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12 posts from March 2006

March 31, 2006

RELATIONSHIP TIPS

Below are a few tips I have incorporated into my own relationships (Stay tuned for more in the future). These tips have served me well; I’m hopeful they will serve you well also.

Tip 1: If you are finding it difficult to give honest feedback to someone when they ask,
minimally be neutral about your response rather than lying.

Tip 2: Learn the art of repair. Own your mistake fully, apologize, ask if there is anything
you can do to repair it and don’t, know matter what, minimize, justify or
rationalize your behavior.

Tip 3: Listen like you truly care about what is being said. I promise the person speaking
will notice.

Tip 4: Treat all human beings with respect; treat those close to you with loving
tenderness.

Tip 5: Insure that your home is a safe haven for all who live there. If it is not, take steps
to make it so.

Challenge: Read over this list and choose the tip you struggle with the most and commit to taking two action steps that will strengthen this area.

March 29, 2006

BE AUTHENTIC (Cornerstone #6)

Speaking your truth is a wonderful gift. Be truthful in a compassionate, honoring way. Don’t hide it, sugar-coat it, or deny it. Just tell it. This cornerstone alone will transform your relationships.

I’m amazed at how often people don’t speak their truth in relationships. They will lie, pretend, try to be nice, ignore…do everything you can imagine, except tell their truth. While I understand why this happens, I continue to be surprised by the depth of this phenomenon.

Partners lie to each other about sex (of course it was great), money (my work paid for that computer), emotional intimacy (no I don’t feel distant at all - - I think we’re doing good) and much more. The irony is the very partner’s who are lying, are often the ones complaining that they don’t feel close to their partner. I’m not surprised since it’s hard to feel close to someone you’re not honest with.

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March 27, 2006

DATING: KEEPING THE SPARK ALIVE

Keeping the spark alive in a relationship takes hard work and perseverance. Throw children into the ring and it’s even harder. If we don’t keep our finger on the pulse, we can wake up one morning and realize our relationship’s been dead a long time.

The good news however, is it often takes a long time to lose the spark and a relatively short time to get it back. A little motivation, re-prioritizing and some scheduled time, can often do the trick - - or at least get you started on your way.

Getting started is key. If you have noticed that you and your partner have drifted then the first thing you need to do is talk about it. No big dialogue is necessary, just a short conversation about what you have noticed and how you would like to change things. Place the emphasis on what you want to do to fix it - - not what is wrong.

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March 24, 2006

THE IMPACT OF RAGE IN THE HOME OF A CHILD

Rage from a parent destroys a child’s soul. It infuses children with shame, fear, depression, and often more rage. Children raised in homes where anger is out of control, learn that love hurts. This sets them up for a lifetime of relationship struggles, much insecurity and often a lot of pain.

Anger that is out of control is terrifying to little children. It rocks their world. The child learns the world is a scary place and that the people who are supposed to love you the most, are the ones you need the most protection from. That’s a horrifying lesson for a child to learn.

If a parent rages one minute and the next minute is kind and loving - - that is crazy making to a child. Apologizing after every time you annihilate a child does not take away the pain you inflicted. The child knows the apology doesn’t mean anything because the parent continues to rage at them. The contrast just leaves the child feeling guilty for being angry with a parent s/he has every right to be angry at. Then the child turns this anger inward or onto others.

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March 21, 2006

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

A friend of mine once gave me this inspirational writing from Marianne Williamson as a gift. I have posted this in my office and have since read it many mornings to help center me. I hope you will find it as useful as I have…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented,
fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the
world.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel unsure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within
us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other
people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence
automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

Challenge: Read this speech every morning before you start your day. When you have a decision you are struggling to make due to fear - - read this to help guide you in your decision. And when you find yourself staying in a relationship because you believe it is better than being alone (which is fear) - - read this and realize you deserve more.

