Reblog: Why Your ‘Friend’ may not be a Safe Person for You

by Henry Cloud

I received a message from an answering service one evening, and it told me that one of my clients was suicidal. I called Theresa on the phone. She was distraught.

“Tell me what happened,” I said.

“It’s not going to work, “ Theresa replied, sobbing.

“What isn’t going to work?”

“Telling other people about my problems,” she said. “I was talking to one of my friends tonight and told them about my depression and the problems with my boyfriend, and she really came down on me for being depressed and all the other stuff that’s been going on.”

“What was said?”

“Well, she said that I shouldn’t feel the way that I do, and that if I was still having all these problems, then I was filled with too much negativity and that I bring everything on myself. I’ve tried all this ‘safe relationship’ stuff, and I’ve shared my feelings, and it just doesn’t work.”

“What if I told you that you still haven’t found safe relationships?”

“What do you mean? This is supposed to be my friend. I’ve known her for a long time.”

“Well, a ‘friend’ isn’t always safe,” I told her. “Safe is defined by helpful, and it doesn’t sound like tonight was too helpful.”

“How do you know what a helpful relationship looks like?” she asked.

“That’s a good question,” I said. “Let’s talk about that.

We value friendship. We believe that friendship is one of the most powerful tools we have in our lives to change and heal character. In relationships with others, we are healed, and our character is changed. We know several people who have developed a support system of restorative friendships that have been of enormous help.

Friends give us what we need in the areas of acceptance, support, discipline, modeling and a host of other relational ingredients that provide change. But in picking good friendships that produce growth, several qualities are important:

  • Acceptance and grace
  • Mutual struggles, although they don’t have to be the same ones
  • Loving connection
  • Both parties need other support systems as well to avoid the same kind of toxic dependency on each other that led to the problems
  • Familiarity with the growth process where both parties have “entered in” and have some knowledge of the process so as to avoid the blind leading the blind
  • Mutual interest and chemistry, a genuine liking
  • An absence of keeping score
  • Honest and realistic
  • An absence of controlling behavior

Friendships of this kind are an absolute must for our personal growth. There are many good people out there, and to find them, make sure that you use discernment, wisdom and information to trust your experience with others. If someone is destructive or toxic, be careful. Keep looking and seeking until you find safe people, those who will give you all the benefits that are in store for your future.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: What’s My Attachment Style and Why Does It Matter?

by Sharon Martin, LCSW

If you’re in an unhappy relationship, feel stuck in a pattern of failed relationships, or can’t seem to find Mr. (or Ms.) Right, your attachment style may be the reason.

We all learn about human relationships from our first relationships – those with our parents or primary caregivers. Understanding your attachment style can help you get to the root of your relationship troubles.

Ideally, parents provide security and safety and children learn to trust that their parents will meet their needs. Parents provide comfort and help calm their children when they’re upset or afraid. As a result, children form a bond with their parents that builds a secure emotional foundation. Children can then confidently explore the world knowing their parents will keep them safe.

We know that humans are meant to connect to and depend on each other. Our survival hinges on it! Depending on others is healthy even in adult relationships. We are more successful and happy when we can form healthy, trusting attachments to other humans.

“We don’t have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.” – Brene Brown

There are three primary attachment styles: secure, avoidant, and anxious. I have described each attachment style below.

Secure Attachment

  • You had your needs met as a child. Your caregivers were attentive and responsive to your needs helping you to feel safe and cared for.
  • You feel comfortable being close and emotionally intimate.
  • You seek and maintain close, stable relationships.
  • You feel comfortable expressing your feelings and needs.

Avoidant Attachment

  • Your caregivers were probably distant, cold, or unresponsive. As a result, you became more independent and self-reliant, not wanting to depend on inconsistent people.
  • Close relationships tend to feel smothering and like they’re impeding your independence.
  • You pull away from intimacy when it feels too intense.
  • You need a lot of time to yourself.
  • You may resist commitment.

Anxious Attachment

  • Your caregivers were inconsistent in attending to your needs. As a result, you hold on tight in order to try to get your needs met.
  • You crave intimacy and can never get enough closeness.
  • You question whether you’re partner really loves you or whether you’re lovable and seek frequent reassurance.
  • An anxious attachment can be described as “needy” or “clingy.”
  • You desperately seek security and attention from your partner, but this can push him/her away.

Why does my attachment style matter?

Attachment theory originated with work of John Bowlby, who studied mothers and infants, but we now recognize that our attachment style is still at play in our adult romantic relationships. The parent-child attachment sets the stage for our ability to trust that our adult partners will meet our emotional needs.

Our attachment style becomes a blueprint for the rest of our intimate relationships. Our attachment style impacts our choice of romantic partners and how we relate to them. We replay these attachment patterns over and over with new people as a way to find evidence for our beliefs about ourselves. This is why people often feel stuck in the same kinds of relationship patterns. For example, many anxiously attached people date or marry avoidants who can never seem to give them enough closeness and reassurance. This confirms the anxiously attached person’s fears of abandonment and belief that s/he is flawed or unlovable.

