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The Most Powerful Word

September 15th, 2015

Girl with lightning

I would like to make a bold claim. Ready?  I have the secret to the most powerful word in the English Language.  What do you think?  Would you at least be willing to take a guess as to what it could be?  Okay, let me give you a couple hints:

  • It is a word that can scare people, both to say it and to hear it.
  • It is a word that can be particularly difficult for men in relationships to say to their partner.

Care to venture a guess?

At this point I am assuming that you may have considered the word LOVE.  While that is a GREAT guess, and love is a beautiful word, that’s not today’s power word.

Here are a few more hints.

  • It is a word that is small in stature, but mighty in its execution.
  • It is a helper word that actually empowers other words.
  • He is not nearly as popular as his sister word, which people find far easier to say and hear.
  • Today’s word can take courage to say, particularly when you are the type of person that feels it’s her job to make everyone happy.
  • It is often one of the first words a child learns to say after mamma, or dadda.

How about it? Do you think you have it?  Ready? This powerful word is …

NO!

Surprised?  Here are a few more thoughts on this small, but mighty word.

His sister, YES, is way more popular, especially for those of us who tend to be people pleasers. If you want someone to like you, you really need to say YES as often as possible, whether you really want to or not. At least that’s what we think.

OR perhaps you are a fan of his COUSIN, MAYBE. This word seems to roll much more easily off the tongue. MAYBE can be a stall word when you really want to say NO and you are afraid of letting someone down. NO. YES. MAYBE. Of all 3 words, MAYBE is the weakest.  A MAYBE keeps you both on the hook. A TRUE YES or a TRUE NO is much more powerful than a MAYBE.

NO is really a power word. It lets someone know where they end and where you begin. Boundaries. NO is the boundary setter. NO protects you from things that don’t serve you well. When you finally gain the courage to tell someone, “No. Don’t treat me that way.” Or “No. I’m leaving,” you set the standard for how you want to be treated.  Here are a few additional thoughts on the word NO:

  • No is the smallest word that can be a complete sentence. No period. No additional information is really needed. No excuses. Just “No”.
  • No is the way we set boundaries with others. And perhaps even more importantly, no is the way we set boundaries with ourselves. “No, I’m not having that second drink.” “No, I’m not going to hit the snooze button one more time and potentially be late for my workout.”
  • No requires discipline.

No can be tough to say and tough to hear. Quite often a NO can come out much more harshly then intended. But, in the long run, people respect you more, and you respect yourself more when you are able to stay true to who you are, and not say yes begrudgingly. Saying Yes when we really mean No, quite often is a precursor for passive aggressive behavior.

Face it, if you can’t say NO then your YESes aren’t really YESes. Being able to say NO actually empowers your YES.

Here are a few differences I see from MEN and WOMEN with regard to the word NO:

MEN

In my experience, men in marriages and long-term relationships, tend to have a tough time with the word NO. Quite often the way this surfaces is that a man can agree to do something, perhaps to avoid an argument, or appease his partner, that he realistically will never be able to fulfill.  Commitments which begin with, “Honey, I won’t EVER ________” OR “I won’t EVER again _________” … are promises destined to be broken.

What ends up happening is when a man says YES and then fails to live up to his promise, is that the upset he tried to avoid in the moment, becomes much BIGGER later on.

Important Relationship Truth: You lose credibility when you don’t follow through on your word. The more this happens, the less credible you become. Even though it may seem like she always wants you to say YES, she will respect you more when you are true to your word. Don’t say it unless you mean it.

WOMEN

Women, if you are afraid to say NO to someone you are in an intimate relationship with, then somewhere along the line you may have lost your connection with yourSelf. When you continually put someone else’s needs in front of your own, you are living in an inauthentic relationship. When we stop being true to ourselves, we end up resenting the other person.  I see this happen quite a bit with women who struggle with saying NO to their partners (and others).

Generally speaking, women don’t want to disappoint others. Often she keeps saying YES, until she quits. It’s like a light bulb flashes and her sense of overwhelm becomes acute. She feels underappreciated and lost in a web of her own making. And quite often, when she finally does muster up the courage to say NO she is done. Done with the volunteer work. Done with the relationship. Done. She has reached the point of NO return.

Important Relationship Truth: You don’t need to try so hard to please someone else.  Your partner chose you. Not a reasonable facsimile of you. Being your authentic self is one of the greatest gifts you can give your partner. Either he likes you for you or he doesn’t. Saying YES to try and appease someone else, creates a false sense of security. Be brave enough to be you.

HOW PARTNERS CAN HELP EACH OTHER

Each of us need to learn how to effectively flex our NO muscles, before we reach the point of NO return. Quite often the things that end up getting neglected when we have weak NO muscles, are the people and projects we hold dear. And then the guilt monster rears its ugly head.

