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Archive for June, 2011

“I loved my boss,” said Marie. “She was respected by everyone. She thought highly of my work. She thought I was smart. Then my boss left the area and I was assigned a new boss. This boss is unbelievably difficult to work with. She acts as though I’m stupid and I can’t do anything right. She’s always on my case about something. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t make some snide remark or send me a memo that implies I’m an imbecile.

“I like what I do and I don’t want to quit my job, but my job is very stressful because of this woman. The way I cope — I try to ignore her rude comments. Sometimes I get very determined and I put in extra hours trying to please her, to show her what a good worker I am. I tell myself, `I’m a good person no matter what she thinks.’ Sometimes I call my sister in the evening and complain to her. I count the people on the job who like me, and once in a while I go to lunch with my old boss, who helps me feel good about myself.”

Doris Wild Helmering, “Mother of Reason”

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When your mate is overweight, best keep your mouth shut if you hope to have a good relationship.

Is your mate overweight? Do you try to monitor what your husband or wife eats? If so, you’re probably caught in a not-so-nice power struggle.

A woman told me that she had bought a chocolate cake but needed to hide it so her husband wouldn’t eat it. As she’s talking I’m thinking, “The guy’s almost 50. He should be the master of his food intake. Her telling him what to eat is not going to make him a happy camper. He’s going to resent it. She’s putting herself in the bad guy category because when she directs her husband what to eat and not eat, he feels resentful.

When given this kind of feedback many women respond, “Yes, but I don’t want him dying on me because he has clogged arteries and is overweight.” What I say: “I doubt if your harping is going to keep your husband alive. Besides, you’re not with him every waking hour. If he wants to eat or overeat, he will. He’ll just do it behind your back. In policing one’s mate, you become the nag while your mate becomes the sneak. Ridiculous!

If your husband is overweight or has a health problem and should not be eating certain foods, it’s up to him to restrict his diet. The best way you can help is to have healthy food in the house and provide a good example by eating healthily yourself.

Here’s another frequent weight issue. A woman’s angry because her husband wants her to lose weight. She’s put on 60 pounds in the last four years and he no longer finds her attractive. She is angry and asks if it’s fair for him to expect that she lose weight.

Gaining or losing weight has nothing to do with fairness. If your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse finds you unattractive because of the extra pounds, and you want to be attractive to him or her, then it’s important to lose the weight.

What about the father who’s unhappy with his teenage daughter about her weight? He should stay away from the weight issue except to provide good role modeling by eating healthily. Teenagers who are overweight are painfully aware of the fact. Comments such as, “I thought you were watching your weight,” or “You’d really be beautiful if only …” do not serve parent or child. You also don’t want to chip away at the already fluctuating self-esteem that many overweight teenagers have. Instead focus on your child’s attributes and decide to look beyond her weight.

Doris Wild Helmering, “Mother of Reason”

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When people don’t do what they say they will do, and manifest many passive aggressive behaviors, when do you stop being patient and take action?

Our new wood floor in our living room is popping up along the baseboard. We’re not sure what’s causing the problem. In fact, no one seems to be sure. About eight months ago I called a company to come and give us an estimate to fix the floor.

When the appointment time came, no one arrived. About a half hour later I got a call and the gentleman explained that one of his grandchildren had taken sick, so he couldn’t make the appointment. I said fine, and we set another time.

The next appointment, the fellow was about a half hour late. He looked at the floor, said he could fix it, gave me a bid right there and then, and said he would drop off color samples on Thursday as the floor was also going to be restained. Before he left he asked if he could take some of the wood pieces that had popped up in order to determine why they were buckling.

I hesitated, but then agreed when the fellow reassured me he would be dropping everything off on Thursday — three days from now.

That was eight months ago. The guy never came with the samples and never returned my wood flooring. After numerous telephone calls where he promised to drop the wood off, I finally asked to speak with the president of the company. Imagine my surprise to find that the man I was dealing with was the owner of the company.

About four months into my struggle to get my wood back, the man’s assistant admitted that he had lost the pieces somewhere in his van. I said, “Okay, just make me some new pieces.”

