Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DISC Personality Profile: Working Together


 
By Chris Hammond

You understand your personality profile and can now see how the pieces fit together to form a whole functioning group.  So now the struggle becomes how to communicate effectively with each other.  Effective communication is difficult under normal circumstances but try complicating it with different strengths, weaknesses, needs and motivations and you are likely to feel a bit overwhelmed.  Worse yet, do this for an entire team of different profiles and watch your time disappear. 

Instead of resorting back to the way things were before you learned all of this information, try incorporating a couple of these tactics the next time you have a team meeting.  Remember you can meet the needs of all your personalities in one meeting at one time which in the end will save you time and energy while reducing stress and frustration.

Project Outline. In order to better understand effective communication, the same example will be used for each profile.  You have been given a task of reducing your team’s budget by $1M over the next three years and are holding a team meeting to communicate the expectations, deadlines, and potential concerns.

What.  For the dominating in your group, they need to know the “what” of this project.  They are not interested in how you think they should go about cutting the budget or who is involved; rather they just want to know what are the expectations and deadlines.  The more information you give them the more likely they are to be frustrated and fear that you don’t trust them to complete the task.  Less information is best, they will ask for more details if they need it.

Who.  For the influential in your group, they need to know “who” is involved this project.  While the other information such as deadlines and objectives are necessary, you will get further if you explain who will be involved in the project with them and who will be reviewing the project in the end.  If there is potential for public recognition, use this as a motivating piece to encourage the project to be completed on a timely basis.  For this group, it is best to move the deadline earlier as they are likely to be late.

How.  For the steadfast in your group, they need to know the “how” of this project.  Questions like how is this project going to be measured, how are they going to tell someone that the budget has been cut, and how are they going to viewed by others are important issues to address.  The more support, reassurance, and loyalty you can show this group the more comfortable they will be accomplishing this task.  This group will come back to you over and over again because they are afraid of hurting someone along the way.

Why.  For the conscientious in your group, they need to know the “why” of this project.  Begin by explaining the big picture of why the budget is being cut then move to why their specific area needs to be cut.  It will be hard for this group to participate in such a project without fully understanding all of the details and decisions that lead to this conclusion.  Give them as much information as you can and then redirect them to someone else for additional information if needed.  More information is better than less.

Don’t feel as though everyone needs to hear all of this information, they don’t.  if the dominating of the group are done, let them leave and begin to work.  If the influential of the group want to hang out because they like to be with others, let them but don’t expect them to hear anything past the “who”.  You will have to give the steadfast permission to leave the meeting as they are least likely to take initiative.  But the conscientious of the group will outlast and out question all of the groups.  Meeting the needs of each group one time is a far better use of your time and will reduce the level of stress for your team.

 

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.

 

DISC Personality Profile: Putting It All Together


By Chris Hammond

You have completed the tests and have a better understanding of yourself through the DISC personality profile having gained new insights as to your strengths and weaknesses. But how does your profile fit with others?  How does it relate to your spouse’s profile, your co-worker’s profile or your child’s?  How can the pieces fit together to form a functioning group dynamic?

Each personality profile in DISC: dominating, influential, steadfast, and conscientious, are different pieces of a whole package.  The goal is not to become all things rather it is to recognize the value in each part, utilize your strengths to achieve results, and supplement your weaknesses by working with people who are strong where you are weak.  When you do this you will discover how much more enjoyable life can be, how much less anxiety you will have, and a huge reduction in everyday stress as you will no longer be trying to be something that you are not.  Setting boundaries in your life based on your strengths will now become easier and you will no longer be as tempted to take on tasks that are outside your strengths.

Positive attitude.  If you are a dominating or influential person then seeing the glass as half full will come more naturally.  Having fun and getting things done now are all about the positive possibilities in the moment and what can happen in the future.  This of course does not mean that a person in either of these profiles will not be negative on occasion because when a dominating or influential person is stressed, they tend to become almost aggressively negative and angry.  However it does mean that their natural tendency is to have a positive attitude.

Negative attitude.  If you are a steadfast or conscientious person then seeing the glass as half empty will come more naturally.  This is because no one else in the room cares to do things as right as you do or cares as much about keeping the peace.  Both of these tendencies are isolating in nature as more people just want to get things over and done with instead of being careful and more people stir up conflict then try to keep the peace.  Of course you can train your brain to think more positively however, this will not come naturally and will require more effort on your part then for a dominating or influential person.

Task-oriented.  Both a dominating and conscientious persons are task oriented as opposed to people oriented.  For them, people are a means to an end or a necessary evil to accomplish a goal.  A person in either of these groups will usually prefer to get the job done alone as other people tend to muddy the waters and require too much precious energy that is better served accomplishing the task at hand.  However lacking their people skills might naturally be, they can learn to incorporate others into the task at hand to help elevate some stress.

People-oriented.  Both an influential and steadfast persons are people oriented as opposed to task oriented.  For them the whole purpose of work is to do it together and their relationships at work are more important than their tasks.  If a person is struggling with a personal problem, they will forgo a deadline in order to help the other person out because the relationship matter more than the work.  However difficult it may be to keep an influential or steadfast person on track, they can learn to see completing tasks as a way to preserve relationships which will matter far more than a deadline.

