Telling Yourself to ‘Get Over It' Simply Doesn’t Work

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2018

Paul came into therapy because his wife was frustrated with his emotional distance from the children. As we explored what made it difficult for him to connect with his children, I asked Paul about his own father.

His father was wonderful, Paul told me, and he had always looked up to him. “It seems you and your father did much better together than you and your children are doing,” I said. “I wonder what went wrong.”

“I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with his death.”

“What do you mean?”

“He died when I was 13. He just never woke up one morning. I watched the paramedics come in and take him away under a sheet. Mom never talked about it. My uncle made all the funeral arrangements, but he didn’t talk about it either.” And then he began to cry.

As we continued to work, he began to recognize his anger for the sudden loss of his father. He was resentful that his mother and uncle never helped him through his...

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The Bad Habit That Destroys Relationships

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2018

Playing fair will destroy every relationship in your life.

Fair is giving good things to others as long as they give good things to us. Then if they fail us in some way, we respond “fairly.” We give it right back to them, either at the moment or soon thereafter. Either our words or our actions say, “That’s not fair. Therefore, I am not going to do good to you any more. In fact, I’m going to give you exactly what you’re giving me. Then you can see how it feels.”

The problem is that operating by the principle of playing fair, all it takes for any relationship to go sour is for one person not to perform, then the other one will do the same. There is an interlocking dependency: the other person must be good so I can be good. In this kind of dynamic, we need the other person to be loving in order for us to love them, or to behave maturely in order for us to behave maturely toward them. And no one ever performs perfectly, so that is why all it...

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The Toxic Behaviors You Don’t Have to Tolerate

Uncategorized Jul 12, 2018

Simply put — You get what you tolerate. In text, it can look like a harsh truth, but let me explain.

This phrase holds true whether you are raising a puppy, a child, a direct report or a spouse. (Hopefully you’re not raising a spouse, but it happens.) It holds true when you are negotiating a deal, working with an account, or supervising an employee. It will come into every context of life in some form or another. Many times it is innocent, like in very good relationships. One person will have a habit or practice that is not a problem for him or her, but is a problem for the other person. If the other person tolerates that behavior and does not talk about it, then it will remain in place until the other person finally says, “Excuse me, but you are stepping on my toe.” And in good relationships, the ebb and flow of the relationship is to talk to each other about what you would wish not to have in the relationship, and then you will not have it. That’s...

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A toxic behavior of an unsafe person to watch for

Uncategorized Jul 11, 2018

Safe relationships are centered and grounded in forgiveness. When you have a friend with the ability to forgive you for hurting them or letting them down, something deep occurs in the transaction between you two. The healing process begins to liberate both people of the harm that was done. Guilt, shame, hurt and fear start to dissolve, so receiving forgiveness when we know we’ve truly blown it is a humbling and growth-producing experiencing. It’s the only thing better than forgiving someone else.

On the other hand, an unsafe person who is unable to forgive can be very destructive. Unsafe people are often good at identifying your weaknesses. They can quote the minute and hour you hurt them, and recall the scene in intimate detail and living color. Like a good attorney, they have the entire case mapped out. And you are judged as “guilty.” And while we need to be confronted of our weaknesses, unsafe people, however, confront us not to forgive us, but to condemn...

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Why You Can't Change Your Partner

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2018

Stephanie was in love with Kyle. They were great together. They problem was that they had very different definitions of what “together” meant. For Stephanie, it meant being firmly committed and moving toward marriage. For Kyle, it meant being together when he was around, yet his being free to pursue his sports hobbies whenever he wanted — which took him away on lots of fun trips he wasn’t willing to give up. He loved her, loved being with her, but at this point in his life, he was not the kind of guy to make their relationship as big a priority as sports.

So they were in a battle. They would be together, and it would be great. But then she would want more, he would pull away, she would not like it, and she would begin to exert the pressure. She would say, “I can’t see why he can’t see how great it would be for us to settle down. We could have it all. Why can’t he see that?”

We could have talked for a long time about the reasons...

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How to Deal with Critical People in Your Life

Uncategorized Jul 06, 2018

Several years ago I had spoken at a leadership conference, and I was walking down the hall backstage with a friend of mine, who happened to be the event host. We were talking about the incredible growth and reach of her organization and all the great work it was doing, but something else also came up.

Her organization had its fair share of very vocal critics.

Right before I arrived to speak at this conference, I had read an article about my friend’s organization in a magazine article, and I asked her what she thought of it. Her answer caught be by surprise.

“Can’t say that I’ve seen it. I’ve got other stuff to do and think about.”

Really?” I thought. “You just got blasted by a popular magazine, and it didn’t register?” So, I asked her.

“Really? You just let it go?”

“Overall, yes. I have to do things that my organization depends on me to do. People are going to say what they want, and I have no...

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7 Ways You Can Communicate Better with Your Significant Other

Uncategorized Jul 05, 2018

When we’re having communication problems with someone we care about, it can be frustrating, it can hurt, and it can have us feeling defensive. I’m going to tell you give all of that up, including your pride, and learn to listen to your partner to get to the root of the issue. Here are a few tips.

Focus. Look your partner in the eyes and give all of your attention. Observe your tendency to get out of the connection.

Monitor your thought. As your partner speaks, are you listening or thinking of your response? Are you evaluating what he is saying? Stop that and just allow what your partner is feeling to sink in—to become your experience. Try to get inside his experience and feel what it is like to be him at that moment. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were in his shoes.

Respond nonverbally. Are you nodding or saying “hmm,” or something to let her know you are tracking? Let her know you are with her and truly listening.

Watch your defensiveness. If...

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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 to 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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