Attention is Golden

Couple at cocktail partyAs parents, some of the things our kids want to tell us are, well, childish. Although we love them, we are sometimes busy or preoccupied and paying close attention to what happened at the playground is not top of our list. As partners, friends, siblings and descendants, people talk to us about a wide variety of things that matter to them and paying attention can be difficult.

But it is worth the trouble.

When I worked at the National Semiconductors headquarters in Santa Clara, CA, the company provided easy access to great training and one of the courses I took was Active Listening. The instructor was a soft-spoken lady who impressed me as a good listener and someone who knew a great deal about people, and during the course I realized just how poorly I had been listening…

At the end of the class, I left with a list of actions and behaviors that constituted active listening and with the advice that it was important to practice them, but I felt something was missing from those instructions.

Over time, particularly after I trained to be a life coach, I read more about relationships and emotional intelligence and I think I have found an underlying description that unites the techniques and makes the whole thing seem like common sense.

Read more about how to be a good listener

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Acknowledgment

Teen girl on the phoneDo you ever get the feeling that something is missing from your communication with other people, especially the ones you love? Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable, but cannot put your finger on why? Do other people seem like something is not quite working for them in the way you talk to them?

Well, I do.

There I am, having a nice conversation with someone, and then, all of a sudden, I feel like the subject has changed and the conversation has changed direction. This is often hard to detect, which makes me stop listening and backtrack a bit to see if I can spot the problem (of course, not listening makes things worse temporarily, so I try to be quick about it).

In many cases, I find that there has been no acknowledgment. Something I have said remains un-addressed – it has neither been confirmed nor rejected. This makes me wonder if what I have said has been missed or ignore.

When I am the one forgetting to acknowledge, it takes a lot longer to figure it out, either because the other person is not aware of the problem or because the friction keeps escalating and this little issue is completely forgotten until I have some quiet time to replay the conversation and figure things out.

Read why acknowledgment is important in a relationship

Best Anger Management Tips and Quotes

Girl screaming in anger

If you kick a stone in anger, you’ll hurt your own foot
– Korean Proverb

Some people are angry. Most of them learn anger from their parents and are trapped in a vicious cycle. One of the saddest things is an angry family, in which the parents are angry at the kids, who are angry at their parents, who are angry at their kids…

Sounds familiar?

Anger always comes from frustrated expectations
– Elliott Larson

Some say anger peaks during the teen years. I am not sure this is true for everyone. I know many teens who are joyful and happy. I was angry until I became a teenager, so I believe anger has nothing to do with age and hormones and everything to do with awareness. I think anger is a mindset that clutters our thinking and we are angry because we have poisoned ourselves with thoughts of disappointment and frustration.

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s face it, we are all angry at times. We are angry when things do not happen the way we want them to. Anger is a form of extreme disappointment that we think we are directing towards what we believe to be the source of the disappointment, but in fact, we direct it only towards ourselves. When I think of anger, I immediately see a bottle of poison.

Read the best tips and quotes on anger management

Kiss Your Kids

Young children kissingKissing is one of the best tools parents have in their parenting tool kit. Kissing has been known for ages to make miracles, to heal a wound and to get rid of worries and pain, particularly for children.

Would you not want the power to get rid of worries and help ease pain?

The real magic lies in what children think about the kiss. It is the same kiss you get when you are older, but it has somehow lost its magic for many people. Maybe we grownups need to re-adopt our childhood beliefs about kisses and to kiss more.

My family was not a kissing family. I have watched my mom kissing her little grandchildren constantly, which made me think she believed it was appropriate to kiss kids, but not grownups.

This belief seems to be similar in different cultures. One of my clients said to me once that every two to three years, when he meets his dad, who lives overseas, they shake hands.

Gal and I have always kissed each other when we to up in the morning, left home, came back and whenever we had a good time or wanted to make each other feel good.

When I was 27, we visited Gal’s host family in Connecticut (he was an exchange student there in his Junior Year of high school). Sally and Sam were an amazing couple. When they went to bed, they gave us a hug and a kiss as if they had not seen us for a long time, although we had come that same day. When they got up in the morning, they did the same. At first, I thought it was just for the first day of our arrival, but they continued to hug and kiss us every day. I loved it!

Read more about the importance of kissing children

Fathering Goodness

Father and son having fun Since this is a parenting blog with a focus on personal development, we normally post tips and advice that parents can use to improve their own lives and the life of their children. But today’s post will be a bit different.

Today, I want to tell you about some things that happened to me with my own kids and to appeal to both mothers and fathers to do the best you can to raise your children in balance and harmony, including giving them enough time with their father.

This week, we watched the movie “Brave”. I cried at the end (I will not spoil it for you). After the movie, it occurred to me that scenes in which parents and children realize how important they are to each other (sometimes when it is too late) make me cry every time. Maybe this is part of my inspiration for today.

Our family has lived in a good number of places around the world and has visited many others. In all of them, fathers mostly go to work in the morning, leaving their children with their mothers, and come back in the evening tired, stressed, preoccupied and unaware of what their family has gone through during the day.

This used to be my life too. For 15 years, I worked for large companies, spent long hours commuting, stayed late at work “just to finish something on time” and even traveled on business. Among our friends, I actually spent the least amount of time on the road or at work and the most amount of time at home, but for the most part, I was “missing in action” as far as my family was concerned.

