7 Reasons You Feel Stuck and Hopeless

Uncategorized Aug 17, 2020

Consciously or unconsciously, we are all driven to grow. We see a future that we want to live in, and we are either able to intentionally get there, or we cannot. A major determinant of whether you will get there or not is simply that you actually believe that you can.

We carry around a huge amount of personal baggage from our past experiences that informs our attitudes about the future. In many cases we develop a sense of learned helplessness that causes us to believe that we will never be able to get the future we want. This self-defeating logic is reinforced by our own inaction toward overcoming this baggage from our past. It becomes a pattern.

We get used to not getting what we want. We come to believe that it’s normal. That it’s simply the way things are.

Before we can overcome these issues, we have to understand what they are. This is by no means an all encompassing list of issues that characterize bad past experiences that can prevent you from realizing your own...

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How to Teach Your Teen to Take Responsibility

Uncategorized Aug 17, 2020

My daughters and I recall with laughter the game that we began years ago to combat blaming and excusing in our house. It did not begin with a case of “The dog hate my homework,” but with a dad (me) who was about ready to catch his hair on fire if he heard one more “But she ...” as an excuse by one of them when corrected.

If I would say, “Don’t do that to your sister,” I could pretty much depend on immediately hearing, “But Daddy, she kicked me,” or “She called me ____.” It was driving me crazy, partly because I hate blame and excuses, but more so because as a psychologist, I know that not accepting responsibility is the quickest way to a miserable and unproductive life. I was determined to stamp it out.

So, I did three things. First, the game. We initiated a sign that would let anyone immediately know that someone was sensing an excuse or an attempt to blame someone else. I am not sure where it comes from, but we used...

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Why Your Relationship Isn't Working

Uncategorized Aug 16, 2020

When I have talked to individuals who are not finding what they want, or who are settling for what they don’t want, there is a common theme: they are trying to fill something inside them with that relationship. There is some sort of loneliness or a need to find validation of themselves—or even meaning—in a relationship with a guy. Many women give men way too much power to prove to themselves that they are lovable and desirable and even to make life worth living. They feel as if life is somehow not complete if they are not in a relationship with a guy.

When this happens, it makes letting go of someone, or not getting involved with someone, more difficult. The mantra seems to be that a notso-good relationship is better than no relationship at all. But are those the only options?

The answer is that people who attract the best partners, and who pick the best partners, are those whose lives are complete without being in a serious relationship. “Aw, come on,”...

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Establish Clear Boundaries with Kids, Teens this School Year

Uncategorized Aug 16, 2020

Terri was having problems with her thirteen-year-old son Josh not doing his homework. I helped her come up with a plan that would require Josh to set aside a certain time each night to do homework. During this hour Josh had to be in his study place with nothing else but his work, and he was not to do anything else but study. Terri had no control over whether or not Josh actually chose to study during that time. What she could control was that he do nothing else during that time but sit with his homework.

When I saw her the next time, Terri looked sheepish. She had not lived up to her end of the plan. “What happened?” I asked. “Well, we were all set, and then he got invited to go to a baseball game with his friend. I said no, that his hour was not up yet. But he got so upset, I could not talk him out of it. He seemed so mad and sad.”

“So,” I said, “that’s what he’s supposed to do, remember? He hates discipline. So what did you do...

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How to Develop Trust After You've Been Betrayed

Uncategorized Aug 16, 2020

We trust someone that we know “understands” us, our context, our situation, our needs, what makes it work for us, and what makes it break down. When they truly understand, and we experience that with that understanding, they care, the connection of empathy opens us up to trust them.

Have you ever experienced a situation where you tried to tell someone something you were going through, or tell a boss or a team member about a difficulty you were facing in the work, and you got no understanding? Where the response was something like, “It’s not that bad. You just need to go do such and such.” What happens? You walk out of there thinking, “he just doesn’t get it.” There is no connection, and you are not going to trust them to help. Further, you are not going to be as open to investing more of yourself with someone who doesn’t “get it.”

