Thursday, August 30, 2012

Personalities: Do You Know Someone Who Always Likes to be in Charge?


 
By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Dominating Dan storms in the house after a long day of dealing with completely incompetent people and is more frustrated than ever that Human Resources will not let him fire his entire staff.  Not only is his staff incapable of keeping a deadline but he has to tell them what to do every step of the way.  “Why can’t they think for themselves?” he mutters, “Life would be so much easier if everyone did what they were told when they were told to do it.”  Dan looks around the house seeing the kids playing with unfinished homework still on the dining room table and explodes.  He yells for the kids to stop having fun and get back to work so they don’t grow up to be as incompetent as his employees.  As usual nothing is finished on his timetable as he has previously instructed and everything is always late.  If only the world had more disciplined and motivated people like him then everything would be fine and the world would not be in such chaos.

Sound familiar?  If so, then your someone is a “D” in the DISC personality profile which is “Dominating”.  Their motto in life is to “Get it done now”, for them completing a task on time is the most important element.  Competition is their best friend as there is no need to push them to complete a task, just the mention of someone else accomplishing a task is enough to propel them into action to out-perform everyone else in their path.  They are self-motivated, determined, driven, goal-oriented over-achievers.  If you say something can’t be done, just watch them prove you wrong.  They get energy from knowing they have out-done their friends, spouses, children, co-workers, pastors, parents, and anyone else in their life.  But be warned, they are not afraid to step on your back to get where they want to be or to throw you under the bus if in the end it helps them.  For them, the ends do justify the means and life would be so much better if everyone was just like them.

As a Spouse.  Expect them to insist on winning every argument and wanting to be control of all aspects of your life.  They want to know who, what, where, why, and when not because they care about the details but because they like the control.  Sometimes it will feel like you are the child and they are the adult and when that happens, they have you exactly where they want you.  Since they are focused and driven, they are likely to delegate relational issues but want to maintain overall control over everything else including the kid’s schedule.  They can smell a false sense of control a mile away, so faking that they are in control will not work but will back-fire instead.  Since they need to be in charge of something at home, let them have their area of choice just don’t make it relational in nature.

As a Friend.  If you ask them for advice, not only do they willingly give it to you but they tell you all about how they have done it better in the past.  If you take their advice, you are their new best friend but if you reject their advice, you better have your armor on because they are coming after you with a vengeance.  Because they like to take the lead on things, as long as they are directing the friendship things will be just fine but if you try to direct the friendship they will drop you like a hot potato and accuse you of being a fake friend.

As a Co-Worker.  They don’t play nice with other children, so at work, they are the least likely to get along with others.  They do much better in leadership positions so they naturally take the lead on nearly every project even if they are not the expert.   But if you try to lead instead of them, you will be met with such sharp criticism that you will never try it again.  Let them take the lead and follow their lead because even if it is the wrong direction, they will protect you.  But if you confront them, you are left without any protection and are more likely to become the object of their next target.

As a Child.  Again, they don’t play nice with other children so they are usually the ones ordering everyone else around.  They have a natural knack for finding the flaw in everyone else but if you point out their flaw you will be met with a harsh rebuke or a temper tantrum.  Since they are task-oriented, they are likely to excel in school as the idea of doing better than their siblings or classmates motivates them beyond their natural talents.  This strong determination is well-praised in school so it reinforces the behavior driving the child to achieve more, be better and be stronger but it carries with it the price of isolation from peers as other child do not enjoy being on the losing end of an unknown competition.

More than likely you have already identified a boss or entrepreneur who fits this description to a tee as these positions seem to suite them well.  They are hard-workers and expect others to work as hard as they do all the time.  The biggest problem is that they work too hard and alienate themselves from others in the process.  The stress of their profession and the need to achieve can be a deadly combination as they are likely to have stress related health issues as well.  So the next time you encounter a Dominating Dan, remember that there is a price to pay for all the success and choose to show them compassion instead of jealousy.

 

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
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About the author-
Chris Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

 

Personalities: Do You Know Someone Who Lives for Perfectionism?


 
By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Perfect Pete comes home after analyzing the best route to get there the fastest during rush hour traffic.  He is disappointed that no one notices he saved two minutes by taking a new route and can’t believe the lack of attention to detail by his family.  After all, there is the right way to come home which takes the least amount of time and then there are the several wrong ways to come home which take more time.  And he has found the best.  “Why can’t they appreciate the difference between the right way and the wrong way?” he mutters, “Life would be so much easier if everyone did everything the right way.”  Not only does he have to work with people who don’t care about quality, but now he has to live with them as well.  It is enough to send him in a sour mood as once again he is alone in his rightness.  He spends the rest of the evening barely talking to his family because not only did they not realize he was home early, when he finally told them about it they were totally unimpressed and even made fun of him.

