Tag Archives: Christian counseling

How to Write an Effective Email at Work When You are Angry

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperThere is no doubt you have seen a few poorly written emails from an angry person that resembles verbal vomit.  And while you might even understand their frustration, you in no way want to come across quite as gross.  Instead you wish there was a way of communicating your anger that gets results without a trace of verbal vomit.  There is.

It is as simple as a fast-food hamburger.  Take a moment and think of a fast-food place that has a hamburger with meat in the middle and a bun on the top and bottom.  Most likely you will not take the bun off the hamburger meat and eat just the meat.  Why? Because the meat tastes gross (think fast-food, not the good kind of burger), that is why it has the bun to make it more palatable.  In fact some buns have even have sugar on them to improve the flavor.

Top Bun.  The top bun is the fluffy part and is the best place to start.  Begin your email with a compliment of sorts such as, “Thank you for your trust in my ability to handle more work.”  The compliment does not need to be long, just honest.  In the moment of your anger, this might be the hardest part of your email to write but if you can put aside your anger for a few minutes, more than likely you will come up with one compliment.  Don’t be sarcastic; sarcasm is suppressed anger and is not effective in the workplace.

Meat in the Middle.  The meat in the middle is the issue you need to address.  Your next sentence is the bottom line you need to communicate. “I will not be able to complete the project you just handed me because my workload is too large.”  Resist the urge to over explain or to address more than one “meat” instead keep it simple and to the point remembering to state the facts.  Don’t add any emotion to the meat as it will come off sounding like you are whining.  This statement might require several revisions before you can accurately communicate the bottom line without any fluff, but it is worth the effort.

Bottom Bun.  The bottom bun is another compliment that ties everything together.  “I’m sure we can work towards a solution that works for both of us.”  This bun is meant to be the base of the whole matter much like the bottom bun holds up the entire hamburger.  Finding a way to work together is at the heart of the matter and from this the other two parts are effectively supported.

This same method can be used to communicate with your spouse, your child’s teacher, your client or anyone who might cause you some frustration.  Not only does it work well in emails, it is equally effective verbally.  And hopefully you will never look at a fast-food hamburger the same way again.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

7 Ways to Be Different at Work Instead of Just Another Jerk

jerksIt’s easy to be a jerk at work.  When something doesn’t get done the way it should because it’s late, incomplete, or missing essential details, it’s easy to get upset and fly off the handle.  After all, you have invested your valuable time, energy and effort only to be left with substandard work from your co-workers.  It’s not right, it’s not fair, and you are entitled to be frustrated.

So you become more jerky with each disappointment only to wake up one day and realize that you have become something you don’t really like.  There is a better way to handle things at work that can produce excellent results without compromising your standards.

Be Patient.  Promotions, projects, and promises don’t happen overnight so be patient for your opportunities to shine.  Don’t be so eager to do everything that you miss the chance to do one thing exceptionally well.

Be Kind.  Too often kindness is reserved only for clients and not for co-workers or vendors.  Kindness is a lost art form in our culture and therefore is a noticeable commodity in your workplace.  Showing kindness to those around you requires little effort but reaps great rewards.

Don’t Boast.  Tooting your own horn might get you noticed quickly but it is short-lived and builds resentment from your co-workers.  Rather seek opportunities to compliment others and boast your co-workers instead of tearing them down.

Be Negotiable.  If you constantly insist on getting your way, you will wear out your co-workers and they will be less likely to bring new and valuable ideas to the table.  Listen to the ideas of others and find ways to incorporate them into your ideas.  Too heads are truly better than one.

Be Even-tempered.  Consistency in your attitude and behavior is an asset.  If your clients can expect a smile and warm greeting despite any frustrations then it will be easier to negotiate any deal.  Your co-workers likewise should be able to count on a similar attitude and behavior.

Don’t Give Up.  The toughest of circumstances can be only be resolved with a never give up attitude.  This does not mean that you don’t choose to walk away from a bad deal or an unproductive co-worker but it does mean that you don’t give up on making new deals or training new employees.

Be Hopeful.  It might be hard to be hopeful when difficult situations at your office seem to stay the same or even get worse.  Being hopeful might even seem like you are being unrealistic however if you plan for the worst and hope for the best your attitude will be infectious and could just be the spark that is needed in your office.

