What it Means to be Independent from Your Mom

Uncategorized Jan 07, 2018

If you had a controlling mom, you’ve most likely experienced problems in separation, autonomy, and individualization — becoming your own person. We’ll go through the necessary steps to repair yourself, but first, let’s clarify the real problem.

A controlling mom may be the hardest mother type to perceive accurately and realistically. The bottom-line issues and dynamics are often difficult to identify. This is because of the following two tendencies:

1.) To see mom as the solution. While the controlling mom may be controlling and enmeshing, she can also be loving and supportive. Her care and concern are often genuine. She can be very involved in her child’s life in positive ways. Because of this, the symptoms — depression, relational conflicts, and independence failures — don’t necessarily lead you to wonder about mom issues. In fact, you may even return to mother over and over again for support in the very problems that began with her....

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4 Steps to Getting Through the Winter Blues

Uncategorized Dec 16, 2017

Winter can make it feel like everything is frozen in time. Between the holidays and the cold weather, in can feel like real life has come to a halt. As the days get shorter and the night gets longer, it's tough to maintain the energy to even get through the day. Many of us have to remind ourselves that, yes, the sun does set every day before 5PM for a few months. And no, we should probably not feel this tired.

Our goals, drive, personal time, discipline and all of the other things we work on so relentlessly, may feel like they've gone into hibernation. Maybe this is one of the reasons so many of us get excited about New Year's resolutions. We crave to be our best selves, even when our schedules, families and life demands get in the way of our individual wants and needs.

Don't fret: It's important to remember that there's a lot of growth happening underground in the winter. Our interactions with families and friends may stimulate a lot of positive aspirations, or they may remind us...

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What to Do When You've Been Burned Too Many Times

Uncategorized Dec 16, 2017

I worked with someone who once told me they were “done” with people. Their sentiment was understood. After being hurt multiple times in different capacities, I could see why they came to that conclusion. I just didn’t agree with it.

But before you believe you’re “done” with people and all relationships relationships, allow me to elaborate on something here.

People who avoid relationships have problems not with functional self-sufficiency but with relational self-sufficiency. The problem with the relationally self-sufficient person is that he operates in his own relational world. He runs his emotional affairs like a one-man business. His emotional philosophy is the following:

  • I take care of my problems.
  • I don’t burden others with my problems.
  • I can handle my problems myself, thank you.
  • I’m fine, really.
  • No, really, I’m fine.

What’s wrong here? We were not created to be relationally self-sufficient. We need each other. Our...

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Life Isn’t Less Messy Because the Holidays are Here

Uncategorized Dec 16, 2017

The holidays can be a tough time for people that are feeling down. If you're not feeling holiday cheer, many people think you're a grinch.

But not everyone wants to “deck the halls” and sing “fa-la-la-la-la.”

Some people get the holiday blues every year, whether because of some bad memories or past experiences that they haven't dealt with, or simply because of the stress. Others have experienced misfortune recently: a bad breakup or the loss of a job. Likewise, people dealing with serious depression don't get a break from their demons just because Santa is coming to town.

It's important to remember that life doesn't stop happening to people just because there are Christmas lights out. Life can be messy and real, and we have to make room in our hearts to understand that some people are dealing with a lot this season.

One of the worst things we can do to people is to tell them how they should feel. That's a one way communication and it invalidates that person's...

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Why that Narcissist You Know Won’t Get Far in Life

Uncategorized Dec 15, 2017

I had a very interesting conversation recently with a leader who accomplishes a lot and is very driven and effective. I have always been a fan of his work. We were working on a project together, and he made a reference to a particular work habit of his, logging almost every thought he has about his work into a very complicated matrix in a journal, and I asked him about it. Nothing wrong with carrying a little book around and jotting down good ideas when they come. But this was much more; it was obsessive. He said, “I think it’s probably part of my anxiety disorder.”

I inquired more, and he told me that he had been managing a significant anxiety disorder for some time and had relied on a number of tricks and habits to keep it in check. As I listened, I couldn’t help being moved by how much effort it must cost and how distressing it must be for him to manage this condition. I also couldn’t help wondering how much better his life and work could be if he...

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Understanding the Relationship Between Codependents and Addicts

Uncategorized Dec 12, 2017

In the last several decades of addiction treatment, one of the most powerful discoveries has been the role of the codependent in addictions. Basically, researchers learned that an addict needs a codependent to enable staying addicted. But beyond that, codependent people continually find themselves in relationships with addicts. In my experience with codependents, I’ve often heard, “Out of all the people in the world, I will be drawn to the addict before anyone else.”

One reason for this attraction is that there is a match. The addict does not take responsibility for his life, and the codependent feels responsible to take care of people who are not taking responsibility for themselves. So the addict and the codependent will be drawn to people who fill their needs. And it works … for awhile … until …

When the codependent finally asks the question, “What is it about me that always draws me into this kind of relationship?” Then she...

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Self-Esteem is Not the Most Important Thing to Build in Your Child

Uncategorized Dec 12, 2017

Self-esteem is a sensitive topic for parents, and they’re careful to build it into their children. Does it help? Can you actually build it, and what does it do?

People who talk about building positive self-esteem in a child are often trying to cure the child from the feeling of a “bad self,” or they’re trying to prevent the child from developing a “bad self” by having the child see herself solely in a positive light. This is a confusing idea for several reasons.

First, it places the security of the child at risk by basing it on her positive performance. The concept of self-esteem hinges on a child being able to see herself positively. What happens when her performance is not positive? What happens if she fails?

If the goal is to see ourselves in a “good” way, what will we do with failure? How can we maintain this “positive view” in the light of badness and failure? One answer is to have more positive than negative. Another...

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How to Teach Your Kids to Connect with Others

Uncategorized Dec 12, 2017

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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A Letter to my 12-Year-Old

Uncategorized Dec 11, 2017

Dear Lucy,  

How proud I am of you! You have turned into and are turning into such an amazing, incredible, loving and lovable person. I love watching you, being with you, listening to you, learning from you and much, much more. Your presence lights up a room, and when you are around, heaven has taken a moment and touched us all. I love you.

So, as you turn 12, I have asked myself, "What is 12 about? What does a 12-year-old need to be able to do to really be 12? Just because a body is 12 does not mean the person is, at least on the inside. They may be 4 and just wearing a 12 year old's costume, looking like they are 12. But 12 has some very important aspects to it. It is a time of completion, and a time of growing up that will have meaning for the rest of your life. In light of those kinds of thoughts, here is my test for you to answer the question: "Am I 12?"

I do not expect for you to answer 100% on the whole list, nor 100% on any given question all of the time. None of us...

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Why Your Significant Others Hides Their Feelings

Uncategorized Nov 30, 2017

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she said, referring to the grim financial realities he had been hiding.

“You never told me you were feeling alone,” he said, referring to her reason for getting involved with someone at work.

“I didn’t know you didn’t want to go,“ she said, referring to his resentment at going to her parents’ for the holidays.

“You always seemed happy,” he said, referring to her complaint in counseling that her marriage felt dead.

Sound like things you have heard before? Sound like things you have said before? You know the experience of being surprised that someone close to you felt a certain way, and you had no clue. It happens in a marriage! Sometimes one partner doesn’t hear when the other is trying to communicate something important. But at other times the communication is not so clear after all. And often when the hidden feelings are uncovered, it is too late.

Why People Hide Their Feelings

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