The Difference Between Being Responsible For Someone and To Someone

Uncategorized May 10, 2018

When it comes to helping others, I get a lot of questions about the difference between being responsible for someone and being responsible to someone. Hopefully this will clear some of that up and help you make the distinction in the future.

The Law of Responsibility says that you are responsible for yourself and to others. It is realizing the boundaries of what you are to worry about and how. There is nothing wrong with helping another person. It’s one of the foundations of relationships. But the lines must always be clear as to whether you are helping them to do what they should be doing, and thus empowering them, or if you are doing for them what they should be doing for themselves.

Stephanie is losing a lot of work time helping Diane. She was always covering for her, it seemed, when Diane was overstressed and overloaded. Diane had a lot of personal issues that were taking more of her work time, and as that was happening, she was coming in later, not getting projects done...

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How to Break the Patterns that Make Us Miserable

Uncategorized May 01, 2018

In human development, structure is internalized from the outside and becomes internal. Teach a child that if he chooses A then B is coming, he begins to think in a linear path. Therefore, he makes choices that are going to give him the B that he desires. In other words, before the misery comes, he learns to make a choice that is going to prevent it. That is the move to maturity.

Sometimes, we do not know the structure of life or certain situations or certain relationships until we are in them. So, we do not anticipate the ways that those jobs, projects, contexts, or relationships need to be structured. We don’t know what causes misery until we are there.

But, once we are there, an the misery becomes a pattern, we need to realize that this is not a one-time occurrence. It is a pattern. And we need to take ownership of the reality that whatever internal structure we are depending on to not have this happen is not working. If it were, we would not be having the problem on an...

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How to Get to the Truth, Even When It’s Uncomfortable

Uncategorized Feb 18, 2018

Maybe you’re heard this before — Become a student of yourself. It’s a trait of successful people, and they achieve that success because they’re able to confront the truth about themselves to get over their inaccurate and unhelpful thinking patterns.

When I consult with people who come to me with problems, I often have them try this exercise. “Imagine that you are in two places at once: one ‘you’ is a real interaction with someone else, discussing some goal or problem. The second ‘you’ is floating above, near the ceiling, looking at the interaction of the other you and learning from it. After you leave the conversation, you can use that floating, observing ‘you’ to review what happened and consider what you could have done differently.”

By employing this exercise, you may learn that you give up power and choice very easily when someone has an objection to your idea. Or that you come down on yourself quickly when...

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Leave Your Pride at the Door. It’s Ruining Future Relationships.

Uncategorized Feb 18, 2018

Humility is a trait of greatness. It is not an aspect of timid people who see themselves as trash. Humility is the ability to see yourself and your situation clearly, for good and for bad. Humble people don’t care if what they do or think makes them look like a hero or a bad guy. They want to get at the heart of the matter.

I knew a guy who was controlled by negative thinking patterns that kept him from asking out a woman he was attracted to. He said, “She wouldn’t go for a guy like me; she’s amazing, and I’m pretty mediocre.” After a few attempts to encourage him, I realized something. I was heading in the wrong direction.

“Actually, in a way, that could be a pride issue for you,” I said.

“What? I thought you were saying I put myself down too much.”

“I did, but sometimes pride can drive our self-talk, too.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, let’s look at it. How prideful is it to...

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How to Expose Your Fear to Get Over it

Uncategorized Feb 18, 2018

Fears, like bad dreams, are best disposed of in the light of day. Expose your fears to yourself and others you trust. Identify them and where they came from. They are much less powerful when you can look at them in the light. Say to yourself, “I have not taken a risk in an important area of my life because I’m afraid that:

  • I will lose a relationship. Are you sure? Or will that person just get mad and withdraw for a while?
  • Someone will get mad at me. The anger of others is unpleasant, but you must be able to tolerate people being mad at you to be successful.
  • I might hurt somebody’s feelings. Certainly, you could. But hurt and harm are two different things. You don’t want to harm, but discomfort can be a help to someone.
  • I might lose my job. Check out the reality of that fear with someone who is balanced. Is the situation truly that fragile?
  • I might fail. You might. You might not. And failure is often a blessing.
  • I might be disappointed. That is possible. When...
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The Attitude That Will Kill the Relationship with Your Significant Other

Uncategorized Jan 09, 2018

I listened as Faith told me about her fiancé, Daniel. She was excited about their relationship and their upcoming marriage. I was excited as well, until she said something that revealed a dumb attitude people have about relationships: she expected her fiancé to be her other half.