Partners need to help each other build their NO muscles. Some things for men and women to remember about saying and hearing the word NO:

  • Sometimes the idea of NO can immobilize us. We freeze. Afraid to say it, and afraid of what we may hear when we ask. Remember: it’s always NO if you don’t ask.
  • A NO is better than a MAYBE. Really it is! While the initial NO may sting a bit, at least you know where you stand and can plan accordingly. MAYBE keeps you stuck in the land of uncertainty. MAYBE can create false hope, which weakens results in feelings of insecurity, and unhealthy attachment to a person, idea, or desire.

WOMEN:

  • Try and pull back from being critical and hyper-sensitive to hearing a no from your man. Believe it or not, your man is pretty sensitive to being criticized by you (even if he doesn’t show it).
  • Remember, if your man isn’t empowered to say NO, then you are setting him up to let you down. Being able to say NO, rather than saying YES and not following through, helps build a foundation of trust in a relationship.

MEN:

  • Don’t say NO just to appease her! It will backfire in the long-run. Trust me on this one.
  • Sometimes your woman needs to be saved from herself. If she seems consistently overwhelmed, you can encourage her to say NO to a few things, even if that means saying NO to something you would like her to do.

Now I am not suggesting that YES doesn’t have its place. As a matter of fact, YES is a beautiful word. So nice to say, and so nice to hear. Saying YES to life moves us forward and just plain feels good.

Hopefully by now you are getting that saying YES when you really mean NO, is actually disempowering, and sets yourself and the other person up for a fall. Your YESes are MUCH more powerful when you are also able to say NO, with dignity and respect.

So, just how do we step into integrity with our YESes and our Nos?  Here are a few tips:

  • Before say YES consider asking yourself. If I say yes to this, what will I have to say no to (or give up)?
  • If you are an automatic YES person, press the PAUSE button. Give yourself a little space between a request and your answer. It’s okay to say, “Let me think about this and I will get back to you.”
  • Are you saying YES just to please the other person?
  • Are you saying YES to something you really feel uncomfortable doing?
  • Are you saying YES to avoid an argument?
  • Are you saying YES because you feel guilty about something else?

Maintaining a healthy connection with another human being requires you to be honest with yourself first, and then mustering up the courage to be honest with the other person. You gain much more respect from someone when you are authentic, then when you pretend to be okay with something you’re not.

Following is a quote from Psychology Today which sums this up quite nicely:

“Wielded wisely, No is an instrument of integrity and a shield against exploitation. It often takes courage to say. It is hard to receive. But setting limits sets us free.” Psychology Today

While it may be difficult at first, by taking a little extra time to consider your options, BEFORE saying YES or NO, you just might find yourself feeling less overwhelmed and more confident. And perhaps you too will experience the power of this small word to make a BIG difference in your life.

Live Well. Laugh Often. Love Whole-Heartedly!

Dr. Jeanne

Can We Pray for You? Chapter 2

April 18th, 2015

 

two dolphins

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I just can’t seem to go back to sleep. The early morning is a favorite time to go walk on the beach, although it is still a bit early. Today is Wednesday. Maybe my prayer guys will be around and I can say hello and have them pray with me. I stretched, brushed my teeth, put on some sweats and headed to the pier.

I have a potential office move that has been haunting me for a while. Struggling with making the best choice possible, and not feeling like I am getting a clear answer, has caused me to feel stuck. Maybe the prayer guys can help bring some peace to my decision making process. This has been weighing on my mind for a couple of weeks now. Perhaps a prayer is exactly what I need.

I arrive on Main Street, excited to see if my prayer guys are there.  Yep, there they are, my two guys, coffee, table and sign. No cookies today. I have some money with me this time for the homeless people they serve. Today as I walk up to the  prayer table I notice a potentially homeless beachy looking guy, getting coffee from Greg. They chatted, then Greg offered him a prayer.

Very deliberately I walked up to my personal prayer guy, Bryan, and offered a cheery, “Good morning!” Unlike my tentative ask last week, today I was showing up ready to be prayed for.

I eagerly began by telling Bryan what I wanted him to pray for, but instead of immediately launching into a prayer, this time Bryan began by asking me a few questions. It seemed he wanted to get to know me a bit. My anxiety began to stir. I told him I was trying to make a decision as to whether to move to a new office, and it was a pretty big decision for me for lots of reasons. He asked where my office was located.  I wasn’t expecting that question. During my typical pier walks, I I don’t have to don my cloak of professionality, just silently commune with my surroundings. I preferred being an anonymous prayer asker. This particular morning it felt more personal, and I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable with that.

I found myself quickly becoming embarrassed asking for my prayer. After all these men are donating their time, often to homeless people, whose need must be far greater than mine. And here I am taking up their valuable time asking for a prayer about offices. I felt a shame well up inside of my throat that was difficult to swallow, as Bryan asked where my office was located. I swallowed quickly and hard, as I quietly responded, “Newport Beach”, hoping he didn’t really hear me. You see, Newport Beach is an upscale neighborhood in Southern California.

