Story on your friendship

During WW2 the Red Cross set up a program for people to send letters to soldiers in Europe so they would never be lonely and always get mail from someone. During the course of this program a soldier received a letter from a woman

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A must read story on friendship

During WW2 the Red Cross set up a program for people to send letters to soldiers in Europe so they would never be lonely and always get mail from someone. During the course of this program a soldier received a letter from a woman he didn’t know and had never met. She asked him the typical things and he wrote a return letter with the typical answers. What was the food like? Did he get scared? Was he homesick?, and so on. To his surprise, she wrote him back, and then he wrote her back and a pen-pal friendship was formed.

As their letters became more frequent they realized that they had much in common and a friendship was formed. Through the ever increasing letters

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This Tips for Better Communication

When partners come to me to request I help them improve their communication, what they usually mean is ‘please help me feel heard.’  In other words, they are talking, but their partner isn’t ‘hearing’ or, sometimes, isn’t agreeing.  Fair enough.  Following these basic ideas can create significant improvements:

Model – and require – respectful behavior.  Seems straightforward, but when partners objectively look at what they are saying, they may find they are justifying angry outbursts, demands, put downs, and more.  Further, respect is too often confused with compliance, which is NOT what I’m referring to here.  No matter whether you are in agreement or completely on opposite side of an issue, respectful interactions are critical for good communication.  Without respect you move quickly into the defensiveness and wall-building, which shuts down communication fast.

Seek to repair after disagreements.  John Gottman’s research points to the importance of repair behaviors in healthy relationships.  We all disagree – Gottman’s work suggests the number of times we do so is less important than how we ‘repair’ from those disagreements.  Repair behaviors include

Use Differences to Enhance a Friendship

There is a natural tendency for us to assume that “we like people who are like us” and therefore we tend to refuse to consider as possible friends those folks who may differ from oneself radically.  While this is natural it is also erroneous.  While we may feel most secure when we are around people who share our likes, backgrounds and interests, that does not automatically mean we will find them to be persons we are most attracted to.  In many cases a person finds themselves most attracted to people whose lives and personalities are significantly different.  For this reason it is often desirable for us to avoid presuming that just because someone is “different” means that person is automatically someone you will dislike or not feel any possible connection with.

More likely one will discover that persons with whom they have significant differences may still be individuals they are attracted to and eager to share thoughts and experiences. I’ve seen the most amazing encounters in
Grainger.  Sometimes customers you’d think had nothing in common strike up engaging conversations based on the items they are searching for or buying.

Similarly, people from totally different professions or

Info Ways to Turn Insecurities into Relationships Strengths

It’s natural to think that the more secure you feel about yourself, the healthier your relationships will be. After all, when you’re feeling good about yourself you should, theoretically, be in a better emotional place with your loved one. Even if the person you’re closest to gets an inside view of your true self, as long as that true self feels reasonablyconfident, all will go smoothly. New research on the value of acknowledging personal weaknesses as a key to relationship satisfaction throws these seemingly common sense assumptions into question.

According to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Alice Huang and Howard Berenbaum (2017), our healthiest self-evaluations involve recognizing and then accepting our failings. As the authors define it, this quality of “self-security” is the “open and nonjudgmental acceptance of one’s own weaknesses” (p. 64). Key to self-security is the idea that you allow yourself to notice, but not be bothered by, the “things that challenge our self-worth” (p. 64). Self-security is not the same as self-esteem. You can have high self-esteem but low self-security because you tend to be critical of yourself and your failings. Constantly finding flaws in your personal characteristics, the decisions you’ve made in your

Why do some People Lie

“I always lie”, one of my patients said to me.  What was I meant to believe?  If they were telling the truth then they weren’t lying.  Which meant they were lying when they said they always lie.

Since November 8th what is a lie has taken center stage in our country, perhaps in the world.  Lying has always been part of who we are.  We’ve all lied.  And that’s the truth.  Some lies are benign, like when we say something like “That dress looks great on you!” when it really doesn’t.  We say a white lie like that to save someone’s self-respect.