Each of these is not a one-time fix; rather it requires you to consistently practice each one.  You may need to pick one idea a week and try it on before moving on to the next idea instead of trying to do everything all at once.  This will allow the change to be more permanent and in the end you will return back to the person that you want to be instead of the jerk that you became.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How Do I Know If I Am Depressed?

crying-tears-of-joy-208913You struggle to keep on task and stay focused but your mind keeps wandering making the simplest of jobs take unusually long periods of time.  Is it ADD or depression?

You can’t seem to get motivated to do anything even things that you enjoy or used to enjoy.  Is it laziness or depression?

You have trouble getting to sleep and when you do you struggle to stay asleep waking up several times a night thinking about the same thing over and over.  Is it anger or depression?

You are tired all the time to the point of exhaustion where exercise is not even an option because it drains you of the last bit of energy you have.  Is it sickness or depression?

You wonder if life is even worth living or if you are really contributing something of value to your family or your work.  Is it a mid-life crisis or depression?

You are sad more than usual crying at commercials, movies, and other people’s problems but struggling to be emotional about your own issues.  Is it avoidance or depression?

Your weight has increased and the food that used to bring you pleasure is tasteless so you find yourself eating more to get the same effect.  Is it an addiction or depression?

You don’t feel like going out with friends and prefer instead to stay at home alone because no one seems to understand you.  Is it loneliness or depression?

You feel guilty for things you have done in the past and believe that you are worthless.  Is it remorse or depression?

Don’t self-diagnosis.  The problem with diagnosing your own condition is that depression can look like any one of the above issues: ADD, laziness, anger, sickness, mid-life crisis, avoidance, addiction, loneliness or remorse.  This is why it helps to have someone from the outside looking in on your life to see if you really are depressed or if something else is the problem.

Depression is not a momentary thing.  If you lose a document on your computer, you will be sad and even feel slightly depressed because it took you forever to write it but the feeling is not long lasting.  Rather, depression is something that dominates your life for a long period of time such as over several months and can be seen in more than one area of your life.  So if work is driving you crazy and every time you go into the office you feel sad and hopeless but when you go home and kiss your kids you are able to enjoy your time with them, it is not depression.

Do look at your circumstances.  Depression can be caused by many environmental factors such as the loss of a loved one, a decrease in daylight, bad news about a physical condition, your child’s behavioral problems, your spouse’s lack of attention, an out-of-control addiction, change in financial status, loss of employment, separation/divorce, or hormonal factors such as PMS, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause.  It is normal to feel depressed during these times and since every circumstance is different, one person may feel depressed for a day while another may feel depressed for a year.

Depression comes in many forms.  There is not one type of depression rather there are many different forms of depression.  There is mild, moderate, severe, one-time, chronic, bi-polar, manic, seasonal, traumatic, postpartum, dysthymic, catatonic, melancholic, atypical, medical, cyclothymic, rapid-cycling, substance-induced, suicidal, and psychotic.  Knowing the type of depression you have often determines the treatment for the depression.

Don’t wait.  The bottom line is if you think you are struggling with depression, get professional help from a doctor, pastor or counselor.  There are very few types of depression that get better just with the passage of time; many of the other forms of depression actually worsen if left undiagnosed and untreated.

You can get better.  There is help.  There is hope.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Sermon on Depression and Suicide

still_waters

You are exhausted, overwhelmed, and depressed with no apparent way to get out of your circumstances.  Sometimes that depression can sink so low it may seem as if the only way out is to take your life.  You are not alone in your struggle even though it seems that way most of the time.

If you are struggling with depression or know of someone who is, please read this tender yet honest sermon from Chris Erdman about the death of his friend and Pastor Jamie Evans.  I knew Jamie as a child as his parents were and still are dear friends of my parents.  His father, Louis Evans Jr., now deceased, was also my pastor at National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C.  He taught me to have a passionate love for God in spite of my difficult circumstances or struggles.

I have nothing but fond memories of Jamie, his son, as he would often pick my brother and I up to attend youth functions at our church.  He was always so full of energy and life, so much fun to be around.  In fact, my first motorcycle ride, much to the dismay of my parents, was on the back of his bike.

