Struggling With A Jerk At Work?

Got any jerks in your life?  You know the type. The ones who think they know it all, the ones who don’t listen to a word you say, the ones who push and push until you can’t take it, or the ones who are the first to cry victim but the last to admit to a fault.  They are exhausting, relentless, aggressive, nitpicking, frustrating, and by the time you are done talking to them you want to run away screaming.

Worse yet, they can turn even the best of days upside-down with just a comment, message, text or email.  You have become so programmed to their belligerent behavior that just the mention of their name stirs you inside and the sound of their voice can bring a fight-or-flight response.  As with any jerk, there are those who agree with you about the behavior and then those who adamantly disagree believing him/her to be a wonderful person.  So what can you do?  What do you do with all of that frustration especially if you are unsure of whom to confine it?

Identify the abnormal behavior.  The natural tendency when confronted by a jerk is to do just that, label them as a jerk.  While this may bring about some comfort, he/she is the jerk and not you, in the end it leaves you with nothing to do except avoid them.  More than likely, if this person is bothering you he/she is not a person you can avoid indefinitely.  So instead of labeling and dismissing him/her, identify the behavior that is driving you nuts.  Is it a word, phrase, tone of voice, emotion such as anger, aggression, or the way you were attacked?  If it is several of these, break it down until you have one really irritating piece.

Identify what it reminds you of.  Ask “what does this behavior remind me of” or “who does this behavior remind me of”.  The first thing that pops into your head is usually the best as long as it is not the same person or incident.  For instance, you receive an email from a co-worker who created a larger than life problem but is now trying to shift the blame onto you.  You are stuck cleaning up the mess and have to deal with the co-worker but are angry at his/her continued unwillingness to take responsibility for his/her actions.  The email sends you over the top as now he/she has manipulated the circumstances to blame you for his/her mistake.  So ask the two questions.  Could it be that this person reminds you of the time when a bully beat you up and then said it was you who started the fight and the bully was only defend him/her?  You may need to ask the question again if there is more than one similar incident, keep going until you have a couple of irritating people on your list.

Identify how you wish you responded.  Now that you have the underlying incident mixed with the underlying person, examine how you responded.  Most likely you have already replayed the incident in your head over and over wishing for another opportunity to confront the person and given the same set of circumstances and now your response would have been much better.  In reality we don’t have opportunities to turn back the clock and confront but we do have current circumstances with similar characters which is exactly where you are with the jerky behavior today.  At some deep level, this current circumstance reminded you of a past circumstance in which you already had a strong desire to do something different.

So do something different.  What is the outcome you are trying to achieve?  Using the above story, if your desired outcome is to get noticed for doing quality work, then do excellent flawless work.  Don’t let the jerk at the office rattle you and cause you to be ineffective, that is his/her goal; rather, use their immature behavior as a way of highlighting your mature behavior.  And in the end not only will you feel better but you are one step closer to your desired outcome.

Don’t allow the jerks to get the best of you and distract you from doing your work, having fun, or just hanging with the family.  He/she lives to steal the best from others and use it to enhance himself/herself.  There is no need for you to fall victim again to another trap, identify it and do something different instead.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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How to Eliminate Stress from Your Life without Taking a Yoga Class or Changing Your Schedule in 10 Steps

parentHave you ever Googled “eliminate stress” only to find a long list of impossible tasks from people who obviously don’t have a job and aren’t married with kids?  My personal favorite ideas were to quit work (really… because last time I checked you work to earn money to care for your family and quitting work would add considerable stress to your life), have an open schedule (this is laughable as my schedule is almost entirely dictated by my kid’s activities), and avoid difficult people (yes, that is really possible when you work with difficult people all day long).  You already know that you need to reduce the stress in your life but having ridiculous suggestions about how to go about it only increases stress and gives you the impression that reducing stress in your very busy life is impossible.  It’s not.

Here are a few suggestions that been tested and proven to be effective by very busy people like you.