Judgement is a trickster that can creep up on us by surprise. I found myself judging myself as unworthy of asking for a prayer, once my real identity began unraveling. This man was giving his time for free, and I was potentially taking him away from more important prayers, by asking him to pray with me about something as menial as an office. I felt petty and ashamed for my ask.

Bryan didn’t flinch upon hearing my story. Once again he put his hand on my shoulder and said a beautiful prayer for me. And once again something inside me began to shift.

A Course in Miracles says, “There is no order of difficulty in prayer.” The way I interpret that is, that a prayer is a prayer is a prayer. It isn’t about how big or small your prayer request, but rather your faith in the process. Faith in yourself. Faith in the universe. Faith in this power we call God, Allah, the Creator, the Divine, the Holy Spirit, the Higher Self, the All That Is. It is that spark of hope and trust that is ignited when we can step aside, and allow something grander to stir within and guide our way.

I work with people from many different walks of life and feel blessed by each person who entrusts his or her stories into my hands. Each of us has things in life we struggle with, and each of us has things we feel good about. The vulnerability of asking for help, be it through a prayer, setting up a counseling or coaching session, or reaching out to a friend, is an important step toward living a more integrated and purposeful life.

One big hug later, I decided to leave my self-judgement behind at the prayer table, and continue my walk to the ocean end of the pier. I silently forgave myself for judging myself, and came into a greater sense of peaceful heartfelt compassion for me, for the human condition, and for others who have not been showing up in my life the way I would have liked.

Making eye contact with each person walking past, I connected with several beautiful souls. There was a Vietnamese women with a rosary in her hand to whom I smiled and said, “Good Morning”. She nodded a silent blessing.  Then there was the Hispanic man who walked up to me as I was watching the surfers, and said, “Bless you sister.”  Two very nicely dressed women handed me a pamphlet about Jehovah.

That day the Huntington Beach Pier had become a melting pot of Sacredness.  As I settled in at the edge of the pier between a fisherman and a Chinese gentleman, I felt refreshed, nourished and alive. In that moment, the decision about the office didn’t seem quite so pressing, for I knew that no matter what happened I would be okay.

And then without warning it happened. A dolphin leapt into the air just below me. Then seemingly out of nowhere there were dolphins everywhere, playfully swimming all around us. I squealed in delight. The fisherman said, “You must not be from around here.” I chuckled, and said, “Not originally, but right now I live a mile and a half away.  And I LOVE seeing dolphins. They are a sign for me that all is well.”

I stood there mesmerized, my heart filled with love. The love I felt was not for any particular individual, rather a massive love for the essence of life itself. Feelings of expanded open-heartedness blanketed the entire pier like a soft billowy cloud.  Leading with my own vulnerability created a space for something new to emerge. As I opened my heart to the people around me, something inside of me had shifted. I was able to release self-judgements I wasn’t even aware that I had, and move into a new sense of inner freedom and faith.

When we have the courage to ask, for a blessing, for someone to listen, for a date, for help with a project, or when we take the risk to tell someone, “I love you”, or “I miss you”, or even “I need you”, while it may not turn out exactly the way we would like, a doorway is opened into new possibilities of loving, being loved, and being held by this thing amazing thing called life.

While it will always be magical for me to see dolphins, that particular day, on the Huntington Beach pier, in opening to the people around me, I also saw me. What a fine gift indeed!

Can We Pray for You?

April 8th, 2015

 

pray 2

Simple sign taped to a bench on the Huntington Beach Pier. Can we pray for you?  I walked by two men who smiled at me as I passed. They had coffee in two large coffee pots, packets of sugar and cream, and a big box of sugar cookies.

Can we pray for you?

Early morning walks to the end of the pier enliven my soul. The salty sea air seems to purify things somehow. I love watching the sun begin to rise over the ocean as I search for dolphins. These walks feel sacred to me. My mom always loved the ocean. She would often talk about all the sea creatures she imagined living deep within its cavernous depths. During moments like this, I particularly miss my mom .

I am always on the lookout for dolphins.  My pier walks are a kind of dolphin quest. Each time I see a pod of these beautiful animals, it serves as a reminder that life is good. The last time I stood at the edge of the pier, I watched two dolphins leap and play. Their joy is contagious and always puts a smile in my heart.

Can we pray for you?

The question hung in the air and I questioned my own hesitance to say yes. I suppose I was a little afraid of connecting with someone whose goal it was to try and save my soul. Spotting dolphins was my soul saving experience, at least on the pier. I’ve never had anyone there offer to pray for me.

