You’re Never Responsible for Your Parents’ Feelings

Uncategorized Nov 09, 2017

Micah had taken an overdose of drugs. At 24, he had dropped out of school and was living at home. Since his parents were “good Christians,” his behavior was very upsetting to them. It tarnished their image to their group of friends, so they brought him to therapy.

As Micah and I began to explore why he was suicidally depressed, I discovered that his parents were having serious marital problems. They would get into screaming fights and then wouldn’t speak to each other for days. They would bring Micah into conflict. Micah’s father would ask Micah’s mother something, and vice versa.

At other times, Micah’s parents would both confide in him about the other person, instead of confronting each other directly. Micah’s mother told him that she could never stand to be left alone with his father. If Micah left home, they would divorce. If that happened, she said, she would commit suicide, implying it would be “Micah’s fault.”

Micah...

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When Can You Trust Someone Again?

Uncategorized Nov 09, 2017

Just wanted to leave a quick note about trust. Specifically, If someone said they wanted to be more “trustworthy” in their life, what my advice for them would be...

-Get clear on what trust means to not only you but to those you serve. One of my favorite definitions of “trust” is the “ability to be careless.” Meaning, if we trust someone, we do not have to be looking out for what we have entrusted to them. You put your money in the bank and sleep at night, carelessly not obsessing about whether or not someone is stealing it. They have your back.

Likewise, people who depend upon your performance in some area, should be able to be “careless” and not worry about your performance letting them down. You spouse should be “careless” about worrying where you are and what you are doing. Your boss or board should feel “careless” about the assets they have entrusted to you. Your partners should feel “careless”...

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Set Boundaries with You Teen Without the Anxiety

Uncategorized Nov 05, 2017

One parent once described adolescence as the terrible twos all over again, but this time in a bigger body. We personally don’t see either time period as “terrible,” but each one can be a time full of difficulty if you don’t recognize the important stage of independence, separateness and autonomy that a child is going through. In the “twos,” toddlers are moving away from the early dependency of infancy. In the teens, children are moving away from their lifelong dependency of learning on parents for a lot of functioning.

They are looking to…

  • Think for themselves and have their own opinions
  • Question, evaluate and choose values
  • Follow their own desires and goals
  • Build skills and abilities
  • Develop their own spirituality
  • Find their own ways of making money
  • Have parents available to them while they are working all of this out

These are all good things. Participate in your adolescent’s emerging autonomy by being proactive. Many parents just...

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How to Address Boundaries Conflicts in Friendship

Uncategorized Nov 05, 2017

When we think of friendship, it conjures up images of intimacy, fondness and mutual drawing together of two people. Was this what friendship was supposed to be about? Friends are symbols of how meaningful our lives have been.

But friendship can be a broad category; but for our purposes, let’s define friendship as a nonromantic relationship that is attachment-based rather than function-based. Let’s see friendship as comprising people we want to be around just for their own sake.

When we practice mindfulness in a friendship, we can’t assume we always understand the wants and needs of the other person, and at the same time, we can’t hold someone accountable if they don’t understand what we need. No one is a mind reader.

Let’s take the friendship between Sean and Tim as an example. They enjoyed the same sports, activities and recreation. They had their favorite hangout spots and kept similar schedules. But there was a problem – they had a...

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You Can’t Control Everything, but You Can Choose How to Respond

Uncategorized Nov 05, 2017

I remember one woman whose mother would almost beg to babysit her children and then gripe about the inconvenience for weeks to come. She could not acknowledge that she had chosen to take care of the kids, and her daughter had not "made" her do it.

We negate that we have choices about how we spend our lives and time. We may complain about how bored we are, but do not accept responsibility for learning a new skill or hobby. We may gripe about a "crummy" person at work, but we don't take proactive steps to improve our situation.

There are certainly things in life over which we have no control, but we always have a choice about how we will respond to these things. Our choices determine our direction in life, but if we do not own this fact, we don't know where we are going, and we resent where we end up as if it were someone else's fault.

Complaining and griping without trying to do anything about a situation is the essence of denying choice, and it renders us powerless and resentful....

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How to Get Past the Fear to do Really Hard Things

Uncategorized Nov 05, 2017

Fear is the biggest obstacle we all deal with. The nature of fear is to get in the way. When we want to do something, or we want to learn how to do something, but we hold back because it seems like the thing we want to do will be too hard -- that’s fear.

I would like to suggest a way of looking at hard things that may be new to you. There are no hard things. There is only new things. When you are facing a daunting task, it’s not that this thing is really hard to do, it’s just that you don’t know how to do it yet and you’re afraid to give yourself over to the possibility of failure.

Something that is hard is a challenge. It’s a challenge to yourself -- are you going to grow or are you going to stay the same?

Human beings sent other human beings to the moon. You are reading this on a device that translates ones and zeros into something you can read, and it was made by people. Thousands of airplanes fly safely across the world every day. Submarines...

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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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