  1. Know where you are going.  As silly as it sounds, having goals for each area of your life actually reduces stress.  For instance, if your goal with your teenage son is to help him be a self-sufficient adult who is not stuck playing video games on your sofa at age 25 then you have a goal.  With that goal in mind he should be making his own meals, taking care of his own laundry, and working at a part-time job.  Doing this process for each area of your life makes decisions easier and less stressful.
  2. Stick to your plan.  Using the teenage son example you will undoubtedly be met with stiff resistance on his part as you enforce the new direction.  This is good.  As a parent your responsibility is to teach your child to become a functional adult it is not to be their friend (hopefully that will come much later).  By remembering your goal and sticking with it and serving out consequences for not following the plan, you will reduce more stress in the long run but not the short run.
  3. Set realistic expectations.  Just because you spent all day cleaning the floors of your house does not mean that anyone will even notice.  If you clean the floors expecting gratitude or praise then you are likely to be disappointed.  Instead, recognize that you like the floors clean and you are really cleaning them for yourself.
  4. Monitor your thoughts.  This is a biggie for most women as thoughts tend to run ramped and one strange phone call can leave you replaying it for hours if not days.  Give yourself the two times rule.  You are allowed to replay a conversation two times but any more than that you need to distract yourself and move on.  Think about it for a second, when was it ever productive to waste a bunch of time obsessing over something that you can’t change.
  5. Be your own best friend.  Your inner dialogue should be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friend.  Would you ever look at your best friend and call her “stupid” for making a mistake at work or call her “fat” for eating a piece of chocolate cake or call her “loser” for missing an appointment? Of course not!  So stop doing this to yourself.
  6. It’s ok to say “no”.  Mommy guilt runs strong and powerful especially when you are working and you know that your kids don’t have your undivided attention.  This means that some activities will conflict with work forcing you to say the dreaded “no” word.  It’s ok, you are not in this alone and it is good to teach your kids that they can’t get everything they want when they want it.  Remember the bigger picture.
  7. Don’t lie.  It is very tempting to play God and believe that you know what someone else is thinking and can make someone feel better by telling a little lie.  But lies have a strange way of catching up to you and creating much bigger problems and stress in the end.  So make a habit of being truthful even if it might hurt someone’s feelings.
  8. Set boundaries in your life.  Boundaries are like walls which are very useful after all who wants to watch you in the bathroom at work (ok, I admit that visualization was a bit over the top but highly effective).  Here are some practical stress reducing boundaries: don’t answer your phone when it rings, check email only three times a day, non-emergency communication gets an automatic 24 hour wait before responding, and limit social media stuff to once a day.
  9. Choose OCD behaviors wisely.  Some OCD tendencies are rather useful such as always putting your keys or purse in the exact same place every day.  This eliminates the mad dash to find things.  But some OCD behaviors are not useful such as needing to wash your hands 50 times a day or cleaning obsessively with bleach.  Get help for the behaviors that you need to change and embrace new habits that are time savers.
  10. Work on you, not everyone else.  In the end, you are only responsible for yourself. (Yes, there are those kids of yours but they are already responsible for some of their behaviors and most likely need more not less responsibility.)  When you take time to work on your own issues instead of pretending they don’t exist, you will find more energy.  After all, you can’t give what you don’t already have.

Reducing stress in your life does not have to be about taking a yoga class, changing you schedule, exercising more and eating healthy.  These are all external things, not internal things. And while these things certainly have their place, the best place to start is in your mind.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Free Printable Behavior Charts for Kids

This website has a great selection of behavior charts for kids of all ages. They are very useful for kids who respond well to a reward/consequence system or kids who need things spelled out into specific action steps.

Child Development Preteens & Teens.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What to Do If Your Teen Rebels

Rebellion in teens can be secretive or obvious depending on the personality of the teenager and the circumstances.  It can show itself as rebellion against authority, against their peers, or against themselves.  The article titled, “Symptoms of Teenage Rebellion” identifies some of the symptoms and breaks down each category of rebellion separating out normal behavior from abnormal behavior.  Once you have come to the realization that your teen is rebelling, than it is time to take action to help them overcome the destructive behavior.

