How to Survive in an Introvert-Extrovert Relationship.

Can two people who’s needs are very different survive and even thrive in a relationship? Introvert and Extrovert qualities are not about world views, goals or family history, it is not something that we choose but a quality we are born with. So in a relationship it is about what makes a person feel comfortable and satisfied. This is important to remember because you can’t convince an introvert through argument or persuasion that your way is better. Persuasion is not the point. The goal is to understand each other and discover together solutions that can work for each of you.

So I think the first step is to listen well. To find out what each partner needs that will allow them to feel comfortable and not anxious. Not all introverts and extroverts are the same. There are varying degrees of what each person might need so if you can be curious about each other and not be judgmental then that opens the dialogue to gain understanding.

It is helpful to ask specific questions so you can understand what each of you wants. Does the introvert want to avoid all parties and gatherings or is it just very large parties? Is a small dinner party okay? Would they be fine if the extrovert went to the party without them? Does the extrovert want to meet with others after work or is it just on the weekends? Is it enough to just be around other people for example going to a museum or the zoo, or does the extrovert want to interact with others? Asking specifics helps to get clarity. 

Being respectful of each other and what they need is also important. One does not always have to give in to the other. One way is not better or more healthy than the other. No one has to give up their rights, what needs to happen is to find a solution that can be a win-win for both of you. 

Having these challenging conversations can feel awkward and one or both of you may want to avoid the topic but this is only going to lead to resentment and frustration. Avoiding a problem is not the answer so jump in and trust it will be worth it. The reason why many of us avoid talking about difficult topics is because in the past it has not gone well. So learning to listen, be respectful and showing care for the unique needs of each person will lead to a solution. 

If one or both of you continues to refuse to address this topic or is unable to discuss it without judgement, contempt, defensiveness or anger then the problem is not just that you have very different introvert-extrovert needs, it is a relationship issue. When your partner has a need and you can not address it without tension then there are probably other topics that are off limits or result in arguments. So learning to communicate with each other without this tension needs to be addressed. 

In a relationship with an introvert and an extrovert I believe with understanding and care that solutions to specific concerns can be resolved. Being different in this way is not a relationship deal breaker. It is simply a challenge that can be addressed and a solution can be worked out.

Be patient with each other, you are on the same team. If you are struggling, I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions! 

Give us a call at (562) 537-2947. 

Written by Lisa Strong

Tips To Finding A Solution Without A Fight.

When couple face a disagreement all they can see are the two opposing choices. For example, Paul wants to spend money on a luxury vacation in Hawaii, for just he and Jena. She wants to go camping with the kids in the mountains and save the extra money for remodeling the bathroom. All they see is the differences and they make assumptions about the other’s intentions or reasoning. This leaves them stuck in conflict and anger and they are only looking at the tip of the iceberg. 

Both Paul and Jena have made judgements and assumptions about their partners intentions. These assumptions are created in their own heads and are probably false. They are based on little information and end up making the other person defensive. Because of these assumptions they listen selectively and only hear evidence that supports their belief.

In order to facilitate a shift we need to let go of our judgement and try to explore the other persons choice. At this step each person needs to listen with openness, to put aside judgement and their own interpretations and rebuttals. Not an easy thing to do. 

After gathering information about what each persons idea is truly about, then it is helpful to go deeper into the feelings behind their choice. This can be uncomfortable for some of us who want to jump to a solution, but unless your partner feels that their feelings are heard and understood they are not likely to listen to the solution. So at this point learning what feelings motivated their choice will move you forward. You may learn that what was assumed about the others needs and intentions was false and come to a better understanding of your partners underlying intentions and desires.

In understanding your partners true intentions and reasoning it is then helpful to empathize with them. This does not mean that you are in agreement with their choice but it does help you connect with them, see things from the other persons vantage point and feel what they feel. If you can share this new understanding with your partner you will be closer to finding a solution that brings you together. This also lowers defensiveness and allows each of you to open up to new ideas.

So now you have a better understanding of what is on the table. At this point it is not just a choice between the two original choices but it is time to brainstorm other solutions and ideas that may be a win-win solution for both of you. During brainstorming though each person needs to remain open and non-judgmental about the new ideas. Avoiding sabotaging new solutions, this is a time of creating ideas that are possibilities, not finding the solution yet. This is not a time to persuade each other to your side, it is a time to be creative and listen well to new possibilities. 

