INSECURITY HURTS YOUR MARRIAGE. HERE’S WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
the end of my college career, I applied to an internship that I had been
dreaming about, working toward, and planning on for four years. I knew it was
competitive, but everything my professors, peers, and bosses said to me made it
clear that I would be getting that internship. “You’re a shoo-in for this job!”
they would say to me.
But the rejection email came, and it deflated me. I was depressed.
It was clear that I had placed my self-worth on my abilities as a writer and
editor. The rejection was a message from certified experts: You are not good
My depression didn’t get to dangerous proportions, but I did
struggle with motivation and energy. I would come home, sit on the couch, and
do nothing until bed. My husband was a champ through it all, but that summer
wasn’t great for our marriage. He did all the giving, and I did all the taking.
All because my self-esteem took a major hit.
Insecurity isn’t good for marriage.
Whether it’s personal insecurity or insecurity about the relationship,
individuals need confidence for their marriages to thrive.
To keep your insecurities from hurting your marriage, recognize
the ways insecurities can do damage, meet your spouse halfway, recognize when
insecurity is more than just a feeling, and try a couple of practical
Recognize how your insecurities may be hurting your
When you’re insecure, it can be tempting to think “This just
affects me.” But the truth is that how you feel about yourself affects your spouse
and your relationship. Here are some signs that your insecurities are hurting
You struggle to fully trust your
spouse. This keeps you from being totally open and honest in your
You believe and act on your negative
thoughts about yourself. Let’s say you tell yourself
you’re boring often enough that you start to believe it. Next thing you know,
you prove yourself right. “It’s not that you are not allowed to judge
yourself,” says Caleb Backe, health and
wellness expert at Maple Holistics. “Do it, but remember as you do it to be a
wise advisor, not a vicious tyrant.”
You compare yourself to your spouse’s
exes. Never a good idea, especially since none of those relationships
Your spouse constantly has to
reassure you. There’s nothing wrong with needing reassurance now and
then, but if you constantly need validation, that’s a sign your insecurities
are getting the best of you. There’s a feeling of distance in your
relationship. If you’re not communicating about your insecurities, your spouse
will pick up on that, whether consciously or not.
You read too much into what your
spouse says. “You begin to read into the words of your partner in a way
that reinforces the insecurities you are feeling,” says Dr. Kelsey M.
Latimer, PhD, CEDS-S, assistant director of operations
for Center for Discovery. “The focus of the relationship becomes about proving
the feelings the person has rather than enjoying the time.”
Meet your spouse in the middle
Sometimes insecurities come because you’re afraid your spouse
doesn’t appreciate the ways in which you differ. Maybe you’re fun-loving and
adventure-seeking, and you worry that your spouse doesn’t think you’re serious
enough. This discrepancy requires you to talk with your spouse and determine
how you can meet each other halfway.
halfway” means the two of you meet weekly to discuss your finances, and then
afterward you get to pick a zany restaurant to try out. But in the compromise,
realize that being carefree doesn’t make you less desirable—it just makes
Realize when insecurity is more than just a feeling
Let’s say you’ve noticed people aren’t laughing at your jokes as
much as they used to. It would be natural to feel a little insecure about your
sense of humor. You have the choice to use that feeling of insecurity to do a
little self-reflection. “Sometimes, those feelings
are guides,” says Gail Grace, LCSW.
Maybe you’re making it up, and your insecurity is telling you that
you need to be a little kinder to yourself. Maybe people aren’t laughing at
your jokes because your humor has crossed the line from witty to rude, which
just isn’t like you. In this case, your insecurity is telling you that you
might have some bitterness you need to work through.
The same goes for insecurity about your marriage. Maybe your
insecurity is a reflection of something you need to work on personally. Or
maybe you and your spouse have an obstacle that’s keeping you from trusting
each other. In either case, it’s a good idea to communicate your feelings to
your spouse and work through it together.
Try these exercises:
“It requires more attentional effort to disengage from a
negative thought process than a neutral one,”
says cognitive therapist Jennice Vilhauer, PhD. So it might take a formal
exercise to overcome your insecurities. Here’s the exercise Vilhauer suggests:
Each night right before you go to sleep, write down three things
you liked about yourself that day.
Read the list before you get out of bed the next morning.
Add three items to the list each night.
Repeat this sequence every day for 30 days.
“This simple-to-do but nonetheless effortful exercise essentially
helps you build the strength to disengage from any negative thought stream,”
she explains. “But remember: There is no benefit to your mental health in
just understanding how the exercise works, just as there is no
benefit to your physical health in knowing how to use a treadmill. The benefit
comes from the doing.”
How do you get to the point where you can feel happy for someone
else without comparing their successes to yours (or to your failures)? Charlie
Houpert, founder of the YouTube channel Charisma on Command, tells the story of
how after he and his girlfriend broke up, he couldn’t help but compare himself
to the guys he was sure she was hanging out with. He wasn’t happy she had moved
on so fast, and he sure wasn’t happy for the (imagined) guys that got to spend
time with her.
He went to see a therapist, and this is the three-step exercise
the therapist recommended for when you are feeling jealous or insecure:
Interrupt your thought pattern with an eye scramble. Hum a
simple tune like “Happy Birthday to You” and move your eyes back and forth to
the rhythm. This will get you to a neutral place.
Feed yourself whatever you need. Chances are that, whatever
you’re feeling—less-than, abandoned, disrespected—you need to feel loved. Look
at yourself in a mirror (or imagine looking at yourself in a mirror) and say,
“I love you exactly as you are.” You might feel goofy because you’re talking to
yourself, but it will get you in a better mood. And the more you say this to
yourself, the more you’ll believe it.
Extend that unconditional love to the person you least want to
extend it to. In Houpert’s story, he tried to imagine his girlfriend happy with
someone else and feel happy for her. Then he imagined the guy she was with and
was happy for him because the guy was with someone Houpert knew was so great.
After extending that love, come back to the present. Rather than comparing, now
you get to “look around you and see all the happiness in the world, and you get
to partake in it,” Houpert says.
Becoming secure in yourself and your relationship will heal and
strengthen your marriage. To overcome your insecurities, recognize the ways
insecurities can do damage, meet your spouse halfway, recognize when insecurity
is more than just a feeling, and try practical exercises for overcoming
insecurity. Next time you face a difficulty, you and your marriage will be
ready for it.
