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: Who is Responsible For My Patterns?

by Henry Cloud

We hear much today about dysfunctional father problems. Many women note their poor choices in boyfriends and husbands, or they may develop depression anxiety or compulsive disorders and make the connection that they had a problem father. They recall absent, distant, critical, abusive, weak, or scary dads. They are relieved that their present struggles have a past pattern that now makes sense to them, and they begin working on their “father issues.”

It has helped women to realize the reasons for their problems and provides a root to the issue that much of their current pain has to do with a past relationship. In addition, we have made a lot of progress in unearthing the father issues for people, looking at all the damage dads can do and discovering how to recover from those injuries.

However, some of this thinking oversimplifies and confuses important issues. For example, picking bad men isn’t always due to having a bad dad, and having a distant father doesn’t always create depression. We must investigate more deeply than this. Many women who grew up with absent fathers also had mothers who were both nurturing and assertive. Mom took responsibility for both mothering and fathering needs and made sure her daughter grew up in a relationship with several safe men who could help in her character growth. These women may have grown up technically fatherless, but they still received all the “good stuff” they needed.

Some believe that all attachment problems are mom problems and that all aggression problems are dad problems. So the logic goes, if a woman has a hard time setting limits and being her own person, it’s because of fathering issues. This is true, but incompletely so. Moms also have a lot to do with childhood assertiveness, and dads are able to teach tenderness. In fact, as children we generally learn our first no, our first independent steps, and our first identity moves from none other than mom. Mother issues of assertiveness occur years earlier than dad issues, which are a secondary process.

Kristin, for example, knew she was picking the wrong men. She found herself in her mid-thirties, leaving a second marriage, and then quickly getting involved with yet another man. The men she chose all tended to be strong, self-assured, and in control. Yet when she committed to them, their self-control would quickly turn into Kristin-control.

When she talked to a friend about her destructive pattern, he said, “You had a distant dad, and you’re looking for his strength and protection in the arms of a husband.” That sounded logical. Kristin’s mother had been quiet and nurturing, so as far as she could tell, Mom wasn’t the issue. Kristin began working on the loss of her father. Yet after all her work, Kristin still found herself attracted to controlling men. It was only when she began seeing a therapist who recognized the deeper “mom” issue, that Kristin could truly begin to change.

The reality of Kristin’s background was worse than she thought: Mom’s quiet nurture disguised a passivity and lack of identity in Mom herself. So Mother failed to lead her daughter through the separating, individualizing, and assertion training that Kristin needed. She taught Kristin to be sweet, passive, independent, but not to strike out on her own. As little girls do, Kristin then reached out for Dad, to repair what Mom couldn’t. But he wasn’t there either. Thus begun the eternal search for the Knight and Shining Armor. The truth was, underneath the armored helmet was the face of a structure-building, assertive mother. Kristin had unknowingly disguised mother issues as father ones.

Like Kristin, you may think you “man” problems are “dad” problems. They may be, but keep in mind the possibility that two dynamics are in play here: the mother who couldn’t let go and the father who couldn’t make his little girl feel special. They tend to occur simultaneously.

Find the original article here.

Reblog: Recharge Your Life By Putting Yourself First (Finally)

by Jonice Webb PhD

What didn’t happen in your childhood and what you don’t remember has as much power over who you’ve become as an adult as the things that did happen and that you do remember.

It’s an invisible factor called Emotional Neglect, and it can disrupt your health, personal life, relationships, and career in silent, invisible ways. Many of us suffered Emotional Neglect from our parents to some degree or another.

But it’s difficult to realize the effect this lack of nurturing, connection, and compassion has had on your adult life. Instead, adults who have been emotionally neglected often mislabel their unhappiness as something else, like depression, marital problems, anger, or anxiety.

As a psychologist, I’ve seen that even a very subtle lack of enough nurturing, compassion, and connection when we were children can have an insidious effect on us as adults, causing us to struggle with self-discipline and self-care, and to feel unworthy, disconnected, and unfulfilled.

But one thing folks who experienced Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) have in common is difficulty taking care of themselves. Putting your own needs first, in the way that everyone must do in order to live a happy and healthy life, feels selfish or wrong.

Or, since you are literally “wired” to ignore yourself and your own needs, putting yourself first is simply not even in your mind as an option. It’s not on your radar screen.

The good news is that once you become aware of this unseen force from childhood, you can accept that your needs and preferences and wishes do matter, and you can begin to express them. You can begin to treat yourself the way you should have been treated all along. You can begin to put yourself first in a healthy, energizing way.

Four Ways to Put Yourself First

  1. Learn to Say No.

The people in your life have learned that you will be there for them, because that’s what emotionally neglected people do. Being a generous, compassionate person is wonderful, but sacrificing yourself too much by saying yes to things that deplete your time and energy is not. Remember this simple rule: Anyone has the right to ask you for anything, and you have the equal right to say no without giving a reason. Saying no when you need to, free of guilt and discomfort, is a vital building block of self-care.

