Creating a Safe Working Environment for Yourself

Uncategorized Jun 10, 2019

When I first went into practice, I hired a woman for twenty hours a week to run my office. On her second day in the office, I gave her a pile of things to do. About ten minutes later, she knocked at my door, stack of papers in hand.

“What can I do for you, Laurie?” I asked.

“You have a problem,” she told me.

“I do? What is it?” I asked, not having the vaguest idea what she was talking about.

“You hired me for twenty hours a week, and you have just given me about forty hours of work. Which twenty would you like done?”

She was right. I did have a problem. I had not managed my workload very well. I was either going to have to spend more on help, cut back on projects, or hire someone else. But she was right: it was my problem, not hers. I had to take responsibility for it and fix it. Laurie was telling me what that ever-present sign says: “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Many bosses...

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7 Steps to Help Someone Have More Awareness

Uncategorized May 27, 2019

If someone in your life behaves in a way that causes problems but he doesn’t know his behavior is a problem, you are dealing with unawareness. It can be something bothersome but not dangerous. Or it can be something life threatening, as with an alcohol, drug, or prescription pill addiction.

You may be acutely aware of the issue yourself, much more so than the person with the problem. You may want to address it with the person for his sake and yours. At the same time, you may be at a loss on how helpfully to approach him. Use the following seven steps to help that person come to awareness and find a solution to the problem:

1. Take a “Presumed Innocent” Approach
Until you know better, assume a person is innocent of bad motives or intents, and approach him accordingly. If the person truly does not know what he is doing, he needs compassion and gentleness from you. Being innocently unaware is a far cry from being resistant, defensive, or blaming. The other person may...

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Revenge is the Worst Response to Pain

Uncategorized May 22, 2019

No one wants to suffer, and it’s natural to want to avoid pain and discomfort. Yet, if you’re seeking to grow, normalizing suffering will facilitate the growth process in your personal development.

Let’s start by understanding how suffering actually helps with growth. Although it presents a negative experience, we recognize that it’s part of life – especially the growth part of life. No one grows to maturity who doesn’t understand what it means to endure pain.

So, when we think about pain, what is one of the worst types that comes to mind? In many cases, it includes a painful experience that is inflicted upon us by someone else. We already bring a great deal of pain to our lives by our own transgressions, and at the same time, others can inflict just as much injury on us. It adds salt to our wounds.

We have natural responses to being hurt that are part of our imperfections. We do not always respond well to stresses in our lives. These responses...

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Embrace the Power of Saying No and Live with Fruitfulness

Uncategorized May 20, 2019

Much of our identity comes from the positive assertions of who we are. We say things such as, “I love sports,” or “I love to travel.” We are asserting positive truths about who we are.

There are many people who aren’t in touch with their “not me” experiences. They don’t know how to disown who they are not.

I once knew a student in med school who wasn’t performing very well, but he felt pressured to stay because it’s what his parents wanted him to become. He needed to scream at the top of his lungs, “I hate medicine!” until he was finally heard, but he kept quiet. His “voice” eventually came out in his poor performance in school and his failure in residence.

Negative assertions are a reality. Just as we need to take responsibility for what lies inside our boundaries, we need to admit to ourselves what lies outside. Some negative assertions would be: “No, I don’t like to speak before large...

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How You Can Address the Patterns that Lead to Divorce

Uncategorized May 17, 2019

Jason and Sara came to see me for premarital counseling. They wanted to prevent any unnecessary problems in their marriage as much ahead of time as possible.

This couple was especially concerned because each had been divorced. The devastation that the split-ups had played in their lives had made them more wary and thoughtful this time around. They were more sober about the marriage and less idealistic than your average “never-married-early-20s” pair.

“What have you learned about yourself from your first marriage?” is one of the questions I ask in this case. It helps people understand their character patterns and look at the possible pitfalls in the relationship.

When I asked them the question, Jason and Sara were somewhat perplexed. They’d honestly never considered the issue before. As we continued exploring, I found out why. Both of them had simply figured they’d married a bad person the first time around, and now they were marrying a much better...

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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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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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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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