But there are other lies designed to steal and not save: strategic lies calculated to deceiveanother person or group for personal gain.  For example, Bernie Madoff created an exclusive investment fund for the ultra-wealthy.  His brilliant investing seemed impermeable to the cyclical downs of the market.  But Madoff was really brilliant at lying.  His Ponzi scheme was revealed with the collapse of the economy in 2008: Madoff’s fund had lost 65 billion dollars. People lost millions, some their life savings.  At the age of 71, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.  At

Empathy Is the Key for Conflict Resolution

Conflict is a fact of life and occurs for a variety of reasons, such as differing perspectives, priorities or solutions to a problem. Many believe that “misunderstanding is the cause of 90% of all conflict.” Irrespective of the actual percentage, a great deal of conflict does stem from misunderstandings.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Misunderstanding is a failure to understand, or an argument resulting from the failure of two people or two sides to understand each other.”

Meanwhile, unless the level of conflict (hurt feelings) from a misunderstanding is such that it can be swept under the proverbial rug, it tends to fester if left unaddressed. Tragically, the discomfort associated with conflict is such that it is often left to fester.

Interestingly enough, many people love to quote, reference or base their arguments on scripture, but how often do people consider the following Biblical proverb?:  “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

To the extent that a conflict stems from a misunderstanding, as many do, it should be rectifiable through gleaning understanding. When people don’t make such an effort, is it because the discomfort involved makes

Ten of Qualities of Great Communicators

There are many books and articles that teach intimate partners the art of effective communication. Some couples do improve their ability to trust each other more deeply by practicing the exercises within them. But, in most cases, their efforts have only been minimally effective. Despite sincere efforts to master these techniques, intimate partners still too often continue misunderstanding and misconstruing what they say and hear.

In the four decades I’ve been treating couples, I’ve continually searched for the answers as to why so many people continue to have such difficulty when so much excellent guidance is available. What could possibly have been overlooked? What techniques or advice might be missing that could help intimate partners be more successful in communicating more effectively?

I decided to focus on the few fortunate couples I’ve worked with who, no matter what the problems they were working on in therapy, seemed to have no trouble deeply connecting with each other. These intimate partners had clearly mastered a way of communicating that made both feel supported and understood regardless of the difficulty of the subject matter.

I compared their attitudes and behaviors with those who were less successful and, from

The Time Limited Friendships Can End Peacefully

After taking a walk on Beacon Hill, I wandered into a coffee shop. There I saw the realtor who found my first home here some years ago. We exchanged pleasantries yet, because I have moved to a different neighborhood and began teaching, socializing with his family dwindled.  Nonetheless, I feel a friendshipbond.

I remember when my children were playingsports in high school, we had many soccer friends, baseball parent friends, hockey friends. We enjoyed the camaraderie, yet these friendships faded as the boys went off to college.

However, a move or a situational change does not always alter a friendship.  I treasure the relationship I have shared through the years with a college classmate who was in my wedding party.  Although she relocated to Hawaii, she is still a part of my life.  When I was moving, she flew here to help me downsize.  When we first met, we knew that we would be friends for life.

As the Social Science Journal pointed out in a February 2015 article “Researchers propose that friendship formation is a process that occurs relatively quickly.”  They further noted that “initial moments of an interpersonal encounter, individuals are already making decisions about which relationship type–friend or acquaintance–to pursue.”

About Make Friends as an Adult

Many things get better as we age—we get better at advocating for ourselves, we get more comfortable with who we are, we learn what matters to us and let the stuff that doesn’t fall away.

One thing that gets progressively worse, though, is our ability to make new friends. At the playground, you’d be instant best friends with anyone who had the same favorite ice cream flavor as you. In high school, your best friend likely played the same sport or did the same after-class activity. In college, your friends studied the same subject as you or were members of the same fraternity or sorority. But once you’re out of those structured environments, it’s hard to make new friends. You switch jobs, maybe move cities, and it becomes even harder.

Finally, as you reach your later years, near retirement, or retire, making new friends can feel impossible. It’s not.

Friendships matter. Whether you’re five or sixty-five, you are an innately and intensely social being. Yes, even introverts are social beings. We humans are like pack animals. We survive best when we connect with others. When we have friends to talk about our day with, to

About Dating and Coercive Control

When clients arrive to my recovery groups for women with controlling partners, it’s common for two to 30 plus years to have elapsed since their dating days.  What becomes clear in recovery is her partner’s coercive control and how it’s adversely affecting her mental and physical health.  It’s common for me to hear,  “How did I get here?”