  1. Ask for Help. Then Accept It. 

As an emotionally neglected child, you internalized your parents’ message: “Don’t have feelings, don’t show feelings, don’t need anything from anyone, ever.” If it’s hard for you to say no to others, it’s probably equally hard for you to ask them for help or a favor. To free yourself from this difficult bind, all you have to do is accept that other people don’t feel guilty or uncomfortable saying no, and they don’t have angst about asking for help. As soon as you can join them, a new world will open up for you.

  1. Discover Your Likes and Dislikes.

If you were emotionally neglected as a child, you may have difficulty knowing yourself, perhaps because your needs were not considered often and you weren’t invited to voice your preferences. As a result, you may have certain areas where you know yourself well, and others in which you’re mystified. If you’ve been focused outward for much of your life, you may not be able to identify your likes and dislikes, such as the types of people, food, and entertainment you most and least enjoy, or even the style of clothes, hobbies,  and future aspirations that appeal to you. Your likes and dislikes are valid and important, so take the time to write them down.

  1. Prioritize Your Enjoyment.

When you were growing up emotionally neglected, you probably weren’t allowed to make choices that led to your own enjoyment. Or, if your family was scrambling for resources, perhaps there wasn’t much left for fun things.  In some ways, this last strategy encapsulates the previous three. In order to put a higher priority on your own enjoyment, you have to say no to requests that pull you too far away from it. You have to ask for help sometimes so that you feel enough support and connection to others to allow for opportunities,  such as a movie or hiking companion. And you need to know what you like so you can seek it out. Think of one activity you’d like to pursue, and then follow up by taking action. Having more pleasure in your life will make you a happier person.

Following these four steps can have a tremendous impact on your life. As you gradually work on implementing them, you will find yourself feeling stronger, happier, and more empowered. You will find the voice you never found before, feel the fun you never knew existed, and preserve the inner energy you never before protected.

You will slowly,  step by step, bit by bit, send much-needed, long overdue messages to yourself:

Your needs matter.

Your feelings matter.

You are worth it.

Find the original article 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: Anger at Family Members

by Melody Beattie

Many of us have anger toward certain members of our family. Some of us have much anger and rage—anger that seems to go on year after year.

For many of us, anger was the only way to break an unhealthy bondage or connection between a family member and ourselves. It was the force that kept us from being held captive—mentally, emotionally, and sometimes spiritually—by certain family members.

It is important to allow ourselves to feel—to accept—our anger toward family members without casting guilt or shame on ourselves. It is also important to examine our guilty feelings concerning family members as anger and guilt are often intertwined.

We can accept, even thank, our anger for protecting us. But we can also set another goal: taking our freedom.

Once we do, we will not need our anger. Once we do, we can achieve forgiveness.

Think loving thoughts, think healing thoughts toward family members. But let ourselves be as angry as we need to be.

At some point, strive to be done with the anger. But we need to be gentle with ourselves if the feelings surface from time to time.

Thank God for the feelings. Feel them. Release them. Ask God to bless and care for our families. Ask God to help us take freedom and take care of ourselves.

Let the golden light of healing shine upon all we love and upon all with whom we feel anger. Let the golden light of healing shine on us.

Trust that a healing is taking place, now.

Help me accept the potent emotions I may feel toward family members. Help me be grateful for the lesson they are teaching me. I accept the golden light of healing that is now shining on me and my family. I thank God that healing does not always come in a neat, tidy package.

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: How to Maintain Your Sense of Self in Relationships

by Sharon Martin, LCSW

Do you seem to get swallowed up in relationships? Does your sense of self disappear when you’re strongly attached to someone else? This “loss of self” happens, whether you’ve been married for decades or are newly dating, when the other person or relationship become your identity.

You become all about the other person. Your needs get sidelined while the other person’s needs and interests take center stage. Your mission becomes making him/her happy (regardless of your own feelings). You focus on what s/he wants to do. You stop pursuing your hobbies, seeing your friends and family, and you defer to what s/he wants.

Dependency is healthy; codependency is not

Instead of being “Mary”, your identity becomes “Mary, Jim’s girlfriend” or simply “Jim’s girlfriend”. This feels good, especially during the intensity of the beginning of a relationship. In fact, this obsession of sorts is quite normal in the early stages of a new-found love. It’s not healthy, however, when it’s one-sided; when your partner isn’t equally interested in giving and pleasing you.

You may feel you’ve willingly made these compromises. Or you may not have even noticed that you were giving up parts of yourself. Often this is a pattern that’s been repeated in relationships your entire life and you may not have had a strong sense of your interests or priorities to begin with.

For others, this may have happened due to your partner’s jealousy or manipulation. In other words, you were pressured into giving up parts of yourself and you fear losing the relationship if you don’t keep him/her happy.

You can maintain your sense of self in relationships by:

  • Knowing what you like and what matters to you
  • Asking for what you want, rather than always deferring to his/her wants
  • Spending time with your own friends and family
  • Pursuing your goals
  • Staying true to your values
  • Making time for your hobbies and interests
  • Saying “no” when something really doesn’t work or feel good to you
  • Spending time by yourself
  • Not keeping yourself “small” or hidden to please others

Why stay true to yourself in a relationship?

