My novel, Don’t Try to Find Me, comes out in July. Between now and then, I’m going to need to make plenty of good first impressions. And it got me thinking how that’s not so different from job interviews, or meeting an online date, or a party full of strangers–any place, any time, where you really want to control what people think about you.
Paradoxically, that desire to control is where we often get into trouble. Managing social anxiety and expectations is important, which is why I’m tackling this subject in a mental health blog.
Here are some things that might be helpful to keep in mind as you enter any situation that feels high stakes.
Sometimes you find yourself reacting strongly to relatively minor events. It happens to everyone. But if it’s happening to you with more regularity, there could be something more behind it.
Here are some potential culprits:
When you first meet someone, compromise is effortless. It’s a six week (or maybe three month) Vulcan mind meld. But fast forward a few years, you’re living together, maybe you’re married, and you realize that compromise might not be romantic, but it is necessary.
So in honor of this day of love, I figured I’d offer some tips on the art and science of compromise.
1) Accept that compromise is a healthy part of relationships.
Some people think that disagreement is, by its nature, problematic. I think that being with someone who often has differences of opinion can be invigorating. Things don’t get stale when they stay surprising.
But if you are very different from your partner–even if you started out similar and then grew to be different–then you’ve got some work to do. Having a positive view about doing that work, recognizing its potential rewards, can help a lot.
2) Do it together.
As in, one person should not be giving in all the time. That is not compromise. And if you find that you’re the one always giving in, it’s likely to breed resentment over time.
So it’s important that both parties recognize the value of compromise and negotiation, and that it is a joint undertaking. Verbalize this: “We really need to work on how we settle disagreements. We need to get better at compromising.”
3) If the word “negotiation” strikes fear into your heart, you might need to work on your own assertiveness skills first.
Some people grew up in houses where disagreements meant conflict, and there were no negotiations. Or maybe “negotiation” meant outright war. Or “negotiation” conjures thoughts of asking your boss for a raise.
But negotiation is a key part of how to reach compromise. It involves knowing yourself and why you value the things that you do.
4) Once you know what you want and why you want it, articulate that in a way that’s respectful of your partner.
Yes, I’m talking about I-statements. It may seem cliched, but they are important. They’re a way of owning your own feelings and not putting them onto the other person in a blaming way.
Many parents can see their teens floundering, but aren’t sure what to do about it. They might overdo and become intrusive (which causes their children to want to push them away) or underdo (not say anything and just hope the problem goes away.)
I’ve got some suggestions about how to walk the middle ground and emotionally connect with your teenager.
Many of us take our primary relationships for granted. But every now and again, it’s time to assess just how we’re doing as friends, lovers, co-parents, and all-around partners. Here’s a quick check-up/check-in that you can do on your own, or even better, with your partner. That way, you can see how your answers (and your experiences) match up.
When people feel they’re being attacked, their natural stance is to defend. But what if your partner finds any feedback or criticism to be an attack? How do you communicate? Here are some tips:
The new year is always a great time for self-reflection. So I thought I’d post about some general parenting tenets. These are, of course, subjective, in that my aspirations as a parent might be different from yours. But it might provide a jumping off point for you to consider your own goals.
Yes, it can be the most wonderful time of the year. It can also be the most stressful. With stress can come irritability, and it can mean conflict with your partner just when you need his or her love and support the most.
I’ve got some ideas for how to pull out of this damaging cycle, so you can enjoy each other and the holidays.
I think of this as something of a companion post to one from a week ago. Hopefully, taken together, they can help you get closer to your teenager.
Parenting in general is anxiety-provoking. But there’s a particularly intense anxiety to parenting a teenager. And I’ve noticed in my practice that one of the things parents often do in response to that anxiety is try to seize more control over their teenagers’ behavior. Here’s why that strategy doesn’t tend to work out so well, and an alternate way to respond.
Most adult friendships end not with a bang, but with a whimper. They peter out through unreturned messages or promises that “we’ll get together soon.” And sometimes that’s because the relationships have simply run their course. But sometimes, it’s a sign that we haven’t been attending to them. People might not come out and say they’re feeling neglected, or that their feelings are hurt; they might just disappear from your life.
All relationships require care. The common comparison to plants is apt: Relationships, too, need their own version of sun, water, and food.
So how do you keep your friends?