Understanding your attachment style is useful not only because it gives you insights into your relationship with your parents and how you felt as a child, but it can also help you understand difficulties you have in your adult relationships. Ultimately, understanding your attachment style can help you figure out how you can change in order to have more fulfilling relationships. In other words, having a healthy relationship is about choosing the “right” partner and about developing a healthy, secure attachment.

How can I become more securely attached?

Although attachment patterns are well established, you can shift toward a more secure attachment style by learning new skills and practicing a lot.

A few ways to start changing your attachment style are:

  • Notice your relationship patterns. Becoming more aware of your anxious or avoidant behaviors is the first step in change.
  • Pay attention to what you need and how you feel.
  • Share your feelings with your partner.
  • Recognize cognitive distortions and challenge them.
  • Communicate your relationship needs and expectations clearly to your partner.
  • Take good care of yourself.
  • Do things that make you feel good about yourself; acknowledge your strengths and successes.
  • Work with a therapist (shifting your attachment style is hard work).
  • Spend time with people who model healthy relationships.

I hope this post has shed a bit of light on understanding your attachment style and how it influences your adult relationships. For additional information, I recommend the book Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. As always, be patient and gentle with yourself as you challenge yourself to change.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: 14 Things To Know Before Dating An ENFP

by Michelle Dierker

1. We are naturally enthusiastic and curious.

I recently spent some time with a friend I knew growing up, who I haven’t seen much socially for many years. While we were out exploring a city that is still new-ish to me, she said. “I forgot just how curious you are. You haven’t changed much.” Curiosity and enthusiasm are one of the things we are probably most known for.

ENFPs have a genuine excitement for life and are full of natural curiosity about the world and the people in it. I have met older ENFPs who easily appear 20 years younger because of the zeal that they continue to have for life. It is one of the things that stands out most about our type and something that we value most about ourselves. We are fascinated by so many things. We are also easily amused.

How to love this part of us: Engage us in new thoughts or ideas. Engaging our minds is one of the quickest ways to really connect with us. Tell us what things you are currently wondering or thinking about and ask us the same thing. Throw scenarios our way or challenge us with new information. Knowledge is power and we love people who help us grow.

2. We like to take care of others, but struggle to be taken care of ourselves.

But please do it anyway.

We are seekers of people. We love them and when we connect with someone, we are often the first to go out of our way to initiate conversations, check in to see how their day/week has been, and make sure they are doing okay. We feel fulfilled when the people in our daily lives are happy and we try to find ways that we can add to that. The truth is though, we are often on the giving end of those things. Sometimes we need to be taken care of, but we will never ask you to do it. We hate asking for help. This can end up being a really lonely place for ENFPs to be.

How to love this part of us: Few things make me feel more special than knowing when someone is thinking of me or goes out of their way to help me or check in on me. Make it a point to make contact with us. Texts, small handwritten notes, or unexpected pop-ins (although not always welcomed at home) are all acceptable forms of checking in on us. We think so often of others, that we will notice when the cards are reversed.

3. We really, truly are not flirting with the waiter.

It will hurt us if you make the insinuation that we are. ENFPs are constantly accused of flirting (with everyone), and while it’s true that most people will never have as much love and attention thrown their way by others as ENFPs often lavish, it really is only our curiosity that pushes us to engage in and interact with others as forcefully as we sometimes do.

How to love this part of us: Accept the fact that your world has collided with someone who absolutely loves people and shows genuine interest in just about everyone. But also know that our loyalties run deep, and if we have chosen you, we will invest in you fully. ENFPs are very much all or nothing types. If we’re not fully invested in you, you’ll know it.

4. We have layers.

And lots of them. It will take us quite a bit of time (and some gentle prodding) to actually open up to you. This is probably one of the most surprising things about ENFPs. While we come off as being incredibly warm and open, we can actually be very private. We rarely share personal things about ourselves with others. This is a juxtaposition of sorts, because what we crave most are meaningful conversations and interactions. The clincher is that while we want to know ALL about you, we will often hold back in sharing much about who we are and what we need from the people we do life with. Growing up and even today, I’ve often felt that many people feel closer to me than I do to them. There is nothing wrong with that, however, it’s important to know that while we are external processors, we are internal feelers.

There is a lot going on in my heart and mind on an ongoing basis that I might never feel that I am able to process externally with someone I love, unless they ask the right questions. There are very (very) few people who know me deeply, and those who do have really taken the time to invest in me. If you take any time to observe an ENFP, you will notice that they are usually focused on other people.

How to love this part of us: Love us through the layers. Ask open ended questions to encourage us to dive deeper with you. And realize that if we are volunteering personal bits of information with you, it’s a big deal.

5. We need time to process and we’re probably going to do it out loud.

ENFPs are external processors. What this means for the people who share space with us is that we are often coming to revelations about things while we are speaking. Unfortunately, this also means that half the time that we are talking, it can seem nonsensical, because our brains don’t do the whole, “processing and compartmentalizing what is share worthy and what is not” thing. I have about 18 conversations a day when I immediately regret the words coming out of my mouth because my brain just hasn’t caught up yet. Luckily, for mature ENFPs this isn’t usually too much of a problem, however, it does mean that our thoughts often seem scattered.