And yet, I believe in the power of prayer. It doesn’t matter to me which form someone’s God of choice takes, because to me God isn’t about a name, it is about believing in something beautiful, brilliant, within and beyond a human being’s ability to fullly grasp it. We personify the Divine based upon what we were / are exposed to. Faith is the embodiment of what we believe and the ultimate expression of God is demonstrated in the ways we extend love.

To hold someone’s hands and heart in prayer is a sacred gift from one being to another. A sort of divine human experience. To stop what you are doing and take a moment to offer a prayer to someone you love, or even someone you don’t, is a way of placing on a little salve on one of the wounded places each of us carries inside. That’s what these men quietly came to the pier to do. There were no loud and booming evangelical announcements, just two guys with coffee and a prayer.

Can we pray for you?

Heading back down the pier, returning from my unsuccessful dolphin quest, I decided that if the two men were still there, that I would answer, “Yes, of course.” I found myself  actually getting excited about the possibility of being prayed for on the pier and hoping I didn’t miss the opportunity.

I spotted them. Not dolphins, but rather two regular looking guys hanging out, talking with each other. The left side of the Can We Pray for You? sign was hanging slightly lower  than the right. I didn’t see anyone stopping for a prayer. I walked up to them and introduced myself. “Hi. I’m Jeanne and I would love for you to pray for me.” They both smiled and asked me if there was anything specific I  would like prayed for. I thought about it for a few moments, and then thought of a couple of concerns I could use a little prayer around.

Gary said that he thought Bryan would be the best one to pray for me. So Bryan touched my shoulder and began softly talking. He asked God to lovingly watch over me and keep me safe. He reminded me that each of our lives is truly in the hands of the Divine, and that our only job was to trust in God’s wisdom to care for us in all circumstances. Bryan’s prayer was simple, sweet and exactly what I needed to hear.

I gave Bryan a hug and thanked him. Figuring that they might be collecting money in exchange for prayers, I explained to him that I didn’t have any money because all I brought with me was my car keys. He told me that they didn’t accept any money, and that if someone insisted, they simply offered the money to the next homeless person who passed their way. He told me that the two of them come to the pier every Wednesday morning and explained that the prayers are their way of giving back.

I have to admit I felt better after Bryan prayed for me. And it seemed that he did too. When you pray for someone else, it  seems to change something inside of you as well. Prayer helps us remember who we are. Prayer activates hope, trust and opens us up to new possibilities.

I look forward to seeing Bryan and Gary again some Wednesday morning. And the next time I see the “Can we pray for you?”sign, I won’t hesitate to say, “Yes, I would be honored.” I may even get one on the way up and the way back!

The dolphins would be so proud! 🙂

More than a Feeling – The Healing Power of Love & Commitment

February 10th, 2015

wolves in love

The Healing Power of Love and Commitment.

More Than a Feeling

Love is more than a feeling. Love is a powerful choice and commitment. To be with, care for, and stand by another is a sacred gift we give to our beloved and ourselves. Committed Love has the power to heal, transform and deepen our engagement with life.

Love plumbs the depth of the heart, touching whatever residue is residing and hiding there. You cannot love deeply without excavating both the joy and woundings in your heart. Love has the power to protect, awaken, heal and enliven you – mind, body, heart and spirit. Love taps into the essence of your longings for life.

To sustain long-term love and commitment within the context of an intimate relationship, it is essential for couples to engage in conversations about their shifting wants, needs, and desires.

Sometimes people erroneously assume that the initial rush of new love is the truest form of love. And as the rush fades, they begin to question their relationship. The longing to recapture love’s first blush can reek havoc with marriages and long-term relationships. The truth is that as love matures it evolves. Evolving love invites growth, healing and transformation in ways we never dreamed possible.

Stages of Love

There are several stages of love couples go through, each offering different gifts. 

New Love

New love comes on quickly like a gust of fresh air, breathing life into a slumbering soul.  When the springtime of love hits, it feels like we can conquer the world. This type of love is sparked by novelty.  When love is new, we tend to show up strongly, calling forth our best selves. We go out of our way to connect and satisfy this type of love. We make it a priority in our world. And the way we show up and are received helps us feel good about ourselves. This type of love is inherent in all fairy-tales of old. (The newer fairy tales tend to play out a bit differently).

We idealize this phase of loving. Time and time again I have seen the craving for new love, or the longing to fall in love, become a catalyst for discontent in longer-term relationships, opening the door to breakups and affairs. When this phase of love becomes what we long for, it can launch us into a never ending search for the ideal lover who can spark the euphoric feelings of new connection.  Like an addict in search of the next thrill, the search for newer and better, can cause us to miss out on the gifts that a longer-term committed love offers.

People often mistake a craving for intensity and newness as a sign their relationship is in trouble. When we dig deeper, often the discovery at the heart of the matter is a desire for lost youth and vitality on the part of one or both partners. Couples tell me they long to recapture something they feel they have lost.