Think.  The first step in helping you teen is to differentiate between normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior and address only the abnormal teenage behavior.  Leave the normal teenage behavior for another day.  Also, if your teen is in trouble for stealing from school and sneaking out of the house, then address one of the issues because the issues are not related.  If however, your teen is in trouble for stealing from school and destruction of property at school, then address the issues together.  Having a plan before you begin the conversation knowing in advance the range of discipline that will be given will give you confidence and help you to remain calm during the discussion.

Confront.  The second step is direct confrontation of the issue at hand.  Pay attention to the environment and the people around when beginning the confrontation.  While their friends are over, while their siblings are in the room, and without your spouse is not a good time for confrontation.   Rather choose a time that works for everyone and if needed, set a date.  Select a neutral ground in the home to have the discussion, neither their room nor your room are appropriate as these should be places of comfort.  As difficult as this may be, it is best to remain calm and unemotional during the discussion.  Tears and bursts of anger can be interpreted as manipulation and increase the tension and emotions of the conversation.  Keep the conversation on the one point you decided at the beginning resisting the urge to repeat yourself.

Listen.  During the conversation, remember that this is not a time for lecturing; rather this is a time for gaining insight as to the real reason behind the rebellion.  The type of rebellion should provide you with a clue as to what they are rebelling against but that it does not explain the why.  To discover the why of rebellion, you need to listen past the words to the heart of the matter while paying special attention to the emotion shown.  Look for body language to help you discover what is going on: do they look away when a topic is addressed, do they become angry at a comment made, do they shut down when you respond, or do they cry over what seems like a small issue.  Don’t be afraid to identify and inquire about the emotion: fear, anxiety, sadness, excitement, guilt, or surprise.

Remember.  At some point it may be useful to identify with the emotion your teen is feeling by remembering a time when you felt the same way.  Use this as an opportunity to bond with your teen by sharing an experience with them.  Oftentimes teens feel as though they are the only ones to feel a certain way and no one could ever understand them.  Just sharing a similar moment and becoming venerable in front of your teen demonstrates a heart of understanding beyond the disciplining.

Counsel.  Giving teens counsel is a tricky task because if they don’t feel like you really understand them, they won’t respond well to your counsel.  Instead of giving counsel to unwelcoming ears, postpone the conversation until another time and give your teen a chance to absorb the conversation.  This action alone demonstrates that you are more interested in helping them to grow than in blind obedience.  If they are willing to receive the counsel, then keep it short.  Better to get a small message across well then a long message out poorly.

Seek help.  If during the process it becomes apparent that your teen is not responding positively, seek help from a professional.  Choose a professional who has personal experience with teenagers, perhaps works with them in a coaching or teaching environment or has teenagers of their own.   The best help includes some parenting advice as well as counsel for the teen because it is better for everyone to be on the same page going forward.

Rebellion does not have to overwhelming and can actually improve and deepen the communication between the parents and the teen.  Use these moments to strengthen your relationship instead of creating a greater divide.

For more information watch this video.  

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

What Freud Got Right: Oedipus Complex

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smoking cigar. Español: Sigmund Freud, fundador del psicoanálisis, fumando. Česky: Zakladatel psychoanalýzy Sigmund Freud kouří doutník. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There he was at six years old running to welcome me home with open arms.  His warm embrace and excitement over greeting me filled my heart with overwhelming joy.  Our son dominated my greeting making sure that my husband did not get close and when he did, he immediately jumped in-between our embrace.  He spoke of all the things he did desperately seeking my approval and interrupted any conversation my husband and I attempted to have.  It was adorable and I loved every minute of it but was not right.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and psychosexual development, coined the phrase Oedipus Complex to describe the sexual attraction a child has for their parent.  He believed that every child wants to have sex with their parent, usually the parent of the opposite sex, and this is why they naturally desire to please or get the attention of said parent.  While I do not agree with the sexual component, there is some truth in a child seeking the attention of one parent to the detriment of the other.  It is almost as if there is some sort of unspoken competition between the child and the same-sex parent where the child uses whatever means necessary to win the competition.  This unfortunately can include using both good and bad behavior to draw attention.

