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: Independence and Autonomy

by Henry Cloud

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

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

These are all good things. Participate in your adolescent’s emerging autonomy by being proactive. Many parents just back off, wait for the testing of limits to begin, broaden the boundaries. In short, they put all the planning on the adolescent and then try to prevent the developmental path from working!

Being a partner in your teenagers’ independence is a good way to look at this issue. They will establish independence one way or another because they’re wired to do so. So it is better if you become a partner instead of an adversary. If you become a partner, they will need you and look to you. If you become an adversary, you will lose them, and they will lose the ability to grow into independence in a way connected to love and authority.

Partnering in independence and autonomy means to think always about your children guarding and managing themselves at the appropriate level. Give them enough space to fail and then manage the failure with empowerment, support discipline and correction. Or, when they succeed, give them more. Here are some areas where your teenagers are likely to demand more freedom and control over their lives:

  • More freedom to go places and stay out later
  • More freedom to do what they please without your being there all the time
  • More freedom in choosing things they like instead of what you like
  • Freedom to question things you have taught them and make up their own minds
  • Freedom to pursue their own interests
  • More control over their likes and dislikes
  • More control over their spiritual life

When these desires emerge, remember that your goal is to use them to manage the process of independence in a way that leads to teenagers being able to manage themselves. Give them the freedom within limits, and require them to use it responsibly. Do not see every drive to be independent as a testing of limits, although testing will come. See each incident as an opportunity to find out what kind of freedom they can manage and what kind they cannot. Do not give them more than can manage, for your role as a guardian and manager kicks in when they are in danger. But at the same time, do not restrict their freedom when they are able to manage it. To the extent that you are guarding and managing them in areas where they are showing responsibility, you are redundant and unnecessary.

Look for individual expression in music, clothes, hobbies, political views, overall appearance and the like. If their choices do not get them into danger, let it go. In most cases, their peers will enforce the limits of what is okay and what is not. If they go too far, they will run into trouble in their own social circles. But remember, their norms are different from yours.

In short, you want your adolescents to develop independence. If they don’t you will still be bailing them out when they are forty. This is the time to help them develop independence in the right way. Give them areas in which they can be different from you that do not involve values. If you allow them to do this, they won’t have to sacrifice more important areas of life to show you that they are their own person.

Find the original article 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: Dr. Laura: 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Too Far Into a Relationship

  1. How well do I know them? Meeting the parents seems to be the last thing people do when dating. However, it should be one of the first. Observing someone in their “natural habitat” gives you a big impression of how your future with them might look. What is their family like? What kind of upbringing did they have?

  2. Can I trust them? If they share your private conversations with anybody, walk away. Don’t have an argument about it or give them a second chance. If they aren’t going to protect your innermost thoughts, drop them.

  3. Do I see how they are changing me? No matter who you’re dating, you’re going to be influenced by that person to some degree. Are they trying to get you to start or stop doing something?

  4. How do we communicate? Do you feel intimidated to talk or be open? Do you give them all the power because it’s easier than arguing?

  5. Am I attracted to their character or just their body? It’s easy to be attracted to someone who is a babe, but are you attracted to their heart, values, beliefs, and worldview? When you add up all the time you spend in a relationship, sex is only a tiny percentage. You have to be able to connect in other ways.

  6. Are they accepting of who I am? The most mature and loving people love you for who you are. If, while dating, they are already trying to change how you dress, talk, or eat, they are not ready for a relationship. And if you go along with it, you aren’t ready for a relationship either.

  7. How do they treat other people? Pay particular attention to how they treat people they say they care about.

  8. Do they make an effort to put my needs first? Relationships are give and take. If someone never gives, throws temper tantrums, displays outbursts of rage, or tries to control you, you need to watch out.

  9. Are their hopes and dreams for the future compatible with mine? This one is self-explanatory.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: 7 Signs of a Doomed Relationship

by Henry Cloud

If you have read Dr. Henry Cloud’s book Never Go Back, I will assume that you started with the first chapter. That chapter may or may not have been loosely based on an amalgamation of my failed relationships. I would see the 7 signs of a doomed relationship, sometimes more than 7, and instead of running away, I would run full speed into their closed arms.

Through all of my doomed relationships, I slowly started to figure out some of the signs that let me know that this was not my person. These signs are listed below in no particular order.

1. First and foremost, more than anything…you should feel safe. Safe expressing who you truly are, your mistakes and your triumphs. Every little thing that you have experienced has made you the person you are today and while some of this may not always be pretty to discuss, it made you, and the person you’re with will embrace your ups and not shame you for your downs.

2. It should never feel like a game. When someone is truly into you, and wants to pursue you and make you a part of their life….they don’t play games. They greet you with intention. They truly won’t wait an entire day/days to return a text message. When people are serious about you, you will feel like a priority. Whether you have been dating 7 days, 7 months or 7 years… relationships take effort and work, and when someone is genuinely interested in you, they will make it a point to make sure you know.

3. This ties into feeling safe, but the person you are with should not try and change you. I truly feel that you should feel accepted for who you are…but the caveat here, is that the person you’re with should help you grow. We all have areas that we can improve upon in life and relationship and I think there is a difference between changing for someone and growing with someone, I think it’s important to be aware of which one is happening in your relationship.

4. You try and make up for things that are missing. This was a mistake that I repeatedly made. I dated many people that looked so good on paper, and that I theoretically should like, or tried to like because all my friends and family loved this person. So, you try and convince yourself that it’s right. If something feels like it’s missing in your relationship, that feeling will never dissipate, it will just continue to grow. Don’t ignore it.

5. If you are starting to look outside your relationship to fulfill things that you feel are missing, it’s definitely time to reevaluate.

6. Relationships should progress. They are ever evolving and moving forward. Whether this is meeting friends and family, or planning trips together or future plans together. While relationships are very much about the present and what you are experiencing in the moment, they are also about the kind of future you see together, and not just talking about it but actively working towards something and bringing it to fruition.

7. Last but not least, and probably what I have personally used for a barometer more than anything, does this person make me feel crazy or are they a calming presence. We all have moments where we feel like we are losing our minds. Especially in relationship, because love can make us all crazy. Find someone who quiets your crazy not adds fuel to it.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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.