This is What Your "No" Muscle Can do for You

Uncategorized Jul 02, 2018

"Your safe people need to point out to you that you aren’t really 'present' when you can’t bring your differences to a relationship."

In most adult children of controlling upbringings, the will be self-directed and separated is undeveloped. We all need the ability to decide what we love and don’t love, like and don’t like, want and don’t want. However, the children of controlling upbringings often can’t separate their feelings and values from those of the significant people in their lives: mom, spouse, or friends, for example. They aren’t able to be distinct in their relationships.

The process begins by first owning a “no muscle.” We can’t really know who we are until we know who we aren’t. That’s why babies go through the “no” stage first. They must first become aware of their differences from their parents before they can explore their own traits and characteristics. In the same way, you need to...

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The One Thing We All Have in Common? We All Struggle, and It's OK!

Uncategorized Jun 26, 2018

I once led a retreat in a secluded setting for a few days. Eight people from all over the country had gathered together to support each other and go through the material I was presenting. The first night I had them all talk about where they were in their lives and what they desired to get from our few days together.

We went around the circle and each story was different. The first person had gone through an ugly split. The second one was having significant marriage problems. The third was dealing with the betrayal of a life long business partner. The fourth was doing very well and asking how to deal with success. The fifth was burned out. And then the sixth said something I will never forget.

He was the youngest of the bunch, new in his field of work. The other members of the group were older and further along the path, some with very significant careers. In his mind, they were the models of what he was supposed to be like.

When it was his turn, I asked him what the would like to...

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When Suffering Leads to Pain and When Suffering Leads to Growth

Uncategorized Jun 26, 2018

I hate exercise, but I do it. I hate lifting weights and riding my exercise bike, but I do it. I do it because, if I do, I will be healthier, will live longer, and will feel better.

So, why bring up exercise when we're talking about suffering and grief? Well, first of all, it shows you that I am naturally lazy. But seriously, I bring it up because physical exercise and suffering is analogous to personal growth and suffering. Pain can bring health. As we go through the pain of exercising our bodies, we gain strength and good things happen. But there is something else at work.

Physiologists tell us there is a reason I am sore after I lift weights: in fact, as I write this, I am really sore, as I just resumed weight lifting after several months off. I am sore because I have worked my muscles past their ability. I have stretched their capacity. After my workout they re-create and rejuvenate and grow back to a higher level of development than before. I tear down to rebuild. And through...

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Here's What You Do With Feelings of Anger

Uncategorized Jun 26, 2018

Aspects of the self can be paired with guilt messages, and certainly, anger is one of those. Some people feel guilty whenever they feel themselves getting angry. But there is another problem with anger.

Anger is a state of protest and fight. We are wired with this emotion inside of ourselves to be “against” something. We use anger to fight injustice, unrighteousness, evil, and other bad things. Anger is a problem-solving emotion designed to protect what is good and what is valuable.

But sometimes people have not expressed anger toward bad things that have happened to them because they have happened in a context in which expressing anger would have been dangerous. So these people deny their anger.

The problem is that anger is directional. It has to be aimed at something. It is supposed to be aimed at injustice or the person who is being unfair. But if this is not possible - for example, in cases of child abuse - people will aim the anger at themselves instead. Abused...

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3 Types of Pain That Affect You and What You Can Do About It

Uncategorized Jun 24, 2018

For those growing and for those who help them, the call is threefold. First, do not refer to pain and suffering caused by character patterns as “growth pain” Unless you can use this pain as a wake-up call. It is worthless. It is not legitimate suffering. It is the fruit of a lack of growth.

Not long ago I ran into a friend of mine, who caught me up on someone I hadn’t seen for ten years. His was a sad story. He basically was stuck in the career misfires he was in the last time I had seen him. What stood out for me was a particular character pattern. Literally every conversation I had ever had with him was dominated by his talking about how someone else was to blame for whatever was going on in his life. It was never him. Never. I never once heard him say that any of his problems had anything to do with his performance, his procrastination, his lack of initiative, or his lack of action. It saddened me that he had not learned his lesson, and it did not surprise...

