10 Things to Remember About Toxic Family Members

10 Things to Remember About Toxic Family Members

Family is supposed to be our safe haven.  Sometimes, however, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.

Letting go of (or breaking up with) a toxic friend, boyfriend or girlfriend is one thing, and there’s plenty of advice out there for doing so, but what about letting go of a toxic family member?

Most of us are not in a position to just walk away, nor do we feel that we want to, or that it’s the right thing to do.  So what do we do when a family member is literally spoiling our lives with their toxicity?  How do we deal with our feelings of obligation, confusion, betrayal and heartache?

First and foremost, you must accept the fact that not everyone’s family is healthy or available for them to lean on, to call on, or to go home to.  Not every family tie is built on the premise of mutual respect, love and support.  Sometimes “family” simply means that you share a bloodline.  That’s all.  Some family members build us up and some break us down.

Second, you must understand that a toxic family member may be going through a difficult stage in their lives.  They may be ill, chronically worried, or lacking what they need in terms of love and emotional support.  Such people need to be listened to, supported, and cared for (although whatever the cause of their troubles, you may still need to protect yourself from their toxic behavior at times).

The key thing to keep in mind is that every case of dealing with a toxic family member is a little different, but in any and every case there are some universal principles we need to remember, for our own sake:

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  1. They may not be an inherently bad person, but they’re not the right person to be spending time with every day. – Not all toxic family relationships are agonizing and uncaring on purpose.  Some of them involve people who care about you – people who have good intentions, but are toxic because their needs and way of existing in the world force you to compromise yourself and your happiness. And as hard as it is, we have to distance ourselves enough to give ourselves space to live.  You simply can’t ruin yourself on a daily basis for the sake of someone else.  You have to make your well-being a priority.  Whether that means spending less time with someone, loving a family member from a distance, letting go entirely, or temporarily removing yourself from a situation that feels painful – you have every right to leave and create some healthy space for yourself. [Read more…]

5 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Everyone Thinks of You

5 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Everyone Thinks of You

You could spend the whole year worrying about what other people think of you, but it wouldn’t get you anywhere.

“What’s wrong with wanting others to like you?”

That’s what several of our course members asked me in response to one of my recent course member emails.  And I’ve been asked similar questions over the years too.  So today, I want to discuss why it’s not healthy to spend lots of time worrying about what everyone thinks of you, and how to stop yourself from doing so.

In a nutshell, tying your self-worth to everyone else’s opinions gives you a flawed sense of reality.  But before we look at how to fix this, first we need to understand why we do this…

From wanting others to think we’re attractive, to checking the number of likes and comments on our Facebook and Instagram posts, most of us care about what others think.  In fact, a big part of this is an innate desire that we are born with.  It has been proven time and time again that babies’ emotions are often drawn directly from the behaviors of those around them.

As we grow up, we learn to separate our thoughts and emotions from everyone else’s, but many of us continue to seek – and in many cases beg for – positive social validation from others.  This can cause serious trouble when it comes to self-esteem and happiness.  In a recent survey we did with 3,000 of our course members and coaching clients, 67% of them admitted that their self-worth is strongly tied to what other people think of them.

As human beings, we naturally respond to everything we experience through the lens of our learned expectations – a set of deep-rooted beliefs about the way the world is and how things should be.  And one of the most prevailing expectations we have involves external validation and how others ‘should’ respond to us.

Over a century ago, social psychologist Charles Cooley identified the phenomenon of the “looking-glass self,” which is when we believe “I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am – I am what I think that you think I am.”  This kind of external validation has insecurity at its core, and relying on it for even a short time chips away at our sense of self-worth and self-confidence.

The biggest problem is we tend to forget that people judge us based on a pool of influences in their own life that have absolutely nothing to do with us.  For example, a person might assume things about you based on a troubled past experience they had with someone else that looks kind of like you, or someone else who shares your same last name, etc.  Therefore, basing your self-worth on what others think puts you in a perpetual state of vulnerability – you are literally at the mercy of their unreliable, bias perspectives.  If they see you in the right light, and respond to you in a positive, affirming manner, then you feel good about yourself.  And if not, you feel like you did something wrong.

Bottom line:  When you’re doing everything for other people, and basing your happiness and self-worth on their opinions, you’ve lost your moral center.

The good news is we have the capacity to watch our thoughts and expectations, identify which ones serve us, and then change the ones that do not.

So, in order to stop worrying so much about what others think, it’s time to inject some fresh objectivity into your life, and develop a value system that doesn’t depend on others every step of the way.  Here are five things you can start doing today:

1.  Remind yourself that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.

Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry far less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else [Read more…]

20 Things to Remember When Rejection Hurts

20 Things to Remember When Rejection Hurts

Be OK with walking away…
Rejection teaches you how to reject what’s not right for you.

