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How We Lose Respect Using Emotional Decision-Making

We want others to take us seriously, to show us respect and to listen to us. How can we make that happen? Why isn’t it happening? I think that when others see that we allow our emotions rather than our logic to make our decisions, this causes them to loose confidence in what we say. There needs to be a balance between emotions and logic.

I heard an example the other day of a husband who said that when his wife, after walking by a pet store window, makes an emotional suggestion like let’s get a puppy, he is not likely to take her seriously. But rather if she comes to him with a thought out plan and shows him she is aware of the changes a puppy will bring and how this will effect their lives together than he is more likely to listen. 

The point is that people are less likely to listen if they think that the emotion will pass and then the decision no longer seems like a good one. 

We have many emotions that can influence our decisions. For example, excitement can cause us to underestimate the risk involved. This can happen in financial decisions. Anxiety, embarrassment and sadness can also direct our choices. We may be anxious or depressed about something in our lives and this feeling causes us to be resistant to taking any risk at all. We may want to avoid embarrassment so we change our behavior to protect against this.

A very powerful emotion that we can all relate to is anger. We have all reacted in anger and then done something that hurts either ourselves or someone else. It would be better to take time to calm down and think things through before deciding on a plan of action.

When you communicate a concern or desire to someone they will respect your view if they think you are going to stick to it and if they know that you have thought it through

This is an important point, are you going to follow through? Can they count on you or are you only talking? When I know that the person making a suggestion is going to support their idea by taking action this also makes me respect them more. I can count on them to follow through, they are not only talk. 

Impulsive or emotional decision can affect our relationships, finances, health, career and how we use our time. 

We make the best decisions when we can achieve a balance between emotions and logic. When your emotions run too high, your logic will be low, which can lead to irrational decisions: and if you have a history of irrational decisions then others will not take you seriously or show you respect.

It is not easy to change patterns of behavior. If you need help and support, give us a call at 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

How to Deal With Disappointment

With the new year comes hope for better things to come as well as the reality that disappointments will come our way.  Some disappointments are small and easy to shake off while others shake us to our core.  We know they will come in one form or another.  The question is how do we deal with them when they do?

1.  Feel It
One of the hardest things to do for many of us is to just let ourself experience a feeling… especially a painful and difficult one. Studies have shown that even at the most difficulties times, such as grieving, Americans  only allow themselves 1 to 2 weeks to feel sad or to grieve before expecting to get back into normality again.  This isn’t always reasonable.  Give yourself permission to feel the pain, even lean in to it.  Let it out.  And know that eventually the pain of disappointment will lessen.

2.  Get Perspective
Once you have allowed yourself to experience the emotion of disappointment you can then get some perspective.  Take a few steps back.  Look at what you do have instead of only what you do not have.  This is not denying the loss or the pain you have experienced but it’s acknowledging that there is more to your story than just the heartache right in front of you.

3.  Know Yourself
Disappointment can ripple through to the core of who you are. Sometimes disappointments can catch us so off guard and turn our lives upside down.  If you don’t know what your core values are, you may not have a framework to support you when you experience negative emotions that are inevitable when things go sideways.  

Knowing your own heart and your values gives you the freedom of choice. You can choose to be driven by what happens to you, or you can choose to live in line with your principles.  So I ask you… what are your core values?  What principles do you live by no matter what comes your way?  

4.  Practice Acceptance
As human beings, even though we know that some things are bound to happen, we’re not always willing to accept them.

Every time I am disappointed, I feel overwhelmed by my emotions. I’m inclined to withdraw, wanting to wallow in my disappointment. Each time, I have to accept that I will feel these things again.

I have to accept that I will continue to be disappointed—that it is a part of life, part of being human. I also have to accept that I will probably continue to struggle to accept this fact, at various points throughout the rest of my life!

This is a lifelong challenge and fundamental to dealing with disappointment. I will be disappointed, I will disappoint, you will be disappointed, and you will disappoint. Life will be disappointing—but it will pass.

