Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘healthy confrontation’

Addressing the Fear of Confronting a Toxic Person

SOURCE:  Dr. Henry Cloud

The following was written to address general unsafe behavior and may not be applicable for situations where abuse is/was present. If you have been in a relationship where abuse was present, please seek the help of a counselor and/or law enforcement.

As any psychologist will tell you, fear is stronger when we fear becoming afraid. This is called fear of fear. Suppose you need to confront a toxic person about their attitude, but you’re afraid they might retaliate. So you stay happy and positive on the outside but remain dissatisfied on the inside.

The longer you ignore the fear, the more you will activate it. And since the fear is associated with an uncomfortable outcome, having it burrow around in your mind naturally gives you an uncomfortable feeling. Eventually, you learn to avoid thinking about the fearful situation so you won’t have to keep feeling the fear. And the more you avoid feeling that fear, the more afraid of it you become. It’s a vicious cycle, and it doesn’t help you reach freedom and fulfillment you desire for your life.

If you’re experiencing this downward spiral, begin allowing yourself to tolerate fear. Let yourself feel the anxiety and scared feelings you have about the wrath of this toxic person. The more you do this, the more you will realize that things might get unpleasant, but you can make it through their anger.

Another aspect of fear is that the less control and power you feel, the greater the fear. Fear is a danger signal. It says, “Protect yourself! Run!” And if you don’t feel any sense of control or power over your life and choices, you experience yourself as powerless, unsafe and vulnerable. You are at the mercy of the danger, and you can’t protect yourself. It’s a horrible feeling, and it gives fear a strength it shouldn’t have.

The antidotes are to see the reality that you are not helpless. You have choices, all the choices that a mature adult has. You’re not someone’s slave, victim or little child. You can relate to them, talk to them as an adult, and if you have to, protect yourself from any toxicity that might be thrown at you. Remind yourself that you have choices. This will give you access to all the control and power that you need.

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Q&A: Is My Husband Having An Affair?

SOURCE:  Michele Weiner-Davis, LCSW

Question:  I discovered some e-mails my husband has been exchanging with a woman in his office. My husband and this coworker seem very close. I don’t think he’s having an actual affair, but I’m worried. What should I do?

Answer:  What you describe made me immediately think, Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.Your husband may not be having a physical relationship with his coworker, but if what you read in their e-mails to each other tells you that they seem very close, you should talk to him about your concern.

Here’s why: If you’re feeling on edge and unsafe in your marriage, it’s hard to let your guard down emotionally and feel close to your spouse. It’s important to clear the air rather than keep your uncomfortable feelings bottled up inside because if you don’t, eventually you will grow further and further apart.

Once your concern is out in the open, your husband will have the opportunity to explain the nature of his relationship with his coworker and potentially allay your fears.

But even if he insists that their relationship is strictly platonic, it’s important for you to tell him why the e-mails raised a red flag. Was the exchange surprisingly personal rather than collegial? Were there expressions of caring or endearment? Did the exchange seem flirtatious? The truth is, many affairs start out innocently but over time, little by little, become inappropriately intimate. Discussing your concern might just nip potentially hurtful behaviors in the bud.

Ultimately, even if your husband thinks that you are overreacting, he should endeavor to take your feelings into account by developing clearer boundaries with his co-worker. In healthy, loving marriages, people accommodate their spouses’ vulnerabilities even if they don’t always understand or share them.

Keep in mind that how you approach your husband with your suspicions can make a big difference. Talk about your feelings rather than criticizing or accusing. This will increase the odds that your husband will react caringly rather than defensively. For example, instead of saying, “I read some inappropriate e-mails between you and your coworker. What is going on between the two of you? I’m really angry,” say, “I found some e-mails between you and your co-worker that made me feel very uncomfortable. Rather than being work-related, they seemed too personal. I’ve been feeling anxious, and I’d like to know more about your relationship with her. Can you help me with this?”

Working through your discomfort about your husband’s relationship with his co-worker will go a long way to restoring trust.