So what can you do?  Well the first step is to realize what is happening which means that you need to observe your child’s behavior as an outsider looking in on the family.  Step back and see if your child is physically getting in-between you and your spouse, if they are interrupting, if they demand attention, and if they play on the deficiencies of the same-sex spouse.  For instance, if you and your spouse are not physical with hugs and kisses, is your child excessively hugging and kissing the opposite sex parent?  Or if you and your spouse don’t talk very much, is your child excessively trying to engage you in conversation?

So what do you think?  Now that you realize what is going on, please understand that this is normal childhood behavior.  A daughter will do this with her father and a son will do this with his mother; there is nothing unnatural about it except for your reaction.  It is naturally pleasing to have such unconditional love and admiration from your child and more than likely you will encourage it with your reaction.  But if you allow your child to come in-between you and your spouse, they will only learn even better how to manipulate others and in the end, this is not a good character trait.  The opposite is also true for if you reject your child’s behavior, they will transfer that rejection onto future relationships in a never-ending desire to seek love and approval from wherever they can find it.

So what can you say?  Discuss this issue with your spouse and agree together on how to handle it with your child.  The first step is to acknowledge your spouse first and then your child each and every time you enter a room.  This subtle message is not a rejection of the child but rather a placement of importance on your marriage.  Your marriage should come first before your child as eventually your child will grow up and leave one day and you will be left with your spouse.  Two individuals cannot become one in a marriage if a child is in the middle.  The second step is to be more physically affectionate with your spouse than your child, reserving only certain types of kissing and hugging for your spouse.  This teaches your child that there is a difference between the two.  The last step is to make decisions together as a couple regarding your child, the words, “I need to talk to your mother or father first” should become a standard in your household.

Too often a parent’s response to negative behavior from their child is to think there is something wrong with them.  If your child is suffering from an Oedipus Complex, their negative behavior is an attempt to get the attention of the opposite sex parent.  By giving your child attention after your spouse, they will learn to trust in receiving the attention and be less likely to repeat the negative behavior.  Freud got this concept right as it is repeated over and over in households and is the unnecessary cause of much frustration and tension.  By realizing that what your child is experiencing is normal and modifying your behavior, your child will naturally adjust theirs.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Wedding Is Over, Now What…

I love weddings but I love strong marriages even more.  Once the wedding and celebration is over, the marriage begins but where do you begin?  What comes next?  Here are ten simple steps that are easy to implement the first day and lay a good foundation for a healthy marriage.

  1. You are part of a team now with your coach being God.  There really is no point in working against each other, trying to compete with each other, or holding resentment towards each other.  Each of these behaviors destroys teamwork.  Rather your marriage should be a pattern of working together as members of the same team.
  2. Forgiving the small things such as the things that annoy you or frustrate you lays a pattern for forgiving the large things.  In every marriage, there will be large things that you will need to forgive and if you have been forgiving the small things all along, the large things become easier.
  3. Don’t just remember what you love about your spouse, but regularly communicate it to your spouse.  Actually speak the words of what you love about your spouse, don’t assume they know.  Even if they do know, hearing the words is a great reminder.
  4. Be grateful for the times of want because they tend to strengthen your relationship more than the times of plenty.  It is in the times of want that you learn to work together in new ways and develop a healthy dependency on each other.  In contrast, the times of plenty tend to increase selfish behaviors.
  5. Be intentional about showing your spouse polite behavior, using “please” and “thank-you” regularly.  Too often polite behavior is given only for others thinking that we can just “be ourselves” with our spouse.  But in the end, this demonstrates a lack of respect for your spouse that can turn into resentment.
  6. When you see your spouse after you have been apart, greet them with a hug and a kiss.  When you leave your spouse for a period of time, even if it is just for work, say good-bye with a hug and a kiss.  These simple acts demonstrate that you don’t take their coming and going for granted.
  7. Have at least one special place that the two of you like to visit and reserve it just for you.  This means that even when you have children, this place should be just for the two of you.  The special memory of this place in combination with regular visits creates an intimacy that only the two of you share.
  8. Find a simple act that demonstrates love to your spouse and do it daily.  This will require communication to find out what is important to your spouse and then intentionally doing the act even though you think it is silly.  This should not be a list of “To Do’s” but rather one small simple act.
  9. Be careful how you treat your spouse in public and especially in front of extended family.  Making small jabs at your spouse, being sarcastic, or insulting them is hurtful and while they may laugh it off in the moment, resentment can build in the end.
  10. Talk about sex with your spouse.  Don’t talk about it with your friends, joke about it around the water cooler, or involve your family in any way.  Talk to your spouse.  Tell them what you like, how you like it, and what you would like to try staying away from any remarks that could be negative.

