How to Teach Your Teen to Take Responsibility

Uncategorized May 08, 2019

My daughters and I recall with laughter the game that we began years ago to combat blaming and excusing in our house. It did not begin with a case of “The dog hate my homework,” but with a dad (me) who was about ready to catch his hair on fire if he heard one more “But she ...” as an excuse by one of them when corrected.

If I would say, “Don’t do that to your sister,” I could pretty much depend on immediately hearing, “But Daddy, she kicked me,” or “She called me ____.” It was driving me crazy, partly because I hate blame and excuses, but more so because as a psychologist, I know that not accepting responsibility is the quickest way to a miserable and unproductive life. I was determined to stamp it out.

So, I did three things. First, the game. We initiated a sign that would let anyone immediately know that someone was sensing an excuse or an attempt to blame someone else. I am not sure where it comes from, but we used...

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7 Ways to Handle a Personal Crisis

Uncategorized May 06, 2019

When you're in crisis, you won’t be able to make the bad news in the big picture go away quickly, but you do have control over yourself, and you can focus on the vital things of life immediately. Let's take a look.

1. Connect sooner, and more, with those whom you are close to. Every bit of research in stress that science has amassed has verified this fact. The more connected you are to people who fill your heart, the less circumstances will affect you. Even my German Shepherd knows this, as in a thunderstorm he will come to find someone to be near. From monkey research to successful leadership teams in times of crisis, rule number one is get connected and stay connected. When a soldier lands in enemy territory, question number one is “where is my buddy?” If you are a leader in a company, make sure you do this with the ones who are depending on you to steady the ship.

2. Get back in touch with the things that will outlast the crisis, like your faith, your values,...

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Being Vulnerable Does Not Mean You Don't Have Boundaries

Uncategorized May 02, 2019

When two people in a relationship hurt each other, their relationship can be restored if they allow their hearts to be vulnerable.

Soft-hearts vs. hard hearts are the real issue, and a soft heart is vulnerable. But, the problem is that when people hurt each other, there is a danger that for either protection’s sake, or because of old wounds, or a refusal to forgive, a heart hardens, making connection and trust impossible.

So, the “never do this again” lesson here is to make a covenant with each other that “we will never harden our hearts towards each other again.” Never close the door, hold on to old wounds, be closed to working it out, and getting vulnerable again.

Now, let me say what this does not mean. It does not mean that someone remains open and vulnerable to abuse, attack, unfaithfulness, addictive destruction, and the like. That requires very strong boundaries. Boundaries are ways of limiting the danger, and the hurt, not setting oneself up for...

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Soften Your Heart and Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable

Uncategorized May 01, 2019

It felt like I was at Wimbledon watching a tennis match, but instead of a tennis ball that was flying back and forth, it was blame. In tennis, players hit the ball back and forth over the net. In this counseling session with Jeremy and Rachel, one would blame the other, and before the shot ever landed, the other would hit it right back. I felt my head going back and forth, left to right, as they pointed the finger at each other.

This particular “match” was about “his irresponsibility,” as Rachel termed it.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He always lets me down. Every time I depend on him, he doesn’t follow through, and I am left with some situation that is awful and have to clean up the mess. He keeps doing it over and over,” she said.

The “situation” that she was referring to this time was kind of a big one. He had forgotten to pay the light bill and the lights had literally “gone out.” And she was not...

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How We Keep Picking People Who Hurt Us

Uncategorized Apr 07, 2019

Please keep in mind that article is NOT meant to place blame on victims of abuse. It was written to address character weaknesses that lead to unfulfilling relationships. 

We must find out what it is about us that causes us to make such poor, hurtful choices. The truth is that it is not just a lack of knowledge. We usually make such choices out of our own weaknesses. For example, if we are unable to confront people who hurt us and set good boundaries, we will continually be attracted to controlling, hurtful people. So, in a very real sense, we bear responsibility for the problem.

Or, if we are so isolated and lonely that we are afraid to end or confront hurtful relationships, we will choose hurtful people to avoid being alone. We need to make sure that we have a good support system in place and are not so in need of any one person. Or, if we are still trying to please some perfectionistic standard in our own heads, we will find perfectionistic people to live out that...

