Marriage Tip: Be Intentionally Grateful to Your Spouse

Try it.  Don’t talk about it, think about it or put it off.  Just be intentionally grateful about something, anything will really do, which is far better than nothing.  Even if your spouse misunderstood your last comment, argued with you over something meaningless, made a thoughtless remark, or turned a casual comment into a lecture opportunity, show gratitude in a way that matters to them.  It is not about finding the right moment, because it will never come.  It is about creating the right moment in the mist of wrong moments to be grateful.  You can be grateful by making a positive comment about your spouse not a passive aggressive sarcastic remark.  You can be grateful by doing something for your spouse not doing something that you have asked them repeatedly to do and it still is not done.  You can be grateful by giving something to your spouse not by giving them something that is really for you.  You can be grateful by spending time with your spouse not by demanding your spouse spend time with you.  You can be grateful by gently squeezing your spouse’s hand not by yanking their hand.  So what are you waiting for, go be grateful to your spouse.

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.

Is Your Child Becoming Like Their Narcissistic Parent?

Woman Holding Blank FrameIt can’t be.  While the narcissistic parent is insensitive and uncaring, your child seems overly compassionate, caring, and highly attuned, almost to the point of compulsion, to needs of others.  Your child fails to see anything wrong with the narcissistic parent and believes the parent to be near perfect.  Gratitude and praise flow off your child’s lips as such a welcome change from the demoralizing comments emanating from the narcissistic parent.  So your child couldn’t be narcissistic, right?  Wrong.

There is a budding type of narcissism known as the inverted narcissist and is occasionally seen in children of narcissistic parents.  Basically it works like this.  The child idealizes the narcissistic parent to the point that he or she gets satisfaction out of pleasing the parent who is difficult to please.  Your child gives the narcissistic parent an unending supply of adoration and admiration which the parent in turn craves.  Because the child supplies the narcissist’s needs with excessive praise, the parent then becomes possessive and dependent as an addict is to a drug in an unhealthy manner.  Your child figuratively becomes the mirror which the narcissistic parent uses to view their inflated ego.

What can you do?  There really is no use in identifying all of the flaws of the narcissistic parent because it will only serve as a point of contention between you and your child possibly ending in alienation.  Instead, don’t burst your child’s bubble about the narcissistic parent but don’t lie by agreeing with your child either.  Rather listen to your child’s point of view and don’t take advantage of your child’s giving nature.  This will naturally set you apart from the narcissistic parent.

What can you say?  As the non-narcissistic parent, you might not be in the best position to bring clarity to your child’s opinions about the narcissistic parent.  More than likely you will be too emotionally involved to think clearly and present an alternative opinion.  In addition, you need to focus on non-manipulative communication with your child avoiding such pitfalls as guilt tactics or bribery.  So find a safe adult person that your child can confide in to discuss any issues related to the narcissistic parent.  This person should have a full understanding of narcissism and not be subject to the same idealization as your child.

Will it get better?  Yes but not without some hurt feelings along the way.  Eventually the narcissistic parent will disappoint the child because the facade cannot be maintained for too long; however it may not happen until adulthood.  In the meantime, don’t do anything to destroy your relationship with the child; your child needs a strong parental bond because the narcissist is not empathic.  Your child may want to spend alone time with the narcissistic parent and naturally you will want to protect your child from potential harm.  Yet, this alone time may just be what is needed to bring about clarity for your child in the difference between the two parents.

Narcissism is hard to deal with by itself.  If you are struggling with it, imagine how hard it is for your child who does not have the life experience to tell them something is wrong.  At some point in adulthood your child will confront you about the narcissistic parent so be prepared to be honest about your own struggle and successes in dealing with narcissism.

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.

It’s the Most Lonely Time of the Year

As if feeling lonely isn’t bad enough by itself, add the Holidays to the mix and your loneliness becomes magnified.  Excitement is in the air during this time with extra stuff crowded the isles at most stores in all kinds of bright and cheerful colors screaming “buy me”.  The aroma of scented candles and flavored coffee permeates the air while the music is loud and joyful with new versions of familiar lyrics.  The traffic is busy at odd times during the day with more people on the road, in the airports, on the subway and at train stations.  Lights flash, decorations hung, Santa hats appear, and the excess of delicious food and drink dominate the atmosphere.