This wonderfully written sermon is a testimony to Jamie’s life and struggles with ADHD, dyslexia and depression.  It reminds us of the importance of treating mental illness and not pretending everything is OK when it is not.  It is well worth your time to read and hopefully will be an inspiration to reach out for help when you are feeling depressed.

http://chriserdman.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/God-and-Suicide-Luke-13.31-35.pdf

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Related News Post:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/07/church-members-open-services-with-prayer-for-pastor-rick-warren-after-suicide/?test=latestnews

The Curse of the Overly Responsible Exhausted Woman

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperIt is such a huge burden when you are the only responsible person at work and home.  Why can’t everyone around you just see how much work you do all day long?  If only your co-worker would do what they promised, you spouse would finally clean out the garage and your kids would do their chores then everything would be fine.  But no… You have to finish the project for your co-worker so the “team” does not get impacted; you have to clean out the garage so you can park your car in it; you have to finish the kid’s leftover chores because your in-laws are coming over for dinner.  Why can’t everyone just do their fair share?

Doing everyone else’s work is exhausting and often provokes you to anger which manages to come out at the most inappropriate times.  But secretly, when you are really honest with yourself, you actually enjoy being the person who gets it all done.  After all, if your co-worker did their job, you husband helped out, and your kids participated in something other than video games then how can you be admired for all the extra work you do?

The curse of being overly responsible is that without irresponsible people around, how can you be overly responsible?  This means that at some level you actually get satisfaction from being overly responsible or you would not keep doing it.

So, what does it mean to be overly responsible?  It means that you take on more responsibility for things or people to the point of excluding others from taking on their own responsibility.  This exclusion of others sometimes comes if the form of criticism for how a task was accomplished.  For instance, say you were at a budget meeting where everyone was to analyze their own areas and then present suggestions at a meeting.  You may not like the manner in which your co-worker chooses to complete the task claiming that it is insufficient.  Instead of teaching them how to do the task, you find it easier to “just to it myself so that it is done right”.  This is overly responsible behavior and you are driving everyone around you crazy.  So what can you do?

Stop taking on other’s tasks.  No matter how hard this is, you must stop doing things for other people just because it is “easier”, they won’t do it “right”, or you are just trying to “help”.  Pretending to “help” someone out by doing something for them when they are responsible for doing it is NOT helping either them or you.  The only thing you accomplish by “helping” is creating an unnecessary and unhealthy dependency which ultimately only serves to feed your ego.  Your ego likes to be “needed” because that is where you get your self-worth from but this is not healthy.  A positive self-worth comes from understanding you not comparing yourself to another person.

Stop comparing yourself to others.  At a much deeper level, when you take on another person’s tasks you are saying that you are better than them.  Being better or being more responsible than others sets you apart from the crowd and allows you to stand out but this is not servant leadership, rather it is self-motivated leadership.  Everyone has their own journey to follow, in their own time.  By insisting that a person be at the same level as you, you are really saying that you know better where they should be rather than allowing them to follow their own journey.   Sometimes, a person has to suffer the consequences of their own decision in order to make better decisions going forward.

Stop saving others.  There is only one Savior, Jesus Christ, and you are not it.  By focusing on other people’s issues, you steal energy away from caring for yourself and then begin to see this process as a sacrifice you make for them.  The problem is that the sacrifice has already been made in Christ and He doesn’t need you to sacrifice yourself for others.  Rather you need to offer your life as a living sacrifice to Him.  Jesus will save them.  You can pray, encourage, guide, teach, and love but you are NOT to save them.  This is why you become angry when someone does not appreciate your “help” because you are really trying to “save” them and it isn’t working.