By looking at how all of the pieces fit together you can begin to see the value in each group.  For instance, if your spouse is relational and you are task oriented, then they should be in charge of setting the social calendar with limitations on the frequency of outings.  Or if your co-worker is constantly seeing how things are falling apart, then having them work together with a person who looks on the brighter side of work is a healthy balance.   Opposites attract and complement each other making all the pieces work together is a cohesive manner.

  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.

 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 Ways to Improve Relationships



Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

Relationships are all around us and they exist whether it is marriage, friendships, in-laws and coworkers and chances are there will be challenging times when we try to find ways to get along with each other. At some point there will be conflict within a relationship but it does not always have to be this way. When relationships become dysfunctional, finding ways to navigate through those can be challenging. Being around others who are healthy can bring value and joy to life. Lifetime friends and special people we identify with in our families can generate feelings of appreciation of both what we receive and what we are able to give. Healthy relationships are built on give and take and not all take and not all give. While there are numerous ways to evaluate a relationship, here are 5 ways that can help enhance relationships.

1.      Do you trust each other? Let’s face it, if there is no trust in any relationship then developing anything significant is halted at the trust gate. Trust puts a limit on how far a person is willing to allow another person into their life. Trust often puts up a wall that says “hold on right there, that is far enough until I get to know you better.” This is especially true in intimate relationships such as marriage. If someone gets married to another person out of feelings of obligation or guilt of disappointing the other person and trust is still an issue then guess what? Trust remains an issue. There have been situations when people have been married to each other for years with one partner still not trusting the other and live a life that is very veiled or what some may refer to as “living a lie.”

 

2.      Do you respect each other’s opinions when they are different? While this may be difficult to do when cheering for opposing teams or who to vote for in politics, this is more about the context or foundation of which the relationship exists. There are countless times when one person’s way of viewing situations in life does not match others. When this happens it often becomes grounds for dismissal of a friendship or even divorce. An example of an unhealthy way of viewing someone’s opinion is to evaluate the person as a “hater” just because they do not agree with you. A more healthy way says “I don’t agree with your view or opinion, but I respect you anyway regardless.” It goes along the old adage, “can we agree to disagree?”   

 

3.      Do you encourage each other’s hobbies and leisure activities? Healthy encouragement can go a long way to build relationships. Being critical of what other people do create hurt and anger and becomes destructive. People who are genuinely supportive of each other want the other person to have fun and do things that bring joy and excitement to their lives. Sometimes this can inspire others to want to join in on the fun.

 

 

4.      Do you problem solve without name calling and put downs? Calling another person names is about tearing the other person down. It is a form of bullying and it is an attempt to control and take possession of the other person. Solving problems is about reconciliation and helping each other overcome an obstacle. Name calling and putting the other person down only creates feelings of resentment and anger and solves nothing. Disagreements become manageable when each person takes responsibility for their actions and move into a direction of equal balance in the decision making process.

 

5.      Do you allow each other their personal space? Having time to read, journal, listen to music, exercise and any other activity where a person needs time alone is critical in a relationship. This is about having “me” time. Being able to draw limits between the self and the world around us can bring a sense of calm and peace in our lives. It reduces stress and anxiety and brings a general sense of well being.

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. "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"

Finding Integrity in Addiction



Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”                   
-Spencer Johnson

Is there integrity in addiction? Absolutely, that is if the addicted person is willing to admit the truth that they have a problem. Integrity is about being honest with themselves about who they are as a person. Sharing the truth about having an addiction with others is also about having integrity. Being able to express who they are with a professional licensed counselor or addictions professional can take an enormous effort. In addition to licensed professionals are support groups such as Celebrate Recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and dozens of other 12 step anonymous groups. Depending on the specific problem a person is experiencing chances are there is a recovery program for it.

Often people suffering with addiction issues think they are all alone and when they begin to get honest with themselves reaching out for help they realize there are many more just like them. This builds fellowship and community knowing they are not alone. They can begin to build a sense of belonging and understanding they do not have to fight their battle alone. Even generals on a battlefield know that they alone cannot win a battle, it requires teamwork. In order for someone to step forward and admit they have a problem requires courage. When this happens the first victory of the fight has been won because the person has stepped past denial. It is remarkable how people who struggle with addictions admit that a huge weight has been lifted off of them when they seek others and confess their secret.

People suffering from an addiction experience a strong sense of shame and guilt. This often leads to feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, financial problems, marriage and relationship problems and at times homelessness. This person feels hopeless and lost and does not know what to do about it so they turn inward in an attempt to hide their true self from others. A low sense of self worth settles in. They may begin to withdraw from others and isolate. Nonverbal behavior includes lack of eye contact, a general downcast look and frequently turning away from others, especially family members.

If a person is facing some very strong feelings of guilt and shame the underlying thought is associated with the idea that if “I do not face anyone then I will not have to engage them or face my problems.” The other side of the coin is that the person is not ready to admit they have a problem and they are trying to protect the addiction. In this manner the addiction is being used to medicate some undesired feeling, thought or life stressor. Unfortunately some people never seek help and they begin to self destruct.

Recovery requires moving into acceptance to work on the addiction. Integrity requires a person to understand that this will be more than kicking a habit; it is about a lifestyle change. It is a dedicated unrelenting pursuit of healing leading to live a life of being true to the self. Fear of the truth of who a person really is conjures up feelings of being vulnerable, that they will be judged and become identified as a person in a negative way. This internal critical voice indicates to the addicted person that they are somehow fundamentally flawed. Perhaps a bigger question to counter act this thinking is who is not flawed? While this does not provide an excuse to keep damaging oneself, it does let go of feelings that a person must be perfect in their recovery or else they are some kind of a failure.

