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Archive for March, 2018

A man called my office once to make an appointment. He said he had gotten my name from his lawyer. Out of the blue his wife had filed for divorce, and he was very interested in staying married.

Then he proceeded to tell me that he thought his wife didn’t know what she wanted and was maybe going through a mid-life crisis. Also a few days ago she had said she would go to a marriage counselor, but now she didn’t think so. He just couldn’t understand why his wife was leaving him.

I volunteered that maybe she was interested in someone else or maybe she was just fed up with some of his behaviors. He said it was the latter, his behaviors.

I told him I could give him an appointment, but it would be about a week before he could get in to see me. But since he sounded as though he was in pretty much pain, I offered to arrange for someone else in the office to see him sooner if he wanted an appointment.

He didn’t respond to my offer to help him get an appointment with another therapist, but when I gave him several dates that he could see me, he kept pushing for me to see him sooner.

Before we had an appointment time nailed down, he said, “You’re in Clayton, right?”

I said that I had moved from Clayton and then told him where I was. As I tried to give him directions to my office, he kept interrupting and trying to tell me where I was. I got quiet, and, after he explained to me where my office was, I said that he was mistaken. Then I gave him directions.

I then went back to setting the appointment. I told him that it would be good if his wife would accompany him, but if not, I would see him alone and we could figure out what he might do differently to save his marriage. I pointed out that divorce takes time and perhaps not all was lost.

What I already knew about the guy was that: he didn’t listen, he didn’t answer questions, he shifted responsibility for the failure of the marriage, he needed to be in control, and he discounted my time by trying to go on and on over the telephone.

Incidentally, he never kept his appointment nor did he call to cancel. I guess he concluded that his wife was having a mid-life crisis.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I met a woman at a bridal shower once, and she said she used to read my column and watch me on television. Then she said that the one thing she regrets in her life…that she didn’t go back to work after her children were raised. After all, she had a college degree, she said.

I said, “Go back to work now.”

She laughed and said that she was in her seventies and it was too late.

She then said that a regret her husband had is that he didn’t go to medical school. He was offered a scholarship but opted to sell suits at a local department store for nine dollars a week.

Another woman said that she regrets not going back to school and finishing her education. When she was in her thirties she regretted this; when she was in her forties she regretted it; and now she is in her mid-sixties and she still regrets it.

Then this woman asked me if I had any regrets. I said that actually I had been thinking about this very thing recently, and one thing I regret is that I have baked about 2000 pies since I’ve been married. Everyone laughed when they heard my regret, but I think of all the cholesterol and sugar I have consumed and all the time I could have spent reading novels and being with my children.

Another regret I have thought of since is that I yelled too much at our first child when he forgot his lunch, which was almost daily.

I’d be driving him and his brother to school when he would inform me that he had forgotten his lunch. Since the school didn’t have a cafeteria, I was always faced with deciding whether to go back home for his lunch and be late for work, or take him to school and hope that a hungry stomach would teach him to be more responsible.

Thinking back, I could have gotten around this whole ugly scene, in which I would lecture, he would feel miserable, and then I’d feel guilty. I could have taken it upon myself to bring his lunch. I could have found other ways to teach responsibility besides insisting that he remember his lunch bag.

My daughter forgot her lunch once too. I asked her what she was going to do. She assured me that one of her friends would share her lunch. I said that was nice.

I drove away from her school with no regrets.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Some things we simply never get over, no matter how much we try, no matter how many activities we join, no matter how many aerobics classes we attend, no matter how much we put one foot in front of the other.

Bill is in his mid-sixties. Nine years ago he was a chief executive of a prestigious company. The management team changed and he was asked to resign. He was devastated. He had been with the company for over thirty years, sometimes working sixty to seventy hours a week. When told he was being let go, to his credit, Bill immediately hustled another job.

Today he works for a little less than half the pay, but since his children are through college and his house is paid for, he and his wife manage. It’s just that he has never been able to entirely shake off the bad feelings from being let go. He doesn’t dwell on it. He doesn’t go around and bad mouth the company. He still sees some friends who are with the company. But always he fights twinges of depression.

Five years ago Sally was forced to give up her big old house and move to another state when her husband was transferred. Today she lives in a beautiful new house. Everyone who visits tells her how lovely it is. She has worked hard to make it nice. Yet periodically she still yearns for her old home.

Susan and Jim were married for twenty-six years. They had five children. Jim moved up the corporate ladder. Susan took care of the children. When it was announced that Jim was to become president of the company and relocate to the company’s headquarters, Jim told Susan that he was not taking her or the family with him. Instead he took his secretary, whom he subsequently has married.

It’s now ten years later. The children are raised. Susan has completed her MBA and has a job she enjoys. She has dated many men and has had two semi-serious relationships. She has good friends and an active social life. Susan has done everything the books tell her to do in order to move on and not look back. Still, she fights a low-level depression and her self-esteem has never quite recovered since Jim left her.

Sometimes people don’t completely get over a loss.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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A sixth-grade school teacher confessed that he hadn’t been nice to his students that day. He had been impatient and needlessly sarcastic. All day he had radiated a negative attitude. Usually he would have gone home, mentally chided himself, and felt guilty.

The problem with such a response is that it does no one any good. The students, who are still smarting from the day, as well as the teacher, gain nothing.

“This time I decided that instead of punishing myself by feeling guilty, and then forgiving myself,” said the teacher, “I would change my behavior.”

The following day he went to school armed with resolve to be a good teacher. He marched energetically through his lesson plan. He compli­mented his students’ accomplishments. He tried extra hard to be patient. He worked in a game his students love playing. At the end of the day he felt great.

Often a person is quite aware that he has acted badly – on the job, with his children, with a neighbor. He may even mentally scold himself for his actions. But what is more productive is a change in future behavior.

Guilt is like a flashing yellow light. It is a signal that you’re doing something wrong.

This week resolve that every time you feel guilty over some behavior, you’ll change course. If you’re dilly-dallying over a decision that affects someone else, stop the guilt and make the decision. If you feel guilty because you’ve dropped the ball and haven’t returned a telephone call, turn off the guilt and call the person. If guilt besets you because you’ve been grumpy and out of sorts, adjust your attitude. If you feel guilt because you usually run late, fight too much with your children, don’t see your parents enough, eat too much junk food – pay attention to what guilt is telling you.
Change your behavior.

Guilt is a wake up call to alter actions.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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