VLOG #5 #MeToo is a #MenToo issue

This video deals with my history of sexual assault at the hands of someone in my neighborhood and the different reactions I've encountered over the years in trying to bring the conversation to light. Since I originally posted the video I have had numerous men reach out to me to tell that they were assaulted in one way or another.

I am so glad that women are finding their voice to express the oppression and assault's they have endured. I hope those who have found their voice can inspire other victims to find their own voice and cal their attackers out into the open.

I hope our society can actually engage in substantive conversation about real change.

We need to stop the message that whatever feels good is OK, without consequence. People are not conquests or objects. 
If you've been victimized, you are not the sum of your assault.
It was not your fault.

You do not have to live with the shame. I promise you that's true, even if it doesn't feel that way to you now.


VLOG #4. Three Steps to Problem Solving

Here is my fourth YouTube offering. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 10.57.26 AM

In this video, I explore the three steps for problem solving. So many couples get into trouble in their conversation because they end up trying to go directly to step #3. Watch the video below and let me know what you think. Thanks.

 

 


If you want to start something new, you'll need to stop something old

I often meet people who tell me about their wishes.

Sometimes, they call these wishes goals and I call them wishes.

They want to do this thing they're talking about....

......build a business

    ......start a non-profit

        .......go back to school CreativeCost1

            .....write a novel

                ......get healthier

                    ....do something they are not currently doing.

 

When I ask them what is keeping them from doing the thing they want to be doing, I usually hear one of two things. Sometimes, I hear both.

"I don't have the time," they say with dour seriousness.

"I don't have the resources," gets expressed with equal chagrin.

I often push back and ask them how important their wish is to them. They often tell me that it's really important.  I will ask them how important again and they will express some agitation at me asking the same question a second time.

I often tell them that I find that question to be the most important because I believe that people do what they want to do when they want to do it.

I often find that people fail at starting something new because they are unwilling to say no to something that they are currently doing but find unsatisfying.

You want to have a family? Well, that's going to impact the amount of times you can hang out with your "bros".

You want to get healthier? Well, that's going to force you to change your eating, and sleep habits.

You want to have an intimate relationship? Well, that's going to force you to change how you draw your boundaries and deploy your personal amour.

No matter what you do, you'll have to stop doing something else. 

I have found it helpful to judge people's seriousness about an endeavor by making one seemingly weird suggestion.

When they suggest to me that they are under-resourced, I'll suggest they cut their cable or phone bill.

The reactions are almost comical.

It's as though by suggesting they cut out their cable that I am asking for a limb.

"But, if you're going to get where you want to go, you'll need to change something," I prod. "What do you want to change?"

"I can't. I'm stuck,"

To that I say, "Hogwash!"

The journey from where you are to where you want to be is going to be hard.  Everything in life worth having is hard.

Life is hard because it's supposed to be hard, because that is how we learn.

What about you? What do you want to do that you're not doing? What is keeping you from chasing that thing? Is is fear? What are you willing to pay to get it done? Think beyond terms of monetary payments here. Are you willing to pay engaging your fear? Are you willing to risk failure (maybe public)? Are you willing pay people telling you it won't work? Are you willing to lose sleep? Are you willing to delay gratification?

Here's another truth for another post but remember that today what you do is because you're choosing to do it. If you don't like the results you're getting, start making plans to make different choices.


Four Levels of Friendship and Conflict.

"We need to improve our communication." Sarah*

When I asked her what that meant, she told me that she and her husband Ryan needed to be able to talk in a way that didn't lead to stress between them.
I followed that question up with what made her think that their communication needed improvement.
Ryan jumped in, "Because we get frustrated and mad with each other!"

"But what if that's good?" I replied.

And we had to end the session by calling the ambulance as they both broke their jaws on the floor at the idea that a therapist could think frustration and conflict was a good thing.  (I kid).

I still believe this to be true. In fact, I think we can figure out how intimate we are with someone based on how much conflict we wade through with them. I know some people will be and are put off by the idea that friendships can be put into levels but I am uncertain how else to process what is the difference.

