Recognize Toxic Patterns and Put and End to Them

Uncategorized Oct 12, 2020

Elle was a talent manager in the entertainment business, overseeing the careers of film and television actors. She and I became acquainted after a media interview I did while she happened to be in the studio. After hearing my interview on boundaries, she walked up and introduced herself and asked if we could have lunch. We walked over to the cafeteria, sat down to eat, and she began to tell me about her work.

She loved it, she said, but she had some clients who made her life miserable. The few were wrecking her otherwise happy and meaningful career. They would get angry at her for their mistakes, be far more demanding than anyone would see as normal, and be irresponsible with their money – not following her advice – and then be upset at her when they found themselves in trouble. They were ruining what she loved about her career, she said.

“So fire them,” I said.

“What? Fire my clients?” she asked.

“Sure, what’s wrong with that? Not all...

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Your Sadness Doesn’t Equal Weakness

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2020

Sadness is our next basic emotion, for it tells us about hurt and loss. We live in a world where we get hurt and lose things. We need it to help us grieve and let go. If we repress and deny sadness, there is inevitable depression. Unresolved sadness always leads to depression and often other symptoms.

Sadness is always the way to joy, because sadness says that there is a hurt of some kind that needs to be processed, and usually it involves a loss.

When people deny their sad feelings, they "harden" the heart, and that is to lose touch with tender grace-giving aspects of who they are. They become unable to love and be tender, and to feel grief over their wrongdoings. This state leads then to become insensitive persons. In addition, it leads to all sort of symptoms – depressions, physiological problems, substance abuse, eating disorders, and the inability to get close to others.

Here's a story:

Susan was in her mid-twenties when she began to have panic attacks. She would wake up...

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7 Ways to Reclaim Your Power

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2020

In some senses, I hate to even use the word "power." It seems hackneyed, like we are going back to the eighties. Power ties, power lunches, power suits. The last thing I want to sound like it one of those motivational speaker types telling you to find the power within. So accept my disclaimer. But pop psychology apologies notwithstanding, power is an important topic in work and in life. You can’t live without it. You are designed to have it, as we have said, in the form of self-control. When you lose that and are controlled by others, you are rendered powerless. And that is when the slippery slope that disintegrates life and causes you to lose your boundaries appears.

What we know about the human experience of powerlessness is that it erodes functioning in all the areas that are important to having whole life integration: your emotions, your relationships, and your performance. Decades of research have shown that the degree of powerlessness that people feel directly correlates...

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Recover Well From Divorce - A Live Webinar with Dr. Henry Cloud

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2020

There is hope to heal from the pain and grief of divorce. You can trust again. You can recover all of the good that you lost, and more. Take this step to make the rest of your life the best years of your life.

Recover Well From Divorce is a live online event where you'll experience 2 hours of coaching with Dr. Henry CLoud, a live Q&A session and much more!

Get ALL the details and take advantage of discounted pricing right here! 

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You Can Create Separateness from Your Mom and Thrive

Uncategorized Oct 08, 2020

Julia was in her early 30s when she began discussing the ideas of separateness, differences, and boundaries with her mother. It wasn’t easy at first: Mom thought Julia was rejecting her as a person. But they both persevered in the relationship. Mom agreed to respond to Julia’s truth and try not to hear it as pushing her away.

Julia told her mom, “Mom, when I tell you I can’t bring the kids to visit, instead of withdrawing and being hurt, would you just tell me you’re sad about it, and would you try to understand?” Mom learned that Julia’s differences were for Julia, not against Mom. And she began to respect, not resent, her daughter’s independence.

In fact, Mom became even more supportive. When Julia came for a visit, her mother surprised her by saying, “Let me take care of the kids while you and Rich leave for a few hours. You two probably don’t get enough time together.” They gratefully accepted. Then, when the...

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Having Difficult Conversations about Boundary Violations

Uncategorized Oct 08, 2020

Amanda had issues with her in-laws and wasn't sure how to address the boundary violations that had occurred since she and her husband had gotten married.

"They like to tell us how things should be," she said. "I think his mom comes from a good place sometimes, but she comes across as overly critical."

I explained to her that a good place to start is being emotionally present and connected while confronting her mother-in-law, and this is something that will require quite a bit of grace.

When you're present with someone, it means you're in touch and in tune with your own feelings as well as those of the other person. This is so important because when we are there, meaning, emotionally present, we make ourselves available to the other person. Amanda's mother-in-law won't be shut off from her while she's telling her a difficult reality about the relationship. Confrontation is not easy to absorb for anyone, but presence and connection help make that tolerable.

Also, when you are present...

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How a Spouse Set Boundaries with Husband's Alcoholism, Behavior

Uncategorized Oct 07, 2020

Emily came into therapy because of “panic attacks.” Her husband’s increased drinking was causing problems at home. She tried to be loving and supportive, but this was doing no good; it was making matters worse.

She had begun to read some books on setting limits on abusive behavior and how to not be an enabler. She realized that she had to say no to his behavior, and at times this meant leaving him alone when he was on a binge.

However, when she began to put limits on his behavior, she experienced severe panic. She felt as if she were “falling into a hole.” She shook and felt terror. She felt as if some awful loneliness was going to “swallow her up.”

As she began to understand herself better, she found that she did not have very good bonding inside of her. She was isolated internally, she didn’t have the ability to maintain emotional connections with other people in their absence. If she were not in the presence of the one she loved,...

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How to Disagree and Come to An Amicable Resolution

Uncategorized Sep 30, 2020

Any good confrontation takes into account that two people are involved. This sounds obvious, but it really isn’t, and it is an essential part of an effective boundary conversation.

One reason you have a problem in the first place is that you and the person you want to confront are not of one mind; you aren’t the same person. You don’t see things the same way nor feel the same way, and you have different ideas on what to do about it. This is not a bad thing, in and of itself.

The differences between you can help both of you grow and enjoy life.
The problem arises when you don’t clearly distinguish your feelings and opinions from the other person’s, especially when having the talk. The process of problem solving and reconciliation can quickly get bogged down. You see this when people say things like “You need to change this” rather than “I need for you to change this.” There is an “I” who has a desire and a request, and...

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When to Take the Risks that are Worth it

Uncategorized Sep 29, 2020

Do you ever let your fears hold you back? Of course you do, we all do. Maybe if we were a bit more honest about our fears, we wouldn't have to be prisoners to them. Fear is a mechanism that allows us to avoid stuff that is unknown, scary, unpleasant or hard. Fears can be painful, and I'm not trivializing yours, but I would suggest that sometimes we don't really understand our fears.

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 am afraid that…”

1. I will lose a relationship. (Are you sure? Or will that person just get mad and withdraw for a while?)

2. 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.)

3. I might hurt...

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Passive-Aggressive Habit That’s Bad for Relationships

Uncategorized Sep 29, 2020

You have seen it happen, or maybe even had it directed at you. The digging or critical comment about someone, only to be followed up with, “bless her heart.” Or, a chuckle, or “ha ha” or “LOL.” I was recently asked why people do that, and why they feel it is OK to say something really negative about someone if they just add on a quick “bless his heart" at the end. There are several reasons for this, but one of the best terms for it is something called an “aggressive conflict." That's a fancy way to say that some people want to say something mean, angry or critical about someone, but are in some sort of internal conflict about feeling mean, or appearing mean, and try to make themselves look “nice” in the process. It always fails. “That's a beautiful dress … didn't they have it in your size?” Passive-aggressive never cleans up very well.

There is a reason it fails, and a lesson for all of us to learn in the...

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