December 22, 2010

Inside this Newsletter:


Message from Carolyn:

Merry Christmas from Alan and me!! However, It doesn’t feel like Christmas in Colorado this year since we’ve had 60 and 70 degree weather and almost no snow (except in the mountains for the skiers—which is great!). There’s snow everywhere else in the country and it’s like there’s a little bubble over Denver and the foothills. I love it!

Alan and I both just had our birthdays (his is 11/11 and mine is 12/12). I had a party with my girlfriends at the karaoke bar and we had a blast! My girlfriends (most of who are having a tough time financially right now) thought they were buying me drinks and dinner, and then Alan and his buddies came over (I told him he had to), and like a white knight, he picked up everybody’s tabs. What a sweetheart! My friends even said, “What a gentleman! (See pictures from the party below.)

Alan and I are staying in town for Christmas and New Year’s this year and are glad we’re not traveling. I will be in the office Tuesday and Wednesday Christmas week, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday over the New Year’s if you need me. In fact, I’m offering a discount. (See below.)

Also remember that we can do a phone appointment when needed. And remember that you can give gift certificates for counseling!

I love hearing from you about your lives, so send me an email update or call me and let me know what’s going on in your lives. Also, send me any questions I can answer in the newsletter.

Christmas is the season of giving, and it’s great to help those in need. However, many of us give too much (time and energy and sometimes expensive gifts) to everyone and stress ourselves out. See my article below on “Giving, But Never Receiving.”

Life & Style Magazine called me last week for a quote about Eva Longoria and Tony Parker which should appear in next week’s magazine (on the stands Thurs). (See my comments below.)

Family Conflicts are often worse during the holidays and me and my family have been no exception. See my article below on “Handling Family Conflicts” where I share a conflict that my sister and I are working on, and what we all can do to resolve them.

Remember to send these newsletters on to your friends!


Handling Family Conflicts

The holidays are a time when most of us wish we felt closer to our families. Some of us fake it and pretend all is good, others just hope it will be better this time. But issues we’ve had with our families often rear their ugly heads again during the holidays. We face family members who criticize us or have hurt us in the past. Since it’s a time when we’re often feeling vulnerable and more in touch with our issues with families, the holidays are a good time to try and work through those issues. 

My sister and I were very close most of our lives. Then when we had to put our dad into a home, the fighting and resentments began, mostly on her part. After a holiday visit to her house two years ago that went very badly, I decided not to go back again (except once in awhile to see my dad, but I stay in a hotel or at my nephew’s). We tried to fix it, but couldn’t. We’ve been cordial to each other, but not close like before. Now, two years later, we are finally resolving our issues, and I’m very happy about that. It takes both people cooperating to resolve a relationship dispute. Sometimes it takes time before the other person will come around. In the meantime, you have to protect yourself and hold the boundaries, not allowing someone to treat you badly. That may mean distancing yourself from them if they won’t try to resolve it with you. 

And that’s what my 23-year-old client, Mary, was considering doing this Christmas – staying away from her family. As many young people (and even us older ones), she feels that her mother constantly criticizes and judges her when she’s around her. I’ve helped her stand up to her mom and tell her, but the mom’s first reaction was to defend her position, and of course criticize Mary again for her behavior of confronting her. We had a meeting last week, but actually both of them wanted to just avoid the conflict, but I pushed them. No one could figure out what they were doing to do about Christmas if they didn’t get this resolved. Mary’s mother finally realized that she was behaving badly with her, but pointed out that Mary was behaving badly too since she would not speak up when situations happened. She would sulk for awhile, and then explode and leave. We made a simple deal where Mary is supposed to speak up and let her mom know when she feels criticized or judged and then she is to hear her and try to rephrase her comment and assure her that she didn’t mean it as a put-down.