Committed Love

Like new love, committed love too longs for access to our best self. As a couple becomes comfortable with one another, quite often the relationship doesn’t maintain as high a priority as it did during the New Love stage. This can stir discontent in one or both partners. Sometimes this change in status is misinterpreted as a sign that they have chosen the wrong partner.

What happened to that person who couldn’t wait to talk to us or who would go to great lengths to see us smile? Can a relationship move from the thrill of new love, into the safety of committed love without losing its priority status? Perhaps unlike the airlines, our relationship frequent flyer miles don’t automatically upgrade us to first class seating.

So how do we lose our first class relationship status? And does this happen in every relationship? 

Part of the challenge is that we live in a fast paced society. Our lives are moving faster than at any previous point in history. Busy-ness has become a way of life, leaving little room for anything else. We feel the need to keep up or fear falling behind. As we become comfortable with one another, our relationship slides into auto drive, and loses its priority status.

When we fall into the busy-ness trap, we also tend to neglect our own needs. When we quit taking care of ourselves, dissatisfaction sets in and this too cause our relationships to suffer. We begin wrapping ourselves in the warm blanket of the all-too-familiar comfort zone. When this happens it is easy to slip into complacency.  Rather than taking the time to vision and design a life that feeds our soul and enlivens our spirit, we slip into living our life by default where, as poet Kahlil Gibran says, “We laugh, but not all of our laughter and weep, but not all of our tears.” We hold ourselves back from fully living our lives and fully loving our partners.

The human psyche craves  both newness and comfort. When we become too comfortable, life becomes routine and we quit talking about what really matters. Loving someone requires making the relationship a priority and that includes setting up time to connect without cell phones, television, email, or the distractions of work.

When a couple quits making time for each other, their discontent grows. A couple needs to create time to talk about their day, what they are craving more of; less of, what they are curious about, and what they dream about. When they don’t make time, they miss out on the opportunities to deepen their connection, that are a by-product of heartfelt communication and quality time spent together. For a relationship to thrive, we need each other’s encouragement, love and support.

Evolving love has the power to heal, transform and deepen our connection with our lover, ourselves and to the Divine nature of life itself.

… to be continued…

Love & Blessings,

Dr. Jeanne

 Heart believe

 

 

Addiction – It’s a Family Affair

November 11th, 2014

                    Sad Teenage Boy   Sad boy school    Sad Little girl darksad girl teddy bear

Addiction is the silent killer of relationships with kids becoming collateral damage.

A glass of wine with dinner? What would a football game be without beer? A couple of pills to help ease the pain? When does an occasional respite from reality become a problem?  After all, you just want to wind down a bit after work, or have some fun with your friends.

An addiction can begin subtly and rapidly assume center stage in the household.

We used to think of addiction as the alcoholic who wakes up in the morning and can’t function without taking a drink, or the drug addict whose veins are riddled with needle marks. What used to be the hallmark of addiction is now the extreme. There are many variations of how an addiction shows up. One thing for sure is that an addiction impacts the lives of everyone it touches.

Many who suffer from addictions are considered functional addicts, this is particularly true of alcoholism. One doesn’t have to drink all day, every day, to have a problem. And the seeming ability to function can throw people off, including the addict himself. And yet, deep down, he knows he has a problem. He just doesn’t want to face it, so he continues to drink, and ignore the comments of the people around him.

Alcohol abuse can be challenging to spot due to the social acceptability of adult drinking. We expect adults to drink. The hallmark of turning 21 in the United States is going out for your first legal drink. Most adult dinners and parties include alcohol. While alcoholism can be tricky to detect, some of the hallmarks of alcohol dependency are:

  • Inability to stop drinking once you start
  • The tendency to incorporate alcohol into every outing, including days out with the kids
  • When thoughts about drinking become a preoccupation; whether to drink, abstain, or try and have just one
  • When the first thing you reach for when you get home is a drink
  • When you find yourself lying to friends about your drinking, or hiding the fact that you are drinking
  • When you miss work, or frequently arrive late, due to the amount you drank the night before
  • When you ask your kids to lie to other people to cover up your drinking or you behavior before, during or after your drinking

Whether you realize it or not, even if you feel better when inebriated, you are not yourself to the people around you, especially to your kids. Alcoholism impacts everyone in the family. Good people make bad choices while under the influence. Family members modify their behavior to try and not upset the drinker. Once hooked, addictions are tough to break. While some people are able to quit ‘cold turkey’ most are not. Healing involves community, and release from the silent shame suffered by the addict, and her family.

Family secrets. “Shhh, don’t tell”. Children become the secret keepers of family shame. They long for their parents’ love and approval, and are willing to do almost anything to get it, including lying to keep the parents’ secrets safe from the intrusion of the outside world. They learn that lying is an acceptable means for dealing with life challenges. (This quite often comes back to haunt parents during adolescence when it is the child’s job to begin figuring out who he is and what he stands for).