There is a small verse in Galatians 6:5, “For we are each responsible for our own conduct”.  You are responsible for your conduct and you will receive the rewards or consequences of your behavior.  Others are responsible for their conduct and they will receive the rewards or consequences of their behavior.  Being overly responsible is not being godly; it is trying to take the place of God in the life of others and that is how you are cursed.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Disrespect your Husband and Cause Problems in your Marriage

black-woman-giving-man-the-handNo, I am not a man-hater and this article is not meant to be taken seriously.  Rather it is written tongue-in-cheek to demonstrate the obvious and not so obvious ways a you can show disrespect to your husband.  Sometimes the best way of understanding something is to begin with what it isn’t.  While this can be a roundabout way of addressing a subject, it can also establish some necessary boundaries from which to form a better understanding.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for demonstrating disrespect the next time you are alone or out with your husband.  You can do this over dinner, in front of his friends, better yet your friends, and best yet in front of family.  Make sure you temper your comments with sarcasm, mockery or cynicism to add an extra dose of disrespect.

  • His work – Try making a joke about what he does for a living, where he works, or how much he earns.  This can be even more disrespecting if you add a comment or two about how great your career is going or how much more successful your dad was in his line of work.  After all, most men get some satisfaction from what they do as a profession even if they don’t enjoy it because they are providing for their family.  So attacking their work is one of the easiest targets for disrespect.
  • His dreams – Take one of his future aspirations or a desire to become something and then tell him how stupid it is and how he can never accomplish it.  Better yet, don’t even discuss it with him, just roll your eyes and talk behind his back especially to someone who is likely to tell him about your remarks.  It most likely took a lot of trust to tell you about his dreams in the first place so ridiculing even one dream drives the disrespect right to the heart.
  • His sexuality – It really does not matter how frequently he wants sex because if he wants it too much: harass him, too little: tell him he is inadequate.  While you are at it, joke about what he likes sexually and over-expose him to others around you.  No matter what he says about sex, most men fear that they are not performing well enough sexually for their spouse so attacking this area is very personal.
  • His worship – One of the easiest places to show disrespect to your husband is in how he worships in church.  Make sure you poke him when the pastor is preaching, compare him to other men in church or demonstrate how much more you know about spirituality than him.  If he goes to church, he has been told that he is the spiritual leader of the family so under minding him and taking over the leadership role becomes disrespectful.
  • His leisure activities – Whatever he likes to do for fun can be a target for ridicule, especially if it involves a sport of sorts and requires that money be spent for him to have fun.  If there are other men involved then this is an even better opportunity to not only make fun of him but his other teammates, especially if you can tag team with another spouse.  As any self-respecting spouse knows, the money he earns and extra time he has should go to the family and not towards doing something he enjoys.
  • His appearance – Insecurities regarding receding hairline, pot-bellies, changing body, and outdated clothing should be exposed and highlighted just to make sure that he fully aware of his inadequacies.  Some men age quite well, so make sure that you compare your husband to other men who are aging better than him.  While he has been repeatedly told that you don’t like him to comment on your flaws, his are open game.
  • His moods – Since most men are raised to be strong and take things on the cheek, any sign of weakness, moodiness, depression, or anxiety should be the talk around the dinner table especially with a few of your not so close friends.  By highlighting any mood swings you can literally cut him off at the knees and cripple him for the rest of the evening.  It is a moment of disrespect that will be noticed by everyone in the room.
  • His morality – Another opportunity for disrespect is to exaggerate the number of times your husband has made immortal or embarrassing decisions.  Of particular interest are any past times of infidelity, hospitalization, use of pornography, drunkenness, or drug use just to name a few suggestions.  However, if there are few of these events in his past, making up a couple to add some interest to a conversation by putting him down can be very disrespectful.
  • His decisions – Most wives have this area down to a science as nearly every decision their husbands make can be questioned.  Eve taught us this well as just before she ate fruit from the tree she mistrusted her husband by not agreeing that God had told Adam not to eat the fruit.  Wives can do this in many little ways such as questioning his driving, asking and re-asking the same question, questioning the tie he picks or what he decides to eat.  All of this can be disrespectful.
  • His authority – If you are blessed to work with your spouse at work, on a project or part of a charity, then you have an excellent opportunity to attack his authority.  Just make sure that you do it in front of others adding some sort of intimate touch or glance to maximize the insult.  Minimizing his authority thereby increases yours and creates a natural disrespect with your viewing audience.  This is especially powerful if your husband is in an influential position.
  • His reputation – Gossiping about your spouse especially in a negative manner is highly effective form of disrespect.  Everyone loves gossip and it can spread like wild-fire to all kinds of people destroying a reputation that has taken years to develop in a matter of minutes.  The best people to receive your gossip are the ones who already gossiping about others, after all they are the pros at disrespect.
  • His children – When all is said and done, even if you fail to disrespect your husband in any of the above ways, the easiest and perhaps most sneaky way to be disrespectful is to talk bad about your husband in front of his children.  They could be your children or his by another woman, no matter which one, the impact can be destructive beyond comparison.  By disrespecting your husband, you are modeling behavior for his daughters to imitate and his sons to repeat.  If you can paint your husband in a bad light to his children, then you have truly passed on an inheritance that can last beyond your generation.  It is the gift of disrespect that can keep giving.