Recovery is often like learning to ride a bicycle, how many times does a person fall off, get hurt, get back on and try again before they learn? Sometimes it takes a while and it takes practice. Living a life outside of addiction is new and it is a new way of being in the world. The main idea is to be honest with yourself and then be honest with others and that is the integrity in addiction. It is about stopping the denial and stepping forward. It is okay. There are many that have done who are glad they did.

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. "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"

 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beyond the Battlefield: Helping Veterans



Brian M Murray, MS, IMH


Over the past 11 years our nation has been at war. As of 9/30/2011 the Department of Veteran Affairs reported there is an estimated 22,234,000 United States military veterans. To put this in perspective the world’s largest military force according to the CIA Factbook, China, has 2,250,000 active duty personnel. The United States has an all active duty personnel at 1,450,000. The point is the United States has an enormous veteran population and most people know someone who has served or know someone associated with someone who has served.

The United States Army is reporting that in the first part of 2012 that suicide rates are at an all time high. This impact is being felt among all ranks and all socio-economic-cultural backgrounds. This is not limited to the guys on the front line trading bullets. The impact, stress and trauma of 11 years of war are deep and are reaching upper echelon. It would behoove the Veterans Administration to have a contingency plan gathering resources to offset and counter the assault that is currently taking place in their mental health departments. Their hiring practices have filters that screen out solid professionally licensed therapists that could be helping a lot more veterans than they already do. Almost 1/3rd of the 1.64 million returning service members are reporting mental health problems. The RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research in 2008 reported at that time that there were 300,000 veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and/or Major Depression and as many as 320,000 have experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury.

As an Infantryman and team leader I was taught the value of teamwork and how collectively helping each other creates cohesion and confidence. When others fall you help pick them up and keeping going, you keep fighting and you never quit. It’s dirty, it’s bloody and it’s painful, but you keep going. The idea is if one person quits it can cost the lives of the entire unit.

Awareness of what a fellow veteran might be experiencing is imperative and calls for community effort and teamwork. Knowing there are over 22 million veterans’ living among us is a staggering figure. While not all of them may have combat related problems or been through a combat scenario never discount that possibility. The threat of life is all it takes to have PTSD. Many veterans are humble about their service and do not share details about what they have experienced, and for good reason. Many of them do not want to recall the memories of past trauma and start reliving those memories they have locked away.

Adjusting back to life at home can be difficult and takes time. To return from deep in the abyss of war and military culture is challenging. It is more than readjusting from military life to back home; it is about adjusting to a new place altogether in a place called home. The veteran often finds that the world they left has changed on many different levels and readjustment at times can seem like an impossible task. Be patient, be kind, give them thanks and time to heal.

If you know of a veteran who is struggling with life, using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, seems distant, isolates, avoids family and friends, appears lost in the world, angry or threatens suicide do not ignore it. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Hotline. If the threat of suicide is imminent call 911 immediately.

 

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. "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"

Halloween & What's Really Scary



By Matt W. Sandford

Halloween is all about scary stuff. Sure there’s the tame stuff like superheroes and princesses, just so commercialism can make sure everyone is included. But monsters, ghosts and blood, gore, horror and death – that’s what Halloween is about. We are strangely drawn to the creepy, the weird, and the bizarre. I remember as a kid tooling around on the TV while visiting my Aunt’s for the weekend. There was always an old time horror movie on Sunday afternoons. The Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Man With Two Heads, The Blob. And I remember one time coming across a scene where a can opener was beginning to attach to someone’s neck. I remember being so grossed out and not wanting to watch, but not being able to pull my eyes away.

But I was wondering the other day, are these the things that really scare most people? We hold an odd fascination and curiosity for things mysterious – and death and the spiritual world are certainly that. However, it seems to me that there are many everyday situations that hold much more real scariness to them. I wonder about the people facing financial struggles and job difficulties and the fears and anxieties and the feelings of powerlessness they are wrestling with concerning their tomorrows. I think of those who are struggling in their marriages and are considering divorce. They face a number of very scary realities – of loneliness, regret, damage to their children, financial difficulties, embarrassment and misunderstanding from others. And how about all the rest who are dealing with relationship losses, either due to breakups or death of a loved one. Now let’s include those who are fighting with major illness and disease in themselves or a relative. The daily stress and worry about their prognosis and their treatment, as well as the effects on their reduced functioning and on the toll it all takes on their relationships. Now let’s add to that the adolescent population and the struggles they face concerning the anxieties and fears involving acceptance, achievement, bullying issues, conflicts with parents, developing their moral compass and their direction and hopes for the future. And we haven’t yet even mentioned the realities of abuse in all its forms: sexual, physical and emotional and how so much of this is produced by a child’s own family, gouging deep, profound wounds. Likely, I haven’t covered the half of it.