So don’t allow your suspicions to fester—set a time to talk with your husband today. Keep in mind that when you have your conversation, your husband may become angry about the fact that, in his mind, you were “invading his privacy.”

Do not become defensive. Instead, acknowledge his feelings, explain why you were suspicious in the first place and reassure him that you respect his privacy.  Hopefully, your conversation will eliminate your need to check up on him in the future.

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Source: Michele Weiner-Davis, LCSW, founder of The Divorce Busting Center in Boulder, Colorado, that helps on-the-brink couples save their marriages. She is the best-selling author of eight books including Healing from InfidelityThe Sex-Starved Marriage and Divorce Busting.

Ten Abilities of Emotionally Healthy People

SOURCE:  Jimmy Evans/Marriage Today

I teach pastors that a church cannot grow beyond the emotional health of its pastor, and I believe the same is true for a marriage: Your relationship with your spouse will never exceed your individual emotional health.

Karen and I entered marriage with deep emotional wounds and dysfunction. We were like two porcupines trying to love each other. The closer we got, the more we hurt each other.

Thankfully, God healed us of our emotional scars. Today we have the ability to do things that our emotional wounds once prevented.

There are ten things you should be able to do if you are emotionally healthy:

1. Openly express both physical and verbal affection to the satisfaction of your spouse. This means hugs and gentle touch as well as praise.

2. Empathize with others and focus on their needs and desires—especially those of your spouse. This means listening, as well as putting yourself in another’s shoes.

3. Communicate honestly and openly in a gracious manner. This means being able to talk about your feelings.

4. Confront your spouse or others with complaints in a timely and gracious manner. In other words, communicating with honesty about something that has gone wrong, rather than being angry, withdrawn, or passive-aggressive.

5. Receive complaints or corrections without being defensive or hostile.This means you are open to input from someone else.

6. Take responsibility for your behavior and apologize, when necessary, with sincerity and grace. This means accepting that you can be wrong.

7. Serve and give to others—including your spouse—without expecting anything in return. This means you are able to do something for others even if it’s never reciprocated.

8. Process anger, offenses, and disappointments in a timely and gracious manner. Bad things happen. When they do, you can deal with being imperfect people in an imperfect world. You can work through it.

9. Be vulnerable and reveal weakness without fear or shame. This means being able to pray with your spouse. It means admitting when you need help.

10. Be joyful and faith-filled in the midst of difficulty. This means seeing the good in opportunities, circumstances, and people. It means trusting God rather than becoming cynical, fatalistic, or depressed.

Do these abilities describe you? If not, you may have some emotionally unhealthy areas in your heart. Honestly, I didn’t have any of those abilities when Karen and I were first married—and it damaged our relationship.

Until God restored me to good health, our marriage would never have grown beyond my limitations.

The Holy Spirit is powerful and can repair the places that are broken inside us. He knows exactly what’s wrong. When we understand that we’re damaged and give Him permission to fix us, He does. That’s exceedingly good news.

If you need to improve your emotional health, ask God to begin healing you. He’ll help you grow into a place where you can claim all ten of the abilities above. It will result in a stronger, healthier marriage.

5 Things to Remember when Someone Keeps Letting You Down

SOURCE:  Wendy Redden/Lifehack Magazine

If you have ever experienced disappointment from another person, here are 5 things to remember when someone keeps letting you down. It could be a friend, a parent, a son or daughter. It could even be your significant other or a co-worker.

It is often hard to not harbor sadness, anger or resentment when someone keeps saying they will do one thing and then does another. The situation could be someone that you just cannot count on for any help or requests you may need.

It is not easy when dealing with someone that is unreliable, or someone that could possibly be over committing themselves. Here are 5 things to remember when someone keeps letting you down so that you can protect yourself from further harm and also maintain your peace.

