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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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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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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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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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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