We start by examining a person’s dating experience before identifying coercive behaviors during the commitment period of their relationship. I’ve reviewed the courtships of a thousand women. And it’s fairly universal that the women don’t detect their partner’s coercive tendencies. This begs the question of how do women (and men) protect themselves from a controlling partner.

The Dating Period

Women with controlling partners fre­quently become entrapped during the dating period. And often, they aren’t even aware of this. While an unsuspecting partner may be seeking a meaningful connection, a controlling partner is looking for someone he can gain power over. Her heart is open, but her eyes may not see a controlling partner’s true motives. Sometimes, this is because she doesn’t know what to look for.

Controlling partners can appear strong, sensitive, and focused in their

This Why When You Can’t Forgive

Experts urge us to forgive as quickly and fully as possible.

According to the pros, we should try to forgive for the sake of our own health andhappiness.

Refusing to forgive, they say, is like drinkingpoison and expecting the other person to die.

Have you heard that before? I have. Many times.

It sounds good. The only problem is that it blames the victim. Forgiveness is an emotion, and we don’t get to choose our emotions.

Let’s take a real-life case study: me.

Years ago, I was injured in an accident in a restaurant. Since it was the restaurant’s fault, I expected my medical bills to be paid without question.

I was shocked when the restaurant’s insurance company denied my claim. Their gamble that I wouldn’t go after them in court for the amount of money I spent on my recovery was correct.

The insurance company’s refusal to honor the claim added insult to physical injury. Even though today I’m completely healed physically, satisfied with my life, and rarely think about the incident, I still have not forgiven them.

Why not?

Contrary to popular belief, forgiveness is NOT a choice

When Love Someone

Sometimes something happens. Perhaps your sweet old cat takes a turn for the worse, or there’s a money problem, or your son waves goodbye as he gets on a plane to start college on the other side of the country. Sometimes it’s on a larger scale: maybe there’s been an election and you’re grappling with its consequences (see my last post on this topic: Take Heart).

Or you might be dealing with something ongoing, like a dead-end job (or no job at all), life after divorce, chronic pain, or a teenager who won’t talk to you.

Whatever it is, at first it’s normal to feel rattled, frozen, or unclear about what to do. After awhile, you do what you can to change things for the better. But often there’s not much you can actually change, and sometimes nothing at all.

Still, there is always one thing you can do, no matter what.

You can always find someone to love.

Besides the benefits for those on the receiving end, as Shelley Taylor at UCLA has shown, “tending-and- befriending” others can lift your own mood while lowering your stresshormones. Also, at a time when you

About Highly Sensitive Person

“I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that, now that when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, ‘For the same reason I laugh so often — because I’m paying attention.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

Do you cry at the drop of a hat? When you walk into a room, can you determine the prevailing attitude of most people in it and then, no matter how you might have felt before you came in, seem to have absorbed the energy there?  Do people in your life tell you to “buck up,” “grow a pair,” or “stop being so sensitive”?

If so, you may be what is termed a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). According to Elaine N. Aron, PhD,  the author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You, “the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”

Often times, they feel out of sorts,

Relationship with OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder

One thing is definite about obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is creative, with no shortage of themes to latch onto. Typically, OCD will attack the very things the person with the disorder holds most dear. Training to reach your dream as an Olympic swimmer? OCD will make you fear the water. Just get that job promotion you’ve been working toward for years? OCD will try to convince you that you’ll never be successful in your work. Met the love of your life? The one you’ve been waiting for? OCD will make you question the relationship over and over. This last example of OCD is actually quite common, and widespread enough that it has a name: Relationship OCD or R-OCD.

Those with R-OCD struggle with the belief that perhaps they should no longer be with their spouses (or significant others) either because they think they might not really love them, aren’t compatible, or whatever. The reasons the relationship has come into question are not important. What matters is that the person with R-OCD is looking for certainty; a guarantee that their choice of partner is the right one. They just want to be sure. To be clear, I’m not talking about those

This the Difference Between Loving and Being in Love

Most of us have grown up on the “once upon a time… and they lived happily ever after” relationship fable. It is written into the script of nearly every Disney film and we have bought it, lock, stock and barrel. We lose ourselves in dreaming of Prince or Princess Charming who will fulfill all our romantic desires, will never disagree with us and will appear eternally youthful and beautiful.