My point is that it’s life that is really scary. The more I ponder it, I suspect that the scariness of Halloween and horror is really an entertaining escape from the more painful and scary realities of life. That is, that real life is scarier because it is real. And that pretend scares are actually the safe ones, because they aren’t happening to me. What does all that mean for us? I would offer that it can inform us and direct us to a more helpful and meaningful expression of Halloween. I believe that we have lost our moorings in terms of this holiday. Originally, Halloween was associated with the Christian holiday of All Saints Day, which was about remembering and honoring saints. I propose that today we can take a lesson from this celebration that can help us to honor our fears, help us to cope and give us perspective.

What I am suggesting is that just like All Saints Day, we can learn to honor and remember those who have blessed us and seek to bless others. Rather than celebrating things that are bizarre and weird, we could celebrate things that are enriching and satisfying, reminding ourselves that although real life can be full of scary challenges, that there is reason for hope.

Hope is surely what is missing when the world seems a scary place. And it is hope that helps us to face reality. I believe that kind of robust hope only comes through a relationship with God through Jesus. Jesus is no distant God, no soft God. He lived this scary life; dealing with adversaries who eventually tortured and killed him, friends who abandoned him and one who betrayed him, and a public who mostly misunderstood him and in the end cried out for his murder. And Jesus answers the great mysteries of death and the spiritual world. He brings these into our reality and offers the chance for our fears and confusion about them to be assuaged. A relationship with the guy who knows all about your personal story and situation, with all its chaos and bizarreness, is the antidote for denial and escapism. And ironically, the guy who lived a magically supernatural kind of life is The Guy we need to give us perspective on the things beyond our ability to manage and stay grounded in reality. Why is that? Because Jesus showed that he knows what’s behind the curtain, and is in fact the author of reality.

We all need help to hang on to hope. And for those who are running low on hope, there is a real need for others who have an abundance to share some of theirs with others. If you do find hope and strength in your relationship with Christ, then I encourage you to seek out someone in need of sharing in yours so that each may have enough to get through - Acts 4:32.

 

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.

"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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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tired of Trying to Make Your Marriage Work Alone?

 
By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach
Right now you know someone, probably a woman working two jobs, (not counting parenting children and running a household), who is trying to make their marriage work and they are in it alone. It may be a co-worker, a sister, a neighbor or friend at church, but you know this person, and since it’s most likely a woman let’s consider it from her point of view because she is in a tough place. So while you may see her smiling on the outside talking about her love for her man, here's what may be going on inside that house when you aren’t there to see it.
She's hurting more now than she ever has before. Why? Because Marriage was never meant to be done alone. So why do these women keep working without help to make their marriage work? A couple of reasons. Obviously they really love the guy on the couch who just can't or won't keep a job or step up to lead his family. This causes another major problem, because she doesn’t want her children to suffer or do without the basics, like new shoes, school supplies or playing little league. And so she does the only thing she can think of doing – she works, and works and then she works some more. Work is all she can think of doing because an average family needs 60-80 hours of income to take care of their home budget, which means that both parents are working 30-40 hours per week, or one person is working two jobs just trying to keep their family afloat… and that one person is exhausted.
Obviously not every man is a sitting on the couch watching sports while his wife is cooking, cleaning and trying to pay the bills, but tragically there are a lot who do and leave their wife to be the responsible one. In fact, many men are highly motivated and disciplined and go out to find something to do to support his family during tough times so his wife isn’t trying to make it work alone. He realizes that a woman draws emotional strength from knowing her husband will provide for her and the kids. She has the confidence that he will be there for her. This article isn't about guys who dig in during tough times to live out the words of their wedding vows to be there, 'in sickness and in health, for richer- for poorer', no this article is about a very different kind of marriage, and one that gets much worse as time goes by. Let's start by looking at the major problems this exhausted woman faces, and tragically, she faces these challenges alone.
Lazy men or just Losers?
What's up with the guy on the couch who isn't providing enough income to meet the needs of his family or who demands that his wife cook, clean, care for the cars and lawn while they play video games- what makes guys like this act like irresponsible teenagers? Well, face it - some guys are just lazy- they grew up without any self-discipline, or self-respect and they just won't keep gainful employment or if they do work, they aren’t disciplined to budget their money to benefit the family. They need to take a Dave Ramsey financial management course, but probably won’t since they believe their money belongs to them, not their family. Remember the phrase, “Selfish is – as Selfish does.”
