Archives for Communication

Communication

Make Your Divorce a Good One

There's been a rash of celebrity divorce in the last couple of weeks (Gwen Stefani and Reba McIntyre announced yesterday, and Will Smith is denying divorce rumors at the moment but then, so did Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.) It got me thinking. While pain is inevitable at the dissolution of a relationship you once cherished, there are definitely better and worse ways to divorce.

So here are some thoughts on how to make your divorce as healthy as possible, if you find yourself at this difficult crossroads.
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Communication

How to Be a Better Listener

Couples often come in and say, "We need help with our communication," and the presumption is that they need to become better communicators--by which they mean better talkers. But the best thing you can do for your relationship is become a better listener.

Here are some tips for improving your listening with everyone in your life--your partner, friends, colleagues, kids. They'll all benefit, and so will you.
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Adolescents

Fat-Shaming, Skinny-Shaming: What Every Mother Should Know

And it's not bad for dads to read this, either! But Moms, I'm going to be talking to you specifically.

The reason is: In most cases, body shame begins at home. While our culture undoubtedly plays a role in how our children see themselves and their bodies, the first culture any of us experience is our family's.

And when I talk to teen girls in my therapy office who have body, eating, and/or self-esteem issues, what I often hear is that the first role model they ever had--their moms--had some of those issues themselves (though those mothers often believe they've kept them hidden, they tend to eke out in small ways that I'll describe below.) Or those mothers weren't aware of the way judgmental comments they make about others impact their own children.

(Interestingly, I've actually never heard this from a young girl: "My father was always saying he was too fat." There's something cultural in that as well.  But that's for another blog.)

Here are some thoughts on how you can make your family culture a healthy one. It's never too early (or too late) to start.
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Abuse

Eliminating Verbal Abuse Once and for All

Verbal abuse is derogatory language with the intent to humiliate, hurt, and/or undermine.  It robs the other person of their dignity and sense of security.

Mostly, verbal abuse occurs in anger; sometimes it occurs with cold calculation (in which case, the abuser is much more of a threat to another's well-being and that relationship should be terminated immediately.)

I'm going to address the former situation: Where abuse occurs in anger, when self-control is lost, and the person is remorseful afterward.

The tips I'm going to give apply to both the person doing the abusing, and the person being abused, because ending abuse while remaining in the relationship is actually a collaborative effort.
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Adolescents

Our Children: Our Reflection?

I think most parents have had this experience: You're out somewhere and your child (toddler, teenager, anywhere in between) is behaving in a way that you find embarrassing, and that you hope is not reflective of your parenting.  But you feel the shame anyway, and the judgment of others, and you wonder: Is this my fault?  Is my child my reflection?

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Abuse

Saying No to Manipulation

Wikipedia had a great definition of psychological manipulation.  Here it is: "Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics."  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)  I'd add that manipulation always benefits the manipulator, though he or she might  be adept at making you believe otherwise.

Everyone twists things to their own advantage sometimes.  But if you're chronically manipulated by someone in your life, I've got some suggestions for you.
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Anger

How to Fight Fair

In a healthy relationship, fights are going to happen.  (Often, a complete absence of fights is a sign partners have become irrevocably disconnected.)  So the goal isn't to eradicate all fights; it's to make sure you're fighting well.

What I mean is, a good fight is one that's productive: grievances are aired, resentments are released, both parties ultimately feel understood, and the least possible emotional damage was inflicted.  A bad fight is--well, the opposite of that.

If you've been having bad fights, this is a great post to read with your partner.  If you can agree to the ground rules in here (and maybe even put them on the fridge or somewhere you can reference them), that can start turn things around.  So here goes!
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