No One Can Make You Feel Guilty — Guilt Trippers are Manipulators

Uncategorized Oct 31, 2018

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 fill 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 we set up...

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Don’t Keep Going Back to Failed Relationships

Uncategorized Oct 29, 2018

Have you ever had a relationship where you weren’t getting what you needed or wanted? Or one where you were getting things that you didn’t want? Certainly you have. The question is, what did you do? Did you try to continually figure out what to do right, so you would get what you need? Did that work? We’ll explore the common human dynamic of trying harder with people when it isn’t going to work and talk about a better way to get what you need.

This is the story of the Coke machine. I want you to think about a vending machine for a moment. What do you do with a vending machine? You approach the machine, and there’s a little slot where you put your money, and there are all these choices...Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc. You need something from the machine! You need something to drink! So you think, “AH! Finally. I found the Coke.”

So you approach the machine. You reach inside your pocket (note: this inside is important, because I’m...

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How Living in Misery Can Actually Be Good For You

Uncategorized Oct 28, 2018

Your brain doesn’t move you toward pain, and yet pain is one of your biggest and best motivators. If you are afraid of the dentist, even though you want healthy teeth, you avoid going as long as you can chomp on food without wincing. But when it starts to hurt at 3 a.m., you go the next day. Endings are like that. We tend to execute them when we get a tummy full of the misery. To the degree that we can stay distant from it, we don’t get moving.

I once worked with a CEO who had a significant need for an ending to an ongoing quality problem in his company. It was so significant that he had prioritized it as the number-one issue for their next five years’ growth and competitive position. When I came on the scene, it had been a “focus” for about three years, yet no progress had been made. It had to do with some disconnects between manufacturing side of the business and the service-delivery and customer-facing side, with the usual rock throwing that happens...

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When Fear Actually Hurts You

Uncategorized Oct 27, 2018

Just as there are smart and dumb risks, there are also helpful and useless fears. Like any emotion, fear serves as a signal to us. It alerts us to potentially dangerous situations and prepares us to take proactive action. That is why there are physiological component to fear: increased heart rate, adrenal surges, and muscle tension. These responses prepare us for flight from harm. So, fear is helpful when there is a truly dangerous situation ahead of us, and when we need to take evasive action.

At the same time, some fears are useless to us and keep us from the risks we need to take. These usual fears are not about reality, but more about misperceptions and distortions we have in our heads. We need to learn to pay attention to the one and get rid of the other.

For example, I love rock music, and used to play in a band when I was a student. When I grew up and started working, I figured that my playing days were over, and I resigned myself to being a listener, not a performer. One...

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Empower Someone by Letting Them Take Responsibility

Uncategorized Oct 23, 2018

Some people struggle with the fact that they are not always the cause of their problems. This often hinders them from taking full ownership.

No one would disagree that we aren’t the cause of all our problems. It is one of the truly tragic realities of living in a fallen world. The innocent are wounded. However, ultimately, in terms of solving the issue, fault is irrelevant. So here’s a much more helpful way to look at it: The person who cares about the problem owns the problem.

When we take responsibility for our lives in this way, we’re empowered to make changes. Ownership empowers us to act — to use our various skills to make plans, tackle a hurtful situation, or right a wrong. People who “own” their problems are people who can take initiative.

Ownership also gives us freedom. You are no longer a slave to the past, to false hope, to wishing someone would change, or to discouragement and passivity. You are free to try out answers, take risks, and...

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You Can Avoid Having Drama in Your Life

Uncategorized Oct 19, 2018

I can still remember what happened that day when I was eight years old. I made a big mistake, but I didn’t know it at the moment. I thought I was getting back at my sister, who was sixteen at the time. Opportunities for revenge were few and far between, and I was not about to let this one slip by. Sharon and her friend were goofing around in the den when one of them threw a pillow and broke the overhead light. They quickly figured out a way to arrange the light in such a way that you could not tell it was broken. They thought that they were off the hook. Little did my sister know that she had a sociopathic little brother with a plan.

When my father came home, I could not wait to tell him what they had done. I told him that they had broken the light, and he asked me to show him. I led him into the den, not knowing that Sharon and her friend were still in there. I was caught. Here he was, asking me about the broken light, and there they were, watching me seal my fate as a...

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When You Stop Playing the Blame Game, You Start to Find a Solution

Uncategorized Sep 11, 2018

Love is one of the greatest and most important experiences that anyone can have. It is a gift, and it can fill up our lives. We all possess a deep desire to have someone connected to our hearts in a safe and growing relationship.

You may be single and looking for the right person, or you may be married and wanting your connection to be happier, deeper and more intimate. In either situation, a healthy, safe, exciting and positive love relationship is an important part of life. Or at a more serious level, things may not be going well in your love life. Your dating life may be in trouble, or it may be nonexistent. Your marriage may be empty or struggling with a great deal of pain and conflict.

Avoid the blame game and ask, “What part have I played in this situation?” Here are some common answers.

(Please note that that these don’t necessary apply where abuse is present. If you’re in an abusive relationship, please seek the help of a counselor and/or law...

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Addressing the Fear of Confronting a Toxic Person

Uncategorized Sep 11, 2018

The following was written to address general unsafe behavior and may not be applicable for situations where abuse is/was present. If you have been in a relationship where abuse was present, please seek the help of a counselor and/or law enforcement.

As any psychologist will tell you, fear is stronger when we fear becoming afraid. This is called fear of fear. Suppose you need to confront a toxic person about their attitude, but you’re afraid they might retaliate. So you stay happy and positive on the outside but remain dissatisfied on the inside.

The longer you ignore the fear, the more you will activate it. And since the fear is associated with an uncomfortable outcome, having it burrow around in your mind naturally gives you an uncomfortable feeling. Eventually you learn to avoid thinking about the fearful situation so you won’t have to keep feeling the fear. And the more you avoid feeling that fear, the more afraid of it you become. It’s a vicious cycle, and it...

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Set Boundaries with Your Boss and Co-Workers

Uncategorized Aug 02, 2018

While I was consulting with one of the biggest companies in North America, an employee told me, “We would be so much better off if my boss would set better boundaries on what goes on with individuals on our team. He plays the ‘nice guy’ role too much, and as a result, the team suffers.”

Surprisingly, a lack of confrontation goes in the other direction as well. One vice president told me something I hear often as a consultant: “I wish my people would come clean with me. I wish they would tell me what they really think. I wish they would be more open and direct. But they are scared to do that.”

If you are like most people, you spend a lot of your life at work. Work is a place with many possibilities for stress, conflict, risk, and loss. It is a place where you put in the best of who you are. You are serving, and at times sacrificing, trying to please, and also establishing friendships on the teams with whom you work. So it naturally follows...

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Here's How you Say No to Drama in Your Life

Uncategorized Jul 20, 2018

Life is full of traps. Sometimes this fact is never more apparent than in our relationships with others. One of the biggest traps that we all fall into at one time or another is getting stuck in the whirlpool of unnecessary drama.

You know what I’m talking about: that friend who may have lots of good attributes, but always manages to trigger an argument whenever you’re together; that coworker who seems to only ever want to talk about your mutual colleagues and the zillion ways they’re doing everything wrong; that fragile friend whose feelings get hurt no matter what you do or say; or what about that person who you’re always having to save from the assorted troubles that seem to follow them around wherever they go?

Getting bogged down by these kinds of people and issues can be seriously demotivating. They zap you of your energy. Left alone, these relationships will end badly.

Most drama is avoidable by laying down solid boundaries.

Boundaries are an invisible...

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