Their mother's didn't do them any favors since some guys never grow up, and just decide to marry someone to take over where their mother left off… they expect hot meals, clean clothes, healthy children, the bills to be paid and someone to function as an attractive personal assistant- but they refuse to give back to the relationship. This type of marriage isn't a partnership at all, it's sort of like the medieval system of a master and peasant, and the woman is basically expected to be a slave to meet his every need. It’s 100% about him- and 0% for her. That is not God’s plan, but sadly it is common in culture.
Then there is another group of unmotivated men, simply put, they have given up on life, and most see them as 'losers'. They may have failed in their education, or failed in their career aspirations, and have just given up on finding a good job to meet the needs of their family. Some guys in this group will go out to work at a job well below their potential just to avoid feeling like a failure again, which is better than nothing, yet eventually the bills will overshadow the gap in their income, leading to another major financial failure if they don't change. Crushed self image can lead to just walking away from responsibility in life. While it helps to see the psychological root factors, it doesn’t change that it leaves a woman exhausted and empty from trying to make her marriage work alone.
Often women want to make excuses for their husbands continual failures, or blame it on his low self-esteem, but there comes a time in life where a man has to step up to the plate to become a responsible man, which often means him going out to seek some help from others so he doesn't have to not fail again. However, many times he just keeps repeating the same mistakes, which just dumps more problems onto his wife to fix while he escapes by watching sports on TV or online gambling. He may escape with a beer, or with a newspaper, but the story is always the same. It’s someone else’s fault, blame, criticize, cuss or attack… the theme is always about how someone else is the reason they can’t get ahead. You won’t hear them talking about their lack of partnership and you won’t see them calling the counselor or pastor for help. Dump it on the wife to fix… and be moody or temperamental so she will be afraid to speak the truth that his behavior is wrong. Remember, bully behavior won’t pay the bills, and it just scares the people that he says he loves the most.
Watch behavior… if there is a marital partnership it will show up. However, if there is one person doing all the work to make the marriage appear ‘normal’, then that will show up too.
It should be noted that sometimes a man is unmotivated because of substance abuse issues. Potheads, alcoholics and porn addicts don't think about providing for their family, they think about themselves. Sometimes what may look like a motivation problem is actually due to bigger psychological or substance issues, which would take professional intervention, diagnosis and treatment. The problem is that addicts don't usually seek help until they crash, and if they are enabled by others, they can stay addicted for years while creating terrible pain and hardship for those around them. Kids suffer, women get exhausted and often homes are foreclosed on while everyone ignores the hard reality that addiction doesn’t get better without intervention, in fact, it often gets worse.
Lost boys become Passive Leaders
The next group of unmotivated men aren't lazy or losers they just never learned which career path to take so they take the first job available. Think of them as “Lost” because they work hard for years, but struggle to get ahead because they don’t have any direction. Basically they haven't found career coaches, leaders or mentors to guide them in moving up the career ladder. They could step up to become more of a partner if they had some coaching and accountability to change. There are a lot of guys who grew up in crazy dysfunction without any leadership and it’s a bigger group than you would think. Thankfully when these men see a better path they experience rapid results because they step to be the leaders their wives want them to be and it’s fun to watch. They build strong homes and experience peace out of marital partnership. However, if they don’t get some direction these guys may stay stuck and unmotivated for years because they fear seeking out help to discover their career strengths, so they slowly sink financially, while watching other more motivated guys get ahead and have better lives.
An interesting problem is that some guys might actually sabotage any efforts to try and help him because they feels so hyper-sensitive about even discussing how trapped he feels in a dead end job. He may fight against those who reach out with good advice on making some positive career changes to experience the financial freedom to provide for his family in a more stable way. Oddly enough, even though it's their greatest fear, they can often be so prideful they don't let anyone come alongside to help them face it with courage; so they stay stuck in a downward career spiral, leaving the growing financial burden and exhaustion on their wife. Their fear of making a career change hurts the people they say they love the most.
Good guys - or unmotivated men in disguise? Some guys may appear to be clean-cut, all-American, likable husbands and fathers who volunteer at church, mow the grass, don't act mean, hateful or abusive, but they are still married to an exhausted woman because they won’t step up to lead their family. They look like a great guy to the public, or people at church, but they just don’t partner with their wife, which makes everything tougher because God never designed marriage to be a “one person does all the work” kind of relationship. In fact, if a woman is overworking to make up for the areas where her husband is unmotivated to change she will often resent him and the relationship will suffer, or fail.