Unpredictability runs rampant in an alcoholic household. The chaotic environment contributes to problems in school as quite often sleep is compromised, particularly when the addicted party is mom, or when a child fears for one of his parent’s safety because the other parent is drunk.

According to LiveStrong.com,  “ Growing up with an unpredictable parent who is emotionally unavailable because of drinking can cause long-term damage to a child’s psychological welfare. Living with an alcoholic is traumatic for children and often leads to neglect as parents cannot control impulses and suffer from impaired judgement. Drunken parents often fail to teach or nurture their children.”  

Here is a short story about alcohol as experienced by a little boy longing for connection with his drinking dad.

There once was a little boy. He looked up to his dad and wanted to be like him. But his dad drank. A lot. And he doesn’t do much with the little boy. So the little boy decides not to look up to his dad but is really saddened by this. He goes to his friends’ houses. Their dads are different. They are outside playing baseball and doing dad things with their sons. And all the little boy sees is his dad being drunk and fighting with his mom. The little boy is too young to really understand fully, but he remembers being afraid of his dad. He remembers his mother’s arms picking him up out of bed late at night and taking him to his grandma’s because his dad was coming home. So all he sees, in this man that he is supposed to look up to and be like some day, is fear. The little boy tries to put his feelings aside and just deal with his life because that’s his life and what else can he do? He goes to school and sees other families who are normal. And that’s all he wants and he doesn’t understand why he doesn’t have that so he gets mad. He acts out in school to get attention. And he feels bad. And he begins to give up on himself. 

The above is an excerpt from a book being written by a young man who fell into addiction. He is working on writing and reconstructing his life so he can be the man he wants to be for his own kids. He is determined to break the cycle.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol abuse, children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop alcohol related problems and have a higher risk of developing many other emotional and behavioral problems than kids in non-alcoholic households.  Genetics and environment each play a factor in addiction. A child with an alcoholic parent experiences both.

How can we help stop the cycle of addiction and its impact on our kids?

  • Education is key for the children as well as the parents.
  • Kids need to know that they have rights and that it is okay to break the silence and talk with a trusted adult about what is happening at home.
  • Parents need to be educated on the damage their drinking is having on their children’s development.
  • The non-drinking parent needs to learn coping skills to empower themselves, encourage their children and keep the family safe.  And to gain the strength to walk away if the addicted parent continues to refuse to get help.
  • A great resource for dealing with all types of addictions is: http://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org.

Schools can contribute as well.  When schools have programs which teach kids about alcohol and abuse, it is easier for them to understand that what is happening is not their fault, to learn how to better protect themselves from family flare ups, and realize they have resources and that they are not alone.

Bottom Line: Addiction impacts everyone, especially the kids. Addiction recovery is possible. All it takes is a little willingness to get started, and the desire to create a better life for you and your family. Sobriety is the healthiest choice you can make for you and your kids. If alcohol or drugs have a grip on your life, reach out for help – for you and your kids. You will be glad you did.

 

Infidelity – The Anatomy of an Affair

August 19th, 2014

Couple Wall

I am currently in the process of writing the first in a series of books on infidelity entitled Broken Promises.

The pain of an affair is excruciating for everyone involved; husband, wife, kids, and the frequently demonized, other woman. I have worked with them all.  What may begin as an innocent flirtation, can turn into a powerful force which takes on a life of its own. It is my hope to bring greater understanding to couples working through the aftermath of an affair and to offer insight for anyone engaging in pre-affair activities to help them reconsider their options.

Following is an excerpt from the chapter entitled:  The Anatomy of an Affair.  In this excerpt we look at the symptoms of an addiction and compare these symptoms to those experienced by someone in the throws of an affair.

The italicized information is adapted from an article on addiction appearing on the website Medical News Today . The correlation to affairs following each addictive property is based upon my experience helping hundreds of couples recover from the painful aftermath of infidelity.

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The Anatomy of an Affair – Addictive Properties

The pain of an affair is excruciating for everyone involved; husband, wife, kids, and even the other woman. I have worked with them all. What may begin as an innocent flirtation, if not addressed and managed, can turn into a powerful tsunami which has the power to wipe out everyone in its path.  Can a person become addicted to another person? You bet.  Here are some parallels drawn between substance addiction and the addictive nature of an affair.

Substance dependence can cause powerful cravings. The addict may want to give up (quit), but finds it extremely difficult to do so without help. The signs and symptoms of substance dependence vary according to the individual, the substance they are addicted to, their family history (genetics), and personal circumstances.

Addiction: The person takes the substance and cannot stop – in many cases, at least one serious attempt was made to give up, but often unsuccessfully.

