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Posts Tagged ‘problem’

Let’s draw a trouble tree today. 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 one of my friend’s branch I would hang the following miseries:

–  Son has learning difficulties

–  Oldest daughter has weight problem

–  Husband left her for another woman

–  Basement floods periodically

–  New car continues to break down.

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

–  Death of son

–  Two divorces

–  Diabetes

–  Miscarriage

–  Mother’s health problem.

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.

 

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Don’t get caught in a cyclone of overspending – exercise some control in your life.

I’m seeing a couple in therapy who went on three vacations this past year — Hawaii, Colorado, and Florida — and they can’t pay their bills. They are maxed out on most of their credit cards, and they have gotten into the rut of using one card to pay another. She has student loans from years ago, and he owes his parents, his friends, his dentist, his doctor, and the plumber.

When I confronted them about their overspending and asked why they are now planning to go skiing, they both became indignant. She said they work hard, really hard, and they deserve it. He said he needs vacations because his job is so stressful.

I said they were creating more stress by adding to their bills. They said I was wrong and I didn’t understand.

I asked, “What if one of you loses his or her job?” His response, “We’ll get another.” She nodded in agreement.

I asked, “What about your doctor, and dentist, and the plumber? When will they get paid?”

She assured me they would get their money.

I said I doubted it because from my vantage point, I saw bankruptcy. Both of them shrugged, and I could see I was making no headway. Neither of them was going to stop spending.

How about you? Do you need to put the brakes on your spending? If so, there’s no time like now, today, immediately.

One of the best and first things to do: Figure out what you can afford to spend above and beyond your fixed expenses. Set a number, be it fifty, a thousand or two thousand a month. If you’re on the $50 plan and you want something that cost $100, this means you wait two months before purchasing the item.

A second tough task: Figure how much you are in debt with charge cards, home improvement loans, doctor bills, second mortgages, and loans from friends and relatives. Now figure out how many months or years it will take you to pay off these bills. If you’re in debt $11,000 and you can afford to pay off only $300 a month, it will take you more than three years to pay off this debt. An eye-opening exercise to be sure.

Now come up with a list of excuses you use for spending money, like those of the couple I discussed earlier. Here are some favorites:

I deserve it. I work hard.
We’ll go on a budget after we decorate the house.
My husband doesn’t watch what he spends, why should I?
Life is boring if you can’t shop or go on a vacation.
Hey, it’s on sale.

Next agenda item: What is the underlying reason you spend more than you can pay for? Do you use going to the mall and spending as a form of entertainment, a way to relax, or rid yourself of anxiety for a few hours? If so, discipline yourself. Allow yourself to go to a store only when you truly need something, not when you want something. For entertainment and relaxing, hit some tennis balls, try a walk with a friend, go to a movie, or read a book.

If spending makes you feel better, what feel-good substitute can you come up with? How about visiting an old friend, making a special dinner, doing your nails, or working out?

Next on your to-do list: Write out what you really need. Include those items you feel are essential. Maybe a new toaster is in order because last week your toaster died. But can’t you wait another few weeks for that toaster? And do you really need another pair of earrings, another jean jacket, and another sweater? How much do you really need?

If you’re a compulsive shopper, ask a friend to help you break this addiction. Write down everything you buy in a week, and give her your list. Writing the items down will make you more aware and more accountable for your spending. Or make a pact that you won’t go to any stores for six months. For groceries, ask someone else to do it. You in turn can watch their kids.

Read the book Your Money or Your Life. It lays out a great plan if you are really serious about not continuing to overspend.

Remember the old advertisement, “Buy now and pay later”? Unfortunately it’s true.

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“Be willing to assist your child, but be careful not to over assist or to take over.” 

After reading this quote, think back to when you gave your child too much help– coloring his pictures, cleaning his room, typing his papers, actually doing her science project.

Now think about the present. Are you rescuing too much? Do you need to back off some, and if so, how will you do this?

 

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Parents: Stop the arguing, lecturing and explaining yourself over and over. Such behaviors on your part are non-helpful and non-productive.

If your child is a preschooler, avoid eye contact. In other words, don’t look at her. Instead, give her a nice pat on the shoulder or back. If you’re sitting, you can even lay her over your lap and give her a backrub. This gives attention without interrupting your telephone conversation.

If your child is older and keeps interrupting, simply turn your back. Don’t stop your conversation and have a conversation with her. Children need to learn to wait, be patient, and to respect others.

Suppose your child is having a “bad hair” day. You can hear her in the bathroom stamping and whining and saying she hates her hair. In this instance, do nothing. Don’t go in and suggest that her hair looks fine, or how she might wear it differently. It’s her problem; do not make it yours.