Practice acceptance and we may suffer less as it is happening and notice the good things in life more.

Disappointment is a part of life and life is often difficult. But we can grow if we can endure.  We can be present and aware even in the midst of negative emotions that come with disappointment and therefore live more fully.

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

 

Is your relationship experiencing the holiday stress?

Is the holiday stress starting to crowd in on you and your spouse? I know that this time of the year brings some unique challenges. So what is so different about this month of December? Here are a few possibilities of what might be causing stress in your home.

  • You are not in agreement over how much should be spent on the holiday.
  • There are still the usual demands at work but now your schedule is extra busy with holiday festivities at school, church or with friends and family. Shopping takes time too. How do you fit it all in?
  • Pressure from family and friends. How can we make everyone happy including the in-laws, extended family, grandparents, kids and friends. Who do we celebrate with?
  • Different expectations, each of you were raised with unique holiday traditions. What do you do now?

These are just a few challenges that come up at this time. When you see your partner starting to stress out, what can you do? Well being quick to give advice is not the answer. According to Dr. Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,

“The cardinal rule when helping your partner de-stress is that understanding must precede advice. You have to let your partner know that you fully understand and empathize with the dilemma before you suggest a solution,”

Usually the responsibility of juggling gift giving and parties falls on the wife. I know this is a stereotype but let’s just go with it for discussion sake. If the husband starts with the advice then it can put the wife on the defense. She needs to know that he understands and agrees with her view before he can tell her what to do. This means being supportive. Give statements that show you get it.

Wives are not the only ones under stress, each of you need to be open to the other when they want to share what is stressing them out. If you see signs of your partners stress then come along side them, show support instead of judgement and let them know that you are a team together. The feeling of being alone in the stress is often what makes it worse.

Also you may need to discuss holiday expectations. Each of you should think about what is important to you. You can write down a few things that are at the top of your list for the holiday season. I don’t mean gifts but what makes the holiday special to you? Do you like to go as a family and pick out a live tree? Do you remember baking cookies or having a special meal? Do you have a family movie night or give gifts to children in need? Once you both share your ideas then work together to decide which you can make happen.

I want you to have the best holiday possible so make your relationship the priority and care for each other. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support or have questions for us!  We are always here to help. Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

Tips for Building Resilience in Your Kids

Tips for Building Resilience in Your Kids

After decades of experience working with thousands of kids of a all ages I am astounded and dismayed at the lack of resilience in young people today.  And to be fair, it’s not at all their fault.  It is ours.  As adults we have shielded, buffered and protected them to their own detriment.  Instead of having kids who can say to themselves “It’s ok that I didn’t get what I wanted or that I performed badly, I can still move forward.  I will try again.  I can do this.”  We have teenagers smashing windows because they got a low ACT score, didn’t get in to the college of their choice or they weren’t invited to a birthday party.  Even our younger kids are throwing tantrums and physically assaulting teachers when they have to redo a homework assignment or retake a spelling test.  These kids are lacking resiliency.  Here are a few tips to build this essential life skill in your child.

1. Be present in your kid’s life.  While some parents are over-parenting and hovering, research also shows a swell of parents not making meaningful emotional connections with their kids.  Being present means setting aside what you are doing when they walk in the room and let them see the joy their presence brings to you. Make eye contact.  Take interest in what they are saying.  Show them you care by being empathetic (not to be confused with sympathetic) when they struggle even if they played a role in their own demise.

2. Back off.  I know, I just said be present and now I’m saying back off.  There’s a delicate balance.  Be present but don’t do everything for them.  Don’t check in with them before, during and after an event or important assignment to see if they need you. Let them make choices and decisions about how to do things whenever possible.  For example, when they are young they can choose what to wear, when they are in middle school they can decide whether it’s cold enough outside that they need a jacket and when they are in high school they can determine in what order to do homework assignments.  Let them take risks and make mistakes without  you acting like the world might end.  When they take work hard or take a risk and succeed it will build a tremendous sense of authentic accomplishment.