Sound familiar?  If so, then your someone is a “C” in the DISC personality profile which is “Conscientious”.  Their motto in life is to “Get it done right”, for them quality not only matters but it is the most important element.  There will be no shortcuts with this personality as they take a long time to make a decision because they analyze every last detail from every angle they can find.  For them, they want to be known as a person who is cautious, calculated, detail-oriented, and thorough.   But all of this perfectionism comes at a cost as they default to moody, arrogant and self-righteous behaviors.  As a profession, they make excellent attorneys, artists, doctors, engineers, accountants and pilots.  Basically any profession which demands accuracy is a natural fit for their personality.

As a Spouse.  Having a spouse with this personality can be frustrating as they are not likely to accept your opinion of what is right and what is wrong with a long and drawn out fight.  The only way to win an argument with this personality is to dig your heals in the sand and don’t give ground.  This group sees giving ground as a weakness in your thinking.  On the positive side, they should be managing all of your finances as they make excellent, however frustrating, financial planners.  If the decision does not need to be made right away, let them research it as you know they will find the best possible choice and you will not be disappointed with the results.

As a Friend.  Be prepared to be confronted in a not so nice manner with a laundry list of all of your flaws.  The good news is that they don’t sugar coat anything so you can count on them to be as straight as an arrow with you and usually sarcastic to boot.  While they will spend time splitting pennies over a halved dinner check, they will not be the one to pick up the phone and call you to go somewhere.  If they are your friend, you will have to be the social director but the good news is that if they don’t want to do something, they will let you know.  The bad news is that they will never let you forget a bad time or a mistake.

As a Co-Worker.  Be on guard because they will intentionally lose you in the details in an effort to out-smart, out-think and out-analyze you.  They are not doing this because they are competitive; rather they are doing this because they are convinced that they are right and want to make sure that you know it and appreciate it.  If they have designed a process, then rest assured that it is good but if you have designed a process, then they will find the flaw and point it out at nauseam.  Don’t give this personality a deadline as they are sure to change it because, well let’s just say they have a ton of “because’s” and they are usually right.  However, if the project requires a level of perfectionism, give it to them and it will be perfect. 

As a Child.  It starts early with demanding that everyone play by their own rules even if the rules are not the real rules but the ones the child made up.  You see, this child knows how to write better rules then the maker of the game so make sure you know “their rules” and are playing by them or they will throw a fit.  It is usually their way or the highway and while they don’t have fully developed analytical skills yet, they can be pretty convincing as to why you should do things their way.  Don’t give in, just listen and praise them for the suggestion, but do not argue.  This is a pointless venture which will only alienate you from your child in the future.

This personality knows all of the “whys” to nearly every question because they have already asked, researched, and analyzed the answers.  Their attention to detail makes them quite gifted, excellent musicians, careful surgeons, and fiscally responsible adults.  So if you come across a Perfect Pete don’t run away, instead let them manage a detailed project following all of their suggestions and everything will be just fine.

 

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author-
Chris Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

 

Personalities: Do You Know Someone Who is the Life of the Party?


By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Party Patty bounces home excited about another day being around people even if she was just at work.  So what if all of her work did not get done today, it can wait till tomorrow.  So what if she didn’t make her sales quota that will happen next month.  The most important thing is that she hosted the best 50th birthday party for her friend at work.  “Why can’t we all have some fun at work?” she questions, “Life would be so much better if everyone just took time out of the day to enjoy it and have a little fun.”  Patty hears her smallest child banging on the clean pots and pans which have been removed from the cabinet and sits down next to her to make some “music” along with her.  Dinner is late as usual but who cares, life is too short to live by a deadline and there is always a frozen pizza that can be heated up.  Looking around the house, there are several started but unfinished projects on the already messy kitchen table but what’s the big deal, there is always tomorrow.  Dinner will just have to be in the family room again or maybe they can go out to eat instead.

Sound familiar?  If so, then your someone is an “I” in the DISC personality profile which is “Influential”.  Their motto in life is to “Have fun”, for them enjoying life to the fullest is the most important element and everyone around them knows this is their motto.  They are the life of the party and everyday is a new exciting adventure from the second they wake-up until the moment they fall asleep.  Even their dreams are filled with fantasy as their lives seem to be Disneyland-ish.  If you are having a party, invite them and the party will be great, neglect to invite them and it will be a flop for sure.  If they are having a party, be prepared to meet the strangest group of people you could imagine as they have “friends” from every walk in life.  But while their “friends” are a mile wide, their “friendships” are about an inch deep.