March 17, 2006

WE ARE OUR ACTIONS

WE ARE OUR ACTIONS
Emerson: “What you are thunders so that I cannot hear what you say”

I believe that we are our actions. We may talk well, present well and be well intentioned, but if our actions don’t line up with our words, our words are meaningless.

We can all speak a good game, but how many of us actually live what we speak? I know there have definitely been times when I got caught up in saying one thing, yet doing another.

Gossiping, for example, can trip me up. I strongly believe that gossiping is relationally damaging and I try my best to not get sucked in. However, when I am in a group of people who I don’t know very well, I struggle with this. On a good day, I am able to change the subject, turn the conversation to myself, or not get pulled in. On a bad day, I find myself doing things that encourage more gossip just to feel like I am a part of the group (laughing, asking questions, “Really, what did she say?” etc.).

While I am not proud of this, I believe it is fairly normal for us to get caught sometimes doing things that we say we don’t like, believe in, or want others to do. If this ever happens to you what are some tricks you use to get yourself back on track? With gossiping, (on a good day) I say, “I’m trying to not talk about other people, so can we talk about me?” This often leads to laughter and gets us off the gossiping…on a good day. What’s your trick?

Challenge: Take a moment to answer these questions: What are your words saying? Are they in line with your actions? If not, what move do you need to make to have them be more congruent with one another? Commit to make this move and note any changes in you or others.


March 15, 2006

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR BOYFRIEND PAYS MORE ATTENTION TO THE INTERNET THAN TO YOU?

My first question is what is he doing on the Internet? Is he doing work, looking at pornography, in chat rooms, playing video games, IM’ing someone or …? What’s keeping his attention?

It is becoming more and more common for people to come home from work, say hello and then go straight to the computer to do more work. They may start checking e-mails, finishing up “pressing” business, checking on ‘just one more thing’ and generally being unavailable to loves ones.

This happened with my husband and I, only both of us were doing work on the computer. One day I stopped and realized how distant we were becoming. I asked my husband if he had noticed and we both came up with a plan to reconnect. We agreed to have a half hour of uninterrupted conversation (no TV.) and only use computers if it was an emergency. We made the decision to put us before our computers. Now, as I write this, I realize we may need to have another talk… (Thank-you for the reminder).

So if your boyfriend or loved one is paying more attention to the internet than to you, and it is not pornography he/she is looking at, then your first step is to start with a conversation. Sit your partner down and let him/her know how his/her behavior is impacting you. Offer your partner a solution to the problem and see if he/she agrees to make a change.

Offering your partner a solution is important. Come up with two possible alternatives and ask him if he is willing to try one of them. This allows him a way to repair, and it gets out of the complain and blame game.

The worst thing you can do is say nothing while you steadily boil over with anger, resentment or hopelessness. You also don’t want to do the opposite and make biting comments every time he’s at the computer (I.e. “Oh, there you go again at that damn computer”). Remember to say it straight and ask for what you want.

Challenge: If there is something your partner is doing that is bothering you take a moment to come up with two possible solutions. Pick a time that is good for both of you to talk and then say it straight and ask for what you want.

Note: If it is pornography he is looking at, that topic will be in a future blog.

March 13, 2006

NEGOTIATING DIFFERENCES

Negotiating differences requires that we come from a why position rather than a what position. When we focus on what we want rather than why we want it, we are stuck with only two solutions, yours and mine.

If we choose either of these, one of us wins and one of us loses. This is great when I win. Not so great when I lose. Instead, if we pay attention to why it is we want what we want, then the door opens to a myriad of possible solutions.

In our house, I like a lot of light--the brighter, the better. My husband hates a lot of light. For the first several years of our marriage (I was a bit slow on the uptake), one of us was always a little less than satisfied. Some nights I would have the overhead light on while my husband cringed. Other nights he’d have the lamp on while I squinted.

This went on, until one day, we actually talked about why I wanted the overhead on and why he hated the overhead (this was a “light-bulb moment” for us--no pun intended).

