Your helping is hurting someone

Uncategorized Nov 04, 2017

I have long been an advocate for the role of pain and suffering in growth. It's not a masochistic approach, for I truly hate "pain for pain's sake." And besides, not all pain produces growth. Some pain is just useless suffering and produces nothing helpful at all. I hate it when I see people putting up with needless suffering and saying that it is somehow building patience or character. Passivity that allows pain to continue for no reason is not character.

But, there is struggle, effort, and painful effort, that does indeed produce growth and is good for us. Muscle building is like that. You lift weights and it hurts. It's a painful strain, and your muscles are sore for a day or two. But as the scientists tell us, the tearing down of muscle allows them to come back stronger and bigger, and that is pain that produces growth. Similarly, facing grief can resolve depression or other emotional problems. Facing trauma can resolve PTSD. And good effort builds endurance. Embracing pain and...

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How to Confront a Toxic Parent's Behavior

Uncategorized Nov 04, 2017

Recently a woman asked, “How can I confront my mom to open up and be more involved in my life?”

“Well, have you asked her?” I responded.

“Sure! I told her that it would be nice if she asked me how my life was going, but she still didn’t do anything.”

“Well, let’s not say that you asked her anything. Call it a suggestion, or maybe a mention of a good idea. But, there was no direct request. If she didn’t respond, you probably need to ratchet it up a bit and say something like, ‘Mom, you rarely ask me about myself; I seem to be the only one asking you about your life. I’d like you to ask me how my work, kids, and activities are doing.’ ”

It is easy to be indirect with parents, given all the emotional complexities involved. Sometimes a person will even think, “She is my mom. She should know I need this without my being blunt about it.” But if what you have said is not getting through, you...

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Why You May be the Enemy of Your Own Happiness

Uncategorized Nov 04, 2017

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to become preoccupied with perfection. That’s different from envisioning perfection as a goal. It’s about whether perfection is a goal, or something that you demand. Believing that you can realistically attain perfection is no different than wandering through the desert, ever-thirsty, toward a mirage that only recedes toward the horizon. A lot of people obsess over perfection. This obsession is a massive waste of time and energy.

Perfectionism is a distraction, a justification for procrastination, an excuse for never getting anything done. When perfectionism is about one’s own striving, it is hostility aimed inward. When it is aimed at others, it is a cold and compassionless hostility toward the world. Perfectionism is a refusal to accept reality, and it is rooted in fear. To the perfectionist, nothing will ever be good enough.

For many people, perfectionism originates in childhood, with parental pressure to achieve....

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Set a Boundary With the Past and Move Forward with Your Life

Uncategorized Nov 04, 2017

When you hit a point in your life where you don’t know what to do, you want to give up, and you don’t know where you’re going, I want you to keep something in mind: Any one thing you do is only a scene in a larger movie. To understand that action, you have to play it out all the way to the end of the movie.

Once while I was doing a seminar on reaching goals and dreams, a lady asked if we could talk for a moment. We sat down, and she told me her story.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I have had this dream of being a lawyer,” she said. “I used to watch TV shows about lawyers; I read books about trials; I even used to go watch trials being conducted at the courthouse. I would love the work, and it would also be a great way of helping people.”

“What do you do now?” I asked.

“I work in the loan industry,” she replied.

“How do you like what you are doing?” I asked.

Her face changed to a cross between revulsion...

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Your Child's Feelings Don't Have to Control You

Uncategorized Nov 04, 2017

Boundaries with kids begin with parents having good boundaries of their own. Purposeful parents stay in control of themselves. If your child is controlling your decisions by protesting your boundaries, you are no longer parenting with purpose.

Terri was having problems with her thirteen-year-old son Josh not doing his homework. I helped her come up with a plan that would require Josh to set aside a certain time each night to do homework. During this hour Josh had to be in his study place with nothing else but his work, and he was not to do anything else but study. Terri had no control over whether or not Josh actually chose to study during that time. What she could control was that he do nothing else during that time but sit with his homework.

When I saw her the next time, Terri looked sheepish. She had not lived up to her end of the plan. “What happened?” I asked. “Well, we were all set, and then he got invited to go to a baseball game with his friend. I said no,...

