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Posts Tagged ‘self-help’

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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If you are always trying to change the bad habits of the person you are dating, maybe it’s time to move on to someone else.

A woman came for therapy because she had just learned that her boyfriend of several months was still involved with his old girlfriend.

When I asked what she wanted from therapy, she said, “I want the guy to give up his girlfriend and commit to me.”

Since I wasn’t sure if her goal was in her best interest, I asked if she would tell me more about this man as well as her dating history with other men. I learned she had been married twice. Her first husband left her for another woman, and she left her second husband because he was an alcoholic. She then had a long-term relationship with a man who was always on the verge of bankruptcy. “I got fed up with paying all the bills,” she said, “so one day I kicked him out.”

After talking with her about her past relationships, I said my best advice was for her to explore why she kept getting involved with men who left her, either emotionally or physically. I also thought another goal of therapy should be that she would come to like and respect herself enough to move away from any relationship that spelled trouble.

Her situation reminded me of a woman I had seen several months previously. She had come to therapy because she wanted to straighten out a man she had recently met. He had stood her up for their first date and was a half hour late for the second date. Her goal was to teach him to be more responsible. Here, too, my advice was to drop the guy, spend her energies learning to like herself more, and look for a healthier relationship with someone who didn’t discount her.

Certainly when you’re looking for a mate and find someone that you’re attracted to, it’s tempting to ignore the obvious. But pursuing a relationship that is probably bound for disaster is not in your best interest. Here are some danger signs to watch for:
* He’s heavily in debt.

* He can’t hold a job.

* She drinks too much.

* She has no friends.

* He’s rude to the waitress, the car mechanic, the store clerk.

* He’s always finding fault with others or with you.

* He flirts with other women which drives you crazy.

* She’s possessive, wants all of your time, and tries to exclude your friends and family.

* She lies.

* He has a bad temper.

* He’s a sports addict and you hate sports.

* He’s Mr. Frugal and you like to spend.

* You want children and he wants no part of them.

* She has a child by a previous marriage and you dislike this child.

* He’s a slob and you’re a neatnick.
Do yourself a favor. If you’re dating someone and there are signs that you’re headed for difficulties, move on. Don’t get hung up with trying to change the person. Remember that no matter how eager you are to find a fulfilling relationship, “the light you see at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming train.”

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

Some years back 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 some ear buds 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.

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Learn to put limitations on your whining. Whining can be acceptable in some situations, but your friends and family don’t want to listen to it forever.
We’re told we’re a nation of whiners. True. But is it good to whine? Does whining have any value?

Yes, some of the time. Suppose you’re overwhelmed at work and then your boss asks you to attend a meeting for him. A little whining to a co-worker may be all you need to dissipate your irritation before you gear up for the meeting.

If you lose a job or find your mate has been having an affair, initially you’ll cry, squeal and yelp. It hurts! As the weeks go by, you’ll probably settle into a steady whine. Eventually you’ll move to an on-again, off-again whine.

Whining phrases include: “I can’t believe he did this to me.” “Why does this always happen to me?” “I can’t stand it.” “People are stupid.” “Doesn’t anyone give a darn?” “Nobody’s trustworthy.” “I could lie down and die and nobody would notice.” “Life’s crummy.” “I’m so tired of this whole thing.”

Note that most of these phrases place the whiner in a victim position. The whiner feels at that moment in time that he has little control over his life and what other people are doing.

If you have a mate or friend who’s a whiner, here are some tips. Start by listening. Listen for 5 minutes and make a few sympathetic comments such as, “That’s awful…I can see why you’re upset…It’s frustrating.”

After 10 minutes, you might make a suggestion as to what the person could do differently. Or ask if there is anything you can do. If you get nowhere, try switching to another topic. For example, to your friend you might say, “Well, how are your other children doing?” Or, “How do other people in your department cope?” To your mate you might suggest, “Let’s have a nice dinner in spite of….” Or, “Let’s have a nice evening. Why don’t we start by going for a walk.”

How much whining should you allow yourself? It depends on the situation. With a major problem such as a layoff or a cheating spouse, feel free to whine an hour a day. But do it in your head. If you’re whining aloud to a family member or friend, a half-hour goes a long way. If the problem is ongoing, for example, you have a difficult boss or difficult child, allow yourself a maximum of 10 minutes of whining. After 10 minutes, make yourself change the focus of the conversation. Ask the other person what’s going on in her life. What happened with her today?

Another suggestion: Get up and do something physical. Sweeping a floor, taking out the trash, or sorting mail will change your focus of attention.

Everyone who whines, and most of us do from time to time, should keep track. If your whining is on the increase, perhaps there is something you need to change in your life. Also, play a game with yourself. Decide that Wednesdays and Saturdays are no whine days.

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Sometimes being a Procrastinator keeps you in charge of  situations, but it won’t be to your advantage.

George came to see me for therapy because he wanted to know why he’s a procrastinator.

I started by asking in what areas he procrastinates. He smiled and said, “In most areas.”

George procrastinates at work, he doesn’t turn in reports on time. He doesn’t fill out his expense reports. Once the company he was working for withheld his paycheck until he got all his cases up-to-date.

George procrastinates at home. He promises to do chores and then puts them off. He waits until the last minute to pay the bills.

I asked George if he had any idea why he procrastinates.

