How to Fix an Unhappy Relationship


Worth Reading from Off the Web!     ~ excerpt from: https://blogs.psychcentral/Relationships

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Relationships

If you’re stuck in couple communication patterns where you can “predict” what one other will say or do, it likely means it’s time to stop and think with your frontal cortex instead.

While it may be true that what your partner is doing is not working, its’ also true that you only have 100% power to change your part.

To make this work, each partner must own their part. You are not a rock, or an island. You’re interconnected.

But even if only one of you becomes more responsible and aware, the sooner you own your part, the sooner you can access your power to make optimal choices and create great outcomes. And if you put the habit of criticizing to rest for instance, the more likely you will “influence” your partner’s heart to do the same.

After all don’t you already:

“See” and “know” how ineffective it is when your partner uses blame-, shame-, or guilt-inducing comments, or gets stuck on making negative forecasts, focuses on “lack” etc?

See and know how unloving or unloved you “feel” inside when your partner seems to be competing for “who” is right, better, superior, etc.?

So then why would you use the same or similar tactics when you’re arguing, and expect a different response from your partner?

Ask yourself, do you really want the prize of “who’s more hurt, wronged, etc.” on your mantel? What would you gain if the whole world agreed that your partner is to blame or impossible to live with? If you continue to stay on a track that builds a case against your partner, would this finally lead them to give you the love and value you yearn to realize in the relationship?

Likely not.

Keep in mind, like your heart, the key that opens your partner’s heart is feeling loved, valued, appreciated. You’re both wired to keep reaching to feel good about your self and life (i.e., happiness, joy), and thus, absent healthy ways of knowing how to feel good in moments of stress, boredom, etc., your body-mind will subconsciously opt for old tried-and-true “cheap-feel-good” options, which are often a waste of time and energy at best, if not harmful, destructive.

In a sense, you become your thoughts. It’s not just a good idea to become consciously aware of your thoughts. To not do so is like sitting on a million dollars rather than investing in creating ways. The good news is that it’s never too late to change negative patterns. Perhaps the most important take away here is to know you have this power.

Realizing your potential to create happiness and healthy relationships is a living, breathing process that ebbs and flows. The most vital moment at any time in life is always the present one.

If you do not own your happiness, seek to actively grow, to learn what works and what does not (wisdom), to take action accordingly, then you risk approaching your partner with discouraging tactics of criticism, blame, doubts, etc., triggers their deepest fears and doubts. It’s as if you are not there.

If you allow your thoughts or self-talk to keep you worrying about the future or wallowing about past failures or regrets, you cannot be present moment as an observer of your self and your relationship with your partner. It’s as if you are not there.

If you do not know what your partner wants and their reasons, you are at risk of making energy-deflating assumptions or treating your partner as an extension of your self. It’s as if you are not there.

If you do not take actions to consciously support you and your partner to realize what you want, you are at risk of getting stuck in fear-based patterns that activate old emotion-command circuitry in your brain (so old, it takes you back to patterns formed when you were 3 or 5 years old!). Again, it is as if you’re not there.

Realizing your potential as individuals and a couple is less an “outcome” and more an intention to live life fully, to learn, to grow in wisdom and understanding, to realize the amazing built in capabilities you have to stretch your capacity for compassion for your self and your partner.

What does that mean exactly and what is true potential? One thing your potential isn’t is a fixed, static outcome written in stone. Flexibility is a characteristic of creative energy (power); whereas inflexibility is characteristic of destructive power.

Potential can be described as a growing desire to bring into your life and relationship more love, more authenticity, more integrity, more acceptance, more humility, more gratitude, more sense of wellbeing. This is living with the intention for you and your partner to love one another by living to keep reaching for your highest, true potential as individuals and partners.

Ultimately realizing your potential involves cultivating your ability to do the “right” thing, and keep doing the right thing , especially when you do not “feel” like doing so, builds character, strength, courage and also deepens and matures your capacity to love your self, partner and life in a compassionate, wise-and-understanding way.

To do the right thing is to take action accordingly, meaning that it stems from wanting to do so, thus, out of emotions love, joy, caring, thoughtfulness, kindness, instead of emotions of fear, guilt, and shame.

