Tuesday, October 31, 2017
It’s that time again – time for little ghouls and goblins, superheroes and princesses to swarm into the neighborhood and charm you into giving them some candy. You may even see a miniature Count Dracula looking like he’s checking out your jugular vein.
Halloween and trick or treating is all in good fun, but I’m wondering if some time in your life you’ve known a warm-blooded vampire – an Emotional Vampire, that is. You might recognize them as someone you’re afraid to ask, “How are you?” because you suspect they’ll overflow with more gory details than you want to know.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Back in the “olden days” when my children were still living at home and our main source of communication was a house phone that we all had to share, most of the calls received in our home were either for my daughters or my wife. If it hadn’t been for solicitors calling during the dinner hour, I would rarely talk to anyone on the telephone. One of the reasons they received more calls was because they highly value conversation and close friendships and go out of their way to cultivate them. It’s not that I (or other men) don’t value relationships, but we don’t tend to need as many relationships or as much contact in order to feel emotionally and relationally satisfied. In general, women rely upon and desire close friendships to a greater degree than men.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
As a psychologist, I work with people every day who want to improve their relationships with friends, co-workers and family members. Here are ten things I recommend to everyone desiring healthy, more satisfying relationships:
1. LOVE WHO YOU ARE FROM THE INSIDE OUT. Remember Stuart Smalley of SNL fame? Stuart was famous for his sappy daily affirmation, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” You may not want to fall into that shallow facade of self-worth, but the truth is that many of the things people do to sabotage or undermine their relationships are fueled by low self-esteem and insecurity.
When you can honestly identify and genuinely appreciate your gifts, talents and abilities as well as acknowledge and work on your weaknesses you will be less inclined to compensate for your insecurities by finding fault in others, being self-absorbed and/or overly guarded and defensive. When you love and accept yourself it’s a lot easier to love, like, accept and relate well with others – flaws and all.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman introduces the concept of “repair attempts” to keep conflict from derailing your marriage. According to Gottman, the success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether their marriage flourishes or flounders. Along with Dr. Gottman’s principles, I’ve included my own practical applications for your marriage. Practice these reparative strategies regularly and watch your friendship grow.
A repair attempt is defined as any statement or action—silly or otherwise—that prevents negativity from escalating. Here are a few examples of phrases that can be effective repair attempts. Keep in mind that the absence of repair attempts is a strong predictor of marital failure.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
We have heard it countless times: “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.” The reason this phrase is so applicable to life is that it speaks to the fact that the habits we develop will drive the direction of every area of our lives. Good habits lead up toward success and satisfaction. Bad habits lead to problems and frustration.
My work with clients often involves helping them understand and apply the power of habit. The ability to develop desirable behavior patterns such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, managing finances, using good communication, etc., all require the knowledge associated with building solid habits.
I have posted this “poem” before, but we all need to be reminded of the power we can harness to improve our lives, so let’s take another look:
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
We recently escaped the brutal Arizona desert heat with a road trip to San Diego. Paradise, right? Fog in the morning, beach temperatures hovering around 70 degrees, beautiful scenery and stunning colors, and an enormous number of vehicles displaying Arizona plates vying for parking spots! I expected peace and quiet, yet what I experienced nestled in this supposed utopia was… conflict. Conflict all around me.
A young family in the restaurant battling the cries of their kids. At the beach, young people were arguing what bathing suit was the sexiest (someone tell me when thongs became the norm on beaches!!!), and at the hotel swimming pool where a couple held hands coming in but stormed out 30 minutes later. As you know by now, in relationships, in families, at work, conflict is ever present. The goal is not to avoid conflict, but rather to embrace and grow through it.
Monday, August 21, 2017
I will be talking with Dr. Randy Carlson on the Intentional Living radio program Tuesday, August 22nd. He has asked me to spend a few minutes talking about the importance of counseling and how it can potentially save a person’s life.
As I consider how to describe the value of counseling, a few things come to mind.
At some time in everyone’s life, something unexpected and painful can occur. Death, divorce, injustice, rejection and serious accidents can bring about intense emotions or slow-burning resentment. Counseling can help you identify and manage the hurt or anger that could lead to destructive decisions and negative reactions. Lashing out in anger or holding on to resentment can have long-lasting devastating consequences and derail the healing and recovery process. Letting hurt and anger go unattended will steal the peace and joy from your life.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
The other night as we were finishing a particularly great meal, I said, “I could eat that every day.” At that time, I meant it. The taste lingering in my mouth, the feeling of being full and the fun of sharing a meal with people I love had created a wonderful sense of satisfaction. But then I began thinking about what I had just said. When we step back and consider a statement like that, we realize that even good things, in excess, eventually lose their appeal.
You know the old saying, “Variety is the spice of life.” The reason steak or lobster is such a treat is that most of us don’t have such rich and expensive food that often. I know a family who raises their own beef so at their house, steak is “the usual.” Since they eat steak so regularly they consider it special to have macaroni and cheese or take-out chicken!
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Have you ever been tricked into buying something you thought was authentic only to find out later that you received a counterfeit? With the explosion of online shopping comes greater opportunity for unscrupulous sellers to fool buyers into investing in products that aren’t worth the price.
On the surface, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a fake and the real thing. However, upon closer examination it becomes evident that the counterfeit lacks authenticity, quality and reliability. What a disappointment to realize that an expensive item like a Rolex watch, a Louis Vuitton handbag or a pair of high-tech Nike sneakers isn’t the real thing!
This is not only true for jewelry or clothing, but for people as well. It is not uncommon to find people wearing masks that portray a false image they think others want to see.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
During my years as a leader in education, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants. There is one question that I ask prospective teachers that most stumble over and now, I think, I know why. The question I ask usually occurs in the middle of the interview and it goes something like this: “What book can I find on your table that you are currently reading?” Blank stares, uncomfortable shifting in the chair, silence, and usually the response is one of an excuse as to why they are not currently reading. I find it alarming that our future teachers of future leaders are not engaged consistently in the reading of great, living books.
That one question gives me an insight into the world of the prospective teacher. When I meet a candidate who is a reader, I immediately know they are lifelong learners! It allows me a glimpse in how they use their time, what their interests are, their learning style, and so much more. Reading isn’t the only thing that tells me one is a lifelong learner but it is a big indicator.
After reading the masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham entitled The Art of Power, it became clear that education, reading, and sustaining a republic were synonymous to the Founding Fathers. Jefferson once said about the training of our minds (reading), “every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.”
What is happening to our minds? They are being rewired by our choices. Checkout the latest research on what we do instead of reading: