Prevent Your Emotions From Clouding Your Judgment

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

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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The Structure Your Child Needs Comes Down to Love

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

In today’s environment, we often question how much of a child’s time needs to be on a schedule. We don’t want to over-schedule a child so that they never have a childhood, so where do we find that balance? I get concerned, more so at older ages, that kids have way more activities than they can metabolize. Plus, I mourn for all of the “childhood” experiences that they are missing on their way to the Olympics. It is scary.

Having said that, the first thing we have to remember is that there is a difference between “scheduled” or “programmed” vs. “structured.” Let’s get that one straight first. To my mind, what scheduled or programmed means is that the tasks or activities that are going to be happened are decided and defined for the child. They are in dance, or art, or some activity that is set for them. These are very good for a few reasons.

First of all, they build skills in the child, developing their brains in a...

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Is Dating Only About Finding 'The One'?

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

What is the point of dating? Ask ten people and you may get ten different answers, but they generally fall into two camps. The first says that you should date people to find a potential partner for life. The second says that you should date people, basically, to have fun, and if something more serious evolves over time, wonderful.

The first approach can lead to a situation where you wind up putting a lot of pressure on yourself and the other person in order to determine whether they match all of the attributes and characteristics that you’ve envisioned in your lifelong partner. This presumes a lot. It presumes that you can get to know someone, really know them, right away. It also presumes that you know what you want in a partner.

Realistically, most people have a much better idea of what they don’t want, and what they do want is often a little bit more flexible. Getting to know someone, and getting to see how they fit in your life can take a lot of time, shared...

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Isolating, Toxic, Fake and True – 4 Relationships You Encounter in Your Life

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

You are always in one of four places of connection. No matter what life circumstances you are going through on the outside – victory or defeat, or somewhere in between – there are only four possibilities of connection that you can be in at any given time. This is the premise of The Power of the Other, and science and experience agree, that figuring out where you are is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

While there are four different kinds of connectedness – four possible corners of our relational space – only one of them will help you thrive. The other three corners will always diminish your performance and your well being. They can even destroy your vision, your relationships, your performance and your health. The key is to get out of any of the other three and into the only one that works. Think of this dynamic as the geography of relationships, a map with four corners:

Corner 1: Disconnected, No Connection

Corner 2: The Bad...

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Why You Can’t Make Someone Grow Up

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

Laura was weary of Anthony’s chronic lateness in coming home from work. Because he owned his own business, he was often delayed. It seemed like such a little thing, but as time passed, Anthony’s tardiness became a big problem. Laura would arrange her day to have dinner and the kids ready on time, and she wanted Anthony to be home on time as well.

Reminding, nagging, and cajoling Anthony had been ineffective. Anthony would either defend himself by saying, “You don’t appreciate the work I have to do to put food on the table,” or he would simply deny the problem altogether by saying, “It doesn’t happen that often; you’re overreacting.” Laura ran out of strategies.

Finally, after thinking through the problem with some wise women friends, Laura came up with a two-point plan. One night, as the couple climbed into bed, she told Anthony, “Sweetheart, I want to apologize to you for my bad attitude about dinnertime.” Anthony...

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The 7 Warning Signs of a Bad Relationship

Uncategorized Nov 29, 2017

We don’t always see warning signs of a bad relationship. The “do not cross” sign is flashing, and yet we remain oblivious to the oncoming train that will mess up our emotional world.

But I’ll tell you what you can do. Be engaged in what’s going on in the interpersonal dynamics of your relationships. Regularly take the temperature of your relationship and learn to recognize the problems before they become catastrophes, and you won’t have to worry about being caught off guard.

1. First and foremost, more than anything...you should feel safe. Safe expressing who you truly are, your mistakes and your triumphs. Every little thing that you have experienced has made you the person you are today and while some of this may not always be pretty to discuss, it made you, and the person you’re with will embrace your ups and not shame you for your downs.

2. It should never feel like a game. When someone is truly into you, and wants to pursue you and make...

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How to Spot a Toxic Friendship

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

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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Get Past the Distortions That Keep You From Setting Boundaries

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

A woman came to see me once for help in her marriage. She described her husband as so “powerful” and “intimidating” she just could not find it in herself to talk to him about things bothering her.

“Why don’t you just talk to him about these things?” I asked.

“Oh, I just couldn’t do that,” she would reply. “He’s too strong. He’s so intimidating. I just don’t know what to do.”

After seeing I wasn’t getting anywhere by suggesting she talk to her husband, I asked her if her husband would come in to see me. She said she would tell him I would like to talk to him. I had no idea what I was in for.

On the day of her next appointment, I went into the waiting room to find the woman sitting there with a small, frail-looking man. He stood and said, in one of the least intimidating, squirrelly little voices I had ever heard, “Hi, Dr. Cloud. It is so nice to meet you!” I remember describing...

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Don’t Accept the Guilt a Manipulator Wants to Give you

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

When is the last time someone made you feel guilty even though you know you shouldn't have felt that way?

Guilt is a difficult emotion. It's not actually a feeling the way that sadness, anger or fear are. It's our conscience punishing us by saying, "You are bad."

Guilt comes mainly from how we have been taught in our early socialization process. Because of this, sometimes we feell guilt when we shouldn't. Feelings of guilt can appear when we haven't done anything wrong, per se, but maybe we have violated some internal standard that we have been taught. We have to be careful about listening to guilt feelings to tell us when we are wrong, for often, the guilt feelings themselves are wrong.

Guilt distorts reality. Rather than feeling “bad,” we should consider the impact of our actions. Has my action actually hurt someone? Why do they feel hurt? Could I have done something differently? Should I have?

Sometimes we feel like we're doing something bad or something mean when...

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Your Sadness Doesn’t Equal Weakness

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

Sadness is our next basic emotion, for it tells us about hurt and loss. We live in a world where we get hurt and lose things. We need it to help us grieve and let go. If we repress and deny sadness, there is inevitable depression. Unresolved sadness always leads to depression and often other symptoms.

Sadness is always the way to joy, because sadness says that there is a hurt of some kind that needs to be processed, and usually it involves a loss.

When people deny their sad feelings, they "harden" the heart, and that is to lose touch with tender grace-giving aspects of who they are. They become unable to love and be tender, and to feel grief over their wrongdoings. This state leads then to become insensitive persons. In addition, it leads to all sort of symptoms – depressions, physiological problems, substance abuse, eating disorders, and the inability to get close to others.

Here's a story:

Susan was in her mid-twenties when she began to have panic attacks. She would wake up...

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