One of the most powerful (and least accessed in relationships) kinds of action is to make clear, action-inspiring requests.

In couple relationships, this often comes “easy” for one partner, and not so easy for the other. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. It seems to be nature’s plan to bring together polar opposites on this (and other) dimensions. Nature seems to be interested in your growth, progress, transformation, and loves to challenge you.

Your couple relationship is a top-notch school, you may say, and the curriculum seems custom designed for both of you to stretch or change or modify your approach in the direction of the other.

For example:

  • For the partner who “easily” makes requests, it may mean they need to tone down the intensity with which they make requests so they sound less like demands, ultimatums to the other.
  • For the partner who responds with “I don’t know” when asked what they want, it may mean they need to stop talking themselves out of connecting to what they really want or making requests (to avoid upsetting the other).
  • For both partners, it likely means you need to learn to “reimage” the other in your mind, so you “see” and treat the other as loving and loved, valued and appreciated (as you did when you first met!). This is an infinitely more powerful and effective way to restore your relationship –  better than criticism, reactive negativity and the like.

To create the life experiences that meet your deepest yearnings means you must develop the ability to ask for what you want, and to listen to understand your partner’s.

Set an intention to become more and more aware of how you choose to use your power in present moments:

  • to know and understand what you and your partner want and why
  • take action to make life consciously more wonderful for one another This also frees you both to access life-shaping, miracle-making energies inside.

5 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser 

Worth reading! – from Off The Web!

There’s nothing wrong with playing nice and getting along. But people pleasers  rely on others’ approval to feel good about themselves. Saying “no” makes them feel guilty or worry that others’ will think they’re selfish, unreasonable, or inconsiderate. And so, in order to feel worthy and accepted, they said yes. And yes. And yes.

But constantly striving for others’ approval while ignoring your needs and well-being takes a toll. Though people pleasers may convince themselves that making others’ happy makes them happy, the self-administered pressure to manage others’ emotionscan be exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and even lead to depression.

Here are five ways to disrupt your people-pleasing. Is that okay with you guys? Because if it’s not, I can change them. Just let me know. Really. 

1. Recognize the difference between people-pleasing versus simply being kind and generous.

Are you helping because it makes you feel good? Or because you feel less bad?
If helping out reinforces your values and makes you feel good, go for it.
For example, say you’re asked to head a committee at your kid’s school. If saying yes would underscore your value of contributing to the school community and make you feel happy and satisfied, even if it’s a bit stressful, go for it.

But if saying yes only allows you to avoid guilt, and makes you feel overburdened and resentful, you may be doing it for the wrong reasons. If you say yes simply to feel less bad, less anxious, less guilty, less sorry, it’s probably driven by people-pleasing.

This doesn’t mean you should stop being helpful and thoughtful and caring— it just means you should recognize whether you’re doing something because you actually want to, or because you’ll “feel bad” if you don’t. Recognizing the difference doesn’t make you selfish; it makes you honest.

2. Let your values be the driver of decisions

– not just whether you were asked or not. If the filter that decides whether or not to help out is, “Did someone ask me to do it?”consider changing out that filter. Instead, ask “Is this in line with my values and interests?”

Indeed, a 2013 study by happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirsky recommended choosing activities related to one’s values and interests in order to maximize happiness. This can absolutely include serving important people in your life, organizations, and causes. Just make sure it doesn’t consist only of activities determined by others.

3. Practice being assertive

Healthy assertiveness can feel like brass-knuckled aggression to the people pleasers among us because the passive end of the spectrum is so cozy and familiar. But there is a long way between passive and truly aggressive. The aggressive among us just go for what they want, regardless of whether or not bystanders are harmed or what bridges are burned.
An assertive person, by contrast, commits to being polite and respectful. If you’re a people pleaser, you never have to leave behind being nice. You simply have to let go of trying to force others’ to be happy by doing whatever is asked of you.

So try increasing your assertiveness bit-by-bit. It will feel wrong to stand up for your needs and rights at first, but try it out.

