she said that I shouldn’t feel the way that I do, and that if I was still having all these problems, then I was filled with too much negativity and that I bring everything on myself. I’ve tried all this ‘safe relationship’ stuff, and I’ve shared my feelings, and it just doesn’t work.”

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How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Friendships

Uncategorized Sep 10, 2020

What friendships or other relationships take up a lot of time, but in reality are not the kinds of friendships you desire? I am not saying that all of your relationships should be deep and meaningful. You need some dysfunctional friends. They can be some of your favorite people, although they might not be the ones you call in the dark night of the soul. We all need some wacky friends. We love them, and they provide most of the comedy. But two dynamics come into play in figuring out with whom you spend your time.

First, are you spending appropriate time for the level of relationship that exists? If you have so many surface friendships that you do not have time to give to the ones that you would consider close, that might be a problem. It would be like spending as much time with all the kids in the neighborhood as you do with your own. The ones most in your heart should get the most time, and sometimes we do not allocate time well to our circle of friends. If there are people you...

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Prevent Your Emotions From Clouding Your Judgment

Uncategorized Sep 09, 2020

When something significant happens, our emotional state can change. And when we keep our eyes on the "little picture" - the right now - our emotions can change in a negative way.

Take the stock market crash. Because it affected people's real lives - their retirement balances, college funds, savings, and other assets - they went into emotional overload. Their financial security was threatened.

When we go into overload, the part of the brain that kicks in to protect us puts us into a state of "flight or fight." We want to react, push against, or get away. We feel angry, fearful, aggressive, anxious, or consumed with self-loathing. When we or someone we know feels like this, we see that emotions overtake judgment, motivation, and every other aspect of functioning.

Besides feeling these reactive emotions, we can also lose hope. Everything begins to feel "bad" and like it won't ever get better. We experience the emotional reactions that researchers such as Martin Seligman have labeled...

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Say No. Set Boundaries. Feel Better.

Uncategorized Sep 06, 2020

Jenna used to believe that she would never learn how to say no and make it stick. But, as she sat at her kitchen table with a teacup in hand, she felt amazed. It was an unfamiliar sensation, but a pleasant one. Her mind wandered back to the events of the morning.

Her 13-year-old son, Bryan, had begun the day with his usual waking-up shenanigans. He sulked and pouted his way to the breakfast table, announcing, “I’m not going to school — and no one’s going to make me!”

Normally Jenna would have either tried to talk Bryan into attending school, or blown up at him in frustration. However, this morning was different. Jenna simply said, “You’re right, Honey. No one can make you go to school. That has to be something you choose to do. However, if you don’t choose to go to school, you are choosing to stay in your room all day with no phone, no TV and no electronics. But that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself. What are...

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7 Ways You Can Communicate Better with Your Significant Other

Uncategorized Sep 03, 2020

When we’re having communication problems with someone we care about, it can be frustrating, it can hurt, and it can have us feeling defensive. I’m going to tell you give all of that up, including your pride, and learn to listen to your partner to get to the root of the issue. Here are a few tips.

Focus. Look your partner in the eyes and give all of your attention. Observe your tendency to get out of the connection.

Monitor your thought. As your partner speaks, are you listening or thinking of your response? Are you evaluating what he is saying? Stop that and just allow what your partner is feeling to sink in—to become your experience. Try to get inside his experience and feel what it is like to be him at that moment. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were in his shoes.

Respond nonverbally. Are you nodding or saying “hmm,” or something to let her know you are tracking? Let her know you are with her and truly listening.

Watch your defensiveness. If...

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How to Teach Your Kids to Connect with Others

Uncategorized Sep 03, 2020

One of the coolest things we ever see is children playing together, having fun and laughing with joy. It’s a pleasant feeling when we see children playing together in unity. It warms our hearts.

But as a parent, as wonderful as it is to see my kids playing with their friends, I also see it as a psychologist. And the psychologist in me knows that it is not just a nice thing to see our children having friends. It is crucial for their future, as the ability to create and maintain good relationships is one of the most important skills that anyone can have. Research has shown that it is related to our happiness, goal achievement, success in almost every area of life, physical and spiritual health, financial well-being, stress resilience, and on and on. So, I want my kids to have fun with their friends, but I want it more than for today. I want it to be a part of learning an ability that they are going to need for the rest of their lives.

And that brings us to a question, “How...

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How Consequences Enforce Your Boundaries

Uncategorized Sep 03, 2020

Wouldn’t it be nice if confrontation ended positively every time? Would it be nice if every time you confronted a hurtful person, he or she repented and you could go on? Of course it would. In fact, your Creator would like for that to be true also. Yet, that’s not the case. What then?

If the person doesn’t respond to the initial confrontation, we need to take a stronger stand by giving him or her some consequences. Consequences work at times when talking does not. For example, if your spouse gets argumentative when you bring up an issue, and continues to do so despite your requests otherwise, you can tell your spouse, “I would love to talk about this. But as I have told you, I don’t like the angry attacks. So I will talk to you about the issue only when a counselor is there. I will make an appointment, and if you want to talk to me about it, I will talk there.” Consequences should not be punitive, just something that naturally follows the...

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Five Ways You’re Being Gaslighted

Uncategorized Sep 02, 2020

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation, and if you’re hurting, something isn’t right. Your feelings are a gift, and they serve as signals to inform you of what’s happening to you and how to respond. If someone is trying to take away from your experience, you are being gaslighted.

How many times have you heard any of the following …

“You’re really not hurt that bad.”

“If you wouldn’t have done X, then Y would have never happened to you, and you’d be fine.”

“You’re just overreacting.”

“Nothing is wrong. You’re just crazy.”

“You really shouldn’t make a big deal about this.”

“Chill out. Everything is fine.”

“You’re the only person who feels that way.”

There are several examples of things people say that disregard your feelings. Sometimes they’re subtle and may seem harmless, but other times they’re blatant and cause more pain.

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