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Why You're Not Getting What You Want From Relationships

Uncategorized Apr 03, 2019

When I have talked to individuals who are not finding what they want, or who are settling for what they don’t want, there is a common theme: they are trying to fill something inside them with that relationship. There is some sort of loneliness or a need to find validation of themselves—or even meaning—in a relationship with a guy. Many women give men way too much power to prove to themselves that they are lovable and desirable and even to make life worth living. They feel as if life is somehow not complete if they are not in a relationship with a guy.

When this happens, it makes letting go of someone, or not getting involved with someone, more difficult. The mantra seems to be that a notso-good relationship is better than no relationship at all. But are those the only options?

The answer is that people who attract the best partners, and who pick the best partners, are those whose lives are complete without being in a serious relationship. “Aw, come on,”...

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How Envy Can Destroy the Heart

Uncategorized Mar 30, 2019

At some point in our lives, we feel envy. It’s part of the human condition, some more than others. Generally, the more we fill our lives and hearts with good things that are meaningful and are humble about how fortunate we are to have them, the more gratitude we feel and the less envy we experience. Nevertheless, all of us would do well to be aware of it when it creeps up in our hearts, minds, and souls.

Envy works this way. It defines what is good as what we do not have. In other words, if I do not possess something, it takes on a higher value than if I do. Likewise, once I attain it, it is no longer valuable to me, because I have it. It makes keeping up with the Joneses a full-time job.

When envy dominates a person, he or she is looking over the fence at the yards of others. They think that another person’s position or some other relationship or status or possession would make them happy. They think that the real things of value are the things that others have, not...

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How to Build a Better Relationship with Your Teenager

Uncategorized Mar 19, 2019

I was at a friend’s house for dinner one evening when, out of the blue, their son turned to his parents and said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I got suspended from work for a week.”

“What happened?” his dad inquired. There was concern in his tone. It had been difficult for their son to secure this job.

“I was late twice within the same week.”

“That’s too bad,” his mother said. “You needed the money.” She continued eating, and we chatted for a minute before the subject changed.

I was so proud of his mother, I wanted to scream, “Way to go!” She didn’t get hooked into taking care of him or hooked by her own anxiety into lecturing, trying to ensure that he would never be late again so he wouldn’t lose his job. She just empathized and listened, allowing him to shoulder the problem. She also did not offer money, talk about how unfair “they” were to do such a thing, or enter into any...

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Resolving Internal Boundary Conflicts Start With Us

Uncategorized Mar 18, 2019

Kellie had been working on major boundaries issues in her therapy for a while now. She was seeing progress in resolving responsibility conflicts with her parents, her husband, and her kids. Yet today she introduced a new issue. “I haven’t told you about this relationship before, though I guess I should have. I have tremendous boundary problems with this woman. She eats too much, and has an attacking tongue. She’s undependable — lets me down all the time. And she’s spent money of mine and hasn’t paid me back in years.”

“Why haven’t you mentioned her before?” I asked.

“Because she’s me,” Kellie replied.

Kellie was echoing the conflict most of us have. We begin setting limits on others. We begin moving from taking too much responsibility to taking just enough. But how do we begin to set limits on ourselves?

Instead of looking at the control and manipulation of others, we also need to be looking at our...

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7 Reasons You Stay Stuck and How to Get Out of Feeling Hopeless

Uncategorized Mar 17, 2019

Consciously or unconsciously, we are all driven to grow. We see a future that we want to live in, and we are either able to intentionally get there, or we cannot. A major determinant of whether you will get there or not is simply that you actually believe that you can.

We carry around a huge amount of personal baggage from our past experiences that informs our attitudes about the future. In many cases we develop a sense of learned helplessness that causes us to believe that we will never be able to get the future we want. This self-defeating logic is reinforced by our own inaction toward overcoming this baggage from our past. It becomes a pattern.

We get used to not getting what we want. We come to believe that it’s normal. That it’s simply the way things are.

Before we can overcome these issues, we have to understand what they are. This is by no means an all encompassing list of issues that characterize bad past experiences that can prevent you from realizing your own...

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