9 posts from April 2010

April 29, 2010

The Five Things I’ve Learned From American Idol

IStock_00guitar player

American Idol is a great show to watch if you want to learn a few lessons about owning your power, not playing small and daring to step up and create your future.  Below are the five most glaring lessons I pull from this show every time I watch it.  These are great lessons for relationships as well as careers.  Dare to step up and earn your place...

1.  Confidence, confidence, confidence!!!  It is nearly impossible to be successful in life or our relationships if we don't have healthy self-esteem.  Healthy self-esteem is the foundation upon which everything else rests.  If you don't believe in yourself, this is where you need to start.  When you don't believe in yourself the world sees this--no matter how hard you try to hide it.  The world then holds you in the same light as you hold yourself.  On American Idol, most, if not all, of the singers are talented; the ones who go the furthest, however, are the ones who own that talent rather than constantly doubt it.

2.  Stop defending and start listening!!!  Critical feedback can help you soar or take the wind out of your sails and sink you.  Which it does, depends on you.  When people take the time to tell you how they perceive you, this is priceless.  Stop defending and trying to pretend that they don't see what they see.  Acknowledge it, use it to learn from and change it.  When you're able to do this, pat yourself on the back and give yourself credit for having tremendous courage.  The judges on American Idol are trying to fine tune the skills of the singers.  There's nothing more frustrating than the singers, who have little experience, getting defensive about the feedback.  Defensiveness blocks intimacy, makes you look bad and leads to frustration for those on the receiving end of your defensiveness.

Continue reading "The Five Things I’ve Learned From American Idol" »

April 26, 2010

Your Defensiveness Is Not Helping You or Your Relationship

I remember my supervisor talking many years ago about how frustrating it was for her when a person on her team was defensive about feedback.  She was venting about how difficult it is to mentor people when every time you point out something you’d like them to work on they start explaining, rationalizing or defending what they do/did.  She went on to say it leads her to focus her energy on the other, more promising, open-minded employees.

As my supervisor was saying all this I was well aware that I had a difficult time taking in feedback myself.  I turned to her and asked if she was speaking about me.  She laughed and said no.  I knew, however, that if I didn’t learn to take in feedback she soon would be. 

As crazy as it may sound, I vowed that very day to stop being defensive.  I decided that I would stop expending endless energy on covering my imperfections and instead push myself to grow from them.  I have never once regretted that decision. 

The freedom this one decision has given me throughout the years is difficult to explain.  No longer being defensive has allowed me to accept my humanity as well as the humanity of others.  It has been life altering.

Continue reading "Your Defensiveness Is Not Helping You or Your Relationship" »

April 23, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Below is a guest blog post from Kim Leatherdale.  I enjoyed reading it and thought you might too--enjoy! To read more from her blog go to:

I've been cleaning my condo and office the last few beautiful days.  It feels so good to get organized and freshened up!  

So why don't I maintain it between-times?  Maybe I'm just human?  I get lax, stop doing, and forget.

In her beautiful book, Comfort Living, Christine Eisner shares six succinct tips for tending your space:

    •    If you open it, close it
    •    if you put it down, pick it up
    •    If you take it off, hang it up
    •    If you mess it up, clean it up
    •    If you take it out, put it back
She notes, "You will be clearing a path that makes it easier to enjoy the small pleasures and relaxing moments that make a good life."

Usually it is the small simple rules you follow that make things go smoothly and beautifully.  Thanks, Christine.

Relational Spring Cleaning
This week give a thought to the things you can be doing to tend your relationship.  Implement a list of rules like these:
    •    If you want something, ask for it
    •    If you like something, appreciate it
    •    If you are stuffing it, let it out gently
    •    If you are blowing up, tone it down
    •    If you feel disconnected, reach out
    •    If you see a need, fill it
Look at the things you need to change or cleanup.  At the minimum you should be doing regular checkups and clean-ups in your relationship.  Throw out the unhealthy behaviors that have crept in; spruce up the healthy things you are doing.   

