Archive for July, 2012

Resentment and Regrets: Got Any? What Are You Doing With Them?

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “stuff happens”, have you not?  If not the bumper sticker you are still very aware that undesirable things happen to you in the course of life’s travels.  People do hurtful things to people, even people they love.  People, therefore, have resentments and regrets. These two Rs are heavy baggage.  They keep people locked up in a negative way.  These people get some perverse pleasure in holding on to the two Rs.

It is important to get freed up from resentments and regrets.  The first step is to admit that they exist.  What hurts or anger are you holding on to?  What have various people done to hurt you or make you mad?  What have you done to hurt or anger another?

One of the greatest challenges I experience in therapy with people is to help them let go of various resentment and regrets that they have accumulated over time.  I try to get them to tear off that “rear view mirror”. (Jo Dee Messina speaks of the “rear view mirror torn off” in the song “Bye, Bye”. She describes a woman moving forward from a man who was hurtful). One cannot see the road ahead while steadily staring into the “rear view mirror” of his/her life.  These people usually crash in some form or fashion because they cannot get on with their life.  As long as they can blame, be bitter, wallow, feel guilty, be a victim, be pissed off, they can rationalize their lack of progress in living life more fully and positively.

If you are resentful, deal with it by discussing it with the person(s) that hurt you – or just plain let it go.  Forgive them. You may need to put up a boundary, however, to protect yourself from future thoughtless, selfish, punishing acts from persons that have had open access to your life. To keep absorbing hurts from people is unhealthy. You may need some assistance in determining a course of protective action.

If you are regretful, apologize to those you’ve hurt and/or just forgive yourself and move on with a commitment to try and be a better person. It may be that these people are not good for you; they bring out your worst side.  Avoid people that are “vexations to the spirit” as Desiderata proclaims. Be around people that bring out the best in you and stay away from those who bring out a side of you that leads to regrets.

In no way is it easy to let go of resentment and regrets.  I ask people to write down every one that they can possibly remember.  Then I invite them to communicate them to the appropriate people, if they should choose.  Then it is time to burn that paper and let go of them as they turn into smoke and vanish.  It can be a wonderful freeing experience. Adios and bye bye to yesterday’s trash as viewed through the memory bank of your “rear view mirror”.

Just know that while staring into the “rear view mirror” of your life, you are being blinded to the wonderful opportunities waiting to be embraced that are in front of you. As you move forward, keep your bright lights on!

Carpe diem!

Remember Dr. Laura? She Says You May Be “Stupid” In Your Relationship If… Are You? Check It Out.

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, known for her talk show and book writing, likes to use the word “stupid”.  She has at least four books that contain the word “stupid” in the title. One of them is TEN STUPID THINGS COUPLES DO TO MESS UP THEIR RELATIONSHIPS. While she is not my favorite theoretician, she is not “stupid”, maybe brash, somewhat narrow minded.
How you may be “stupid” in relationships, according to Dr. Laura, follows – with some side comments by yours truly.

You may be “stupid” in the following areas:

1. SECRETS: People who keep secrets when there is no need to. This is a way of keeping the other person in the dark, of being important.  They know something that the other person does not. That is not to say that every thought, feeling, and behavior needs to be shared.  Privacy, too, has its place.

2. EGOTISM: These people can’t be filled up.  It is all about them.  They are exhausting as they find the limelight wherever it is.  Sometimes they need to put the other person down so that they can climb higher into full view.

(Dr. Laura question: “How many egocentric folks does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, she just holds the bright bulb up to the fixture and waits for the world to revolve around her.”

3. PETTINESS: These folks look for trouble.  Little things can’t be bypassed, let go.  Everything is a big issue to fuss about.  They stay on the offense thereby putting the other person on the defense most of the time.

4. POWER: These people have to have the power, the control.  They make unilateral decisions without consulting their partner, even if it affects that person.

5. PRIORITIES: These people have distorted priorities.  Money, status, individual image and glory, etc… are more important than the relationship connection.

6. HAPPINESS: These people need to be happy all the time.  If something goes wrong they cannot handle it.  They catastrophize, blame, and struggle to cope.  The world owes them perpetual and unlimited happiness.

7. EXCUSES: These people have an excuse for everything.  They never own it, hold themselves responsible, or be accountable for mistakes they make.

8. LAISONS: These people seek out inappropriate people to have unhealthy relationships with.  These relationships may involve poor life style choices, addictions, affairs, etc… Their lack of people boundaries allow folks to come in that contaminate the spousal relationship.

