Abusive Relationships, Setting Boundaries and Getting Support

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

Emily came into therapy because of “panic attacks.” Her husband’s increased drinking was causing problems at home. She tried to be loving and supportive, but this was doing no good; it was making matters worse.

She had begun to read some books on setting limits on abusive behavior and how to not be an enabler. She realized that she had to say no to his behavior, and at times this meant leaving him alone when he was on a binge.

However, when she began to put limits on his behavior, she experienced severe panic. She felt as if she were “falling into a hole.” She shook and felt terror. She felt as if some awful loneliness was going to “swallow her up.”

As she began to understand herself better, she found that she did not have very good bonding inside of her. She was isolated internally, she didn’t have the ability to maintain emotional connections with other people in their absence. If she were not in the presence of the one she loved,...

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The Reason Your Dating Life isn't Going Well

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

Single life is a mixed bag for many of us. Some people like to be unattached and play the field, while others just want to curl up with someone and binge watch TV shows on Netflix.

If you're unhappily single, I've got something to tell you. A friend of mine and her husband seem like a perfect match. I asked them how they met.

"It was a miracle," she said. "There is no logical way we should have ever ended up together."

"Why is that?" I asked.

"We were completely different people when we met, randomly, at a party. I was a young girl who liked to have a good time. He was a bit older than me and wanting to settle down. I was not a churchgoing person, but religion was a big part of his life. In all honesty, he was really the type of person I was trying to get away from. Imagine my surprise when he asked me out."

"Well, why would you go out with him if you were so different?" I inquired. "And how did you guys get from there to married for 10 years with three children?"

"I have a...

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What to do When Your Spouse Won't Respect Your Boundaries

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

Usually the quiet one in her group, Leah spoke up. The topic of discussion was “conflict resolution,” and she couldn’t be silent another second. “I know how to present facts and arguments about my opinion in a caring way. But my husband will walk out on me if I start disagreeing! Now what do I do?”

Leah’s problem is shared by many. She genuinely believes in boundaries, but she is terrified of their consequences.

Is it possible that others will become what we were never given the power or the right to control how others respond to our no. Some will welcome it; some will hate it.

We can’t manipulate people into swallowing our boundaries by sugarcoating them. Boundaries are a “litmus test” for the quality of our relationships. Those people in our lives who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, our opinions, our separateness. Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us that they don’t love our...

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You Can Create Separateness from Your Mom and Thrive

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

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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How to Take the Risks that are Worth it

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

Do you ever let your fears hold you back? Of course you do, we all do. Maybe if we were a bit more honest about our fears, we wouldn't have to be prisoners to them. Fear is a mechanism that allows us to avoid stuff that is unknown, scary, unpleasant or hard. Fears can be painful, and I'm not trivializing yours, but I would suggest that sometimes we don't really understand our fears.

Fears, like bad dreams, are best disposed of in the light of day. Expose your fears to yourself and others you trust. Identify them and where they came from. They are much less powerful when you can look at them in the light. Say to yourself, “I have not taken a risk in an important area of my life because I am afraid that…”

1. I will lose a relationship. (Are you sure? Or will that person just get mad and withdraw for a while?)

2. Someone will get mad at me (The anger of others is unpleasant, but you must be able to tolerate people being mad at you to be successful.)

3. I might hurt...

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6 Ways to Have a Better Relationship with Your Adult Children

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

Very few parent-child relationships make it out of the teenage and young adult years without some battle scars. We all have them! This being said, there's often some work that can be done to strengthen and/or repair even the strongest relationships between grown-up kids and their parents. Other than giving love, moral support and being an ally, one of the best things parents can do is to allow their adult kids to set up their own boundaries within the relationship. This is a time of profound emotional, spiritual and overall life development for young people, and finding your 'sea-legs' in the rocky waters of adulthood can mean temporarily pushing away from those closest to you. I've mentioned it before, as a parent you can say the same things to your kids over and over yet they never listen, but the minute an aunt, uncle or family friend mentions it to them all of a sudden they think it's genius advice.

We just have to be there, waiting, respectful of our adult child's autonomy,...

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Is it the Blues, or is it Depression?

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

A few years ago someone asked me the difference between being in a funk and experiencing depression. It’s important to know when you have the “blues” and when you are truly depressed and need help. Let’s look at the dynamics of each.

If you have the “blues” about something specific, you can pinpoint why you feel the way you do and then take the appropriate action – talking the problem over with a friend, working through the relationship issues that are causing the feelings, moving on to a new relationship, developing spiritual disciplines, expressing your feelings more, starting an exercise routine, and so forth. There’s a reason, there’s an answer, and you implement it – with the support of people who care about you, you will feel better with a little time and a great deal of effort.

Overcoming a breakup, for example, is something you can recognize and deal with. It takes time, support, effort, and some changes, but you...

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The Addictive Habits That Ruin Relationships

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

Sometimes when activities are meeting some need other than those they are intended to meet, you can become attached or addicted to that behavior. You develop a need for it to perform some function that regulates how you feel. For example, some people develop an inordinate need for food when they are feeling lonely of stressed, and they cannot stop eating when they are in an emotional need state. Others act out impulsively with sex to make themselves feel better. Some may overspend. Others drink too much. Still other people work to avoid other issues or feeling states in their lives. I have had many executives tell me that there are times when they know they escape into work because of how something is going at home or in the rest of life.

If you cannot be away from email for some period of time to do something vital in life, like connect with your loved ones or take a walk or play golf, then something is wrong. If you cannot go to a social dinner without checking email...

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When Someone Can’t Respect Your Boundaries, Do They Love You?

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2017

Eric sat in my office, despondent. His wife, Jennifer, whom he loved deeply, had just moved out because he had lost another job. A very talented person, Eric seemed to have everything he needed for success. But he had lost several good jobs because of his irresponsibility and inability to follow through. Bosses loved the talent but hated the performance. And after several family disruptions because of his failures, Jennifer had had enough.

“I love her so much,” Eric said to me. “Doesn’t she see that?”

“I believe that you love her,” I said. “But in reality, I don’t think that she does see your love. All she sees is the effect your behavior has had on her and the children, and she asks herself, ‘How can he love us and treat us this way?’ You cannot just love someone and not deliver. Love without the fruits of love is really not love in the end. She feels very unloved because of what you have put her through.”

If...

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Embrace the Power of Saying No and Live with Fruitfulness

Uncategorized Nov 10, 2017

Much of our identity comes from the positive assertions of who we are. We say things such as, “I love sports,” or “I love to travel.” We are asserting positive truths about who we are.

There are many people who aren’t in touch with their “not me” experiences. They don’t know how to disown who they are not.

I once knew a student in med school who wasn’t performing very well, but he felt pressured to stay because it’s what his parents wanted him to become. He needed to scream at the top of his lungs, “I hate medicine!” until he was finally heard, but he kept quiet. His “voice” eventually came out in his poor performance in school and his failure in residence.

Negative assertions are a reality. Just as we need to take responsibility for what lies inside our boundaries, we need to admit to ourselves what lies outside. Some negative assertions would be: “No, I don’t like to speak before large...

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