Recovery pioneer John Bradshaw coined the phrase Post Romantic Stress Disorder to describe an all too common dynamic in relationships. You meet the person of your dreams, as your emotions are on overdrive and your heart races. You are enamored of this oh-so-perfect person. You can’t wait to be in his or her presence and you are loath to leave it. His book, which was released not long before he died this past year, is entitled Post-Romantic Stress Disorder: What to Do When the Honeymoon Is Over. It highlights the hormonal high-jacking that takes place and has you pondering your discernment when it comes to attracting a partner.

Bradshaw elaborates that the ‘in love’ experience is “dominated by the physical, when testosterone is off the charts for

Accepting of Impermanence in Relationships

It has been said that people enter our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

  • Reason (a project or one time activity, a “guardian angel” encounter when someone steps in and moves you out of a dangerous situation, a fleeting/swoop by lesson)
  • Season (a short term; perhaps a few months or years, interaction that teaches you lessons that you may not have learned otherwise.)
  • Lifetime (long term connections that may begin at birth or anywhere along the timeline, that endures, perhaps despite challenges, or may even strengthen thus)

The reality is that one day someone will die or leave you, or you will die or leave them. Sound morbid or maudlin? It need not. Instead, it calls for an awareness of the precious and often-times fleeting nature of relationship.

It begins with a desire for connection. According to scientist, Matthew Lieberman, the author of Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, we are social creatures with an inherent need to engage with others.

Everyone you now know and love was once a stranger. When you gaze back over your timeline, can you recall a time when many of these people were not in

This Relationship Killers

Anger hurts. It’s a reaction to not getting what we want or need. Anger escalates to rage when we feel assaulted or threatened. It could be physical, emotional, or abstract, such as an attack on our reputation. When we react disproportionately to our present circumstance, it’s because we’re really reacting to something in our past event — often fromchildhood.

Codependents have problems with anger. They have a lot of it for good reason, and they don’t know how to express it effectively. They’re frequently in relationships with people who contribute less that they do, who break promises and commitments, violate their boundaries, or disappointment or betray them. They may feel trapped, burdened with relationships woes, responsibility for children, or with financial troubles. Many don’t see a way out yet still love their partner or feel too guilty to leave.

Codependency Causes Anger and Resentment

Codependent symptoms of denial, dependency, lack of boundaries, and dysfunctional communication produce anger. Denial prevents us from accepting reality and recognizing our feelings and needs. Dependency on others spawns attempts to control them to feel better, rather than to initiate effective action. But when other people don’t do what we want,

This Cost of Secrets and Lies

Trust is a fragile. Secrets and lies jeopardize trust and can damage us and our relationships – sometimes irreparably.

We all tell “white lies.” We say “I’m fine,” when we’re not, compliment unwanted gifts, or even fib, “The check is in the mail.” But in an intimate relationship, emotional honesty includes allowing our partner to know who we are. Honesty is more than simply not lying. Deception includes making ambiguous or vague statements, telling half-truths, manipulating information through emphasis, exaggeration, or minimization, and withholding information or feelings that are important to someone who has a “right to know” because it affects the relationship and deprives that person of freedom of choice and informed action. Although we may consider ourselves honest, few of us reveal all our negative thoughts and feelings about people we are close to. It requires the courage to be vulnerable and authentic.

The Cost of Secrets and Lies

Most people who lie worry about the risks of being honest, but give little thought to the risks of dishonesty. Some of the ways in which lies and secrets cause harm are:

  1. They block real intimacy with a partner. Intimacy is based on trust and

Using Social Media is on the Autism Spectrum

Those on the Autism Spectrum are consistently having to work more often than most on understanding what’s appropriate or expected in this world we live in. As the world grows technologically so do our situations in which social expectations can become confusing. While the purpose of this article is to help those with specific social difficulties it’s important to remember that we all struggle at some point or another with complications with our social skills.

It would be great if we all were provided with constructive feedback from our peers on social media when we have offended, annoyed, or made them uncomfortable. Unfortunately when we upset someone via social media we are often met with either a public verbal bashing, an “unfollow”, or a “delete” of friendship. While these actions inform us that something went wrong it does not quite let us know what we did or did not do that was “unacceptable.” That is the purpose of this article. To help us understand what the social expectations of social media are and how to resolve the situation when it occurs. Again, this article is not only for those on the Autism Spectrum.

Oftentimes we are