9. MISMATCH: These people chose a person that is not a good fit for them for a committed relationship.  They failed to do their “due diligence”, enhanced by relationship counseling, so that a better match might result.

10. BREAK UPS: These people are continuing to “break up” with their partner or threatening to do so. These yo-yo relationships are exhausting and ultimately do not work. Consistency and trust cannot be established.

So, respected reader, do you or your partner have some “stupid” categories to address? Every person does occasional “stupid” behaviors, but some people manifest these “stupid” characteristics on a regular and habitual basis. Bottom line: Avoid “stupid” people. Don’t be a “stupid” person. “Stupid” kills relationships!

Do You Know Your Personality Style? Do You Know How You Want People To Relate To Your Style – Both Personally and Professionally?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I was rummaging through some old files in my office last week and came across an inventory that described Social Style. It was developed by Wilson Learning. The descriptive results are based on self analysis and the perceptions of others. It is a useful instrument for self understanding, particularly as you relate to others personally and professionally.  The Inventory analysis even tells how other people should relate to you for the best communication interaction with your type. I shall now present to you the four main categories and invite you, perhaps with the assistance of another, to see which category best describes you.

Analyticals are task oriented.  They are precise and thorough.  They like to deal with facts and work methodically. They are motivated by a need for respect. They value hard work and attention to detail.  Things for them must be logical and carefully worked out.

B. DRIVER STYLE: Drivers are goal oriented.  They are disciplined, determined, “bottom line” thinkers who push for results and accomplishments. Drivers like control. Their motivation is power.  Drivers like to know they are in charge.  They need information that allows them to make decisions quickly and get tangible results.

C. AMIABLE STYLE: Amiables are people oriented.  They are friendly, accepting, and cooperative.  They like to be liked.  Amiables are motivated to help others in a team effort. The payoff for Amiables is approval.  They deal in building relationships. They want warmth, understanding, friendship, and trust in their communications.

Expressives are idea oriented. They are vigorous, enthusiastic, and spontaneous. They like to initiate relationships and motivate others toward goals. Expressives thrive on recognition. They need to know you are with them in spirit. They appreciate information that allows them to move, to create, to take action.

Which category best describes you? As seen by yourself? How about by others who know you well? Usually there is a dominant style with a blend to a lesser degree with one or more of the other categories.  There are positives and negatives with each style.

The Inventory gives certain hints on how to best communicate with each of these Styles.  They put it in “Do” and “Don’t language.


DO: Stick to business. Use action words rather than feeling words. Provide solid, realistic evidence. Do what you say you can.

DON’T: Be casual, loud, or informal. Don’t be vague or disorganized.  Don’t use opinions as evidence.


DO: Be clear, specific, brief, and to the point. Deal with the facts, packaging them for decision making.

DON’T: Try to build personal relations. Don’t waste their time.


DO: Start with a personal comment to break the ice. Be casual, non-threatening. Provide assurances and guarantees.

DON’T: Rush in to take care of business.  Don’t force them to respond quickly.




DO: Ask for their opinions and ideas. Support their dreams and intentions. Talk about people and their goals.

DON’T: Deal with details. Don’t be dogmatic, cold, or tight lipped. Don’t talk down to them.

As you can tell from some of this language, this Inventory has significant value in interpersonal business relations.  Personally I believe it is very pertinent for any person to person communication involving any topic or task of some depth.

I invite you to use this blog to enhance your own self awareness as well as how you see others and find the best way to communicate with them.  It also could be used as a conversation changer upper when you are stuck in boring cocktail party conversation!


Men and Women Should NOT Watch Sports Together! An Overheard Conversation Verifies

Sunday, July 15th, 2012


MAN: “Here we go again! Gonzales is leaving the pitcher in way too long. Can’t he see that the pitcher has lost it.  The Braves won’t be able to dig out of this hole.  He gets me so damn mad when he does this! He was a bad hire. Wren should fire his a–!”

WOMAN: “Perhaps he wanted to give the pitcher a chance to win the game by hanging in there. Maybe the Braves will come back.”

MAN: “Bull crap. That why players want to play for Gonzalez. No matter what they do he will stick by them way past their effectiveness. Too hell with winning the bloody game! I’m so freakin” (maybe another F word is used here) mad!”