View a health marriage as a two person bicycle. It works great when both people are pedaling together, but it is EXHAUSTING when one person is trying to pedal twice as fast because the other one won’t do their share of the work.
When should an exhausted woman who feels alone in her marriage speak up?
There is tremendous pressure placed on women to 'do the right thing' for her kids, which often is interpreted as being forced to provide the latest and greatest cell phone, elaborate birthday parties and expensive forms of entertainment for their kids. It is not a sign of bad parenting to say 'no' to things you cannot afford it's actually a sign of strength and will help a child learn that you can't have everything you want. Part of being a responsible adult is learning how to control and manage financial impulses. This takes financial pressure off of both the husband and wife in a marriage, but sadly many couples don’t sit down to work on budgets together, since one person frequently does all the earning while the other does the spending. The lack of partnership in dealing with budgets often bankrupt families. If a woman sees this happening and doesn’t speak up, she will be evicted along with her kids. Better to speak up now, rock the boat a little instead of calling U-Haul and friends to help make a hasty move after the house is foreclosed on.
Silence about the lack of partnership in a marriage can create a downward spiral of bad behavior, especially with spending when moms try to over-compensate for the lack of parenting from their passive husbands, or to cover the guilt she feels from being gone so much of the time trying to make more money to pay the bills. Overspending to make up for the lack of marital partnership often ends up with spoiled children, strained marriages and a pending financial disaster. Silence is the worst approach to take when there is a lack of marital partnership.
Saying “NO” is a lot better than collecting massive debt to create an artificial lifestyle to keep everyone feeling happy for a while. Some women live in continual fear that the credit card lifestyle they secretly use to fill the gap of living with a passive man will one day come crashing down, so they keep their credit spending hidden like an addiction inside, hoping every day that she will make it to the mailbox before her husband discovers her secret… when speaking up would have been a stronger course of action.
Partners talk about issues, good, bad, ugly, they talk about it and often can solve the problem. If you are married to a passive partner at least bring up the problems. But don’t nag, no one listens to critical whining… it’s a waste of breath.
Lack of Partnership? It’s your job to speak now
Mark Twain said, "If the truth hurts- it should." Women married to passive husbands often don't want to hear the truth about the love of their life. They would rather live in the illusion of their feelings that he is a “great guy” and that their marriage is “normal” than to look into the mirror and see the truth. They might fiercely defend his lack of employment, his bad luck with bosses, point out how he loves the kids but just doesn't have time for them because he needs to exercise and be on the church softball team; because once they openly acknowledge that their husband is an unmotivated man, it makes it real, and once it's real, it means that something has to change.
It's hard to face this reality, and it's hard to confront a man they care about, so to avoid the risk of hurting his feelings they just carry the burdens inside and work harder. Another common way women avoid making their husband uncomfortable is by secretly asking their parents for money to make it another month, and grandparents are suckers when it comes to providing for the needs of their daughter and grandkids… so it goes on month after month until someone runs out of cash. No more cash means things eventually will crash and everyone will have to face the truth that was there all along. Marriages can’t work with one person doing all the work.
Finances quickly force things out into the open that might have gone unnoticed when there is more disposable income. Exhausted women feel desperate when they reach the end of their financial rope… without access to lines of equity, retirement accounts or the inability to get a family loan from parents who may already be financially stretched from the tough economy. When she runs out of options a woman has to face a painful reality. Get honest about the problems caused by the lack of partnership in her marriage and then confront him boldly. Sadly some women are so afraid to say something to hurt feelings that they silently find negative ways to cope, (overeating is the most common). She will slowly and silently drown in her sadness if someone close to the situation doesn't step in to ask some direct questions and offer real help. Marriages require partnership.
Speaking the truth isn't about attacking a man's character as a human being, it's about the basic reality of a shared partnership to run a family together. Emotionally, Financially, Parenting, Household chores… it takes two responsible adults to make it work. Partnership is about sharing marital responsibility instead of dumping everything onto an exhausted women who is essentially going through life alone like a single parent, (except she just happens to be legally married to an unmotivated man who keeps dumping problems on her lap to solve).
Sadly, it may take an exhausted women feeling completely overwhelmed to finally take action and say, 'listen Mister- I desperately need help running this household and it's time for you to grow up and help me!' A husband-wife partnership requires both people yet some women are so used to the dysfunction of living with an unmotivated man that she is almost numb to the idea that things could ever change. If she doesn’t speak up with boldness the bitterness of time will cause her to explode in rage… and no one listens to a screaming woman. So the cycle often repeats.
Change requires Confrontation
No one likes conflict, but this type of relationship problem can't improve without direct communication and confrontation. Most women won't be able to do this alone, because most women have tried many ways to get their unmotivated husband to change and it didn't work. So if talking to him doesn't work, a woman has to have some back-up to confront in a way the unmotivated man can begin to hear. This may come from a parent, a trusted friend, pastor, counselor or career coach.
Be sensitive to this exhausted woman, she needs someone to help her turn her husband around, but she doesn't need to be judged or criticized- she does enough against herself every single day. If you want to really help her, don't blame, just point out the truth of her situation and ask how you can help. There is a biblical principle that says, "in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom and safety." (Proverbs 15:11) And this woman needs both… wisdom and safety, so be kind as you move forward to gently, but firmly offer help.
Sometimes it may involve the passive man having someone come alongside to create a step by step approach of accountability that includes building confidence through attending men's groups, leadership events, personal development seminars, career coaching or church retreats on learning new skills as a healthy husband and father. The information for unmotivated men to change into loving leaders is available- it's out there. Still, he has to take responsibility to go out and seek it. The formula works like this: R=R simply put, RESPONSIBILITY = RESULTS. When a man takes positive action to change his family, the results are an improved relationship and stronger partnership.
Often he won't begin to change until facing some very hard realities. The most severe that he may lose everything of value to him if he doesn't take bold action to turn things around for his family before it's too late. These aren’t threats, because no one takes a threat seriously. It’s the reality that trying to petal for two eventually leads to the bicycle crashing and everyone getting hurt.
Leading families in partnership together
A man has to move from being an unmotivated man to becoming more self-disciplined as a leader for his family, and if you say that word very slowly, you will discover the real answer to solve many of the problems of an exhausted wife… she needs someone to 'lead -her'. Not a boss lording over her- she needs a partner. She needs a motivated man who wants to build a great family by her side, no longer like a married 'single parent' no- now as partners building memories, instead of being in misery.
When a man learns how to be a responsible and motivated leader things can turn around rapidly, and no matter how deep the financial pressures they are in, when a husband and wife are working together they will not just survive it, they will thrive from the blessings of being partners pulling together through the toughest of times, instead of slowly drifting apart. It makes their partnership stronger and their marriage gets rock solid as God intended; remember, marriage was never meant to be done alone.
Someone you know is an exhausted woman trying to make her marriage work alone. May these words challenge you to reach out with God's love and a gentle heart to let her know she is not alone and that she can count on you for support as she takes action to finally end the exhaustion and aloneness from trying to make her marriage work alone. Do her a favor, give her this article, and more importantly, give her your prayers that starting today she can experience a marital partnership with the man she loves.
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. - "Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To receive this valuable weekly resource subscribe at www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005.
About the author- Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 years with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is an author who partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture for Christ. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 500 complimentary articles and special reports www.LifeWorksGroup.org

