Unsafe People Will Not Give You Freedom, So Here’s What You Do

Uncategorized Dec 10, 2018

I remember one woman came into therapy with extreme anger toward her family and all of their "expectations." I agreed with her that her family's expectations were wrong and that I understood her anger. She was very comforted that I agreed with her on that point. But when I suggested that they were not going to change and that she had to free herself from them by changing her attitudes toward them, she would get angry with me, saying, "You're just like them. You don't understand, either." She felt if I did not agree with her victim stance, I didn't care.

I assured her that she had indeed been victimized growing up, but now she had to stop victimizing herself by freeing herself from her expectations of them.

She couldn't understand that and said, "I don't have any expectations of them; they are the ones with the 'shoulds.'"

"On the contrary," I said, "you're just like them. They say that you should be a certain way. And you say that they should be a certain way, or you will feel...

Continue Reading...

The Effects of Being Disconnected from Others

Uncategorized Dec 10, 2018

If you want to find out if you’re disconnected from others, just ask the ones who depend on you. Ask them if they feel needed, valued, listened to, taken into your confidence. If so, that is not you.

But, while you might be someone who is not totally cut off from your own connection chip, it is possible that you are disconnected from others from your own needs. This is very common for high performers, leaders, and people who accomplish things. Circumstances or life for whatever reason has taught you that you have to do life or leadership on your own. You, in very practical ways, do not allow yourself to need anyone. And although you care about others and give to them, you are doing that from a disconnected place in relation to your own needs. You are giving out, but not taking much in.

Sometimes this is the natural path by which someone even gets into leadership: A kid is a doer. He or she might even be the sibling who is the family hero or star. The one that kind of takes...

Continue Reading...

How to Guard Yourself Against Unsafe Family Members

Uncategorized Dec 09, 2018

When I was still doing my radio show, a woman called into our program and said that she was going to visit her family for Christmas. She was depressed because she knew her grandfather would make things miserable, just as he always did. She dreaded hearing his criticism of her and her lifestyle. We asked her why she had to listen to that, and she responded, “I just have to, that’s all. I have no choice. That is what he does.” 

This woman lost her freedom the minute she walked in the door of that family gathering. She didn’t realize that no one can take away your freedom: she chose to give it up. She was letting her grandfather have power over her, but what she didn’t realize is that she didn’t have to give him permission. She felt that the pressure from her family to just “take it” was so strong, that this is the place where she lost her choices.

As we kept talking, we quickly thought of several choices she could make: 

She...

Continue Reading...

This is How to Respond to a Passive-Aggressive Narcissist

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2018

For many of us, family get-togethers can be a real pain in the you-know-what. How wonderful it would be to have a perfect, happy family with no issues. But human beings live messy lives, and we do so many things the wrong way before we have sufficient wisdom to know the best approach. 

Not long ago a friend of mine asked me for advice on how to deal with a passive aggressive, frankly narcissistic text she received from her father about her upcoming visit. It was obviously coming from a place of hurt, and yet there was a lot of care in there, and also aggression and manipulation. It was clear that there were some deeper issues. This was a family in need of boundaries.

I didn't tell my friend exactly what to do, but I did give her a basic framework to think about the problem. I suggested she should wait a bit before she responded, because we always want to make sure that we are responding rather than reacting.

1. Gratitude.  The busy and messy state of so many of our lives...

Continue Reading...

Boundaries: What You Prefer vs. What is Wrong

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2018

When setting boundaries with someone, it’s important to differentiate between what you prefer and what’s actually wrong. Before you talk to someone about changing his behavior, figure out if what he is doing is really a “bad” thing or just something you don’t like.

I refer to this distinction as a test I like to call “Would God and the Beverly Hillbillies Agree?” Here’s what I mean: Some things are just things you don’t like and want someone to change, but that person is not really doing anything wrong. Depending on where you come from, it may be acceptable or not.

For example, what is fine to Jed Clampett, the funny patriarch on the old Beverly Hillbillies television show, might be very distasteful to you. He was the kind of person who would keep a raccoon inside his house and stock his swimming pool with catfish. If your spouse did that, it would really bug you. It is all a matter of taste.