Most people mollify psychic pain by attacking back; we yearn for revenge. But achievement striving is better. It opens the mind to the possible, instead of hitching it to the horrible.
In 2015, Dee Carroll was billing $17 million a year in her Washington, D.C.-based organizational development firm, heading a team of 18 in two locations, including a recently added IT arm, when her board suggested bringing on a chief financial officer. She found a candidate, and the board approved of her hire. Carroll, with a Ph.D. in business administration and 28 years at the helm, turned her attention back to growing the company.
“We were doing well,” she recalls. Every once in a while, she checked the books. The numbers added up, but she couldn’t figure out why the borrowing wasn’t decreasing on her line of credit. “We’re self-financing,” the CFO assured her. Then a day came when some documents needed reviewing and she called the bank. Its numbers and her numbers didn’t align. Carroll summoned outside auditors to search for a discrepant half million. The day she confronted the CFO, he admitted to running two sets of books. It took forensic accountants months to figure out how the guy had walked off with more than $2 million.
Carroll cashed in her 401k and filed for reorganization to keep the company afloat—while she spent a year in and out of hospitals with stress-induced illnesses. Then the bank froze her assets, and it was all over. “I was so angry, all I wanted was to get my hands on that CFO and punch him out,” says Carroll. Miraculously, a few months later, the day came when she could. They found themselves side-by-side in the parking lot of a giant Walgreens—she in her old Land Cruiser, he in a new Audi. Ever the planner, she pulled out her phone and called her attorney: “Get down here—and prepare to get me out of jail.”
Carroll chased the CFO through the superstore. He outpaced her. So she shifted strategies: I’ll just ram his car. Behind the wheel, it hit her. “If he had me going like that, he was in control of my life. I drove off—and I felt good.”
The desire for revenge, she felt, “had stripped my courage, my convictions, my confidence. It had me beating myself up for my failures: ‘I should have known.’ ‘I should have checked more often.'” Crumbling was not an option. “I decided I’m not going to give him the pleasure. He’ll only see me flying high.”
And maybe he does—literally. Carroll has not only successfully launched a new company, she spends much of her time traveling the globe, promoting “emotional emancipation.” She focuses on persuading women that no one controls what they can accomplish. “I needed to embrace the possible,” she explains. “Now I can grow.”
What Carroll apprehended, sitting in that parking lot, was that nothing she could do to punish the CFO could harm him as badly as her desire for revenge was harming her.
Rerouting the Amygdala
Revenge-seeking has deep, seemingly instinctual roots in the human behavioral repertoire. Since the dawn of civilization, the highest authorities have sanctioned harming someone in the same manner as he or she has harmed you. From the 1754 B.C. Code of Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king, to the Bible—Exodus chapter 21: “You shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth”—the ancients specified how the impulse for revenge was to be carried out.
From the time we are barely able to put together full sentences, we yearn for revenge, screaming, “That’s not fair” in response to a perceived injustice (a sibling getting dessert that we don’t, because we are being punished) and following that outcry with the vow, “I’ll get you!” targeted at Mom, Dad, or the babysitter for giving preferential treatment to the kid who shares our bath.
As adults we’re only slightly more sophisticated in response to abuses by others. A small insult—getting cut off by a driver—can launch a highway chase for miles, either to cut that motorist off in the same way or to deliver the hand gesture known as “flipping the bird.”
Most people seek to mollify psychic pain by attacking back. But there is a better, far more adaptive way—showing ’em, by achieving something personally and socially significant related to the offense. To first turn the other cheek and then build something meaningful, to oneself and to others, out of the abandoned anger requires a psychological shift—within just about anyone’s reach—that harnesses the brain’s amygdala, its processing center of danger, and redirects its impulses.
When you cope with psychic pain via achievement striving, your mindset is on the possible. Revenge-seeking hitches it to the horrible.
“A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well,” wrote English philosopher, statesman, and scientist Francis Bacon. He captured the core problem with revenge: It demands ruminating about wrongs, which amplifies their significance, aggravates what sparked anger, and makes it impossible to let go.
Freud was the first to dissect the amplification of suffering brought on by anger born of distressing events. Paradoxically, despite the pain that such recollections cause, the events are “reviewed, repeated, or rehearsed”—through dreams or obsessional ruminations.
The continual mental replaying of an event, however humiliating, is a primordial propensity to revisit hurtful interactions in an attempt to master through imagery what could not be mastered behaviorally. As the initial injury is relived, negative alterations in cognition and mood grow progressively worse—negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world, exaggerated blame of oneself or others for causing the trauma, feelings of isolation, and difficulty experiencing positive affect. The original insult remains a focus of cognitive imagery.
Failing to consummate revenge fantasies turns them into obsessions. American literature offers the definitive example of obsessional revenge seeking in Herman Melville’s Moby–Dick; or, TheWhale. After losing a leg to a white whale, Captain Ahab embarks on a hunt to destroy that whale, a quest that ends in his demise. To this day, “white whale” is another term for an obsessional pursuit.
My own clinical experience corroborates what decades of medical evidence demonstrates: People who harbor thoughts of exacting revenge exhibit systemic turmoil, courtesy of an activated amygdala preparing against the threat of attack. They experience sleeplessness, owing to nonstop rumination; irritability; hyperarousal; and distractibility that often impedes their ability to function. As Confucius said: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
Orthopedist Richard “Rock” Barnes, 46,* walked into my office because I had written a book about burnout. Trained as a psychiatrist, he had worked at a prestigious mental hospital before feeling burned out. His remedy—changing medical specialties by retraining and moving across the country—wasn’t working.
In our initial session, Barnes didn’t seem burned out so much as burned up—consumed with rage from an incident early in his career. A patient under his care had been sexually exploited by a senior psychiatrist. Barnes had sought to avenge the wrong by exposing the abuser, but learned that filing a claim would harm the fragile patient and would be refuted by the VIP doctor as a tale told by a mentally ill woman.
In my office, Barnes raged at himself, but especially at the abuser. And he railed at the vestiges of a medical hierarchy that had made him feel so impotent as a young physician. How, I asked, could he “right the wrong in an ego-syntonic manner?”—that is, in a way congruent with his values, his personality, his self-concept, and his future. Certainly not by killing the doctor.
