6 posts categorized "RELATIONSHIP SKILLS"

February 26, 2013

Dealing with Relationship Stress: Break it Down

IStock_00disgustmallRecently I’ve been working on the first five of ten questions from the TED MED Greatest Challenges project. My questions happen to be on Coping with the Impact of Stress. Because so many of us grapple with stress, I thought it would be a valuable topic for a post. Be sure to check out the TED MED site for more information from experts on a wide variety of interesting topics. My topic will be up sometime next week (http://www.tedmed.com/greatchallenges/challenge/302?ref=the-team). 

Most of us feel stress from time to time and many people feel chronic stress much of the time. As many of us are well aware, stress can greatly impact your body, mind and overall life. And stress from a relationship, can really throw your life into a tailspin. Relationship stress can be long-term and chronic or can be a sudden jolt that rocks your world. The chronic form often is the result of long-term poor treatment, high conflict, addiction or distancing and lack of warmth or affection. Sudden jolt stress often is the result of an affair, a sudden change such as loss of a job, a health crisis, etc. Regardless of what the source of your relationship stress is, the strategies for managing it are the same.

Below are several tips on how to handle high levels of stress resulting from your relationship:
1.    Pause and take a step back. The first thing you want to do is to simply pause and don’t do anything. Put some space between you and the problem, your feelings and your reactions to the problem. Slow yourself down and breathe. Take a few slow, deep breaths and calm your heart rate down before making any decisions or reacting in any way.
2.    Don’t go into all-or-nothing/black-or-white thinking. Keep your thoughts on the present and avoid thinking about how this incident or this relationship is going to play out or impact you in the future. The truth is you don’t know. Simply stay focused on today, this issue and this moment in time.  If it is a chronic issue, stay focused on the issue that is creating the stress/problem and don’t expand it beyond the relationship or issue.

Continue reading "Dealing with Relationship Stress: Break it Down" »

May 03, 2012

Stop Taking Things So Personally; Sometimes It’s Just Not About You

IStock_0angrywomanllOne of the most freeing things in life is the ability to not take things so personally.  It is also one of the most difficult things to do.  People get reactive all the time to things that have nothing or very little to do with them.  People also give meaning to something that was said that simply isn’t there.  Below are several examples of what I mean:
•    Sam’s boss told him to be certain his project report was free of mistakes.  Sam’s internal response to that statement was to get angry and think, “Why the hell did she tell me that?  Does she think I’m stupid?”
•    Sarah’s husband said he wanted to make sure they did something special for their son’s birthday.  Sarah found that comment to be insulting and thought to herself, “What kind of mother does he think I am?!”
•    When Karen had to cancel her plans with her friend because she was sick, her friend questioned her honesty, asking if she was really sick or just didn’t feel like going out.  Karen was offended that her friend would even think that.  What the hell!  Does her friend think she’s a liar?

In all these examples the people are taking something personally that is not personal at all.  Too often we forget that the people in our lives come with their own experiences, traumas and histories. We also forget that these histories impact how they interpret things, what they fear and how they respond to people in their lives.  This is true for us as well.
Going through the above scenarios for example, each one has a background story impacting the interaction.

Continue reading "Stop Taking Things So Personally; Sometimes It’s Just Not About You" »

November 29, 2007


I’m very excited to announce the arrival of my new Couples Power Pack and my new Parents Power Pack! These three-in-one card deck packs consist of Tender Sprinkles, Tender Coupons, and Relationship Cornerstone cards.  These are great tools for adding a little spark to your romantic relationships and a little connection and fun to your relationships with children. You can use them for yourself or give them away as gifts to your family and friends.

Below are brief descriptions of each card set followed by one suggestion on how to use the cards in your
relationships. Feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or feedback at

[email protected].

Until then, buy a pack today and add a little tenderness to your relationships!


November 18, 2007


Pia Mellody stresses the importance of healthy self-esteem in all relationships; without it we are often relationally lost. I also have learned, through both personal and professional experience, the power of healthy self-esteem. Subsequently, I’m continually trying to teach my children how to practice healthy self-esteem.

So, in my effort to teach my children about this all important skill, I asked them if I could run some work stuff by them and if they would help me put it in kid language. They were too happy to oblige.

I explained the concept of inherent worth and stressed that everyone in the world is equal to everyone else...no matter what. I was clear to point out that Tom Brady is no more worthy than my son, daughter, or anyone else; nor is the President of the United States, Maya Angelou, or John Mayer.

I further explained that there is nothing anyone has to do to earn his/her worth; we are all worthy just because we are alive and breathing. Girls are equal to boys; boys are equal to girls; adults are equal to kids and kids are equal to adults…period.


August 01, 2006


A few posts ago I wrote about the protective aspect of boundaries. The second part of your boundary is the containing part. Your containing boundary helps to contain your reactions and responses to people and situations. Its key job is to protect others and the world from you.

The containing part of your boundary is the part that keeps your stuff in. It helps you to handle your anger, frustration, and negative intensity in a relational way. It keeps you from harming another individual with your words, actions, energy or threats.

When we become angry, our containing boundary serves as a beacon for us to proceed with caution. It lets us know when we are about to cross the line and it pulls us back…if it’s a healthy containing boundary. If we do not have a healthy containing boundary then we are likely to be uncontained and subsequently violate other peoples’ boundaries.

If we call someone names, shame, ridicule, swear or yell at them, we are violating their boundaries. Telling someone what they are or are not thinking or feeling is also a boundary violation. It is not our place to decide what someone is truly thinking or feeling. Although we may think we know, we are not in that person’s head. We can only assume at best. In addition if we break promises, lie to, or put our hands on another person in anger, we are also violating their boundaries.

Continue reading "BOUNDARIES (PART II)" »

June 28, 2006


I believe the two most pivotal skills for being in healthy relationships are boundaries and self-esteem. They are the foundation from which everything else flourishes. This post is going to address boundaries. Because boundaries are complex and so pivotal, beware that this is a longer-than-usual post…

Okay, so what are boundaries? Boundaries are a system of protection. They are meant to protect us as well as those around us. I like to see them as an imaginary bubble we encapsulate ourselves in. This bubble is strong enough to keep harmful comments, energies, insults, etc., out, yet permeable enough to allow constructive criticism, authentic feedback, and kind comments in.

We are the controllers of our boundaries. We decide what we allow in and what we keep out. The way we determine what comes in, is if it’s true or not. We ask ourselves, “Is this true for me? Is this something I need to take in and look at?” If the answer is yes, then we let it in. If the answer is no, then we simply let the comment bounce off our bubble (boundary) and move on.

Continue reading "BOUNDARIES IN RELATIONSHIPS (Part I)" »

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