Monthly Archives: February 2015

Are your thoughts helping or hurting you today?

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IMG_1996When a relationship is in trouble there’s a tendency to want to blame someone and to focus on the faults and wrong-doings of the other person. This not only doesn’t work, it’s destructive. The correct choice is to focus on yourself—your thoughts, feelings, attitude, and actions—not the thoughts, feelings, attitude and actions of your partner. Focus on what you need to be giving (as difficult as that might be), not on what you’re not getting. Take responsibility for your part in the relationship that has contributed to its unhappiness.

In Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People, Elizabeth Brown writes: Do you really want to bring about positive change in your relationship? If so, you must be willing to change first. Unless you change first, it is unlikely your relationship will do anything but sink deeper into distress. 

And Robin Norwood tells us: At the bottom of all our efforts to change someone IMG_1782else, is a basically self-centered motive, a belief that through his changing we will become happy. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, but to place the source of that happiness outside ourselves, in someone else’s hands, means we are denying our abilities to change our own lives for the better and refusing to take responsibility for doing so. 

When you change how you treat yourself, you change your life. Your happiness and enthusiasm comes from within you. Your happiness isn’t dependent on something or someone else. Your happiness depends on you. How you feel is up to you.

No one is happy by accident. It requires self-awareness of where your thinking may be inaccurate. If you’re unhappy, you need to explore what it is that you’re doing to cause that unhappiness. If you’re unhappy, that’s your deal—your responsibility. It isn’t up to anyone to make you happy.

Relationships are to add to your happiness, add to your life. Relationships are IMG_1312not a substitute for your own life. Another human being cannot make you whole and complete. You’re the only one who can do that. The daily conversation that you have the most is the one you have with yourself. You talk to yourself more than everybody in your life combined. If that conversation is degrading, unloving, and critical, is it any wonder that your self-esteem may be zero?

Are your thoughts helping you or hurting you today?

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

Can you handle people who think they’re always right?

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Do you know people who, no matter what, are always right, never wrong, or so they think?

IMG_1440First of all, of course they want to be right. Of course they want to possess the correct answers, the right strategy, and the mental aptitude to solve the problems of the world! They even sustain a vision in their head where they are propped up on the shoulders of mankind amid the cheers and chanting of their name because, no matter what, they think they are right!

In a love relationship, fuhgeddaboudit. A partner who consistently believes he or she is right about pretty much everything, isn’t going to be in that relationship long enough to cite all their correct answers speech.

But why? Why do some people have a compulsive need to think they are always right? We all have that friend or that family member who always appears to be blemish free in their stories and who always has complaints about everything in life, plus all the remedies. Don’t they realize that we would hide behind a cactus to avoid a conversation with them?

Here’s some strategies to use with a person who is always right.

1. Silence. Yep, don’t respond to their victory lap stories. Don’t engage in the IMG_1918conversation. They’re waiting for you to say how amazing they are, so just do the ol’ smile and nod gesture, and remain silent. Stay calm. Don’t engage.

2. Excuse yourself. Get away from the one-way conversation by excusing yourself. Make up a reason if you need to, and you will probably need to. If you’re short of reasons to use, let me know. I got your back.

3. Assess if it’s the right time to convey your disdain. If you see the person who is always right just every Thanksgiving, it may not be worth a confrontation. But if it’s someone at work or a family member or friend you see on a regular basis, you need to honor your own being by speaking up.

4. Express yourself. Calmly state that you find it difficult to have a conversation with him/her because your thoughts or opinions are dismissed or corrected. Refuse to argue or debate with the person because it won’t work and will upset you more. Make your statement calmly and then walk away.

IMG_1946The need to be right is driven by a feature of pride and narcissism by some people where there’s an inability to admit error or apologize for being mistaken. They will bend the truth in a heartbeat so they can show others how right they are. Instead of examining mishaps or unwanted outcomes, some people are too wrapped up excusing their mistakes. Instead of understanding why an outcome occurred, some people are trying to still look good and dodge any blame.

The goal of those people who always have to be right, is to feel superior and gain the respect and awe of people for their all-knowing abilities. It’s sad they can’t see that the result is actually the opposite.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

 

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

How could loving someone be wrong?

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He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not. According to folklore, small daisy petals plucked one-by-one hold the mystical fate of the female heart.

IMG_2277For the female heart that loves too much, the desire to be loved causes a defective analysis of the relationship, even for the intelligent and mature woman. Love conquers all, the saying goes, so a woman who longs for a man’s love tries harder and gives more in the relationship, and discounts his emotional distance, compulsive behaviors or broken promises. In an attempt to be “the one” who really understands him, the woman who loves too much sympathizes with a man’s current inability to love her back because of his past hardships or current struggles, and sees in him the man he could be with her love.