  • Affair:  In the case of an affair quite often several attempts are made to pull away from the other person prior to actually stopping the connection. Once started, an affair, like an addiction, takes on a life of its own.

Addiction: Withdrawal symptoms – when withdrawing from the substance for a period of time, the patient has physical and mood-related symptoms. There are cravings, bouts of moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, a feeling of being depressed and empty, frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment. Withdrawal can trigger violent outbursts, trembling, seizures, hallucinations, and sweats.

  • Affair: During periods when the individual is unable to connect with the person he is attached to, he can become edgy, moody, and prone to becoming upset more easily. At first an affair can be a source of relief from various life stressors. After a time the affair itself creates more stress as the two people involved try and figure out ways to connect while keeping their secret alive.

Addiction: Addiction continues despite awareness – the individual continues taking the substance regularly, even though they are aware of its hazards. 

  • Affair: Simply being aware of the potential pitfalls is often not enough to stop the behavior. Even though you know what you are doing is not right, the connection formed in the throws of an affair can become too powerful to let go of. There is a push/pull nature of an addictive substance. You may be able to pull back for a while, but then experience an even greater need which is difficult to combat.

Addiction: Taking risks – an addict may engage in risky behaviors to obtain, or while under the influence of, the substance.

  • Affair: Risk taking is inherent in an affair. People risk employment, marriages, their relationship with their kids, their reputation, even friendships can be compromised. By the time the potential impact is realized often much of the damage is done.

Addiction: Dealing with problems – an addicted person commonly feels they need their drug to deal with their problems.

  • Affair: This is especially true with a workplace affair. The workplace is fertile ground for the gestation of an affair. When we work in close proximity with someone who is there for us during extremely stressful as well as exciting times, such as the completion of a major project, it can create an intimacy which makes people more vulnerable to an affair. These connections are even more difficult to work through due to the nature of the working environment.

Addiction: Obsession – an addicted person may spend more and more time and energy focusing on ways of getting hold of their substance, and in some cases how to use it.

  • Affair: Waiting for a returned text or listening to voice mail messages over and over; obsessively checking Facebook, or emails; engaging in the newer apps such as Snap Chat; there are so many ways to check in on the whereabouts of the other party. Checking can become an obsession, as well as thinking about the next rendez-vous.

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I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and will post more from the list later in the week.  If you have any comments, feel free to contact me at:  Jeanne@DrJeanneMichele.com.  I would love to hear from you!

Dr. Jeanne Michele is an expert in helping couples work through relationship crises like infidelity.  For more information on her upcoming book, Broken Promises please click on the link and you will be directed to the book website.

 

 

The Art & Science of Dating Meetup Group

August 19th, 2014

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Are you just beginning to date again, or maybe just beginning to consider dating? Or have you been out there in the dating world for a while and are tired of your results? Dating is both an art and a science. It offers you wonderful opportunities to learn about yourself and have fun meeting someone new. We intend to meet monthly and have new and relative content each month. Let’s put the fun back into dating and meeting new people. Come Join Us on Thursday, August 21st at 7:00 p.m.

For our second meeting the overwhelming option chosen by participants is Understanding Men / Understanding Women.  What are the similarities and differences between how men and women think about dating, creating partnership and finding love?  Are we really from two different planets?  What can women learn from men and men learn from women about dating and courtship?  What questions would you really like to hear answered by members of the opposite sex?

We will have some prepared information and ideas to share and we will be opening up dialog between our male and female participants.  Bring your curiosity to the table and join us in what is sure to be a lively and informative discussion.

Please sign up at our meet up group:  The Art & Science of Dating

Your Meetup Leaders:

Dr. Jeanne Michele is passionate about helping individuals and couples attract and create meaningful, heart-centered relationships.

Carly Fliegler is a Matchmaker who helps singles learn how to work through the barriers to attracting great love.

Women’s Journey Conference

April 9th, 2014

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Eleven years ago a group of women pooled their resources to create a day to honor women. We wanted to give each woman the experience of being nurtured and celebrated. It was here that the Women’s Journey Conference (WJC) was born. The conference has since expanded into an annual event for women and girls of all ages, professions and socio-economic backgrounds, providing opportunities for self-discovery, community, and inspiration for all.  Each year we invite cutting-edge speakers, community leaders and entertainers. Our vision is to educate and inspire women & girls to live life more fully, with a greater sense of self-mastery, and self-trust.

Did you know?  (Statistics provided by the Girl Scout Research Institute).

  • 90% of all women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance.
  • 81% of 10 year-old girls are afraid of being fat.
  • Every 15 seconds a woman is battered; every 7 minutes a girl is bullied at school.
  • 1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.
  • There is a high correlation between low self-esteem & disordered eating, bullying, smoking & drinking.
  • 1 in 3 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age in relationships.