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just Gut it Out! Real Men Don't Need Counseling !



And They Don’t Need any of That Wimpy Christian Stuff Either!

By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

So real men do not need counseling eh? Neither are they supposed to cry when they get hurt, right? Oh, and now they are going to have to carve out their masculinity and put it on a shelf in order to seek Jesus right?

I find it amazing that hero and savior Jesus Christ, the King of the universe is seen weeping in the Bible. John 11:35 reads “Jesus wept.” It’s the famously shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus is seen weeping over the loss of his friend Lazarus. This is incredible; the man that came to save the world is seen by others weeping over a friend. Wait, what is going on here? The Messiah, the Anointed One is crying? The One who was sent to redeem all of mankind is crying? Um, dial this one in, Houston, we have a problem. The One who is supposed to be the exemplar of strength is having an emotional meltdown?

Okay, maybe this is a little overly dramatic but it shows us men something about ourselves. Jesus had compassion over losing someone near and dear to him. Jesus felt as a man what we men have, feelings. Guess what? It is okay to have them. So here we have it, Jesus, as a man who is strong enough to withstand a Roman soldier beating until bloody all over, picks up half a tree, carries it to the top of a hill and then he gets nailed to it to hang for all to see. Get the picture? I would be willing to bet that most men wouldn’t even survive each piece of this event separately.

I am trying to make a point that a man of such great strength to endure such masochism finds it perfectly acceptable to express his feelings in front of others. Jesus while fully man walking the earth expressed a full range of emotions and he did not shield himself from showing them. Anger in the temple, grief, joy, happiness, love, sadness, sympathy, gladness and the list goes on. How many times have you heard the expression “Don’t cry in front of others, it’s a sign of weakness?” Here is an alternative thought, compassion and empathy for others. Christ sets the example of a man who is not distant and cold and he is confident enough to cry in front of others.

Stuffing feelings and trying to gut out our problems leads to a whole host of other problems. Counseling is often a place people go when they want to be able to talk to someone where they can let it all out. If you are trying to play tough guy and hold it all in then guess what? It will come out. Where internal feelings decide to manifest themselves outward is the question. What do you do when you feel anxious, sad or joyful? How do you express these feelings? What do you do with them? How long before the ulcers show up? How long before depression settles in from feeling defeated? How long before alcohol and drugs numb out these feelings? How long before bitterness and sarcasm become a common style of dialogue costing you a job and losing a wife because the anger inside is eating you from the inside out? How long? Talk to someone. Quit trying to play tough guy and get some help. Stop living a lie. No one is going to judge you, call you names or think you are less of a man for improving yourself and putting first things first.


“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost


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. "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"

Strategies for Breaking the Cycle of Depression



By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

Depression is not limited to certain people who are pre-disposed for it. Depression can happen to anyone. Studies indicate that one in four people will experience depression within their lifetime. There are key thoughts and behaviors that can be attributed to feeling depressed such as thinking (and believing) that everything is hopeless and that nothing is ever going to change. Feelings of worthlessness, being useless at work or in relationships and thinking the world is a terrible place casting blame on the self when things go wrong. These are negative thought patterns that contribute to depression.

There are also behaviors that contribute as well such as being frequently tired or low energy, disruptive sleeping and eating patterns. There is a loss of joy in life with the things that were once enjoyed. Avoidance of family and friends, sleeping most of the day and difficulty getting out of bed. There may even be painful physical complaints such as frequent headaches and backaches. At its worst people may isolate for long periods of time and turn to drugs or alcohol to help cope with the feelings of depression. Chemicals only exacerbate the situation further by eliminating precious serotonin from the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a natural antidepressant.

Breaking the cycle of depression requires movement. In a metaphorical sense, it is like heating water to a boil. Water without stimulation remains motionless and unchanged. However, if some heat (activity) is applied it energizes molecules creating more energy which creates more movement and so forth and so on. The first step is breaking the motionless cycle and getting movement going. Go to the park and feed the ducks or find some activity that requires getting up and going outside of the home. A simple walk around the block. Call a friend or family member and stop by for a visit. Take up a hobby that involves being around other people such as an art class or outdoor photography. The point is movement.

Breaking the cycle of depression through movement does several things. First it creates a distraction by challenging the often negative perception of the world around us and infuses something positive. It challenges depressed feelings that the world is not a terrible place where everything goes wrong or is bad. Challenge your thoughts of what you might be reacting to. Are you focusing just on the bad things in life without looking at the good? A good way to get negative thoughts out is journaling. Write down the bad thoughts and leave blank space after each sentence to return and write in positive alternatives.

While many of these strategies will work for mild to moderate depression sometimes there may be a situation due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, or chronic severe depression. If this is the case then talking with your doctor for possible antidepressants is highly recommended along with talk therapy. 

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. "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"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Exercising Under the Influence of Marriage



 
By Brian Murray and Christine Hammond

While watching a T.V. exercise infomercial and eating nachos after just finishing a big bowl of ice cream.

Him: [Boy my wife sure is quiet over there; look at her salivating over that T.V. buffed out dude.] “I bet if all I had to do all day is work-out then I might look like that guy.”

Her: [My husband looked like that once upon a time. But now he sits there eating the very thing I told him not to eat. If he would just listen to me he would not have this problem.  Figures he would be jealous of that guy. Why can’t he just stop talking and do something about it. Talk, talk, talk, yadda, yadda, yadda.] “You can do it honey, I know you can.”