And hopefully that refreshing, relaxing, and complete feeling will stay around.

Happy "cleaning" to you all!

April 21, 2010

Raising Strong, Healthy Daughters

IStock_00daughters It’s important for every parent to realize that, first and foremost, children live what they know…and they know what they live.  This principle means that the best way to raise a healthy daughter is to be healthy yourself.  She is watching the adults in her life.  She is paying attention to how her parents speak, treat and relate to one another.  What she sees in her parents’ marriage is what she’s likely to repeat in her own.

What our actions are teaching our daughters:
1.    Poor self-esteem:  If we struggle to hold ourselves in warm regard, we teach our daughters to do the same.  A daughter will watch our insecurity and model it herself.  She is likely to struggle with feeling worthy and will make a lot of decisions based on what will get her liked rather than what’s the right thing to do.  The best gift we can do is strengthen our own sense of self worth so she can grow hers.
2.    Harsh, abusive or disrespectful talk in the home:  If parents speak disrespectfully, abusively or harshly to one another, they teach their daughter that this is the norm in romantic relationships.  If the family is harsh in general, she is learning that harshness is a part of all relationships.  She is likely to grow up to become harsh herself or be in relationships with someone who will treat her harshly.  The harshness will feel familiar—just like a pair of comfy, ripped up jeans.
3.    Negative self-talk:  When we walk around the house calling ourselves fat, dumb, absent-minded, etc., we teach our daughters to do the same.  She will learn to focus on her flaws rather than her strengths.  A steady focus on flaws keeps you down and hurts your ability to hold yourself in warm regard.

Continue reading "Raising Strong, Healthy Daughters " »

April 15, 2010

Things I Know About Relationships

1.    I know relationships can’t work if there’s violence from either party.
2.    I know that covering up for an alcoholic or addict only prolongs the inevitable.  Just because you pretend it’s not there, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
3.    I know that if you never say you’re sorry, your loved ones will grow tired and…you’re going to be sorry.
4.    I know that if you silence, avoid conflicts and refuse to address issues directly, you will be stuck with what you have. 
5.    I know that the more you threaten to do something, yet never do it, the more you teach people not to trust your words.
6.     I know that when one partner bullies or rages, there is a high probability that the other partner will leave if the bullying doesn’t stop.  What I don’t know is when.

Continue reading "Things I Know About Relationships" »

April 13, 2010

We Teach People How To Treat Us: What Lessons Are You Teaching?

•    Stan did everything he could to keep his wife from becoming angry.  He avoided conversations he knew would be upsetting, he tried to complete all the tasks she told him to do and he would take her side in most conflicts with others.  He hoped that if he did what she said, she would stop being so angry.  For some reason, her anger only got worse.
•    Sally says yes whenever possible.  She agreed to be available for her boss 24-7 -- his calls and demands continually increase.  She helps her sister out by watching her children whenever she asks -- it seems as if the more she says yes, the more her sister asks.
•    Tammy cringes when her husband snaps at her. When he rages, Tammy gets quiet and does whatever he asks.  His raging and harshness are the worst they have ever been. 

Too often people take a passive position in response to poor treatment.  Many people think that if they lay low, do what the person says or simply try to not get the person angrier, things will get better.  This could not be further from the truth.  Other than domestic violence situations (physical violence in a relationship), our silence in response to poor treatment often incites more poor treatment. 

I realize this is counter-intuitive, however when you silence in response to poor treatment, you send the message that the poor treatment is okay.  Inherent in your silence is acceptance.  When people know they can treat you any way they’d like—they will do just that.  In essence you are TEACHING them to do just that.  Why should they treat you better?  If you’re fine with it, why shouldn’t they be?