By the way, if you find that you have mastered just a few of these areas, just know that you are not alone.  Over half of all marriages end in divorce and yours is likely to be headed in that direction.  Many divorced women have long mastered this list with their ex-husbands and some are working on marriage number two or three or even four.  If this scares you, good.  Now go over the list again, admit what you have done wrong, ask for forgiveness, and decide to be the model of respect instead of disrespect.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Why are You Instantly Angry Over Little Stuff?

couple-arguingAnger happens.  You are driving down the left side of highway slightly faster than normal because you are already late and suddenly someone cuts right in front of you causing you to slam on your breaks and almost hit their vehicle.  Instantly, you are angry.  Or your spouse promises he will be home by a certain time and you have made dinner on that time frame but he doesn’t show up, answer the phone or even call.  By the time your spouse arrives home, dinner is cold and so are you.  Better yet, you  ask your child to do the simplest of tasks only to be met with defiance, back talk, and ungratefulness.  The result is instant anger.

You have several bad ways of handling anger, all of which you most likely have mastered by now including the silent treatment, intense aggression and smile now but pay later.  While these methods felt good in the moment, they resulted in poor long-term resuslts.  So you are open to trying a new method.  Here are two.  One is to think about it overnight while remaining silent in the moment of anger and the second is to address it immediately without aggression.  Either method works depending on your personality or the situation but first some common misunderstandings about anger need to be cleared up.

Defining Anger.  Most likely, you have experienced a time when everything seems to be going just fine and then all of a sudden something happens and you feel this rush of intense emotion causing your heart to race, your voice to get louder, or your fists to clench.  And then it happens, you say or do something that you normally would not do if the intense emotion had not occurred.  That is anger.  And while anger in and of itself is a God given emotion, it becomes wrong when it controls your behavior.  This emotion is quite useful in life and death situations as it propels you into action motivating you beyond what you would normally do.  But it can be destructive in personal relationships as it leaves a path of disaster much like the path of a tornado.

Blaming Anger.  Just because you are feeling angry, and this emotion in some cases may be justified, it does not give you license to harm anyone in your path. How many times have you heard someone say, “You make me so angry”?  The reality is that they are responsible for getting angry just as you are responsible for your own anger.  Anger as an emotion and left to run rampet over your life can control you if you let it.  However, no one can “make” you angry unless you choose to be angry.  Sometimes that choice is not a conscious one but an unconscious choice based on experiences and decisions made in the past.  Nonetheless, it is your choice to allow anger to control you.

Managing Anger.  The two methods mentioned above have two different ways of dealing with your anger.  One is to not speak and think about your anger overnight.  The other is to confront your anger.  However, neither method even slightly hints that your spouse must be involved in either.  If you are responsible for your own anger and letting your anger get out of control is wrong then it is not the responsibility of your spouse to resolve your anger rather it is yours.  “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” is about your behavior and desire to hold onto things that should be let go or dealt with accordingly.

Reconciling Anger.  Once you have defined your anger, accepted responsibility for it and managed properly managed it, then you can begin the process of reconciliation.  Since anger destroys relationships, it is likely that there is a trail of failed relationships in the quake of your anger.  Even if the relationship may seem to be fine, unreconciled anger limits intimacy.  Your present anger may have less to do with present circumstances and more to do with your past.  Take the time to reconcile old relationships and you will find that your anger is less intense the next time.

