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5 Scary Tricks

5 Scary Tricks That Make You Confused in a Relationship

We’ve all learned how to move toward pleasure and away from pain in our relationship interactions. When Professional Women (or others) get caught up in confusing interactions, it’s “normal” to question our “normal.”  As kids, it’s okay to play “trick or treat.” But when it comes to adult relationships, it can be rather scary. That’s why we need clarity about the 5 scary tricks that make you confused in a relationship. Clarity is the first step of awareness to change what I define as “dance patterns.”

The five scary tricks include: gaslighting, guessing, grumpy, gloomy, and gregarious.

Scary Trick # 1 – Gaslighting

The term “gaslighting” has become a way to help identify manipulative behaviors of men toward their “submissive” wives. It comes from the 1944 movie “Gaslight” which depicts a man with ulterior motives. He fools her with missing pictures, strange footsteps, and dimming the gaslight to make her believe she’s crazy.

A form of gaslighting might look like this. You had a conversation with your spouse about your weekend plans. Then when the weekend arrives, they tell you “we never talked about it.”

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If you feel crazy in your relationship, this might be a pattern to throw you off kilter. Likely, the situation is crazy and not you, which brings us to Scary Trick # 2 – guessing game.

Scary Trick # 2 – Guessing Game

Does your spouse like to honor you with surprises? And you like them?  If so, this trick may not apply. But if he or she knows that you don’t like to be surprised, yet they keep you guessing, you’ve likely been caught up in scary trick #2, guessing game.

Your need to plan or know what to expect is worthy of respect. When you are left in the dark over upcoming events, it’s a form of control. Of course, we’re not talking periodic surprises like Christmas or birthday gifts. Instead, this pattern is designed to keep you in a subservient position.

Here’s an example:

Wife – “I’d like to get a babysitter for Saturday so we can go on that date we talked about.”

Husband – “Let’s just wait and see.”

Several days pass and she’s left wondering. She’s on the verge of nagging, stressed, and in need of a date. Then his mother shows up on Saturday ready to babysit so he can “surprise her.”

Your need to plan or know what to expect is worthy of respect. Click To Tweet

Both gaslighting and guessing are scary tricks in adult relationships. Which brings us to Scary Trick # 3 – grumpy.

Scary Trick # 3 – Grumpy

An empathic spouse wants to understand her grumpy partner. “I know he’s worked hard to provide for us” are excuses I hear in the counseling office. But in reality, she is enabling this scary trick # 3.

We are all responsible for our own emotions. If stress is taking a toll on you at work, it’s time to learn effective coping strategies. If your grumpiness is a symptom of insomnia, it’s time to learn good sleep hygiene.

We are all responsible for our own emotions and attitudes. Click To Tweet

But if being grumpy is a consistent relationship pattern and your spouse continues to make excuses for you, this is a scary trick that leads to relationship doom. As the fourth-deadliest horsemen that Dr. Gottman identifies as “Contempt,” this long-term grumpiness will doom a marriage. And that leads us to address Scary Trick # 4 – Gloomy.

Scary Trick # 4 – Gloomy

It’s hard not to be judgmental here. Because scary trick # 4 could easily be classified as a type of depression called Persistent Depressive Disorder.

As a “disorder,”(which used to be called Dysthymia) it is a low grade depression that lasts two or more years. It doesn’t present as suicidal depression, but it interferes with normal social, occupational, and relationship functioning. This is easily treatable with proper therapy.

But the “scary trick” side of gloomy is when the person chooses not to get treatment. Instead, they live with it until it becomes part of their character. They have subconsciously chosen to live a small, narrow, negative life. They are unaware of how others around them can get sucked into a black hole. It affects the entire family and puts the developing minds of growing children at risk.

This is likely an unaware “scary trick.” And it’s vitally important to surround yourself with positive friendships apart from the gloomy one. In other words, don’t get caught up believing that you are the only one who can “cheer him up.” We cannot do for others what only they can do for themselves. And if this “scary trick is coupled with Scary Trick # 5 – gregarious – we have a problem.

Scary Trick # 5 – Gregarious

Of course, home is the place to relax and be yourself. But if your loved one keeps on showing you the worst part of him and shows acquaintances the best, it’s time be aware of scary trick # 5 – gregarious.

Gregarious is an adjective meaning friendly, sociable, and outgoing. Everybody enjoys being around your spouse. But when consistently experiencing his grumpiness with you, it’s time for clarity and change.

In summary, these 5 scary tricks can give us clarity. We are not the ones who are “crazy.” But instead, we might be caught in “crazy” interactions – gaslighting, guessing game, grumpy, gloomy and gregarious.

If you are on the receiving end of these scary tricks, it’s time to take a step back. Notice what’s really going on. Avoid thinking of yourself as being “the only one who understands” the other person. You deserve to be clear and confident in your relationships. Most of all, you need to feel safe.

Your next step

Sign up for a complimentary workshop, “Relationship Resilience For Professional Women.”

Three Mistakes to Avoid in the New Year.

Many of us feel relief with the start of 2020. And it’s not only a New Year, but a new decade! To start out right, there’s three mistakes to avoid in the New Year. Maybe you’re like many leaders I know who reflect and write down their goals. Or, you might be relieved to just say “good-bye” to 2019.

Wherever you are, all of us want to start the year out right. And of course, we want to avoid mistakes.

Here’s three mistakes to avoid in the New Year. Those include: ignoring regrets, ignoring accomplishments, and ignoring vision.

Mistake # 1 – Ignoring Regrets

As much as we try to admit that we don’t have regrets, really, all of us do.

My writing coach, Marion Roach Smith said to me several times, “Judy, it’s not what you did. It’s what you did with it.” This wise advice was more than therapy to me as I wrote my memoir, Beyond Messy Relationships.

A universal part of our humanity is both the light and shadows of our authentic selves. When we don’t admit our “shadows” (which includes poor choices, judgements, and regrets) we will subconsciously be driven by them. In other words, we’ll easily judge others because we clearly see their “shadows.” But we’re blinded by our own. And those closest to us are mirrors to the blind spots in our lives. When they reflect our “shadows”, we get reactive.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana Click To Tweet

What do we do with our regrets instead? After all, none of us like the feelings that come when facing them.

1. Examine life lessons.

There’s purpose in all our human struggles. Our lives are worthy of examining. The “bad” feelings are temporary messengers to the soul. I believe it’s God’s way of showing us how to live a full and abundant life. Let’s listen to the feelings of our humaness.

None of our feelings are designed to be permanent. They’re meant to flow with the rhythm of life. Plus there’s life lessons waiting to be discovered.

2. Extract the learning.

The messiness of life helps us discover our values and need for growth. There are patterns. A good way to notice patterns of our messiness is through journal-writing. Writing our experiences, thoughts, and feelings brings clarity.

Fresh learning comes through admitting the regrets. Then we can experience the feelings and messages we need for wisdom. The journey through our past wasn’t meant to be forgotten. Our life experiences have meaning and valuable lessons for us.

Mistake # 2 – Ignoring Accomplishments

It doesn’t matter if you’re a high-achiever, or you’ve endured a season of darkness in 2019. Rather, it’s vital that you don’t ignore your accomplishments. It’s common for my clients (or any of us) to be the last to notice our own growth.

Why is that? I’m glad you asked. It’s likely a combination of these four factors.

1. We focus on comparing ourselves with others.
2. We all have blind spots that keep us from seeing what others see in us.
3. Those closest to us focus on what we’ve not done.
4. The negative harsh critic in our heads convinces us to ignore accomplishments. By the way, the human brain has a natural negative bias.

Here’s how we can shift to acknowledge accomplishments.

It’s important to hang out with friends who know us well enough to show us our resilience and bravery. When we don’t have a positive social network, the right therapist can realistically bring affirmation, honor the struggle, and enlighten us.

The lessons of 2019 are catalysts for transformation in 2020. Click To Tweet

Mistake # 3 – Ignoring Vision

Last year, I took the time to find pictures and create a “vision board.” One was a picture of my book, Beyond Messy Relationships. Another was of me and my husband looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. I posted those and other pictures on my computer screen and planners. They were daily reminders of what I wanted 2019 to be.

Our choice of focus makes a difference. We all have God-given imaginations that are powerful. Guided meditations can be positive affirmations for our mental health and well-being.

How do we get a vision that’s bigger than our reality right now?

1. Expand the imagination of our ideal life.

In the book, Living Forward, authors Hyatt and Harkavy give us structure for creating a life plan. There’s more resources to expand the imagination and intentionally plan for 2020.

2. Experience communities and friendships that honor our growth.

We’re like the five people we hang out with the most. Take inventory of the quality of relationships you have now. Be intentional to nurture yourself and others through positive groups, mentors and friends.

3. Explore what you do best.

Our self awareness increases through relationships. Be intentional to allow relationships to reveal your giftedness and talents. Dan Miller’s weekly Eagerprenuer Mastermind group helped me envision what’s possible. My mentor, Shannon Ethridge, continues to enlighten me in ways I’m unable to see on my own.

As for me, I’m thankful that my book became top finalist for Best Memoir with Author Academy Awards. Although, 2019, I do regret being so scattered, and disorganized without a clearer plan for getting this powerful message out more. Yet, these experiences have given me a clearer vision and purpose for 2020.

Now that 2020 has begun, it’s time for all of us to move forward and avoid the mistakes. Instead, be willing to gain life lessons, envision accomplishments, and envision your best year ever.

And don’t ever forget that your life is valuable and worthy of living well. In addition, your past doesn’t define you. Instead, it has wisdom for you. And most of all, you can be better than ever in 2020 as we start a new year and a new decade.

Your Next Steps . . .

Schedule your Life Plan Consultation

Check out Resources for a DIY Life Plan

Are You Hanging Out With the Right Friends?

It was an awesome time in Franklin, Tennessee with new friends who traveled there from across the United States and Canada. It was my first face-to-face group event from Dan Miller’s Eaglepreneur group. Not only did we experience camaraderie, but it spurred a question we all need to ask. “Are you hanging out with the right friends?”

As we develop relationships with others, there are three qualities to look for: courage, curiosity, and calling.

The right friends are courageous

Since writing “Beyond Messy Relationships” I’ve been more aware of what resonates. I’ve been encouraged by most acquaintances, family, and friends. But there are a few who’ve left me feeling discouraged.

Of course, not all who’ve known me over the years are target readers for my book, Beyond Messy Relationships. Yet, it was a message I had to write. It was risky to be vulnerable. To practice what I’ve written motivates me to take deep breaths of AIR: Awareness, Intentionality, and Risks.

The group I met with in Franklin are not perfect people. But they are courageous friends. Our being together and hearing each other’s stories encouraged us all to be courageous.

The right friends are curious

We met at The Sanctuary, what Dan and Joanne Miller have named their dwelling. I was compelled to read Joanne’s book, “Creating a Haven of Peace.” Of course, I was curious about her’s and Dan’s 51+ year marriage. How did they create magnetic peace in their home? Why did others gravitate to this couple?

Everyone has a story. And it’s easy to make assumptions and make up stories in our minds about others. But when we take the time to be curious, we connect. And we become more aware of ourselves. We allow others into our lives and create sacred space between us.

When we take the time to be curious, we connect. Click To Tweet

Curiosity is the opposite of judgments and assumptions. It’s a remarkable gift to ourselves and others when we take deep breaths of AIR with attitudes of curiosity.

The right friends tune in to their calling

My new friend, Teresa McCloy is an Enneagram expert. After our Eaglepreneur group event, I participated in her Real Life Process Retreat. When I heard her story, I was touched by her clear calling. Figuratively, she breathes life into others and helps business owners tune into their purpose and calling.

Are you hanging out with the right friends? Or a better question might be this. Are you the right friend with attitudes of courage, curiosity, and calling?

