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Love Shouldn’t Be Withdrawn Because You Say No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 “It’s like she’s hurt and withdrawn, and I can’t get her back.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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Someone Else's Feelings Aren't Yours to Own

Uncategorized Nov 01, 2017

Our feelings, whether good or bad, are our property. They fall within our boundaries. Our feelings are our responsibility; others’ feelings are their responsibility. If other people feel sad, it is their sadness. This does not mean that they do not need someone else to be with them in their sadness and to empathize with them. It does mean the person who is feeling sad must take responsibility for that feeling.

Sandy was confused about her boundaries because she felt responsible for her mother’s feelings. She felt like she had to change her mother’s anger to happiness by changing her own behavior. This puts Sandy’s mother’s anger in control of Sandy’s life.

If we feel responsible for other people’s feelings, we can no longer make decisions based on what is right; we will make decisions based on how others feel about our choices. If we are always trying to keep everyone happy, then we cannot make the choices required to live correctly and...

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You Were Created to Thrive – Not Be a Victim

Uncategorized Oct 30, 2017

There is a big difference between a victim and a winner. Victims see things the way they are and think they will always be that way, because uncontrollable forces are acting upon them. But winners have a different attitude, especially about failure and trying something new to see if it works better. They know one of the most important things we can ever know: they know that they can learn.

If your hope lies in your abilities, then you are on precarious ground. If your dream works out because you are able to accomplish it successfully, then all is well. But if you put everything you have into your dream, and it doesn’t turn out well, where is your hope then? You have come to the end of your ability, and there is nothing there but failure.

But if you have in your toolkit another instrument of hope – your ability to learn – then nothing seems hopeless. If you can’t accomplish your dream now, you can learn how to do it. Winners think this way every day, and it is...

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Saying No is Enough — You Don’t Have to Justify It

Uncategorized Oct 30, 2017

Psychologists spend an enormous amount of energy building psychological tests, assessments and the like, and then administering them to people to help them understand themselves. This practice is very helpful in many settings, from work, to education, to couples and individuals. Insight into ourselves and others is really helpful for a number of reasons. I believe in good, validated testing.

But one of the best tests for our psychological well being, the tenor of the family or work culture we live in, and the health of our relationships, is free and can be self-administered. All you have to do is monitor the internal response you have when you want to say the word “no.”

Let’s start with ourselves. What happens when someone you love, someone you want to please or maybe even someone whose anger or frustration you fear, wants you to do something that you do not want to do? I do not mean the kind of need or desire that will call for sacrifice, effort or even discomfort...

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Expose your past, learn, and move forward

Uncategorized Oct 30, 2017

Have you ever had someone tell you, “The past is in the past. It shouldn’t have any power over you”?

That’s not entirely true. The things we would say are “in our past” are really part of our present.

People have hurt us, and we have hurt people. We have suffered wrong, and we have done wrong. We would say, “All those things happened in the past and can’t be changed.” But have your past experiences been addressed? Have you forgiven? Have you given yourself a chance to grieve and let go?

Address the past so you can be healed and open to change. Don’t let the shame of the past keep you from moving forward.

These directives reveal why dealing with the past is so important:

1. Acknowledge your past to establish a starting point. Your past is part of your history. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened; what matters is that you’ve exposed it. You can’t make the right changes in your life if...

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The characteristics to look for in good people to have in your life

Uncategorized Oct 30, 2017

New and unfamiliar situations tend to make us feel anxious. The tense part of a business deal just before the pens come out. The exposed vulnerability of doing something for the first time, or doing something that could easily go sideways unless all the pieces fall exactly the right way. Anxiety is the brain’s natural reaction to these experiences. It activates a fear response that’s meant to shield us from risking our well being.

The first thing most of us do is look to others to confirm or disaffirm our perception of the facts. Is anyone else sweating this like I am? What we expect to find is that everyone else is as hesitant and unsure as we are, but what we’re really looking for is that person who will make us feel like everything is going to be OK.

I don’t mean OK in the sense that everything will turn out perfectly, or even good. I mean OK in the sense that a person gives you a feeling that everything that can be done has been done. You’re...

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