Warm up by expressing an opinion when someone asks where you want to eat or what movie you want to see. Move on to politely disagreeing with Uncle Albert’s conspiracy theories, but listening respectfully and asking questions about his point of view. Then try saying “no” to a ridiculous request without bending over backwards to explain why. Keep calm and carry on, and eventually it will feel like second nature to meet others’ in the middle.

In sum, passiveness doesn’t respect you; aggression doesn’t respect others. Assertiveness lies in between, walking away from a discussion with respect for others— and yourself—intact.

3. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries doesn’t make you a bad person. You can’t please all people all the time. Unless you’re a box of Thin Mints. Then maybe.

These days, everything is extreme, from politics to weather to ironing. Spend even a couple of minutes on the internet and you’ll find an extreme split between views of the world: from being empathetic and caring to all humanity, or screw everyone and tell them what they can go do to themselves.
People pleasers  fall into the former category, but worry if they say “no” or otherwise stop trying to make everyone happy, they’ll automatically be dumped in a second. In other words, the self-image of people pleasers  hinges on every request. If they say yes, they breathe a sigh of relief—they’re still nice, good people. If they say no, they feel guilty, as if they hurt someone or did something bad. But it takes a lot more than saying “no” to watching your neighbor’s three disrespectful kids, while he watches football, to breaking your moral character.

4. Stop over-apologizing

People pleasers are always sorry. One of my clients joked she should introduce herself with “Hi, my name is Joanna, and I am sorry.”

People pleasers are always sorry.
If you’re a people pleaser, you mean only the best. Over-apologizing feels like it smooths things over and keeps others happy. But it can actually be a wee bit dishonest. Hear me out on this one: apologizing when you did nothing wrong makes it appear as if you were in the wrong. It’s an admission of guilt for a crime you didn’t commit. What’s more, it can make it look like others’ outrageous requests or poorly-thought-out actions were reasonable and justified. Save true contrition for the times you actually screw up (and we all do).

5. To sum it all up, be a people-respecter, not a people pleaser

Never hesitate to do the right thing. When your mother-in-law asks, go shovel her driveway. When your colleague asks, make a donation to get the office cleaning lady a nice Christmas gift. That’s just being respectful. But of all the people you respect, be sure to include yourself.

by: the Savvy Psychologist : 5 Ways to Stop Being a People Pleaser :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™
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Edited for readability

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via Natural Selection — Ramblings of the Claury

The Damage of Anger in Our Relationships

When I was a camp counselor, various stories were told at the end of meal time. These stories were meant to stimulate conversations for later, when kids and their counselor returned to their cabins for the night.

The following story hit me hard, so I’ve never forgotten it.
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“There once was a girl with a very bad temper.

The girl’s father wanted to teach her a lesson, so he gave her
a bag of nails and told her that every time she lost her temper
she must hammer a nail into their wooden fence.

On the first day the girl had driven 25 nails into the fence. “This is kind of fun”, she told her father. “But by the time I’m done hammering, I can’t remember why I was so mad!”

Over the next few weeks, as she began to control her temper,the number of nails she hammered into the fence gradually dwindled.

Finally, the day came when the girl didn’t lose her temper at all. She became so proud of herself and she couldn’t wait to tell her father.

Pleased, her father suggested that she now pull out one nail for each day that she could hold her temper.

The days passed and the girl was finally able to go back to her father and tell him that she had pulled out all the nails.

Very gently, the father took his daughter by the hand and led her to the fence.

“You have done well, my daughter”, he smiled. “But look at the all the holes in the fence.  The fence will never be the same.”

The little girl listened carefully as her father continued to speak.

“When you say things in anger, you leave a scar, just like these that have been left by the nails. Even if you say you are sorry, the wound will still be there.”   ~anonymous   

Later, I came to realize why it had special meaning for me. Unlike the girl in the story, my anger was used as a defense-mechanism – to protect me from my critical family. I learned, unconsciously, that anger made me feel stronger – People backed off!  It became so automatic that I didn’t even notice the damage I was causing.

But like so many of our childhood coping skills, I couldn’t even turn it off in circumstances that didn’t involve my family.

So when I heard this fable, I woke up.  I had to become aware of anger’s purpose for me.  I learned that my defenses were not who I was – they are coping skills. I had to decide that I didn’t want to be that way anymore – after all, I was no longer a child – and I learned, instead, to cope with the underlying feelings. I taught myself that being sad, confused or scared, were “okay”.