After many possibilities are on the table you are ready to pick a solution and one strategy to choosing which solution is best is to play the “Flash Forward Game” suggested by Shirzad Chamine author of Positive Intelligence. This requires each of you to think of your self at the end of __________. At the end of your life, at the end of the year, at the end of the kids’ time at home? Looking back, how do you wish you had conducted yourself? This helps narrow and prioritize your choices. 

This is not an easy process and it does take a great deal of self awareness and control. It is easy to fall into judgement, avoidance, defensiveness, anger or frustration. It helps to remind yourselves that if you work together you will be able to find a solutions that will please each of you. Be patient with each other, you are on the same team. If you are struggling, I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions! 

Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Strong

The Deadliest Mindset of All and the Cure

It’s the worst disease a human being or an entire society can catch. It’s a disease that rips the soul out of a person yet leaves the heart still beating. It leaves people alive physically but broken mentally. It leaves weakness instead of strength. It leaves dependent individuals instead of independent ones. It results in playing a game of “pass the blame” when things don’t go as planned. It’s a disease I would not wish on anyone. It’s called “entitlement mentality.”

The online definition states, “An entitlement mentality is a state of mind in which an individual comes to believe that privileges are instead rights, and that they are to be expected as a matter of course.”

It just sucks the initiative, the self-determination and self-esteem right out of a person!  I have seen it in many of the thousands of families I have worked with.  And it just kills me!

A hardworking, self-made person pulls themselves up by the bootstraps. They work hard. They never give up. They fail many times before they succeed. They have a family. And, often driven by love, blinded by love, these parents desire to ensure that “my kids don’t go through what I had to go through.” They seek to shield their kids from the pains they had to endure. 

But what many parents fail to realize is that by depriving children of hardship, we deprive them of the very experiences and learnings that shaped the parents! If a child grows up getting everything they want, having every sharp corner in life covered by Mommy and Daddy, then suddenly this is how life really is in their belief system. A good life is no longer a privilege, but a God-given right. They shouldn’t have to work for it. Living in luxury is an expectation. And there is anger if one doesn’t get it, and get it easily.

So what is the vaccine for this deadly entitlement mindset? Adversity. Many people who suffer from entitlement simply don’t understand reality — the reality of how the world lives. That life is about largely suffering and overcoming that suffering. That life’s greatest moments are in the achievement of something that took effort. There is no lasting joy in getting everything in life handed to you.

The role of adversity in developing a person’s full potential has been well documented. Renowned blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer (the only blind man to summit Everest) even wrote a book on it called The Adversity Advantage.  

So, what’s my point?  Let your kids suffer!  Allow them to feel pain, disappointment and even regret.  (Don’t confuse this with inflicting suffering or pain, the world and life do enough of that.)  Remember that need is the greatest motivator of all.  If they need something, get out of the way and let them figure out how to get it.  Don’t give it to them.  Raising happy kids is not the goal!  This leads to entitlement.  Raising resilient, content, responsible kids is the goal and by default they will be happy in life because they will be happy with themselves.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

Why Some Apologies Don’t Seem To Help

Have you ever received an apology from someone but it doesn’t make things better? That may be because their apology misses the mark. What we really want from an apology is for the other person to accept our version of reality and to see the hurt that they caused and take responsibility for their words and/or actions that caused the hurt. 

Here are some examples of how an apology can miss the mark;

Some apologies skirt the issue by avoiding the responsibility or making excuses. One example of this is when the person says “I’m sorry but…” When you add on the “but” what you are really saying is that my rude behavior is understandable considering the circumstances. An example of this would be if someone said “I am really sorry for yelling at you but when you roll your eyes at my suggestion I get so angry” The words after the “but” really negates the apology and is used as a justification for the bad behavior. The person is not taking full responsibility.

An apology that puts the focus on the hurt persons feelings instead of the hurtful behavior is another way people avoid taking responsibility. An example of this might be “I’m sorry you got so upset when I borrowed your jacket without asking you. I didn’t know you were sensitive about things like that” This is not an apology that accepts responsibility for the rude behavior of taking something without asking. It really feels more like a dig at the person for being so uptight. An apology that starts with “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not going in the right direction. The focus should not be on the hurt persons feelings but on your specific behavior that caused the hurt.