A decade and a half later, Barnes is still mending bones but he is also helping physicians everywhere to articulate perceived problems at their institutions without fear of rebuke or retaliation. Through an organization he started, first at his own hospital, he speaks at hospitals around the country, reducing the likelihood of abuse like that his patient suffered.
My work with Barnes led me to recognize that it’s possible to say “Screw you!” to harm-doers in indirect but active ways that are not only personally gratifying but also socially constructive. Revenge is so tightly bound to pain because the eye-for-an-eye mindset is backward-looking, focused on the original insult—but also because it is irreconcilable with most people’s goalsfor themselves.
“Showing ’em,” not “socking ’em,”—taking a behavioral step beyond the amygdala’s bidding—brings relief not least because it jump-starts growth. It renders people no longer vulnerable to the forces that originally harmed them. For that reason, it directly enhances feelings of self-efficacy and power.
For sure, psychotherapy has value. It is especially useful for exploring conflicted feelings. But dealing with revenge through psychotherapy may bring slow healing. En route to relief, the victim must relive the original injustice. Mind and body return to the scene of the crime, again and again. Achievement striving, on the other hand, need never recall the actual insult.
The Power of Striving
Some Turn Away from avenging a wrong as if they had an innate understanding of the Buddha’s observation: “Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.” But for most, this is near impossible.
Revenge is rooted in a brain network involving the amygdala and temporal areas that are fired up very specifically by acts of perceived unfairness perpetrated by another human being, University of Geneva researchers recently found. The greater the neural activation, the greater the inner push for punishment. It’s common for people to yield to the urge.
But rage for revenge is thoroughly alterable. If the dorsolateral area of the prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a key area for emotion regulation, is activated during the provocation stage, the amygdala is muted, inhibiting the desire for later punishment, neuroscientist Olga Klimecki and colleagues observe in ScientificReports. “The DLPFC is coordinated with the motor cortex that directs the hand that makes the choice of vengeful behavior or not. There is a direct correlation between brain activity in the DLPFC and behavioral choices.”
Striving toward positive goals, research has long shown, naturally subdues the amygdala. In my own clinical experience, the majority of patients experiencing profound trauma are able to flourish afterwards by channeling their anger into a meaningful endeavor, typically one that focuses on others. They do well by doing good. Revenge becomes an opportunity for exercising values mobilized by the insult.
Not all wrongs to be avenged are born of injury inflicted by individuals. Social injustice is a prime motivator, too, and the one that impelled lawyer Barry Scheck to create the Innocence Project, a consortium of attorneys that, since 1992, has been devoted to overturning wrongful convictions of (mostly) indigent people.
While in elementary school, a fire destroyed Scheck’s family home, injuring his parents and killing his beloved sister. At first debilitated, by high school he was academically motivated enough to gain entry to Yale, where he protested the Vietnam War on the grounds that the deferments granted to students discriminated against poor teenagers. He used his law degree to become a public defender in New York’s then-distressed South Bronx and a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society.
After co-founding a law firm specializing in civil rights litigation, he joined the “Dream Team” that got O.J. Simpson acquitted of double murder charges in 1994. By then, the Innocence Project was already deploying its legal skills to show the world that those who suffered injustice had an ally to undo what was done to them.
If ever a deed could conceivably justify the wish to exact lextalionis, the death of a child by murder might top the list. Yet that is not what happened in May 1980, when 13-year-old Cari Lightner was struck and killed by a drunk driver. The driver, who had been convicted of drunk driving offenses three times in four years, never even stopped his car. And when he struck the girl, he was out on bail for a hit-and-run arrest two days earlier.
Candy Lightner’s pain at her daughter’s death was amplified when the responding police officer told her, “Lady, you’ll be lucky if this guy gets any jail time, much less prison.” As she later told People magazine, “This was not an ‘unfortunate accident.’ Cari was the victim of a violent crime. Death caused by drunk drivers is the only socially acceptable form of homicide.”
The societal pass that drunk drivers received at the time served, Lightner recalled, to “double my anger.” And she immediately vowed to make people horrified by the consequences of drunk driving. Four days after Cari’s death, she quit her job and organized Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (later, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD).
Indefatigable in her quest to save others from a similar tragedy, Lightner was named to the National Commission on Drunk Driving in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. MADD has sparked new penalties for drunk driving and changed the legal drinking age in many states.
Significant as the achievements are, they pale in comparison to what Lightner got from harnessing her anger and taking up a cause instead of seeking revenge. She not only gained kudos from around the world, she also gave meaning to her daughter’s life.
Getting out of oneself and giving back constitute a sure antidote to the emotional cancer of rumination. An added advantage of working for a cause is that you don’t act in a vacuum. On the contrary, such endeavors demand contact with like-minded people. Social support is the best-documented balm for almost every ill of mind and body.
Photo by Reinhard Hunger
Beating ‘Em at Their Own Game
Doing well by doing good could have been the epitaph for Benjamin Franklin, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and one of the richest men in American history, certainly its ultimate Renaissance man. Writer, philosopher, scientist, diplomat, musician, and oenophile, he spoke five languages—exclusively self-taught; he also invented bifocals, the urinary catheter, and swim fins! You probably recall schoolbook illustrations of Franklin flying a kite in a thunderstorm to study electricity—a daredevil venture that led to his invention of the lightning rod (which has saved countless lives and millions of dollars).
What’s missing from textbook accounts of Franklin is the truth about his early life. Because his father could not afford to send Benjamin to school, he arranged for his older son James (then in the process of establishing a printing business) to employ Benjamin, at age 11, as an indentured apprentice. Almost immediately, James became so jealous of Ben’s precocity that he demeaned and beat his younger brother regularly.
Things only got worse as Benjamin mastered the basics of printing and learned to read and write better than most adults in Colonial New England. He asked his brother if he could write for his newspaper and was denied. But instead of getting angry, he turned to writing articles under the pen name Silence Dogood. Slipped under the door of James’s shop, they quickly became the most popular part of the paper. When James learned who wrote them, all hell broke loose. Benjamin fled to Philadelphia, arriving with three shillings in his pocket and rags on his back.