But no one else seems to be lonely.  One quick glance around you yields abundant laughter, smiles of delight on children’s faces, and embr­­aces of greeting.  Yet you find yourself feeling even more alienated, more alone, and more depressed as even acquaintances treat you more like Scrooge or the Grinch, a person to be avoided rather than included.  And realistically, you don’t even want to be included because then the expectation would be to put on a happy face and you just can’t fake it anymore.  So just how do you then survive the Holidays?

Perspective, perspective, perspective.  Everything is not what it seems.  The reality is that many are struggling this year financially, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually, they just don’t show it.  Your honesty about how you feel reminds them of their struggles which they are trying hard to forget.  But this reality still does not decrease your loneliness; in fact, it increases it because now the avoidance is intentional.  However, by understanding better their perspective, you in turn have the opportunity to be the compassionate person.  So instead of trying to survive yet another party, invite one person out for coffee and just talk.

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.  One of the causes of loneliness is a lack of appropriate boundaries.  How you ask?  Examine a playground for a moment.  Several studies have shown that a playground without a fence causes children to hover around the equipment.  In contrast, a playground with a fence frees the children to run away from the equipment yet still within the confines of the fence.  If the fence is too close to the equipment, the fence becomes part of the equipment and is climbed over.  Good boundaries are the same way; they exist but are neither too restrictive nor too distant to be effective.  Examine your boundaries.  Are you too restrictive about trying new friendships?  Do you lack boundaries for new friendships?  Either way, this simple concept could be creating unnecessary loneliness in your life.

Time, time, time.  If the cause of your loneliness is a death, divorce, or other significant life change within the last year, then you are still within the appropriate grieving period.  Anytime you endure a major life change, everything changes especially how you celebrate the Holidays.  This year will be different because your life change is making it different and you are most likely missing the good times of the past.  Even though your life change may have been a welcomed one there will still be things that you will miss.  Don’t try to deny it; rather recognize it and acknowledge it as part of the grieving process.  Then you can begin to look forward to creating a new tradition.

Surviving “the most lonely time of the year” is about keeping your perspective, establishing appropriate boundaries and giving yourself the gift of time to recover from major change.  Your loneliness may be here for a season, but it does not have to last after the season is done.

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.

DISC Personality Profile: Working Together

You understand your personality profile and can now see how the pieces fit together to form a whole functioning group.  So now the struggle becomes how to communicate effectively with each other.  Effective communication is difficult under normal circumstances but try complicating it with different strengths, weaknesses, needs and motivations and you are likely to feel a bit overwhelmed.  Worse yet, do this for an entire team of different profiles and watch your time disappear.

Instead of resorting back to the way things were before you learned all of this information, try incorporating a couple of these tactics the next time you have a team meeting.  Remember you can meet the needs of all your personalities in one meeting at one time which in the end will save you time and energy while reducing stress and frustration.

Project Outline. In order to better understand effective communication, the same example will be used for each profile.  You have been given a task of reducing your team’s budget by $1M over the next three years and are holding a team meeting to communicate the expectations, deadlines, and potential concerns.

What.  For the dominating in your group, they need to know the “what” of this project.  They are not interested in how you think they should go about cutting the budget or who is involved; rather they just want to know what are the expectations and deadlines.  The more information you give them the more likely they are to be frustrated and fear that you don’t trust them to complete the task.  Less information is best, they will ask for more details if they need it.

Who.  For the influential in your group, they need to know “who” is involved this project.  While the other information such as deadlines and objectives are necessary, you will get further if you explain who will be involved in the project with them and who will be reviewing the project in the end.  If there is potential for public recognition, use this as a motivating piece to encourage the project to be completed on a timely basis.  For this group, it is best to move the deadline earlier as they are likely to be late.

How.  For the steadfast in your group, they need to know the “how” of this project.  Questions like how is this project going to be measured, how are they going to tell someone that the budget has been cut, and how are they going to viewed by others are important issues to address.  The more support, reassurance, and loyalty you can show this group the more comfortable they will be accomplishing this task.  This group will come back to you over and over again because they are afraid of hurting someone along the way.

Why.  For the conscientious in your group, they need to know the “why” of this project.  Begin by explaining the big picture of why the budget is being cut then move to why their specific area needs to be cut.  It will be hard for this group to participate in such a project without fully understanding all of the details and decisions that lead to this conclusion.  Give them as much information as you can and then redirect them to someone else for additional information if needed.  More information is better than less.

Don’t feel as though everyone needs to hear all of this information, they don’t.  if the dominating of the group are done, let them leave and begin to work.  If the influential of the group want to hang out because they like to be with others, let them but don’t expect them to hear anything past the “who”.  You will have to give the steadfast permission to leave the meeting as they are least likely to take initiative.  But the conscientious of the group will outlast and out question all of the groups.  Meeting the needs of each group one time is a far better use of your time and will reduce the level of stress for your team.

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.

Are You At Higher Risk For PTSD?

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new study conducted in Japan analyzes brain scans of teens before and after the earthquake to see who is at higher risk for PTSD.  The study concluded that teens with weak front right connections in the brain had greater anxiety which can then lead to PTSD in traumatic situations.  While this is not conclusive and more studies need to be done, it is something to guard for if you have had prior damage in that area of the brain.  “The Magnificent Mind At Any Age” by Dr. Daniel Amen is an excellent book outlining other anxiety disorders and their relationship to the brain.  He also offers many suggestions as to how to deal with such injuries.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/10/22/brain-images-may-reveal-ptsd-risk-before-disasters/

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.

Ever Wondered If You Have An Anxiety Disorder?

One of several versions of the painting "...

One of several versions of the painting “The Scream”. The National Gallery, Oslo, Norway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take this short quiz on-line to see if you have an anxiety disorder.  Some disorders can be minimized with medication, change in diet or talk therapy. There is no need to continue to struggle with the same issue when you have options for getting better which work.

http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/anxiety.htm

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.

So You Don’t Think There Is Such A Thing As ADHD….

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the lit...

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a great article to pass on to anyone who doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as ADHD.  Written by someone who has it from their own perspective rather than from the outside looking in.  Pass it on to any of your non-believing friends.

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-man/2012/10/you-say-theres-no-such-thing-as-adhd/

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 Talk to Your Narcissistic Boss

Oil on canvas

Oil on canvas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After years of speculation, you have finally come to the realization that your boss is a narcissist.  Since this is not the type of economy where you can just leave your job and expect to get another one quickly, you find yourself stuck and miserable in a job that normally you would like except for your narcissistic boss.  In the beginning everything was great.  Your boss seemed to like you and you liked him/her despite the previous dozen or so former employees who left rather abruptly.  Then one day everything changed, as if a switch just flicked without your knowledge and you went from the best employee ever to the most incompetent human alive.

But you are stuck and despite the numerous attempts to flick the switch back the other way, it’s not budging.  Every day now begins with several duck and cover attempts as you dodge the verbal bullets assaults of your boss until one day when you have no option but to confront.  Finally, the issues on your desk have built up to an unbearable level and something has to give as there is no more time. While you know you need to confront your boss, you must do it in a way that doesn’t cost your job in the process.  So how do you do it?  Try a few of these suggestions.

 Use the Hamburger method.  Think for a moment about a McDonald’s hamburger, would you ever eat the meat without the bun?  No, the meat is terrible without the bun.  Well for just about anyone, but a narcissist in particular, delivering bad news is the meat of the matter and without a bun it is likely to be spit right back out at you.  So, create a bun of praise around the meat.  Since a narcissist loves himself/herself, try praising your boss first, then follow it with the meat of the matter, and end it with yet another personal or professional praise.

Use it only once.  You are going to be shocked at how well this will work and be very tempted to repeat this for the dozen or so other meats but watch out.  Your narcissist boss will likely catch on and become even angrier thinking that you are manipulating him/her.  So when you do this, do it once per conversation, and never twice in the same day.

 Pick your meat carefully.  If possible, prioritize the meat that needs to be confronted and do the most burning issues first, then follow it with the ones for greater long-term impact and end with the other not so important short-term issues that may just go away on their own.  Whenever possible, overlook meat so your confrontations are not frequent but don’t be irresponsible about the meat.  Some meat must be dealt with however insignificant it may seem.