The woman who loves too much convinces herself that this man just needs someone to help him, to show him what love really is. He just needs to be understood and supported, and then he’ll be able to give the deep expressions of caring and commitment she longs for. She simply has to show him that her love will make the difference.

How could too much love be unhealthy? One would think that loving another person too much would be an attribute in a relationship. Sadly, that’s not the case. When women love too much they ensure painful relationships overflowing with great hurt, uncertainty, and disappointment.

Are you a woman who loves too much? A woman loves too much when her partner consistently mistreats her and yet because of a faulty analysis she can’t leave the relationship or change it.

In the New York Times Best Seller book Women Who Love Too Much, Robin Norwood writes: When being in love means being in pain, we’re loving too much. When most of our conversations with friends are about him–his problems, his feelings and nearly all IMG_0972our sentences begin with “he…,” we’re loving too much. When we excuse or tolerate his bad temper, moodiness, indifference, or put-downs as problems due to an unhappy childhood and we try to become his therapist, we’re loving too much. When we read a self-help book and underline all the passages we think would help him, we’re loving too much. When we don’t like many of his basic characteristics, values, and behaviors, but we put up with them thinking that if we’re only loving enough he’ll want to change for us, we’re loving too much. When our relationship jeopardizes our emotional well being and perhaps our physical health and safety, we’re definitely loving too much.

In spite of all its heartache and regret, loving too much is very common for women, and men, too. For many of us, it’s been a recurrent pattern that isn’t understood. In Love Smart, Dr. Phil McGraw writes: To get the relationship you want, you have to be willing to take an honest, even brutal, look at what’s going on and what’s going wrong.  love smart dr phil mcgraw

IMG_0968We need to look at the faulty analysis that causes so many women and men looking for love, to find unhealthy, critical partners instead, and why the qualities that initially attract us to a partner aren’t necessarily those that make the person a good partner. When we know a relationship isn’t good for us, why do we have trouble leaving it? Loving becomes loving too much when our partner is emotionally clueless, has an addiction, is critical, or controlling and yet, we cling to the partner he or she could be.

It’s an old cliche in the field of psychology that people are attracted to someone just like the mother or father with whom they struggled while growing up. This concept isn’t quite accurate. It’s not so much that the mate we choose is just like Mom or Dad, but that with this partner we’re able to feel the same feelings and face the same challenges we encountered growing up–we’re able to replicate the atmosphere of childhood already so well known to us, and use the same maneuvers in which we already so practiced and are comfortable with.

This is what, for most of us, constitutes love. We feel “at home” and comfortableIMG_1608 with the person with whom we can make all our familiar moves and feel all our familiar feelings. Even if the moves have never worked and the feelings are at times painful, they’re what we know best. We feel that special sense of belonging with the person, who allows us, as his/her partner, to dance the steps we already know. It’s with him/her that we decide to try to make a relationship work.

It follows that there really are no coincidences in relationships, no accidents in marriage. There’s no more compelling chemistry than this feeling of mysterious familiarity when a woman and a man come together.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

You’re a victim. Now what?

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Everyone views life from their past experiences. From an understanding of those past experiences, you come to conclusions of what you believe to be true about yourself, other people, and life. Unless you cross check those conclusions with reality, you may be living your life based on a belief about yourself, other people, and life that, frankly, isn’t true or accurate.

IMG_0883 - CopyFollowing a situation where you’ve been a victim, it takes some effort to regain a sense of empowerment. But sometimes that process becomes stalled. A condition of learned helplessness was discovered and researched by psychologist Martin Seligman, author of the excellent book Learned Optimism. In a nutshell, the condition of learned helplessness exists when a person’s thoughts or actions from a past situation where he or she was actually helpless, is continued in current situations where the person isn’t helpless. George Kelly, a clinical psychologist and personality theorist, calls this a personal construct—a well-defined conscious idea about oneself.

The book learned helplessness says: When experience with uncontrollable events gives rise to the expectation that events in the future will also elude control, then disruptions in motivation, emotion, and learning may ensue.

An adult in an abusive relationship, will in time tend to develop a victim mind-set of learned helplessness. It explains why individuals who experience repeated abuse or mistreatment often don’t try harder to improve or change their situation. They give up trying to better their lives believing that life will never change.