3.  Model it.  Your kids see you as successful and are often unaware of the twists and turns and setbacks you’ve experienced and continue to experience.  The best way to normalize struggle and build resiliency is to let your kids know when we have, or have had a setbacks such as a failure or disappointment at work or even a falling out with a close friend.  Allow them to see you feeling down for a bit.  Let them hear you say that maybe you could have done somethings differently or better… or that you know you did some things wrong.  After they hear you reflect about the situation let them see you smile then move on.

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

Why Your Kid Needs to Fail

Why Your Kid Needs to Fail

You’ve protected your kid from failure, discomfort, rejection and pain for far too long.  Despite your good intentions you have harmed them.  Yep.  While you meant to help them you have hurt them.  If students are in their late teens or early twenties when they first face their own very normal human trait of imperfection and experience failure, they’ll lack the “brush it off, get back on the horse, try again, persevere through it” mentality they could-should– have cultivated in childhood.  We need to normalize struggle.

Kids need to know that failure, pain, discomfort, hurt and making mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of.  Instead, they need to understand that such experiences can be lessons and even open up new possibilities.  But this starts with the parent backing off enough to let their child experience, well, life.

Colonel Leon Robert, professor at West Point said “With some of our new cadets right out of high school, if you raise your voice they get teary-eyed.  Like no one has corrected them on a behavior before.  You’ve got to be able to have a setback, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and drive on.”

Harriet Rossetto of Beit T’Shuvah rehab facility in Los Angeles said  “A lack of resiliency is common among addicts.  They find that they can’t cope with failure or pain so they self medicate.  In contrast, studies have shown that the best predictor of success is a sense of resiliency, grit, capacity to fail and get back up.  If you’re prevented from feeling discomfort or failure, you have no sense of how to handle those things at all.”  I could not agree more.  So how do we build resiliency?  We will discuss this much more in my next blog but for now the answer is simple: let them fail and let them feel the pain of their failure.  Love them through it but don’t fix the situation for them.

I said it’s simple, not easy.  We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

How to Parent an Adult Child

How to Parent an Adult Child

It’s tricky when the human you have cared for, protected, guided, provided for and loved with all your heart becomes a human who doesn’t need so much of that anymore.  Where does that leave you as the parent?  What is your new role?  Here are a few do’s and dont’s to consider.

1.  Only give advice when you’re asked for it.  This is a tough one, I admit.  But don’t let yourself off the hook or make excuses for yourself.  You want to jump in, protect them from making a mistake, be the buffer between your adult chid and heartbreak.  But this becomes counterproductive in two ways.  First, your now adult chid still doesn’t have the ability or permission from you to make their own decisions which is emotionally thwarting. Second, they will stop sharing ideas, dreams, fears and experiences with you because they do not want your advice but you keep giving it anyway. If they want your advice they will ask for it.

2.  Encourage instead of warn or criticize.  As adult children they may live different lives, have different values and need different things than you.  That’s ok!  Unless they want to break the law or want you to break the law then let them live their life fully.  When they say they are taking a trip to a remote island don’t tell them to put on sunblock or to look both ways before they cross the big bad foreign street.  Instead, tell them how exciting it sounds and that you hope they have the time of their life.  When they talk about getting another job or buying a home or riding their bike across the country stop yourself from warning them of all that could go wrong and remind yourself that they will figure it out, they will make a mistake here and there but will learn from it and that you are there to listen, encourage and only give feedback when they ask for it.

3.  Have fun with them.  You’re both adults now!  Isn’t that great?  You can build a new relationship of mutual respect.  You don’t have to look after them when you go out to eat or go on vacation together.  You can relax and learn all about this person who is growing and learning and living an independent life.