As a Spouse.  There is never a dull moment with this personality type as you literally never know what the day or evening will bring.  Don’t be shocked about some new recipe experiment as they most likely won’t prepare the same meal twice, won’t wear the same clothes twice, or won’t want the same group of people over twice.  Their parenting style haves lots of room for flexibility and discipline is definitely be lacking but the kids will love it and that is all that matters, having others like them.  In life and especially on vacation, expect that they have no plan what-so-ever but prefer instead to fly by the seat of their pants in making nearly every decision.  Just don’t hand the checkbook over to them as their creative style will likely spill out in creative financing and creative spending.

As a Friend.  Who doesn’t want a friend like this?  They bring their own excitement, have tons of stories, keep the conversation flowing, seem interested in everything you say, and have tons of ideas about everything.  The biggest problem is they are not very reliable as a friend as they are likely to leave you hanging for another greater gig going one at the same time.  They over-book, over-commit, over-promise, and over-smooze which can cause problems in your friendship only if you take it personally.  They don’t mean it personally as they just want to be liked, it just happens.

As a Co-Worker.  If there is a promise of recognition at the end of any goal, they will work towards it.  But if not, don’t be shocked if your project gets put on the back-burner and they have lots of back-burners.  They  are rarely on-time as 30 minutes late is normal, don’t keep a deadline because something else more interesting always comes up, and are likely to be more interested in making friends then in working.  But the office will not be dull with them around as they single-handedly keep the energy alive and thriving.

As a Child.  They are the fun child who needs to have tons of activities as they are always on the go wanting more, seeing more, and doing more.  This child is great with new people and is likely to be found talking to anyone who will respond back to them.  They will walk up to perfect strangers with the greatest of ease and start conversations making them sound older and smarter than their peers.  Wonderful performers, these children are likely to engage in any activity that allows them to be on stage in front of an audience.  And when there is no audience, they will create one though both good and bad behavior.

Fortunately this personality has a natural salesman like ability that enables them to literally sell the shirt off your back to you as their acting skills are well above average.  They are fantastic at any customer support, teaching, training or any environment which requires good people skills or a performance as all of this comes naturally to them.  In the most tense of situations, they have the ability to ease the air with a couple of jokes and return high anxieties to normal levels.  So the next time you come across a Party Patty, realize they will want to be your friend and even call you their best friend but you should take a number as there are likely to be a dozen other besties.

 

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author-
Chris Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

 

Personalities: Do You Know Someone who is Super Sensitive?


 
By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Sensitive Suzie comes home sulking desperately wanting to head straight for her room after a long day of managing everyone else’s problems.  She is exhausted from all of the confrontation and just wants to escape to her own little cocoon but knows that her family needs her so she puts off her alone time till later.  “Why can’t everyone just get along?” she says, “Life would be so much simpler if everyone just worked together instead of fighting all the time.”  But the distraction of her family manages to put a smile on her face and soon she decides that she really doesn’t need the alone time after all, just a few hugs and kisses from her kids do the trick.  However the frustration builds inside and while Suzie ignores it, the kids begin fighting over the last piece of garlic bread.  Before long she finds herself exploding over the garlic bread while her family looks at this unknown person who never seems to get upset over anything.  Knowing she has disappointed her family Suzie turns her anger inward to an even greater sense of insecurity and inadequacy.

Sound familiar?  If so, then your someone is an “S” in the DISC personality profile which is “Steadfast”.  Their motto in life is to “Keep the peace” and for them having a calm atmosphere at all times in all circumstances is the most important element.  They are the most sensitive of the bunch and can perceive things that others just overlook so they make excellent negotiators, mediators, and parents.  Slow, steady, straight, and calm are the ways they approach nearly every new circumstance and certainly every conflict.  For them, the only way to handle a problem is to deal with it calmly; otherwise, they run from all aggressive attacks and retreat into their safe shell of isolation.  They accomplish all kinds of work done without any complaining, arguing, debating, changing the method, or asking for other’s input.  Instead they just do the job well, quietly, and without rocking the boat. 

As a Spouse.  They will dutifully do what is expected without being asked and will take pride in a house well run without any conflict.  But that is the key; there can be no conflict because if there is, they have failed in their mission to keep the peace.  You see, they work so hard to keep everything on an even level that if it is not, they take it personally and blame themselves for the failure.  There is no point in accepting responsibility for the failure as they will not hear a word, the only way to resolve the issue is to calm down and reduce the conflict.  They will remain calm most all of the time but watch out, if pushed too far, they will explode like a volcano and then hate themselves for causing the conflict propelling them to retreat.