Although wronged, Franklin never once sought to exact revenge directly or engage in displays of dominance. Instead, he found a psychologically satisfying way to “show” his brother—and thrive: by behaving better than him. He was driven to become the best printer in the 13 colonies. Starting as a journeyman in Philadelphia, Franklin soon established his own shop, leapfrogging from printing mundane legal forms to culturally significant pamphlets, newspapers, and books, including his own. As the leading printer in Colonial America, he ultimately printed its currency.
In 1748, after amassing the equivalent of more than $10 billion in today’s money, Franklin retired at age 42. It was time, he said, “to do something useful.” His next 42 years (40 beyond the life expectancy of males at the time) were a case study in generativity—not simply a Founding Father of the country and its first foreign diplomat, he also founded the American Philosophical Society, America’s first scientific society, its first science library and museum, and the nation’s first modern liberal arts college, later renamed the University of Pennsylvania.
Franklin stands as the quintessential example of coping with the pain of trauma in an entrepreneurial, ego-enhancing way—by building something that not only helps the world but brings authentic personal rewards, from praise and respect to a host of new and exciting experiences.
STRESS: WHEN YOUR TEEN SWEATS THE SMALL STUFF, THE BIG STUFF, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
“I just need everything to go perfect tonight.”
That was the concern of my son’s chemistry
partner as she hurried through the lab, clearly distracted by the night’s
upcoming orchestra performance. Knowing that her parents had invited close
friends and extended family to the concert, she was adamant that her
performance needed to be flawless. Not just good—but flawless. One simple
mistake would mean total failure in her mind.
What’s wrong with wanting things to
be perfect? And why should we apologize for desiring nice things and impeccable
performances? Ilene Strauss Cohen, PhD, understands
that feeling. “It’s that feeling you get when you expect
things of yourself that you’d never expect from others,” she says in an article
for Psychology Today. “It’s working yourself to exhaustion in hopes that you’ll
feel whole, complete, worthy. It’s basing your self-worth on external
accomplishments, feeling like you have something to prove all the time.”
Welcome, my friends, to the world of
the modern teenager! This constant exposure to
pressure, combined with a desire for perfection, is pervasive and contagious,
and our kids are picking up on it at an alarming rate.
“Perfectionism lives and breathes in
your fear of making a mistake. When you’re afraid of what might happen, you
don’t always make the best possible choices,” says Cohen. At this time of life,
when choices affect the course of young people’s future opportunities, a desire
to perform their best and adapt to changes when necessary is a normal part of
growing up. But, in some cases, this internal need to achieve perfection often
has a paralyzing, anxiety-ridden effect.
The Anxiety and Depression
Association of America (ADAA) found
that anxiety disorder affects 30 percent of children and adolescents, but 80
percent of those affected never get help. With the exception of teenagers—who
transform into these emotionally-charged, high-maintenance, snack-devouring,
earbud-fashioned mounds of walking drama—you know your children better than
anyone. So, it’s important to recognize any changes in appearance, social
interactions, and habits. These could be signs of anxiety disorder.
is normal, but it sure doesn’t feel normal most days.
“Anxiety is a natural human reaction
that involves mind and body. It serves an important basic survival function,”
explain the experts at kidshealth.com. “Although
these situations don’t actually threaten a person’s safety, they can cause
someone to feel ‘threatened’ by potential embarrassment, worry about making a
mistake, fitting in, stumbling over words, being accepted or rejected, or
losing pride.” People also experience sweating, a nervous stomach, and a fast
pulse. These are all normal physical signs.
But when a young person is
constantly feeling anxious, she’ll become physically ill, preoccupied, distracted,
and tense; she knows something isn’t right. “Symptoms of an anxiety disorder
can come on suddenly, or they can build gradually and linger until a person
begins to realize that something is wrong,” say experts. “Sometimes anxiety
creates a sense of doom and foreboding that seems to come out of nowhere.”
Often, we know how we feel, but we don’t know why we feel this way.
If you see signs of anxiety, what
should you do?
punish the symptoms.
As frustrating as it feels to watch
your teen snap at siblings or isolate him or herself from friends or social
activities, don’t focus on the symptoms of anxiety. Instead, use those
situations as an opportunity to talk about what’s going on. “Hey Johnny, you
haven’t been yourself lately, and I know the ACT test is coming up soon. Can we
talk about what’s going on?”
If your teen responds and decides to open up about his
feelings, do a little mental happy dance in celebration of this rare event.
Then, listen. Really listen with your full attention as he talks about what’s
confront anxious feelings with logic.
At this stage, you’re not here to
provide an immediate solution. Rather, you are merely a sounding board for him
to express what has been building up in his head. Intense
anxiety isn’t based on rational thinking. So telling a teen to just “get over
it” or dismissing these feelings as a temporary phase doesn’t help.
“Anxiety is not a choice, and asking
an anxiety sufferer to just calm down is like asking someone with a broken
ankle to just stop having a broken bone,” says Donna Chambers. “Most
people wouldn’t dream of encouraging someone with diabetes to just stop having
high blood sugar, yet many people view mental health differently than physical
ailments.” Instead, simply lend a listening ear and assure your child that you
are here with your full support.
the worst that can happen?
Sometimes, putting stressful things
into perspective helps take away the power of those feelings. “I
like to list all the things that I can still do today, tomorrow and this week—which,
of course, is a lot of things—almost everything,” says Robert L. Leahy, PhD. “You
will quickly learn that your life is unchanged even if this apparently
upsetting event has occurred. It’s more a preference than a necessity.”
When we face situations where the
outcome is beyond our control—which is often the case for teens who try out for
a lead role in a play or apply to their top choice for college, for instance—we
feel helpless. But author Amy Morin, LCSW, says
that often the worst-case scenario isn’t as bad as we feared. “There’s a good
chance you’re stronger than you think,” says Morin. “Acknowledging that you can
handle the worst-case scenario can help you put your energy into more
coping tools early.
One of the best gifts we can share
with our kids is the ability to cope with pressure and steer clear of the need
for perfection. That means, as parents, we need to adjust our priorities as
well. For example, “Teens need to learn that the process of
learning is far more valuable than the grade on the top of the page,” says Katie
Hurley, LCSW. “Talk
to your teen about his/her preferred learning styles, what can be gained from
mistakes and failures, and how to apply new knowledge to future situations.”
Although parents are quick to share stories about past successes, it’s
important your teenagers hear about your struggles too.