4.  Listen and learn about what they are interested in.  I know a mom who has a son in his late twenties who travels the world with a back pack and his bike.  It’s his passion.  His mom, however, won’t exercise even for a million dollars and is happy to stay home and relax on her front porch without ever leaving the country.  But she delights in listening to her son’s stories even when he tells her he had to sleep outside on the beach in Spain because he was too late getting in to the town he hoped to find a room in.  She doesn’t scold him, warn him, tell him how worried she is to hear that.  She just laughs and kindly rolls her eyes.  This invites her son to tell her so much more than if she were to react with judgement or disinterest.  They have a beautiful relationship.

Having a relationship with an adult child can be tricky because it’s all new for both of you.  Instead of fighting to keep control fight to let go and watch what blossoms.

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

How Parents Can Take Care of Themselves and Why It’s Important

You know those safety instructions they give on a plane… the ones which include reminding parents to take oxygen first in the event of an emergency before they give oxygen to their children. It’s a perfect analogy!  A parent who lacks enough oxygen can’t possibly be in the best possible position to take good enough care of their kids.  As we all know, many parents feel guilty taking care of themselves and feel that every drop of their energy should be poured into taking care of their children’s needs.  This is a lie that you need to shed if you want to be healthy, have emotionally healthy kids and healthy relationships with them.  And don’t forget… your kids are watching how you take care of yourself and will likely follow in your steps.  Here’s how to be a great parent while still taking great care of yourself:

1. Take care of your physical self.  Get enough sleep!  There’s not much worse than a chronically exhausted parent.  Eat healthy.  Take walks alone to clear your mind, exercise, do yoga anything to get your blood flowing and your body in good condition.  This builds emotional and physical stamina which you obviously need when raising children.

2. Take care of your emotional self.  Go out without your kids!  And when you’re out don’t talk about your kids and don’t take calls or texts from your kids during this time.  Focus on other important relationships with extended family and friends.  Write in a journal.  Step away from your phone and other screens every day.

3. Fill your emotional tank.  Do something you love!  Aside from your all important children… what makes you laugh?  What feels fun?  What brings you peace?  What brings you joy?  What makes you feel good about yourself?  Do those things at least once or twice a week!

4.  Stop making your kids problem your problem, his roller coaster your roller coaster, his life your life.  Go get your own.  Ouch… did that hurt to hear?  If it did then maybe you are too close to your kids.  Yep… I said it.  As parents, you want to and feel as though you should be so involved in their every drama, every relationship, every emotion, every event.  This is not the case.  Yes, you need to have a good grasp on who their friends are, what they are up to and how they are doing but you don’t have to live it yourself.  Be aware of what’s going on, don’t take it on as your own.

As your kids grow, you need to give them opportunities to experience life and the room to problem solve and cope with hardship, disappointment and sadness.  Disconnect yourself and you will be healthier, happier and much less tired and they will have a chance to grow.  Trust that you have taught them well then allow them to practice the skills you’ve given them.  They will feel good about themselves and you will feel less stressed.  If there’s a crisis, that may be different.  But for the every day scenarios… step away.  It’s counter-intuitive, I know.  But you will all be better for it.  I promise.

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  Also, visit our Facebook page for ongoing resources.
Written by Lisa Smith

What is the Ugly Duckling Syndrome?

Remember that story about the ugly duckling? It’s a good metaphor for the time period from when kids emerge as little chicks and the time they finally grow into swans.  There is that awkward middle period where they are not quite sure who they are or where they fit in. Symptoms of this difficult age might include the gangly arms and legs they haven’t quite grown into yet, or baby fat they haven’t quite outgrown, voices that range from squeaky to scratchy, acne, and personality changes that seem to come and go in your child daily.  