How to love this part of us: Listen. Have patience for our whimsical way of sharing what is going on in our minds and understand that just because we might be venting, problem solving, or thinking out loud, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want you to fix anything for us. Be understanding of how we process and don’t judge us for the lackluster way that our thoughts can sometimes come together. Some of the people I have felt the safest with in life have been those that I can sit beside and think out loud with. It is one of the ways we make sense of life and having someone willing and unassuming enough to help us by listening to us process is gold.

6. Verbal praise is everything.

This is a hard one to admit, but it’s true of every ENFP I’ve ever known. We are over-analyzers and we know that we have big personalities. Because of this, we have a tendency to feel insecure in relationships if we aren’t told exactly where we stand or how you feel about us. I often feel like I am just too much for people and since I was young I have always wondered if I’m encroaching on people’s space, just by how I love them. Human connection is something ENFPs thrive off of and it is something we not only crave, but something we need to feel balanced. We need to know that you see us and appreciate us. ENFPs are people who need verbal praise often, especially from the people we care about. We need to know where we stand with you.

How to love this part of us: This is a difficult one to write about without seeming really needy. This is an area where we have the potential to feel the most loved, if your comments are sincere. I guess the best way to love us in this respect is to be cognizant of the fact that this really is a consistent need of ours. Be specific in your praise and tell us when we do something that makes you grateful or proud. And remember that just because you told us on Monday how much you appreciate us, doesn’t mean we won’t need our tank filled again by Friday.

7. Go with the flow.

An ENFP friend of mine recently got out of a long relationship where the deal breaker was the difference in which she and her partner approached the speed of life. He was too regimented and she was too free and they had a tough time meeting in the middle. ENFPs go with the flow of life. We like not knowing where a day might lead us or what adventures we might find along the way. We don’t mind making plans but we don’t always feel like we need to stick to them. As my mother would say, sometimes we just like to “fly by the seat of our pants.”

How to love this part of us: Keep us on our toes. Be willing to go into a weekend or a vacation without having a schedule and surprise us by your willingness to seek out new experiences with us.

8. We crave consistency.

Luckily for my friend, our natural relationship partners (in life and in friendship) often tend to be INTJs or INFJs. Some of this probably stems from the steadiness we find in those types. ENFPs have a tendency to be all over the place, but once you really learn our patterns, we are actually very predictable. Still, we are idea people who often have our heads stuck in the clouds. We need the gentle grounding of a person who is reasonable, steadfast, loyal, and dependable. Hot and cold personalities are among the hardest people for us to connect with because we never really know what to expect or know where we stand with them. If you are warm and friendly one minute and cold the next, we will take it personally.

How to love this part of us: Be consistent, especially in your interactions with us. Because we don’t open up to everyone, if you are in our inner circle, we will likely desire contact with you on a routine basis. Knowing that we are an important part of your life validates our relationship and helps us know what to expect from you. I have often joked about this before, but it’s true: there is nothing more charming to me than reliability.

9. Be willing to engage in parallel play.

Parallel play is known as the stage in development when small children play beside another child without engaging with them directly. ENFPs are the most introverted of the extroverted types. Being so, we crave time alone to think, process, regroup, and reflect on current happenings and wonderings. While we love people, we can become easily overwhelmed or overstimulated and need quiet time to re-energize. Especially at the end of a long day, there are few things that I love more than being beside someone who allows me to just be. My old coworker, Kathi, and I used to parallel play our way through report card comments, weekly planning, printing/filing/stapling, and so much more. Being in the presence of someone we love, even if we aren’t talking, is comforting for us.

How to love this part of us: Spend a Saturday curled up on the couch reading with us or in a coffee shop writing or getting work done. We crave time alone with the people we really love and quietly sitting in your presence will be a good balance of giving us time to regroup while also helping us to feel like we aren’t alone.

10. Don’t put us in a box.

ENFPs need room to grow. More than most types, we see life as a journey and believe we are (and should be) constantly evolving through it. We are very quickly drawn to new adventures and ideas and while we do sometimes need to be pulled back down from the clouds, we also really value people who understand our need for consistent growth and new experiences. We see them as opportunities to learn more about ourselves.

How to love this part of us: Encourage our personal growth and hair brained ideas. Find opportunities to help us try new things. Sometimes we do need to snapped back to reality, but learn us well enough to know when to gently tug us back to earth and when to encourage us to spread our wings and fly.

11. Include us in your adventures.

We love seeing the world through the eyes of people we love. If there is something you love doing, take us along on the journey. It will help us to feel like we are seeing another side to you and we might also learn something about ourselves along the way.

How to love this part of us: While this is really more about you than it is about us, anytime we feel like a person has opened up a piece of themselves to us, we take that seriously. Being trusted with another person’s dreams and adventures makes us feel like we are an important part of your life.