As a Friend.  They are the most loyal and faithful friends you could possibly imagine who will always get you the perfect gift because they have put a ton of time and thought behind it.  This is how they demonstrate to you their dedication to your friendship and no matter how many years may have passed they will happily restore the friendship to the same level it was before.  But if you betray them, be warned because they do not tolerate any disloyalty and will cut you out of their life if needed to protect themselves or the people they love.  They can become very self-protected when attacked and sometimes this looks a lot like selfishness.

As a Co-Worker.  Who can ask for a better co-worker as they will make the office run smoothly without a hitch no matter what level of stressful situations are looming over the horizon.  They are wonderful organizers, do things without being asked, finish other’s tasks without complaining, and maintain a good attitude.  But if they feel for one second that you don’t appreciate them or value them, they will quit without notice and leave you hanging.  To keep them happy, don’t recognize them in public as they will hate any attention being drawn to them but rather give them a bonus, privilege or gift as this is of far greater value then public recognition or a title.

As a Child.  They are the quiet ones who do everything the teacher asks and are usually the favorite friend, student, or even sibling amongst the competition.  But don’t tell them it is a competition or they will run the opposite direction as they don’t want anyone to feel left out or a loser.  They are not likely to enjoy winning for the sake of beating someone else up but rather they enjoy winning to know they have outdone themselves.  While on the surface they may seem organized, buried deep in their drawers or under their bed is a huge mess they are hiding from everyone.  If you publically announce it, they will never forgive you but if you privately address the matter, they will correct it.

This personality becomes incredible diplomats, mediators, office managers, human resources, and administrators.  They have enough detail skills to work with overly detail-oriented personalities without getting obsessive about it and enough people skills to work with overly friendly personalities without failing to complete a task, but they have no tolerance for the overly aggressive personality as they will see them as a bully.  So the next time you come across a Sensitive Suzy, handle them with care and they will care well for you but handle them with force and they will bite back.

Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author-
Chris Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why Do I Keep Picking the Wrong People?



Brian M Murray, IMH

 

When meeting a person for the first time everything is exciting and brand new. It can seem like the feeling of true love is in the air. It is as if “Ah, finally, I have met the one true person in my life and this is it, the one who will make all the difference.” Let the counting begin how many times this has happened time and time again. Interesting, there appears to be a pattern developing.

The new person is exciting to be around, lots of fun and gives us something to look forward to. In the story Bambi I believe the word was “Twitter-pated.” Human beings are social creatures and we enjoy spending time with others especially when it is romantic and new. But what happens when that love feeling in the beginning begins to turn into a scene like the Bad News Bears? The players take the field in nice uniforms and suddenly the scene changes to one of disruption, deception and dirty tricks. The person appears to fit all of the qualities we look for in a person, or do they?

When entering a new relationship people often put their best foot forward in the beginning; however over time the truth of what they really are becomes exposed and begins to erode the relationship. The character and integrity of who they are begins to leak out and they expose their true nature, in other words, they stop putting their best foot forward and start being themselves.

Then it becomes apparent, again, I have picked not only a person who is "toxic" to relationships, but now I realize I keep picking this same type of "toxic" person over and over again. Unfortunately, the reality of noticing this pattern of behavior appears only after a person is becoming angry and resentful after many past relationships that end up in pain. Maybe it’s time to get a relationship detox and understand why I keep picking what turns out to be the wrong people.

What often attribute to this are unresolved issues from the past that makes a certain "toxic" type of person attractive. There are many places to look and often childhood can be a good place to begin. Look at the relationships you had with your parents, do you see a similarity? Sometimes we seek resolution to pain from our childhood in the way we pick our mates. There may be certain themes such as caretaking or feeling responsible for the other person emotionally or financially. Do you find yourself apologizing constantly over what you say or do? Does the relationship provide a needed void in life such as not feeling happy unless I can fix, rescue or save someone from themselves? Does it make me feel better when I take care of someone else because I get love in return? Often the way out of a toxic situation is to change some habits about who we are.

If you find yourself in this type of behavior pattern there are some steps to take that can help. Detaching yourself from past thoughts and behaviors helps tremendously. Sometimes we become attached to certain “comfortable” patterns in life not fully realizing what is happening, we just see and feel the undesired results. It’s time to live outside the box of your personal comfort zone. Cultivate yourself by changing the way you live your life. Take a break from relationships and spend some time with yourself to explore things that help create and mold you as an individual. God has given us a beautiful Earth to live out our lives and enjoy. Find activities that you feel would be completely different from what you would normally do such as going to a museum instead of the movies. Go to a symphony concert instead of a rock concert or join a small group through church. Adopt a pet, take up canvas painting, join a kayaking club or go on a hike instead of the mall. Travel, see the world and find something that sparks an interest in an area that has never been explored. Go to the mountains instead of the beach or volunteer to help the less fortunate. There are countless ways to cultivate who you are as a person.