1. Avoid Assumptions

You might have someone in your life who often says they want to do certain things with you and you invite them, but then at the last minute they cancel or do not show up at all. It is easy to go into a flutter of thoughts as to why that person did what they did. It is also really easy to take it personally and believe they didn’t show up to intentionally hurt you. The truth is we will never fully know what is going on with someone else’s thoughts or motives. That person could be one that doesn’t like to say no to anyone but in reality they do more damage because the ultimately become an unintentional liar.

That person could be a people pleaser and they want to make everyone happy but they cannot so they end up being out of integrity. When we avoid assumptions it’s easier to stop ourselves from forming resentment and anger at the person or situation. We don’t know the truth as to what the other person is truly experiencing. In my past when I was going through some pretty serious personal issues, I became so wrapped up in my own life, I was not very reliable to my friends and family. Once I became more aware of that fact myself, I was able to reset my priorities and not over commit myself to others.

2. Accept the Other Person for Where They Are

Once we accept that someone is not consistent in their words or actions and we realize that a sporadic relationship exists, we learn to take it for what it is. We can’t control others or somehow force them to be in integrity, even though the thought of that new reality would be nice. We also can’t expect them to all of a sudden change or believe that the next time will be any different from the last disappointment. Once we accept the other person for where they are in life, it’s easier as the broken promises and inconsistent behavior we do not take personally any longer.

If we also have no expectation of future outcomes, it is so much easier to accept the disappointment. The broken promises will still end up hurting our feelings, but we have the choice whether to allow them to hurt us or allow them to turn into bitterness and negative feelings. Once we stop taking things personally, we can still maintain our peace even when others disappoint us.

3. Let Them Know How You Feel

It is never easy to talk about serious things. I was a severe conflict avoider in my past because I did not want to hurt other people’s feelings. I would rarely talk about what bothered me which caused me to live a very unhappy and chaotic life for a while. Now I welcome others to come to me with the hard topics because that means the other person desires conflict resolution and really wants their feelings to be made known. My best friends are those I can trust to come to me with issues so we can quickly resolve conflict if we have an issue.

I now reach out and share my hurts with people I care about. I want the relationship to become better if possible so I am willing to talk about the hard issues. If we do not tell someone that what they are doing hurts our feelings, how would they know? It is our responsibility to confront the issue without anger or emotion involved so that the other person is aware of our feelings. We need to let them know that we feel unimportant when they say they will commit to something but never actually show up or follow through.

4. Stop the Bleeding

Once you have shared your feelings with the other person and let them know their actions are hurting you, and nothing changes – it’s time to stop the bleeding. Why would we keep allowing more let downs and disappointments to occur when we have made our feelings known? If you still want to maintain the relationship, it is time to set boundaries. If you truly care about the person, you can let them know you are no longer extending invitations. If they would like to maintain a relationship with you – it is now their responsibility to make the effort.

That way you can still be involved in their lives but you can choose whether to accept their invitation or not. If the new situation does work for all that are involved then a compromise or solution has been made and we can maintain our peace. We are still able to continue the relationship even though the dynamic has changed a little. If the person never contacts you again after boundaries were set or feelings were made known, at least you know it was a forced relationship and one that needed to end.

5. Move On

If you have made your feelings known and nothing has changed, then it is time to move on. If the relationship is unsafe or abusive, it is definitely time to end it. Regardless of who the person is (it could be a loved one or close family member), it is never alright to stay in a relationship that causes you emotional or physical harm. Sometimes, we need to compromise to maintain a relationship with a family member and sometimes we need to stop seeing someone altogether because there is too much hurt surrounding that relationship.

Ultimately, we can somewhat control how we allow others to treat us by setting firm boundaries and knowing when to move on. If there are a few relationships in your life that are strained or causing you emotional turmoil, it’s time to evaluate them. Then you can decide what you are willing to accept in those relationships. What we allow in any relationship is what will continue. Life is short and it is exhausting to try and maintain a forced relationship that is not mutually beneficial.

Surround yourself with people that encourage, lift up and support you in all that you do. Real friends will bring up the hard issues and will work together to resolve conflict with you quickly so that you can maintain a lasting and authentic relationship with them.

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