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Last week I talked about how to be a good house guest. This week it’s time to look at how to be a good host. Again, I gathered ideas from a number of people who have felt that their host needed a little schooling in the art of making people feel welcome.

Here are their tips:

*  Find out when your guests will arrive. Try to be home to greet them or let them know if you’ll be late. People sort of wonder if their hosts want them to visit if they have to sit and wait on the doorstoop until their hosts arrive.

*  If your visitors are flying in, pick them up at the airport if possible. If they come by car, keep a lookout, and when they arrive, go out to greet them.

*  When you meet, shake their hands. Give them a big hug. Ask how the trip went. Tell them they look great; you like their new hair-do, their shirt, their purse. Help them with their luggage.

*  When they come in your house, offer them something to eat and drink. Ask if they want to go to their room or sit and visit for a few minutes first.

*  When you show your visitors to their room, a small bouquet of flowers on the dresser goes a long way in making them feel welcome. Also make sure the room is tidy and has clean sheets, tissues, an alarm clock, and a night light. Show guests how the windows work. Have a section of the closet and several drawers ready for them to use.

*  Put clean towels in the bathroom and fresh soap. Some guests  bring their own toothpaste and hair dryers, but many don’t.  So it’s a good idea to have these items available.

*  Explain about house noises and your animals’ habits. “Sometimes our cat jumps up on the bed. Just push her off.”

*  If you have a chiming clock, stop it. You may not hear it chiming every fifteen minutes, but they will.

*  Offer some ideas for fun things to do throughout the week. Give visitors some ideas and ask them to make some choices. “I thought one day we’d rent bikes in town and go biking. Another morning we could play golf, eat lunch in the village, and then take the gondola up the mountain.” Also, ask them what they would like to do.

*  Before your friends arrive, ask what foods they like. Do they eat breakfast? What do they like for lunch?

*  Have the refrigerator stocked, and tell them to help themselves. Have fruit and juices and a fresh coffee cake or brownies ready to snack on. If you’re a tea drinker but you know they like coffee, have a coffee pot and coffee ready. Invite guests to feel free to make their own coffee in the morning.

*  If your friends are staying more than a few days, suggest some places they might like to go by themselves while you attend to your business. This gives  everyone time off to regroup.

*  If your guests have children, tell the youngsters your rules. “Please don’t mess with the fish tank. Don’t turn on the stereo without asking. Stay away from the dog next door.”

Also remember, even with the most compatible visitors, there will inevitably be a few tense moments. Expect them to occur and do some shrugging.

If you follow this list, your guests will feel welcome throughout their visit.

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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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Most people think they’re nice guys, but many are not.

A friend said he had volunteered to direct traffic for a religious function, and he was appalled at the behavior of the people driving into the parking lot.

“Mind you,” he said, “I was just a pawn doing what I was told to do by the people in charge of the traffic committee. My job was to hold up a sign that told people that the lot was full and they had to park farther away and take a shuttle bus.”

“One driver stopped and said, ‘I’m only going to be here for a few minutes.’ This was his excuse to be able to park in the nearer lot.

“Another said, ‘I have a fourth-grader.’ A lot of people had their children. Somehow having a fourth-grader was supposed to get the woman in the closer lot.

“One particularly nasty guy said, ‘Isn’t there room for just one small car?’ He was driving a sports car. I felt like saying, ‘Maybe for the car, but not your big mouth.’

“And I couldn’t believe the people who wanted to park in the handicapped spaces and volunteer spaces. It was amazing how obnoxious some of them were.

“When 7 or 8 cars would leave the closer lot, I was told to go ahead and let people park in the lot. I was really in hot water then. If someone who had parked in the far lot saw that people were being admitted into the closer lot, they walked up to me and demanded to know why they had to park in the far lot, like I had individually picked them out to persecute them. I kept thinking, ‘Who do these people think they are?'”

* * *

I recall a similar experience from my own parking attendant days when my daughter was in grade school. I was overseeing the high-schoolers who were directing the parking. A number of parents were determined to park in the fire lanes and bulldoze their way into a certain lot. I continually was telling the parents that these students were following instructions. It was a nightmare.

Several weeks ago I had this same experience in the doctor’s office. I had taken an aging relative for a second medical opinion. When the doctor walked in, he started telling the relative what she had and how she should treat it. Then he patted her on the knee and told her of course she didn’t have cancer.

She kept trying to interrupt to tell him why she had come, and he kept talking over her. He did not want to hear her symptoms, and he was not going to listen. I finally stepped in and asked if he had seen the woman’s medical record or had talked with her doctor. He said no one had sent him anything. Then I explained why we were there and why we wanted a second opinion. He somewhat backed down after I pushed him to listen to her symptoms, but his arrogance was noted throughout the entire visit. Despite his reputation, he ruined it by not being responsive to his patient.

If asked the question, “Who do you think you are?” what would your answer be? If it’s, “I’m a nice person,” I suggest you act that way in all circumstances.

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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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Life is filled with hurts. Why hold onto the hurts of the past when dropping them gives you so much more room to love.
This week who will you forgive?

A parent who failed to say you were a worthwhile person or pretty or smart? A mother-in-law who betrayed you? A manager who let you go instead of a less productive co-worker? A boss who made promises but never kept them? A husband who was unfaithful? A girlfriend who left you? A child who has brought misery to the family? A doctor who refused to listen and caused needless suffering? An unscrupulous person who has cost you thousands of dollars? A neighbor who’s been downright mean? A relative who can’t seem to stop putting you down? Who will you choose to forgive?

How will you go about the process of forgiveness?

Sometimes trying to get into the other person’s shoes is helpful.

The neighbor who’s caused you pain — is he fearful that someone will take advantage of him, cost him money or time? Perhaps too many people have been mean to him, and his surliness and anger have become his defense. Might you say, “I forgive him” and then extend the olive branch? Maybe your olive branch will be a smile or dropping off a pan of brownies you happened to bake.

When your husband betrayed you, indeed he was taking care of himself, caught up in his own egotism. You did not cause his betrayal. Nevertheless, think about whether you might have done something to be a better wife. Were you too critical and always expecting more from him, raising the bar? Did you push him away emotionally and physically because you were caught in your own world as he became caught in his.

The friend who’s jealous — does she feel inadequate in comparison to you? How have you tried to shore her up? What would make her feel good about herself? Raining on your parade is only a symptom of her insecurities.

Sometimes it’s easier to forgive hurts when you think of the good the other person has done through the years.

When I find myself angry and hurt because of some perceived or real injustice, I’ll take a piece of paper and run a line down the center. In one column I write the caring things I’ve seen the other person do. In the second column I’ll write her transgressions. Having a different perspective, seeing reality, makes forgiving easier.

Perhaps when you think of forgiveness, you’ll find you need to forgive yourself. Maybe when you were a child you stole something and blamed it on someone else. For years you’ve carried the burden of guilt. Is there anyone you can tell your story to and then forgive yourself?

Perhaps in your business you’ve taken financial advantage of others and excused yourself by saying, “It was good business.” How could you make amends to those people you’ve hurt financially and emotionally? How will you rectify your past behavior? Who might you call and apologize to? Once you’ve made restitution, it becomes easier to forgive yourself.

A great cause of suffering is holding onto old hurts and the pain they bring when we think about them. By choosing to forgive, you choose to let go of your own pain.

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