Tag Archives: mental health

Not Every Relationship is Meant to Be Long-Term

Earlier this week I came home to find my family had adopted another dog. I must preface this tale by acknowledging my wife’s deep compassion, especially for dogs and horses, a quality of which I have been the undeserving beneficiary many times. Now you might be thinking, “Hey what’s the big deal? So you got another dog. You love dogs Rabs.” All true. But would you acknowledge my entitlement to consternation if I tell you the dog laid his head on our dining room table . . . while still keeping all four feet firmly planted on the ground?

Not Every Relationship is Meant to Be Long-Term

Sergeant is a white German shepherd, weighing about 110 lbs., and standing 36 inches at the withers. The people looking to rid themselves of this wolf in dog’s clothing were something less than accurate in conveying this description to my wife prior to her agreeing to take him. Now a big dog in a small house can be fine, unless he has no training, dislikes the outdoors, and is generally afraid of his own shadow. Think bull in a china shop. We have the broken glass to prove it.

The only one in our home happy about this turn of events is our cat. Sergeant is so henpecked that Bordeaux, who weighs less than half what he does, had a blast chasing him and so left our cat in peace for a couple of days before getting frustrated with her unenthusiastic playmate and deciding her former live chew toy was more fun.

Despite all his drawbacks, I have to admit Sergeant is sweet. Indeed he thinks he’s a lap dog. And despite scaring me out of my wits when he tried to jump up on my bed to cuddle with me while I was asleep, his constant bumping into the furniture, shedding (I think he may be part pigeon because each day he molted enough hair to fill our vacuum cleaner, twice), and numerous other quirks, I like him.

When my wife told me she had found a place he could go where he would be assured of living out his natural life I felt bittersweet. It’s hard for me to resist a creature that only wants to feel safe and loved and is willing to give unqualified love in return.

But here’s the rub. Not every relationship can be close and lifelong. Sometimes the most you can do is provide a safe haven for a short time while someone finds someone else who can make a long-term commitment.

Like everything in life, you have to be intentional about the people with whom you’ll invest in creating a relationship. You cannot do so with every person you meet. But hopefully each person who enters your life benefits from knowing you even a short time. And likewise, you can benefit from them.

It took me two days to see beyond Sergeant’s faults and realize how endearing he is. Thanks buddy for imparting such a terrific lesson to me. G-d speed in your new home.

How do you decide in whom you will invest the effort to create a relationship? Please comment below.

When You Should Prioritize Self-Care

One of the first things I learned in navy Officer Indoctrination School was “Ship – Shipmate – Self.”

Ship:  Take care of the ship. It is the mission.

Shipmate:  Take care of each other. Be vigilant to the needs and actions of your shipmates and watch out for one another.

Self:  Take care of yourself. You cannot care for others if you are not caring for yourself.

When You Should Prioritize Self-Care

The selflessness of this principle resonated with me. After all, I had joined the navy to serve.

Recently I was visiting my squadron in San Diego. The Providers of VRC-30 supply COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery), moving people and cargo between an aircraft carrier and the shore. Notwithstanding this service-oriented mission, their command philosophy is:

Self/Family:  The men and women of VRC-30 are our most valuable resource.

Team:  We succeed as a team. We fail as a team.

Mission:  YOUR contribution as an individual is critical for our mission.

Both philosophies are sound and reasonable. And despite setting forth opposite views they’re both true. But how can this be? Should we look after ourselves first or make the ship/mission our top priority?

After pondering this conflict I think the answer lies in the circumstances.

During daily life you need to look after yourself and your family first so you don’t unduly burden your teammates and hinder meeting the mission.

But at critical points: a fire, a traumatic event in a friend's life, or defense against an enemy, the mission has to reign supreme. When the stakes approach all or nothing, the personal and familial resilience you built everyday now has to carry you through while you focus on driving the mission to safety in the face of catastrophe or victory.

I’ve written about life balance and self-care before. I never thought about this balance point until now. But it has strengthened my commitment to building resilience.

How do you decide when to focus on yourself verses others? Please comment below.

How You Can Resolve Your Past

Remember the movie Back to the Future? Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invents a time machine in the form of a DeLorean that takes Marty (Michael J. Fox) into the past, where he inadvertently changes the time continuum. The movie gets its title from Marty having to correct the changes in the past to get back to the future he wants. On an historical note, it was the most popular movie of 1985 and critically acclaimed. I highly recommend it!

No, I’m not turning this into a movie review blog, though admittedly watching old movies is easier and often more fun than pursuing personal development. Back to the Future provides a metaphor for overcoming challenges in your past that still hold you back today. Did you:

  1. Develop bad easting habits?
  2. Avoided exercising?
  3. Spend money unwisely?
  4. Never make time for play?
  5. Form a flawed self-image?
  6. Avoid creating solid friendships or business relationships?
  7. Not take getting an education seriously enough?
  8. Abandon G-d?
  9. Have a lousy relationship with one or both of your parents?
  10. Adopt values that are not in concert with how you want to live?

Or any of a number of issues that make your life other than what you want it to be?

Like Marty, you can change your future.

