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Archive for August, 2018

Marie threw a load of clothes into the washer and started it up. A few minutes before, Frank had stepped into the shower. As the washer filled with cold water, Frank was showered with very hot water. He stepped back from the shower nozzle and started banging on the wall. “I’m being scalded to death,” he bellowed. “Turn off that washer!”

Marie rushed to shut off the washer. Neither she or Frank had messed up. You might say it was just bad timing.

But some problems caused by bad timing can be prevented.

For example, you’re talking on the telephone and your husband asks you the whereabouts of the checkbook. You must now tell the party on the other end to wait while you talk to your husband. Or you can try to mouth the answer. Or you can grab a paper and pencil and write a note. No matter how you handle it, your mate’s timing is poor and he’s created a stressful situation for you.

Another example: As you are rushing out the door to go to work, your child asks you to sign a permission slip for school or announces this is her day to bring a snack. Had she brought up the issue the day before, it would not have been a big deal. But because of her faulty timing, your feathers are bound to be ruffled.

One woman says her husband’s “favorite trick” is to start talking finances right before bedtime. “Talking about bills and our money makes me feel anxious. Once he brings up the bills, I can’t fall asleep.”

Bad timing in the home also includes:

  • Making a telephone call right after your wife has told you dinner is ready.
  • Asking your parents for money or the car a few minutes after you’ve smarted
    off to them.
  • Starting an important conversation with someone who is engrossed in a movie
    or trying to balance the checkbook.
  • Yelling for your mate to come and look at something in the front yard when you
    have no idea where he is in the house or what he’s doing.
  • Expecting sex when you’ve been rude and just had a fight.
  • Telling your spouse you have no money as you pull in the movie parking lot.
  • Sweeping the floor when the rest of the family is in the car waiting to leave.
  • Talking about redecorating the family room when your husband has just told
    you he feels insecure about his job.

Remember, smooth relationships require sensitivity to what others are doing and feeling. So watch your timing.

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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Feel tired, dragged out, listless? You may not be suffering from iron deficiency anemia, but from the psychological maladies “reachback” and “afterburn,” two words used by Eric Berne to describe a phenomenon that plagues many an American.

Suppose you’re planning a barbecue for this Sunday. As a minimum, you’ll need to decide whom to invite and what to serve. You’ll also go to the grocery, and more than likely you’ll spend time straightening up the house. These are normal preparations on which you will expend energy.

If, however, you have to make three trips to the store instead of one, and you wind up getting to bed later than usual because of extra cleaning, and one of the guests calls you at the office to find out what time he is expected, the barbecue starts taking more of your time and energy than you bargained for. When this happens, you experience reachback. The barbecue reaches back, so to speak, from the future to the present, and it interferes with your life today.

If you have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Friday because of a persistent cough, you’ll most likely think about your appointment every time you cough. Setting the appointment initially was a normal expenditure of energy. Thinking about it every time you cough or every time you hear someone else cough causes you to neglect, to some degree, what’s happening in the present. The future is reaching back and affecting your thinking.

I know a woman who often hesitated to make a commitment to give a talk, because as soon as she agreed, she started to lie awake at night, first worrying about what she would talk about and then worrying about how her topic would go over with the audience. It didn’t matter how well she knew her subject or that she had given the talk several times previously, she always experienced a considerable amount of reachback. The more advanced notice she had, the more reachback she experienced. Finally she made the decision that she would only accept talks that were a month away. Anything further away caused her to experience too much reachback.

After an event has passed, most people assimilate the event or forget it after a week or two. If, however, a person continues to be troubled by something two or three weeks after it happens, afterburn is occurring.

If someone at the barbecue says something that hurts your feelings and you can’t stop thinking about it, you are experiencing afterburn. If one of your guests trips and breaks a leg, you’ll experience considerable afterburn. You’ll have to visit her in the hospital and talk to your insurance agent. And if your guest decides to sue you, the barbecue will be giving you afterburn a long time.

Certain events in life cause almost simultaneous reachback and afterburn.

If the doctor tells Paul that he has to have bypass surgery, Paul will experience reachback as he thinks about the upcoming operation. He also will experience afterburn as he thinks about what the doctor said in the office.

Loss of a job, a financial reversal, or a poor job evaluation all cause an overlap of afterburn and reachback as a person gets caught thinking about what has just happened to him and what will happen in the future.

When someone experiences too much reachback and afterburn, or worse yet, if he finds himself caught in a kind of cross fire between the two, he will feel tense and apprehensive, and experience some difficulty in his everyday life. The overall feeling is that of being overworked.

It is important, then, not to schedule one event after another, as you need some time to deal with the unexpected, and you also need time to assimilate the incident. Also, it is advisable to get eight hours of sleep when experiencing reachback and afterburn, because dreaming is the natural mechanism for assimilation.

There will always be some reachback and afterburn in your life. It goes with living. The goal is to control it.

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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Let’s draw a trouble tree. Take out a piece of paper and draw a tree with three branches.

Put your name on one of the branches.

Put two other peoples’ names on the other two branches. You might choose one of your children, a close friend, a neighbor, or a relative.

Now write your troubles on one branch and the other peoples’ troubles on their branches.

For example, on Suzanne’s branch I would hang the following miseries:

  • Son has learning difficulties
  • Oldest daughter has weight problem
  • Husband left for another woman
  • Basement floods periodically
  • New car continues to break down.

Even people who seem to lead a charmed life like Oprah have problems.
Her misfortunes include:

  • born to a single teenage mother in poverty
  • was sexually abused
  • lost a son
  • fired from a reporting job
  • struggles with her weight

Every person experiences troubles in life. Some people seem to experience more than their share of miseries. Others seem to be blessed and appear to have fewer troubles throughout their life. But no one escapes physical and emotional pain.

The trouble tree can help you put your problems in perspective.

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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One day, I stopped to get a cup of coffee before taking my daughter to the dentist. When I returned to the car with the coffee, I gave it to my daughter to hold. As we were driving along, I noticed that she was holding the cup at a slant. Immediately I said, “You’re spilling my coffee!” What I didn’t add but certainly implied by my tone of voice was, “You dummy.”

She looked at me wide-eyed and said faintly, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Perhaps it was hearing my own tone of voice or perhaps it was her childlike apology, but something certainly caused me to rethink how I had talked to my daughter. I know if it had been a friend and not my daughter, I would have smiled and said in a friendly tone, “The coffee.” But because it was my daughter, I gave myself permission to be irritated and critical.

On the other hand, I often say to my children, “Don’t be sarcastic;” “That sounds critical, say it again;” and, “Change your tone of voice.” I’m determined that my children should be polite and respectful regardless of whether they are talking to me or to one another.

When I do therapy, I continually tell people to take out the sarcasm and putdowns in their voices, for I know what distance a nasty tone of voice can create between a husband and wife or a parent and child.

Here are a few comments you might make from time to time. Read them over and think how you might sound.

“No, you may not have another Popsicle.”

“I want you to clean your room.”

“It’s time to get your bath.”

“I think you’ve had enough screen time for the day. It’s time to go outside and play.”

“I’d like you home by 12:30 tonight.”

“Please get your towel and wet bathing suit off the sofa.”

“I would like the grass cut before you go play.”

“Whose mess is this on the counter?”

“Who’s got the Scotch tape?”

“It’s time to get off the phone.”

Parents, listen to yourselves and how you talk with your child.

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 years ago we moved into an old house that had huge windows in the kitchen. From the time my mother saw those windows she wanted me to hang curtains on them. I think our first conversation went something like, “What kind of curtains are you going to put on the windows?” I said, “I don’t plan to put curtains on the windows.”

Several weeks later Mom brought me an ad from the newspaper. Jackman’s was having a sale on curtain material. She would be happy to make curtains for me. “Mom, I don’t plan to cover the windows,” I said.

A few months later it was, “Curtains would sure finish this kitchen off nicely.”

I never did get curtains for that kitchen. I also don’t think my mother ever gave up hinting that I should.

One time, my husband, our daughter and I went out to dinner. Our oldest son was our waiter. He was also the waiter for the table next to ours. During the evening we heard the woman at the next table ask our son if he would wrap up the rest of her dinner, as she wanted to take it with her. He said, “Sure,” and disappeared with her food. A few minutes later we saw him serving salads at another table. My husband commented, “I wonder if he’s going to remember that woman’s food.” I said, “I don’t know. Do you think we should remind him?” My husband said no. Later when we saw our son place a Styrofoam container on the table next to us, we both breathed a sigh of relief.

I was telling my partner, who also has grown children, about this incident. She started laughing and then admitted that just the other day she was at her son’s apartment. When he left the room she casually poked her fingers in the flower pots, checking to see if the plants had been watered. In her head she kept saying, “Serra, stop it.” But she couldn’t resist checking and making sure that he was doing what he was supposed to.

This story reminded me of another friend whose son got a job on a riverboat. Before leaving for his first day on the job she gave him a hug, wished him well, and then added, “And be careful not to fall off the boat.” Before giving this advice she had told herself, “Don’t say it. Don’t say it.” But somehow she couldn’t resist saying it anyway.

Through the years we’ve all excused our children’s behavior with the saying, kids will be kids. Maybe we need a complementary saying — parents will be parents.

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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