If anger is expressed without awareness, it will damage all of your relationships. Take the time to learn to communicate effectively; journal to learn to understand your feelings; get a book about Assertive Communication.

How to Be An Assertive Man

Worth reading, from Off the Web!

Are you one of the legions of men who suffer from “Nice Guy Syndrome” ? – a set of personality, attitude, and behavioral traits described by Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Nice Guy

Nice Guy

Nice Guys take a passive approach to life and relationships. Instead of standing up for themselves, they let others walk all over them. They’re pushovers and perennial People Pleasers. Nice Guys have a hard time saying no to requests — even unreasonable ones. They’re considerate to a fault. When they want or need something, they’re afraid to ask for it because they don’t want to inconvenience others. Nice Guys also avoid conflict like the plague. They’d rather get along than get ahead.

At first blush, Nice Guys seem like saints. They appear generous, flexible, and extremely polite. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll often find a helpless, anxious, and resentful core. Nice Guys are often filled with anxiety because their self-worth depends on the approval of others and getting everyone to like them. They waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to say no to people and even then, often end up still saying yes, because they can’t go through with it. They don’t feel they can go after their true desires, because they’re locked into doing what others say they should do.

Because “go with the flow” is their default approach to life, Nice Guys have little control over their lives and consequently feel helpless, shiftless, and stuck. They’re also typically resentful and vindictive because their unspoken needs aren’t being met and they feel like others are always taking advantage of them – even though they’re the ones who allow it to happen.

In worst-case scenarios, the Nice Guy’s pent-up resentment from being pushed around will result in unexpected outbursts of anger and violence. He’s a volcano waiting to erupt.

So what’s a Nice Guy to do? How can he regain some control over his life and quit being such a pushover?

Some Nice Guys think the solution is to swing to the other extreme and go from being passive to aggressive. Instead of meekly submitting, they feel like they have to dominate in every situation. They seek to get their way in everything, no matter what.

Aggressiveness, while definitely appropriate in some instances, isn’t a very productive communication style in most cases. In fact, using a persistent, aggressive communication style can often backfire by creating resentment and passive-aggressive behavior in the very people you’re trying to control.

Instead of passivity and aggressiveness, the best approach lies somewhere between the two. The sweet spot for communication and behavior is called assertiveness.

Assertiveness: The Golden mean Between Passivity and Aggression

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Best Marriage Tip Ever

Times Magazine published an article about how to make your marriage work, entitled, The Single Best Piece of Marriage Advice Ever Given

It’s a common topic – you can find articles in magazines all over the place, almost every month out of the year.  But I thought it was a good article, so here’s a bit of a summary:

The highest praised piece of advice, according to the author, is to rise above the minutia of daily life and commit to bringing out the best in your partner.  

“In wise love, each divines the high secret self of the other and, refusing to believe in the mere daily self, creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees an image to copy in daily life.”  ~William Butler Yeats 

You can’t do this without understanding what it is that your spouse truly wants. That may sound easy, but isn’t. In the short term, you might know she wants a promotion, or he wants to live in the country. But that is not the “high secret self” you need to know. The “high secret self” exists apart from daily desires and even apart from the twists of fate and fortune that get in the way.

And when your partner has given in to his or her least attractive tendencies, this is the moment when you must see through the annoying, demanding, complaining, failing, faltering wreck in front of you—and find the strong, kind, fascinating, functional person you know your spouse wants to be.

You have to learn to be critical without criticizing. The origin of the word critic is the Greek word kritikos, which does not mean “able to pick at flaws incessantly” but does mean “able to make judgments.” This is a crucial difference. The kind of criticism that helps marriage is the kind you learned in English class: studying something so well that you can find its hidden patterns and its deeper truths. If you apply this kind of criticism in marriage, it is actually possible to stop a spouse in mid-spiral (sometimes even in mid-sentence!) and say, “Excuse me, no offense, but you are not being the person you want to be.” The pronoun is vital. The difference between “who you want to be” and “who I want you to be” is the difference between encouragement and nagging: spark and ash.