What this does is it changes who we are by adding value to our lives. It changes the focus of putting too much value on others and places more value on accepting ourselves. Over time this builds self confidence and begins to define who we are as a person and strengthens the ability to be comfortable in a relationship. So the next time you are at a dinner engagement with someone of interest and they ask “so, what do you like to do,” what will your answer be?


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
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Family of Five with Five Different Love Languages


 
By Chris Hammond, IMH, MS

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always ‘me first,’ doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end,” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, The Message.

Whoever said it is easy to show love is dead wrong.  While you may feel loved when someone spends time with you another person doesn’t feel loved unless you tell them.  It is easy for you to show love in your love language because it comes so naturally but trying to show love in another person’s love language and you are likely to feel fake.  Gary Chapman in his book, “The Five Love Languages” outlines the difference between each language.  To make it easier, here is a family of five with a different love language for each.

Dad: Words.  What you say matters so chose your words carefully.  Dad feels loved when he is encouraged with words such as “You did a great job” or “I really appreciate you”.  He likes to hear compliments or receive notes of encouragement.  Of particular value are compliments given in the presence of others.  Of particular hurt are public insults or name calling.

Mom: Service.  Actions speak louder than words.  Mom feels loved when someone takes the time to do something for her.  It can be a small task such as emptying the dishwasher, filling her car up with gas, or bringing home dinner.  Of particular value are acts of service without being asked.  Of particular hurt are ignored requests to compete a task.

Child #1: Time.  Time together is time well spent.  Child #1 feels loved when someone takes time out of their day to be with them.  Just being in their presence is enough, as the activity does not have to be overly engaging.  For instance, sitting in the same room and being around them is satisfying.  Of particular value is intentionally spending time together when life is busy such as going to the store together.  Of particular hurt is not being there for games, concerts, or events.

Child #2: Gifts.  The well thought out gift is of greatest value.  Child #2 feels loved when someone gives them a gift that reflects their personality.  Small gifts are sufficient as even a pack of their favorite gum (as long as you get the flavor right) shows that you pay attention to what they like and care enough to get it.  This child can tell you nearly every gift they have ever received and who gave it to them.  Of particular value are surprise gifts for no reason at all.  Of particular hurt are no gift or generic gifts.

Child #3: Touch.  A gentle touch calms the soul.  Child #3 feels loved when someone gives them a hug, kiss, or gentle tap on the back.  The touch does not need to be overly obvious as just a tap on the arm or holding of hands can provide a sense of love.  Of particular value are massages, good night hugs, and hello kisses.  Of particular hurt is abusive touch or forced touch.

By learning to speak in another person’s love language, they will feel loved by you.  Since love is for the receiver, it is far more important to speak the other person’s love language then it is to keep speaking your own love language.  This is not the time to compare notes as to how well someone else is speaking your love language, rather it is the time to be the example that others can follow.


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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"


About the author-
Chris Hammond is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience

 

Storms & Anxiety


By: Brian M. Murray, IMH

Anxiety is a very common part of everyday life. This time of year in Florida approaching hurricanes can cause a lot of anxiety. It would appear that some people handle it in different ways by celebrating all the way down to being down right scared and hunkered down. So what is this all about? How come some people are very afraid and others are not?

Some underlying factors are at play and very legitimate. If a person has ever been exposed to a natural disaster and witnessed or experienced what is perceived as a life threatening situation, then they have good reason to feel anxiety during an approaching storm. These survivors can be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly known as PTSD. Now, some anxiety before a storm is a pretty typical response. However, if the anxiety reaches a point where a person begins to recall memories of past traumatic events into the present one then it can warrant taking a better look at what is going on.

There are some signs of what to look for such as those involving intrusive memories. This is identified by bad dreams of the event, sudden thoughts and images of the witnessed event known as flashbacks, feeling on edge and on high alert constantly checking and rechecking supplies, locked doors and constantly watching every update on a storm. PTSD is commonly heard of when thinking of war veterans, emergency workers, survivors of terrifying car accidents, plane crashes, fires and those who have survived a natural disaster. Anytime a person believes their life is being threatened in a dangerous situation is being exposed to traumatic stress.