Low self-esteem impacts women and girls of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. The environment created at the WJC helps women and girls feel better about themselves. We are particularly proud of our girls program which brings together at-risk and mainstream youth to foster greater acceptance, understanding and fun! The learning they experience together powerfully impacts their lives and life choices for years to come.

This year we are having celebrities like Carnie Wilson speak about career and body image. The Ellison sisters, who were the #1 ranking junior tennis players and college athletes at San Diego State University, speak to the girls about self-esteem in sports and life, Nia Vardolos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Tina Lifford, Author and star of the hit show Parenthood, Lilly Elise, Star of The Voice, Mollie and Meredith Baxter from Family Ties, Donna Schuller, Inspirational Speaker and TV co-host, and many, many more.

Dr. Jeanne Michele will be functioning as the moderator of a Mother / Daughter panel which will include Meredith Baxter and her daughter Mollie, Donna Schuller and her mother, and Camellia Hudson Franklin and her daughter, Ella.  Our goal is to honor the unique gifts offered within a mother / daughter relationship and gain some tips for more gracefully working through the rough spots.

Our conference, which is being held the Saturday before Mothers Day, offers mothers, grandmothers, daughters and friends, the opportunity to come together to experience life in a new way.  So, whether you attend on your own, with a friend, or bring your daughter or granddaughter to our youth program, this is a great day for you to relax, laugh and be inspired.  It also makes a great Mother’s Day gift for dads to give to their wives and/or daughters.

Women and girls leave the conference with a renewed sense of acceptance and encouragement, which helps them to flourish within their communities, schools, families and workplaces.  To register please visit our website. Women’s Journey Conference.

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How to Avoid The Most Common Mistakes Singles Make When Searching for Love

March 31st, 2014

Tips for Dating from Three Day Rule Dating and Matchmaking Service

MONIQUE_WB9A0664 (1)By: Tina Wie, Three Day Rule

We often see our clients make the same mistakes when they first come to us searching for love.  Whether it is being inflexible in your dating approach or being attracted to the wrong type of partner, here are the most common behaviors you should avoid to increase your chances of finding a mate:

The “I want it all” syndrome. Yes, we have all heard about how Amy Webb hacked online dating and found true love by creating a list of 72 requirements that she needed in her ideal man.  In fact, maybe she even inspired you to create your own long laundry list of attributes that you absolutely need in a partner.  Because you believe that you deserve the best (and we couldn’t agree more), you won’t consider anyone outside of your pre-defined criteria.  Sound like you? The truth is that having such an impossibly long list of “must-haves” seriously limits your options.  Remember that the best partner for you does NOT mean he/she is perfect.  At Three Day Rule, we spend a lot of time helping clients break free from this pattern and hone in on their ideal type by learning about their past relationships, behavioral patterns, and personal preferences. Our experience has proven that singles who take the time to 1) reflect on their needs and 2) develop insights on what type of partner will bring them a lifetime of happiness are most successful in finding a mate that is right for them. Research has shown that the most successful professionals are those who relentlessly prioritize.  The same ethos should be applied to your search for love. In the long run, prioritization of your needs will help you find your better half.

Judging a book by its cover.  We’re all guilty of it to some extent.  As humans, we are hard-wired to focus on the superficial, especially when we are meeting people for the first time.  The type of profession someone is in, the clothes that they are wearing, the car that they are driving – these are all factors that initially color our judgment of a prospective mate. Ask yourself:  Five years from now, will a mate with a thick head of hair still seem sexy if he has no interest in taking out the trash or sharing child-rearing duties? Will a trophy wife with the to-die-for Angelina Jolie-esque lips still interest you if she can’t stimulate you outside of the bedroom? Don’t lose perspective and focus on the more important things like shared interests and common values.   Removing the initial barriers you have set for yourself (Must be over 6 feet! No balding men! Only lawyers or doctors!) opens up more possibilities for you to say ‘yes’ to a first date.

Falling for the wrong type.  Albert Einstein pretty much summed this one up when he astutely wrote, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  You may be someone that somehow finds yourself attracted to those who are selfish, treat you poorly, have commitment issues, or are emotionally unavailable.  The first step to overcoming this is to recognize that this pattern exists.  Only after you become aware of your tendencies can you make a conscious effort to avoid these types of people.  Also, pay close attention to how your friends and family react to the people that you choose to date.  If they consistently show hesitation or disapproval towards your choice of partners, this is usually a red flag.  Your loved ones know you best and want nothing more than for you to be happy, so don’t underestimate the value of their opinions.

The best part of falling in love is finding a partner that values you, adores all the things you love about yourself, and accepts you despite your flaws . Does your mate make you laugh, bring out the best version of yourself, and have a generous heart?  If you remain focused on shared interests and common values, you will be more easily able to find true love.