Then one day, one of the saleswomen for the company arrived at our door and wanted another two pieces to determine the right color. She took the two pieces with a promise that all the wood would be back that very week. Thanksgiving passed. Christmas passed. Twelve weeks later I was still making what I considered polite calls requesting my wood planking.

Two weeks ago I woke up on the wrong side. I got out of bed, poured myself coffee, and called the company. I told the person on the other end of the line (poor lady) that I did not have a beef with her, but I wanted my flooring pronto, now, immediately, today. And if I did not get it, I was going to report their bloody company to the better business bureau. In the meantime, I was going to fax every developer and builder in the area making known the hassle I was having with this particular floor company.

At ten twenty that morning I got a call telling me I could pick up my samples.

I’ve lived long enough to know that mistakes happen and not everything goes as planned. To get all bent out of shape over ever issue is a waste of energy. But sometimes you have to draw the line and move to the position that enough is enough.

Doris Wild Helmering, “Mother of Reason”

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When your moodiness is beginning to affect your marriage and family, it’s time to do something about it.

Are you a moody person? Do you have to deal with someone who’s moody? A mate? A boss? A child? A co-worker?

In a marriage counseling session, a husband complained that the past weekend had not been good. His wife had been in one of her moods.

I asked the wife what the husband meant. She shrugged and looked at him. He said, “Just what she’s doing now. She won’t talk; she refuses to comment on what you say; she acts like the kids and I don’t exist. And it doesn’t matter what we do to try to be nice.” He explained that the family can clean the house, cook the meals, and buy her a present, and she still won’t snap out of it. In fact, last year their eleven-year-old gave her a coffee mug that said, “Snap Out of It.”

I asked Marilyn if what her husband was describing about her was accurate. She shrugged and said yes. Then she said, “It’s just the way I am.” When she gets in one of those moods, she said, she wants people to leave her alone. Not talk to her, not try to cheer her up.

I asked how often her moodiness struck. She said a few times a month. Her husband said about once a week.

How long do her moods last? They both agreed — two or three days.

I asked if she saw her moodiness as a problem. She was noncommittal but added that all her family was like this and her husband had known she was moody before he married her.

He said he had thought her moodiness was because of the stress of the wedding and her dad being sick at the time. He never dreamed it would be something he’d have to live with for the rest of their married life.

I asked if she saw her moodiness as something she wanted to work on to make things better at home with her husband and children.

She said, “Not particularly.”

I asked if she understood how destructive her moods were to her marriage, her children, and herself.

She wanted to know how.

I said that each time she gets in one of her moods, she emotionally leaves the family. She’s not available for anyone. She closes everyone out. She discounts everyone’s existence. She sucks up the family’s energy as all wait for her to be in a better mood. And I said I suspect during her moodiness she can’t possibly enjoy life or feel close to anyone.

She asked what she could do about her moods. I said she’d have to want to make a change. And I wasn’t so sure she was ready. She agreed.

I said my usual routine would be to quickly review her childhood and see who she learned this behavior from and how it served her as a child. This would take no more than a half session. I’d also send her to her doctor to make sure she was okay physically. I’d have her make a list of the advantages she saw in being moody.

She said, “Such as?”

I said, “Well, when you’re moody, everyone is watching you, trying to please you. Maybe you get out of cooking, doing housework. Maybe you get to take a nap, guilt free. People don’t keep a behavior around unless they get a payoff. Sometimes understanding the payoff helps people give up the behavior.”

Another thing — when a bad mood starts, I want her to do some things immediately to help herself shake it off. Research shows that if you get a project going such as cleaning the garage, or if you do something for someone else such as running an errand, your bad mood will dissipate. Also, no television or alcohol when she’s in a bad mood, as both of these things exacerbate the bad feelings.

She said, “You feel pretty strongly about getting me to be in a better mood.”

I said, “I do because it’s miserable for your family and ultimately miserable for you.”

Doris Wild Helmering, “Mother of Reason”

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