An apology should not be used to get something back from the injured party like forgiveness or a change of mood. The focus should be on your behavior and not requiring something from the injured party. When a request is added to the apology it can ruin the apology. If we say, “I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you that I went out with some friends last night, will you forgive me?” or “I’m sorry I spent so much time talking to Jim and left you out, can you put it behind you so we can have a nice time tonight?” The problem is that the request comes too quickly and the injured party may not be ready to move on and when you attach that requirement to the apology it sounds more like something for you than a gift for the other person. An apology should not ask the hurt party for anything.

Then what should an apology look like? The person apologizing should take responsibility for the behavior. The apology should be short and not go overboard and should offer some type of corrective action if possible. What I mean is that if you took the persons jacket and then lost it, it would be expected that you replace it, if possible. Also let the other person know that you will do your best to not repeat the behavior. If you can do these things the apology will be healing. 

Many of these ideas came from Dr. Harriet Lerner’s book Why Won’t You Apologize? I highly recommend it to better understand the importance of an apology and the healing a good apology can bring to your relationship. 

Written by Lisa Strong

Teach Your Child To Apologize

We have all seen parents in a standoff with their child saying, “Now Peter, I need you to say you’re sorry” and the child just silently stands there or states in an angry voice “I’m sorry”. Is this how it is supposed to be? Can’t we do better than this? How is it done?

One reason why children don’t like to apologize is because it doesn’t make things better and it is miserable. Often times the parent will hear the apology and then follow up with a lecture about what the child did wrong. They may say, “That’s good that you apologized but I want you to think about …” and “Are you really sorry? I’m not sure you are.” It goes on and on. The child may feel like it is a sermon about the them being thoughtless or selfish. Children will try to avoid this experience if possible. 

What a parent can do to improve this experience;

Let your child calm down. It is hard for a child to see the hurt they have caused when they are emotional themselves. Allow them to take a timeout and then talk about what happened after.

Help your child see the experience from the hurt parties perspective. I think this could be the key to a true apology. Can your child learn to empathize? You could say, “How do you think you would feel if that happened to you?” This would be a start. 

Ask your child, “What can you do next time that would be better? Maybe instead of hitting they could come to a parent or teacher for help or they could walk away, for example.

Accept the child’s apology. Once they do apologize then let’s move on. You can get to other teaching points at a different time. 

Be a role model.  Some parents hesitate to apologize because they feel the child will see them as weak or lacking authority but this is not the case. It shows your child that it is OK to admit that we have made a mistake. Children can see that something is not right and if the parents can acknowledge that a mistake has been made and they are going to fix it, the child will actually see the parent as being fair and honest. Someone to be trusted and respected. 

Praise them. As an adult we know that an apology is not always a pleasant experience but in order to encourage our child to do something that is unpleasant we can praise them. 

Each child is different so these points are suggestions and something for a parent to consider. You each know your child, some are very sensitive and others may be strong willed, some are young while others are older.  Yet teaching your child the importance of a sincere apology will help them to maintain healthy relationships so it is a valuable skill for them to understand. 

If you need any guidance or support, you can call us at Save My Family Today, 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

The Secret Every Parent Needs to Know

Here’s the one thing every parent of every child needs to know.  Are you ready for it?  Your kid wants to be validated.  That’s it.  

Validating the feelings of your children helps them to feel understood. To help your child feel understood, it means you keeping your ego and desire to lecture in check. Validating your child’s feelings also means that you don’t judge him or her. Instead, you simply acknowledge his or her feelings. This takes focus and discipline as parents. As I share with my clients, the best discipline you can give your child is having the self-discipline to be patient, empathetic, and loving—especially when he or she is not acting lovable. Contrary to what many frustrated parents may think, particularly during those stressful times of conflicts, validating feelings is not condoning bad choices or giving in to defiant behavior.

“Validating” means giving your child or teen that all important, and seemingly elusive, message that “Your feelings make sense. I not only am giving you permission to feel what you feel but I am also welcoming and accepting your feelings in a non-judgmental way.” Validating your child coveys deep empathy. This will help build your child’s self-esteem and reduce his or her defiant behavior, which is often the languange choice of children who do not feel understood.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein lists the following three most effective ways to validate your kids.

-Communicate your intent to listen without judging or blaming or shaming and calling yourself out if you stray from this empathetic stance.

-Be sensitive to, and acknowledge how difficult and even embarrassing it is to be “different” when he/she wants to be like everyone else.