As you look back on your life, you will realize that many of the times you thought you were being rejected from someone or something you wanted, you were in fact being redirected to someone or something you needed.

Seeing this when you’re in the midst of feeling rejected, however, is quite tough.  I know because I’ve been there.

As soon as someone critiques, criticizes, and pushes you away – as soon as you are rejected – you find yourself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I’m not worthy.”  What you need to realize is, the other person or situation is NOT worthy of YOU and your particular journey.

Rejection is necessary medicine; it teaches you how to reject relationships and opportunities that aren’t going to work, so you can find the right ones that will.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough; it just means someone else failed to notice what you have to offer.  Which means you now have more time to improve yourself and explore your options.

Will you be bitter for a moment?  Absolutely.  Hurt?  Of course, you’re human.  There isn’t a soul on this planet that doesn’t feel a small fraction of their heart break at the realization of rejection.  For a short time afterwards you will ask yourself every question you can think of…

  • What did I do wrong?
  • Why didn’t they care about me?
  • How come?
  • etc.

But then you have to let your emotions fuel you in a positive way!  This is the important part.  Let your feelings of rejection drive you, feed you, and inspire one heck of a powerful opening to the next chapter of your story.

Honestly, if you constantly feel like someone is not treating you with respect, check your price tag.  Perhaps you’ve subconsciously marked yourself down.  Because it’s YOU who tells others what you’re worth by showing them what you’re willing to accept for your time and attention.  So get off the clearance rack.  And I mean right NOW!  If you don’t value and respect yourself, wholeheartedly, no one else will either.

I know it’s hard to accept, but think about it…

All too often we let the rejections of our past dictate every move we make thereafter.  We literally do not know ourselves to be any better than what some intolerant person or shallow circumstance once told us was true.

It’s time to realize this and squash the subconscious idea that you don’t deserve any better.  It’s time to remind yourself that…

  1. The person you liked, loved or respected in the past, who treated you like dirt again and again, has nothing intellectually or spiritually to offer you in the present moment, but headaches and heartache. [Read more…]

4 Toxic Behaviors that Tear Couples Apart

4 Toxic Behaviors All Failed Relationships Have in Common

The best relationships are the best not because they have always been the happiest, but because they have stayed strong through the mightiest of storms.

Over the years, through our coaching practice and premium course, Marc and I have worked with thousands of individuals and couples looking to fix their failing relationships, and we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make this happen.

Whether you’re working to fix your marriage, a dating relationship, or a friendship, there are lots of little things you can do to keep your relationship on track.  And since we’ve recently covered many of these healthy relationship strategies here and here, today I want to take a quick look at the flipside – the most common toxic behaviors that tear relationships apart.

To start, I can honestly say that Marc and I can listen to a couple talk for 30 minutes and determine, with close to 90% accuracy, whether they’re relationship will last in the long run (without major changes being made).  The reason we can do this is simple: Most failing/failed relationships suffer from the same four basic behavioral issues…

  1. Condemnation of a person’s character – Complaints are fine.  Disagreements are fine too.  These are natural, focused reactions to a person’s decisions or behavior.  But when complaints and disagreements snowball into global attacks on the person, and not on their decisions or behavior, this spells trouble.  For example: “They didn’t call me when they said they would because they forgot, but because they’re a horrible, wretched human being.” [Read more…]

10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children

10 Proven Ways to Raise Smarter, Happier Children

Children have never been perfect at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them.

When you ask parents what they want for their children, what are the most common replies?  They want their children to be smart and happy, of course.

From what we’ve studied, the education and well-being of their children is more important to parents than just about anything else — health care, cost of living, public safety, and even their own well-being.  And believe it or not, most non-parents also say they’re concerned about the well-being and intellectual growth of society’s youth; this concern seems to cut cleanly across gender, ethnicity, age, income and political affiliation.

As new parents, Angel and I get it.  We feel the same way.  We’re concerned about our son’s education and happiness.  So we’ve spent quite a bit of time researching just that — how to raise a smart, happy child.  If you’re looking to do the same, I’ll save you some trouble.  Here’s what our extensive research tells us:

1.  Walk the talk — always set a great example.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you live your life every day.  Don’t tell your children how to live; LIVE and let them watch you.  Practice what you preach or don’t preach at all.  Walk the talk.  Your children look up to you and they will emulate your actions and strive to become who you are.

So BE who you want them to be.

In other words, be the change you want to see in your child.  Give what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.  Every single day.

Your children are the greatest gift life will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility it will place in your hands.  Take time with them, and teach them to have faith in themselves by being a person they can have faith in — a person they can trust without question.  When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much. [Read more…]