Most people avoid conflict at all costs. It’s this avoiding of conflict that keeps resentments going and keeps people from being close. People often talk themselves out of speaking up by saying, “Don’t blame others for how you feel, just get over it!” I agree that it’s not good to get “stuck in blame,” but you need to express your anger directly to the person you’re upset with before trying to move on, or the person will continue to treat you that way. If you don’t express your anger (directly, not passive/aggressively) to others for how they’ve treated you, nothing ever gets resolved so that you CAN “get over it” and be close again. On the other side, if you’ve hurt someone, you need to take responsibility for it, make a promise not to do it again, and help the other person “get over it” and move on, hopefully repairing the relationship.

This Christmas, reach out – whether you’re the one who has hurt someone or the one who has been hurt – whether it’s a friend, a mate, or a family member. 

Closeness to family is something most of us want, and it leaves us with a calming, secure feeling when things are good with family and friends. We need this, especially at the holidays. Hopefully both Mary and her mom and my sister and I will get our issues resolved this Christmas so we can have many more happy Christmas’s together. This year, clean up an issue with someone in your life. It will make you both feel better. And if you need any help doing this, come in and we’ll work on it together!

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Is Sexting Reason for Divorce (Eva & Tony)

Life and Style Magazine called me last week for quotes regarding how Eva Longoria is handling Tony Parker’s cheating and their pending divorce. {The quotes should hopefully appear in the next issue on the stands this Thursday, Dec. 23.}

I was asked if Eva simply jumped to the worse case scenario by filing for divorce when Tony supposedly just sent illicit texts and photos to another woman (her friend) since he claims he didn’t have sex with her. “Should she give him another chance?” I said no. I think she is very strong and doing the right thing. Whether or not he has sex with the woman hardly matters at this point since sending sexual texts and pictures is still complete betrayal. I don’t know any woman who would think that is okay. It’s about his intentions and focus as much as his actions. Besides, you know the old saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” It isn’t always true, but behaving in a cheating manner this early in a relationship is a pretty strong indicator of what’s to come.

I was also asked, “Why would Eva meet with Tony in a restaurant to go over issues regarding the divorce when she has an attorney who could handle that?” Most women want to get answers to questions that aren’t necessarily about the divorce, such as, “Now I need to know, where were you that night you said you were with the guys and I didn’t believe you? And what about all the other times I had doubts?” And you definitely want to see his eyes as he answers. And meeting with Tony and discussing these issues (if that’s what she was doing) in a public place is, of course, a good idea so that the situation doesn’t get out of hand.

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Giving, But Never Receiving

It’s great to help people in need, especially at Christmas. I loved the story where a group of rich men recently walked through stores and gave out hundred dollar bills to people who looked needy. This is truly the spirit of Christmas!

Most altruistic giving is good, like paying it forward at a fast food restaurant, or giving someone a few dollars when they run short at a grocery checkout stand. It’s also really good to take cookies to a neighbor or friend or help out a mother who’s babysitter didn’t show, or give a coat for a coat drive, or help a friend move, or give to charity or help a friend who is sick. These are all great things that we do out of the goodness of our hearts. We don’t really expect anything back.

Most of us believe that helping people makes us a really good person. But what happens when the people you give to want to keep taking? Do you need to keep giving to be a good person? It could be a friend who borrows money and doesn’t pay it back and wants to borrow more. Maybe it’s your own child who has been spoiled and now feels entitled. Maybe it’s your friend who never buys lunch. Maybe it’s your husband or wife who has let you take on all the responsibility. If you give too much, thinking this makes you a “good” person, you probably get taken advantage of.

One of Alan’s buddies was very wealthy most of his life and overgave. He “loaned” millions to his two sons, who not only never paid him back, but don’t even talk to him anymore. He’s given tons of money and gifts to friends and business associates over the years, and now that he’s lost everything himself, he never hears from them. No one has ever given to him. He sees himself as a “good” guy, and he is, of course, but he doesn’t realize that through his so-called goodness he has taught everyone in his life to be a taker.

You can be a good person and still not allow others to take advantage of you. Setting boundaries so that people don’t use you doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a smart person.

