What to Stop Doing if You Want to Be Happy

Stop Signs

Happiness is a journey and a choice. Happiness has been one of my biggest goals for many years. In the most recent years, I have been writing about happiness in this blog and in my books. The topics of my posts may be different but the focus is always on one thing – being happy.

To reach happiness, we need to focus on what we can do to make our life happy, rather than what we need to stop doing in order to avoid being miserable. Aiming forward, towards a better life, is a better journey than running away. Focusing on the good has been my motto for years. I teach my clients to avoid pink elephants, stop talking about the past, about what not to do, and move forward.

In recent years, I realized that there is a group of people that are not able to move forward because there is no space in their minds for good and happiness. They are so consumed by attitudes and behaviors they have formed as habits that they cannot even make that first step. For these people, the first step towards happiness is often stopping the things that make them unhappy. The things that keep them stuck, in the junction of life, miserable and sad, frustrated and angry, feeling like a failure. I want to go over all the things they must stop doing, before they can start moving forward.

Attachment Theory: Insecure Attachment Style

Baby with insecure attachment style

What Causes Insecure Attachment Between Parents and Babies?

The attachment between babies and their parents in those first few years of life becomes the blue print for the child’s future relationships. Insecure attachment style happens when parents cannot give their child the feeling of security that he or she needs. Usually, this happens completely unintentionally.

There are several causes for insecure attachment. Here is a list of reason. Each of them on their own, or in combination can interfere with a healthy bond and secure attachment.

Separation from the primary caregiver – One of the main reasons for this separation is if the baby is sick. Premature or sick babies often stay intensive care, where their main caregiver cannot care for them. This can result in challenges in developing secure attachment. In other cases, sickness in the mother will prevent her from attending to her baby and can result in separation and insecure attachment. Other reasons may include divorce, death of the main caregiver or being given up for adoption.

Inconsistency by the primary caregiver – Having a consistent caregivers is essential to developing healthy and secure attachment. If a child changes caregivers often, either at home (e.g. nannies) or in day care, this may results in feeling insecure. This is one of the biggest reasons why we should aim for consistency in a child’s first year of development.

This post is part 3 of 3 in the series Attachment Theory

How Can Parents with Different Religions Raise Kids Successfully? (Q&A)

The word coexist made of religions symbols - can parents with different religions raise kids successfully?

The question about two parents with different religions or belief systems raising kids has become very relevant in our society today. The world is much more multicultural and there are many mixed couples finding love and wondering about the impact of this on their kids.

My eldest daughter, Eden, is getting married in 2 months to her now-boyfriend, Sandy. Eden and Sandy are a gorgeous couple and we are very happy they found each other. No pressure or anything, but we are also very much looking forward to them having kids. The interesting thing is that Eden and Sandy come from two different cultural backgrounds, different languages and different faiths. Many of our family members and friends have been wondering about the “chance” of such a relationship succeeding and the difficulty in raising kids.

I cannot say exactly what will happen for Sandy and Eden. I am not a fortune teller after all. I am, however, the state director of a not for profit organization that provides education on diversity and advocates for religious and cultural tolerance. I strongly believe in this work.

In some way, Eden and Sandy have more similarities than many other couples do. For example, they are both migrants, both their parents are still together, they both value different cultures, they both speak languages other than English and appreciate others who speak other languages, they are both kind and accepting of others. I think the “chance” of a successful relationship depends not on the number of differences between them but in their ability to appreciate and take advantage of the similarities.

Attachment Theory: Four Attachment Styles

Baby leaning on a guitar

In the first chapter on attachment theory, I explained the four characteristic of attachment: safe haven, separation distress, secure proximity maintenance and safe base. Based on how well the caregiver meets each characteristic, the baby and his/her caregiver will form a different attachment style.

In a famous experient titled the “Stranger situation” psychologists Mary Aninsworth (expanding on work done by Bowlby) observed children between the age of 12 to 18 months. She was interested in their response at being left alone and then reunited with their mothers. The results led her to 3 major attachment styles. In 1986, researches Main and Solomon added a forth attachment style. A number of studies since then have confirmed that the attachment style that developed in a child’s early years of life will determine their future relationships and connections with other human beings for years to come.

The four attachment styles are: secure, ambivalent, avoidant and disorganized.

This post is part 2 of 3 in the series Attachment Theory

From the Life Coaching Deck: The Want Muscle

Not enough

Magda came to see me after 16 years of heartache and pain. She was referred by a client of mine. She had seen psychologists and psychiatrists before, but felt very criticized and had never gone for a second session with any of them.

When I finally got to meet her, I was a bit surprised. She was in her early fifties and looked amazing – almost like a doll. She was tiny and very well presented with beautiful skin.

Yet, during the first 10 minutes of introductions, she managed to say only bad things about herself. The gist of them was that she was not good enough, unworthy and helpless. She said 27 bad things about herself in those 10 minutes. I counted!

This made me very curious about her because at that point we had just met and I knew nothing about her.

Coaching is very much like solving a puzzle. I tried to gather information that would allow me to help Magda in a way that the other therapist could not. As it turns out, Magda was an only child, born to very old parents. Her dad died when she was very young and her mom never had another man in her life.

This post is part 10 of 10 in the series From the Life Coaching Deck

Attachment Theory: Main Characteristics of Attachment

Characteristics of Attachment Theory

The emotional bond between people depends on their ability to connect and the style of the connection. The attachment we have with the people in our lives (partners, children, siblings, friends and even our own parents) are strongly associated with the attachment we formed in our early years of life, with our primary caregiver (usually our parents). Similarly, the challenges we experience in our relationships as adults are shaped by the patterns of challenge from our early attachments.

According to John Bowlby, attachment is the connection a baby forms with its parent to ensure their basic needs of safety, comfort, care and pleasure are met. He described this attachment as “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings”. Bowlby believed that the style of the relationship between the parent (mainly the mother) and the child in this critical period of the baby’s development becomes a blue print for later relationships.

The main idea of attachment theory is that the caregivers provides the baby with a safe and secure base from which to explore the world. The baby knows that it is safe to venture out and explore the world, and that the caregiver will always be there to come back to for comfort in times of stress and discomfort.

This post is part 1 of 3 in the series Attachment Theory

Ronit’s 100 Happy Valentine’s Day Tips

Loving couple on a park bench - take your Valentine

This year, Gal and I are celebrating our 34th Valentine’s Day and we are very proud and happy to be together. We are also sad to look around and see that fewer and fewer couples are able to find happiness and love on this day. Over the last five years, more of my clients experienced relationship breakdowns than ever before. Divorce and separation are very sad and challenging for the couple and for their families.

This week, I received a request from a radio show to share 5 Valentine’s Day tips with their listening couples. This made me think that I have many more tips and the fill list from my relationship tool kit is below.

I highly recommend having such a list for yourself. If you could give other couples advice on how to have a happy relationship, what would you say? Write down your ideas and read them every once in a while (even I have to read my own advice from time to time, especially in tough times).

Does Valentine’s Day Promote Violence?

Valentine

Valentine’s Day is coming soon. My junk mail is full of advertisements for gifts for the Valentine’s Day couple. Just like every year, I am a little disgusted. Valentine’s Day, which is supposedly a day to share and express love for each other, is in fact a day that promotes very specific gender stereotypes – aggressiveness and violence in men, and vanity in women. You might say I am over reacting but I dare you to look at Valentine’s Day ads and see how stereotypical they are. Women are perceived as obsessed with their looks and man are obsessed with anger, violence, sex, aggressiveness and technology.

Since when do women only care about their beauty? It is a sad state of our a society if everyone believes the Valentine’s Day ads that think women are so shallow and dumb that they only care about their looks.

Since when do men only want to be perceived as strong and aggressive? It is a sad state of our a society if everyone believes the Valentine’s Day ads that think men are so shallow, angry, aggressive and childish that they will do anything to make themselves feel “manly”.

From The Life Coaching Deck: Abusive Parenting Cycle

Cow in a meadow

Recently, I wrote a post about parents who justify their bad parenting style by claiming they are better than their own parents. Parenting like this creates a cycle: bad parenting, leads to difficult children, who become bad parents, who raise difficult children, etc. Over the last 28 years, I have dedicated my work to breaking this cycle. To helping kids through helping their parents.

Last week, this topic came up again when I met a 16-year-old girl who came for teen coaching. I sat in front of her for almost 2 hours and was shocked at how mature and aware she was. She was sitting in the same balcony in which I have seen many grownups who did not understand half of the things she did. Last year, I started writing a fictional story about a girl with parent problems and anorexia. In front of me was this most beautiful, good looking girl with a similar story. It amazed me to discover that the story is so much worse when you see it in real life.

She was a 16 year old, living with abusive parents, who believed they were better than their own parents, because unlike them, they did not use physical violence. It surprised me that they sent her for life coaching though. It seemed very contradictory to what a controlling and abusive parent would do. Never-the-less, I asked about her grandparents to get a better picture. Things became crystal clear: they had been abusive parents, who raised abusive kids, who become abusive parents. This cycle would go on and on unless this troubled, 16 year old teen could stop the cycle with her awareness (if she survived the emotional abuse).

This post is part 11 of 10 in the series From the Life Coaching Deck

Justifying our Parenting Style

No justifying

Finding your own parenting style is not easy. Most of us adopt our parents’ parenting style, without regard really thinking about it. We don’t choose our parenting style, but let the style choose us.

We also like to think that we are better at parenting than our own parents. We often don’t notice how we use the exact same parenting styles we hated in them. To our credit, we sometimes manage to make small changes and this makes us think that we are better than them. We can do something they couldn’t. We think that the harder it was to make the changes, the better we are. This is not always true. In fact, the damage from our choices can be as bad for our own children as it was for us (or even worse).

This is a very hard concept for parents to understand. Kids see things completely differently. If your dad beat you with a belt or hot iron and you only use your hands to beat your own children, it is not very effective to tell your kids that you had it worse and that you are better than your own dad. When you hurt your kids, they can’t really be all “Pollyanna” about it (Pollyanna was a girl who always found the positive side of everything).

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