Him: [Oh great, now she expects me to run out, buy this thing so she can fantasize about being with this dude.] “I know I can do it, I just don’t have the time.”

Her: [Time, well if he got off his butt and stopped watch football on Saturday for 8 hours, Sunday for 4 hours, on Monday night 4 hours, Thursday night football for another 4 hours, video games another 2 hours, and Discovery Channel every night then things might be different. That’s about 40 hours a week. And he wants more time? He would look as good as that guy working-out 40 hours per week. Then maybe I wouldn’t want the lights off when we have sex.] “Well maybe if you cut back on some of the football watch you would have more time to exercise.”

Him: [If she thinks I’m going to give up watching football she is out of her mind.] “Look you just need to worry about yourself.”

Her: [What is that suppose to mean, worry about myself.  The reason I’m in this good of shape is because I do worry about myself enough to care for me unlike what he does.  He’s the one who needs to worry. I eat right, exercise and oh, look at that guy on TV, man he is really buff. I wonder how many girlfriends he has. I used to have a bunch of guys after me but not so much anymore.  Hmm, I wonder if he is right and I’m not as attractive as I think, after all I haven’t had a compliment about my body in a couple of months now.]  “What do you mean, are you not attracted to me anymore?”

Him: [Wow, you have got to be kidding me.  Well you ain’t no spring chicken anymore.] “Honey you are fine just the way you are.”

Her: [He’s just saying that cause he knows that he blew it and wants to change the subject.  What was the subject anyway, oh yea, him going on an exercise program. So how did he manage to turn it all around on me and now I’m the one feeling insecure.  He always does that, shifts the blame to me so that he comes out squeaky clean.] “So are you going to order that program or what?”

Him: [How many times are we going to go down this road?]  “Order it. It can sit in the corner collecting dust just like everything else.”

Where is this going? Often in a marriage there are two perspectives in a situation and coming to an understanding of the other person’s point of view can be a challenging process especially when what is thought is often not what is said.  It’s kind of like shooting at a moving target, just when you think have your aim, the target moves.  Let’s explore how each spouse could have better handled the situation before, during and after.

Before.  Too many times, one person in the marriage becomes complacent and is not intentional about looking attractive for his/her spouse.  This can then lead to feelings of being unloved which blossom into a host of insecurities leaving the spouse feeling invalidated.  Ultimately this may spiral to sexual problems, infidelity or pornography.  The objective is to be honest about your level of attraction to your spouse in a loving and respectful way.

During.  Instead of alienating one person over the other with either real or imagined feelings of jealousy, be intentional about discovering ways to work together. This in turn minimizes jealousy because you are less likely to compare and contrast with others.  The benefit of working together is another shared experience striving towards a common goal.  This becomes a positive bond in your marriage.

After.  Everyone responds to insecurities in different ways but they are still insecure nonetheless.  Being open and honest about your insecurities can help you spouse to be more comfortable sharing their insecurities.  Many couples believe that they already know their spouse’s insecurities and therefore don’t need to discuss them further.  However insecurities can change in intensity over the years and left unresolved can even push a couple to divorce.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rulebooks: Instigators of Conflict in Marriage



By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

“I know that the whole point—the only point—is to find the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse to let them go.” ― Lauren Oliver

Fighting for something you believe in can make a big difference in how far you are willing to go to make a point. Sometimes it can go so far as to begin to destroy your marriage or engagements and relationships. Couples often come into therapy fighting about what they want from each other rarely looking at the marriage as a whole. They would rather stand on their point than begin to communicate toward conflict resolution. When this happens it becomes difficult to set aside personal differences. How can a married couple begin to move into acceptance of their mate’s perspective without holding them in contempt of their own?

Often in disagreements there is a perspective coming from each partner of how they think things should be. It can seem like each person is carrying around an unpublished book of rules they expect their partner to adhere to. The end result leads to frequent arguments and resentment of being married to someone who will not see things their way. If the marriage is healthy it can withstand a fight or an argument every once in a while. It’s not a bad thing to air out grievances as long as it is done in a healthy respectful way.

If you find yourself in a marriage full of frequent arguments then perhaps it’s time to propose the question of what are you both fighting for? Are you fighting for yourself or are you fighting for your marriage? Sometimes they are both one and the same if the marriage is being challenged, for example, by infidelity, addiction or financial troubles. The difference is related to the perspective of how you view yourself and your spouse within the context of the marriage. If you are fighting for yourself chances are you have left your spouse out of the process and you will ultimately end up fighting the battle to save your marriage all by yourself. An example of this is trying to berate your spouse into compliance. If you are fighting for your marriage then the resolution becomes a situation where two people come together and collectively communicate their needs and expectations.

Chances are you and your spouse at one time in the beginning of your relationship took the time to communicate and fall in love with each other enough to want a lifetime commitment. If you are hitting hard times the same approach applies, take time to communicate with each other in a respectful manner exploring how to come to resolution and acceptance of your differences.

Remember, each person is often coming into conflict over unseen rules and miscommunication. Become transparent and break out the rule books and open them up for each other to examine. Share expectations and negotiate moving forward toward acceptance of each other’s position. At the heart of the matter is the marriage, collectively.

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. "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"