Thursday, May 20, 2010

Start Your Day Off Right!

This morning I saw this video on Facebook and it was just what I needed to start my day off right! I have had a crazy month of activity including a HUGE garage sale, several miscellaneous appointments, birthday parties, goodbye parties, school recitals, and more! I was starting to feel like life was just taking over.

I was also starting to feel like everyone else seems to do life better than me. Do you ever get in that mode where you begin to compare yourself to those around you? I should know better, that kind of thinking never puts me in a good mood. The problem is, there is always going to be someone that does something better than me. Like, there has to be a million women out there who are skinnier than me, and managed to lose more than 10 FREAKIN pounds over the course of 9 months! There has to be a million women who have a cleaner house than me (who am I kidding, 2 million!). Surely there are at least a million people that blog better than I do. There are better parents than me, better wives than me, better sisters than me, better cooks than me, and the list could go on and on and on forever!

But then I saw this video. And today I'm going to take instruction from a little girl with a big idea. "Out of the mouth of babes..." right? Well I hope you can follow my lead today (or rather Jessica's lead). Drop the negative self-dialogue, drop the comparisons, and just repeat after Jessica..."I can do anything good, I like my hair, I like my body, I like my husband, I like my kids, I like my house, my whole house is great, I can do anything yeah yeah yeah yeah..."

Friday, May 14, 2010

What is Holding You Back in Life? Part II:

Fourth Killer Constraint: The Critic (Too Demanding, Nitpicky, or Harsh)

Critics tend to be very intelligent, and at the heart of their nature, I believe they are the world’s problem solvers. They see the flaws of this world and they have the answer. However, they could really work on their delivery and their attitude. No one enjoys constant criticism (even if you add the word “constructive” to it). Critics tend to focus on the flaws, so the flaws become so big in their mind that they can’t see anything else. Critics don’t take time to smell the roses, they just complain about the thorns. Critics can also be very judgmental, and they love building cases against people or organizations. Critics can be near impossible to live with and they often times end up isolated and alone.

One of the most important things for a Critic to learn is restraint. Critics need to earn the right to give input and opinion, especially if it is a negative one. I came across this article about how the brain process negative information vs. positive information and found this quote to be very interesting: “How many positives are needed to offset one negative? At least two-to-one, experts say. Researchers have concluded that when applying this formula to our most intimate relationships, the ratio of positives must be even higher. Among those researchers is psychologist Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington. Gottman says the formula should be five-to-one for married couples.” Here is the link if you would like to read the entire article:

Critics would be wise to keep that ratio in mind, two-to-one in normal relationships, five-to-one in intimate relationships. Flip says that children who have critics as parents are “destined to have a fear of failure.” (pg. 92)

How do you deal with a critic? Validation is extremely important to a Critic. Telling them they make good points and communicating to them that you will take their advice into consideration will greatly reduce their anxiety, and it will model for them how to interact with others in a positive fashion.

Try not to take it personally when a Critic comes at you with all of their opinions. It’s not really about you, it’s about the way they see the world. If you are feeling overwhelmed, tell them. And ask them if they could point out the positives along with the negatives.

Fifth Killer Constraint: Icebergs (Low Nurturing)

Icebergs are the world’s highest achievers. They are independent trail-blazers that work best alone, and they have little or no value for other people. It’s not that they don’t love others, it’s that generally they don’t need others. I believe Icebergs were born to run ahead of the crowd in order to discover new things. Their nature is to do it alone. But because of this, they can seem very cold, distant, unloving and devoid of affection. Icebergs usually don’t say out-loud what they are feeling or thinking inside. So they may feel very passionate about someone or something, but they don’t remember to express it. This in turn makes the people around them feel shut out. Icebergs think logically not emotionally. Flip says “They can be distant, demanding parents, and they make tough, detached bosses.” (pg. 97)

My oldest son, Nick tested very high on the Iceberg scale. I’ve been working with him to develop this constraint at a young age, because I know if I left it and didn’t address it, it could really hold him back in life. One thing I’ve done is constantly stressed to him that right now he doesn’t feel like he “needs” his brothers, but one day he will. One day they will be his best friends and they will share their ups and downs of life, and be there for each other like no one else will. I told him one day, “Nick, you don’t even like sleeping alone so you need your brothers just to sleep at night.” He thought about it and said very non-emotionally “Well, I only need one of them to sleep at night.” Hehe, let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Icebergs need to change the way they see others. They need to see that people all around them have true value. Not because of what they can do for you, but because of who they are. Training themselves to outwardly show value and affection for people will make them much more approachable.