WOMAN: (Silence)


WOMAN: “Why does he get so upset over a ball game? It’s just a game! I’m tired of his angry outbursts. Give it up!”)

MAN: “She doesn’t get it.Winning is important and Gonzales makes too many stupid mistakes as a manager.”

WOMAN: “It’s tough watching a game with him.  He takes all the fun out of watching the game. The economy is in bad shape, people are losing their jobs, and he’s ranting and raving over a ball game!  So irritating!”


1. Men and women are different.  (Insight of the week). In sports the differences are magnified.

2. Men are more competitive and winning is the bottom line.  Men want to fix the problem, whatever it is. Players feelings and their statistics are irrelevant.  Do whatever it takes to win the game.

3. Women just want to enjoy the game. They feel sorry for the player that is messing up. Men rarely exhibit such empathy.

4. Men feel good when the vent. They are getting their frustrations out – expressing their feelings. (They oftentimes don’t do it as well in more personal areas of their lives).

5. Women get irritated by these negative commentaries and outbursts.


1. Men need to watch sports with other men.  Men enjoy bitchin’ in unison.


2. Men need to check their anger and quit criticizing so vocally when women are present.


3. Women need to be more tolerant of men’s need to fuss n’ cuss.

Any of you fit this sporting stereotype?  Exceptions to this model certainly exist. The reason for writing this article is to raise awareness of this issue so that men and women may enjoy watching sports together, cognizant of gender differences present. A little more understanding and adaptation by each person might help. “Go team!”

Want a Wonderful Relationship? Here Are Some Worthwhile Tips!

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I am always on the lookout for research and articles that may be of interest and assistance to you the reader dealing with possible concerns in your life.  Relatiionship  issues are of primary interest and a significant part of my clinical practice.  Recently I ran across this article by Kate Stinchfield.  I will share her research article findings.

1. WATCH YOUR WAISTLINE: Research shows that wedded couples tend to have fatter waistlines.  Also, if your spouse is fat there is a 37% chance that you will become fat.  Being a partnering team evaluating what and how much you eat can keep you healthier and more sexually attractive.

2. HAVE A FINANCIAL PLAN: Money is the number one reason that couples fight. It is important to have some basic financial understandings, preferably before you marry.  Who pays the bills, how much discretionary spending is reasonable, and record keeping are among the factors that should be agreed upon.

3. FIGURE OUT THE FAMILY RULES: When you become a family other considerations arise. Each person usually has a sense of how a family should run, based on previous familial experience.  There needs to be a “we” in the discussion-negotiation-decisions outcome of who does what and why it is to be in such a manner. “Not your way, not my way, but OUR way.”

4. MAKE SEX A PRIORITY – BUT NOT A CHORE: The average couple has sex 58 times a year.  Ninety percent of couples experienced a decrease in marital satisfaction after the birth of their first child.  The ramifications of family start up are significant. Studies show that couples that have any type of sensual intimacy, from holding hands, massages, or intercourse have lower levels of hormones producing stress.

5. BE FLEXIBLE: As a marriage evolves conditions change.  Aging, financial situation, children, health, etc…may cause a couple to re-evaluate earlier decisions.  Again, respect for the other and compromise “we” decisions are desirable.

6. STAY ACTIVE AS YOU AGE: Exercise and other active life style adventures help to keep body and mind healthy and adaptable to various life challenges.

7. GAB (A LITTLE) TO A FRIEND: Sharing concerns with a trusted friend can be helpful.  Expressing inner pain, receiving empathy and caring advice, from a confidante can be additive. Confidentiality is vital here.

8. REDISCOVER EACH OTHER AS A COUPLE, SANS KIDS: The empty nest can be destroying or freeing, depending on the marital satisfaction at the time.  If the marriage is not in terrible shape, this period free of children can open up time and adventures that can bring a couple closer together. Common life style choices are tools of deeper connection.

9. BE A CONSCIOUS CAREGIVER: When serious illness incapacitates one spouse it is important that the caregiver be lovingly present but also do what is necessary to stay as healthy as possible.  The caregiver must continually seek revitalizing experiences so as to have the capacity to be there fully for the spouse that is in need of loving assistance.

The above nine factors make sense.  They are important reminders of factors needed to develop and maintain a good relationship.  Certainly there are other factors.  For each couple one factor may be more pertinent and necessary than another.  Hopefully each person will review and reflect on them – and  shore up where needed.  Those that have a wonderful marriage and do what is necessary to keep it alive are fortunate indeed!