Posts Tagged ‘happiness’
In the last chapters of “Save Your Marriage”, I explained how some parenting styles can “breed” kids who clam up and withdraw into their shells. This communication style can be very devastating for them in their future relationships and marriage. In this chapter of the series, I will explain how parents who abuse or bully, like the “king/queen” or the nitpicker, can raise kids who are constantly on guard. These kids try to protect themselves from pain and heartache and by that, they invite bullies and conflicts into their lives.
Growing up in a household where you feel constantly attacked and ridiculed, where one or both of your parents make you feel small and helpless, where you have no support and protection, where one or both of your parents nitpick, criticize, complain, are never satisfied and often angry, can make children alert and hypersensitive to any small signs that someone is going to hurt them.
This is actually a very natural reaction, in an attempt to protect themselves. But when taken into adulthood, into relationships or marriage, it can be very damaging. There is a phrase, the best defense is offense. These kids adopt this philosophy because they were attacked a lot. As a result, they sometimes see an attack when there is none. They are very sensitive to criticism and their emotional state is “I am not OK, You’re not OK” (see series I’m OK, You’re OK Parenting for tips on emotional intelligence).
Kindness matters. If you look around, it is easy to see that everyone struggles. The world is a battle field and we are in a constant state of war.
If you watch the news for five minutes, you risk believing that the world is a dangerous place. Countries fight other countries, cultures fight other cultures, people fight in the name of God and in the name of their religion, people fight their neighbors, and their spouses. They fight their friends and their children. At work, they fight the boss or their colleagues. Even if they don’t fight for survival, they fight for justice or for love. If the fight is not with others, they fight time, weight, aging.
There is no end to the struggles. No wonder life seems so exhausting. I believe the source of all the struggles is the fight with our fears.
A fight, no matter what the cause is, is still a fight. It is like a war between two, even if the two are inside of us. I have learned a very good rule in life: In war, there are no winners. Some lose more while others lose less. In any case, there are only losers. So, if we fight, no matter who and what, we always lose.
Love is important and it takes up lot of our energy. We want to love and be loved in return. I think of love as a battery. When we have love, we feel powerful, energetic, optimistic, creative and motivated. It drives us forward and it is addictive. Yes, addictive. Once you feel love, you are not the same person anymore.
I realized all this about love when Eden, my eldest, was born over 25 years ago. With her, new feelings were born inside of me and there was nothing that could take those feelings away.
Before Eden was born, my first nephew, Adam was the first kid I ever loved. And I loved him so much (and still do) that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to love my own child as much as I loved him.
When Eden was born, I was glad to discover that there is no limit to love. I loved Eden so much and my love for Adam did not change one single bit. But at that point, I realized that we bring kids into the world to learn to love ourselves. Our own kids teach us so much about ourselves and we should appreciate that.
Self-esteem is something that functions like fuel to the body. If we have high self-esteem, the ride is better in many ways. We move forward more smoothly, we have fewer problems and we get to our destination faster.
Everyone has some level of confidence in life. It is just that some people have more than others and they seem to go through life with much more success and happiness. People with high self-esteem have fewer doubts and they don’t blame their “ride” every time things don’t happen the way they want them to be.
Let’s face it, we can’t always get what we expect 100% of the time. If we could, we would be able to predict what will happen in the future (I don’t know if this is a better way to experience life but let’s leave this dilemma for another post). What we can do is make sure our beliefs set us on a very easy, smooth (as much as possible), happy and successful ride. If it can get us forward faster, all the better.
This blog is full of many beliefs about living life with confidence. I have written about ways to instill confidence in our children as parents or teachers. The list of affirmations that promote high self-esteem is endless. If I tried to write a list of them all, I would find myself spending years and never reaching the end of the list. There are millions of thoughts or combinations of thoughts that support high self-esteem and boost confidence. Notice these in yourself and in the world around you. Start collecting them and learning how to adopt them.
Relationships and the way we connect with others are very important and essential to our happiness and success in life. Research shows that people who are in good relationships are healthier, happier and they live longer. So, good relationships are the best prescription for a long life. I would take two prescriptions of that kind of medication.
We learn about relationships from the people closest to us – usually, our parents, later on our siblings and much later, from friends. If they model good relationships, we copy them. If the model bad relationships, we model that as well. Why? Because as kids we don’t have any way of filtering bad examples. It is only as we grow that we start developing critical thinking, and we start noticing that relationships at our house are different to other houses. Often times, that can make us frustrated because we don’t have the skills to make things change.
I once worked with a woman who was 37 years old. She had so many partners and no stable relationships. We checked her beliefs and found the source of the problem. We discovered that the origin of it was from her dad leaving her mom and her siblings when she was about 10 years old. He left to be with another women and she adopted a belief that “all man are assholes” (I am quoting). As a result, she did not trust men. With a belief like that, it is hard and even impossible to find a relationship, not to mention keep it.
I have written a lot about affirmations in this blog, mainly because I believe they are very important for our health and wellbeing. You can sit down with a person for 10 minutes and tell if his/she is a happy, successful, healthy person by the sentences they repeatedly say.
Do you know why? Because those things they repeatedly say are part of their beliefs about themselves and the world around them. The way we experience the world depends a lot on how we tune our minds.
Let me give you a good metaphor. Think of the beliefs in your head as colored glasses. If you put pink glasses on, you will see the world in pink. If you put blue glasses on, you will see the world in blue. If you have black glass on, well, you won’t see anything because they block out the light.
Most people dedicate a lot of their energy to changing the world around them, when the greatest and easiest impact would come from just changing their glasses, or in our case, our beliefs about the world inside and outside of us. It is true that not everything can be changed by changing our glasses, but changing our beliefs have a tendency to snowball, for better and for worse. If we make small adjustments in our belief systems, it will lead to exponential change because our beliefs are highly interconnected.
Expressing feelings in a relationship is very important. Feelings are at the heart of every marriage. We get married because we love and have strong and positive feelings towards someone, and we choose to spend our lives and have children with him or her.
As long as we express those happy and wonderful feelings towards our partners, the more happy our relationship with them will be. Problems start when we express those not-so-happy feelings and this can easily get out of control.
Many of my relationship-coaching clients confuse between thoughts and feelings. They learned that expressing feelings was important so they added the phrase “I feel” into their communication. Unfortunately, instead of expressing feelings, they disguised thoughts as feelings.
Imagine your communication with your partner as a ball game. You can throw the ball in a way that your partner will catch or you can throw the ball in a way that will probably hurt them. One of these is called communication and is a constructive way to create a happy marriage. The other is called “the blame game” or painful communication and it contributes to struggles in a marriage. No one wants to play a ball game if they need to protect themselves from getting hurt.
This week Gal and I celebrate 34 years together, including many years of good marriage. To celebrate, we decided to go on a trip to Thailand. The photo above is of us at the top of one of the most beautiful places in the world – Ang Tong National Park in Ko Samui. This trip was one of the first times in the last 25 years that we took 2 weeks off. It was the first time since we became parents that we took time away from work and kids, and went away on a vacation. It was wonderful.
The question that we often get, after 34 years together, is “How did you do that?”. The answer I have in mind is, “one day at a time”. 34 years, each with 365 days of love, challenges, excitements, disappointments, happiness, anger, joy and frustration. It had both its ups and its downs. I guess we need the sun and the rain in order to appreciate the rainbow. Our love to each other has changed, for the better.
One of my clients, who has been married for 2 years, talked about married life being boring. She asked me if being married to the same guy for that long is not boring. I told her that I can say many things about my relationship with gal, but it is far, far from being boring. So she asked me about my tips and I came up with my own ten commandments of marriage.
In the last chapter of save your marriage, I explained how a “king/queen” mentality can impact even the most wonderful of relationships. Over time, kings only strengthen their position of feeling superior, which can drive any “servant” out of the relationship.
In this chapter, I will talk about the king’s cousin, the nitpicker.
In a similar way to the king who adopts his mentality from his upbringing, the nitpicker adopts his habits from his parents. Growing up with a parent who is a nitpicker starts a pattern that children carry on into adulthood. Depending on their emotional state, kids will choose to either adopt or totally reject this mentality. They will either be like their parents or avoid their company and adopt a completely new way to communicate. This is not a conscious decision. Most people are not even aware that they do it. That is why external help is necessary if you want to change from a nitpicking communicating style.
After coaching so many parents, and raising my own kids, I have accumulated many essential parenting tips that I want to share with you. I hope you find them useful.
Take care of your happiness first. Just like they tell you on a plane, you should put the oxygen mask on your own face before helping your kids. If you want to raise happy kids, you must take care of your own happiness first. If you do not have oxygen, you are no good to your kids. Happy Parents Raise Happy Kids.
Be positive. It is very easy to notice what your kids are doing wrong but harder to pay attention to the great things they are doing. Parents tend to take the good things for granted. In life, you get what you focus on and parenting is exactly the same. If you focus on good thing, you will have more of them. If you focus on problems, conflicts, difficulties, bad manners, you will have more of them. If you notice your child doing something good, say it! Praise kids for being kind, congratulate them for making an effort, acknowledge their kindness and you will see more of it.