There is nothing quite like watching an older couple who has been married for a long time still holding hands or gently touching each other.  The love they have for each other just oozes out of them; it is something to aspire.   While these tips are no guarantee that your marriage will be successful, they can improve your relationship.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Parenting the tough stuff

 

 

If the small stuff like bad test grades, periodic fights with siblings, friendships that come and go, or occasional defiance with food does not faze you as a parent, the tough stuff will.  Sometimes it is a gradual progression, sometimes it comes in waves, and sometimes it hits you all at once.  Whatever the method, the tough stuff of parenting can catch you off guard and leave you questioning yourself, your family and your child.

Perhaps you are dealing with a child who has uncontrollable anger with outbursts so intense that they say hateful things, are uncharacteristically mean, threaten to harm themselves or others, or physically take their anger out on others.  Perhaps you are dealing with a child who stays out all night, comes home acting differently, has questionable friends, lies frequently or displays other signs of potential substance abuse.  Perhaps you are dealing with a child who has withdrawn from most social engagements, has no desire to be with any friends, whose grades are slipping, spend most of their time sleeping or has no interest in things they enjoyed before.  Or perhaps you are dealing with a child who threatens to commit suicide, has marks on their arms and legs indicating cutting, has lost extreme amounts of weight, or seems to do things to gain excessive amounts of attention.  Whichever situation you are dealing with, this is the tough stuff.  So what do you do?

 Don’t deny.  A common philosophy is to blame yourself for your child’s behavior.  This is encouraged in psychology with Freudian beliefs, in society where to admit your child has a problem means that there is something wrong with you, and in our own internal thoughts when we rather blame ourselves than to be honest with the situation.  While your child’s behavior is at some point their responsibility and choice and not yours, there is something to be said for a little self-reflection.  What is your child’s behavior telling you?  Are they acting angry because you are suppressing anger?  Are they demanding attention because they don’t feel loved?  Are they withdrawing because they have been hurt by someone they trusted?  Be honest with the situation and listen to the clues from your child’s behavior.

Deal with yourself first.  Remember the instructions on an airplane, put your own mask first and then help your child.  If your teenage child’s two year old temper tantrum is because they feel overwhelmed with all of the expectations placed on them, then look at the expectations that you have placed unnecessarily on them.  More importantly, look at why those expectations have been placed.  Are you placing expectations on your child that were placed on you?  How do you feel about that?  Or are you placing expectations that are inconsistent with your child’s talents and abilities just because others do the same to you?  Again, be honest with yourself and see your child’s behavior as a reflection of the things you need to address that perhaps you have not addressed.

Do get help.  More often than not, parents bring in their child to therapy to deal with their behavior but do not go to therapy to deal with their own behavior.  It is so much easier to point the finger at your child and drag them into therapy instead of the dealing with your own issues.  Therapy is most effective when the entire family admits that there is a problem and each person deals with their own issues separately and together.  Your child will do far better in therapy when they see you doing better because of therapy.  Be the example that your child needs and get help for your issues.

Many parents will admit that they need help parenting but few will actually take the first step of getting help.  Even fewer will go into therapy for themselves before they send their child however; this is the best method for healing.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.