The highest performing teams are ones that each person around the table understands what...

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Three Mistakes People Make That Will Never Resolve Conflict

Uncategorized Aug 15, 2020

Have you ever had a relationship where you thought everything was going okay, and then you didn’t call home when you were going to be late, and your partner treated you like you had leprosy?

Or, have you thought you were doing well in a sport, and then played a rotten game, and felt enormous hatred for yourself? It felt as if you were a total failure, all bad.

Or, have you ever prepared a special meal for friends, planning the perfect evening together, then the cake falls and the whole evening is ruined?

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 and 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...

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Why It's OK to End Something That's Wasting Your Time

Uncategorized Aug 11, 2020

I was on a golfing trip one year when I met a guy named Blair. When I asked Blair about his line of work, he said he was in bonds. 

“Wow, that’s cool.” I said. “Have you been in bonds for a long time?”

“Not too long,” he said. “It’s a second career for me. I was in chemical manufacturing for a long time, and then made a switch a couple of years ago.”

I was impressed that he got to the top in a second career so fast, but you know what made the difference? He told me that although he’d experienced many temptations to keep believing things in his former career would turn around, he finally came to “the moment.” There was a moment when he knew that it was his time to get out.

When you can overcome internal conflict and get comfortable with a necessary ending, you’re going to get a more desirable result. You have to make endings a normal occurrence and a normal part of business and life instead of...

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How to Foster Better Relationships and Create Life-Giving Boundaries

Uncategorized Aug 08, 2020

Boundaries have a two-sided nature. You may lose something, but you gain a new life of peacefulness and self control.

Fear of the unknown is a really powerful internal obstacle to overcome when setting boundaries. As one woman said, "I didn't want to move out of Hell. I knew the names of all the streets!"

Setting boundaries and being more independent is scary because it is a step into the unknown. Many of us are aware that we can be rewarded for stepping out on faith into the unknown. However, that doesn't always make it easy to do.

Change is frightening. It may comfort you to know, that if you are afraid, you are possibly on the right road -- the road to change and growth. One businessman I know says that if he's not totally frightened at some point in every day, he is not stretching himself far enough. He is very successful at what he does.

Boundaries separate you from what you have known and what you do not want. They open up all sorts of new options for you. You will have mixed...

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The Difference Between Being Responsible For Someone and To Someone

Uncategorized Aug 06, 2020

When it comes to helping others, I get a lot of questions about the difference between being responsible for someone and being responsible to someone. Hopefully this will clear some of that up and help you make the distinction in the future.

The Law of Responsibility says that you are responsible for yourself and to others. It is realizing the boundaries of what you are to worry about and how. There is nothing wrong with helping another person. It’s one of the foundations of relationships. But the lines must always be clear as to whether you are helping them to do what they should be doing, and thus empowering them, or if you are doing for them what they should be doing for themselves.

Stephanie is losing a lot of work time helping Diane. She was always covering for her, it seemed, when Diane was overstressed and overloaded. Diane had a lot of personal issues that were taking more of her work time, and as that was happening, she was coming in later, not getting projects done...

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9 Ways Words Kill a Relationship

Uncategorized Aug 04, 2020

In a group I was leading once, a man held the floor for some time. He’d go off on tangents, change the subject and spend inordinate amounts of time on irrelevant details.

(I promise it wasn’t me this time.)

He couldn’t seem to get to the point. Other members were spacing out, dozing off or becoming restless. Just as I was about to speak to the man’s struggle with getting to the point, a woman in the group spoke up.

“Aaron, talk net, will ya?”

“Talking net” rather than “gross” means putting a net or boundary on how many words we use and how we use them — and that can be a struggle for many. How we use language can deeply affect the quality of our relationships. The words we use can be a source of both blessing and cursing. They can be a blessing when we empathize, identify, encourage, confront and exhort others. They can be a curse when we use them to do the following:

  • Hide from intimacy by talking nonstop
  • Dominate...
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