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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4 Reasons Why Boundaries and Discipline are Good for Your Child

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

As you begin setting limits and consequences with your child, she will almost certainly test, protest and express hatred. However, stick with your boundaries, be fair but consistent, and empathize with your child’s emotional reactions. She will begin accepting the reality that Mom and Dad are bigger than she is, and that unacceptable behavior is costly and painful to her.

Nevertheless, children will avoid reality as long as possible. One time at a baseball game recently, I watched a six-year-old boy talk loudly and incessantly about everything on his mind, buggy all those around him. Mom and Dad, afraid of hurting his feelings, would periodically ask him to please talk more softly. Apparently this was an old scenario for the boy; however, he knew that if he ignored them, his parents would soon give up.

Finally, a fan a couple rows back walked up to him and said, “Son, you really need to be quiet.” Shocked by this firm adult stranger, the child became much more...

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5 Things You Can Do to for a Panic Attack

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

The following was written by a member of Dr. Henry Cloud's team. 

7:20 a.m.

The feeling struck while I was driving down the interstate to an appointment. My muscles tightened and encapsulated me. My breath became short and my head started spinning. The cadence of my heartbeat increased while my hands clinched the leather on my steering wheel.

“This is it,” I told myself. “I’m really dying this time.”

This time, right? This wasn’t just the result of some fabricated paranoia. These symptoms were real.

I could feel my throat start to close, and I was convinced I was going to suffocate and pass out. The feeling intensified as I realized I could seriously injure myself or another person if it happened while I was driving, so I pulled over at the nearest exit.

The mystery of a panic attack can create enough anxiety to actually trigger one. The phenomenon has been studied for decades and has been loosely explained through theories of evolution,...

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Confront That Toxic Person About Your Boundaries

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

Being emotionally present and connected while we are confronting another person is the first essential of a good conversation. It truly requires a work of grace in us.

Being present refers to being in touch and in tune with our own feelings as well as those of the other person. This is an important skill, because when we are “there” – that is, emotionally present – we are available to the other person. He is not shut off from us while we are telling him a difficult reality about himself and the relationship. It is hard for anyone to absorb a confrontation. Presence and connection help to make that tolerable.

A boundary conversation is very difficult because it feels unnatural – and it is unnatural, in that the natural person within us does not think this way. On our own, we seek to protect ourselves from discomfort. We don’t want to be vulnerable and emotional in a confrontation, as we might be hurt. This is why grace is essential.

Also, when you...

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Don’t Allow Yourself to Live in the False Reality of a Toxic Relationship

Uncategorized Nov 27, 2017

So why don't you tell him that you want to break up with him?" I asked Misty about her boyfriend, Evan.

"You keep telling me over and over about this issue that just doesn't go away."

"Because he has so many wonderful qualities," she said. "There are so many things I love about him."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Well, like his sense of humor, and his charm. I still get excited whenever he is around. I am so drawn to him," she said.

"Yeah, I know." I empathized. "And then when you get together, what happens?"

"We have a great time," she said. "That is why it is so hard." "You have a great time for how long?" I pushed.

"You have a great time for how long?" I pushed.

"Well, when he is there. And then when we get together again," she said.

"And ... When is that?" I asked.

"Too long..." she said, reflecting the truth that Evan would dip into her life with fly-by romance and investment and then be totally unavailable in any kind of way that would build a true relationship.

"And then what...

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