What if you ask your child to do something, such as carry in the groceries, and he refuses? If you don’t have anything that needs refrigerating, let the groceries sit. Tell him you expect him to bring them in before he eats, goes out to play or watches television. Then let it drop. It won’t be long before he brings in the groceries. Once they’re in the house, thank him and inform him that the next time he refuses to do something, there will be a consequence. Don’t get into a lecture, simply lay it out matter-of-factly.

It’s rare to find a child who doesn’t shout, “I hate you” when he’s not getting his way. When he delivers this message, don’t tell him, “You’ll be sorry,” or “I don’t like you so much either.” Simply walk away. Disengage. When he calms down, he’ll most likely backpedal and tell you he’s sorry. If he doesn’t, you should bring the issue up by saying, “The next time you don’t get your way or you’re upset with me, I except you to control yourself and not yell that you hate me.”

If your child asks you to drive her to the mall, and you don’t want her to go to the mall, or it doesn’t fit with your time schedule, tell her, “No, not today.” If she presses, and she probably will, tell her no again. If she tries to engage you in a discussion regarding why not, you might choose to give her your reasons, but don’t get into a long discussion or a shouting match. Repeat firmly your original stance, “I’m not willing to drive you to the mall.” Then walk away.

Talk to any parents and you’ll hear them moan and groan about their child’s messy room. Some parents have dealt with this issue by stating, “As long as the mess stays on her side of the door, I can live with it.” Other parents believe it is their right and responsibility to expect some semblance of order.

If you’re part of the latter group, you do have leverage. Such statements as “no television or computer until you clean your room,” “no rollerblading with your friends until you clean your room,” and “no car until you clean your room ” do bring results.

When your child hits you with that famous moan, “But, it’s not fair,” meaning it’s not fair that he has to empty the dishwasher instead of his sister, or that he has a curfew, don’t get into a debate about who does what or what his friends’ parents think. Say nothing. Or say, “We’re not talking fairness. Empty the dishwasher, Bobby.” Or, “We still expect you home by 11:30.”

Arguing or lecturing or explaining is not necessary with these issues. Be firm, keep your responses short and simple, and keep your temper out of it.

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How two friends put their bad feelings aside and grew in love.

I lost my friend Mark to cancer a couple of months ago.

I liked a lot of things about Mark — his soft-spoken manner, his easy laugh, his sense of adventure, his willingness to try new things, his zest for life. But above all, the thing I admired most was Mark’s ability to let go of a hurt and move on.

Mark had a friend named Bill, and every so often the two of them would get together for lunch. One day when they were to meet, Bill never showed. So Mark had lunch alone.

The sad thing was that when Bill realized he had missed lunch, he failed to call his friend and apologize. So Mark was a bit miffed.

When Mark saw Bill, he said, “Say, Bill, what happened to our lunch?”

Bill shrugged and said he had forgotten.

Mark said, “But you didn’t call.”

Bill replied, “Yeah, I know, but I got busy.”

With that brush-off, Mark said, “Well, I’m angry about that. You should have called.”

Again Bill defended his actions.

At this point I could see things weren’t headed in a happy direction, so I jokingly said, “Okay, you two. You guys know you love each other. So Bill, tell Mark, ‘I love you, Mark.'”

Bill looked at me a little askance (men don’t say “I love you” to their friends). Then he got this big childlike grin on his face and said, “I love you, Mark.”

Without hesitation, Mark smiled and said, “I love you, Bill.” And the incident was over. From that moment on, I believe Mark never looked back on that missed engagement.

Addendum: Over the next year as Mark was struggling with his illness, Bill would frequently say, “I love you, Mark.” Mark would get a grin on his face and respond, “I love you, Bill.”

Doris Wild Helmering, The Blog Counselor

Topic Tags:  blog counseling, CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, Doris, Doris Wild Helmering, forgiveness, how to move on after someone hurts you, letting go of a hurt or disappointment, love, loving act of frogiveness, problem, psychotherapist, self-help, solution, St. Louis, the blog counselor

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Ways to Control Jealous Feelings :

Jenny  told met she was at her friend’s house looking through old pictures when she came across an old photo of her husband and another woman. “Instantly I felt jealous,” she said. “I thought, ‘Who is that, an old girlfriend? And why does she have her arms around my husband?'” On closer look she realized the picture was actually one of her and her husband five years earlier.

As we talked, Jenny confessed that she has always struggled with jealousy. When she walks into a room, she is most conscious of how the other women look and how she herself compares. If she decides that someone is more attractive or has on a better looking outfit, her joy disappears. “I can be ever so happy, but then I see someone who I think looks better than me, and instantly I feel envious,” she confessed.