What do you imagine will happen if you keep yourself hidden in your relationships? Will your resentments grow and fester? Will this be a satisfying relationship long-term? Will you miss out on achieving your goals? Will your health suffer? Will your friends and family miss you? Will the world be deprived of your unique gifts?

Inter-dependence or healthy dependence involves two complete individuals who come together to support each other. From this inter-dependency, you develop trust and safety that helps you navigate through the world, but you’re not reliant on the other person or the relationship for your identity or self-worth. In secure relationships, partners support each other in pursuing their own interests and other friendships. They aren’t jealous or demanding. Couples need time together and time apart. In other words, loving, trusting relationships are important, but they needn’t overshadow YOU.

Read the original post 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: 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.

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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.

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TED Reblog: Should emotions be taught in schools?

by 

Our unresolved, unacknowledged feelings can lead us into anxiety, arguments and worse. Some educators believe it’s time to give our kids emotional instruction along with their ABCs.

Who taught you how to identify and manage your emotions, how to recognize them when they arose and navigate your way through them? For many adults, the answer is: No one. You hacked your way through those confusing thickets on your own. Although navigating our inner landscape was not something that was taught to us in school, it should be, contend a number of researchers. They believe emotional skills should rank as high in importance in children’s educations as math, reading, history and science.

Why do emotions matter? Research has found that people who are emotionally skilled perform better in school, have better relationships, and engage less frequently in unhealthy behaviors. Plus, as more and more jobs are becoming mechanized, so-called soft skills — which include persistence, stress management and communication — are seen as a way to make humans irreplaceable by machine. There has been a growing effort in American schools to teach social and emotional learning (SEL), but these tend to emphasize interpersonal skills like cooperation and communication.

Kids are often taught to ignore or cover over their emotions. Many Western societies view emotions as an indulgence or distraction, says University of California-Santa Barbara sociologist Thomas Scheff, a proponent of emotional education. Our emotions can give us valuable information about the world, but we’re often taught or socialized not to listen to them. Just as dangerous, Scheff says, is the practice of hiding one emotion behind another. He has found that men, in particular, tend to hide feelings of shame under anger, aggression and, far too often, violence.

How does one go about teaching emotions? One of the most prominent school programs for teaching about emotions is RULER, developed in 2005 by Marc Brackett, David Caruso and Robin Stern of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The multiyear program is used in more than 1,000 schools, in the US and abroad, across grades K-8. The name, RULER, is an acronym for its five goals: recognizing emotions in oneself and others; understanding the causes and consequences of emotions; labeling emotional experiences with an accurate and diverse vocabulary; and expressing and regulating emotions in ways that promote growth.

As a strategy, children are taught to focus on the underlying theme of an emotion rather than getting lost in trying to define it. When an emotion grips you, explains Stern, understanding its thematic contours can help “name it to tame it.” Even though anger is experienced differently by different people, she explains, “the theme underlying anger is the same. It’s injustice or unfairness. The theme that underlies disappointment is an unmet expectation. The theme that underlies frustration is feeling blocked on your way to a goal. Pinning down the theme can “help a person be seen and understood and met where she is,” says Stern.

RULER’s lessons are woven into all classes and subjects. So, for example, if “elated’ is the emotional vocabulary word under discussion, a teacher would ask students in an American history class to link “elated” to the voyage of Lewis and Clark. Instruction reaches beyond the classroom, too; kids are prompted to talk with their parents or caregivers about when they last felt elated. Researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has found RULER schools tend to see less-frequent bullying, lower anxiety and depression, more student leadership and higher grades. So why isn’t emotional education the norm rather than the exception?

Surprising fact: While scientists and educators agree on the need to teach emotions, they don’t agree on how many there are and what they are. RULER’s curriculum consists of hundreds of “feeling words,” including curious, ecstatic, hopeless, frustrated, jealous, relieved and embarrassed. Other scholars’ lists of emotions have ranged in number from two to eleven. Scheff suggests starting students out with six: grief, fear, anger, pride, shame and excessive fatigue.

While psychology began to be studied as a science more than a century ago, up to now it has focused more on identifying and treating disorders. Scheff, who has spent years studying one taboo emotion — shame — and its destructive impact on human actions, admits, “We don’t know much about emotions, even though we think we do, and that goes for the public and for researchers.” Or, as Virginia Woolf so beautifully put it, “The streets of London have their map; but our passions are uncharted.”

Parents can start to encourage their kids’ emotional awareness with a simple prompt “Tell me about some of your best moments,” a phrase Scheff has used to initiate discussions with his university students. But he and Stern agree that schools can’t wait until academics have sorted out the name and number of emotions before they act. “We know we have emotions all day long, whether we’re aware of them or not,” Stern points out. Let’s teach kids how to ride those moment-by-moment waves, instead of getting tossed around.

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