We have all experienced this ugly duckling stage (if you need proof, go ahead and pull out your old yearbook). But this awkward and clumsy period in your child’s life may be more important than you remember from your own childhood. Now more than ever, the middle school years are crucial for developing into a healthy teenager and adult.  It seems the issues and challenges that were facing teens in high school are now being introduced to kids in junior high, or even before! In today’s world, parents need to foster and build a healthy relationship with their kids in the formative years, because that is when they need it the most. Here are some things to consider.

UNDIVIDED ATTENTION

Studies show the tween and teen years are some of the most influential in a child’s life. The question is, how can we use this time to make the greatest impact? Without hesitation, I would say that parents can have the biggest influence by giving their kids undivided attention. Focusing attention on your child is like investing in Google stock. It has great value now, and will only keep growing. When you drop what you are doing to listen to your daughter talk, you are demonstrating that she has worth and importance in your life. When you set aside time every week to take your son out to dinner, you are indicating that time with him is precious. There is no substitute for the undivided attention of mom and dad in the life of a child.

Youth groups, sports, clubs and school have their place. But they are poor replacements for a caring parent. There is a temptation to think that coaches, pastors and teachers are better equipped and better trained to speak into the life of your kid. But that’s not true! Those other adults can be great allies but can never take the place of a parent. It is vital that moms and dads grasp their unique position in relation to their tweens and actively engage with their children.

UNREAL EXPECTATIONS

Another way parents can positively impact their child’s formative tween and teen years is to let go of those unrealistic dreams and expectations for their kids. It is very natural to have plans for your child. We envision what our son will look like, talk like, act like. Our daughter will play volleyball, go to college, get married, give us ten grandbabies.

However, often times our kids don’t turn out the way we thought. Perhaps in these ugly duckling years your kid puts on a little weight. Your son shows no interest in sports. Your daughter would rather play the accordion than the piano. Your middle-schooler wants to be a forest ranger instead of an architect. It is safe to say that the things you envision for your child may not come to pass.

Instead of pushing your expectations upon your children, use ugly duckling years to build your relationship. Let go of your dreams, and work to understand and appreciate the person your son or daughter is becoming on their own. Show an interest in what interests them. Ask good questions that display your desire to know about their lives. Cheer them on in their successes, and help pick them up in their defeats. The majority of conflicts that happen in the home are the result of our expectations shattering. But when we focus on relationships and learn to appreciate our children for who they are, the struggles between parents and adolescents diminish, and the home becomes a much more peaceful place for kids to grow up.

UNMITIGATED FORGIVENESS

Lastly, parents can invest in the lives of their tweens and teens by frequently employing the use of two phrases; “I’m sorry”, and “I forgive you.” Trust me, it can be done!  When parents make mistakes (and you do), you need to be the first ones to apologize. And when our kids make a mistake (and they most certainly do that!), moms and dads need to be quick to extend grace. By asking for and offering forgiveness regularly, you’re imprinting on young minds the importance of forgiveness and the understanding that there is no epic fail or blunder that will ever stop you from loving each other. There’s great freedom for a child in knowing that no matter how goofy, clumsy, moody or unruly they become, they are still loved.

Take advantage of these in between years and begin shaping your child into the responsible and mature teenager and adult they will become. The ugly duckling stage doesn’t last long. But it’s a powerful time period where your child needs your undivided, gracious attention more than ever.

Sound hard?  Truth be told, it can be!  But you don’t have to do it alone.  Don’t hesitate to give us a call to see how we can help.  

Written by Lisa Smith

What Kind of Team Player Are You?

Are you and your partner on the same team? Do you feel like you are working toward the same goal? Let’s talk about how a couple can resolve conflict as a team.

Team work; In a healthy relationship the two people are working together to find a solution. They share their ideas, they make suggestions, they explain their perspective and share their desires. Each of them listens to the others perspective and considers it. Then together they bat around ideas as to how to solve this conflict. They say things like; “how would you feel if we…” or “What do you think about this”. In asking these questions it shows a desire to consider the other persons opinion and work together to find a solution. This couple is on the same team. If we think of this as a sport then they are a soccer team kicking the ball down the field in order to make a goal.