“Teens hear a lot about what they
should do and what expectations they need to meet. It helps them to hear that
their stress and anxiety is understandable, and that you remember that need to
perform,” says Hurley. “Open and honest communication about the pitfalls of
adolescence helps normalize the process and relieves teens of the pressure to
succeed.” Sounds like good advice for Instagram-saturated parents as well.
By helping your teen recognize the
signs of anxiety, they will develop important coping skills that can support
them during the small stuff, the big stuff, and everything in between.
THIS SIMPLE COMMUNICATION RULE CAN RESCUE YOUR MARRIAGE
The columnist Ellen Goodman once quoted a friend who gave her daughters terrific advice:
“Speak up, Speak up, speak up!” this mother said. “The only person you’ll scare off is your future ex-husband!” What an improvement over the pre-feminist advice I was raised on: “Listen wide-eyed to his ideas and gracefully add your footnotes from time to time.”
All ways of speaking up, however, are not equal. One of the challenges in marriage is to make authentic “I” statements that express our beliefs and feelings without judging or attacking your partner. This may be easy enough if your partner is nodding vigorously in agreement (“I thought you were brilliant tonight”) or if the subject matter is a neutral one (“I know you like vanilla but I prefer chocolate”). But when you’re dealing with a defensive partner or a high-twitch subject, nothing is simple or easy.
“I” statements, however, can keep a difficult conversation from exploding into an all-out fight. An “I” statement starts with “I think…” I feel…” “I fear…” “I want…” Practice making these kind of statements.
Most importantly, remember that a true “I” statement:
* has a light touch
* is nonjudgmental and non-blaming
* does not imply that the other person is responsible for your feelings or reactions
* is only about you—not about your partner.
Every “you” statement (“You’re being controlling!”) can be turned into an “ I” statement. (“I need to make my own decision here”). Keep in mind, however, that changing the grammatical structure of your sentences is only part of the challenge. You also need to get the edge out of your voice. An intense, reactive tone will “undo” even the most carefully constructed “I”-statement” and may come across as blaming. So hold off until you can state your “I” position without the edge.
A note of caution: Beware of Pseudo “I” Language!
We may think we’re talking in “I” language when we stick “I think” or “I feel” in front of a sentence, but that doesn’t do the trick. Sometimes it’s easy to detect a pseudo “I” statement (“I think you have a narcissistic personality disorder”) that judges or diagnoses the other person.
In many cases, however, the difference between a true “I” statement and a pseudo “I” statement can be subtle. My friend tells this story about his wife Jill. It’s a good example of his wife making an “I” statement that was really a “you” statement dressed up in “I” statement clothing.
My friend writes: My home office has been a mess lately and Jill, who shares the space, is a much more organized person than I am. After glancing at the stacks of papers everywhere on my desk and floor, she said to me:
“When I walk into this room, I feel like our household is totally falling apart.”
Totally falling apart! Our household? I’m her hardworking faithful partner of 14 years and because my half of the office is a mess she feels like everything is crumbling around her? And yet when I said, “That’s a pretty extreme statement, she simply responded, “Well, it’s how I feel.”
How can I possibly respond to that?
A partner is unlikely to have the space to consider his behavior, much less apologize for it, if he feels he’s putting his head on the chopping block and taking responsibility not only for his behavior but for your unhappiness, as well.
Remember this: An “I” statement should serve to clarify our position, not act as a Trojan horse for smuggling in judgments and accusations.
HOW TO ASK IF HE’S SEEING SOMEONE ELSE MINUS THE AWKWARDNESS
If you’ve dated
someone for a few months, you’re now wondering how to ask if he’s seeing
someone else. There’s a way to do it to minimize embarrassment.
exactly easy. Confusion abounds no matter what stage of the game you’re in. If
you’re in that early stage, it can be even more mind-boggling. The problem is,
most of us want to know how to ask if he’s seeing someone else.
Finding the right time
to have this conversation and doing it in the right way can be extremely
difficult. It’s vital that you don’t do it too soon. Timing is everything!
Finding the right time
guys don’t want to be pressured into thinking about the future too soon. That
might be a huge generalization, but most of the guys I’ve met fall into this
category. You might be lucky enough to meet one which has his eye on the future
and can’t wait to get past that awkward stage. If so, hold onto him! For most,
we walk that line of confusion for a short while at least.
conversation right could be the difference between going with the flow in a
more open minded way, and blowing it all too soon. Never fear, there is some
very useful advice you can follow, which should calm the waters somewhat.
How to ask if he’s
seeing someone else in the right way
Figuring out how to
ask if he’s seeing someone else is nerve wracking, but you must keep it casual,
that’s the vital part. Coming on too strong at this point will make him panic
and run. Guys are like that for the most part.
Again, if you find one
who can’t wait to jump into a full blown relationship, assuming that’s what you
want too, great! For most of us, we should follow several unspoken rules to
make this conversation far less of a panic.
The most important
thing lies within you. Be sure what you want from the very start. If you want a
relationship, know that and find out what he wants. If you know for certain
that he doesn’t want a relationship and he wants to keep it casual for a
prolonged period of time, ask yourself whether you’re happy with that.
In the past I’ve made
the vital mistake of going along with it in the hope that he’ll change his mind
and suddenly want a full relationship, yet almost two years on I was still
going around the same hamster wheel of casual hook ups. Not something I would
recommend for anyone. Knowing what you want and having a general idea of where
he’s heading, and where he’s at, will help you avoid wasting time and breaking
your own heart.
Once you know what you
want, go with the flow for a short while and see what happens. Perhaps after
the first few dates, you’ll decide that you really don’t want to take this any
further. It saves you having the conversation and thinking about how to ask if
he’s seeing someone else!
Assuming everything is
going well, wait at least a couple of months before approaching this subject,
and make sure that within those couple of months you’ve been hanging out on a regular
basis, i.e. a few times per week.
Personally, I would
say two months minimum of regular dates, three months if you can. The longer
you leave it, the less pressurized the situation, and the higher the chances of
a positive answer in your favor.
How to have the
Now you know when to
have the talk, we now need to cover how to ask if he’s seeing someone else in
terms of what to say and how to say it. I can’t stress enough that the way you
say this is more important than the words you choose.