Unfortunately many people silently struggle with feelings of jealousy. “Telling someone you’re angry or unhappy is one thing,” said Bill, a fellow I’m seeing in therapy, “but telling them you’re jealous of their position or their wife — this is not something you’re going to find too many people willing to admit to.”

Why does jealousy consume some, whereas others seem to revel in the success of their friends? This less-than-admirable feeling of jealousy may actually be the result of what went on between siblings years earlier.

Once you reach the ripe old age of a year and a half, you’re already aware of what’s happening in your family. You know who gets the lion’s share of positive attention. You’re aware of whom your folks favor. If it isn’t you, you’re likely to feel hostile. Instead of directing those negative feelings toward your parents, however, you direct them to your sibling. Why? Because you want your parents to recognize and love you and being angry at them would be self-defeating.

Another factor is the way you were disciplined as a child. If you were disciplined more harshly than your brother and sister, you may have hostile and jealous feelings toward the siblings who were handled more gently.

Comparing of children also leads to jealousy. If Tommy is held up as the smartest, and Daniel is told he’s the best athlete, each is likely to become jealous of the other if an attribute they value is ascribed to their sibling.

With regard to Jenny, the woman who was jealous of herself, we traced her jealousy to what happened in her family. Her mother tried to make everything equal between her and her younger sister. Equal time, equal presents, equal number of chores, equal number of kisses and hugs. Following their mother’s lead, the girls got into comparing. Once this way of thinking was established, this woman expanded it to comparing herself to everyone.

The way I worked with her was to have her make a list of people she admired. She was to include her sister, three co-workers, three friends, and three famous people. The next step was for her to write down the ways she was better and the ways she was not as good as all ten of these people. With the celebrities, she had to read up on their lives.

What she learned was that every person is in some way better and in some way not as good as every other person. To dwell on the better and less was a waste of time, however, and often leads to bad feelings.

I told her also, “When you start to think competitively, say to yourself, ‘Don’t go that way, because if you do you’re defeating yourself.'”

Happily, she was able to act on this advice. She is no longer consumed with comparing herself to others, and as a result, she rarely feels jealous.

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When your mate retires, expect change, and expect to adjust your life style.

Her husband has been retired for a year, and she’s ready to go back to work.

“Since he’s retired he thinks he has first rights to the telephone. He thinks he should be able to make his telephone calls first. If one of my friends calls early in the morning and wants to talk, heaven forbid. If I’m talking and he wants to use the telephone, he motions for me to get off. If that doesn’t work, he passes me a note or holds up a sign.

“Last week when I was out, he rearranged my dishes and spice rack. Then he tells me how much more efficient his arrangement is than the one I’ve been using for the past 37 years!

“If one of my friends stops by for a visit, he participates in our conversation. If I say, ‘We’re going out on the patio,’ he says, ‘I’ll join you.’

When he invites himself I think, ‘Go make your own friends.’

“Because he has more time since he’s retired, he’s always wanting me to invite our children over for dinner. Or he wants me to have friends for dinner and cards. I like our children and friends, but I’m the one who gets stuck with the preparation and most of the clean-up. And I get tired.

“When I go to the grocery store, he wants to go along. Yesterday I was picking out some strawberries, and he said, ‘They look bad.’ So I didn’t buy them, but I thought they looked perfectly fine. When I was getting the broccoli he said, ‘We haven’t had cauliflower in a long time.’ I knew what he was saying. ‘Get cauliflower instead of broccoli.’

“If I go outside to garden, he tells me to come in and take a rest or come in and have lunch. He is not respectful of my routine.

“I was signing up for a course at the botanical garden. When he heard me on the telephone he said, “Sign me up, too.” When I got off the telephone, I thought, ‘I’m getting myself a job.'”

This couple is suffering through a period of adjustment. She’s used to organizing and running the home, having the house to herself part of the time, and deciding her own schedule.

Her husband is probably lonely for companionship and hasn’t figured out how to handle all the additional hours he has recently gained with retirement. Because of his need for interaction and time structure, he’s coat-tailing on his wife’s schedule. It also seems he’s trying to run his wife’s life.

I suggest that this couple decide who is going to run what show. Perhaps he will start being responsible for the cooking on Tuesday and Thursday nights. If he hasn’t cooked in the past, he can sign up for a cooking course. This will give him contact with more people and a new interest and will help fill his time.

I also think a revision of who does what chores around the house is appropriate at this stage.

As to his desire to visit with his wife and her friends, the wife needs to hold steadfast to not always having him join them. This may mean that she will have to gently confront him when he says he’ll accompany them. She might say, “Tom, we need to have some girl talk.”

When a man or even a woman retires, it’s a period of adjustment for many couples. The main thing is for both people to figure out how they would like to live their life on a daily basis and then make a plan. Without a conscious plan, many relationships suffer the retirement blues.

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