In contrast, mistreating people or...

Continue Reading...

Tis’ the Season to Set Some Boundaries with Family

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2018

When you were born, you were placed you into a family for a season of time to help you grow into a mature adult. At some point this season ends, and your relationship with your parents changes from child-to-parent to adult-to-adult. The roles change from dependency and authority to mutuality. While you are to respect and care for your mother and father, you are no longer under their protection and tutelage. Children are to obey parents, while adult children are to love and honor them. Therefore, situations will occur where you need to make decisions and set boundaries with family with which they may not agree.

For example, you might decide to spend some traditional holiday time apart from your family. This can often be a cause for a confrontational talk:

You: “Mom, I wanted to let you know as soon as I could that I’ve made plans to go to the mountains with some friends this Christmas. I know this will be the first Christmas I won’t be with you and Dad, so I wanted...

Continue Reading...

How to Set Boundaries with a Difficult Mom

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2018

“My mother is a narcissist.”

I hear it a lot. I can understand why some people feel that way about their parents or others in their life who have left them hurt.

I’m going to keep using “mom” as an example here, but these are guidelines you can use with anyone in your life when you’re making rules and setting boundaries. Let’s take a further look. …

If you’re new to setting boundaries, or setting them with a new person, it can be tough and a little scary. But let’s think about how we approach that. You might say something like, “I’m in a process of personal growth, and I’ve made some changes. Our relationships is important to me, so I want to share them with you.” Then explain what you’ve discovered about your character traits, attributes, likes and dislikes.

“But my mom will just say I’m just being selfish, that I don’t love her …”

You can still set the...

Continue Reading...

What Makes Triangulation a Toxic Behavior

Uncategorized Nov 26, 2018

I have something I call the Deadly Triad, and it refers to a concept called triangulation. We've got 3 people: A, B and C.

Problems always seem to arise when we're dealing with A, B and C. Sometimes these three people are friends, sometimes they're colleagues. They all have relationships with each other and apart.

For instance, we could be talking about a situation in which A should be talking to B but is talking to C about B instead. This combination of people plays out lots of different ways. How do we approach it?

First, name the problem. Start by talking about the disease of triangulation with the people that it might be affecting. Sometimes people’s intent isn’t nefarious, but they’ve found in previous relationships that talking to someone directly hasn’t worked. Now they fear it for some reason. Sometimes A and C will talk to each other about C, because where they have come from, speaking directly could have been dangerous.

So tell them you’ve...

Continue Reading...

You Can Set Limits on Manipulative or Narcissistic Behavior

Uncategorized Nov 23, 2018

In the alcoholic home, if a spouse chooses not to limit her drinking, this is their responsibility. However, other family members can set limits on how they will be affected by it. If an alcoholic continues to drink, the other spouse can only limit themselves, not the other person. They can say, “I will limit my exposure to your behavior. If you continue to drink, the children and I will move out until you get sober.” You can’t stop your spouse from drinking, but you can stop yourself from being affected by it.

I realize this is one example, and there are many different situations and outcomes that affect this situation, but I want you to know that you still have control of the decisions and choices that you make for yourself. And making those decisions involves myriad details. 

If we can’t set limits on ourselves, however, we need to enlist the aid of others. This is still taking responsibility. If we call the police and ask them to help limit our...

Continue Reading...

How to Set Boundaries Within a Dysfunctional Family

Uncategorized Nov 23, 2018

Look at your own life situation and see where boundary problems exist with your parents and siblings. The basic question is this: Where have you lost control of your property? Identify those areas and see their connection with the family you grew up in, and you are on your way.

Identify the Conflict

Discover what dynamic is being played out. For example, what “law of boundaries” are you violating? Do you triangulate? Do you take responsibility for a sibling or parent instead of being responsible to them? Do you fail to enforce consequences and end up paying for their behavior? Are you passive and reactive toward them and the conflict?

You cannot stop acting out a dynamic until you understand what you are doing. “Take the log out” of your own eye. Then you will be able to see clearly to deal with your family members. See yourself as the problem and find your boundary violations.

Identify the Need That Drives the Conflict

You do not act in...

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.