Seriously, he’s not
going to love you jumping down his throat with a demanding conversation. So,
it’s vital that you not only approach this in a casual way, but you keep the
tone of your voice light and cheery too.
Ease into the
conversation and don’t make your meet up entirely about asking this question.
Don’t jump straight in with the conversation when you first meet up. Wait a
little, so he can tell that you haven’t arranged to meet up solely to
interrogate him on his dating habits!
When you’re ready to
do the asking, keep it light once more. Something like “Can you believe it’s
been three months we’ve been seeing each other? It’s crazy how fast time goes.”
That’s a generalization and a conversation starter, and he won’t suspect that
you’re going somewhere with it. Then follow up with another line, again stay
light, “I’m not seeing anyone else you know” and use a shrug as another casual
body language aid, and then “are you?”
As you can see,
casual, calm, and the shrug shows that you haven’t made this entire date about
getting a serious answer to a serious question. This breezy attitude is far
more likely to get him to open up and be honest, than if you sit him down and
shine a light in his eyes, demanding to know answers!
Stay in the present
It’s also important
that you keep everything about the here and now. Don’t let your words or your
voice venture into the future. Keep it present tense. If you start bringing the
future into it, you could freak him out; not always, but it’s possible.
Don’t mention what you
want to happen in the future, or what you see on the horizon. You’re not a
fortune teller and you have no clue what’s going to happen. All you want to
know right now is whether or not he is seeing anyone else as well as you. The
answer is all you need for the here and now.
Dealing with the
outcome of what he says
I hope that you get
the answer you want. I hope that he says “no, I’m not seeing anyone else either”…
and that he means it. If you’ve been seeing each other for a while and things
are going well, you’ll probably be able to tell whether or not he’s telling the
truth. Don’t question it, take him at face value.
What if you don’t get
a straight answer? In this case you do need to push a little. A few extra
probing questions will give you a bit more information to go on. This is vital
because, well, why should you waste your time at this point?
If you want this to go
somewhere, you need to know he’s on the same page. If he’s still seeing other
people, he’s clearly not on the same chapter as you, let alone the same page.
At this point, you have permission to be a little firmer.
Keep it semi-light at this point, but get the answer you need. Something like “I just think after this amount of time we should be at least exclusive.” You also have to think about your sexual health here too. If he’s seeing other people, does that mean he’s sleeping with others too? Are you being careful? These are things you need to know.
Understanding how to ask if he’s seeing someone else might be full of pitfalls, but it’s the only way to get the answers you need. Time to take charge of your own dating life.
IT’S A NEW WEEK, SO LET’S START IT WITH 3 MORE POWERFUL STORIES…
I received these thought-provoking stories in my inbox over the past few days from book readers who responded to a ‘thank you’ email I sent them for ordering the NEW edition of “1,000 Little Things” (I’m sharing these stories with permission):
Story #1: “This afternoon an older man and woman walked in and sat at the bar in the five star hotel where I work. They were under-dressed and reminded most of the staff of the kind of cheap tourists that are demanding and tip poorly. Since I’m the newest waitress at the bar, my coworkers insisted that it was my duty to wait on them. So I did. It turned out the man and woman were the owners of the hotel (their son now runs the company… who we’ve all met before). They tipped me $100 bill and said they were going to put in a good word for me with their son. Boy am I glad I didn’t do what my coworkers did, and let my thoughts about these people’s appearance get the best of me.”
Story #2: “My chemo therapy is making me lose chunks of my long, strawberry-blonde hair a physical attribute I’ve always been proud of. This afternoon I had a male nurse shave my head because my hair was so patchy. As I was tearing up because it was hard seeing the rest of my hair fall to the floor, the nurse bent down in front of me and sincerely said, ‘Gosh, you have the most beautiful eyes.'”
Story #3: “Lately, I’ve really been feeling like I’m failing with my rehab counseling and that I want to quit. It’s the primary reason I bought your book—to help me stay motivated. And I have some good news! Just a few moments ago my 8-year-old daughter told me, ‘I really like my new mommy that I have now so much better,’ and then proceeded to give me a huge hug. So, I guess I’m making more progress than I give myself credit for.”
Let these people’s stories be your wake-up call this week.
Let them remind you that, to a great extent, we make our own life stories by our thoughts. The reality we ultimately create is a process of our daily thinking. And when we think better about our lives and those around us, we live better in spite of the obvious challenges we face along the way. (Note: Marc and I guide our readers through powerful mindset shifts in the brand NEW edition of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently”. If you haven’t done so already, watch the official trailer for “1,000 Little Things” below.)
And note that when you order the new book today you also get $25 in bonuses for free (offer ENDS TODAY). So, order now and then just reply to this email and paste your Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. order/receipt number and info. Marc or I will personally reply you within 24 hours with instructions for getting your free bonus. 🙂
The bottom line is that you are not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. You are always growing. Experiences don’t stop. That’s life. And the very experiences that seem so tough when you are going through them are the ones you will look back on with gratitude for how far you have come. Of course, it takes practice to get there, emotionally and physically, and that’s why we wrote the NEW edition of “1,000 Little Things” for YOU.
Because, honestly, it’s your choice… YOUR choice. You are choosing right now.
And if you’re choosing… to complain… to blame… to be stuck in the past… to act like a victim… to feel insecure… to feel anger… to feel hate… to be naïve… to ignore your intuition… to ignore good advice… to give up…
…then it’s time to choose differently.
But, let me also remind you that you are not alone. Generations of human beings in your family tree have chosen. Human beings around the world have chosen. We all have chosen at one time or another. And we stand behind you now whispering:
Choose to let go. Choose to be present. Choose to be positive. Choose to forgive yourself. Choose to forgive others. Choose to see your value. Choose to see the possibilities. Choose to find meaning. Choose to prove you’re not a victim.
Sincerely hoping you’re ready to practice thinking better.
IF YOU WANT TO GET TO KNOW YOUR SPOUSE BETTER DO THIS
Aaron & April Jacob
You think you know your spouse prettttty well, and you probably do, however, we have a fun little way for you to get to know your spouse even better, and it’s so simple you may laugh (or roll your eyes).
We want you to take a personality test.
It’s true. And we want you to do it together. Well, side-by-side, that is.
