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4 posts from July 2012

July 31, 2012

Are Your Friends Helping You Rise Or Pulling You Down?

IStock_0grpofwomenallThe saying, “You are who you hang out with,” is an interesting truth.  I remember in high school watching good kids get caught up with the wrong crowd and wondering who was going to win that tug of war.  Would the “good” kid turn bad or would the “bad” kids turn good?  Often the determining factor was the length of time spent together.  If the “good” kids hung around long enough with the wrong crowd, they seemed destined to become one of them.  If they left the group soon enough, they maintained their “good” core. 

Let me just note that I believe most humans -- with only the rare exception -- have a good core.  Unfortunately, though, people can lose themselves along the way.  People can get caught up with the wrong crowd, make bad decisions and then begin to see themselves differently.  Naturally when they see themselves differently, they act differently.

I see this dynamic play out in adult relationships as well. 
•    A “good” guy hangs out with a couple of friends who party, cheat on their wives and “have a good time.”  At first, this bothers him, but soon it just becomes part of the scenery when he’s with his friends.  Soon he starts increasing his partying.  He comes home later and later.  He starts to flirt while he’s out and learns to also “have a good time.”  Before he knows it, he’s become one of the gang.

Continue reading "Are Your Friends Helping You Rise Or Pulling You Down?" »

July 24, 2012

What Politics And Women Have In Common: Avoid The Extremes

IStock_0couplearguingllMuch of my work with women is about getting out of the extremes: extreme thinking, extreme actions, extreme emotions etc.  In order for women to be heard they have to get out of the extremes and instead get grounded, calm and strong.  Too often women make outrageous statements in their effort to be heard and it often ends up guaranteeing they won’t be heard.  It’s a difficult lesson for some women to learn, however, it is powerful once they get that screaming louder and louder actually weakens their message rather than strengthens it. 

 This same dynamic happens in politics as well. In fact, I experienced this dynamic today when I was getting lunch.  I stepped out of my car and walked past a table with a poster of President Obama with the word “Impeach” at the bottom of the poster.  My first thought was, “Wow that’s a little extreme.” The woman behind the table waved and asked me to come over. I politely declined and went in to get lunch.  As I was driving away, I realized the poster had a picture of President Obama with a mustache like Adolf Hitler in addition to the word “Impeach”.  When I realized this, I felt a lot of anger and had lost all respect for the woman who was standing at the table trying to convince the world that President Obama was like Hitler. Really? Isn’t that a bit dishonoring of all the Jews who lost their lives as a result of Hitler’s atrocities? To equate how our President is running our country to the way Hitler killed countless Jews is so extreme and over the top that it is offensive.  This extreme message immediately lost any ounce of truth for me.  Once I saw the obsurdity, I was not even remotely open to hearing what the woman had to say.  Regardless of my views regarding President Obama, her extreme position drowned out any potentially helpful message for me.

Continue reading "What Politics And Women Have In Common: Avoid The Extremes" »

July 16, 2012

Changing Me, Changes We: Keep Your Eyes On You

IStock_0eyesallWomen who struggle in romantic relationships often get involved with the same men again and again.  Although these men may have different names, to their core, they are often the same.  Some women repeatedly go after men who are emotionally and physically unavailable while others go after men who are controlling, abusive or harsh. Regardless of what the particular characteristics are, the women end up repeatedly getting involved with the same type of guy again and again.  Not surprisingly, each relationship often comes to the same dysfunctional conclusion as the one before.

Until women do the internal work necessary to look at why they’re attracted to these men and to avoid choosing these men in the future, they will be forever unhappy in their relationships.

The last thing women want to do, however, is look at their own issues.  Too many women instead, get stuck focusing on the men’s issues and trying to change the men. They chase emotionally shut down men and beg them to talk, plead with abusive men to not be so abusive, complain to workaholics to stop working and on and on.  Unfortunately this focus on others is what keeps the women stuck in the same bad patterns for years.  Until the women turn their focus on getting themselves healthier, they will continue to attract the same men and get stuck in the same dysfunctional relationship patterns forever.

Continue reading "Changing Me, Changes We: Keep Your Eyes On You" »

July 10, 2012

We Are Not Perfect: Replacing Judgments With Compassion

IStock_00contemptllWhile on vacation, I found myself tuning in to the various people all around me.  Some people were strangers and some weren’t.  It was interesting to listen to the moment-to-moment interactions of our world.  I was struck by how much people comment about one another and how often these comments are unkind.

We humans seem to almost unconsciously rate one another, and in effect, rate ourselves as well.  There’s nothing like feeling better about our own weight when we see someone else a little heavier, wider or flabbier than ourselves.  What better way to feel relief about my bad hair day than seeing someone else’s hair looking worse than mine.  If Joe Stranger is snapping at his partner, then I get to feel better about my own partner.  Rating others can almost feel like an esteem boost for our own selves. 

Only it’s not.

Being critical and judgmental of the mistakes, clothing choices, life choices, etc., of others, leads me to be more anxious, judgmental and contemptuous of my own.  I wonder what it would be like if we humans truly tried to treat others as we would want them to treat us?  Besides it being a huge challenge in mindfulness, the truth is...it feels good. How do I know that?  Because when I’m able to see someone’s mistake as simply being part of his or her humanity, I find myself feeling a little better about my own humanity.  It’s as though giving someone else a reprieve for his or her foibles in turn gives me a reprieve.

Continue reading "We Are Not Perfect: Replacing Judgments With Compassion" »

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