Robert Burney author of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, writes: We were taught to look outside of ourselves—to people, places, things, to IMG_0937 - Copy - Copy - Copymoney, property and prestige—for fulfillment and happiness. It does not work; it is dysfunctional. We cannot fill the hole within with anything outside of Self. When we look outside for self-definition and self-worth, we are giving power away and setting ourselves up to be victims. We are trained to be victims. We are taught to give our power away. As just one small example of how pervasively we are trained to be victims, consider how often you have said, or heard someone say, “I have to work tomorrow.” When we say “I have to” we are making a victim statement. To say “I have to get up and I have to go to work” is a lie. No one forces an adult to get up and go to work. The truth is “I choose to get up and I choose to go to work because I choose to not have the consequences of not working.” To say “I choose” is not only the truth, it is empowering. When we “have to” do something we feel like a victim. And because we feel victimized, we will then be angry and want to punish whomever we see as forcing us to do something we do not want to do.

IMG_0936 - Copy - Copy - CopyPeople who see themselves as victims are difficult people to get along with. They feel entitled to special attention and privileges. They tend to believe that other people just don’t understand. They blame others for their lot in life believing that if this or that hadn’t happen then their crumby situation wouldn’t exist. This self-defeating behavior fuels the loneliness and the resentment that victims experience. Any situation where an expectation doesn’t occur, that situation will be experienced as unfair, disappointing, or unjust.

A vital need in any unfair or disappointing situation is the requirement to cope and proceed —in other words—adjust and respond! You need to accept “what is” and seek solutions to enable an adjustment to “what is.” When you’re unable to take responsibility for your life, an incorrect learned helplessness results in self-pity and a victim mind-set. People with a victim mind-set are sometimes unaware that their thoughts are full of untruths and unhealthy thinking. Victims do need assistance in processing the circumstances that develop into a victim mind-set. Psychotherapy can be a big help.

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

What are the secrets of successful people?

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The Seven Secrets of Successful People

Live with Self-Control
Self-control is the power to respond to other people and situations with self-controlmoral strength, self-command, and integrity. Getting upset at someone who is upset is the worse thing to do. Anger begets anger. When you frighten people with words or actions, you misuse your power and instead, insecurity is demonstrated. When you manipulate, mistreat, or intimidate other people, your power is misused and fragility is demonstrated. Success comes to those who are self-controlled.

Live with Responsibility
If you make other people or situations responsible for how you are going to feel, you will never be successful, or happy. Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions and realize you alone create your experiences in life. Blamer’s and complainer’s are rarely successful.

Live with Respect
To experience success it is necessary to possess self-respect. You have self-respectrespect when you applaud your efforts, encourage yourself, forgive yourself, accept your mistakes and limitations, and refuse mistreatment. Demonstrating respect to others is also necessary despite differing agendas or customs. Expressing courtesy is expressing respect. Success is experienced by people who respect themselves and other people.

Live with Humility
The brilliant philosopher Socrates, did not pride himself on how much he knew—which was noteworthy in his era. Instead, he was humbled by the awareness of how much more he had to learn and understand. Success comes to those individuals who greet others as equal, not secondary; and live in awareness of how much more there is to learn and understand.

Live with Gratitude
It’s not possible to be successful unless you consciously value and appreciate what is already in your possession—the blessings you currently hold. You can not appreciate what you take for granted. God or The Universe will rarely bless you with more unless you’re cognizant of what has already been given to you. To be successful be grateful, and giving.

Live with Love
You can not hate yourself or others and experience success. Hate blocks the love4good that is yours to receive. Hate divides and lies. When you tell yourself that you are inadequate, flawed, or inferior, you tell yourself a lie. You were born with an instinctive and endless supply of self-worth and self-love. You can not love other people unless you love yourself. You can not be successful unless you believe you can be. Love yourself and love one another.

Live with Faith
Because you live what you believe, what you believe determines your level of faithsuccess. Truth is not relative and reality is not a free-for-all perception. An actual truth exists. What we think about expands. In As You Think, James Allen tells us, You will be what you will to be. And Marc Allen states: You have a powerful will, an offspring of a deathless soul, and it can find its way to any goal, regardless of the apparent obstacles. You have all you need within you. All resources are at your command—all you have to do is ask for them. A great visionary teacher said it all, very simply and clearly—Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find, (Matthew 7:7).

To your success!

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

What’s so bad about Perfectionism?