  1. Level 1. The "Not Really" relationship. This friendship is someone that you wouldn't honestly avoid at all cost if you could do so. When you're in the grocery store and see them in aisle three, you head to aisle nine. But if you they double back on you and your paths cross in aisle seven, you'll give the polite nod and greet mumbling something about the weather or another inane aspect of life.
  2. Level 2. The "Sort of" relationship. This friendship is someone that you don't actively avoid but you won't go out of your way to converse with them. You might stop and discuss something with them and you might even say yes to an invitation. You might know that they like the State over the other team or that they prefer kayaking to canoeing. But you won't endure much conflict with them. If you were in trouble at 4:00am, you wouldn't even think to call them. These are people we call acquaintances. 
  3. Level 3. The "Not Quite Intimate" relationship. This relationship is where most people stop, even married couples. These are often people we call friends. Many people will say things like, "We do life together,'  etc.  Many people will date people in this category and even get married. What makes this the not quite category is that people have an almost hard cap on the amount of conflict they will endure in this stage. When conflict comes that moves them past that cap, they will bail on the relationship. I see many people operate in this stage for most of their life with most of the people in it.
  4. Level 4.  The "Intimate" relationship.  This relationship is intimate. These are people that yo have been through real substantive conflict with. They've hurt you and you've hurt them because being in relationship involves hurt. Dealing with that hurt is what creates intimacy. Our brains are a swirling mass of often unfiltered emotions that we need to examine. I believe one of the best ways to examine these emotions is to do it with someone else that we trust. We all inherently know that conflict is uncomfortable. When we purposely engage in processing conflict, we are telling the other person that we care about them and the relationship we have with them more than we care about our own comfort. This is powerful. Healthy people will have a few people in this category as healthy boundaries are required at all levels. 

 

The key to this is processing our emotions and the conflict that arises from them well. And as Sarah and Ryan eventually learned we have to make peace with the idea that being stressed isn't bad. We also have to change the goal of good communication.

What about you? Who do you have in your life that you are truly intimate with?

 

*Sarah is a made up character that is an amalgamation of many clients. Indeed all characters in this post are made up and they all


VLOG #3. What lens are you using?

Recently a friend of mine had a firestorm of conversation erupt on a post she made on social media. Few of the contributors stopped to consider what lens they were using to understand the post and how that was impacting their statements.
While there were many words, there was little communication.

Watch this video to learn a tool that will help you to avoid the trap of many words and little communication.  Understanding what is going on in your own brain and emotions will help you be a better communicator.

 


Things I Hope My Kids Learn: If you Don' Like Your Life

I consistently run into people who dislike their life #67

Usually with a passion.

And yet, they make zero changes.

They do the same things over and over again.

As if their life is written out for them and no matter what they attempt, they are stuck living a life they hate.

This is patently false.

We, you and I can always change our life.  The problem is that change is often hard

Change is often very painful. Even desired change.

Most people resist that pain choosing rather to wallow in the pain that they are familiar with over the potential pain that they do not know.  This resistance to pain of any kind becomes  muscle memory and it simply becomes easier to avoid it.

But this resistance to pain comes at a new price. The person becomes stuck in their life that they hate. But stuck is the wrong word because it implies some sort of outside force keeping them from achieving their desired outcome. Most of the time, the outside force is us. 

There are three simple questions everyone must ask of themselves if they want to experience change.

  1. What do I want? This is the most basic question. What do I really want? Often we want competing things. That is to say, we often want things that cancel each other out. We want to be heroic but face zero danger. We want to spend money indiscriminately and grow our savings account. This is why we need to make priorities.
  2. What am I willing to pay? We often want things without having to pay for them. We want to own a successful business without putting in the hours required to be successful. We want to lose weight without sacrificing foods that we like but that are bad for us. We want to get better sleep but don't want to pay the cost of going to bed earlier. So often, people get stuck because they decide the price of change is too steep without adequately measuring the cost of staying the same.
  3. What am I willing to risk? So often people want to achieve something without risk. This is impossible. The person who wants to expand her circle of friends will have to risk rejection. The man who wants to experience true love will be forced the risk the loss of that love. The person who wants to experience change, will have to risk the possibility of set backs and failures.

