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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.”

The term gaslighting has become a way to help identify manipulative behaviors of controlling spouses toward their submissive partners. Click To Tweet

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. That idea 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.”

Overcome imposter syndrome

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome Every Mental Health Professional Needs to Know

Are you a Mental Health Professional? Do you need confidence in counseling sessions, because you deal with messy relationships at home? Do you wonder if others struggle with personal issues like you do? Well, look no further. This article addresses overcoming Imposter Syndrome Every Mental Health Professional needs to know. These tips will help you accept, align, and articulate your next steps.

Tip # 1 Accept your imperfections

We all need to grow into acceptance of our imperfections. This tip is vitally important as we meet with our clients in counseling sessions. Many clients will think you’ve arrived at your perfect destiny in life just because you are a therapist. But it’s our responsibility to normalize that we are all in process.

Even though we’re trained with credentials, we are still human beings with flaws and blind spots. We need to accept the reality of our imperfect humanity. When we do, we are giving our clients the courage to do the same.

It’s common to compare ourselves as inferior. Especially we encounter others with more education, status, or influence. We see the presentational dimensions of others, and then judge ourselves as less than. We don’t see their daily grind or interactions with family members. We don’t see what their loved ones see up close and personal.

Even though we’re trained with credentials, we are still human beings with flaws and blind spots. We need to accept the reality of our imperfect humanity. Click To Tweet

Besides, our lives are more than what we present to the outside world. Rather, we are all human beings with strengths, weaknesses, privileges and/or disabilities. We all have various roles and ways of relating that likely reveals our true character.

We listen to the harsh critic inside our heads. Then we magnify our struggles, flaws, and missed opportunities. But when we can accept our own imperfections, we give our clients hope. Any conflict or difficulty we encounter are actually opportunities for growing awareness.

Remember, none of us have “arrived” at perfection. That would be rather depressing if there was no room for improvement. This leads us to tip # 2. Align with reality.

Tip # 2 Align with reality

The catalyst for my writing “Beyond Messy Relationships” was my second husband’s season of psychosis. He was out of tune with reality. As he experienced paranoid delusions from his manic episode of Bipolar disorder, it brought me to a greater level of awareness. It made me aware that most of us live with “normal” and acceptable delusions.

As a reminder, delusions are beliefs and thoughts that seem like they are true. But in reality, we all have limited beliefs and automatic thoughts that we think are truth.

When my book was published I began my own “paranoid” thoughts. I thought, if my clients read it, they will likely say. . . “And why are we seeing her as our therapist?” And perhaps some have read it and chose not to come back. But many have told me they read the book and were deeply touched. In fact, they’ve gained courage and confidence for their journey. Phrases like these have encouraged me as their therapist.

“Wow, Judy. If you can go through these kind of challenges, I know that I can too.”

“I really identified with you when. . . now I know I’m not alone.”

Keep in mind that I’m not advocating that all of us mental health professionals should write and publish their memoirs. But, for me, it’s been an amazing journey of aligning with reality. It’s increased my awareness and made me more aware of those automatic delusions that say, . . . “if they only knew. . .”

Now that brings me to tip # 3. Articulate with trusted colleagues.

Tip # 3 Articulate with Trusted Colleagues

It’s so vitally important to build relationships with trusted colleagues. Since we’ve been doing Telemental Health sessions through months of the pandemic, we’re even more isolated than before. In fact, our isolation from peers in our industry exacerbates our imposter syndrome challenges.

Our fear of judgement from other mental health professionals keep us from growing with colleagues. Of course, it’s a risk to open up. But when we begin to do life with other colleagues, we soon discover that we’re not alone.

As with anything, our circumstances will change and adapt over time. But, these three tips are foundational as it applies to overcoming Imposter Syndrome every Mental Health Professional needs to know.

Our fear of judgement from other mental health professionals keep us from growing with colleagues. Click To Tweet

In summary, let’s take heed and apply these three tips right away: Accept, align, and articulate your beautiful authentic self.

Your Next Steps

You can get the 1st three chapters of “Beyond Messy Relationships.” Just fill out the form below.

Get the Buy One Get One Free offer. I’ll send you the author-signed copy to you. So you can share with a colleague. Go here: https://www.judycounselor.com/beyond-messy-audio/

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

Peace

How To Really Give The Best Simple Presents

As we reflect “peace on earth and goodwill toward men,” I’ve wondered how to really give the best simple presents. There’s three things to consider as we prepare for Christmas. They are ways to honor this sacred time and give the gift of ourselves. Memories and expectations along with our perspectives can interfere with our gift-giving. Loving eye contact along with a prayer for peace enhances the best simple present we can give.

Memories and Expectations of The Best Simple Presents 

Memories of Christmas pasts and expectations of friends and family can be overwhelming. As a child it’s easy to believe Santa comes down the chimney and brings presents. But, as adults we learn to guard ourselves against pain. Our beliefs turn to distrust, negativity, and avoidance where there’s perceived danger. And sometimes, we’re up against not just perceived, but real emotional harm. The wonder of life no longer seems wonderful as we move through relationships.

Let’s remind ourselves of the phrase “good will toward men.” Of course, we interpret “men” as all human kind. In this special season, we celebrate the coming of Christ.  And let’s ask ourselves, what does that really mean?

Perspective Gives Us The Best Simple Presents

What if we could see the childlike soul of the person who holds discomfort in us? We may see a wounded, betrayed, hurt little boy or girl. Can we be open to see the substance of their being and look beyond their manipulation or rejection of us? If so, could we see their good will?  If we could see their pain out of their own unhealed wounds, we could relate with compassion.

Loving Eye Contact Accompanies The Best Simple Presents

It’s not easy to make loving eye contact. Nor is it easy to believe in the goodwill of those who cause us pain. Yet, if we choose to hold onto our childlike faith, we can grow beyond our own woundedness. As a result, we allow the love of Christ and His healing touch on our own lives. We can give the best simple present of ourselves. Our souls are filled when we’re at peace with the life-giving meaning of “goodwill to men.”

An Attitude of Peace Makes The Best Simple Present

This prayer brought tears to my eyes more than once in my reflections of Christmas. May it touch your heart as you celebrate this sacred time!

Peace Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, union;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love:

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to

eternal life.

– attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi

Feature Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash