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6 posts from July 2006

July 28, 2006

CLEANING UP YOUR RELATIONSHIP CLOSET

A friend was telling me a story about her daughter. She said her daughter had a friend who lived in her neighborhood and went to her school. When the two were at home, her friend was nice to her and fun to play with. When they were at school, this friend was consistently mean to her.

One day my friend’s daughter decided she’d had enough. She told her “friend” that she didn’t like the way she treated her at school. She said that if her friend wasn’t nicer to her at school, than she would no longer play with her at home.

Following this conversation, this friend would come over almost every day, knock on the door, and ask if my friend’s daughter wanted to play. My friend would ask her daughter who would invariably reply, “No thank you.” This went on for three months. Finally one day when the neighbor came over to ask to play, the answer was yes. When her mom asked her what happened, she said that her friend was nicer to her at school.

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July 25, 2006

DO YOUR LOVED ONES ADD TO YOUR LIFE?

This past week I’ve been with my sister who’s going through breast cancer treatment. It has reminded me of the importance of being surrounded by people who fuel you.

My sister has been blessed to have so much love and support, it has been a gift to watch. Experiencing this with her has led me to think of all the people who don’t have that in their life.

So many people are struggling in relationships that are abusive, emotionally draining, hurtful, or just plain cold. It’s not enough. We all deserve to have love in our life—love that nourishes and soothes. If we don’t have it, then perhaps it’s time to make some changes. Take a moment to think about the people in your life. Do your loved ones add to your life, take away from your life, or simply exist in your life?

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July 21, 2006

WHAT IF MY PARTNER WON’T AGREE TO COUPLES WORK?

I’ve received several calls from individuals wanting to do couples coaching or couples intensives. There was only one problem; their partners didn’t.

Inevitably they all asked me the same question: What do I do if my partner refuses to come? The answer to this depends on how important couples work is to you, what the state of your relationship is, and how determined you are to work on changing this relationship.

If your relationship is good and you would just like to fine tune a couple of things, then you have to decide if you can do this via a different outlet or not. Perhaps your partner would be willing to do workshops but doesn’t want to try coaching or therapy.

If your relationship is struggling and you are very unhappy, then just “asking” your partner to work on the relationship may not be enough. If you are unhappy you’ve talked about it countless times over the year or years, and nothing has changed, chances are nothing will change without outside intervention. So now the question becomes: Can you stay in this relationship as is for the next 10 years? Or not? If no, then you need to be honest with your partner.

Let your partner know directly that you are unhappy with certain things in this relationship. Be clear that if things don’t change that you will grow more and more distant and resentful. Do not state this one day and then every other day act as if you are happy. That will water down your message and confirm to your partner that couples work is not truly necessary.

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July 18, 2006

RELATIONSHIP BLINDERS

It’s amazing how we trick ourselves into not seeing what we see. We will rationalize, make excuses for, or disassociate from aspects of our relationship that we don’t want to acknowledge.

Whether it’s pushing down that knowing feeling that our partner’s cheating, or the realization that our partner truly doesn’t treat us well, it’s all the same denial. We can tell ourselves s/he’s tired, stressed, struggles with intimacy, had a tough childhood, or a number of other excuses. But the bottom line is: something’s not right. The challenge is: will we allow ourselves to see that?

Sometimes the thing we’re pushing down is subtle and more of a wake-up call than an emergency flare. Perhaps we’ve been more busy than usual and when we slow down to check in we realize we feel distant from our partner. If we allow ourselves to take this in, it’s easy enough to fix. This was just life throwing us a curve ball. As long as we allow ourselves to see what we see, we can get back on track.

There are other times, however, when the thing we’re pushing down isn’t just a subtle wake-up call. It’s a huge red flare. This flare can be right in the center of our relationship and we pretend it’s not there.

If you’re a person who’s wearing blinders in your relationship, it’s time to take them off. If your partner’s snapping at you for no reason, again and again, s/he’s not stressed—s/he is belligerent and argumentative. If your partner’s not coming home until 1:00 in the morning due to “work,” s/he’s not a good worker—s/he minimally has poor boundaries and likely is having an affair, or looking for one to happen. If your partner blames you for his/her affair, s/he is not remorseful—s/he is untrustworthy and likely to have another.

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July 07, 2006

THE POWER OF OUR "SHADOW" (Personal & Relational Growth)

For those of you who are serious about personal and relational growth I have found a great book. The author is Debbie Ford and the title is “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.” Her writing is clear, concise, and enlightening.

The book looks at our “shadow”, the concept of projection and letting your light shine. It is about bringing to light the part of us that keeps us stuck: our “shadow”. Our “shadow,” she explains, is comprised of all the parts of us that we hate, are embarrassed by, ashamed of, or in denial about. Jung first used the term “shadow” and believed that the shadow “is the person you would rather not be.”

The problem with our shadow is that if we don’t embrace it and own it, it will take a lead role in our lives. Debbie had a great quote in the book to stress this point: “What you resist, persists.” The more we are in denial about those parts of ourselves that are unattractive, non-relational and sometimes downright ugly, the more these parts will run us. Our partners will be aware of them, as will our family and friends, but we will go to our death bed denying them. This denial gives them more power. As long as we choose to stick our head in the sand regarding our shadows, they will continue to run and ultimately ruin our lives.

I could go on forever about this book, however Debbie is the author so I will let her share her insights with you. I strongly recommend this book. I often talk about our “edges” and try to normalize that we all have them. This book goes hand in hand with this thinking I believe. The more we can look at our dark side, imperfections, less than attractive traits or whatever other term you want to use, the healthier we can become. The healthier we become, the healthier our relationships become. So take a look at this book, begin to work on your shadow, and watch what happens.

Challenge: Purchase the book “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” and begin a journey of personal growth that will minimally be enlightening and perhaps even change your relationships and your life. Work the exercises and be open to all aspects of yourself.

July 03, 2006

BUILDING A STRONG RELATIONSHIP FOUNDATION

This weekend my husband went away for a night to a friend’s wedding. He and a friend left early on Friday. When I returned home later on Friday, my children and I were greeted by a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and a kind note. My husband had left us all a yummy tender sprinkle.

The kids and I gobbled up some cookies and were pleasantly aware of their father’s love. It was funny how we could all feel his love even when he was miles away. Sometimes people don’t feel one another’s love even when they are embracing.

I felt very fortunate.

This incident led me to think about what a big impact a little act of kindness can make. I also thought about how those little acts of kindness seem to come much more naturally to my husband than to me. I’m truly blessed with a great husband, and this weekend brought that home to me--again.


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