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.

How Do I Know If My Teen Is Rebelling?

Teenage rebellion is not just about skipping class, staying out past curfew, or smoking anymore, now the rebellion has taken on new forms and looks considerable different from the past.  Understanding the early warning signs of teenage rebellion as opposed to normal development can make the different not only in your relationship with the teen but in their lives as well.  As a mother, former teacher and counselor of teens, I have observed three main areas of rebellion in teens.  Each of these areas is as important as the next and should be addressed.

Authority.  As part of the normal developmental process of a teenager growing into adulthood, teens become increasing aware of the numerous authority figures in their lives.  For a teen, the number of authority figures seems to multiply from parents to coaches to teachers to police officers to store managers to even older teens.  While during childhood the authority figures were for the most part respected, for some teens they all of a sudden seem to become disrespected as the child ages.

Rebelling against authority is open defiance of the rules established whether it is at home, school, athletic field or work.  This rebellion maybe obvious or it maybe secretive, either way it is rebellion against an authority figure.  The teen maybe staying out all night, not going to school, drag racing, sneaking out of the house, running away, drinking and driving, stealing from an employer, school or home, or destruction of property to name a few of the big ones.  Also look for the not so obvious rebellion symptoms such as rolling of the eyes, not making eye contact, intentionally dragging out an instruction, sleeping instead of working, and name calling.

Peers.  It may seem strange that this category would be included as a type of rebellion; however some teens do not have issues with the authority figures in their lives but rather with their peers.  It is normal for teens to experiment becoming friends with different peer groups especially as their interests and activities change.  Some teens do well with multiple peer groups while other teens struggle to fit into one peer group.

The rebellion begins at teens struggle to fit into a peer group that is not accepting of them so they act out against that group.  This can look like bullying on the surface and can resulting in fighting, backstabbing, and name calling.  Some teens switch peer groups repeatedly as a way to prevent anyone from coming too close to them.  In the end, they may experience isolation and lose of friends.  Other teens identify so strongly with one group, a gang, to the point that they are antagonistic to others who are not a part of their group.  All of this is rebellion towards their peers.

Self.  As teens struggle with forming their identity separate and apart from their parents, often times they do not like what they see.  Instead they began a self-loathing process that can rapidly become harmful behavior.  Their rebellion against themselves displays as hatred for how they appear, how they think, how they act and what they have become.  In order to feel better about themselves, they often engage in dangerous behavior to bring relief to the pain they feel.  This self-harming behavior can be cutting, excessive piercings, bingeing/purging, drugs (illegal and prescription abuse), gambling, alcohol use, and excessive risk taking.

If any of these areas sounds familiar, don’t lose hope.  The good news is that when rebellion is handled correctly, the impact on the teen’s life can be long-lasting.  Look for the article titled, “What to Do If Your Teen Rebels” for ideas on how to properly handle the rebellion.

For more information, watch this YouTube 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.

The Value of a Working Mom

Sometimes meaningful parental moments come in the middle of another conversation. It usually has nothing to do with the topic at hand and is uncharacteristically transparent.  Looking back, you wish there was a bright shining light demanding your attention so you could savor every second.

I had such a moment with my fourteen year old son just this past week.  The filter in his ADHD brain telling him not to comment on certain things is underdeveloped even for his age while his critical thinking skills far exceed.  This combination makes for very interesting and frequently frustrating conversations. Since he loves to talk, there is no shortage of either.  This week he shocked me with, “I’m glad that you are a working mom.” Suprised, I asked for further clarification because he often complains how difficult his life is. Here are his responses.

“You don’t schedule your life around me.”  Talk about a shocking statement coming from a boy who frequently complains of having no ride to the activity of the week!  He explained that his friend’s mom chooses to rearrange her schedule to meet her son’s wants and desires. As a result, his friend has a skewed view that life is all about him. My son was astonished that his friends got whatever they wanted with no regard for how it impacted the rest of the family.  By setting the standard that life is not about my son, he has learned to be less selfish.

“You work hard.”  It is both frightening and encouraging to understand that children learn more from what is done rather than what is said.  My son recounted a conversation he overheard from two mothers who were commenting on how difficult it must be to work and go to school at the same time.  Having experienced this first hand with his mother, he was shocked to discover that not every mother did this.  He then explained that by demonstrating what can be accomplished he had the motivation to work hard as well.  By setting an example of hard work (it is important to note it is the example that is significant, not the words), he has learned self motivation.

“You and Dad don’t waste time.”  By far this was the most confusing statement from my son especially since he seems to have little regard for his own time management.  He then admitted to spending quite a bit of time listening in on adult conversations and made this observation.  When time is a rare commodity, there is less gossip (his words) and more engaging discussions.  Apparently, the conversations he overhears between his parents are deeper and more meaningful because there is less time to talk.  By placing value on quality time and conversation, he has learned not to gossip.

Probably the hardest part of knowing that my son has learned these valuable lessons is understanding that he will frequently forget these lessons and become selfish, unmotivated and a gossip.  However by continuing to set standards, living by example and placing value on the important things of life, the lessons can be continually reinforced making a positive difference in his life.  As an added bonus, these lessons in turn encouraged me to keep going and greatly reduced the guilt often felt as a working mom.

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 When Mother’s Day is the Hardest Day of the Year

The Mother’s Dream

The Mother’s Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many women, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.  Perhaps you are one of these women who have little to no contact with your child, outlived your child, tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child, or lost your child through a miscarriage or abortion.  Just the mention of Mother’s Day brings to the surface the emotions you have long tucked away of disappointment, deep sadness, distress, dejection, and despair.

Yet you are torn because in many ways you have learned to move forward.  You avoid the crowded churches, shops, and restaurants on Mother’s Day, spend time with other mothers or your mother, or even remind yourself how grateful you are to have had a child.  But the heaviness in your heart is still there and despite the good moments of the day, you really can’t wait for the day to end.

Will it always be this way?  Yes and no.  Much like other holidays which exist for the purpose of remembering the lives that have been lost such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day, Mother’s Day will be for you a memorial of sorts.  It is a day to remember what was lost or never even gained in the first place.  But just as the anniversary of a person you lost brings back memories and feeling, over time, the emotions won’t be so intense.

How can I survive this day?  Reserve a portion of your day for the purpose of being alone with your thoughts and feelings.  Don’t take the entire day to do this or pretend that you don’t need to do it at all, instead take care of yourself and give yourself a gift of remembrance.  This is a good time to journal your thoughts, allow the tears to flow, and pray.  Then choose to spend your day surrounded with people who love you and are sensitive to your feelings.

What do I say to others?  Be honest.  If you really want to go somewhere on Mother’s Day, speak up; if you don’t, say so.   If you are sad, don’t pretend that you are not.  Set reasonable expectations for yourself and for others instead of assuming they already know what you are thinking or feeling.  Then communicate those expectations kindly to minimize the hurt feelings later.

Why am I having anxiety over this now?  Even if your loss occurred many years ago, you might find a sudden resurgence in your emotions this year compared to previous years.  While the intensity may be less than the initial Mother’s Day, for some reason, this year is hitting you harder.  This is perfectly normal.  Take a moment to reflect on your life and see if there is any new circumstance lately in a relationship or your environment.  Your increased anxiety may actually be misplaced anxiety over new things that you are not properly addressing.  By addressing the new things, the old issues will subside again.

Everyone has hard days during the year that are more difficult than others to get through.  Mother’s Day seems a bit crueller because everyone else appears so happy.  Just remember that you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, many other women feel the exact same way and sometimes it takes the courage of one person to say this is a hard day to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

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.

10 Reasons to Send Your Child to Summer Camp

summer-camp3I’ll never forget the first time that my husband and I suggested to our kids that they go away to a summer camp for a week.  As parents, we had discussed the benefits of a good summer camp program and spoke with many of our friends who recommended several camps around the country.  We took great pride in presenting the idea with enthusiasm to our kids.  Their response shocked us; instead of being excited they were mortified.  By their reaction, you would have thought that we were sending them away to a chain gang to be beaten and tortured.

So we gave them a year to get used to the idea and talk to some of their friends who already went to summer camp and by the next year they were a bit more open to the idea but still openly told us that we were “abandoning” them.  Fast forward to the day we picked them up from the summer camp and the unanimous reaction was “how come we only came for a week, I want to come for a month!”

Lesson learned:  Sometimes parents do know best.  So here are ten good reasons to send your child away to a summer camp.

  1. Provides your child with new experiences, people, ideas, and environments for your child without out your parental influence.
  2. Expands the friends that your child hangs out with over the summer so that there are hopefully new and healthy friendships being added.
  3. For your child at camp, there are no parents to nag, ask to clean rooms, do chores, etc…
  4. Improves your child’s social skills as they will need to get along with new people in new environments without your input.
  5. Gives your child a break from you and you a break from them.  If you are fighting with your child, this break is long overdue.
  6. Invites new things to talk about so you can get out of the rut of the same conversations over and over.
  7. Keeps your child from getting into trouble at home and watching too much TV or playing too many video games.
  8. There are many camps which specialize in one area of interest such as surfing, horseback riding, space project, dance, photography, science, hiking, rock climbing and many more.  This provides an opportunity for your child to get some advance skills in an area of interest which may even lead to a profession someday.
  9. The camp puts your child on a schedule that is dictated by them and not you; the new routine which will be met with resistance at first will later become a source of comfort.
  10. No electronics!  This is a bonus for your electronic addicted kid.

With all this in mind, here is a list of some of the summer camps available in the Orlando area:

My personal favorite camps:

 

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.

 

How to Decide to Divorce Your Spouse

divorce-broken-wedding-rings-290x160One of the hardest decisions of my life was to get a divorce.  At some point and time you finally come to the sad realization that you bring out the worse and not the best in your spouse and vice versa. While there were many appropriate reasons for my divorce, airing them out now would only be self-serving.  Rather, after 17 years of blissful marriage to my current husband, my tumultuous first marriage of 3 years has long faded in my memory as if it happened to someone else.  However the reality of its existence still pops up from time again and is a constant reminder to me of God’s mercy and grace.

Perhaps you are struggling right now with deciding if you need to get a divorce and it should be a struggle.  Deciding to break a promise and covenant should not come without challenges, questions, frustrations, guilt, indecisiveness, and doubts.  All of those should exist and it is an indication that you are taking the matter seriously.  Nonetheless, here you are trying to make the decision.  How can you do it?  How can you break up the marriage?  How can you give up on your spouse?  How can you face that person who told you not to get married in the first place?

Separate.  It is difficult to see things when you are right in the middle; it is like trying to see the forest through the trees.  Take a step back and separate from your spouse for a while to gain more perspective.  This should be an agreed upon separation for a period of time to reflect and work on individual issues.  This is not a time to blame the other person but rather to recognize your part in how the marriage fell apart.  The separation can even occur within the same house as long as you have an agreed upon set of boundaries.

Change.  Once you have separated then you can begin the process of changing the things you need to change about yourself.  For instance, you may find that you have become a negative paranoid person when you were not like that prior to your marriage.  Granted, there may be very good a reason for your negativity or paranoia but this is the time to change the parts of yourself that have grown in an unhealthy manner.  Focus on your own change first.

Forgive.  Forgiveness is much easier said than done and is definitely not a one-time act.  First, you must begin by asking for forgiveness for your own poor choices before you begin to forgive your spouse.  Recognizing your need for forgiveness softens your heart and prepares you for the next step of forgiving your spouse.  However, forgiving your spouse is not about releasing him from responsibility; rather it is about your ability not to replay the incident over and over again in your mind inciting huge amounts of anxiety to the point of panic.  Forgiveness is for your benefit.

Evaluate.  After you have completed all of the steps, now it is time to evaluate the state of your marriage and see if divorce is really the right decision.  The steps do not need to include your spouse but the process of restoration is far easier if he is a willing participant.  If he is not willing, then that decision becomes a factor in your final decision.  Weigh your options out more carefully when you decide to break the commitment of marriage than you did when you decided to make the commitment of marriage.

Time.  Take your time making the decision looking at it from a spiritual, emotional, physical, legal, and mental aspect carefully weighing the impact it will have on the people around you especially if children are involved.  Resist the temptation to just get it over with and take your time.  Pray, ask for guidance, read, and talk to trusted family and friends.  Sometimes there really is no perfect solution, only the best out of several bad options.  Once you have made the final decision however, do not drag things out longer than needed.  This will only cause more pain for you and the people around you.

Hope.  Beautiful things can come out of the ashes of shattered dreams.  Whatever your situation, divorce does not need to define you as a person or change you into someone you wish you had not become.  Instead, use your divorce as a fresh start and a chance to do things better the next time.  Don’t be afraid to set new standards and hope for a better relationship the next time.

Deciding to divorce your spouse is a tough decision and should not be taken lightly as it will become one of the hardest decisions you will have to make.  Sometimes you are not in control of the decision as your spouse has already decided it for you.  But when you are, take a step back and choose wisely.

 

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.

 

Violent video games are a risk factor for criminal behavior and aggression, new evidence shows

If you have a video gaming child, please read this latest study urging parents to steer clear of violent video games.

Violent video games are a risk factor for criminal behavior and aggression, new evidence shows.

 

Questions You Should Know the Answer to Before Walking Down the Aisle

mr & mrsBefore you walk down the aisle and make a commitment to your spouse, spend some time asking and answering these questions.  While there is no guarantee that your marriage will survive the 50% divorce ratio, knowing your spouse’s perception on a few life issues can go a long way in identifying potential problem areas in your marriage.

Background Questions:

  1. What kind of childhood did you have?
  2. Who was your best friend and why?
  3. What did you dream about as a child?
  4. Who do you want to please? Whose opinion counts?
  5. How did you spend your time as a child?
  6. When do you say, “If only…”? What are your regrets?

Life Questions:

  1. What do you want in life?
  2. What are you passionate about?  What drives you?  What do you crave?
  3. What makes you tick? What really matters to you?
  4. What do you hope will last in your life? What can’t you live without?
  5. What do you pray for?
  6. What beliefs do you hold about life, God, yourself, others?

Goal Questions:

  1. Where do you hope for? What are you working towards?
  2. What are your expectations and goals? What are you working for?
  3. What are you trying to accomplish?
  4. Who are your role models? Who are the people you respect?
  5. How do you define success or failure in any particular situation? What makes you feel rich?
  6. How do you spend your time? What are your priorities?

Emotion Questions:

  1. What do you fear? If fear is the flip side of desire then when I desire your acceptance I also fear your rejection.
  2. What gets you angry?
  3. Where do you find refuge, safety and comfort? How do you escape when things get rough
  4. What do you see as your rights? What do you feel entitled to?
  5. What are your fantasies? What do you daydream about?
  6. What instinctively feels right to you?

Future Spouse Questions:

  1. What do you need from a spouse?
  2. Who do you trust?
  3. Does your performance matter to you? If so, how?  What about your spouse’s performance?
  4. What would bring you the greatest pleasure and the greatest distress?
  5. What do you talk about? What subjects do you tend to discuss with your friends?
  6. How do you envision your marriage?  How will you spend your time?

 

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.

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.

 

Too Anxious, Too Exhausted, and Too Stressed for Friendships

business meetingYou are in a meeting that took weeks to arrange when your phone starts vibrating every 30 seconds.  You immediately run through the whereabouts of your family: kids are at school, husband is at work, and mom is playing golf so what could be so important.  Then panic begins as you imagine your child having an accident and being rushed to the hospital, your husband in a deadly car accident, or someone in the family dying.  So you check your phone discreetly only to find 15 messages from your friend.

Really?  Can’t this latest drama last till the end of the meeting?  But your phone keeps going off with new additional messages until you find that you are no longer participating in the meeting and severely distracted by the thoughts circling in your head wondering if your house is on fire or your friend is in jail.  So you cave and excuse yourself to return the dreaded phone call.

“I need to know what pumps to wear with my new black dress”, the panicked voice on the other end says.  Now you are angry that you go so anxious over nothing, exhausted from the million catastrophes that raided your mind, and stressed out from the unending craziness that hovers over your friend like a black cloud constantly raining on your parade.

Reasons for friendships.  You thought that having friendships would reduce your anxiety through shared experiences, alleviate your exhaustion by providing much-needed emotional support and minimize your stress by having someone to talk to.  But it doesn’t or at least has not in this case or the case before.  Now you are left wondering how to get rid of this ridiculous friendship and wondering if the risk of adding another friendship, even if it might be helpful, is really worth all of the effort.  After all, friendships require an investment of time, energy and intimacy all of which has long been long depleted from your account.

Get rid of the baggage.  Begin with the end in mind.  Friendships can be extremely helpful but if you find that you no longer care about which color pumps to wear then it is time to get rid of the friendships that do.  Backing away from a friend is difficult and there are two ways to effectively go about it.  One is the direct approach where you explain that you need to stop the friendship; the old “it’s not you, it’s me” approach.  The other way is to pull back a little at a time until the friendship is in the distance instead of so close by waiting 24 hours to return phone calls or respond to texts.

Less is more. In the end, you are better off with a few close friends that mutually support and encourage you instead of more friends that drain you.  But having a few close friends means kissing a lot of frogs along the way to see which will turn into a treasure.  More importantly, it means being a good friend to others so you can attract quality friendships.

Making the first move.  Sometimes you have to initiate a friendship by doing an act of kindness, listening to them complain, being empathetic when there is a problem, or just simply asking them to join you for a cup of coffee.  Don’t wait for others to make the first move or you are likely to fall into the dysfunctional friendship all over again.  Dysfunctional people are like leeches sticking to whatever surface that doesn’t repel them.  So stop being a target for them and make the first move.

Allow for grace.  Once you have started a friendship, have a couple of boundaries ready to keep you from falling back into your old pattern.  If for instance, your friend crosses a boundary such as calling after midnight, give grace once but after that if your boundary keeps being violated, then cut the friendship off.  The sooner you do this the better the result.

Risk intimacy.  In order for a friendship to reduce anxiety, alleviate exhaustion and minimize stress intimacy must be a two-way street.  You should not be giving more intimacy than your friend nor the other way around.  It must work together and naturally.  If not, this is not a close friend.

Know your seasons.  In every season of life, you will have different types of friends for different reasons.  When you were dating, your friendships were other single women.  When you got married and had kids, your friendships likewise were married with kids.  When you changed jobs, your friendships also changed.  This is normal.  Don’t try to force a friendship that was never meant to last beyond a season in your life.

Quality friendships can be extremely refreshing, encouraging, and are well worth the time, energy, risk and intimacy to achieve.  But with anything, practice makes perfect so don’t expect to have this down right away.

 

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.