In fact, we want you to make a date night of it. Pick up dinner (or our favorite, froyo) and then cuddle up on the couch together and take this FREE personality test.
Seriously, do it. (P.S. This post is NOT sponsored, we just really think couples should try this out – it is soooooo fun!)
The cool thing about the report you will get at the end, is that it goes through your strengths and weaknesses, your romantic relationships, your friendships, your parenting style, your career path, and your workplace habits – a fascinating read, for sure!
After you both take the test, read through your own report and then read through your spouse’s. You may laugh out loud. And comments like “This is spot on!” and “How do they know me so well?!” will be heard.
Then just talk. And point out each other’s strengths. And talk some more.
Good, deep, real and raw conversation is bound to follow – about why he parents the way he does or why she shows love in the way that she does.
You’ll find yourself saying things like, “Now you get why I can’t seem to declutter that one drawer,” or “Now you know why I have literally must have a plan for everything – even which aisle I go down first at the grocery store!”
You’ll better understand why he debates things and always tries to win every argument, and why she reads into every little eyebrow raise and comment and overanalyzes it.
Simply put, you’ll understand each other better.
And with understanding comes love. As you understand your husband or wife better, you will also love him or her more.
So this is well worth the 12 minutes the test should take (it will probably take less time than that!).
A Bit About the 16 Personalities Test
This test will be pretty accurate in placing you into one of 16 personalities. We would love to see which personality married which, so comment with both of your personalities below after you take the test!
Analysts 1. Architect – Imaginative and strategic thinkers, with a plan for everything. 2. Logician – Innovative inventors with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. 3. Commander – Bold, imaginative and strong-willed leaders, always finding a way – or making one. 4. Debater – Smart and curious thinkers who cannot resist an intellectual challenge.
Diplomats 1. Advocate – Quiet and mystical, yet very inspiring and tireless idealists. 2. Mediator – Poetic, kind and altruistic people, always eager to help a good cause. 3. Protagonist – Charismatic and inspiring leaders, able to mesmerize their listeners. 4. Campaigner (April got this one!) – Enthusiastic, creative and sociable free spirits, who can always find a reason to smile.
Sentinels 1. Logistician – Practical and fact-minded individuals, whose reliability cannot be doubted. 2. Defender – Very dedicated and warm protectors, always ready to defend their loved ones. 3. Executive – Excellent administrators, unsurpassed at managing things – or people. 4. Consul – Extraordinarily caring, social and popular people, always eager to help.
Explorers 1. Virtuoso – Bold and practical experimenters, masters of all kinds of tools. 2. Adventurer – Flexible and charming artists, always ready to explore and experience something new. 3. Entrepreneur – Smart, energetic and very perceptive people, who truly enjoy living on the edge. 4. Entertainer – Spontaneous, energetic and enthusiastic people – life is never boring around them. (All of this information found here.)
You are right, a personality test isn’t going to perfectly describe or explain you – no test could ever do that. And it certainly won’t be perfect in depicting who you are, and who you are becoming. Because change is real, and possible.
However, a night spent taking this little test together and seeing what personality you fit into right now is going to be fun, and enlightening. And totally worth it.
So, make a “date-in” out of it and get to know your spouse better tonight by taking the 16 Personalities Test.
Don’t forget to comment below with your personality type and your spouse’s type!
Here’s an idea for you – try keeping a little record full of the positive
qualities you love, appreciate, and admire about your spouse.
That’s because it is.
However, cheesy isn’t always bad. In fact, this simple exercise will produce
amazing results in the way you feel about and view your spouse.
It may also be a good source of self-evaluation (How are YOU doing as a
Start with these ten questions. They will help ignite within you a deep
gratitude and love for your spouse and help you realize that your spouse really
is your EVERYTHING.
your spouse answer these questions about you? Perhaps sit down together and
answer these questions about each other, then share!
are your FIVE FAVORITE things about your spouse? (i.e. her twinkly eyes; his
steadiness; her laugh; his genius brain power; her ability to keep it real)
2. If there was a book written about your spouse, what kinds of
examples would the chapter on CHARACTER include?
3. What is your spouse’s temperament and disposition like, and
what do you love most about it?
4. What physical aspect of your spouse do you love the most?
5. What, specifically, does your spouse do that makes you smile
6. In what ways does your spouse help you when you are having a
7. What are five things your spouse is really good at doing?
8. In what ways does your spouse support and encourage you?
9. What are some of the greatest things your spouse has accomplished?
10. What attributes and qualities about your spouse do you most
Hopefully you find that this one simple act fills you with
deeper love and gratitude for your spouse.
If you started to feel all the feels and to have a flood of happy memories come
floating back, it’s because gratitude changes people. And it will change you.
You see, the amazing thing about this kind of exercise is that in remembering
and focusing on positive things about your spouse you will find that you
Little things he/she does that bug you may not bug you as much. You will be
more patient. More selfless. More thoughtful.
After writing down your answers to the questions above, take
time regularly to read through what you have written. Then, find a way to share
those things with your spouse. Acknowledge often (and consistently) the
hundreds of good things you see in him or her each day. This acknowledgement
can come in many ways – words, notes, gifts, hugs, letters, expressions of
affection, etc.. The trick is to be specific about the things you love and
admire about your one-and-only.
Tell him you appreciated that he put his toothbrush back in the cup last night.
Tell her when she straightens her hair like that you think she looks drop-dead
gorgeous. Thank him for filling the car up for you before your long drive to
the airport. Hug him (and kiss him) while you tell him that the lawn looks
amazing (or that he looks amazing). You get the picture. Simply let your
spouse know how much you appreciate them for who they are and for who they are
So, go get a pen and paper and answer one of these 10
questions now. Then watch as gratitude works its magic in filling your heart
years of marriage, I’ve come to learn a lot about men and their triggers.