12. Criticize lightly.

ENFPs throw our entire selves into life. We try to live rather than exist, so 95% of the time we pour our whole hearts into our work, relationships, art, hobbies, etc. We have a very difficult time separating who we are as a person from who we are professionally or who we are in a relationship. Despite how long I’ve been alive or how much I’ve tried to train myself otherwise, I will always be a little bit sensitive to criticism.

How to love this part of us: Be gentle. We really do want to be the best version we can be of ourselves and the only way of doing that sometimes is to know what we can do better. Don’t avoid confrontation with us. We are likely to do enough of that all by ourselves. Instead, choose your words kindly and come at us from a point of love. If we know that your aim is to better us or our relationship, we will really try to take it in stride. And if we’ve hurt you, please tell us.

13. Inspire us.

I have never been drawn to someone I wasn’t inspired by. I also couldn’t ever be in a relationship with someone who wasn’t passionate about what they do. The ability to inspire is probably one of the things I appreciate most in others. It is the kind of person I hope to be and so I seek the same in the people I hold in my inner circle.

How to love this part of us: Share your ideas with us. ENFPs are types who often fall in love with a person’s mind. We want to encourage growth in you as much as we want you to help us grow. By sharing your dreams with us, we will know how to support you in not only your future plans, but also in your every day life.

14. Be a safe place for us.

The world is noisy, and we are often adding our own form of noise to it. At the end of the day, security is everything for us. We need to know that we have a retreat or escape from the rest of the world when things seem just a little bit chaotic or on days when we feel too much. Knowing that we are a safe place for you to land is equally important to us.

How to love this part of us: Encourage us. Affirm us. Trust us. Believe in us.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: 12 characteristics of a healthy relationship:

by Sharon Martin LCSW

  1. Nurturing and loving. The most basic characteristic of a good relationship is that it’s loving. There is a feeling of being cared for deeply in words and actions. Your partner says kind things. S/he intentionally does things to comfort you, show appreciation and affection.
  2. Honest. In healthy relationships people tell the truth. They don’t keep secrets or lie by omission. The goal is transparency, rather than deception.
  3. Accepts you as you are. I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s a bad idea to get into a relationship with the expectation that you will change someone. Whether it’s a big issue like drug use or a small issue like dirty dishes in the sink, you will be frustrated (or worse) if you’re expecting your partner to change his/her ways. Yes, people can and do change. But they have to want to change. You can’t make your partner change no matter how much you love him/her.
  4. Respectful. Mutual respect means you consider someone else’s feelings and treat them as they want to be treated. When there is respect, you don’t feel pressured or manipulated. You are accepted and treated with kindness. Your partner listens and values your point of view.
  5. A team effort. You should feel like you and your partner are working together. You have shared goals. You don’t undermine, compete or try to “win”. You support each other as a unit and as individuals.
  6. Safe physically and emotionally. You can relax around your partner. You know s/he’s “got your back”. You aren’t afraid of being hit, forced to do something you don’t want to do, manipulated, yelled at, belittled or shamed.
  7. Vulnerable. Safety allows vulnerability and vulnerability allows deep connection. You feel safe to share your dreams and confessions without fear of judgment.
  8. Supportive of your individuality. Healthy attachment allows partners to go safely and confidently into the world to set and achieve individual goals. You can have time to yourself. Your partner will encourage you, be proud of you and show interest in your personal goals and hobbies.
  9. Shared expectations. Time and again I find that differing expectations end up with one person being disappointed. I’m a big believer in having realistic expectations and for couples to have similar expectations. Expectations can include everything from how often you have sex, how you celebrate holidays, how much time you spend together, or how household chores are divided. If you’re on different pages, you need to negotiate and compromise until you reached shared expectations.
  10. Forgiving. Hurt and misunderstanding are also a part of being in relationship with someone. You should be able to forgive (not forget) when there is genuine remorse and behavior change. Without forgiveness, toxic resentment and pain will grow and eventually suffocate a relationship.
  11. Addresses conflict and hurt. Communication is really important. Talking is easy when things are good, but it’s even more important to be able to address conflicts and hurts. In a healthy relationship there is a mechanism to air grievances, talk about hurt, and disagree in a respectful way. Conflicts are resolved not simply avoided.
  12. Fun and playful. Yes, relationships take work, but they should also be fun. Why be in a relationship if you don’t enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, and have a good time?

Find the original post here.

Reblog: Practice Diplomacy

by Melody Beattie

Taking care of ourselves doesn’t give us the right to be mean. Just because we’re telling the truth, we don’t need to tear people apart. Sometimes when we start to own our power after years—maybe a lifetime—of being timid and weak, we become overly aggressive trying to get our point across.

We can be honest with other people without being mean. We can be diplomatic in whatever we need to say, at least most of the time. And we usually don’t have to scream and shout.

I’ve learned a little trick along the way. The weaker and more vulnerable I feel, the more I holler and the meaner I react. The more truly powerful, clear, and centered I am, the quieter, gentler, and more loving I speak.

The next time you feel threatened or start to scream and yell, stop yourself. Take a deep breath. Deliberately speak more softly than you normally would.