He said, “I always have. When I was in grade school, my mother had to push me to do my homework. In high school it was the same. I always waited until the last minute.”

I asked George if he saw how procrastinating might be serving him?

He thought one advantage was the rush he got when he was up against it and absolutely had to get something done.

“Any other advantages,” I wondered?

He couldn’t think of any.

I pointed out a few:

-When George procrastinates and someone else is waiting for him to do something, he has their attention. This attention may come in the form of nagging and nudging, but it’s attention.

-He has control since others often can’t complete their work until he does the task he’s putting off.

-He can play good guy/bad guy which adds to the drama of his life. When he doesn’t do something he knows he needs to do, he takes the bad guy role. When he performs the task, he becomes the good guy.

-He can get out of doing undesirable tasks.

-He fears failure. If he puts a task off, he doesn’t really have to test his ability to succeed.

I could go on listing the whys of procrastinating, I told George, but hunting for the whys can be another form of procrastinating.

Instead, I suggested we make a list of things George is currently putting off, look at them as problems to be tackled, and do some problem solving.

Concerning his incompleted reports, George decided to get to work a half-hour earlier each morning and do all necessary paperwork before he allows himself to have his second cup of coffee or return any telephone calls, two things he enjoys doing.

With regard to paying the bills at home, George decided to let his wife take over the job. She has wanted to pay the bills because then the bills would get paid on time, but George has always assumed he should be the one to pay them.

Concerning cleaning out the garage and removing the leaves from the gutters, George agreed to hire someone within the next week. He promised not to put off the hiring. In fact, he said, “It would be a pleasure to farm these chores out.”

Concerning starting an exercise program, George decided to bag the idea until next year, at which time he’ll reevaluate.

I suggested that instead of thinking of himself as a procrastinator, he look at the task he’s putting off as a problem that needs to be solved. He should then figure out two or three ways of tackling it.

P.S I’ve seen George one time since his initial visit and he’s no longer putting off what he needs to do.

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A stepmother went to pick up her stepson several weeks ago at school. When the stepson came out to get in the car, he wasn’t wearing a coat. At that time the temperature was 15 below zero with a wind chill factor of 35 below. It was the coldest day of the year.

As the child climbed into the car, the stepmother asked, “Where is your coat?” The stepson explained that his mother wouldn’t let him wear his coat because she was sure that he would leave it at his father’s and stepmother’s house, and she didn’t want that to happen.

With this piece of information, the stepmother started yelling about this kid’s crazy mother. She then got on the telephone and told the boy’s father what a jerk the mother was. As soon as the father got off the telephone with his wife, he called his lawyer and repeated the story. The lawyer responded, and I quote, “This borders on criminal neglect.” The lawyer then proposed to write threatening letters to this neglectful mother as well as to her lawyer.

That night while the stepmother was stewing about her stepson not having a coat, she decided to run out and buy him a new coat in his favorite colors. She certainly did not intend to be a neglectful parent.

The following morning was Satur­day. Dad took his son to the gym. And behold, the shivering boy just happened to be looking through the lost-and-found articles and found the coat that his mother was unwilling to let him take to his father’s and stepmother’s house.

Smartly the boy confided in his father that he had found his coat. The father now had to quickly call off the lawyer before he sent the letters proclaiming “criminal neglect.”

The moral of this story:

*   Look before you leap

*   Don’t jump to conclusions

*   Think before you act

*   Sleep on it

*   Everything is not always as it seems.

 

 

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When my mother-in-law got to be in her seventies, her eyesight started failing. As the years went by, it became impossible for her to read or see television or even make out the faces of those around her. Whenever we had a celebration of some type and I’d invite her to come and be a part of it, she would ask how many people were going to be at the house.

Because she could barely see, it was hard for her to sit at our dining room table with 10 or 12 other people talking and laughing and figure out what was going on.

She didn’t complain much about her failing eyesight, but I knew it was devastating. She started listening to the radio more and more. She rarely turned on the television. She stopped buying the newspaper and magazines. When she needed to pay her bills, my husband or I would sit down with her and put our finger on the checks where she should sign her name. We got her a microwave oven and glued fuzzy velcro on some of the buttons so she could heat up a cup of coffee.

She still kept a few violets on the window sill, although I doubt if she could really see them. She also would go to the window with a plant and hold it up to the light to try to see it.

The most touching moments I remember were when our daughter would go to visit her, which was several times a week. She would give Anna Mary a hug, ask, “How’s my sweet little girl?” and then take her to the window where perhaps she could make out her face.

Not long ago, I had an experience that reminded me of my mother-in-law. A friend, whose mother was in her late eighties called and asked if I would talk with her mother. The mother was losing her eyesight and was feeling depressed. I said I would try to help.

The daughter sat in the waiting room while I talked to the mother about losing her sight and how her world was changing.

As we were talking, this woman suddenly said, “I don’t know if it’s the light in this room, but I can sort of make out your face.” And then she said, “Do you think my daughter could come in here and sit where you are sitting? Maybe I could see her.”

I immediately went to the waiting room and got my friend. She sat down in the chair I had been sitting in, and her mother tried to see her face. The mother had her daughter shift the chair one way and then another. Sadly, no matter how she strained to see, she could not see her daughter.

I’m sharing these stories today so you will take the time to look at your children and grandchildren.

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