What happens with trauma is current anxiety being experienced is a response based on past events. With trauma, the brain records the past event and stores it into memory at the moment the trauma occurred. So when a current situation arises that is similar, such as an approaching hurricane with a natural disaster victim, this memory is recalled and produces feelings much like they were at the moment they were originally recorded. It is the minds way of preparing the body for the perceived threat, based on the condition of the last known event.

Here are some ways that may be helpful in preparation. Before this gets too far just a word of caution, in no way is a hurricane to be taken lightly. This is not about making light of something serious; this is about managing feelings of anxiety. Compare the imminent danger to the last known threat. How is it the same and how is it different? Am I blowing things out of proportion or jumping to conclusions? Utilize self reassurance phrases, for example, by repeating “I am okay.” Develop realistic positive talk; “I have been through this before, I can do it again.” Try to be as realistic as possible and replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Instead of thinking all doom and gloom, think of what needs to get done in order to be ready. If you have family and children, turn it into a game with each person preparing The Fort. This helps change the focus of thoughts from excessive worry to being pro-active. Prepare for the event so last minute stress and pressure of having to prepare have been taken out of the equation well in advance. Like the old Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared” can go a long way in relieving anxiety. Try breathing techniques to calm and slow the body by breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Get a support group and work together with a plan of action to be at one person’s home should a storm have a direct impact. Much of this has to do with switching the focus of the thought of the perceived danger to thoughts of doing something active.

While some of these techniques can be effective to relieve anxiety in the moment, they may not be efficient to someone who has been deeply impacted by a past traumatic event. PTSD can be a serious and long term condition that requires therapeutic intervention. Trauma focused therapy can be effective in helping work through and re-record the trauma events to lessen the future effects.



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A Letter from a Child to Her Parents During Divorce


 
By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

Yesterday I just stood there as you fought over my baby sister.  Mommy had both her arms and Daddy had both her legs.  I thought my baby sister would break in half but she just cried cause she is only one years old.  I felt so bad that I didn’t stop you from fighting over her, it is all my fault.  Maybe if I was better then you won’t fight so much. 

Daddy, you say mean things to me and Mommy.  You say my mommy tells lies about you.  But she is nice to me and takes care of me and my sister.  She listens to me when I cry and tries to make me feel better.  She tells me that you are mean and if you were nice then she would not have to be mean.  Daddy, please be nice to Mommy so she can be nice to you. 

Daddy, I have fun when we are together doing stuff.  You take me places I like to go.  But Mommy tells me I don’t have to go with you if I don’t want.  She told me that we can do something special if I don’t go with you.  I like her treats too so I get confused about where to go.    

I don’t like to go without my baby sister because she needs me to take care of her.  I am away from her at school and I wish I didn’t have to go to school so I could stay at home and help Mommy out with her.  Mommy gets tired easily and besides only I know how she feels and she needs me.  One day she fell asleep and I tried to wake her up but she won’t get up.  My baby sister was crying so I talked to her until Mommy got up.  It was dark then.

I love my school but you keep fighting over money and how much it costs.  All my friends go there but I don’t want you to fight.  Can I go to a school you won’t fight over?  I don’t care where I go.  I’ll be good wherever you send me.  I promise.

I don’t want to lie.  I learned in school that you shouldn’t tell a lie but Mommy you asked me to lie about Daddy.  You told me to tell my teacher that Daddy hit me.  He did not hit me.  I told her that he did but then she asked me questions and you weren’t there so I didn’t know how to answer them.  Can you come to school with me and tell my teacher what you want me to say to her?  I don’t want to lie to her.  She is nice to me and she looks sad when other kids lie to her.  I don’t want to be like them.

Daddy you scared me when you get angry.  I don’t like your angry voice.  Mommy told me that you hurt people when you get like that.  You have not hurt me but I am afraid that if I am not good enough you will.  I also don’t want my baby sister to get hurt so please stop getting angry.  I will do whatever you want if you just stop yelling.  Please don’t hurt me like Mommy said you would.

It made me sad that you were fighting over my baby sister.  I know that you have not fought over me like that cause I am bad and she is good.  It is ok.  I know that I am bad cause if I were good, you would not have left Daddy.  I tell my baby sister to stay good so that Mommy won’t leave too cause that is what parents do when their kid is bad.

I have an idea.  Since I am bad, break me in half so my baby sister doesn’t have to be broken.  I am afraid that you will break her one day and then I will be sad.  I don’t want to live without her.  Then maybe you will not fight anymore.  This is all I want, for you to stop fighting.  Please stop.