You can speak softly and still carry a great big stick.

God, help me be a diplomat. Teach me how to own my power in a gentle, peaceful way.

Find the original posting here.

Reblog: 15 Things That Happen When You Fall In Love With Your Life Instead Of A Person

by Marisa Donnelly

1. You discover what you’re wildly passionate about, and you make time for those things.

Love is beautiful, but it isn’t everything. There are so many other things to be passionate about besides a person—art, photography, music, writing, literature, sports, exercising, work—to just name a few. When you start falling in love with your life, as opposed to investing all your time and energy into a relationship, you find time for the things that light a fire within you, the things that inspire and fuel you. And your life becomes more satisfying and complete as you focus on those things rather than romance.

2. You become more in-tune with your wants and needs.

Falling in love with your life means learning what you love, what you desire, and what you need. It means focusing on your goals and how you can, and will pursue them. It means discovering what you really want out of relationships, out of yourself, out of your existence on this earth, and creating a well-designed plan for your future.

3. You value the relationships that you do have, instead of focusing on the ones you don’t.

Romantic relationships aren’t the only things that fill your life with love and happiness. When you’re focused on things other than your love life, you invest more time in the people who fill you—your family members, friendships, and other platonic relationships. And you learn the incredible value of those people.

4. You travel, explore, and live selfishly.

When you fall in love with your life, you want to squeeze every minute dry. You want to travel to new places, try new foods, explore, and live how you want. This isn’t wrong. Falling in love with your life means taking advantage of what you have and chasing after the things you want. It means doing, going, and truly living.

5. You shift your focus to other important pieces of life.

When you’re not focused on a relationship, you take and make more time for other things—your career, hobbies, future, finances, etc. Your priorities shift in healthy ways and you learn to ground yourself rather than letting a relationship ground you.

6. You spend more time doing things, rather than wishing for things to happen.

Falling in love with your life means that you don’t like to waste time. You don’t like to chase things that don’t build or grow you. You don’t like to live a mediocre, uninspired existence. When you love your life you do things, rather than being a passive character in your own story.

7. You value advice from others, and take time to lend a listening ear.

You want to learn, to experience, to grow, to be inspired. Thus, you value the advice and guidance given to you from others and you’re more willing to be a support system for people who may need you.

8. You take more time to appreciate the little things.

Suddenly, little things like the sunset or a dog curling up next to you on the couch carry meaning. These little things that you so often overlooked are a central focus, and integral part of the wonderful, meaningful life you’re living now.

9. You are continually striving for better.

You pursue a life that supports your dreams, goals, and purpose. You appreciate where you are, but are never satisfied. You want to achieve more, be more, and live even more authentically. You love who you have the potential to be, and are continually trying to build and develop that person.

10. You spend more of your days outside or in nature.

The world around you has more value now. You enjoy hiking, walking, biking, or just sitting outside in the shade. You love just being—around friends or solo, just soaking in the beauty the world has to offer.

11. You feel fulfilled by the memories, experiences, and relationships you have in your day-to-day existence.

When you fall in love with your life, you aren’t looking for a romantic relationship to make you feel whole. You feel complete because of people around you, the experiences you’ve had/are having, and the memories you are continually making. Your happiness isn’t dependent upon a significant other, rather all the tiny, wonderful things that give you meaning and purpose.

12. You pray often, and feel both humble and thankful for what you’ve been given.

Every day, life surprises you with its beauty and wonder. You find yourself praying for the blessings you’ve been given, and relying on your faith to pull you through the hard times. You trust that you will find love when the timing is right; in the meantime, you are thankful and humble for where you are.

13. You no longer feel sad about not being in a relationship; your happiness is invested in, and dependent upon other things.

Your ‘single’ relationship status is no longer a burden or a negative label. You have come to terms with where you’re at romantically, and aren’t looking for a lover to fill a hole in your heart. Instead, your happiness is dependent on your experiences, your passions, your other relationships, and yourself.

14. You find yourself in awe of all that you’ve been through, and of the person you’re still becoming.

When you fall in love with your life rather than a person, you start to value yourself and what you’ve overcome. You start to see your purpose, and how events in your life have shaped or changed you. You find yourself in awe of how you’ve grown, and excited for who you will become.

15. You have learned the slow, beautiful, complicated, rollercoaster ride of loving yourself.

You still have days when you struggle to love yourself, but because your life has shifted from loving someone to loving your existence, you’ve learned to value your own heart and mind. You’ve learned that it’s okay to put yourself first, healthy even. You’ve learned that you are the only one who can determine your happiness. And you’ve learned that when you love your life, love will come when it’s meant to.

Find the original post here.

 

Reblog: Denial of Dependency

by Henry Cloud

Children don’t like to be reminded that they need anyone but themselves. They want to make their own decisions, solve their own problems and never have to ask you for help or support. They want independence so badly that they will often get into serious trouble before letting their parents know what’s going on.