How do you deal with Icebergs? It is best to be direct. Asking questions like, “do you love me, do you like what I did, are you mad at me?” will work well with them. Think of them as a well of information that you have to patiently draw from. And remember, they are not purposely withholding information. It is just not natural for them to offer it up. Be prepared for them to accuse you of being needy. It’s not you, it’s them.

Sixth Killer Constraint: Flatliners (Low Passion, Vision or Drive)

Flatliners struggle with accomplishing anything. They are very indecisive and they often times float through life trying to find where they fit in. They have a hard time identifying what they are good at and feel like they don’t know themselves very well. Many times they are able to maintain a lifestyle like this because somewhere someone is supporting them (usually enabling parents, sometimes an enabling spouse). Passivity can be devastating. Flip states that research has found that passion and drive are learned behavioral traits. But once you pass the age of 30, it is extremely difficult to develop those two things.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “If you do what you love and are passionate about, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Flatliners really need to find something that brings them joy, and then pour their energy into that thing. Flatliners also need to get rid of excuses they have been using their whole lives, show up early and push themselves harder.

Without Flatliners in the world everyone would be super uptight. It’s ok to appreciate easy-going laid-back personalities. To motivate them though, offer small rewards for completed tasks or goals. Baby steps are the key for Flatliners. Small successes will build their confidence and soon they will have large successes.

Next blog: Bulldozers, Turtles, Volcanos, and Quick Draws.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is Holding You Back in Life?

The Flipside part one:

Most people are so busy they don’t have time to read books. I’m in a unique position where I do have time to read and then have time to blog about it and give you all the cliff notes!

One of my favorite books is called “The Flipside – Breaking Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back” by Flip Flippen, (yes that is his real name). Flip is an internationally renowned speaker and psychotherapist. He really is amazing at understanding people, personalities and constraints that hold us all back. He has written this fantastic book about how to identify what your constraints are, and how to work on them so they are not the things holding you back in life anymore. Let’s dive right in as I give you the condensed version:

There is a list of the top ten killer constraints that Flip has composed. I will break the blog up into three parts to give each one of the constraints adequate coverage. In the book there are tests you can take to determine which one you are, so I highly recommend buying the book for that feature.

First Killer Constraint: Bulletproof (Overconfident)

Bulletproof people don’t question themselves. They move onward without any doubts, positive they are right. They can be arrogant and stubborn. It wouldn’t be so bad if their mistakes only affected them, but it never works out that way. Everyone around them ends up paying a price for their lack of wisdom. Flip says, “One of the greatest indicators of whether overconfidence is a constraint is a person’s ability to openly listen to other’s input. Once you quit listening to others the only voice you have left is your own.” (pg. 54)

One of my strongest core values is self-development, and maintaining a teachable spirit. I never want to be that person who is clueless as to how everyone around me perceives me, vs. how I perceive myself. So, I invite input into my life, from trusted friends who will tell me the truth. I never want my own voice to be the only one left. Do you?

How do you deal with Bulletproof people? Flip suggests going through the back door. Try to present things to them as if it were their idea, and make sure they feel as if it is their decision. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you point out where you agree with them, and then what you may add to that. Avoid direct confrontation and resistance, as it will usually only cause them to want to move forward with their own ideas even more. Bulletproof people are stubborn and strong willed but that doesn’t mean they are mean or malicious; “they just need help sometimes in initially embracing a different perspective.” (pg. 59)

Second Killer Constraint: Ostriches (Low Self-Confidence)

Ostriches are kind and gentle, but also nervous and frail. They have a hard time getting people to take them seriously, and they are extremely indecisive. Ostriches can also be true to their nature (sticking their head in the sand) when problems or conflict arise. You may have guessed that confrontation scares them to death and they will avoid it at all costs. Ostriches don’t want to be at the back of the line, but they will allow themselves to be pushed back there, and then very rarely do what it takes to move forward again.

The first step in developing this constraint is to change your self-dialogue. Stop being so hard on yourself! Start speaking positive things over yourself, and start believing in yourself. Each time you are successful in something, stay in that moment for a while. Soak it in. When you fail, pick yourself up dust yourself off and move forward.

How do you deal with an Ostrich? Be gentle in your approach. Remember they will hear a lot more negativity in what you say than you ever intended. Go above and beyond to point out the positive. Again, asking a lot of questions will help them open up to you. Ostriches need a lot of praise and affirmation. They will blossom under high praise. Invite them to give feedback, as they will rarely volunteer.

Third Killer Constraint: Marshmallows (Over Nurturing)

Marshmallows are givers and doers. They put everyone else first and they never say “no”. Marshmallows were usually taught at a young age that it is not ok to have boundaries. Sometimes this lesson can come from a well-meaning but too controlling parent. And sometimes, unfortunately, it can stem from having lived in an abusive environment. Either way it is learned behavior from a young age and it is difficult (but not impossible) to retrain yourself. Marshmallows tend to not have strong opinions in life and they also play the role of the martyr well. They seem like the most unselfish people to be around. But the truth is they are very self-centered in their thinking. They always do for others, but it can be for the wrong reasons. They can do it for love, they can do it for acceptance and they can do it to avoid rejection.

The first step in developing this constraint is learning how to take care of you first, instead of trying to get your needs met by taking care of others. Flip gives the example of the oxygen mask in an airplane. Remember what they say? Put yours on first so you can help the one sitting next to you more effectively. You are no help to those around you if you are passed out! Another thing you will have to develop is the ability to say no, and to set boundaries. I recommend the book “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Learn how to let other people carry the “weight” of their decisions by not bailing them out when they mess up. Let those around you start taking responsibility for themselves. This will be difficult at first, but it’s worth it. You will command more respect and honor by moving forward with these goals.

How do you deal with a Marshmallow? I have a story that I think best describes how to deal with this over-nurturing constraint. I had a friend a couple years back who was killing herself at her job. It was sucking all the life out of her and it was really affecting her mood, her family and her relationships. We (friends and family) all wanted her to quit so badly, but she felt an obligation to stay and be committed (even though it was draining her so much). So I sat her down and said “Shannon, I really admire how much you care for others. You are so loyal, and so reliable, and so giving. But lately I am really concerned for you. This job seems to take everything out of you and I’ve really noticed a change in your countenance. I wish you would point all of that affection and commitment and nurturing back towards us again. We miss you and that job should not get the best of you, your friends and family should. Will you please consider coming back to us?” (Affirm their caring ways, show them you have value for that, and let them know what you are feeling and what you need).

I’ve also noticed that Marshmallows are slow to give feedback or voice any needs. Asking them often what they need and how they prefer things is important. They have trained themselves to only focus on other’s needs for so long they may not even know what they want/need anymore. But continue to gently press them, they will learn how to articulate it over time.

If you’re a Marshmallow, start thinking “I will work from love and not for love.” You will do for others out of the overflow of the love that comes when two people are connected and feel safe with each other.

For my next blog we will cover the Critic, the Iceberg and the Flatliner.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The 4 Main Motivations in Life - Which One Are YOU?

I am extremely passionate about studying relationships, and studying different personality profiles. What I want to talk about today is one of the most helpful concepts I've ever come across. What is it in life that motivates people? If we know what motivates us, we will know how to be successful, and how to live the best life possible. I hope as you read you will really identify with one or more of these main motivations. I think you will also really understand the people around you better, and it will help you to see life through a different lens, a sharper lens.

There are four primary things that motivate people in life. I will begin by explaining the first one, Significance.

People who are primarily motivated by Significance have a deep desire to have a significant impact on the world around them in this lifetime. Significance people are dreamers. They long to see change in culture, government, religion, and many other realms. These are people of action, they are not afraid of laying down their life for “the cause.” People who are motivated by significance often do well with mission-oriented seasons and they are forever setting goals for themselves. They feel restless much of the time, and they always wonder if they are doing enough.

The downside of being primarily motivated by Significance is you will sometimes sacrifice relationships in order to change the world. Sometimes you run so far ahead and build the most amazing organization ever, and when it’s all said and done you lose your family because you forgot to make time for them. Significance people may also struggle with timing. We all have seasons in life to walk through, and the person motivated by significance might begin to feel resentful in their season of insignificance. But many times it’s in that hidden place that Significance people will be developed and strengthened, stretched and challenged. That season should be embraced and cherished for the Significance person because you want your failures to be dealt with in the secret place, and you want your successes to be public.

If you are primarily motivated by Significance, don’t be afraid of insignificance. It is what you’ll have to learn to surrender to before you can be unleashed onto the world. Remember that your life is not about arriving at your destination, it is the entire journey that defines us. Don’t forget people in your life that are on this journey with you. No matter how important you become and no matter how noble your work is, your family is the most important thing in your life. Don’t be one of those people who built something amazing and then had no one to share it with.

The second primary motivation is Connection. People who are motivated by connection are moved by relationships. If there is a relationship in their life that is out of sorts or disconnected, it will be the only thing that person thinks about until it is fixed or resolved. A Connection person is very community oriented. They love people, they love family, they love friends, and they love to share their life with those around them. Connection people are not motivated by success or money or fame or anything else that may be offered to them if it would cost them a relationship with someone they cared about. Connection people do not do well with isolation. They have many close friends and it would be difficult for them to choose one favorite.

The downside of being motivated by Connection is sometimes they fall into the trap of being people pleasers. They tend to not take strong stands on issues because they are afraid it would cost them a friendship or a connection with someone they love. Sometimes Connection people don’t develop a strong individual identity because they have never spent time alone, time that would allow them to figure out who they are. Connection people can be codependent and lean too much on others.

If you are a Connection person, don’t be afraid of some alone time. Don’t be afraid to test some of your connections with confrontation. Many times if a confrontation ends a friendship, it wasn’t a very real friendship to begin with. Remember that quantity of friendships don’t always equal quality of friendships.

The third primary motivation is Certainty. People who are motivated by Certainty are planners and they like to feel very secure about their future. Certainty people are not fond of surprises, and they are not thrill seekers. They enjoy charts and spreadsheets, stability and consistency. The world would be a very chaotic place without Certainty people! They have their feet firmly planted and they know where they are going. They enjoy safe, thought-out responsible plans and strategies. They are not big risk-takers and they don’t enjoy spontaneity.

The downside of being motivated by Certainty is many times they can become the “Debbie Downers” of a group. They have to always be the “No” person. Certainty people can get stuck in ruts, they can be resistant to change (not all change is bad). And they can be controlled by fear. Remember, with great risk can come great reward. If they never step out and try something new, they don’t grow.

If you are a Certainty person, you will probably have to learn how to let go in life. You will have to learn how to take risks and be ok with adventure every now and then. You will have to find ways to give up control, and believe in something bigger than yourself. You will also probably have to learn how to be more understanding with those who are not like you, less judgemental and more accepting. You will have to learn how to embrace living by the seat of your pants at least once in life. And it will be good for you!

Last but not least, we have the category of those who are motivated by Uncertainty. These people have a zest for life and they are major adrenaline junkies. They love adventure! They wake up every morning with excitement of the unknown and they are not afraid to wing-it. Uncertainty people are so much fun and they add color to life. Without them, the world would be a very boring place. Uncertainty people can often achieve some of the greatest things in life because they put all their chips to the middle of the table, made their bet and WON! They can also suffer some of the greatest losses in life because they are so all-or-nothing. Uncertainty people feel suffocated by schedules, and they feel drained of inspiration when they have to plan things out. They are very emotional and they are easily swayed by their moods. Uncertainty people have the ability to forgive quickly and let the past be behind them. They don’t hold onto grudges and they love freedom more than anything else in this world.

The downside of being motivated by Uncertainty is life can be very unpredictable for the person who loves Uncertainty and for everyone around them. Life for those who love Uncertainty people can be like a roller coaster, major highs and major lows, fun and scary all at the same time. The ironic thing is is that many Uncertaintys end up marrying Certaintys. Go figure!

If you are motivated by Uncertainty, don’t be afraid of structure. I personally think Uncertainty people who have done the work to ground themselves and anchor themselves into someone/something solid have the capability of being the most dynamic and successful people in the world. As fun as you are, you will need to realize that your way of life scares the ever-living crap out of some people. So you will need to learn balance. Don’t ever lose your edge, don’t ever try to be something you’re not, but learn how to be responsible with people’s hearts. Learn that some things are not worth risking, and learn how to have value for the daily grind.

You may find as you read all four that more than one applied to you. That is typical. Most of us have our primary motivation and then our secondary motivation. You may have guessed mine, but if not I’ll tell you. I’m a Significance-Connection person. Before I had a family I was ALL significance. But now I feel the pull of putting people before ideas and plans. I will change the world someday, but I won’t do it without them (my fam). And right now, I’m enjoying the whole journey; dirty diapers, laundry, tears, smiles, laughter, all of it - the whole enchildada!