Anger can be one of the most useful tools in helping you to grow and deal with your past but it can also be one of the most destructive if not addressed properly.  If you know of someone who needs help with their anger, speak up kindly and lovingly in a safe environment but make sure you have already addressed your anger issues first.  This effort while draining just might be one of the best things you do for your relationships.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to Eliminate Stress from Your Life without Taking a Yoga Class or Changing Your Schedule in 10 Steps

supermomHave you ever Googled “eliminate stress” only to find a long list of impossible tasks from people who obviously don’t have a job and aren’t married with kids?  My personal favorite ideas were to quit work (really… because last time I checked you work to earn money to care for your family and quitting work would add considerable stress to your life), have an open schedule (this is laughable as my schedule is almost entirely dictated by my kid’s activities), and avoid difficult people (yes, that is really possible when you work with difficult people all day long).  You already know that you need to reduce the stress in your life but having ridiculous suggestions about how to go about it only increases stress and gives you the impression that reducing stress in your very busy life is impossible.  It’s not.

Here are a few suggestions that been tested and proven to be effective by very busy people like you.

  1. Know where you are going.  As silly as it sounds, having goals for each area of your life actually reduces stress.  For instance, if your goal with your teenage son is to help him be a self-sufficient adult who is not stuck playing video games on your sofa at age 25 then you have a goal.  With that goal in mind he should be making his own meals, taking care of his own laundry, and working at a part-time job.  Doing this process for each area of your life makes decisions easier and less stressful.
  2. Stick to your plan.  Using the teenage son example you will undoubtedly be met with stiff resistance on his part as you enforce the new direction.  This is good.  As a parent your responsibility is to teach your child to become a functional adult it is not to be their friend (hopefully that will come much later).  By remembering your goal and sticking with it and serving out consequences for not following the plan, you will reduce more stress in the long run but not the short run.
  3. Set realistic expectations.  Just because you spent all day cleaning the floors of your house does not mean that anyone will even notice.  If you clean the floors expecting gratitude or praise then you are likely to be disappointed.  Instead, recognize that you like the floors clean and you are really cleaning them for yourself.
  4. Monitor your thoughts.  This is a biggie for most women as thoughts tend to run ramped and one strange phone call can leave you replaying it for hours if not days.  Give yourself the two times rule.  You are allowed to replay a conversation two times but any more than that you need to distract yourself and move on.  Think about it for a second, when was it ever productive to waste a bunch of time obsessing over something that you can’t change.
  5. Be your own best friend.  Your inner dialogue should be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friend.  Would you ever look at your best friend and call her “stupid” for making a mistake at work or call her “fat” for eating a piece of chocolate cake or call her “loser” for missing an appointment? Of course not!  So stop doing this to yourself.
  6. It’s ok to say “no”.  Mommy guilt runs strong and powerful especially when you are working and you know that your kids don’t have your undivided attention.  This means that some activities will conflict with work forcing you to say the dreaded “no” word.  It’s ok, you are not in this alone and it is good to teach your kids that they can’t get everything they want when they want it.  Remember the bigger picture.
  7. Don’t lie.  It is very tempting to play God and believe that you know what someone else is thinking and can make someone feel better by telling a little lie.  But lies have a strange way of catching up to you and creating much bigger problems and stress in the end.  So make a habit of being truthful even if it might hurt someone’s feelings.
  8. Set boundaries in your life.  Boundaries are like walls which are very useful after all who wants to watch you in the bathroom at work (ok, I admit that visualization was a bit over the top but highly effective).  Here are some practical stress reducing boundaries: don’t answer your phone when it rings, check email only three times a day, non-emergency communication gets an automatic 24 hour wait before responding, and limit social media stuff to once a day.
  9. Choose OCD behaviors wisely.  Some OCD tendencies are rather useful such as always putting your keys or purse in the exact same place every day.  This eliminates the mad dash to find things.  But some OCD behaviors are not useful such as needing to wash your hands 50 times a day or cleaning obsessively with bleach.  Get help for the behaviors that you need to change and embrace new habits that are time savers.
  10. Work on you, not everyone else.  In the end, you are only responsible for yourself. (Yes, there are those kids of yours but they are already responsible for some of their behaviors and most likely need more not less responsibility.)  When you take time to work on your own issues instead of pretending they don’t exist, you will find more energy.  After all, you can’t give what you don’t already have.