Two kinds of dependency often get confused here. Functional dependency relates to the child’s resistance to doing the tasks and jobs in life that are his responsibility. This means he wants others to take care of things he should. For example, a teen asks his parents for spending money instead of getting a part-time job. Don’t enable functional dependency. Allow the teen to feel the pinch of being broke. It will help him apply for work.

Relational dependency is our need for connectedness to others. Relational dependency is what drives us to unburden our souls to each other and be vulnerable and needy. Then, when we are loved by others in this state of need, we are filled up inside. Because they need so much, children are especially relationally dependent. Over time, as they internalize important nurturing relationships, they need less; the love they have internalized from Mom and Dad and others sustains them. Yet, to our dying day we will always need regular and deep connection with emotionally healthy people who care about us.

You need to promote and encourage relational dependency in your child to teach him that mature, healthy people need other people; they don’t isolate themselves. Your child may also confuse the two types of dependency, thinking that if he asks for comfort and understanding, he is being a baby. Help him see that needing love isn’t being immature. Rather, it gives us the energy we need to go out and slay our dragons.

You see that your child has a problem, but he may isolate himself in his omnipotent self-sufficiency. It’s the old “How was your day?” “Okay” dialogue. Confront he isolation. Tell him you don’t want to lecture him – you want to know how he’s feeling. Don’t enable his illusion of not needing others.

One way you can help here is by waiting until you are invited to help. If you rush in and pick up a kid who falls down before she cries for you, she can easily develop a stance that I am so powerful that I don’t need mom, as she doesn’t have to take responsibility for asking for help. Let her choose to ask. It’s not easy to watch and wait while your child gets to the end of herself. It tears at any caring parent’s heart. But it is only way the child can realize her need for support and love, and her lack of total power to live without it.

While your child is learning how to need others, help him not to feel helpless in relationships. Encourage him to express his wants, needs and opinions to those with whom he is close. This is true especially in his relationship with you. He didn’t choose to be in your family; that was your decision. He can have some choices in how to relate to you, however. For example, give him some leeway in establishing his own rhythm of when he needs to be close and when he needs distance from you. Don’t be intrusive and affectionate when he clearly needs to be more separate. Yet don’t abandon him when he needs more intimacy. Another example is to encourage him to share his feedback on family activities. He has input, and his input matters even though he doesn’t have the final say-so.

Find the original article here.

Reblog: Communication

by Melody Beattie

March 20, 2017

Part of owning our power is learning to communicate clearly, directly, and assertively. We don’t have to beat around the bush in our conversations to control the reactions of others. Guilt-producing comments only produce guilt. We don’t have to fix or take care of people with our words; we can’t expect others to take care of us with words either. We can settle for being heard and accepted. And we can respectfully listen to what others have to say.

Hinting at what we need doesn’t work. Others can’t read our mind, and they’re likely to resent our indirectness. The best way to take responsibility for what we want is to ask for it directly. And, we can insist on directness from others. If we need to say no to a particular request, we can. If someone is trying to control us through a conversation, we can refuse to participate.

Acknowledging feelings such as disappointment or anger directly, instead of making others guess at our feelings or having our feelings come out in other ways, is part of responsible communication. If we don’t know what we want to say, we can say that too.

We can ask for information and use words to forge a closer connection, but we don’t have to take people around the block with our conversations. We don’t have to listen to, or participate in, nonsense. We can say what we want and stop when we’re done.

Today, I will communicate clearly and directly in my conversations with others. I will strive to avoid manipulative, indirect, or guilt-producing statements. I can be tactful and gentle whenever possible. And I can be assertive if necessary.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: Resilient Kids

By Henry Cloud

When you describe a child as “resilient,” what it means depends on who is using the term. In the most accurate sense, it means that a child has good adaptive capacities to metabolize various experiences, even difficult ones, and continue to thrive. It is an important quality for later success in all areas of life, and in my opinion, one of the best things to build into a child.

In the not-so-good use of the term, it means, “My child will be fine no matter what I choose to drag him through.” It is used as an excuse to not have to make sacrifices for the child’s well-being. So, let’s assume that the goal is to help a child be as resilient as possible, and also strive to not put children through harmful or depriving experiences where superhuman resilience is required.

So, how do you build resilience? There are a number of factors, but in this limited space, let’s focus on a few:

First and foremost is the child’s attachment quotient. I define that as her degree of secure attachment to her primary caretakers, plus her ability to form new attachments. When a child feels loved and secure in her primary bonds, she develops a strong foundation to her personality. This will enable her to go through many trials and still feel strong inside. The “good mother” lives inside of her, and she takes Mom with her no matter what is happening, or where she is. It is built through meeting the child’s needs early in life, and having continuity and consistency in her primary attachments that are available to meet needs, are nurturing, and do not disappear. In short, consistency. This in turn builds the ability to trust others which will be needed to weather whatever changes and storms that life may bring when resilience is needed. It literally builds brains.

Second is the ability to be independent, assertive and strong. Children who are encouraged to go into new situations, cope with them, be away from Mom at times, have play dates, sleepovers, classes, and the like learn to negotiate new environments and adapt. They get a sense of self-confidence that will take them through figuring out what new environments require from them. Training them early to solve their own problems, make choices, seek what they need, and work out their squabbles with other kids is key. This assumes also that you are getting them lots of experiences with other kids, which is important.