When in danger…If the confrontation begins to take a bad turn, don’t defend yourself.  Never ever give ground to a narcissist unless you are willing to give that ground permanently.  Instead repeat back part of what your boss is saying, not too much to be obnoxious, but just enough to let him/her know you heard what he/she said even if this includes something negative about you.  That action alone, without your overreaction will be enough to take the wind out of his/her sails.

No emotion.  The thing about a narcissist is that he/she has no empathy of anyone else except himself/herself, so don’t waste your time getting upset or teary eyed.  The quickest way for a narcissist to stop being angry is for you to have no emotion whatsoever.  When you show emotion, he/she believes you have lost and treats you like prey instead of treating you with compassion.  When you don’t show emotion, your narcissistic boss will try another tactic such as changing the subject to try again to get the upper hand.

Don’t give ground, stand still, and stand strong and your narcissistic boss will likely soften around you instead of attacking the next time.  Just remember that a narcissistic boss is common and even if you left your current position, you are likely to find another one lurking behind some corner.  So stop fighting and learn how to talk to a narcissistic boss instead of running from them.

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.

Helpful Website for Dealing with Personality Disorders

Fog

Fog (Photo credit: jrodmanjr)

Every now and then you come across a helpful website with a ton of information about a topic that must be shared.  This is one of those times.  This website titled “Out of the FOG” (FOG = fear, obligation, and guilt) is appropriately titled for those who find themselves married to, parent of, child of, or friend of a person with a personality disorder.  Several of the personality disorders are listed but the two that are most likely to drive someone to counseling is Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.

This very helpful website outlines the difference between the two, in addition to other personality disorders, and offers constructive suggestions for how to manage your feelings.  A person with a personality disorder is not likely to come to counseling as they believe they are right, justified, perfect, or clear thinking but they will insist that others seek counseling because they are demented, out of touch, crazy or losing it.  Usually they are not far off as a person with a personality disorder can definitely make someone think they are demented, out of touch, crazy or losing it!  But in reality, they are not.

So sit back and read a couple of the posting to learn more about how to manage your relationship with a person who has a personality disorder.

http://www.outofthefog.net/index.html

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.

When Your Spouse Wants to Separate and You Don’t

One of the hardest words to hear from your spouse is the request that you separate for a while or possible even divorce.  Sometimes these words are expected but they are never fully realized while other times these words catch you by surprise.  It is hard to hear and even harder to understand the reason why the separation is necessary as the most obvious reason is frequently not the real reason.  Trying to understand everything before you move on can be a fruitless process as you may not be dealing with the complete truth.  Yet, if you will open yourself up and work past the pain, this can be a time for growth and healing.

Get thinking.   Your time is best not spent making a list of your spouse’s faults and failures, more than likely if they wanted to know your thoughts, they would have asked.  Quite possibly they may already know what you think and are not interested in being reminded of their failures.  Instead of focusing your energy on them, you are far better off focusing your energy on yourself and what you can change.  You cannot change your spouse, otherwise they would be a different person by now and you would not be in this position, but you can change yourself.

Get real.  Do an inventory of yourself making a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  Do not let your spouse or others to make the list, instead compile the list yourself.  Once you have made the list then take a couple of days off and reevaluate the list adding and subtracting as needed.  Having a better perspective of yourself allows you to see things differently and perhaps brings to light some of your failures in the marriage.

Get personal.  Identify the areas that you have failed in your marriage and take responsibility for your faults.  This is a time to ask for forgiveness for mistakes not only from those you have harmed but from God and yourself as well.  This is an extremely difficult process and should be done with great care without expecting any results.  This is not a time to compare faults and decide whose faults are worse; rather it is a time to deal with your issues.

Get moving.  Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself will not help the situation.  Your life has changed and it may be a temporary change or a permanent one but nonetheless it has changed.  You need to adjust to your new situation, new environment, and new reality as soon as possible.  One of the best ways is to try a new exercise routine, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or help a friend with their problem.  By doing something for someone else, you can gain a better perspective on your own life.

While this list may not keep you from feeling depressed or sad due to the separation, it can help you to change your focus off your spouse and onto yourself in a more positive way.  However, prolonged depression should be addressed with a medical professional or counselor.  You can change and you can grow even through some of the most difficult times in your life.

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.