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Boundaries Teach Your Teens to Become Responsible Adults

Uncategorized Jun 11, 2018

It was a normal day, but one that would forever change my friend’s parenting. We had finished dinner, and I was visiting with my friend, Allison, and her husband, Bruce, when she left the dinner table to do some chores. Bruce and I continued to talk until a phone call took him away as well, so I went to see if I could lend Allison a hand.

I could hear her in their 14-year-old son Cameron’s room. I walked in to a scene that jolted me. She was cheerfully putting away clothes and sports equipment and making the bed. She struck up a conversation as if things were normal: “I can’t wait for you to see the pictures from our trip. It was so much—” “What are you doing?” I asked. “I’m cleaning up Cameron’s room,” she said. “What does it look like I’m doing?” “You are what?” “I told you. I’m cleaning up his room. Why are you looking at me like that?” All I could do was to...

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Seven Ways to Disrespect Your Significant Other

Uncategorized Jun 11, 2018

Building boundaries in dating situations means that a couple needs to know that their feelings, needs, and freedom are respected. When someone is uncomfortable in a sexual situation, or is hurt by a sarcastic remark, or becomes angry with a broken promise, that is a signal that something is going on. The other person needs to take those feelings seriously. The couple needs to talk about what triggered this, and solve the problem.

Disrespect may come out in several ways, and it usually involves some violation of freedom in one of seven ways:

1. Dominating: The other person won’t hear “no” from her date. When he disagrees, she intimidates, threatens, or rages. She is offended by her date’s freedom to choose. For example, a woman may want her boyfriend to spend lots of time with her. When he tells her he’d prefer to do other things, she may disrespect his freedom by becoming angry and telling him their relationship will be jeopardized.

2. Withdrawal: One...

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Boundaries Are Not Something you ’Set On’ Someone

Uncategorized Jun 08, 2018

There is a lot of misunderstanding about boundaries, especially in the context of marriage. Some people are against boundaries because they see them as selfish. Other people actually use boundaries to be selfish. Both are wrong. Boundaries in marriage are basically about self-control.

A client once said, “I set some boundaries on my husband. I told him that he could not talk to me that way anymore. And it did not work. What do I do now?”

“What you have done is not boundaries at all,” I replied.

“What do you mean?”

“It was your feeble attempt at controlling your husband, and that never works.” I went on to explain that boundaries are not something you “set on” another person. Boundaries are about yourself.

My client could not say to her husband, “You can’t speak to me that way.” This demand is unenforceable. But she could say what she would or would not do if he spoke to her that way again. She could set a...

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Children Need Two Important Things from You: Gratification and Frustration

Uncategorized Jun 08, 2018

When children come into the world, they are confused about the nature of their relationships. They do not think they are dealing with one person. In their minds, there are two mommies, not one. Or, two daddies, not one. There is the “good” mommy and the “bad” one.

The good one is the one who gratifies them. When they are hungry or needy, they protest, and the good mommy comes and relieves their stress. When they are gratified, they see this mommy as “good.” But if something they want is not forthcoming and Mommy frustrates their wish, she is seen as the “bad” mommy. You may even remember this literally happening. It is not unusual for a child to hear “no” and say, “Bad Mommy.” This split is universal.

Some adults have still not resolved this problem. If you do what they want, they are very loving and see you as a good person. But if you say “no” to them, they see you as bad for not giving them what...

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How Freedom is Essential to Any Relationship

Uncategorized Jun 08, 2018

Telling other people what you want is key to feeling alive in a relationship and keeping things vibrant for both people. If only one person is getting his or her desires met, the relationship suffers. Unfortunately, many people do not get what they want in a relationship. But, they could if they knew how to communicate their desires.

For example, Aaron began dating Nichole. At first, he was in absolute heaven. She was so “easy to get along with,” he said. About five months later, though, something happened. “I broke up with Nichole,” he said. “It just wasn’t working out.”

”What happened?” I asked.

“In the beginning, she was like a breath of fresh air,” Aaron replied. But as time went on, I noticed a couple of things. First, I could never figure out what she wanted. I would ask her what she wanted to do, or where she wanted to go, or how she felt about something, and she would always defer to me. Even though that felt...

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