This concept was originated by Lance Wallnau, one of my favorite teachers on the planet. You can learn more from him at

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Understanding Pornography Addictions

For some reason, I woke up this morning with this subject on my heart. Maybe someone out there is struggling with this issue right now, and what I have to say will bring some calm to the storm.

Primarily I am going to be talking about the relationship men have with pornography (women have issues with it too, but that won’t be the focus of this blog). I want to give you the back-story and the underlying reasons why it is such a huge problem. Sometimes when you understand why people do what they do, your anxiety goes down. Because when we understand why things happen, we can fix the root cause or root issue. It makes you feel powerful to know more, because when you know better, you do better. I’m going to be framing this within the context of marriage in order to keep my explanations and advice condensed for the purpose of this blog.

I want to start with how it is supposed to be. In order for a man to gain full access to view a woman sexually, there was a natural process put in place. He is supposed to build relationship over time, bringing strength to her, making her feel safe and loved. He is supposed to be developing intimacy and trust, love and commitment. All of this builds toward being intimate physically. The ultimate act of moving towards a woman sexually is to make a life long commitment. In that context, the woman feels fully protected, fully loved, fully covered, and she is ready to “bear all”. It is in that place that man is supposed to have full access to his woman.

It is the most empowering feeling out there, to know you have done the work, made the effort, built something that will last a lifetime, and now are able to enjoy the “spoils”, which in this case would be a fulfilling sexual experience whenever the two of you want. However, a lot of men have found that there is a short cut to all of this. There is a way to bypass all the work, all the potential disappointment, frustration and rejection, and go straight to the addictive feeling of power he can get from engaging with something as readily available as porn.

Man was designed to hunt. It is the hunt that develops his strength. It is the thrill of catching what he was pursuing that builds his confidence. If it’s too easy, he doesn’t build his strength and he doesn’t build his confidence. A man is nothing without those two elements. He needs those things to feel whole. At the core of who he is, he needs to know he has what it takes. The rush of having instant, intimate access to a woman you don’t even know can feel very powerful in the moment, but it is a false power. He didn’t earn it, he didn’t sacrifice for it, he didn’t fight for it, he just picked up a stupid magazine or clicked a few times with his mouse. So this act will never fulfill him. It will only send him into a cycle of shame and a state of feeling even more powerless.

If you could interview men who are addicted to porn, you would hear them all say that in the moment they are engaging with pornography, they feel very powerful, but soon after they are overcome with shame. Shame is the antithesis of strength. They don’t realize that what they are doing is so counter productive to what they really need, and that is the trap of addiction.

If you are a man who is addicted to porn, here’s what I would say to you: You need to find your strength. You have it in you. You have always had it in you, you just may not have known how to develop it and tap into it. The first step in finding your strength is feeling connected to something bigger than yourself, like God. Knowing who He is, and who He created you to be is going to be key in finding your strength. The next step is feeling connected to your wife. Doing the work it will take to get your wife to fully trust you, and be open and vulnerable with you feels a bit daunting in the beginning. But when you begin to understand her and she begins to be vulnerable with you, and your sex life begins to reflect that progress, that is real power. You will begin to feel strength and confidence like you have never felt before. It will be so fulfilling you will know what it is to be a man. It may take some time, and it will require some delayed gratification along the way, but in the end, I can promise you it will be worth it. It will be what you have craved your whole life, and it is worth fighting for!

If you are a woman who has a husband addicted to porn, I would say this to you: If you have learned anything so far you have learned that his addiction to porn has little to do with you. You are beautiful enough, you are exciting enough, and you are worth fighting for. You have to believe that! He needs your support and encouragement, and to shame him further does not help your cause. You also need to be brave enough to set some boundaries and reinforce the truth that you are worth fighting for. Be ready to respond to his efforts in fighting for you, and be ready to show sadness, not anger when he doesn’t fight for you. Remember my blog about princes not rescuing dragons? If you haven’t read it, please do. But if you have, just remember that he was born to fight for his princess. If you become the dragon what is his motivation?

I don't expect a lot of comments on this blog as people will feel hesitant to expose the fact that they may be dealing with this issue. But, I do welcome any private messages and questions for me or my husband. With issues like pornography many people can feel isolated and alone. Please know you're not!