The passer; Sometimes the two players continually pass off the ball instead of taking it to the goal. It’s as if they are tying to solve a conflict but play on opposite teams. The first person criticizes and blames the other person, this is like continually passing the ball. This is not helpful because then the receiver of the criticism, instead of working towards a solution, finds that they are busy defending themselves. It would have been more healthy for the first person to talk about their own feelings instead of pointing the finger and blaming. The two people criticize and defend but don’t work towards the goal or a solution.

Show off; This is when the person takes a superior attitude and shows disrespect towards their partner. In keeping with our sports analogy, this would be the ball hog or show off. Without respect in the relationship we loose the desire or ability to work as a team.

Quitter; This is when the player walks off the field. In a relationship it shows itself when someone gives you the silent treatment and will no longer talk. Or they walk out of the room and disappear for a period of time. Not in order to cool off but in order to avoid the conflict or punish the person with the problem. This is not productive in trying to resolve a conflict or solve a problem.

A coach of a team often starts with team building. This applies to relationships too, in order to work together as a team there has to be a foundation of friendship, appreciation, respect and consideration. Building these qualities in a relationship takes effort but allows for a partnership that is resilient and positive rather that gridlocked and negative. It is worth the effort.

If you need help establishing the foundation of teamwork and friendship than give me a call, I can help you.

4 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Anger

When I see someone, a child, a teen or an adult who is often angry or who is easily triggered I can be certain that there is something much deeper going on than that person simply being a jerk.

Before I go on, let me clarify something.  There are things we should be angry about… being mistreated, seeing others mistreated, injustice, human deprivation, etc.  There are times when anger is justified and should be expressed appropriately.  And then there are times when we feel angry at little, more insignificant things (slow drivers, the neighbor’s dogs that bark incessantly every single day, and so on)… well, we think it’s anger but it’s really something much deeper.  Consider these four things about anger that give it a whole new perspective.

1. It is easier to feel anger than hurt.  Anger is usually a surface emotion that covers our true feelings of inadequacy, rejection, pain, feeling dismissed or out of control.  It’s easier for us to cling to anger than to make ourselves vulnerable and admit that we are fragile.

2. Anger has a strong physical component.  When we feel angry our bodies actually feel stronger and more able to protect ourselves from a  perceived emotional or physical threat.  Endorphins start pumping, our heart starts racing and we feel more powerful.  So, basically, anger is often a cover-up, a fake friend and a useless partner that keeps us from experiencing our real feelings.

3. Anger is a way to control people and situations.  When we feel unheard, disregarded and out of control we often use anger to direct the circumstances to our favor.  Some people don’t know how to express their true emotions… in fact, some don’t even know what their true emotions are.  So when that uncomfortable feeling rises up they lash out in an attempt to make the other person back down or give in.  Anger is like a bully and if we are not aware it often gets its way.

Helpful hint: How do you stand up to this bully without giving in?  Pause.  Collect yourself and your strength.  Then calmly ask what is really upsetting the person.  At least make an attempt to deescalate the person by trying to understand what is really going on.

4. Unexplored anger will destroy you.  As I mentioned above, there are times when anger is appropriate.  When we are mistreated, betrayed, wounded, belittled, teased, bullied, taken for granted or taken advantage of… these things warrant some level of anger.  If you sit on this anger without expressing it, it will eat you up.  It’s often said that depression is anger turned inward.  Directly face your own anger.  Explore where it may be coming from.

Anger eats away at relationships, slowly isolates us, builds resentment and can lead to broken families.  Learning how to communicate our feelings, our real, true, authentic feelings is the antidote.  We want your relationships and family to thrive and can help you identify and articulate root issues.  If you’re interested in how we can help, give us a call today at 562-537-2947.  Today can be the day that changes everything for you and your family.

Written by Lisa Smith