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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Keep the Children Out of It

Children of Divorce

Children of Divorce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you fight parents keep the children out of it.  I don’t mean you shouldn’t settle your differences.  The worse thing that could happen is divorce and then the children have to become involved and asking them to take sides then is the worst thing that could happen to them.

It is called triangulating.  Taking a problem that two people are having between themselves and dragging in a third and asking him or her to take sides.  There usually are two sides to every argument or disagreement.  Without knowing both sides, how can you take a side and/or should you even take a side?  Is it worse losing a friend over?

This frequently happens in divorce and it is especially bad when children are asked to do this.  It can lead to lying to the child about what actually is going wrong with the marriage and who, if anybody, is at fault.  The child is always the one who has to deal with both sides in such a conflict.  The spouses may no longer be related to each other; but the children still are.

Have you ever said to a child that he or she is just like her or his mother or father and you don’t mean it kindly?  Is it the child’s fault that he or she has so and so for a father or mother?  No!



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Other People’s Quirks

The logo of Quirks and Quarks.

The logo of Quirks and Quarks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How come other people have quirks and we don’t or are we fooling ourselves?  Does what other people do sometimes not make sense and we can’t understand why they continue to do something which to us doesn’t seem to work.

It is very difficult to change human behavior especially since we usually focus on changing other people’s behavior, not our own.  What someone else does, which seems ignorant to us, often does not make them uncomfortable so why do they need to change even if we would like them to.

Change can be difficult because if you knew how to do it, you probably would have done it long ago.  Sometimes we know how to do it, but we don’t want to do it.  There is something we don’t like about doing it.  Think of all the New Year’s resolutions that get broken.

Thus we might have quirks of our own, behaviors that we can’t or won’t change, that annoy others.  We can learn to accept other people’s quirks and live with them or we can cut bait and go fish somewhere else.  This often happens after many attempts to communicate that something isn’t working and possibly not being heard.  Most people don’t practice active listening.
They are too busy thinking of what they want to say in response to what you said that they are unable to tell you what you actually said versus what they think you said.

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My Oh, MY Oh, My

When you should step in and when should you leave your nose out?  I am referring to the discipline of other people’s kids, especially your grand kids.  If you interfere too much, the welcome mat might not be out for you at their house.

When you are the only adult present, it might be a mistake to not do anything if a child acts up.  Kids should learn to respect all reasonable adults, especially if they are put in a position of leadership over them.  Otherwise, it encourages children to act out and does not prepare them for the times in their lives when they have to take orders and respect other people’s property.

What about when a responsible person is present such as a parent, teacher, or babysitter?  You probably should do something when it seems like somebody or some thing of value might get hurt.  In a life or death situation you should act immediately and take the flack later for doing it if you must.  Otherwise, you might step back and see if the other person handles it first.  If they don’t, then you might consider stepping in even if it might make you unpopular.

Do the right thing.  Don’t take the easy way out and do nothing in these circumstances.  Yes, be aware if you are a control freak and have limits that are higher than most people’s.  This is especially true when it comes to your own as compared to other people’s property.  Always, stop and consider your position.  For example it is one of your child’s toys and your child has taken good care of it, don’t let another child tear it up.


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Are You Invisible?

Invisible Man

Invisible Man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

conversation between peers

conversation between peers (Photo credit: windsordi)

When you lack recognition for who you are and what you do, what happens?  Do you just fade into the woodwork?  Have you ever observed an interaction that you were involved in or thought you were involved in and found out that the other people were not looking to you for your observations on the conversation topic?  Or worse yet, have you observed that when you made a contribution to the conversation, that you were ignored or that someone else interrupted you and changed the subject and took over the conversation as if you really weren’t there?

People do this without thinking and often have not been aware of what they were doing.  You can help the situation by making eye contact with the participants and calling them out for what they are doing.  For some people it seems natural to monopolize the conversation and as long as they are getting their point across, they are not especially interested in what other people say or even notice that they are waiting for an opportunity to speak their piece.

You can win any competition, make the team, get an award, or land a special role in an artistic or musical production and  if no one acknowledges it by coming to the game, the award presentation, the graduation,  play, musical production, etc., it loses some of its luster if it has any left at all.  The more removed the spouse or the family is from what a person does to get an honor, the less chance that person has to feel successful in the endeavor and maybe the less motivated they are to continue to work at it.

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What Happened to Your Potential?

self-esteem, groups and hate

self-esteem, groups and hate (Photo credit: Will Lion)

Did you ignore it or did others ignore it?  The best thing you can do for a child is encourage them, to see the potential in them.  Who saw the potential in you?  Did you imagine that you were someone important?  Did you design dresses, play major league ball, preach a fiery sermon, save a person‘s life?  What, if any, limits did you put on your imagination?  You were only playing, but in fact you were practicing for real life.  Maybe there wasn’t anything you thought you couldn’t do.  Where are you now?  Are you always saying to yourself, “I can’t do this,” “I can’t do that.”  “I’m a failure in life.”  Have you lost your self-respect or others’ self-respect?