Third is their ability to create structure and order for themselves. This comes from providing a lot of structure, boundaries, etc. for them early in life, and also requiring them to do the same for themselves. An ordered day, schedule, consistency along with the requirement to order their own world for themselves builds internal order and security. To clean their rooms, pick up and organize their things, help with chores, etc. gives them a feeling that they can create structure in a chaotic situation when needed later. Adults who have difficulty with change often are lacking the internal structure that they need to feel secure when everything around them is changing and morphing. This includes the ability for delay of gratification, and to hear “no” without going crazy.

Fourth would be how they look at failures, mistakes, messes and the like. Resiliency requires the ability to not over-react to mistakes, mistakes by oneself or others, and to solve problems instead of getting angry, critical and over-reactive. To build into your child the ability to not get over-worked at problems, but solve them, is essential. And it begins with the way that you respond to mistakes, failures, disobedience and problems. If you do not over-react or use anger, but respond with calm problem-solving techniques, your child is likely to do the same. The last thing you want in a child is an overabundance of stress hormones getting released in problem situations, as those limit judgment and clear thinking. Model a calm head and require the same, using time-outs to think, calm-down time and expectations for the child to figure it out and fix it in a calm way. Comfort them, talk them down, and require level-headedness. I used to say to my daughters, “that’s not a crying thing. No one is hurt. Calm down and let’s solve the problem.”

Remember, life is difficult. As parents, we need to always keep in mind that a big part of parenting is to equip our children to live in a difficult world.

Find the original article here.

TED Talk: I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s why I left.

What’s it like to grow up within a group of people who exult in demonizing … everyone else? Megan Phelps-Roper shares details of life inside America’s most controversial church and describes how conversations on Twitter were key to her decision to leave it. In this extraordinary talk, she shares her personal experience of extreme polarization, along with some sharp ways we can learn to successfully engage across ideological lines.

Reblog: 3 Types Of People Who Are Holding You Back

by Henry Cloud

When you need to execute an ending of some sort, there will be people in your circle who will try to fight it or slow it down, because even if you aren’t paranoid, it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t out to get you or sabotage you. You have to be ready for that to occur, recognize it as inevitable and deal with it. Otherwise, other people will be in control of your life and decisions.

External resistances are those that come from other people. Their challenges and questions are not the helpful kind that a good confidante might provide. Sometimes the people in our business and personal lives actually stop or hinder us from making decisions they believe are not good for us. Right or wrong, they are acting out of what they believe are our best interests. That’s not the kind of resistance I’m referring to here. I’m referring to resistance from people who have ulterior, self-protective or self-interested motives.

Self-Absorbed Resisters

People will put up a resistance because your decision is going to affect them in some way, and they do not want that to change. But the truth is, many times there are endings that are going to affect someone, and that person does not have the kind of character to put his self-interest aside and see what is good for the company or the mission. Passively or actively, this person is on a sabotage mission and is not looking out for you.

This person can appear friendly, offering “advice” to “help” you, but he is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He will warn you of all the downsides, all that can go wrong, what you will lose and so on. Certainly there are times when we need that kind of advice, but this is not one of them. This situation I am referring to is one where this is not advice, but an attempt to keep you from going forward.

Threatened Resisters

Other times, resistance comes from someone who is threatened by you personally by what you are doing. Whether in business or personal life, when you do something difficult but worthy, it confronts people with their own lives. It activates all of their fears, and they quickly try to tell you the same things that they tell themselves. “It will never work. I know a lot of people who tried to do that, and they were sorry in the end.” The thing is that they are stuck, you are getting unstuck, and you cause them to look in the mirror and face themselves. Unconsciously, they realize if you can do it, they can do it. But to think about doing it scares them. They’ll talk you out of it so you both can be comfortable again.

The NoNos

NoNos are those who are highly skilled urgency killers. John Kotter says if they cannot undermine attempts at diminishing a contentment with the status quo, they create anxiety or anger and the flurry of useless activity associated with a fake sense of urgency. NoNos are motivated by many things, and as a psychologist, I can tell you that I’ve seen them in many instances. They can be pretty inflexible. They often are not open to what we call “assimilation and accommodation,” a process by which normal people take in new data, accommodate ourselves to it and change our minds.

Not so with NoNos. Instead of taking in new data, they have all sorts of reasons for rejecting it, devaluing it and undermining any accommodation that anyone would be close to making with it. The best way to handle NoNos is not to engage them. They’re trying to stall you, and they are not going to change, so to spend any time trying to convince them is to allow them to use their strategy of derailing. You talk to them, they win.

When you start to make your move down a new path, obstacles will come as a result. Getting things done is hard, or more people would be making changes. So accept the fact that endings are difficult and hard to implement. You will be going through new waters, and there will be waves. Big bumpy ones, and it takes courage and perseverance to keep going.

To read the original post go here.