And so I say to my children, and you...indeed to myself, if we don't like the situation we are currently in, we are free to change it. Always.


VLOG Post #2. A Way to Improve Every Conversation

This video is from my YouTube page regarding ways every conversation can be improved. Conversations about conflict can be hard, and this won't make them easier, but it will give help you make it more productive. Watch it and let me know what you think.


Things I Hope My Kids Learn: You are not the sum of your mistakes. #66

This is the first in an ongoing series entitled, Things I hope my kids learn. This is number 66. The numbers have little significance but they do provide me a decent way to track each one.

One of the most common things I see in life is people enslaved by their mistakes. image from scontent.fdet1-1.fna.fbcdn.net

The young father with a criminal record, fears to ever take a chance because of a mistake when he was 18. The young mother who fears loving again because he baby daddy left her.

The middle aged person who over reached and now lives in fear of trying again.

The stories go on, wandering a long and meandering path.

Too often I see people who simply can't past their own mistakes. There's a guy at the gym where I work out who told me that he has been in a violent and bad relationship for 25 years because he cheated on his wife with the woman he was in relationship with now.

That's the definition of being enslaved.

I pray my children learn that their mistakes do not have to define them.

But what about you? What can you and I (and for that matter our children) do with the mistakes that have happened?

  1. Admit and own the mistake. One of the biggest things that I see people do that actually gets them trapped is that they refuse to admit that they made a mistake. Worse, they often try to deflect ownership for their mistake to someone else.
  2. Evaluate for what you can do differently. Simply because you made a mistake, that doesn't mean you have to repeat it.
  3. Gather resources. Sometimes this will require you to look for others to help. Sometimes, you'll need to wait and be patient while you gather your resources or the next semester or job opening comes along. People are often tempted to skimp on this step. Don't be one of them.
  4. Try again. I'm not sure step 4 needs explained.
  5. Repeat. Often, overcoming mistakes needs multiple attempts. You have to be willing to go back into the fray. Go back again and again.

Mistakes can rob us of hope. Instead of looking at them as something bad, I'd love for my kids to come to the place where they celebrate failure as a means to gain knowledge and wisdom. Of course, that means that I too would have to come to a place used to failure and mistakes.

That may be the greatest trick of all.

 


Let's End the War on Technology

The other day I was reading a pretty good article. It was about parents being better parents. Good stuff.
This is a topic that interests me. Partly, because I’m a parent and partly because I need to know about it to be good at my job.  
He talked about parents doing parenting things. It was really pretty good for about 2/3’s of the way.


Then
          it
             all
                 fell
                      apart.
And the comments underneath it!


What went wrong? He blamed technology for the parenting problems we’re seeing today.
It was too much screen time.
Blame the iPad!
Blame the gadget!
Blame the fact that we have milk in the fridge and water in faucet!
Wait? What?


Well, I mean if we’re going to blame things externally of us, why not the milk in the fridge or the water in the faucet?
Technology makes a nice new target...because it's new. I had someone tell me that there problem with it was the fact that people "don't talk to each other anymore."
I asked him to find some pictures from the earlier generations of people gathering. Turns out they were reading newspapers.
They weren't all that more engaged.


Technology isn't the reason our kids are disrespectful or disobedient today.
They are whatever they are because we have allowed them to be that way.
We have abdicated our responsibility as parents to schools, TV and devices.
And we blame technology.


Let's end the war on technology.


Let's take control of our own lives and realize that technology is just a tool.
A tool is neither good nor bad, it is simply used.
Let's not use it as a tool to jettison our own responsibility to parent.
Let's accept that our children are sentient beings with their own level of free will.
Let's stop blaming and start owning our personal responsibility.

We will never see true growth if we blame something outside of us for our problems, rather we need to examine our own motives and heart and how we use the tools that we have.