Read more about why kids should spend time with their dad

Easy Divorce

Happy seniors hugging

Everybody also knows that divorce is painful to all involved. Regardless of your circumstances, both partners and all their children get hurt. Yet, the rate of divorce is soaring and being single again after having children is now part of many parents’ lives. Divorce seems hard to go through, but awfully easy to choose.

In the past, divorce was unacceptable in many societies. Once people got married, which was often by parental arrangement, they were stuck with their partners for life. Marriage was literally “until death do us part”. Being married for life was what everybody did. The average divorce rate was 0%.

Believing that ending their marriage while both partners were alive was not an option, the only available course of action was to make the marriage work. Sometimes, that was just as much fun as digging holes, but everyone dug 7 a day and kept their mouths shut.

Now, when you try to make a marriage work and you are committed to it for the long haul, you make decisions accordingly. You join bank accounts, split the responsibilities for best household performance and comfort, do your best to get to know your partner and try to be accommodating. In return, you could also rely on your partner to be there for you in times of difficulty, simply because he or she was as committed to the marriage as you were.

Read more about how to keep your marriage strong

Save your marriage (19): Best Marriage Quotes

Loving coupleMarriage today is not what it used to be. I believe some of it is due to couples believing that they cannot fix their marriage, heal from conflicts and overcome the challenges they go through as part of life.

Couples that are still together do not have fewer difficulties. They sort them out before they get out of control.

In my relationship coaching program, I hear many couples use statements that make fun of commitment, mock stability and relationships and encourage giving up the marriage as an easy, accepted and preferable thing. They have read them on the Internet, seen them in “funny” PowerPoint presentations or watched them in video clips.

One of my clients is going through a divorce over something that could be easily fixed if both partners could sit together and talk. They had an argument over money. She wanted 150K, he wanted to give her 90K and to sort this out, they have had to hire lawyers, go to court and pay the 60K the argued over in fees. So forget about it, because divorce is never easy!

If you check the beliefs of divorcées about marriage, you will find that they always have the wrong ones – those witty, mocking, sarcastic beliefs.

My suggestion is to make sure you swap them with good beliefs. To help you do it, I have gathered the best marriage quotes I could find. I hope you will find some you like and can adopt, and I hope you can make good use of them.

Read these inspiring marriage quotes

I See You

Piano player on dark stagePressure is an isolating feeling. People under pressure see themselves as if they were under attach and their top priority is to survive, if only emotionally. So they focus on their own feelings, regard most interactions with suspicion and withdraw into a “safe space” as much as they can.

The problem with pressure is that it also damages our ability to reason and function severely. It interferes with remembering things, with being creating and with our perception of what goes on around us. We see the world through narrow slits in a thick armor, we see everything tinted bright red, we hear everything pitchy and sharp and very little makes sense.

Intense pressure can even make us feel like there is no hope and nobody to help us. It is as if we are invisible.

A long time ago, I saw a movie, I think it was Ordinary People, where a mother walked over to her teenage son, touched him gently and said, “I see you”. That line stuck with me and I have used the idea in it many times with the people I love.

I think the “I see you” method works well because the other person is using an invisible shield that is very effective at blocking direct methods, like advice, jokes and uninvited help. It works especially well with teenagers, who see many things as threats to their identity and independence.

Read more about how to support your kids

Pursuit of Selfishness

Girl disappointed with boyRonit and I read a lot about happiness, we talk a lot about happiness, we write a lot about happiness and we do our best every day to be happy. In fact, we believe that happiness should be the main pursuit of everybody’s life. But some people say this focus is filling the world with selfishness and that people who want personal happiness are selfish.

In a book called The Lonely Crowd, David Riesman wrote in 1950 that people could be split into two groups. He said that the inner-directed person “has a trustworthy character and builds his life on the stability and security of his family. Usually, he believes in the Judeo-Christian faith”. The other-directed person, on the other hand, is “dependent on the approval of others, especially experts. They are consumed by a quest for personal happiness, so that … anything becomes permissible if it makes me happy”.

Yes, this is an old book, but I read this quote this morning in a much newer book on personal power and relationship skills, so the notion that our pursuit of happiness makes us selfish and self-centered is still very much alive today.

So what’s the deal? Does personal happiness equate to selfishness? Does the search for personal fulfillment make us lonely?

“Pooh!” the bear snorted, “Again I say pooh!”
– The Big Brag, Dr Seuss

Being a selfish happiness seeker is like drilling for oil in your own back yard. No matter how much oil you find, the yard will never be the same, your house will stand out from the rest and none of your neighbors will remain your friends. It is like cutting down the trees in the Amazon and making a quick buck, but destroying the future of your children and their children.

Read more about how to be happy in life

How to Manage Difficult People: More Difficult People

Women gossipingHere are 10 more kinds of difficult people. Like in my previous post, I recommend finding people that match the description and checking if you have any of these behaviors.

With every type listed below, write a name of one or two people that you know who are difficult for you that way. First, ask yourself, “Am I difficult that way?” and then move to other people you know. Try to find at least one person of each type before moving to the next difficulty.

Show offs

These are people that constantly tell you about their achievements and successes, their wisdom and their abilities. When you are next to them, they tell you the same victory stories over and over again, as if they are trying to convince you they are great.

Being around a show off increase our feeling of inadequacy. I had a friend that told everyone about how much she spent on every item she bought and how expensive it was, saying, “I bought this dress for $700. Wow, it was so expensive”. At first, I was happy for her, but after a while, I could not stop thinking I could buy more than 7 dresses for the same price. I think I was exhausted, because it was hard for me to manage my feelings of jealousy.

Read more about how to handle difficult people