“We are such a good balance for each other. I am the people person in our relationship, and he likes to get out there and accomplish things. It feels so good to have someone who will fight all my battles for me, and I help to draw him out and express himself. So we are a great team!”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news in a thriving relationship, but as her counselor, I had to do it. I could see a lot of potential problems in their relationship if the division of labor was exactly as she described.

Here was the issue: Faith was doing the age-old math problem the wrong way, but the way so many people try to do it when it comes to relationships, like this:

1/2 person + 1/2 person = 1...

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4 Steps to Getting Through the Winter Blues

Uncategorized Dec 16, 2017

Winter can make it feel like everything is frozen in time. Between the holidays and the cold weather, in can feel like real life has come to a halt. As the days get shorter and the night gets longer, it's tough to maintain the energy to even get through the day. Many of us have to remind ourselves that, yes, the sun does set every day before 5PM for a few months. And no, we should probably not feel this tired.

Our goals, drive, personal time, discipline and all of the other things we work on so relentlessly, may feel like they've gone into hibernation. Maybe this is one of the reasons so many of us get excited about New Year's resolutions. We crave to be our best selves, even when our schedules, families and life demands get in the way of our individual wants and needs.

Don't fret: It's important to remember that there's a lot of growth happening underground in the winter. Our interactions with families and friends may stimulate a lot of positive aspirations, or they may remind us...

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Why that Narcissist You Know Won’t Get Far in Life

Uncategorized Dec 15, 2017

I had a very interesting conversation recently with a leader who accomplishes a lot and is very driven and effective. I have always been a fan of his work. We were working on a project together, and he made a reference to a particular work habit of his, logging almost every thought he has about his work into a very complicated matrix in a journal, and I asked him about it. Nothing wrong with carrying a little book around and jotting down good ideas when they come. But this was much more; it was obsessive. He said, “I think it’s probably part of my anxiety disorder.”

I inquired more, and he told me that he had been managing a significant anxiety disorder for some time and had relied on a number of tricks and habits to keep it in check. As I listened, I couldn’t help being moved by how much effort it must cost and how distressing it must be for him to manage this condition. I also couldn’t help wondering how much better his life and work could be if he...

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Self-Esteem is Not the Most Important Thing to Build in Your Child

Uncategorized Dec 12, 2017

Self-esteem is a sensitive topic for parents, and they’re careful to build it into their children. Does it help? Can you actually build it, and what does it do?

People who talk about building positive self-esteem in a child are often trying to cure the child from the feeling of a “bad self,” or they’re trying to prevent the child from developing a “bad self” by having the child see herself solely in a positive light. This is a confusing idea for several reasons.

First, it places the security of the child at risk by basing it on her positive performance. The concept of self-esteem hinges on a child being able to see herself positively. What happens when her performance is not positive? What happens if she fails?

If the goal is to see ourselves in a “good” way, what will we do with failure? How can we maintain this “positive view” in the light of badness and failure? One answer is to have more positive than negative. Another...

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A Letter to my 12-Year-Old

Uncategorized Dec 11, 2017

Dear Lucy,  

How proud I am of you! You have turned into and are turning into such an amazing, incredible, loving and lovable person. I love watching you, being with you, listening to you, learning from you and much, much more. Your presence lights up a room, and when you are around, heaven has taken a moment and touched us all. I love you.

So, as you turn 12, I have asked myself, "What is 12 about? What does a 12-year-old need to be able to do to really be 12? Just because a body is 12 does not mean the person is, at least on the inside. They may be 4 and just wearing a 12 year old's costume, looking like they are 12. But 12 has some very important aspects to it. It is a time of completion, and a time of growing up that will have meaning for the rest of your life. In light of those kinds of thoughts, here is my test for you to answer the question: "Am I 12?"

I do not expect for you to answer 100% on the whole list, nor 100% on any given question all of the time. None of us...

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