Whose comments limited you?  Your own or someone else’s? A person’s self-esteem can be fragile and may make it difficult when it comes to supporting and acknowledging other peoples’ strengths.  Parents can actually be jealous of their own children and not recognize their accomplishments.  They may be threatened by what their child can potentially do that they think they can’t do or they may feel ignorant and unable to even comprehend what it is that the child wants to do or can do.  The same can be true of teachers in school and later in a child’s life, it can be true of bosses, supervisors, competitors, coworkers, friends or spouses.

Lack of support can be in the form of nonrecognition of accomplishments or “friendly” “humorous” putdowns.  People say, “You can’t take a joke,” when you don’t think something said about you is funny and/or your feelings are hurt by something said about you.  When you do do something successfully, it doesn’t seem to count.  The person or persons involved might indicate that doing something well in that particular area is useless and not worthwhile.  How many men want their sons to be good at some sport or to enter a certain profession and are unhappy with them if they don’t do these things even if they can do something else of importance in the world.  Often the unfulfilled expectations of a parent when they were growing up are expected to be filled by their children.  Parents may decide knowingly or unknowingly to live their lives through their children.

Children are sometimes not at all like their parents nor should they all be expected to be.  Having a child sometimes may be like planting a seed or seeds from an unknown plant that will grow up to be something important in its own right if given the right conditions and care.  When you plant it, you don’t know what it is supposed to be a vegetable, animal feed, a flower, or something else.  One person’s weed is another person’s flower.  What a shame when a rose is seen as a weed and uprooted and thrown away.

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Overcome With Emotion

English: emotions

English: emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Decisions made in the heat of the moment are often regretted.  When you are overcome with emotion, you can sometimes make drastic, life threatening decisions.  It is recommended when you have a big life stress or change, that you make no decisions at the time that can’t be revoked or changed later.  For example, widows and widowers often rashly select a new mate, because they feel uncomfortable being by themselves after being used to  having someone around to share the responsibilities of life.  A home can feel very empty and a person can become very lonely.  I can think of two widows I know of that did just this and ended up getting  divorces even though they had both enjoyed  long married lives with their first husbands.

Of course the emotions I am talking about are usually the “bad” ones, rage, anger, anxiety, fear, self deprecation, depression, or feeling suicidal.  At the time, the person almost always feels cut off from other people and resources.  Sometimes, I think almost everyone needs a therapist or a therapy group with a good leader.  In AA, there are sponsors that alcoholics can call when they have an overriding urge to drink.  Drinking is usually done to deal with uncomfortable emotions and though it might get rid of them for a time, they come back especially when and if the alcohol wears off.  Please note that drinking is also done by people with poor social skills to make themselves comfortable and outgoing in social situations.  The use of drugs and alcohol  and other addictions can frequently be a way to self-medicate.   They are a way to change what you’re are feeling at the moment, but they don’t last; and later the person feels that he or she has to self-medicate again.

Some potentially disastrous things a person can do when over come by uncomfortable or unacceptable emotions are murder, suicide self-injury, over indulgence in mood altering substances or activities which often create even more problems such as depleting  resources needed for everyday living, interfering with necessary daily activities such as work, child care, etc., and causing serious health problems.

As important as learning skills to deal with emotions is, we do very little about it.  We frequently leave people to suffer by themselves and to find their own inadequate, sometimes dangerous, solutions.  Relaxation techniques, meditation, mindfulness,, anger management skills, all can be used.  There are also many others that counselors recommend.

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Don’t Do It Begrudgingly If You Can Help It

Miller as Gordon, with Long as Susan and Carol...

Miller as Gordon, with Long as Susan and Caroll Spinney as Oscar the Grouch. Undated publicity photo, likely from 1972. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you often do things, but do them begrudgingly creating hurt feelings in yourself and others?  Doesn’t it seem to take longer when you do this and often it is never done in a timely fashion.  Sometimes we waste more time, not doing a task, then it would take to do the task.  In the end, nobody feels good about it.

Does this start with chores when we are children.  Children sometimes spend more time trying to get out of doing something, than doing it.  Time to do what they want to do is often lost because they stall so long.

Doing something but not having your heart in it can make something more of  a chore than it has to be.  Everyone loves a cheerful giver; but a grump doing the same thing is not appreciated.  What would you rather be Oscar the Grouch or a willing worker?  We all think that we give more than we take, even two people in the same situation will both feel that they give 60% while the other person is only giving 40%.