Be aware, intentional and risk growing toward curiosity, courage, and calling. Click To Tweet

Your friendships may not be from across the United States and Canada. It doesn’t matter whether our friends are local or long-distance. But it does matter that we are aware, intentional, and take risks of growth. (Notice the acronym AIR?)

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

Your next step:

Sign up for the first three chapters of “Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self”

Soulmate

How To Be a Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul

It’s a continual process to balance how to be a soulmate without losing your soul. It takes attitude changes and pressurized reality to learn how to balance between “we” and “me.”

When we travel by plane, we’re used to hearing the flight attendant’s safety instructions. He or she usually says something like this.

“If there’s a loss of cabin pressure, the panels above your seat will open, and oxygen masks will drop down. . . Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.”

If we attempt to help others before adjusting our own mask, we may end up passing out. Then we can’t help anyone. We need to take that same advice for our relationships.

We need to care for our own soul-needs before attempting to care for others. Click To Tweet

It takes attitude changes to be a soulmate

Marriages are like a pressurized cabin at various times. They are not so even-keeled. We experience turbulence and high altitudes. Storms and fair weather affect our differences. Our ears pop. The ride gets rough. We’re required to stay in our seats with seatbelt securely fastened at times.

Early on in romance, our differences are exciting, novel, and energizing. After marriage, and sometimes before, our differences can become outright annoying. That’s when they can escalate into major conflicts.

Other life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. But we can get beyond messy marriages.

Many Christian couples vow, “The two of us are one.” It doesn’t take long to realize one or both are subconsciously saying things like this.

We two are one. And yes, I’m the one.

Or, in a patriarchal or what some consider a “biblical” marriage, a bride may live her life like this.

We two are one. And, yes, he’s the one.

As years go by, both lose opportunities to develop their character. They lose their individual selves as well as the relationship. One of them becomes invisible. The other one gets caught up in self-delusions. Neither has insights into their own souls.

Neither one attempts to adjust their own oxygen mask. They’re too busy trying to improve, fix, or help the other. They become bitter, resentful, angry and resistant. Their world gets smaller. They become stuck. Or, figuratively, they pass out.

Life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. Click To Tweet

It takes pressurized reality to be a soulmate

It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. And it still takes two to do that in a relationship. Here’s points to consider.

  1. Conflict is necessary for personal and relationship awareness.
  2. Don’t avoid it or run from it.
  3. Don’t criticize your partner or try to win them over to your side.
  4. Instead, be open. Listen to understand. There are more than two ways to resolve a conflict.
  5. Seek counseling or outside help to resolve resolvable conflicts. And to adjust to unresolvable conflicts.

World-renown researcher, Dr. John Gottman, gives us clarity. Sixty-nine percent of happily married couples have unresolved conflict. The difference between the “masters” and the “disasters” are this. The “masters” are the ones who adjust and accept their partner’s differences. The “disasters” allow perpetual resentment and negativity to grow.

Here are ideas on how to adjust our own soul mask

  1. Do breathe deeply when you feel reactive, irritable, angry, or triggered by your spouse. Slow down. You’ll get clarity when you do.
  2. Be curious about what’s going on inside of you. Ask yourself, “What’s unfinished in my life? Why did this situation or comment make me feel this way? What is the meaning I created from that interaction?”
  3. To increase self-awareness, reflect on this question: “How is my spouse experiencing me?”
  4. See your spouse as a gift from God. When you do, you can develop an attitude of thankfulness. You’ll nurture your soul and grow your character. Be willing to accept your spouses’ issues as helping yoube more understanding.
It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. Click To Tweet

The cabin pressure of your marriage will change. Those oxygen masks will drop. Always adjust yours first. Balance the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. Your beautiful life is worth keeping your soul intact.

I’m writing more on the steps for balancing the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. So, let’s stay in touch in the meantime.

For now, sign up for updates and preview on my new book

Beyond Messy Marriages: Divine Invitations Toward Your Authentic Self

 

Feature Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash