Category Archives: Relationships

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How to Stop People Pleasing

A mentor of mine recently shared part of a conversation she had with her daughter in which the question, “what is the opposite of disappointed” was posed. After thinking about it for a few moments she responded, “The opposite of disappointed is appointed.” While Merriam-Webster may disagree with this assessment of the word, it left quite an impression. I cannot tell you the number of times I have made decisions (or not made them) solely to avoid potentially disappointing others. I can’t leave this job, say no to that event, go on the trip, end a relationship, because doing so

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The Responsibility of Connection

by Kathryn Defatta  A couple of years ago, I bought a beta fish. I’d bought it on a whim one day because I really wanted a pet. At the time, I was living with three dogs — none of which were mine. I saw the love and affection my roommates had for their dogs, and there was a growing part of me that wanted to have my own animal child. However, I was not naive about how much time, effort, and responsibility went into taking care and raising their dogs. I thought a fish might be a nice compromise and

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Dealing with Difficult People

While a bear from the wild may be captured to live in a zoo or trained to ride a bike in the circus, for the most part, wild bears do what wild bears do.   Several years ago, while trying to emphasize a point about how to deal with difficult people, I began to pick on bears. I could have easily picked on some other animal, but bears are an easy target. We’ve all heard horrible stories here and there about a bear somewhere attacking an innocent hiker. More frequently, we hear stories of a bear entering a campground and

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The Genius in Not Being Normal

“There is no great genius without some touch of madness.” - Seneca  The more normal you try to be (or the more like others you try to parrot) the less of you we will see. You move away from your personal genius when you strive to be normal, to not have to risk your neck with some dream, idea, or stroke of genius. But “normal” is depressing. Normal is the path of no resistance. Not least resistance, no resistance. Yet more and more people are looking for the supposed feel-good nature of being “normal.” We let others define what normal

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What Makes a Good Listener

There are three basic components of every good listener: 1. Good listeners know, and act on, their limitations.   Knowing our limitations is the work of learning our own stories and the makeup of who we are. When we know ourselves, we can plan around and sometimes prevent situations from occurring that will hurt, trigger, or harm someone we care about. 2. Good listeners ask plenty of questions. The basis for every relationship is built on the foundation of curiosity. If we are not curious people, we will not get to know them. Asking questions is a simple way to

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Creating A Space For Your Dreams

by Kate Hughes It was the last Saturday in May — the sun was setting on Regent Drive , and people were beginning to trickle into our home. Kelsey and I had spent the afternoon trying to wrap lights around the trunk of the the oak in our backyard “like Pinterest.” It didn’t turn out the same as the picture (because it never does), but it was perfect. I had been envisioning this night, where I would host the people that I love most in the world to celebrate both the ending of this season and beginning of a new

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Love is a Choice: The Fear of Losing the Other

I'm afraid I'll lose him or her  can be one of the most powerful motivators in a relationship. There are many stories that shape the foundation of this fear, but regardless of it's origin, the way we behave out of this fear will either result in bondage or freedom. If we're honest, we all have fears about doing or not doing something that will bring an end to an important relationship. This fear may not be consciously present for both partners, but it's in there. There are two ways we typically react to this fear. The first, which is a

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Celebrations

We have all seen the movie where the protagonist is a totally self-absorbed character—praised and rewarded by the adoring public for some remarkable talent or gift that has lost its meaning to him (think Tony Stark from Ironman). He or she has cabinets and closets full of awards, and the next one is simply tossed aside like an old candy wrapper. On the outside they have it all, but on the inside they’re thinking, “Is that all there is? I’ve gotten all the praise, wealth, and power that I have always sought and I still feel empty.” Similarly, some of

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9 Words to Prevent Relationship Wars

A couple recently asked me a question about fighting: “We’ve been together for almost two years and have not had a fight. What do you think about this?” My response was two-fold. First, what is your definition of a fight? Some of us think of a fight as yelling, screaming, throwing things, etc. A fight for others might be stonewalling, silent punishment, or ignoring the other person. The second part of my answer is that someone, most likely both of them, is lying. Maybe not overtly lying about something, but not fully telling the truth about where they’ve been hurt in the

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Wrestling with Hope

Written by Stephen James, MMFT, LPC-MHSP and Tennyson Dodd, MTS  Sage Hill Counseling has a latin phrase as its motto; Dum Spiro Spero. Translated it means, “While there is breath, there is hope.” When people first encounter this they often comment about how positive it makes them feel. Many imagine hope to be a profound feeling that things will work out for the best. When we really consider this phrase in connection to our everyday life, however, we run into something much deeper. For many of us, Hope is the biggest problem in our lives, not pain. The future is where the

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