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Coping with Difficult People (Part 2)

This column and the previous one are for people who are deeply frustrated with someone at home or at work. If most other people have the same problems getting along with this difficult person, your first step to making your peace is to understand your enemy. Last week I explained how during hard times growing up, we all develop a character style. That’s the characteristic ways we’ve developed to handle feelings and relationships, …Read More

Coping with Difficult People

Perhaps you’ve got someone in your life that year after year you just can’t get along with. Let’s call this person “Pat”. You might want to ask yourself these questions: 1. Do other people have the same problems with Pat? If some people do not, find out how they get along with Pat, and imitate their approach. If you’re related to Pat as a spouse, a former spouse, a parent, …Read More

Guilt, Bogus Guilt, and Shame

If you’re feeling bad about yourself, you might as well do it up right. Make something good come out of it. You can do it three different ways, and though they all feel pretty much the same at the time, the way you think and talk to yourself determines whether you end up feeling better or worse in the end. Let’s look at three ways to do guilt and shame, …Read More

How to Work a Good 12-Step Program

What exactly is a 12-step program?  It is the people, principles, prayers, and lifestyle practices of recovery from addiction that was started by Alcoholics Anonymous back in the 1930’s.  To work a program successfully, you need all four—the people, principles, prayers, and practices.  You can’t just read and learn at home, just go to meetings and call your sponsor, just ask God to take away the desire to act out, …Read More

Is it a Bad Habit, Sin, Disease, or Addiction

  IS IT A BAD HABIT, SIN, DISEASE, OR ADDICTION?  At most big family gatherings, there will be an alcoholic, a nicotine user, or a drug abuser present. The table likely plays host as well to a few non-chemical bad habits that also threaten the family. Nearly every family has folks who have an eating, work, video game, pornography, sex, gambling, hoarding, or spending disorder. Some may also have abusive …Read More

Triangles Can Help or Hurt Communication

Sometimes when we want to talk with someone, we assume they wouldn’t understand, or worse still, wouldn’t listen. Maybe they’d even fire back some criticism at the messenger so they didn’t have to deal with the message. So we send our message through a third party. This is called a ricochet message, or a bank shot, but these terms imply it just happens once. Usually messages keep coming this way, …Read More

Vampires and Zombies: How People Suck the Life Out of Each Other

Have you ever wondered why vampires and zombies have become so popular in American culture?   I believe it is caused by the huge rise of addictions in America, and by so many parents over-protecting and over-indulging their children.  Both of these trends have produced people whose lives resemble vampires and zombies on the inside, because they love in dependent ways. When children see their parents overly involved with each other, or with …Read More

How Codependents Enable Addicts

With any addiction to chemicals or to a habit, loved ones trying to help addicts need to realize and continually remind themselves of three things:  “I didn’t cause the addiction, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it either.”  But you can make it easier for addicts to keep their addiction going.  How?  The counterproductive efforts people make to help and reform their addicted loved ones are called enabling behaviors.  Those who do them are calledcodependents, because these behaviors make them just as dependent …Read More

Saying Yes to Saying No

I believe that America here at the turn of the millennium is going to be remembered in history as a nation of gluttons. Whether it is with our calendars, our budgets, our relationships, or our palates, we can’t get enough. Just about every celebrity I can think of is known for being or doing the most something. Who is known for being the most well-rounded? Most of us try to grow our …Read More

Stress: Who Needs It? Somebody Does!

Reader: My pastor says I’m a peacemaker, a good thing. My friends and doctor say I’m a sponge for stress, a bad thing. How could making life easier for others be wrong? Is physical pain a good thing? It doesn’t feel good, but it does good. It draws our attention to the problem that’s causing it, and motivates us to get it fixed. Without pain, we’d all die of infection. Stress works the …Read More