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Archive for the ‘Quality of LIfe’ Category

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.

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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Sometimes when we asked others for help or their opinion we must be open to suggestions.

I wrote a letter the other day outlining a business plan. I gave it to my husband for proofing, something I do when I want his input or I think I’ve written an exceptional letter and I want his “Atagirl.”

After reading the letter, my husband said, “I don’t think this is up to your usual standards.”

I asked, “What’s wrong with it?”

He said he wasn’t sure, but it didn’t work for him.

I said, “I need more information. What doesn’t work?”

He said he wasn’t sure.

I then took the letter and reread it. Since I couldn’t see what he could, I asked if he would go over it line by line. He countered with, “How about if I look at it again and make margin notes.” I said, “Fine.”

A half hour later I looked at his notes and told him he didn’t understand the situation. He shrugged and said okay. I took the letter and went back to my computer and again revised. As I was writing, I could see my letter improving based on his suggestions. When I finished, I proudly handed the letter back to my husband. He read it for the third time and said, “It’s still not right.”

When I asked what was not right, he said he couldn’t exactly say.

Unfortunately, I then told him I was the writer in the family and I had seen some goofy letters he sent out. With that I picked up my letter and went back to the computer.

After an hour of revisions, I contritely went back to my husband with letter in hand. I told him I was sorry for what I’d said and asked if he would please read the letter again because I did value his input. And further, no matter what he said, I would be good.

Being a very patient and kind-hearted fellow, he once again read my letter and proclaimed that it was fine.

One day a woman telephoned all in a stew. She had received a bad performance review after working at her company for 25 years. She was afraid this review was the beginning of the end. She had written a letter in response to her review and wanted to know if I would look at the letter. I said, “Sure, what’s your time frame?”

She said she thought she should respond by tomorrow. I said, “Fine, email it to me.” She said her email was down. She asked if she could just read the letter over the telephone.

As she got into the letter, it was obvious that it needed a good deal of work. I gave her a number of suggestions. I could hear that she was becoming annoyed with my suggestions, since each suggestion meant more work for her. I said I had to leave but I would call her later and we could work on it again. She said she would try again to email the letter.

I asked that she make the changes we had discussed. She agreed. Four hours later when I looked at the email, I found the changes had not been made. She had not worked on the letter. I could see that the letter was becoming my responsibility.

This all leads me to the following:

When you ask for feedback on a project, be appreciative. Understand that the feedback you get may be negative. Understand that it may mean more work for you. And keep in mind that the ultimate responsibility for the project is still yours. Don’t try to get the other person to do your work simply because he or she has noted some problems.

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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Deciding if you are setting yourself up for disaster.
Victim of circumstance or victim by design?

Mike lost his second-biggest account three months ago. Several weeks later, his 17-year-old son was involved in a serious car accident which resulted in two surgeries, a three-week stay in the hospital, and ongoing physical therapy. One morning on his way to the hospital, Mike’s car died in the middle of the highway. Adding stress to stress, the part the dealer ordered got lost in the mail. That same week a skunk made her home under his house and the pest people couldn’t seem to do much about it despite repeated tries. A few days later, Mike received a letter informing him that his septic tank is located on his neighbor’s property.

On listening to what befell Mike, one of his religious friends proposed that he was being tested. Another friend said, “What’s new? Everyone has chaos, and on a regular basis.” Someone else theorized that people often cause their own crises because they are bored or need an energy boost. Or they may make a crisis to avoid dealing with a more significant issue.

I’m not so sure about being tested. I tend to think catastrophes are random. It’s true, however, that we all seem to have one problem after another. And sometimes we subconsciously make ourselves into victims.

Take, for example, the guy who knows his roof has been leaking for a few years but does nothing until the water starts pouring in one rainy night. Or how about the woman who knows she has a tooth problem but does nothing until one day she finds herself in excruciating pain?

Mike certainly had nothing to do with his son’s accident. I can’t imagine how he might have invited the skunk problem. And the title search when he bought his house didn’t cover the septic tank. I do wonder what kind of warning Mike had that his car was about to give out, but the part being lost in the mail was out of his control.

Moving from Mike to yourself, what troubles, misfortunes, or disasters have befallen you recently? Name three or four.

Did you have any idea they were coming?

Are any of them partly of your own doing?

To avoid becoming a victim, run through the following list of actions. These forecast trouble. Check off any that you are guilty of.

-Driving too fast

-Not having savings to supply extra cash for emergencies

-Trying to provide too much for your children by buying them a car you really can’t afford, loaning them money when you yourself are strapped or signing up for too big a wedding

-Overspending on recreation, clothes, jewelry, home improvements

-Starting a house project when your life is already on fast-forward

-Not paying your quarterly taxes

-Stopping your blood pressure medicine because you feel fine and you don’t like taking it

-Not looking for another job when you know your present one is ending

-Ignoring your child’s poor school performance and his lack of respect for curfew

-Entertaining the idea of having an affair or actually having one

-Trying to wing a presentation or failing to study for a test

If you find yourself heading for trouble, change lanes, put on the brake, take a different route. Not all disasters can be avoided. But don’t be a victim by design.

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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When you let little irritations become a big issue, best rethink how to deal with them.

Some years ago a woman came to me because of her mother-in-law. She and her husband had been married for four years and had two small babies. The problem was that when her mother-in-law came for a visit, she would go through her daughter-in-law’s dresser drawers and medicine cabinet.

When the woman talked with her husband about what to do, he had shrugged and said his mom was just nosy and because his wife had nothing to hide, what did it matter?

Instead of confronting the mother-in-law head on, the wife had a lock put on her bedroom door. When the mother-in-law came over on Sundays, as she often did, the wife would simply lock the door.

Recently this daughter-in-law contacted me to help her deal with one of her teenaged daughters. During the session I asked, “Whatever happened with you and your mother-in-law, who used to rummage through your drawers?” The woman was surprised I remembered. I said her story was a bit unusual. She laughed, shrugged, and said everything was fine. Over the years her mother- in-law turned out to be a big help to the family, and as far as she knew, she had stopped going through the woman’s dresser drawers. In fact, she hadn’t used the lock in years.

Several hours later I got a telephone call from a friend who had a question. Apparently his friend is ready to give up a job he likes because of the engineer in the next cubicle. It seems that this engineer has a rather tumultuous relationship with his wife and argues on and off with her throughout the day. This same engineer kicks his wastecan rhythmically all day long. His fights and repetitive tapping are so irritating that my friend’s friend is seriously thinking about throwing in the towel.

My friend wanted to know if I had any solutions besides talking to the man, who was impossible to talk to, and going to his boss, who would think the problem petty.

I said I thought the friend had gotten himself sensitized to the man’s noises and he was attending to them instead of ignoring them. What he could do was to decide to focus on his work and learn to ignore the man in the next cubicle. It would take about six weeks of determined concentration, but it was possible.

Another option was for him to buy a white noise machine or humming fan which would help dull the racket. A third option would be to get earbuds and start listening to music as he worked.

My friend thanked me for the advice and said he’d pass it on.

The session with the woman followed by my friend’s telephone call got me to thinking. There are so many nuisance problems that come into our lives. Instead of making a big deal out of a problem and rushing to confront someone, often an adjustment in our own behavior would solve the problem.

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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When you are unable to get a good night’s sleep there is more than one solution to help overcome this issue.
How did you sleep last night?

One of the most frustrating problems that many people face is how to get a good night’s sleep. Some people can’t seem to fall asleep, while others fall asleep quickly but wake up two or three hours later and can’t get back to sleep.

If you don’t have a thyroid problem, sleep apnea, epilepsy, or a substance abuse problem, and if you’re not on any medication that disrupts sleep, you may be suffering from stress-induced insomnia.

Bill has been having trouble sleeping since he learned six months ago that his company is considering relocating. Because his wife has a good position with her company and his children are involved in their schools, he’s not sure what he’ll do if the company moves.

Bill can go to sleep, but several hours later he’s wide awake. He has, with some success, tackled the problem. When he wakes up, he doesn’t let his mind think of anything. Instead he concentrates on his breathing, slowly breathing in and out. By focusing on his breathing, Bill can sometimes fall back to sleep. If sleep alludes him, he gets up and reads. Around 5 AM he goes back to bed and finds that he can catch a few more hours of sleep before the alarm sounds. By having such a plan, Bill keeps his stress about not sleeping under control.

Sandy also has trouble sleeping. She, like Bill, is able to fall asleep. But a short time later she’s awake reviewing her upcoming divorce and thinking about how her husband left her for his secretary. No matter what she does, she can’t sleep. Sandy’s problem calls for a trip to her doctor to see if an antidepressant medication would help.

Marie thinks her insomnia is due to having too much to do. She works a full-time job and has three children under age seven. She rarely falls in bed before midnight, and then she’s so tired she can’t get to sleep. For Marie I’ve suggested not doing any chores after 10 PM. No matter what. By 11 she’s in bed with a magazine and cup of hot milk and by 11:30 she turns off the light. This routine is starting to pay off; Marie is reporting less trouble getting to sleep.

Additional ideas for getting a better night’s sleep:

-Exercise daily if possible. Some people who have sleep problems find it more helpful to exercise before evening sets in.

-Get up about the same time each morning. Even if you’re dragging from no sleep the night before, stay on schedule.

-Stay away from caffeine after lunch and alcohol after dinner. Caffeine interferes with getting to sleep and alcohol interferes with staying asleep.

-Avoid naps. This only throws your sleep pattern off further.

-Keep your room cool and covers light. When people get too warm, they wake up.

-Try a white-noise machine or a fan. Both help muffle barking dogs and late night honking horns.