We discovered that he was fine with more light. He just didn’t want the overhead light on because fluorescent lighting bothers his eyes. I was fine with not having the overhead light on, but one lamp was not enough light for me. Solution: we bought a second lamp and I make sure we use bulbs with maximum wattage.

We never would have come to this solution if we didn’t let go of what we wanted and instead looked at why we wanted it.

When we are struggling with our partner about an issue it is not helpful to continually restate what it is we want. Chances are our partner knew what we wanted the first six times we said it--saying it another six is not going to help clarify anything or change our partner’s mind. Our partner is not giving us what we want because--surprise--it’s not what s/he wants.

When we take a moment to step back a bit and let go of both solutions, we make room for a third one that is often better than the first two.

Challenge: The next time you and your partner are disagreeing about what you want remember to focus on the why. Step back and try to create a third solution--one that works for both of you.

March 08, 2006

In My Spin

Several years ago, I was in a friendship group with five other women. We had been meeting for well over a year. In this group we all committed to being authentic with one another--even when that meant difficult moments.

Throughout our time together, we had many inspiring, fun, and challenging conversations. All of us, at some point or other, had been on the “hot seat,” so we were fairly skilled at hearing difficult feedback and working through issues; until we got stuck.

Well, actually until I got stuck.

I held back some personal information from all but one of the group members, and this information impacted the entire group. The group tried to let me know how hurt they were by this and how they thought this was a bigger pattern in my life. The more hurt and anger they expressed, the more I told them they just didn’t understand.

I didn’t think they were being fair and I certainly didn’t think they were being empathic to my situation. So we got stuck. We got stuck in my believing they didn’t get how hard it was for me, and in them believing I didn’t understand how much my behavior hurt them and the group.

Today, several years later, I believe both views had merit. As much as I hate to admit it though, they were much more right on than I was. So why couldn’t I see it? Why did I hold so steadfast to my belief that they just didn’t “get it”? Simply put--I was in my spin. By “spin” I mean I was defensive and triggered and couldn’t let anything but my beliefs in. I was impenetrable.

I came from a family who believed in being strong and holding things close to your chest. For most of my life I got away with this. My friends would say, “That’s just Lisa, she doesn’t like to talk about what’s bothering her.” In this group however, I couldn’t get away with it anymore. You see, they believed that true intimacy requires mutual sharing (imagine that!). And they weren’t okay with me just being a good listener--they actually wanted a participant.

This experience taught me two lessons. The first lesson is about intimacy. I finally got what people meant when they said intimacy means “into me I see.” I understood that I have to share what is going on inside of me in order for true intimacy to happen (not an easy task for me). I realized that being a good listener was only half of the equation.

The second lesson I learned is that sometimes, no matter how hard we try to say things the right way or give examples to illustrate our point or reaffirm that we are saying this with love… it may not hit. The person may be in their spin and not able to hear it. I know I was in my spin that day, and even though all of them were my friends and all were saying the same thing--I just couldn’t hear it. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t healthy enough to take that information in and love myself at the same time. Instead, I hunkered down, walled off and protected myself.

Now I know my friends have my best interests at heart. I listen to what they say and take it in even if I don’t like it. I wish I had known that then…and was able to do it. If you can learn from this, I’m convinced it will save you much pain and accelerate your path of growth.

Challenge: If someone in your life is giving you feedback that is hard to hear--don’t just wall off and protect yourself. Take a step back and try it on for size. It may be the biggest gift you’ve ever given yourself.

March 06, 2006

Ask Lisa

Okay, today I've decided to try something new: I want to hear from you. Where are you struggling the most in your relationships? What topics would you like to hear more about? What relationship questions have you always wondered about but never knew who to ask? Ask me and I'll see if I can help. Let me know what you want more of and I'll do my best to incorporate them.
Challenge: Make a list of relationship issues or questions you'd like to hear about and add them to the comments on this post.

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