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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Three Ways to Fail at Handling Conflict — And One That Works

Uncategorized Jun 07, 2018

Have you ever had a relationship where you thought everything was going okay, and then you didn’t call home when you were going to be late, and your partner treated you like you had leprosy?

Or, have you thought you were doing well in a sport, and then played a rotten game, and felt enormous hatred for yourself? It felt as if you were a total failure, all bad.

Or, have you ever prepared a special meal for friends, planning the perfect evening together, then the cake falls and the whole evening is ruined?

The world around us is good and bad. The people around us are good and bad. We are good and bad.

Our natural tendency is to try and resolve the problem of good and evil by keeping the good and the bad separated. We want, by nature, to experience the “good me,” the “good other,” and the “good world” as all good. To do this, we see the “bad me,” the “bad other,” and the “bad world” as all bad. This creates a...

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‘Hate’ Doesn’t Have to Be A Bad Thing

Uncategorized May 25, 2018

One evening as I was doing a seminar, I asked people in the audience to list what comes to mind when they thought of the word hate. The response I got was a list of bad things:

  • You should not feel it.
  • I do it too easily.
  • I feel guilty for feeling it.
  • It comes from fear.
  • I feel uncomfortable with hate.
  • I am afraid to show it.

Such answers were pretty much what I expected, and they are probably typical of those most of us have when we think of hate. When we think of “hating well,” it seems like an oxymoron to most of us. We try to get over hatred because we have seen the destruction that it causes. We usually think of hate as a problem to be solved.

In reality, though, hate is one of the most important aspects of being human. It is one of the most crucial ingredients of a good person’s character. What we hate says a lot about who we are, what we value, what we care about. And how we hate says much about how we will succeed in love and life.

What We Hate Defines Us

...
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How Abuse Violates Our Boundaries

Uncategorized May 23, 2018

Our most basic boundary is our body. When we possess our bodies, we know they belong to us. We can feel them, we can own the pleasure they bring us through our senses, and we are in touch with them.

To invade another person’s body, to cross over this person’s boundaries, is the most basic act of abuse. The first effect of a crossover in body boundaries is that the person whose boundaries are crossed feels more like a thing than a person. Forcibly using a girl’s body against her will, for example, does away with that girl’s basic feeling of owning her own life. This can happen in several ways.

Sexual abuse is one of the most blatant examples of crossing boundaries, for someone takes what is not theirs. Ours sexual functioning was meant to be freely shared with a partner of our choice, not stolen against our will. People who have been sexually abused may disown their bodies. They may feel that their bodies do not belong to them: they belong to their abusers....

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The Fastest Way to Make Yourself Miserable

Uncategorized May 18, 2018

You’re scrolling through Facebook, and what do you see?

That guy from high school you haven’t talked to in years posted a photo of his family in matching outfits and adorable smiles.

That couple you knew in college is doing a food tour in Taipei.

That girl you used to work with is posting another selfie at the gym after losing 15 pounds.

That guy you met at a conference just bought a bigger home in a school district you’ve always wanted to be in.

And what are YOU doing?

You’re sitting in the car rider line at your oldest child’s school while your toddler screams from her car seat behind you because the movie on the iPad quit playing, and you’re hoping your son will be able to fix it for her before you have to drop him off at soccer practice, which happens to end right before you have to be at your women’s group. And by the way, it’s your turn to bring refreshments. You forgot, didn’t you? ... 
Now your husband just...

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Don’t Mind What Other People Think About You

Uncategorized May 18, 2018

As with feelings and attitudes, we must own our own thoughts. Our thoughts have much bearing on our emotional growth. Not all emotional disturbance comes from thinking, but it does play a vital part. (In reality, our emotions affect our thinking more than the other way around because feeling is primary, and thinking is secondary. But this isn’t about theories of psychology. Let’s just say that emotions and thought affect each other, and both must be owned.)

Our thinking affects how we respond to people and situations. We notice that we can have thoughts that make us move away from relationship. We may think, “They would never like me anyway, so I won’t call.” This is an example of thinking oneself into isolation. We must own all thinking that prevents interpersonal relating. Condemning thoughts about others always hurts us. We must own our critical thinking and confess it.

At the same time, we can’t be responsible for the thoughts of others. If...

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Taking Steps to Evict the Critical Voices in Your Head

Uncategorized May 15, 2018

Many people go through life with an internal critic, a “voice” inside their head that’s always telling them fearful, negative, or critical things that make them afraid. Sometimes that voice says things such as: 

See, you’re a loser. No one is going to like you if you screw this up. 
• If that deal does not go through, your career is over, and you will never get another job. 
• You’ll never be forgiven for that. 
• Did you feel that? You’re losing it. You’ll go crazy. They will have to lock you up, and everyone will know. You are out of control. 
• That is the worst thing you could ever do. You’re such scum. 
• If this happens, it will be terrible, awful, horrible, and your life will be over. 
• If this person rejects you, it proves you are worthless and that no one will ever want you. 

If you are constantly hearing these kinds of critical messages in your head,...

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Empower Yourself to Take Control and Be Free

Uncategorized May 14, 2018

If you’re going to get in control of your life, you’re going to have to do just that — get in control. You cannot control other people, but you can get in control of yourself. You have to be able to make the choices you need in order to make your life work, belong to you and integrate around the things important to you. That may require you to set some boundaries and limits with other people.

In order to do that, consider the following:

  • You need to confront a spouse who’s in denial about a significant problem.
  • You need to confront a difficult boss about mistreatment.
  • You need to talk to an unreasonable friend.
  • You need to tell someone you are dating that something needs to change.

But what if the following things are also true?

  • You can’t handle your spouse being upset with you, and you know that he or she will be upset if you confront the issue.
  • You need your job so much you are afraid your boss will fire you, and you doubt your ability to find...
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How to do an Honest Audit to Evaluate Potentially Toxic Relationships

Uncategorized May 12, 2018

In my book, Power of the Other, I talk about how relationships exist in four corners, and in this post, I’m going to help you examine Corner #2, bad connection. 

A “bad connection” leaves you feeling like you are “bad” in some way. These relationships leave you feeling like, no matter what, you are not good enough. While this kind of connection might be overtly abusive, that’s not always the case. A bad connection might simply be someone who is highly critical. A boss with demanding expectations that can never be met. A friend who only points out the bad. A partner who is shaming or guilt-inducing. A co-worker who leaves you feeling, “I am not good enough.”

Trying to live and perform from this corner works against all of our internal systems of thriving…both personally and professionally. We were not designed to do well when we’re feeling bad. And the symptoms are debilitating.

Clinical...

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