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Have Trouble Enforcing Your Boundaries? Here’s How You Do It.

Uncategorized Nov 04, 2017

Wouldn’t it be nice if, when we confronted someone, it ended positively each time? Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you confronted a hurtful person, he or she realized what they did wrong, and you could go on? Of course it would.

That’s not always the case, is it. So, now what do you do? You’ve established your personal boundaries, and you can’t force someone to change. What’s left?

If the person doesn’t respond to the initial confrontation, we need to take a stronger stand by giving him or her some consequences. Consequences work at times when talking does not. For example, if your spouse gets argumentative when you bring up an issue, and continues to do so despite your requests otherwise, you can tell your spouse, “I would love to talk about this. But as I have told you, I don’t like the angry attacks. So I will only talk to you when a counselor is there. I will make an appointment, and if you want to talk to me about it, I...

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Love Shouldn’t Be Withdrawn Because You Say No

Uncategorized Nov 02, 2017

“Every time I disagree with my mother, even on little things, I feel this terrible sense that she’s not there anymore,” mused Brandy over coffee with her friend Whitney. “It’s like she’s hurt and withdrawn, and I can’t get her back. It’s really a horrible feeling to think you’ve lost someone you love.”

Let’s be honest. None of us enjoys being told no. It’s difficult to accept another person’s refusal to give support, to be intimate, or to forgive. Yet good relationships are built on the freedom to refuse and confront.

Good relationships are built on appropriate no’s. Even when we’re children, young or old, we need to know our boundaries will be honored. It is crucial that our disagreements, our practicing of saying no, and our experimentation will not result in a withdrawal of love.

When parents pull away in hurt, disappointment, or passive rage, they are sending this message to their child:...

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Your Past Mistakes Don’t Own You

Uncategorized Nov 02, 2017

You know that feeling when you make a mistake, and rather than owning it, you just swallow it and push it down with all the other bad stuff that you plan on dealing with some day in the undefined future?

When we were young, many of us bounced from mistake to mistake with all the innocence and naivety of a cheerful imp with no capacity for self-reflection. As adults, mistakes take a toll. There’s only so much room down there in the dark forgotten place where we put the things we don’t want to deal with.

The mistakes we make can become deeply rooted in our lives, and once they’ve taken hold, they are extremely difficult to eradicate. When we make mistakes as adults, the appeal to hide them away doesn’t diminish. But the consequences are not worth it.

To truly obtain freedom from our mistakes, we must own them. These mistakes must be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the forefront of our consciousness and expelled into the clear air. Mistakes can take many...

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How to Help Someone Without Becoming Codependent

Uncategorized Nov 02, 2017

Amy called Tina late one night needing a friend.

“He’s gone,” Amy said between sobs. “Dad passed an hour ago.”

Tina was heartbroken for her friend. Though offering condolences and prayers seemed appropriate, Tina wanted to do more for Amy. She couldn’t take away the pain Amy was experiencing, and she was busy with work and family obligations, yet she felt as though she needed to do more. This was one of her best friends.

Simply said, the way to comfort someone who is enduring a loss, going through a hard time or is recovering from addiction is to give them the support and structure they need to go through the process that is unavoidable.

Each of these instances requires a letting-go experience, a letting-go of defenses, control, the things that have been lost, emotions, niceties and the like. But to let go, someone has to be held up. The facilitator is the person who is the life support and the one who holds up the other person while they let go...

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Having No Boundaries with Family can have Negative Effects on Marriage

Uncategorized Nov 01, 2017

Our families of origin are a place of familiarity to us. It’s where we form our habits and patterns, and what we grew up knowing is how we make decisions about our future. However, when we’re not able to separate ourselves from our families of origins, we often run into boundary problems in outside relationships.

Let’s look at some common signs of a lack of boundaries with the family we grew up in.

Catching the Virus
A common scenario is this: one spouse doesn’t have good emotional boundaries with the family he grew up in — his family of origin. Then when he has contact with them by phone or in person, he becomes depressed, argumentative, self-critical, perfectionistic, angry, combative, or withdrawn. It is as though he “catches” something from his family of origin and passes it on to his immediate family.

His family of origin has the power to affect his new family in a trickle-down effect. One sure sign of boundary problems is when your...

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