 

Reblog: The Reality – Choices Divide

by Henry Cloud

Successful people realize that just because someone is unhappy with them does not require that they give up their purpose, fold their cards, or change. They realize that making some people unhappy is just part of the deal—and they keep going. I once heard Tony Blair say that when you realize that every decision divides, it really helps. It is just part of life. When you turn to the right, there will be some who want you to go to the left, and vice versa. It is the nature of making choices. When we accept that every decision divides, we quit trying to do the impossible, i.e., pleasing everyone, and we begin making the right choices, knowing that our choices will divide.

Psychological research and experience tell us that people-pleasing is not a formula for happiness or success. Happy people do not compare themselves to others or overly concern themselves with others’ opinions of them. They are directed from the inside—their personal values and convictions and staying true to themselves is an inner compass they will not violate. Research shows that people with intrinsic motivations— motivations that come from their own hearts—are the successful ones. The people who reach goals are the ones who do what they themselves have decided to do, from their own hearts, not because of pressure from others.

Read the original post here.

Reblog: How to Overcome Feeling Insecure and Needy in Your Relationships

by Sharon Martin

Many people feel insecure at least some of the time. Some people feel insecure most of the time about most things. Other people may occasionally feel insecure or only in certain situations or with certain people.

Explore why you’re feeling insecure

Sometimes insecurity is the result of trauma. If you’ve experienced a betrayal or hurt, such as cheating or lying or abuse in your current or past relationship, it’s normal to want to protect yourself from further hurt. You put up your guard and feel anxious, on edge, or worried. Your nervous system goes into overdrive searching for evidence of danger. You might also notice that these feelings of insecurity remind you of childhood wounds. Children tend to internalize harm caused by others and believe it’s their fault – because they’re bad, flawed, unworthy, unlovable. This sets the stage for feeling insecure in adult relationships.

Other times it’s not so easy to spot where insecurity began. You may have a pervasive feeling that you’re not “good enough.” You worry about what people think. You don’t want to disappoint or displease others. You try to live up to someone else’s expectations or standards. Comparison leads to insecurity. It makes you feel “less than” compared to others that seem prettier, thinner, smarter, stronger, or funnier.

Love and acceptance from others does not solve insecurity

Most people think the solution to insecurity is having others love and accept them. It isn’t. I remember a painful experience I had in middle school. I had a great group of friends, felt accepted, cared for and wanted…until they rejected me. Friends and lovers will come and go. Sometimes they drift away. Sometimes they storm off after an intense fight. Sometimes they die. If you’re counting on others to make you feel secure, you will eventually be disappointed.

When people feel insecure in a relationship, they often turn to their partners seeking reassurance and validation. A partner can never provide the sense of security you’re seeking. Relationships are always uncertain. There are no guarantees that your partner will be dependable or faithful or with you for the rest of your life. The only way to feel secure in your relationship is to seek security and confidence within yourself.

Security comes from loving yourself and knowing you’re resilient

Feeling safe and secure means that you know you can cope with whatever life throws your way. You can’t control what your partner does or if this relationship ends, but you can control your response and your feelings. It’s empowering to know that you can cope with the unexpected and messy parts of life. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be hurt or angry or heart broken. It just means that you have confidence in your ability to get through really tough situations and feelings.

Chances are you’ve already gotten through some pretty challenging things in your life. When I reflect on my experiences, I’m in awe of some of the things I’ve overcome. I didn’t always do it with grace, but I did get through more pain than I imagined I could. I suspect the same is true for you.

Life experience shows us that we can endure a lot of adversity and uncertainty. You can not only survive, but thrive when you choose not to let life’s curve balls keep you down or feeling like a victim. This is where confidence comes from. It doesn’t come from reassuring words or promises from your partner or anyone else.

Instead of seeking validation from others, reassure yourself

Look inside yourself for the validation you’re seeking. Honestly, no one can give you want you can’t give to yourself. Your partner might say the words you crave: “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine my life without you.” The problem is, if you don’t believe this to be true deep in your soul, you’re not going to believe it when anyone else says it to you.  If you want others to make you feel worthy, you’ll always be chasing this approval. Instead:

  • Tune into your own feelings. Spend some quality time with yourself.
  • Identify your feelings. A list of feeling words can be helpful (try this one).
  • Validate your feelings. “It’s normal to feel angry when my roommate drinks all the coffee and doesn’t buy any to replace it.” Or, “I understand why I feel anxious when Mary comes home from work late.”
  • Identify your strengths. Everyone has good qualities. Remind yourself every single day of your positive traits and skills. I promise you won’t become conceited.
  • When you catch yourself worrying about what might happen, gently bring yourself back to the present. You can ask yourself: How likely is this to happen? Is there anything I can do about it?
  • Remind yourself that you can cope with whatever happens.
  • Soothe yourself. Recognize when you need comfort and give it to yourself. You can calm yourself by listening to music, taking a hot bath, engaging in repetitive motion such as walking, massaging your temples, sipping a cup of herbal tea, or using essential oils.

Read the original post here.