Acknowledge the problems in his/her life and that they matter. Many children and teens I counsel repeatedly share that their parents minimize or dismiss their struggles.

To do these things you must be intentional.  You must want to grow closer to your kids.  You must have a desire to build them up.  No matter what age.  Start now, be consistent and observe the change.

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

What is Needed to Build a Fulfilling Relationship

I believe that to maintain a healthy relationship it requires you to be intentional about it. I avoid saying that your relationship takes work because that sounds arduous. I want you to enjoy the effort that you put into your relationship. You may ask; “What exactly is needed to build a relationship that brings each of us fulfillment?”

First off, it might be helpful to think of your relationship as a great adventure instead of a task to be worked on, this will create a more willing attitude. It requires us to be curious about each other, be vulnerable with your self and to venture outside your comfort zone. In order for this to happen there needs to be a foundation of trust. You will only be willing to be vulnerable and brave if you feel like you can trust your partner to be kind. 

When a partner shares a thought or concern they hope that they will be heard and will be shown a consideration of what they are sharing. If you are the one listening then you need to avoid judgement, contempt, criticism and anger. The interaction needs to be a positive one or over time the one sharing will avoid this type of openness. When you share a thought you want your partner to value you and you also wants to know that they care about what is happening in their life, your thoughts and your experiences. 

Here is a simple practical step that each of us can incorporate into our day. Start each day knowing something about what your partner’s day will be like. This requires you to take time to talk about each others day, either in the morning or the night before. Know what is stressing your partner or what they might be excited about in their day. Check in with them at some point and ask about that particular concern. The fact that you care enough to ask about some aspect of their day will build in your partner a feeling of being cared for and considered. This will also build a foundation of connection, like the two of you are on each other’s side and supporting each other through each day.

Dr. John Gottman a best selling author and researcher who studies relationships says; 

    “You’re writing your own love story every time you turn toward each other. Every time you offer comfort. Every time you really listen. Each and every time you put your partner’s interests above your own.”

These simple behaviors of showing comfort, listening and considering your partners interests will build the foundation of trust and care that each relationship needs to stay strong. I do recommend that you not think of it as work but it does take energy and a conscious effort. A healthy relationship is worth the investment. 

If you need any guidance or support, you can call us at Save My Family Today, 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

5 Things Your Kids Don’t Need Even in a Pandemic

It’s likely our kids aren’t pondering the direction of their life and what it should and should not entail during this pandemic.  To some degree, it’s our job to do it for them especially when they are young.  Instead of focusing on what more to give them, I encourage you to focus on not giving them these 5 things with the guarantee that it will change their life for the better.  And, full disclosure, I borrowed some of this from bigger blogger, Jenny Rapson.

Your kids do not need…
1. A personal servant: your job is not to raise children but to raise adults.  Most adults do not have someone following them around picking up their stuff, doing all their laundry and magically making meals appear.  Most adults, even the really busy ones, do these things for themselves.  It’s your job to teach your kids time management so they can take care of their stuff and become independent.  

2. A Participation Trophy: your kids don’t need a ribbon or a trophy for showing up. They deserve a ribbon or a trophy for preparing and working hard.  Giving our young ones awards for just being somewhere, no matter the amount of work they do or don’t put in encourages entitlement and takes away motivation to do their best.  They are thinking, after all, no matter what they will get an award, right?  What we want them to feel rewarded for is commitment, hard work and contributing to those around them.

3. An Overloaded Schedule: Iknow as adults you are busy and your days are full and at times you can barely manage it all even during a pandemic.  News flash… your kids might feel the same way and they haven’t even finished high school.  Kids need to learn how to incorporate down-time and self-care in to their schedules.  So many of them have anxiety and it’s no surprise because they are going from one event to another, almost seven days a week on top of school.  This takes away from family time and rest.  This time of shelter-in-place can be a great time to reset.  A time to revisit what your family needs as a new normal unfolds.

4. Custom-made Meals: brace yourself because for some of you this is going to be a tough one.  Your kids need to eat what you make for dinner or go hungry.  Back to the point of them not needing a personal servant.  No more making different meals for each different family member.  

5. More Real-World Knowledge Than They Are Ready For: there is a danger in sheltering our kids too much.  There is also a danger in telling them too much about our harsh world too soon.  As much as is possible, allow knowledge of the world to come in age-appropriate waves.  A healthy way to expose them to the “real world” is through community service to those less fortunate than themselves.  It’s good for them to know that there are people who need help and are suffering and that, even as kids, they can make a difference.  But they don’t need to know about the atrocities, tragedies and heartaches happening in the world because they don’t have the emotional skills to cope with that information yet.  

