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3 posts from July 2013

July 23, 2013

Are You Wearing Out Your Relationships?

IStock_000013858349XSmallOne of the greatest things about friendships is the support you feel in times of struggle. There’s nothing like knowing you have someone to turn to when times get hard. It’s also great to know there are people out there who will love you even when you’re not at your best.

Sometimes, though, people can fall into a destructive pattern with their friends and begin to wear out their welcome. They can do the same with siblings, spouses, co-workers, etc., by leaning on them too much. You see, people are happy to help others in times of struggle and, in fact, most people feel good about helping others. The problem happens when the help doesn’t help and the struggles seem to never end. People like to feel as if  they have influence on others. They like to feel that they can make a difference. When their actions don’t seem to make a dent in a person’s situation, though, it begins to drain  their energy. They begin to feel a bit helpless and grow tired of the person’s constant struggle. They also often begin to feel as though the friendship or relationship is a one-way relationship—one where they are always the one helping, while the other person is always the one needing the help. As you can imagine, this can get old after a while. 

When it comes to relationships, they work best when there is a healthy balance of give and take. Both people need to support and be supported. If one person is constantly the one who is bummed, depressed, hating themselves or in a state of drama, the other person will begin to feel as though their energy is being drained. 

Below are several clues that you may be wearing out your relationships:

  • You frequently complain about your life or circumstances—even when they change.
  • You use problems as a way of connecting to people and getting their attention.
  • You frequently tell people how fat, inept, weird, etc., you are and when they say you’re great, you push back and tell them you’re not.
  • You frequently complain about your marriage or mother or_________ (fill in the blank), but don’t take people’s advice when they try to help you.
  • You put yourself down, yet when people tell you what you could do differently, you say you’re too tired or make up some excuse so you can keep on doing what you’re doing.
  • You’re quick to ask others for help, but slow to give help
  • You’ve been complaining about the same thing for more than two months without doing anything about it.
  • You notice your friends have stopped contacting you as often as before.

When it comes to relationships, take a close look at how you are in them. If you’re constantly complaining about life when others ask, perhaps you’ve created a bad habit of using struggles as a way to connect or get attention. If you truly are down on life and yourself, then seek professional help, since you’re likely depressed. Talk to a professional about your struggles and save the positives for your friends. In general, keep your finger on the pulse of your relationships and don’t burn people out. Give support as much as you ask for support and push yourself to think positively, speak positively and to develop a positive lens. This lens will serve you well in life and in your relationships. Turning to your friends in times of struggle is great as long as those times of struggle are more the exception than the rule. If people feel that nothing they do will help, they eventually will stop trying to help. Don’t let things get to that point. Change your moves now.

Challenge: Read the above list of clues that you’re wearing out your relationships and commit to stopping the moves that are wearing them down. Get outside support if you need to and learn to take in the positive feedback from friends and loved ones rather than pushing back against it.

July 10, 2013

“I Can’t Change:” A Cop-out or a Hard Truth?

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People ask me all the time if I truly believe people can change. Usually they’re asking this question about a loved one who, they’re certain, will never change. My answer to them is almost always the same: “Absolutely. I’ve seen people who I swore would never change make complete and thorough life turnarounds. I have no doubt that people can change…should they choose to do so.” 

If people are capable of making lasting change, though, why don’t they? What is it that leads one person to turn their entire life around while another person swears they want to change, but they “just can’t?” Is it that some people really can’t change or is it that they really don’t want to change? Unless you’re talking about an impossible feat—like a blind man seeing—then all able-minded human beings are capable of change. 

Not all people believe that they can change, however. Below are common statements I hear from people regarding their own change:

  •  “I am who I am and I’m not going to change.”
  •  “You knew I was like this when you married me. Stop trying to change me because it won’t work.”
  • “I just can’t change. I’ve tried everything.”
  • “It’s in my genetic make-up.”
  • “I’m too old to change.”
  • “Accept me for who I am. I can’t change my entire being.”

All of the above statements are cop-outs, NOT hard truths. The truth is that anyone can change given the right mindset, determination and motivation. The problem is that many people are perfectly comfortable doing what they’re doing. The only uncomfortable part for them is the complaints of those around them. The only change they want to see is for the other people to stop complaining and start accepting whatever they do. Obviously the issue with these people is that they don’t want to change…therefore they won’t.

Other people, though, consciously do want to change, but struggle with getting out of their own way. Subconsciously, though, they’re getting something from not changing and until the stakes are high enough and the desire for change is big enough, they are unlikely to change. Change is uncomfortable. Most people, when given a choice of change or no change, would choose no change hands down. Until the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing…people will continue to do as they’ve always done. 

When people tell themselves they can’t change, they’re unlikely to change. Their belief becomes an anchor weighing them down. Change is a choice. Saying, “I am who I am” is a total cop-out that isn’t serving the person saying it or those around them. Anyone can change…the true question is, “Do they want to change”?

Challenge: Stop being lazy about change and instead step in and dare to better yourself. Refuse to use cop-outs such as “I’m too old,” “I am who I am,” etc. Make the choice to change or not, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re not changing because of forces beyond your control.

 

 

 

July 04, 2013

Happy 4th Of July!

IStock_0fireworksmallThe Fourth of July is here.  As a result, there are parties abound, days off work, family gatherings, fireworks flying, delightful foods, and of course…alcohol flowing.      

When drinking and partying are done in moderation, celebrations are a great respite for many couples and families.  When celebrations are not done in moderation however, it can be a recipe for disaster.  

Key culprits to tipping the tables from fun to disaster are…too much alcohol, negative feelings and unwanted company.  It’s important to remember that alcohol lowers inhibitions.  This means that some people will become more gregarious, while others will become more obnoxious, mean-spirited, and/or difficult.  Either way, this often leads to many difficulties between family members and friends. 

When people are drinking they tend to be less tolerant, more impatient, and more bull-headed—hardly a recipe for healthy relationships.  So, if you’re planning on celebrating this holiday—or the next one—know your limits.  Be smart about how much you consume, what you choose to talk about and how you interact. 

Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind for future celebrations: 

  1. Have fun and keep things light.  Parties are not the time to delve into your relationship issues, struggles and upsets.  Enjoy the day and give yourself and others a respite from serious conversations. 
  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. Avoid the extremes.  Have fun without being obnoxious or rude. Don’t be so desperate to be the life of the party that you make a fool out of yourself or others.  Similarly, don’t hide off in the corner because you don’t like other people at the party or you don’t want to be there.  Be conscious that your actions impact others and keep yourself in check.
  4. Parent responsibly.  If you have children, have an agreed upon depart time or plan that both partners feel reasonably comfortable with and that won’t throw the kids into a melt down due to exhaustion. 
  5. Participate don’t hide.  Be present at the party physically, spiritually and emotionally.  Don’t hide behind your cell phone, being the ideal host or parenting. Mingle, talk, play…PARTICIPATE. 

Challenge:  Have a great day of celebration—with moderation.  Remember to be relational and follow the tips above. 

 

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