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People are scrambling to be the perfect employee, the perfect asset, the perfectperfect2 person, bent on seeking achievement and anticipating rewards for flawless performance. The paradox is that the reward remains out of reach because they never obtain the flawless standard set for the prize. They end up chasing rewards like the proverbial dangling carrot always within reach but not quite obtainable. Such is the never-ending spin of those caught in the cycle of perfectionism. Check out these signs of a Perfectionist:

____ I beat myself up or punish myself when I fail.
____ I hide my flaws, limitations, or weaknesses.
____ Accepting myself is only possible if I don’t make a mistake.
____ It’s hard for me to admit that I was wrong about something.
____ I’d like others to view me as not having faults.
____ It bugs me if things are out of place.
____ If I can’t do something perfect I don’t want to do it.
____ There’s a right way that most things need to be done.
____ Oversights are not acceptable.
____ If it’s not perfect I must keep trying.
____ People respect me when I’m flawless.
____ I’m often amazed at the incompetence of other people.

If the above list sounds like you, it reflects that you may be caught in the spin cycle of perfectionism. That makes you prone to procrastinate, relationship difficulties, controlling behavior, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, low self-worth and physical illness.

As a recovered perfectionist, it‘s easy to see perfection disease in others. Some perfect3years ago, one particular woman in my office captured my compassion as she struggled to understand the thinking that could free her from the compulsive need to be perfect. I recall a conversation I had with her where I said a few things about her present mind-set in the direct, yet hopefully caring way I’m known for. And what she said I still recall today. She was angry with me because what I said upset her. She viewed her upset as sinful and in her snit she barked “You made me sin today.”

I remember being still in amazement of that statement, and that amazement remains with me now because I do not believe it’s what God intends for us to think. After a pause, I replied to her in a low voice, “Gee, I sin every day.”

Many Christians believe that they are to live as perfect beings. Their doctrine sounds like this… After all, Jesus Himself said it, right? It’s in black and white—perfectright there in Matthew 5 verse 48. From His own lips Jesus said Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. See? Be perfect—just like God. Not half right and half not right—perfect! That’s why mistakes are bad and failure is so shameful. That’s why all this talk about accepting your limitations and weaknesses, and laughing at your mistakes is not right! Errors tell the story of faults and inadequacy. Shortcomings are an outrage and certainly short of the command Jesus made: Be perfect—just like God!

perfect18Here’s the problem with that thinking…Be perfect just like God? Wouldn’t that mean be like God? If we were like God, wouldn’t that mean we’d be equal with God? And heck, if we were equal with God then we wouldn’t really need God for anything because we’d be our own gods. Hey, that can’t be what Jesus is requesting. That can’t be right. The emphasis on the command to be perfect is not on a flawless performance or a perfect moral nature. The Greek word translated as perfect in this passage means “to mature and grow in wisdom.” The word perfect is defined as completion or maturity, not sinless perfection.

Living is not a mandatory pursuit of perfection. God does not expect you to be perfect and He knows the truth about you—that you are imperfect and that you’ll remain imperfect this side of heaven:

Don’t be eager to tell others their faults, for we all make many mistakes. James 3:1
If you claim to be without sin, you deceive yourself, the truth isn’t in you. 1 John 1:9
Admit your weaknesses to one another. James 5:16
If we say that we have no sin, we make God a liar. 1 John 1:10
For all have sinned and fall short. Romans 3:23
I have come not to call the righteous, but the sinners. Matthew 9:13
They are all under sin. Romans 3:9

Neither you nor I can ever be perfect on this earth. What we can accomplish is wisdom from mistakes, maturity from errors, good judgment from bad judgment, freedom from the lies by believing the Truth. This means accepting that mistakes will continue—yours and others. It means accepting that you’re flawed and so is everybody else—even those who can’t admit it.

Jesus never said that Godly maturity is a lack of mistakes. To be perfect means perfect7to acknowledge you don’t know a lot of stuff and you’re willing to learn more. There’s no gaining His approval by your performance. You cannot earn His favor—you can only receive it. God’s love for you is about who you are, not what you do. And this is what motivates people with healthy mind-sets to grow in wisdom—they’re not motivated because of their perfect efforts, they’re motivated because they’re loved.

Think about it! In caring, Sandy

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What are you doing to have happiness?

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What are you doing to have happiness? Notice the question is not: Are you waiting for someone to stop doing or start doing something so you’ll be happy? Or: What situation do you need in place before your happiness can arrive? The question also isn’t: Who are you depending on to make you happy?

IMG_0830Some people are easily soared into joyful spirits. What’s their secret? Some people always seem to be in happy or good moods. But exactly what is happiness? Is this disposition genetic or dependent on specific neurotransmitters in the brain? Is there an unhappiness gene distributed to a select population? Scientists are searching for answers to these questions which means they still do not know what specifically causes depression, or for that matter—happiness.

Previously called Melancholia, depression has been recognized as a common condition for more than three thousand years with documentation noted from the 2nd century. Some experts think that depression is the result of learned experiences. Others say it’s all about brain chemistry. And then there are those who believe it’s all in the genes. I think a state of clinical depression can be a combination of these factors.