Love,

Your Child



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Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
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About the author-
Chris Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Finding Freedom in Yes to No and Vice Versa


By: Brian Murray, IMH

“I used to spend so much time reacting and responding to everyone else that my life had no direction. Other people's lives, problems, and wants set the course for my life. Once I realized it was okay for me to think about and identify what I wanted, remarkable things began to take place in my life.” ― Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series

1 Corinthians 10:29
I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?

How many times have you heard a young child when asked or told to do something respond with a rebellious "NO." Okay, lets take it to the next level, how many times have teenagers been asked or told to do something and they responded with a rebellious "NO." Okay, lets try this one more time, how many times has a grownup been asked or told to do something and they responded with a  boisterous "NO." Ironically these 3 answers have something in common and that is the person responding all have the ability to say "NO." On the other hand, that would mean that they may also have the ability to say "YES."

Sometimes, however, this is not so simple for everyone. If you can say "no" without feeling guilty, remorseful or having strong thoughts that maybe I am a bad person then you most likely have the ability to draw some personal limitations. Chances are those who are afraid to say no or have feelings of guilt, shame and remorse are playing life by a different set of internal rules. Those who have the ability to say or express themselves without remorse have a sense of freedom that allows them to do so. For others who do not feel this way and are not able to express themselves freely, there are some areas to look at that may shed some light on the subject.

Not having a sense of freedom and self expression can come from many different areas of our lives. Often feelings of lost freedom presented by guilt, shame or feeling bad about self expression is learned behavior. This stifled way of living creates the idea that a person must tip toe around others afraid that they are somehow responsible for other people's behavior. This leads to not being able to say things like "yes" to a simple request when a person really wants to say "no." The reason for this is the person who is not being truthful of what they really want to say or do based on the idea that if they choose otherwise then other people may become offended or react in an unpleasant way.

There are many underlying experiences that contribute to learning how this works. The following are examples of some possible situations that can contribute to going through the world in in fear of other people's reactions.

  • Growing up it was not permissible to talk about problems and feelings were not allowed to be expressed freely. This results in learning to not effectively express the self and leads to avoiding problems.
  • There was a lot of tension in the house growing up without any real arguments or talking things out were not allowed. Feelings or activities are minimized such as "big boys don't cry" and "real ladies don't act like that." This creates the belief that it is not okay to be ourselves and it's appropriate to be cut off by others.
  • Unrealistic expectations such as I must, should, ought or need to be perfect at some activity. This is about being removed from what is realistic and puts a person into an unrealistic perfectionism that is unattainable. This can also translate into the belief that perfection is what is expected and places unrealistic demands on others. This way of thinking crosses many relationship borders and is found beyond the family unit. Perception of being a failure often leads to feelings of shame and guilt.
  • Stop being so selfish. This thought pattern often leads to putting other people's needs ahead of your own. This is about putting yourself off to the point it begins to cause a great deal of stress or hardship. Internal feelings of resentment begin to build and often leads to anger and problems with relationships on many levels.

Identifying with these behavior patterns can ultimately lead to a person not getting their own needs met. It can lead to low self esteem and difficulty expressing what is important to others.

So what can you do about it? First of all begin to self examine and take a look at the self from a non-judgmental perspective. Awareness and acceptance are often the first step toward self improvement. The next step is to practice self forgiveness. This is instrumental in learning that it is okay for me to be me without worry or fear of what others are thinking or doing. Learning to have freedom of expression can be very liberating. It frees us from ourselves and the confinement of disabling learned patterns of thought. It allows us to be able to find comfort in letting “no” be “no” and “yes” being “yes.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

5 Tips for Parenting Adolescents: Part 2

By: Matt Sandford, LMHC

In part 1, we looked at the influence of stress on our parenting and some ways to relieve and manage it. Here is tip number 2.

 

2.    Examine how you handle negativity

·         Here’s a shocking statement: adolescents can be negative sometimes. And dramatic. Or they could demonstrate this by going the other way and withdrawing. And when this happens, what do you usually do? Do you turn negative yourself, getting on their case about their negativity? How does that usually turn out?! Or do you throw up your hands internally and withdraw or avoid them? Most of us have a hard time being around negative people. They drag us down over time, and they resist being cheered up or redirected. So, what are some healthier options?

·         First, go back to point one and address your self care and your stress level, so that you can be more present for the person you would like to help and invest in. After all, working with anyone just so you can feel better is a recipe for resentment and increased frustration. Helping needs to be about their best interest. That’s real love.