Continue reading "We Teach People How To Treat Us: What Lessons Are You Teaching?" »

April 07, 2010

Alcohol and Relationships: When to Stay and When to Go

IStock_00alcohol coupleXSmall
Sadly, many couples and families are impacted by alcoholism every day.  As many people can attest, the damage caused by this addiction can be very long-lasting and far-reaching.  The question many partners of alcoholics have is how long should they hang in there -- when is their partner truly in recovery and when should they say enough’s enough and get out?

I don’t live in your shoes so I won’t tell you whether you should leave a relationship or not.  I can, however, give you a fairly good idea of the warning flags that signal there’s likely to be trouble ahead.  If those red flags don’t get cleared up fast, the pendulum starts to weigh much more heavily on the side of leaving.

Red flags that there’s likely more trouble ahead:
•    Your partner’s drinking has become a definite problem in your relationship, but they are in denial about their drinking.
•    Your partner has made numerous promises to get help, but has never followed through for any substantial period of time.
•    Your partner refuses to get any type of alcohol treatment and becomes angry when you suggest this.
•    Your partner’s drinking has progressively gotten worse over the years.
•    Your partner becomes volatile or belligerent when drinking.
•    Your partner continues to lie.
•    Your partner says they’re in treatment, but is attending meetings randomly, has no sponsor and makes endless excuses about why they can’t make a meeting or get into a program/therapy, etc.
•    Your partner is irresponsible and unreliable due to their drinking.
•    Your partner gets defensive when you call them on their drinking.

Continue reading "Alcohol and Relationships: When to Stay and When to Go" »

April 05, 2010


Many of us play the victim at some point in our lives, yet are unaware of what we’re doing.  Playing the victim happens when we decide to accept the unacceptable.  The unacceptable includes poor treatment, hurtful interactions and toxic environments.

I’m constantly hearing stories about raging partners, bosses or managers.  Interwoven into many of these stories is a sense of hopelessness or powerlessness:
•    “My boss is yelling in my face.  What am I supposed to do...tell them to stop?  They’ll fire me or just get more angry.”
•    “My husband is in love with another woman.  What can I do about that?  If I tell him he can’t see us both, he’ll choose her and leave me.  I can’t do that.”
•    “I can’t tell my wife I don’t like her volatility—she’ll go nuts on me.  You don’t understand how crazy she can get.  It’s best to just try to keep her calm and protect my kids.”
•     “My husband has a drinking problem, but won’t admit it.  There’s nothing I can do if he’s going to stay in denial.”

There are endless examples of excuses we make for not taking action to improve our lives.  The allure of taking the victim position (there’s nothing I can do) to our problems can be very appealing.  In many ways taking this position takes us off the hook.  We can blame our misery on others, we don’t have to deal with the backlash of standing up for ourselves and we can save what little energy we may have.  Sadly, in many ways, lack of action can provide us with some respite in the short run.


April 02, 2010


Easter is in a couple days and many families will use this day as an opportunity to come together and celebrate.  As many people know, however, family gatherings are not always positive events.  Below are a few tips on how to make these get-togethers a positive experience for those families who tend to struggle with one another at gatherings and otherwise.
When having a celebration:

1.  Celebrate.  Celebrations are NOT the time to bring up old upsets, angry feelings or serious disagreements.  Put all your ill feelings aside for the time being and just enjoy the moment.  There will be plenty of time, on a different day, to discuss hard feelings.  Today is not that day.

2.  Monitor your alcohol consumption.  Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, if you don’t like a family member normally, you will like them even less when under the influence.  Be a grown up not a teenager and stay sober, respectful and keep your wits about you.

3.  Talk more with the family members you enjoy.  Whenever possible, keep interactions with those you struggle with, to brief, pleasant interactions and have larger conversations with those you like.  Don’t ignore or avoid—that’s rude and obvious.

4.  Use your boundaries.  Stop looking for things that annoy you and use a psychic boundary.  Don’t assume a person’s intentions, make up what they really “meant” when they said…(fill in the blank) or read into their behavior/body language/look etc.  Stay centered.  If you’re reactive, you’re not practicing good boundaries.


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