It only affects your future to the extent that you believe it has too. Whether it’s a bad habit, an emotional trauma, or a deficiency in some aspect of your life, you can go forward to conquer your past by committing to change.

In some cases you may be able to do so on your own. In other cases you may need professional help, a coach or therapist, to help guide you through the steps that will lead you to a future free of impediments from the past. But even in the latter case, you have control over your destiny by engaging that person to work with you.

Unlike Marty, you don’t have a time machine to take you back to the past were you can alter events. But you don’t need one. The future is the ultimate time machine, each day, hour, minute gives you the opportunity to correct the shortfalls of your past and realize the future you want.

What step do you need to take to free you from a past impediment? Please comment below.

If You Think This Way You’ll Fail

Parenting is the hardest job on the planet. If you have children I suspect you agree with me. (Please let me know what you think is more difficult if you take issue with my conclusion. I really want to hear from you if you disagree).

If You Think This Way You’ll Fail

Not to say that parenting is thankless. My daughter warms my heart, especially when I’m sick and she does things to help me feel better. But from the moment of her birth, there hasn’t been a minute free from responsibility to her. And, mistakes are inevitable.

I might have intuitively understood the burden of parenting when I was a child. I don’t remember. In any event, into my young adulthood I blamed my parents for deficiencies that hampered my success. After I started my company, a curious thing happened. I had to generate business to pay the rent and buy food. Holding my parents responsible for my failure did nothing to improve my cash flow.

Whatever tools and handicaps my parents gave me, I had to take responsibility for my future. The same is true for you. As an adult, success and failure are in your hands now.

Once I let go of my anger and disgruntlement over my upbringing, the path to change opened up. I sought out the books, speakers, and training I needed to reshape my outlook and get the skills I needed. Success followed.

I was reminded of a related issue while listening to the soundtrack from A Chorus Line. In the song, Hello 12, Hello 13 (please note some of the lyrics in this song are coarse) one of the characters sings about completing college and thinking his life will just begin. Then he imagines his life as a kindergarten teacher and realizes:

What he says next is crucial, “And I was scared!”

In his case, he overcame his fear, discovered his passion, and pursued a life as a dancer.

When I finished a degree in architecture life was supposed to just begin. But in the early 1980s, building activity was nearly at a stand still. Licensed architects with more than a decade of experience were doing draftsmen’s work. I realized life doesn’t automatically begin upon the completion of college.

Notice a common theme? Let me restate the two issues:

  1. Correcting the challenges left to you by your parents
  2. Taking the next step after you complete a significant life event

In neither case will the situation fix itself. Both take intentional action on your part.

If you’re not getting where you want to go in life, I recommend you examine these two issues. No matter your age, to the extent they negatively impact your beliefs and performance they’re holding you back.

You’ll be scared. That’s how you’ll know you're making progress.

What belief do you have that’s holding you back? Please comment below.

Why You’re Not Decisive

Entrepreneurs and military leaders share a common trait: Decisiveness. They understand that delaying a decision is gambling. The bet is that without intervening matters will turn out for the good. And while sometimes deciding not to act makes sense, it is better to affirmatively make that decision rather than letting events overtake you.

Why You’re Not Decisive

From the indecisive times in my life I’ve learned making a decision is not the agonizing part. The pain comes during deliberations when I strive to KNOW what the right answer is. Striving for the unattainable never makes sense. All the more so when I could have decided, acted, failed, and taken another course of action all during the same time spent dwelling on a decision. The first course of action would have gotten me closer to my goal or eliminated an option and simplified my next decision.

Basically, there are three reasons for waffling:

  1. Fear of the results. It seems prudent to delay choosing a plan until you can be sure of the results. But, rarely is the outcome of a decision assured. Since you won’t know if your plan is successful until you carry it out you might as well get started. You will make more progress by acting than by seeking assurance of success.
  2. Vague goals. Basketball players cannot decide on a play if there is no hoop at which to shoot the ball. If you don’t know where you want to go it is virtually impossible to make a decision.
  3. Unclear self-image. If you are convinced you waffle or make bad decisions you will waiver anytime you have to decide what to do. Do you see the chicken and egg nature of this dilemma? Certain of your lack of resolve you are indecisive, which in turn proves you were right to view yourself as being indecisive.

The good news is you can overcome all of these.

  1. Accept uncertainty. You don’t have to be right about every decision to succeed. Making lots of decisions is the best training for making better ones. Seek out every opportunity to be the decider.
  2. Gain clarity for you goals. When you find yourself vacillating, disperse the fog. Be absolutely clear about your goals. They should be SMART. One of the strongest arguments for having a life coach is he will help you gain crystal clarity about your objectives.
  3. Adjust your self-image. Break the cycle by forcing yourself to make decisions whether or not you feel prepared. Post an affirmation on your bathroom mirror saying, “I am a decisive person who loves making decisions. I am not afraid of making a mistake and starting again.” Read it out loud every morning.

Decisiveness, a crucial aspect of being an Intentionalist, can be achieved with practice. Start by deciding to be decisive.

What other issues keep you from being decisive? Please comment below.

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