So, there you have it.  Your kids will have happier, healthier and less stressful lives without these 5 things.  Don’t give your kids too much, too soon.  Even with the best of intentions, it’s not good for them now or for their future.  

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Smith

How to Support Growth and Transition in Your Relationship.

If you have a relationship with a partner that has lasted for years than I expect that you each have grown and changed over that time period. If you met in your 20’s and now you are in your 30’s or beyond than you each are different people in many ways. Relationships are not just two people coming together and that’s it, they are stories of transformation and change and in a healthy relationship you have allowed this to happen and supported each other in it. 

The goal is that each person in the relationship accommodates the growth of the other person. Your partner will change at a different rate and in a different way than you do. They don’t see the world in the same way as you do and they don’t have the same needs but the goal is not to make them like you but to learn from them and support them as they grow. Ask yourself these questions;

  • Do you have a unique and specific way of connecting with your partner and refreshing the relationship when you feel burned out or distant?
  • During the time of connection do you feel safe and supported in your thoughts and beliefs?
  • Do you feel like your partner values and accepts your growth and ideas?
  • Are your life dreams similar and compatible? Or if they are different do you feel supported in yours?
  • When you are working through a struggle do you feel like your partner listens and helps you gain understanding, facing it with you?

One way to support growth is to build into your relationship rituals and behaviors that allow for change to happen. If you are only living parallel lives, and not making the time to connect and share in each others growth then you will eventually grow apart. The rituals that you create in your lives together are important and will keep you connected. 

Possible rituals could be a weekly date night, a shared meal at home or a time before bed to relax and connect after your day. During these times the objective is to learn about each others thoughts and feelings, be supportive and non-judgmental and listening well. It is not a time to correct your partner or fix their problems for them but just a time to find out what is happening with them. This time allows you too gently try to find out what is stressing your partner or making them fearful. Creating a safe space to share their interior world. It is important not to let too much time pass between checking in. 

I encourage you to commit to a ritual that will create space for you both to grow and learn together. Seeking understanding of each others inner world and sharing the growth and transitions together that supports your relationship.

Written by Lisa Strong

Build Trust and Security Into Your Relationship

Trust and security are the foundation for a healthy relationship. But how do we nurture these feelings in our relationship? I believe that we do this by letting our partner know that they are a priority in our life and we are committed to them. When we are committed we are all in and we are not coming from a place of self-interest but we are considering the cost of any choice for our partner too. 

You don’t want your partner wondering “How important am I to you?” or “Do I come first in your life?” These acts cause a sense of doubt that can grow into insecurity and fear. A healthy relationship needs trust, a knowledge that you can count on each other and that your concerns are important to each of you.

Can your partner count on your word? Do you stand by your word by saying what you mean and meaning what you say. To build this trust you need to stop saying things that you won’t follow through on, or that don’t represent your true feelings. If you continue to not follow through then your partner will learn not to count on you.

Here are a few examples of behaviors that break trust in a relationship;

  • Not showing up on time
  • Not making your partner a priority
  • Keeping secrets
  • Lying
  • Humiliating or putting down your partner in public or private. 
  • Not being there when your partner is hurting or sick

We can show commitment to our partner in the small acts that respond to their needs. When our partner sees us listening and supporting them then they feel the commitment but if we dismiss them or turn away during their time of need then this is seen as a betrayal. I am not referring to a significant betrayals like infidelity, it could be something small like looking at your phone instead of listening to a concern. These small betrayals build up and diminish the sense of security and trust in the relationship.

When you have learned that your partner is trustworthy and committed then you are able to give them the benefit of the doubt instead of always coming from a place of suspicion and questioning. Doesn’t that sound nice? When we are repeatedly challenging and questioning our partner this is exhausting for both parties. No one wants to have to doubt their partner and I certainly would get frustrated if I feel like my partner is always doubting me. So to avoid this dynamic we have to make it a priority to build trust and let your partner know that you have their back and you can be relied on. 

This takes work and can be challenging because once you are in a relationship and you are committed to your partner then it is no longer all about you and your needs. But the sacrifice is worth it to have a partner in life that you can trust. 

Written by Lisa Strong