Posts tagged: Relationships

How to turn empathy into your secret strength


Growing up I was constantly labeled the “good listener.” Being a highly-sensitive person gave me the gift of being able to sense other people’s emotions, often without them saying a word. Over the years I’ve come to realize what a powerful strength empathy can be. Now as a coach and licensed social worker, it’s part of my job description.

 

What is empathy, really?

In a world where life is busy, complex, and filled with stress, empathy is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the ability to detect other’s emotions and understand their perspective. When we feel accepted and validated, it builds trust, heals, and leads to greater happiness.

Empathy isn’t reserved exclusively for our personal lives, either. It’s what you need to comfort a grieving co-worker, get people on board with your ideas, or diffuse tension
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How to escape the Drama Triangle


As everyone knows, conflict is an unavoidable part of any relationship. But do you ever feel like drama follows you everywhere you go? It can be frustrating (and tiring) to be trapped in unnecessary, overblown struggles on a regular basis, be it at work or at home.

But frequently having to deal with sagas doesn’t mean you’re cursed. Nor does it mean you’re weak or doomed to have dysfunctional relationships forever. You’re just caught in the Drama
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How to leave when you know it’s time to go


My first marriage was to someone who turned very quickly from composed, passionate, and loving into someone else. Helplessly, I watched as she struggled with countless and difficult challenges. She always perceived herself as a victim, suffered from low self-esteem, was absolutely terrified of abandonment, lived in constant chaos, and more.

How did I fall in love with and marry her? Aside from her two adorable kids, she had another complicating trait— she is a chameleon, always being who you want her to be. She became the woman I wanted to marry…only, beneath it all, she wasn’t really that someone.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on. But, at the same time, I came to love her two children; I became a father figure to them, which was something that I craved, and I thrived in that role.

Despite these reasons, it still took me three years
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How to negotiate a power struggle at work


Power struggles personify the worst kind of office politics. They sap energy. Distract from purpose. And hold the potential to derail success and happiness.

It’s the rare individual who actually enjoys a power struggle. Most of us want to do what we’re paid for, joke around with our colleagues, and feel like we’ve contributed.

That’s not so easy when emotions are running high. Empathy is replaced with an “us or them” mentality that can quickly escalate. Then we’re stuck either dodging bullets or picking sides. What other choice do we have?

The heart of the struggle

Power often evokes the image of a corner office where people in expensive suits lay down the law for the rest of us. But the reality is, power — and the fight for it — can come from anywhere.

To help us understand workplace struggles, and how to respond to them, we asked our colleague Sara Kalick
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Your enemy, yourself


You can’t stand her. His behavior is galling. Every conversation is a confrontation with that person.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all got along?

But we don’t. Most of us harbor negative emotions toward certain individuals that go beyond run-of-the-mill irritation. Because we’re human — meaning we have different hopes, approaches, and triggers in our lives.

That doesn’t mean, however, those differences are always insurmountable. To the contrary, they could be the foundation for some of our most fascinating relationships. If we temper our animosity enough to see the other person’s value.

If you’re game to make your world a friendlier place, here are four ways to coach yourself.

1. Why bother? Because cookie-cutter opinions only get us so far.

It’s true what C.S. Lewis said, that friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Common ground with another person lets us
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Say no in the best possible way


Do you say yes when you mean to say no?

Maybe you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. You’re afraid no one else will do it (or as well as you will). Or there are so many good options for someone else doing it that you can’t choose between them. That last one is especially true for us Wafflers.

Then the inevitable happens. Right after saying yes — or not saying no — you get overwhelmed, exhausted, stretched too thin. Even more requests pile up, and suddenly you just want to hide.

Though hiding works wonders at curing overwhelm, it shouldn’t be the only way to avoid saying yes to things you really don’t want to do.

Instead, there’s a way to say no without uttering the word, and that, with any luck, makes everyone happier in the process.  

Two things.

First, say thank you. When someone asks you to do something, what they
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How to squeeze your favorite people back into your life


Why do we ignore people who matter the most to us? You know, the friend or cousin or former teammate who really gets us. Who we can say and do anything with. Who we haven’t connected with in a long time.

You might chalk it up to busyness, but it really comes down to bonds. We are comfortably certain that time out of touch will not fray our affection in the long run. And we’re usually right. Part of a superstrong relationship is that we don’t have to constantly nurture it. The love will always be there. And when we do connect, it is soulfully satisfying. And sustaining. Or is it?

For a minute, forget the people you need to please or impress. Forget your pile of responsibilities. Instead, remember those deep connections — both the memories and the vague plans for future connection.

Is it enough, these momentary touches? How much finer
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When old friends feel like a threat to the new you


Alma Bahman on when old friends threaten the new you

In our Reader Stories series, Unstuck readers share personal stories about getting stuck — and unstuck. Here, multimedia journalist Alma Bahman shares a story about confronting old friends who knew the old her she’d tried to leave behind.

I’ve started over many, many times. Moving somewhere new has given me a clean slate on which to reinvent myself. The potential for a better iteration of myself is tantalizing, hopeful. With each move, I shed the old, hide the scars, buff and shine the pretty parts, and try to build a me that’s more me than ever.

Amidst all this change, I’ve managed to keep in touch with three of my best friends from elementary school. Every couple of months, someone will send out a group email asking for updates. We emoji, we catch up, we “ha-ha, I miss you guys!”

Then, last year, they decided to visit me.

These people, who knew the me
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How to use positivity to transform difficult holiday celebrations


The holidays can be tough. Sure, there’s pie and presents and fa la la la la, la la la la. But there are also difficult family dynamics, often left over from years gone by. Those dynamics can lead to upsetting conversations (and on the heels of an vitriolic election season, politics might put extra strain on your relationships). Sometimes, it might even feel like your whole family tripped head-over-heels into a time-traveling vortex as everyone slips into familiar roles: the overbearing parent, the constant screw-up, or the goody-two-shoes, to name a few.

But wait — don’t reach for that third glass of spiked eggnog just yet. There’s hope for this year.
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Getting unstuck from parenting power struggles


parenting struggles

Meghan is the parenting columnist for the Washington Post and a certified parent coach. She is the mother of three daughters and lives with her family in the Washington, DC, area. You can follow her online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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There are so many places to get stuck while parenting: From power struggles to chores, from sassiness to ignoring, there is no shortage of ways and reasons to struggle with children.

Before you can deal with the drama of your children, you must figure out why you are struggling with your children.

Key questions to ask yourself about why you are struggling:

  • Am I having the same struggle over and over about the same topic with my child and expecting different results?
  • Am I angry, resentful, or sad about something from my childhood?
  • Am I always disagreeing about
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