Reducing stress in your life does not have to be about taking a yoga class, changing your schedule, exercising more and eating healthy.  These are all external things, not internal things. And while these things certainly have their place, the best place to start is in your mind.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Too Anxious, Too Exhausted, and Too Stressed for Friendships

business meetingYou are in a meeting that took weeks to arrange when your phone starts vibrating every 30 seconds.  You immediately run through the whereabouts of your family: kids are at school, husband is at work, and mom is playing golf so what could be so important.  Then panic begins as you imagine your child having an accident and being rushed to the hospital, your husband in a deadly car accident, or someone in the family dying.  So you check your phone discreetly only to find 15 messages from your friend.

Really?  Can’t this latest drama last till the end of the meeting?  But your phone keeps going off with new additional messages until you find that you are no longer participating in the meeting and severely distracted by the thoughts circling in your head wondering if your house is on fire or your friend is in jail.  So you cave and excuse yourself to return the dreaded phone call.

“I need to know what pumps to wear with my new black dress”, the panicked voice on the other end says.  Now you are angry that you go so anxious over nothing, exhausted from the million catastrophes that raided your mind, and stressed out from the unending craziness that hovers over your friend like a black cloud constantly raining on your parade.

Reasons for friendships.  You thought that having friendships would reduce your anxiety through shared experiences, alleviate your exhaustion by providing much-needed emotional support and minimize your stress by having someone to talk to.  But it doesn’t or at least has not in this case or the case before.  Now you are left wondering how to get rid of this ridiculous friendship and wondering if the risk of adding another friendship, even if it might be helpful, is really worth all of the effort.  After all, friendships require an investment of time, energy and intimacy all of which has long been long depleted from your account.

Get rid of the baggage.  Begin with the end in mind.  Friendships can be extremely helpful but if you find that you no longer care about which color pumps to wear then it is time to get rid of the friendships that do.  Backing away from a friend is difficult and there are two ways to effectively go about it.  One is the direct approach where you explain that you need to stop the friendship; the old “it’s not you, it’s me” approach.  The other way is to pull back a little at a time until the friendship is in the distance instead of so close by waiting 24 hours to return phone calls or respond to texts.

Less is more. In the end, you are better off with a few close friends that mutually support and encourage you instead of more friends that drain you.  But having a few close friends means kissing a lot of frogs along the way to see which will turn into a treasure.  More importantly, it means being a good friend to others so you can attract quality friendships.

Making the first move.  Sometimes you have to initiate a friendship by doing an act of kindness, listening to them complain, being empathetic when there is a problem, or just simply asking them to join you for a cup of coffee.  Don’t wait for others to make the first move or you are likely to fall into the dysfunctional friendship all over again.  Dysfunctional people are like leeches sticking to whatever surface that doesn’t repel them.  So stop being a target for them and make the first move.

Allow for grace.  Once you have started a friendship, have a couple of boundaries ready to keep you from falling back into your old pattern.  If for instance, your friend crosses a boundary such as calling after midnight, give grace once but after that if your boundary keeps being violated, then cut the friendship off.  The sooner you do this the better the result.

Risk intimacy.  In order for a friendship to reduce anxiety, alleviate exhaustion and minimize stress intimacy must be a two-way street.  You should not be giving more intimacy than your friend nor the other way around.  It must work together and naturally.  If not, this is not a close friend.

Know your seasons.  In every season of life, you will have different types of friends for different reasons.  When you were dating, your friendships were other single women.  When you got married and had kids, your friendships likewise were married with kids.  When you changed jobs, your friendships also changed.  This is normal.  Don’t try to force a friendship that was never meant to last beyond a season in your life.

Quality friendships can be extremely refreshing, encouraging, and are well worth the time, energy, risk and intimacy to achieve.  But with anything, practice makes perfect so don’t expect to have this down right away.

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

A Letter from a Child to Her Parents during Divorce

Effects-Of-Divorce-On-ChildrenDear Mommy and Daddy,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Your Child

 

There is hope for your exhaustion.  Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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