·         When you are ready, go to your child with curiosity and plan to listen. Not the listening that you may have often given, in which you are preparing your response or your lecture while they speak. No, this kind of listening is about learning to listen underneath the words to the emotional content. Hear the words, but go deeper and find the meaning. Ask questions, but not the kind of questions that feel accusatory or belittling, “Why did you say that?”, “Why didn’t you turn it in?” No, these kind of questions ask, “What was that like for you?”, “What did you think they meant when they said that?” or “What happened next?” What does the experience they are telling you about mean to them? This is about inviting them into a safe relationship with you, where they can learn that you are not going to judge them or overlook their concerns. If they have not experienced this from you often enough it may take some time for them to get that you have changed and now want to really know them.

·         As they open up to you, they will reveal negative thoughts, foolish understandings and misguided or untrue beliefs. And when they do, you can now stomp them out! Crush them, right?! Well, I rather like the description of Jesus as a reply to such a perspective, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” - Matthew 12:20. We are so tempted at these moments to correct, to offer our wisdom. But be discerning. Many times advice is not really what is needed, certainly not as much as we feel the need to provide. There will definitely be a place for direction and guidance; they absolutely need it and need it from you above any other. But, you must first show them that you are listening and that you believe in them, and you can’t establish that in them if your default is to tell and correct. Those approaches speak volumes to your child. The message you send at those times is, “I don’t believe you can figure things out. I don’t believe you are smart enough or resourceful enough, and you need someone to hold your hand.” By the way, can you see how someone who receives messages like this may end up with a tendency towards negative thinking? Just stick with asking open-ended questions in a way that invites them to examine their own assumptions and conclusions.

·         What about the teen who shuts down and withdraws? You have tried to pursue them to ask questions, and all you get are one or two word replies or mumbles, and then they go off to their room or out to be with friends. One question I have is: are they behaving this way because they have experienced you as unsafe, which means there is work to be done to remake this perception they have of you. But, a big part of adolescence also means struggling with all kinds of things that you don’t understand and don’t know how to talk about. So, when your teen is not talking, focus on being inviting by being observant and on making guesses that invite them in. When your teen isn’t giving you anything with their words, look for other cues – what’s going on in their friendships, their academics, their free time, their body language and dress, and what is important to them? And then make conjectures. Not as judgmental statements but as guesses. “I’ve noticed that you have not had any phone calls from your friend; has something happened?” “You have seemed rather down when you get home from school lately; I am wondering if you are frustrated in math these days?”

 

Tip number three will be coming soon, and it is about the “C” word - control.

 

Matt W.  Sandford, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor


 

Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Out of Trouble Comes Wisdom Through Moving Yet Again


By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Yet another box to unpack and more stuff to decide where it belongs.  The never ending stream of things both necessary and unnecessary seems to procreate overnight and grow into this insurmountable pile of stuff.  Moving is physically exhausting as things never seem to land where they belong and more things are misplaced or displaced then organized.  No matter the house size whether bigger or smaller than before, nothing seems to work out just as planned.  Then of course there is the list of things that need to be done such as checking on the AC unit before the heat of the summer sets in or the heater before the cold becomes unbearable.  It really does not matter if the place you are moving into is old or new (trust me, new things break as easily as old), in good shape or poor shape, or near or far from where you came.  The process is tiring nonetheless and exhaustion quickly turns into an overwhelming feeling of “What have I done?”

But logic prevails and the reasons for the move slowly begin to overshadow the journey itself lifting your spirits ever so slightly.  There is the old picture you found of your kids when they were younger, a copy of an musical program that you and your spouse went to when dating, a box given to you by your deceased grandfather, or a book that has been passed down for several generations.  So many memories come from these things; memories that you had forgotten or rather just had not intentionally remembered until finding a new place for the object forced it to come forward.  Looking back on the moving experience is painful but just like childbirth, something good emerges from the pain.

We are not meant to become attached to stuff in fact the Bible strictly warns against it.  1 John 2:15 begins a warning, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you”.  While a move may highlight the importance of some of your possessions; it should also highlight that the very things you treasure will not leave this world but you eventually will.  The Egyptians held onto a belief for many centuries that a person’s possession can travel with them when they die.  The fact that these things remain here on earth is evidence enough that you can’t take your stuff with you.

This is good news.  For you are made to have a home in Heaven, your home is not here on earth but with God in Heaven.  Just like your recent move, you will one day move on to meet your Creator.  The question is, “What have you done to prepare for that move?”  On this earth, you box valuable things up with such care as to protect them during the move but what have you done to prepare your heart and mind for the last and final move of your life?  It is never too late to make a decision to move in the right direction.



Reprint Permission- If this article helps you, please share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit
www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005"

About the author-
Chris Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.