I’ve recently had a female client who allowed her out-of-work boyfriend to move in with her, thinking that she was doing the right thing and being a “good” person. Her boyfriend expected her to not only pay all the bills, but also do all the housework. His thinking was that she did it before, so why can’t she do it now? Unbelievably, when the boyfriend finally got a job (8 months later), he felt entitled to keep his money and let her keep supporting him. After she finally kicked him out and told him why, he said, “But you never asked me for any rent money!” And he’s right, she’s partly to blame because she overgave to the point that he felt entitled.

Many of my marriage counseling clients become full of resentments and often consider divorce because their relationship has become out-of-balance. One person is overgiving and the other is taking, and no one is setting boundaries.

Because the overgiver, whether male or female, is too nice, they don’t usually get what they want from their mate. They don’t understand that “people will do to you whatever you let them get away with.” As children we’re taught “what goes around comes around.” So we believe that giving will make people love us and give back to us. But there is no justice. Giving (especially overgiving) to others does not cause them to want to give to you. Quite the opposite. The more you give, the more others will “take” and expect from you. It will get to the point that they don’t even think you are giving since this just seems to be the normal way things are. Then when you need something, they don’t think they owe you anything. After all, you are now in your roles: you’re the giver and they’re the taker.

It is your job to teach others how to treat you. You need to tell others what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the way they treat you. It is your job to let others know when they have overstepped their boundaries so they can learn how to treat you better.

What to Do:

  1. Watch out for “takers.” Test people. Early on in any relationship, don’t give without soon asking for something in return so that you can find out the character of this person before you get too invested.

  2. Money: When loaning money, always make a payment plan and/or ask for a post-dated check for when the money for repayment is supposed to be available. And put it in writing. And, of course, never loan money again to someone who hasn’t paid you back for the last loan. If you do, you are setting the relationship up to fail and teaching them to be a loser.

  3. Listening to Friends/Family Whine: Relationships need to be two-way. It’s very common for friends to whine to each other. But often, one becomes the whiner and the other the listener. This is unhealthy for both. It exhausts you the listener, and it enables the whiner to never solve their problems. Set a boundary by saying, “Let’s talk about something else today. I already know all about that and it seems to me that you aren’t fixing the problem. When you take some action to solve it, tell me about that.” Also, say, “I have some things I want to talk about regarding my life today. Can you be the listener this time?”

  4. Helping Others: When asked to help someone do something, ask yourself if this person would do the same thing for you. Often they wouldn’t. Don’t do things for others they would never do for you or you will end up resenting them.

So, go ahead and give to your favorite charity and take your old clothes to Goodwill, and take soup to a friend who’s sick. But don’t listen to friends whine or give to people who never reciprocate or loan money without a plan. Because if you do, you will probably not get what you want (for Christmas or any other time) since you’ll seldom find yourself on the receiving end. 

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Free Articles on Carolyn’s Website

11 First Date Mistakes

Getting Rid of Guilt

Handling Money Issues in a Bad Economy

Home for Christmas - Carolyn's Christmas Story

How to Clean Up Issues with Your Family

How to Get him to Share Emotionally

How to Turn Him into the Man of Your Dreams

It’s Time Men Stand Up and Say “No!”

Leveraging With Men

Pros & Cons of Dating Married Men

Relationship Mistake: Expecting Your Mate to Read Your Mind

Single, Secure & Satisfied

Stop Fighting Dirty with your Mate

Ten Reasons You’re Not Married Yet

The Ten Commandments of Keeping Personal Power (and Keeping Him/Her in Love with You)

Things Men Do That Bum Women Out

Top 10 Sex Mistakes

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Discount on Counseling

I’m offering a discount on counseling from $180/hr to $140/hr between now and January 15th for new clients (or those who haven’t been in for 6 months or more).

Contact Carolyn Now!

Carolyn’s Birthday Pictures

About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for more than15 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 30 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and McCall’s named her one of the “Top 6 Passion Doctors” in the country. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 23 years.

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Phone Counseling is a great way to do therapy, especially for the really busy person who's constantly on the go, or the person who is shy or hesitant to talk about their problem, or when the weather is bad and you don't want to drive to a therapist's office. It just makes sense in this day and age to be able to call and discuss a problem and get advice on a situation with having to leave work and drive to my office.

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