Personally I’m overly emotional which has made me fall as well as progress in
life. Evidently, men have difficulty communicating their emotions. This has
been misinterpreted by women.
woman opens up emotionally, she can speak nonstop, cry and laugh at the same
time. She can juggle her emotions and thoughts with ease. Men on the other hand
think more than they feel; they do either one of them but never both at the
example, once a man confesses his love to a woman and things fall in place, he
thinks that the only reason to have a real conversation is money or breaking
up. So when you walk up to your husband each time
you get emotional and tell him the dreaded words “We need to talk,” he quickly
realizes that he has to think and feel at the same time. That’s something that
is a real challenge to men which may feel like life is being sucked out of
want to start a discussion, it might seem like he’s not engaging enough. This may
make you feel unappreciated. Due to the fact that women talk faster when
excited, it interrupts your husband who is
already struggling to find the right words.
happens, he may lose track or shut down because he feels cut off and is unable
to express his feelings. At this point he becomes what we interpret as cold, a
state which makes any woman race her mind into conclusions.
changing from the kind, friendly wife your
husband knows to a resentful, nagging stranger all because of conclusive
imaginations which women are good at! In the circumstance even the strongest,
most patient man will become withdrawn.
why women should take time to understand how they differ from men when it comes
to talking. It would give everyone a little more empathy when it comes to
discussing emotional issues. Understanding one another is a big step towards
creating and maintaining an emotionally fit and loving relationship.
Women Are Guilty:
example would be my own experience. When l want my husband and l to discuss
something, l walk up to him while he’s watching his game and tell him that we
need to talk. He gives me that look of “Oh my goodness, what have l done now?”
He then has to pause his game and wait for my million words – which he can
summarize in one sentence. Once I’m done talking, his response is usually calm
and in very few words. This doesn’t mean he’s not excited; it’s just the way
took time to understand him, l would get all upset and emotional and race my
mind into conclusions. “He acts like I’m bugging him,” l would think to myself.
Once l conclude that something is not right, and commit to finding out what it
is… You do not want to know the extent of my amateur investigations.
addition, l acted differently and stayed on negative vibrations which the whole
family picked up on. All of that was just because my husband’s reaction was not
in conformity with my expectations. I can only imagine what was taking place in
his mind as he tried to figure me out.
the Reality Lane:
perfect husband only exists in fairy tales but your marriage is in real
life. Stop focusing on your husband’s mistakes and start recognizing the
wonderful things he does. By doing so, you will encourage him to do even more
to become the man of your dreams.
human nature to focus more on the wrong than the right. As the saying goes,
thoughts are things. You will attract more of what you invest your energy in.
Things are prone to happen, If he wrongs you, don’t announce him to the whole
neighborhood and on social media.
on your knees and allow the One who controls all things to make the necessary
adjustments. A praying woman is a powerful woman! Take this from me.
Men Are Not
often feel overwhelmed with stuff, wishing that their husbands would help. I’ve
been there too. The only way you can get anyone to help is by communicating.
How many times have you heard women complain about their husbands not helping
with house chores?
remember when we both worked all week from morning till late. We would catch up
with everything on Saturdays. First thing l wanted to do after breakfast was
shopping, then cooking and cleaning at the same time.
My husband would
want to just relax and enjoy a beautiful day with his family. That means he
would call the kids and choose a nice family movie. Any woman reading this can
already see the look on my face, when l walked into the family room and found
them watching a movie.
of asking for help, l would go shop, come back and start cleaning and cooking.
By the time “the movie” was over, I’d have completed everything and showered. What
would have taken less than two hours with help took a maximum of four hours. It
would then be a resentment-filled, stressed-out weekend – because no one helped
again, my husband would spend the day trying to cheer me up. He remained
clueless about all this, until l decided to verbally complain. If mama ain’t
happy, ain’t nobody happy. Men are strong, aren’t they? I know I’m spoilt rotten
but l thank God for His grace has changed me.
we shoulder a lot of responsibilities and go through a lot of hardship. However,
we should never allow life and its challenges to break the person God created
us to be. We don’t have to camouflage our identity to blend with circumstances.
Why am l
saying this? l have spoken to many hurting women who confess to changing their
personalities in retaliation for bad experiences. If you were created a humble,
kind and loving person, continue being you and find the grounds which allow you
to do that. Each creation thrives in its own unique habitat. Find yours and
bloom as you.
If by any
chance there are existing issues with your marriage, look at the person in the
mirror first before blaming anybody. More often than we realize, we create
marital problems from very small issues. With our thoughts being too noisy, we
miss out on the facts which steered things to the wrong direction. We live in a
very stressful world, and everyone is seeking peace, acceptance and love.
life’s essentials are missing in our own homes, our families are more likely to
be scattered in search of them. For this reason, make your family miss home
whenever they are out there. All women have the ability to do this, not just
for your husband but for your sons and daughters too. Build a solid foundation
for your family, will you?
best, I love you all.
world never fails us; our inability to learn and change is the culprit.”
HOW SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES IN DATING LEADS TO A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
When it comes
to dating, I need you to understand that how you set boundaries and your level
of honesty sets the stage for the quality of the relationship.
example, in one of my unhealthy past relationships I would notice behavior
(deleting texts from other males, lying, and more) in my partner that made me
very insecure. After numerous failed attempts to increase the security (trust
and commitment), I told myself to “ignore her behavior.”
Dr. Gottman’s research highlights, “adaptation to negativity [and
insecurity] is dysfunctional.” While negativity happens in even stable
marriages (remember the 5 positive to 1
negative interaction ratio), in connected couples it gets repaired.
When a red flag is shown, it gets addressed, boundaries are put up, and the
relationship improves. Dr. Gottman goes on to say that, in marriages that work,
partners notice even lower levels of negativity in the relationship and take
action on it.
means honoring your needs and finding a partner who will work with you to meet
those needs as you meet theirs. It also means being realistic and knowing, as
Esther Perel often highlights, that your partner cannot accommodate you 100% of
the time or fulfill every single one of your needs. The key determining factor
of the success of the relationship long-term is your willingness to bring
up your needs in a gentle and honest way (Hint: “I” statements + a
positive, actionable recipe for success) and your potential partner’s
willingness to work with you to find a win-win solution.
starts by knowing yourself and your needs. Unfortunately, many of us are taught
that our needs are “too much” and so our blueprint for love convinces
us to seek someone who validates this belief system. Since our self-esteem is
low, we often “settle” for bread crumbs of love. I know I did.
And with low
self-esteem, it makes it difficult to be honest about your needs and put up
healthy boundaries. It’s not uncommon for someone to tolerate really unhealthy
behavior so they don’t have to be “alone.” Sadly, this mindset
doesn’t lead to a healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationship where your
significant other and you support each other on becoming the best couple and
individuals you can be.