In the fallout of the news that former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter was physically violent to both his ex-wives, some have begun to question the wisdom of LDS Bishops counseling women in abusive relationships (reports indicate both women were encouraged to stay with their husbands). Working with women in private practice, I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening. It’s embarrassing, it’s infuriating, and it’s my hope that this cultural moment of awareness and the #MeToo movement can spark social change. I shared some of my thoughts on this subject with KUER news.More
We have all likely experienced frustration while driving. Just this morning, someone suddenly turned left in front of me when I had the green light. We don’t always take time to think about our response to these kinds of frustrating situations. Most of the time, they pass without causing us any major difficulties, but sometimes our response isn’t something we feel good about, and we wish we could have handled things differently.
I imagine the driver from the news story pulled up behind the driving student, and when she missed her turn to go, he began to imagine why this driver was holding him up. He may have thought she was a terrible driver, he may have thought she was purposely making him late. Then, he likely started to feel angry that she was making him late. His anger and frustration built up, leading him to act out.
This cycle of thoughts, feeling, and behaviors can feed on each other, leading us to behave in ways we may not have intended. If we can find a way to stop the cycle, we can change our behavior and how we feel about difficult situations we may be facing.
Imagine if this driver had pulled up behind the student, she hesitated and missed opportunities to turn, and he started to think about what a terrible driver she was. What if at that point he had asked himself, “What could another explanation be for this situation?”
Maybe he would have come up with the idea that she was a new driver (which was true), maybe he would have thought she was having a bad day. There are several possible explanations for hesitating at a stop sign. If he had taken a few minutes to consider other possibilities, it might have changed how he felt about the situation. He may have still been frustrated, but he may have also felt some compassion or understanding. Without feeding his frustration or anger, his behavior certainly would have changed. He likely would have continued on his way, and would have missed out entirely on the altercation.
Not all of us have problems with road rage, but most of us have thoughts or behaviors that cause us problems in some way or another. Learning to recognize the cycle of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can help us change our trajectory. At any point in that cycle, we can stop and ask ourselves questions such as:
*What evidence do I have that this is an accurate thought?
*What could be another explanation for this situation?
*What are the advantages or disadvantages of how I am reacting to this experience?
*Am I blaming myself for something that isn’t my fault?
Every new experience is a new change for learning to do things differently. It’s okay to not be perfect right away, but with practice, we can change to be the kind of person we really want to be!
Click the link below to watch Clair Mellenthin’s recent interview on KUTV with Fresh Living on the 4 things that every parent should say to their child!
It’s a common saying that we should forgive and forget when someone offends us, but the truth is that there’s a little more to forgiveness than that. Throughout my years as a therapist, I’ve worked with many clients who struggled with the concept of forgiveness (what it means, how to do it, etc.). Whether it’s with minor offenses or severe abuse, we don’t always quite get the whole idea of forgiveness. I define forgiveness as ceasing to feel resentment toward someone who’s wronged us. Forgiveness is beautiful and can heal hearts and relationships, but I think we still may misunderstand it at times. Here are some common myths about forgiveness:More
Most of us understand that a relationship in which an individual tries to control or manipulate the other person is not a healthy one. And while no relationship is perfect, some have chronic patterns of manipulation that can be damaging to an individual’s emotional wellbeing and can likewise hurt the connection itself. But how can we spot such a relationship? We tend to think of obvious big indications of manipulation, but others are more subtle. Here are 5 signs to watch out for that may be evidence of a manipulative relationship:
1) You Feel Responsible for Your Partner’s Happiness
At the root of all of this is the quest for satisfaction and contentment in relationships. But if you feel personally responsible for your partner’s happiness, you may be experiencing some level of manipulation. There is a difference between being sensitive toward and aware of the needs of your significant other and feeling like it is your job to make that person happy. Do you feel like you have to do things perfectly, look a certain way, and complete certain tasks to please the other person? These are unreasonable expectations and may signify that the other person is (subtly) manipulating you.More
Before I write about the benefits of therapy, let me be clear. Your decision to go to therapy (or not) is a personal decision, and it is yours to make. Some people are intimidated, nervous, excited, relieved, anxious, or even resentful that they even have to think about going to therapy in the first place. Oftentimes, it is all of the above and more! That is completely understandable and human.
So, if you choose, what is the benefit of therapy? Why face all of these emotions? Here are my beliefs and thoughts about the benefits of therapy:
Confidentiality. Have you ever been worried that your most vulnerable story will be told to others after you have confided in someone? Or worse, has that actually happened? Therapists are bound by confidentiality regulations to ensure your safety and privacy. A therapist cannot share your story with others without your express permission. This can be a relief to a lot of clients who want to explore their experiences, but aren’t ready for others reactions who are close to them.More
Human beings are prone to mistakes, and we all have the experience of doing or saying something that has hurt another person (even someone we value and love). In order to repair those precious relationships, it is often necessary to apologize. But simply saying, “I’m sorry” is rarely enough. Here are 5 steps to giving a powerful, sincere apology:
1) Own Your Part
To truly mean that you are sorry, you need to own up to the specific thing you said or did that contributed to the other person’s pain. Take full responsibility for the part you played. Avoid general statements (“I’m sorry for whatever I did to hurt you”) or making reservations about the mistake you made. Have the courage to own up to your fault.
I’ll admit, I am a little bit contrarian by nature. If something is popular, trendy, and “hyped up,” I usually resist it. This may be why I don’t have a Facebook account, I refuse to love sushi, I haven’t read the Harry Potter series, I don’t watch American Idol or The Voice, (and I may or may not watch the Bachelor on occasion with my wife).
So, naturally, when all of my colleagues were raving about Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, I was just, plain, not interested: “Mike, you need to read her book.” “Mike, you need to watch her Ted Talk on Shame and Vulnerability.” It was like being told I need to try sushi for the millionth time. “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am!”More