-If you’re one of those people who always eats before going to bed, try a bowl of cereal, a glass of skim milk, toast with peanut butter or another carbohydrate.

-Never start a project like working on your tax returns or rearranging a closet an hour before bed.

-Don’t begin discussing important life issues like money, moving, or remoldeling before bedtime. Save these talks for the daylight hours.

-Develop a routine — a bath, a bowl of cereal, brushing and flossing teeth, prayers, a half-hour with your favorite book, and lights out.

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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Women frequently complain to their husbands and children about how much they do around the house vs. how much everyone else does. In turn, husbands and children defend by pointing out that they vacuum, do dishes, grocery shop, pay bills, and even scrub the floor.

So why does Mom keep complaining?

The reason so many women complain about all they do is that every home has numerous hidden chores that never make it onto someone’s chore list. But still, they must be done.

Here is a list of hidden chores. Next to each one write the initial of the person or people who most often do the task.

  1. Sorts through the mail and recycles all the junk mail.
  2. Periodically straightens the linen closet.
  3. Makes rags out of old clothing, cutting buttons off and tearing the clothes into
    rag size.
  4. Disposes of bad food, moldy cheese and rotten fruit from the refrigerator.
  5. Keeps the ice trays filled.
  6. Refills the toilet-paper holder.
  7. Picks up trash in the yard.
  8. Stops to pull a few big weeds that have sprung up among the shrubs.
  9. Replaces the light bulbs.
  10. Writes “light bulbs” and “dish detergent” on a shopping list.
  11. Stops by the grocery store for milk or bread.
  12. Bags up unused clothing and sees that it is passed on to the appropriate relative or organization.
  13. Collects and gives away old hangers that have accumulated.
  14. Sorts through old magazines and sees that they are recycled properly.
  15. Organizes the family games and puzzles and DVDs.
  16. Puts the photos in albums or boxes.
  17. Runs to the post office for stamps.
  18. Goes to the pet shop for fish filters, a dog chain or cat food.
  19. Waters and repots the house plants.
  20. Makes a run to the recycling center.
  21. Takes the family pet to the veterinarian and groomer.
  22. Picks up the dry cleaning.
  23. Sharpens the pencils around the house.
  24. Replaces empty tissue boxes in various rooms.
  25. Periodically sorts through the paper and plastic bags and telephone books and disposes of extras.
  26. Sorts and stores out-of-season clothes.
  27. Wipes smudges and heel marks off the doors.
  28. Sets up appointments with repair people and various contractors.
  29. Plants spring flowers and fall bulbs.
  30. Washes out the wastepaper baskets and trash cans.

If one of you has initialed more than your fair share, pass some of these chores on. When everyone shares household duties, family members appreciate each other more.

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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Three weeks ago Beth’s cousin telephoned to say she was coming through St. Louis and thought it would be fun to spend the weekend with Beth. Since the call, Beth has transformed a tiny junk room into a guest bedroom. She has painted and wallpapered the room and bought a bed, curtains, bedspread, and lamp. She has hung several pictures. She has washed the windows and blinds throughout the house, cleaned the kitchen cabinets inside and out, hung a new mirror in the bathroom, bought new dish towels and had all the rugs in the house cleaned. She has also put in several new rose­bushes and planted four flats of impatiens. Beth has three children and works full time.

Beth’s husband thinks she is being ridiculous. After all, the cousin will only be there for the weekend. Beth says she wants everything to look nice and, besides, she enjoys making things look pleasant.

A friend’s son graduated from college last year. Before the graduation party, she mortared the cracks in the foundation of the house and painted the front door. She bought hanging plants, and strung Chinese lanterns around the backyard. Three weeks before the party she decided to put in a brick patio. The day before the party she was still leveling some of the bricks. The party was great, but she was so tired she could hardly stay awake for it.

I must confess, the day of our son Paul’s graduation party, I went into one of the bathrooms to do a final check. I was already dressed for the party, and I saw a streak on the glass shower door. Without thinking, I grabbed a wash cloth, slipped off my heels, stepped into the shower, and wiped off the streak. All of a sudden I said to myself, “Get out of the shower, Doris. Stop cleaning.”

Why do people, mainly women, go to such extremes when they are having a party or out of town guests, or when their grown children come to visit?

One reason is that the anticipation of someone coming for a visit gives one energy — energy to do those extra cleaning and repairing and renovation chores.

Another reason is that many women’s self-esteem is tied up with how nice their house looks. Therefore they work hard to make everything right, so they will feel good about themselves.

A woman is also concerned about how others will view her home. If others see it clean and well manicured, they will respect her more, she thinks.

The way I see it, running around frantically a few weeks or a few hours before guests are to arrive is no different than going to the gym and working out like mad to lose weight before swimsuit season. Working out gives one energy. And a clean house like a firm body gives one self-esteem and respect.

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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