Honest work is virtuous and builds yourself esteem.  Nobody may see it or know it but you.  Doing is the most important thing, not the end goal.  The means or how you get there is often more important than what you get done in the end.

There is always the chance that you will get taken for granted and only you will know what you did.  What’s in it for me is releasing a thought that I often had in childhood and which has continued into adulthood.   The thought is that I have to do something, I resent it, and I keep putting it off because of that.  I feel no better about it later and have prolonged the time I felt bad about it if I couldn’t let it go..   Get it done, get it out of the way, and don’t waste time thinking about why you shouldn’t have to do something and feeling sorry for yourself.  You are your own judge and you will know what your motivations were and if you did a good job without  complaining.

You can spoil doing something for others by having a bad attitude about it. There are enough things in this world that you can allow yourself to feel bad about without creating new ones.  Bad feelings can make you sick and take the enjoyment out of life.  Why make things worse?

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Do You Have to Win?

Young Couple in Relationship Conflict

Young Couple in Relationship Conflict (Photo credit:

Why does every fight have to end with someone winning and someone losing?  Why is the ultimate goal of every argument is to have it your way?  Women often feel it is this way with men.  Why do some women say, “Yes dear”, but don’t really mean it.  No one likes to lose and to give in without a fight; but what if the conclusion is foregone and the fight, useless.

What if the goal is to make up your own mind and then what you decide is right for you or do you feel that you have to capitulate when having a disagreement in order to end it?  The word disagreement in another form is disagreeable.  Or as the grandchildren would say, “Not nice.”  The resulting feelings are anger, fear, anxiety,  grief, or sorrow.   Doesn’t make you feel good does it or if it does make you feel good, how does it make the other person feel?  Bad?  In these fights, someone always ends up s… out of luck and probably ready for another fight in the future.  Is that why people often bring up old grudges when talking about a current problem?


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Who Can You Talk To?


Problems???? (Photo credit: simone|cento)

There is often a pattern in people’s lives that they follow when they have a problem.  For example, if you couldn’t talk to your parents when you were in trouble when you were young where could you turn?  Did the problem get worse as far as you were concerned because when your parents found out, you were in deep “do do”?  How insecure did that make you feel?  Were you just another unavoidable problem that your parents had to solve on top of what they were already dealing with in their own lives?  Was it also more important that what happened to you caused problems for other adults in authority that your parents recognized than that it caused problems for you?

Family and school can constitute  the whole world for children at certain ages.  If there is no sanctuary in either place, the world is not a safe place for children.  They feel very insecure and often can not tolerate rejection.  If they are lucky, they learn how to solve problems on their own, but this doesn’t always work.  It leads to keeping secrets that can be an awful burden to carry in some cases and doing this can sometimes actually make problems impossible to solve.  We all need someone to turn to in some situations and if we can not trust that person to help us solve our problem, it leads to rebellion, self-blame, and rejection.

We can also become handicapped in terms of our communication skills if we had no one to talk to when we had a problem.  If we think that any conversation about a serious problem can only make it worse, we might never ever have the experience of talking something out successfully.

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Anxiety - Stress ... Time management vital for...

Anxiety - Stress ... Time management vital for finals -- cancel your Netflix subscription (7:45 PM, Nov. 28, 2012) ...item 2b.. Muddy Waters - After The Rain - Full Album (1969) ... (Photo credit: marsmet481)

Do you find somethings hard to deal with in life because you get anxious when you think about them?  These things don’t inherently make you anxious.  Something had to happen that was associated with them which taught you to be anxious when you have to do something with them.

Money, I thought, was dealt with constructively in my family growing up.  When my mother shopped, she always had a budget to follow even if that meant she didn’t get some things that she wanted that week.  My parents also got around the dining room table to pay the big bills together once a month.  Oh, yes there were some arguments when my dad would help his family (mother, brothers, and sisters) out and my mom was worried that we didn’t have the money to do that and that it wouldn’t get paid back.  I never did without when it came to the important things and I always had three hots and a cot (just joking).  Also in those days, there weren’t the TV advertisements that we have now that create desires for things we think everybody should have.

You get your first sense of security in your family of origin.  It is there that your needs are met or not met.  Although my parents were very practical about money and we never did without that I can remember, still there was some anxiety about the whole subject.  The great depression had just ended and it had had to have made an impression on almost everybody who experienced it.  We didn’t have a welfare state and family members were expected to help out family members in need.

Dealing with money still makes me anxious and I would avoid bill paying if I could, but I have learned through experience that not dealing with something can make for even bigger problems in the long run.  I keep a much closer track of my money than I used to.  Even with these better money handling habits,  I still get antsy about dealing with it.

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