Similar to other disorders, there’s evidence to support that depression can run in families like diabetes or heart disease. So if a parent or grandparent experienced episodes of clinical depression that increases the likelihood at some point you will experience clinical depression. A depressed state of mind can also be a learned behavior acquired during childhood, just like negativity or anxiety.

IMG_0080 - CopyA tendency to be down in the dumps may have described some of the adults surrounding you in childhood. If as a child, you watched adults react to life mostly with sadness and despair; then today you may be more likely to display those same behaviors when things go awry. The body experiences many sorts of problems when its needed nutrients are in deficient supply. And Clinical Depression can be the result when the levels of serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine are at a shortage in the brain or off balance.

Everyone knows what depression feels like because all of us at one time have experienced its character traits of hopelessness, tearful hours, helplessness, sleep disturbances, eating changes, heartache, consuming sadness, and an inability to function. For most of us these episodes are not chronic, last a day or two; and usually result from life events. Most of us are able to adjust to the changes in life that are usually uninvited and demanding. We pout for a time, rebel at reality, express our frustration, but then accept “what is” and move on to tomorrow. But for those individuals who have learned to be depressed, experience a neurotransmitter deficiency in the brain, or are genetically predisposed to depression, snapping out of it is like trying to awake from a coma. For these persons a state of depression sags their enthusiasm, interrupts their ability to function, keeps them tearful, and often not wanting to wake up.

sun28 - CopyThe full extent of depressed individuals in our neighborhood, in our churches, in our offices, in our friends and family is unknown because the menacing stigma towards mental health remains strong in our culture. Ignorant people judge mental conditions as being the equivalent of being crazy, so many people do not seek treatment for depression. They suffer quietly because of the fear of rejection they would otherwise experience if more folks knew their struggles. The stigma can trigger attempts to self-medicate. Alcohol abuse or other substance abuse could be efforts to block the chronic emotional pain. Other actions could also mask a deep on-going sadness: obsessive shopping, compulsive gambling, or sex addiction.

This accounts for the strong isolation depressed individuals experience. Our culture still believes on some level that we shouldn’t need help or support for the problems or events that pre-empt our plans and land us in despair. There’s still the idea that it’s a weakness to seek counsel or take medication for mental conditions. On the contrary, it takes strength and wisdom to seek help, and I respect those individuals who do so.

IMG_0682Just like the common cold, the symptoms of depression are generally the same for everyone, but the same can’t be said about happiness. Scientists know more about the state of depression than they do about the state of joy. Taking into consideration that happiness is the most important goal in the lives of people, experts can’t even agree on an explanation for it. What is happiness? Is it being in a good mood? Is it having fun? Is it securing the approval of other people? Lots of money? No worries? What is happiness for you? Americans might say that happiness is a consistent state of well-being, void of stress, worry, frustration, and disappointment. This definition, of course, is not realistic, or is it?

Think about it. In caring, Sandy

PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ABOUT THIS POST BY CLICKING ON THE ABOVE LINK “LEAVE A REPLY”

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Sure life can suck, but what’s the alternative?

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 “Find the good and applaud.” –Zig Ziglar

river-landscape-202273_1920 - CopyGreat advice from a great man and motivational speaker. For many of us the good in life is often sparse if not absent, but we must search for the good in our lives. We must find something that’s a positive and give thanks for it. We can complain about what’s lacking, what’s wrong, and what’s unfair in our lives or we can speak of what’s right, what’s good, and what’s praiseworthy.

Otherwise, what’s the alternative? Do we gripe and complain all day? Do we become the caustic types of people no one wants to be around because we’re so cynical? One thing I try to remember is that those who can be thankful for little seem to receive enough, and those who are blind to blessings in their life receive nothing more.

Some people determine their years by possessions and promotions. Some people are adverse to showing their age. But what shows more than objects and wrinkles is our attitude. The neat thing about our attitude is that it can be blemish free and vital without any surgical alteration!

sunLife is faithful to respond to your attitude. For the next 24 hours, do not complain, do not think about what’s missing in your life, and do not focus on what’s not right about it. Instead, think about what you have, what’s good about your life and have appreciation–applaud. Repeat after 24 hours.

There’s a saying that it’s your attitude, not arteries, that determines the vitality of your life. Today, show the world an attitude that’s stunning and will turn heads! And you will have enough.

Think about it! In caring and gratitude, Sandy

PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ABOUT THIS POST BY CLICKING ON THE ABOVE LINK “LEAVE A REPLY”

©All rights reserved, 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net