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8 entries from October 2010

4 myths of change

Continuing with the Change theme today

Have something you want to change in your life? Well according to this book, says these myths might be holding you back.

4 Potential Myths:

  1. Self-Change is Simple
  2. It Just Takes Willpower
  3. I've tried everything--Nothing works
  4. People Don't Really Change

What do you think? Have you made any significant changes in your life? What was it? How did you do it?

so you say you want to change. what stage do you find yourself in?

An excellent book that I have read is called Changing for Good.   According to the book, change happens in six stages. They are:

    1.    Precontemplation—“Get off my back”
    2.    Contemplation—“I want to stop feeling stuck”
    3.    Preparation—“I’ll start tomorrow”
    4.    Action—“Here I go”    
    5.    Maintenance—“Keep moving forward”
    6.    Termination—“Home free”

The authors contend that no matter what, change almost always happens through these six stages.  If you’re a person that is interested in helping people change or have something that you want to change, I highly recommend you check out this book.

If you are someone who wants to bring change into your life, I encourage you to consider where on this continuum you might find yourself. I cannot tell you how many clients I have spent time with only to have them leave frustrated because they thought that they were in the action step and in reality they were much more in step 1 or step 2. If you are not ready to change, that's OK. No one is here to judge you for that, but it is important that you find the courage to admit that you are not ready to change yet. 

Change is hard. It involves loss and sacrfice. It is scary, it involves the unkown. Change takes time. A lot of time. It is also very rewarding and you can achieve it when you are ready. If you find yourself at #1-3, it is not a thing to be judged but more of a thing to be accepted. Understanding where we are at on this spectrum gives us more knowledge, which gives us more power to begin affecting the change we want to see.

Of course, sometimes we need to see someone who can help us begin the change process.

Wounds, Love and Marriage

If you are married, I'd like to ask you a few questions:

  1. What is your greatest wound from your youth? How has it impacted your marriage?
  2. What is your greatest fear regarding your marriage?
  3. What is your spouse's greatest wound? How does it effect your marriage?
  4. What is your spouse's greatest fear regarding your marriage?

Here's why I ask: If you can't answer these questions, how can you manage the effects they are having on your marriage? Being married will either enhance your strengths or your weaknesses. The wounds and hurts you carry from your past will impact how you love your spouse, your children and the people around you.

If you have you reacted in a situation in your marriage and then later wondered you always seem to react that way, you may have experienced what happens when we don't find healing for our wounds.

Seriously, take a few minutes and answer this question for yourself. If you don't know what the answer might be, take a few minutes and just jot down what comes to mind for yourself. Then jot down what you think the answers might be for your spouse.

Then if you really want to have some courage, go and ask your spouse what he or she thinks the answers are. Compare your answers.  Your marriage, or relationship can only be improved for these conversations.


The Problem with Counseling...

The problem with counseling is …?  Sounds a little strange for a professional counselor to say that there is a problem with counseling doesn’t it? What’s worse, I’ve actually gone on record as saying that probably most people need to go to a counselor. 

So what’s the problem? Say-What

Imagine with me a man or a woman, going to counseling. He nervously sit down in the seat, a comfortable couch or chair. She nervously clutches one of the pillows. Maybe he is there because he has a compulsive behavior. Maybe she is there with her spouse for marital counseling.  He meets the counselor and likes him or her. She finds the counselor to be nice.

Then he begins to explain the problem or problems to the counselor.  In the couples counseling situation, most likely she is going to explain that it is really her husband’s fault that they have had to come to counseling in the first place. In almost every situation, he is going to explain that while he has his issues, the real problem lies in “that” situation, or with “that” person.  He wants to change, but once this thing, person or situation changes then he will be able to be the person that he should be. Once that happens, she will be able to change. If only her husband, his ex-wife, her children, his father would just be the person that they are supposed to be, then the client will be happy and emotionally healthy. Then she will be able to make the choice to change.

Then the counselor says something and there is a slight itching at the back of his throat. Her blood pressure starts to go up.  The counselor keeps talking and the anger starts to rear up.

Obviously, the counselor is not that well trained and did not get a very good education. Her ears must be plugged, or she’s just a terrible listener. So the client tries again to explain that while he really does need to make a few changes what really needs to happen is:

  • His boss needs to change
  • Her husband needs to be a better husband
  • His parent needs to apologize
  • Her abuser needs to find justice
  • His kids need to grow up
  • She just needs to find a job
  • He just needs to get out of debt

The problem starts right back up again when the counselor begins to talk for the second time.  How in the world can a counselor be this dense. Then it hit him. It isn’t just the counselor. It’s the whole stinking process!

There is a problem with counseling. A great big, fat, huge, kick you in the teeth kind of problem.

Counseling is predicated upon the idea that you are in control of you. Good counseling will ask you to make changes in your own life because that is the only life you control. A good counselor won’t let you ramble about your wife, or husband or wayward child for too long because ultimately, change comes from you. It’s not that those things don’t matter because they do but ultimately what really matters is what you are going to do with the path in front of you, not that one you’ve already walked.

Back to our fictitious client, it hits him when the counselor begins to constantly press for this change. Change is scary. She’s had her entire life to do it this way. He’s always done it this way and now some  counselor is asking him to do it a new way. Of course, the way she’s always done it has led her to where she is and by her own admittance, she doesn’t like that place.

Insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results.             

Does Marriage Revolve Around Money, Power and Love?

I was once told that Marriage revolved around three distinct things. They are:

    1. Money

    2. Power

    3. Love

Do you agree? The person telling me this argued that everything came back to these three things. To be honest, I'm not sure that I agree but I am still chewing on it a bit. What are your thoughts?


Are You in Danger of Being Abused?

Are you dating an abuser?


Research by F. Scott Reyburn PhD


When a woman’s assailant is an intimate partner or ex-partner, the injury rate is about 52%, when it is a stranger, only 20%.  More women are murdered by one of these men than any other type.


Guys don’t come with warning labels, but they do come with behavioral preferences that signal the potential for and probability of abuse.


  1. Dating situation: he pushes too far, too fast, planning your future together shortly after you have had a few dates. Before you catch on to his real intent for you. This takes the initial form of showering you with attention, which is initially flattering, but is merely a method of setting the hook.
  2. He wants: your undivided attention
  3. He needs: to always be in charge
  4. He always: has to win, even when he says he does not.
  5. He breaks: promises most of the time
  6. He can’t: take criticism and always justifies his actions (often with lies)
  7. He blames: someone else anytime something goes wrong
  8. He is jealous: of your close friends, family members, and all other men
  9. He demands to know: where you went and whom you saw
  10. Demonstrates: mood changes that are unpredictable, often between extreme highs and low lows – often to intimidate and keep you off balance emotionally.
  11. His temper: is mean, often of a conscious-free, righteous indignation type
  12. He often: says you don’t know what you are talking about.
  13. He belittles: your ideas, makes you feel you are not good enough
  14. He withdraws approval or love: as punishment
  15. He pushes you: to do things that make you feel uneasy, like taking a day off of work or even breaking the law
  16. He hates his mother, is nasty to her and has a history of contempt for her and brings that attitude towards women into the relationship.


The main overall goal of these people is to isolate you from your support group as quickly as possible, take gradual control of your life, and eventually totally own you. It parallels many characteristic of the Borderline personality disorder: his fear of abandonment, devaluation of partner, identity disturbance, impulsivity, latent suicidal ideation.  ( the murder-suicide extreme version).


Women are wiser today and, if they have a strong identity and clear sense of their “mate-value” (how they deserve to be treated – respectfully and honorably), they tend to abandon these relationships. Those who remain in them take on a vacant, hollow, numb, abused look and eventually, many slowly lose their minds.

Is Your Marriage Mortal?

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine. I told him that all marriages are mortal. He immediately became offended and said, "No way! My marriage is not mortal!"

I laughed at him and said not only was his marriage mortal but that if he didn't recognize that fact and act accordingly it would increase the chances that his marriage could become sick or die. Of course, this was met with more angst. We ended up having a great conversation. He may or may not comment on this post, I don't know. 

I am preparing to do a communications seminar for a church next month. This is part of my transition from Graduate student to counseling/therapeutic professional.

We're going to talk about what I believe is the most important thing for a couple to focus on in order for their marriage to survive. We're going to talk about communication (6 principles guaranteed to improve communication in any situation) and we're going to talk about the mortality of marriage.

Whether we want to admit it or not, our marriages are mortal. Everyone's marriage is mortal. It does not matter how much you want to say that you will never get divorced or that your marriage will never die. It could and we have less control over than we'd like to admit.

I commented to my wife the other day that it seems every time I turn around I’m learning about someone new getting divorced. Some have been married for just a few years and some have been married for many years. 

There is a hard reality about marriages. For every 100 couples that gets married this weekend better than 50 of them will end up in divorce. Every one of them thinks that it will be someone else.

I think that many people think that as long as they refuse to acknowledge the D word everything will work out. I admit I used to think this way. There is at least two problems with this type of thinking.

First of all, a marriage requires two people to work on it. A person I know once said that marriage is something you possess and do. The trick is you don't possess it or do it alone. You do it with someone else. Sadly, that person can decide to walk away and there may be nothing you can do about it.

A second problem with this line of thinking is that it does not allow you to look realistically at your marriage. To say that our marriages cannot die is a lot like saying that our bodies cannot break down. It just isn't based in reality.

When we say our marriages are not mortal, we can delude ourselves into thinking everything is OK when it is not. Worse, we can become too scared to admit that we have problems in our marriage. This fear may prohibit us from seeking professional help in counseling for our marriage.

The truth is your marriage, my friend's marriage and my marriage is mortal. They can all die, which is why we must be vigilant in protecting our marriages. We must cultivate them.

When things are going ravishingly well, we must work at it. When dry and difficult times come we must work at it.

Admitting that our bodies are mortal does not mean that we want to die prematurely. The same is true for marriages. When I was married I made a promise to stay that way until death separated us and I meant it.

Denying that my marriage is mortal doesn't make that promise any stronger. It does not make my marriage stronger, in fact I think it makes it more vulnerable.

By admitting that it is fragile, and extremely valuable I am admitting that it is something I have to work on every day.

P.S. Before anyone reads this and thinks anything crazy, Erica and I are fine. This post is truly inspired from my conversation with my friend and my preparation for the upcoming conference. I believe that Erica would agree with me as well. I am hoping to have a series of posts on this topic but we'll see.