Article Source : The Single Best Piece of Marriage Advice Ever Given

Recognizing and Changing an Abusive Relationship

Worth reading from off the web!

womanInDespairPXfreeThere are three essential elements to an abusive relationship:

1.  Consistent occurrences of power and control over another

2.  Chronic feelings and displays of disrespect

3.  Unhealthy attachment mistaken for love

Abusers are highly deceptive and the victim, as well as others, have no idea that he is being abusive at all.  He purposefully undermines his victim’s individuality and confidence by dominating conversations and suppressing her identity, making her into a mere object for his purposes. He minimizes anything about her, including her opinions, accomplishments, concerns, feelings, or desires.  This causes her to do the same and she learns to minimize herself as well.

Abuse and respect are polar opposites

He has a chronic attitude of disrespect towards his partner.  A respectful relationship is not abusive and an abusive relationship does not contain respect. An abuser views his partner as his property, which allows him to feel powerful and in charge.

It is essential for an abuser to feel this way because he has a fragile ego and delicate sense of self. Without feeling more powerful than his partner he feels weak and vulnerable. Feeling any sense of vulnerability taps into his sense of powerlessness which he is unwilling to experience for any reason. As long as he sees himself in the “one up” position his fragile ego is kept at bay.

Abuse is caused by the belief system of the abuser. The abuser has developed a deeply ingrained sense of superiority and entitlement which does not go away by learning how to manage anger or resolve conflicts. Abusers use anger to control. They engage in conflicts to abuse their partner; show their superiority; and keep intimacy away. Since intimacy requires vulnerability, a feeling abusers avoid at all costs, they have no interest in developing such closeness.

Abuse is not the same as conflict. A conflict involves a difference of opinion. Abuse involves the need for the abuser to stifle the feelings, thoughts, opinions, and values of the abused. An abuser refuses to accept any accountability or responsibility for any of the problems in the relationship. His hallmark attitude is one of superiority and blame. It is not the conflict that is the problem. The abuser caused the conflict in the first place. There can be no resolution.

There is no way to “approach their partner appropriately,” or “pick the right time to address something.”

Abusers can choose any reason to blame his victim for an abusive incident. Abusers abuse because they choose to. It is the abusive mindset that allows them to abuse for a number of reasons:

(1) They are unhappy and they don’t know what to do with their emotions.

(2) They dump their rage and shame on others.

(3) They may have a narcissistic or anti-social personality disorders.

(4) They feel in control, powerful, strong, and superior, which helps them keep all weak, needy, and vulnerable emotions hidden.

(5) Some people abuse because they were taught this as children and operate out of this inner working relationship dynamic.

Whether abuse is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual, or some rendition of all of these, there are some basic components of abuse; these are: blame, criticism, neglect, oppression, minimization, rigidity, ridicule, lies, invalidation, lack of accountability, no remorse, no apologies, repeated name calling, double standards, violence, and a consistent lack of empathy.

Realize that abuse, like addiction, is a chronic “disease” that progresses with time, meaning it only gets worse.

Can an abuser be cured?

Of course anything is possible.

Here are the signs that an abuser is changing:

  • he is willing to be accountable to his spouse and others;
  •  he is willing to never have a sense of entitlement in any relationship, for any reason,
  •  he shows self-reflection and insight;
  • he stops blaming others or minimizing, justifying, or rationalizing his own attitudes and behaviors;
  • he listens to and validates others, including his spouse;
  • while he is never going to be perfect, when he messes up, he apologizes, shows insight into what he did wrong, shows remorse, and changes.

 

Abusers in recovery are just like alcoholics in recovery

Alcoholics can never even have one drink ever again in order to maintain sobriety. Abusers can’t be like “normal” people who may be rude or disrespectful at times. Recovery for an abuser needs to be different from what comes natural for the partner. Coddling an abuser and showing him empathy only exacerbates his entitlement. Recovery for an abuser requires that he does not allow himself to ever be rude, disrespectful, entitled, or invalidating ever again. Instead, he is humble and compassionate at all times. No excuses.

About Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Whittier, California (www.lifelinecounseling.org).

Edited for readability   Source: Recognizing and Changing an Abusive Relationship | The Recovery Expert