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Living Rent Free in Your Head

Image courtesy of nattavut at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of nattavut at freedigitalphotos.net

When you devote much of your day in fear of your ex, or thinking about what your ex is doing, you are allowing them to live rent free in your head.  It is completely understandable that if you have had many negative experiences with your ex and experienced a prolonged, bitter custody battle, you would become afraid of having to deal with them in the future.  Still, the best thing to do is to get them out of your head and out of your life as much as possible.

I do not want to make light of the situation.  I hope to help people move forward and stop giving their ex more attention than they deserve.  If you have become overwhelmed with thoughts and fears about your ex, you have to work on changing your thinking.  It is not going to happen over night, but it can be done.  You will have to work hard at it and things may get worse before they get better.  What I mean by that is the controlling, abusive, meddling ex will do their best to make you fail in your quest for freedom.  That is reason enough why you must do it.  When you start paying less and less attention to them and no longer cower in fear of them, they are going to get in your face a little more before they slither away and the fact remains, they may never slither away completely.  You see, the problem is not with you.  It is with them.

Your ex has been masterful at turning the tables on you and keeping you off balance.  Because their behavior is not normal, you may be confused about why they are behaving the way they are.  Worse, you may also be confused that in the real world, people view your ex as very nice, smart, thoughtful, etc.  They may have a new relationship that seems just peachy and you may be questioning if you really are the problem.  Trust me, you are not the problem.

Keep in mind that most people in the real world only get a glimpse of who your ex really is and when your ex wants to, he or she can really turn on the charm.  The same goes for the new relationship.  They must make their new partner see you as a crazy person.  It helps them ensure that you will never go near their new partner and that they will steer clear of you as well.  No one can talk to each other that way.  The angry ex’s secrets do not get divulged.  This keeps their new love in the dark about who they really are and it helps keep you wondering what the heck is going on…and they LOVE that.  Remember how they treated you early on and how wonderful you thought they were.  The new partner will also be charmed.

They LOVE having you fear them.  They LOVE living in your head rent free.  They do not even have to do anything because you fear them so much and try to anticipate what they will do next.  It feeds their ego to know that they are always on your mind.

So how do you go about changing things?

First things first, you have to put your fear behind you.  You may even need to get angry.  You also need to retrain your brain to stop any and all thoughts of your ex whenever they crop up.

Second, have a diversion.  If you are overwhelmed thinking about what your ex may or may not do about any given issue, have a friend or a hobby or even look for a new love interest and whenever you just cannot shake the evil ex thoughts, call on that person or take some time to work on it.  If you choose a hobby, make sure that it is something that will keep you busy.  Reading sometimes will not work because if your mind keeps wandering, you will not really be reading.  Try exercise, too, and some stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, mediation or swinging your arms back and forth for 10 minutes.  Trust me, it works.

Third, carve out “ex free” time.  When you have the luxury of your child spending time at the other parent’s house or with grandma and grandpa or their friends, carve it out.  Announce to yourself that you will not give your ex anymore time than they have already taken from you.

This can be done, trust me, I have done it.  It takes some time and some practice, but once you master retraining your brain, the less you will think about your ex or care about your ex.  It will become habit to you and you will be well on your way to a new and happier life.  One last thing, it is natural to want to put your life on hold for fear that your ex will ruin anything that makes you happy, but that is just giving them more control over your life.  You do NOT want to do that.  Write down on a piece of paper in big letters the following:

NOT ONE MORE DAY.  MY EX WILL NOT GET ONE MORE DAY OF MY LIFE.  MY EX HAS BEEN LIVING RENT FREE IN MY HEAD FOR YEARS AND TODAY IS HIS EVICTION NOTICE.  HE/SHE NEEDS TO GET OUT OF MY HEAD AND OUT OF MY THOUGHTS AND OUT OF MY LIFE STARTING RIGHT NOW.  I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE TREATED THE WAY I AM BEING TREATED.  I DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.

And then go live it.  If you want to find a new love, seek them out.  Your ex may try to meddle and he/she may try to make things difficult for you in unimaginable ways, but you are stronger than he or she is.  Much stronger.  They have a sickness that they probably cannot escape, but you will choose to get healthier.  You will take steps to ensure that you never choose the same kind of psychopath as a partner again, and you won’t.  Your new love will love you and because they love you so much, they will see what your ex is doing and they will stand by you no matter what.

When you see it, you will believe it and achieve it!

Image courtesy of Nattavut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Kids are So Great!

You just gotta love ’em!

That 3 Letter Word S-E-X

Image

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*The following is a report from 11-5-2011

How important is sex? Sex should not be the entire basis of a relationship, but it is important for the survival of a relationship. A healthy sex life helps couples feel connected.

Not only is sex a key ingredient to a lasting relationship, according to this article from Web MD, there are many health benefits from a healthy sex life, also.

Web MD lists among the health benefits: stress relief, an immunity boost, burning off calories, improved heart health, greater self-esteem, increased intimacy, less pain, reduced risk of prostate cancer, stronger pelvic floor muscles, and better sleep. Read the article for more details, but you cannot argue with those great benefits to your health.

Why is sex important for men?  Men need a physical release, especially when they are feeling stressed.  Sex is a wonderful physical activity that they can share with their partner.  Men can participate in sports or other physical activity, but sex is a lot more fun.  They don’t often get to share those other activities with their partner so sex is a way for men to spend time with the women they love.   Men use sex to show the woman in their life that they love them.   Sometimes men cannot communicate feelings with words.   Since being  close physically  is one of the ways men signal to a woman they love her, they can feel rejected if their partner loses interest in sex.   Ladies, if you have lost interest in sex, talk to your man about why.   He needs to know if you are not having your needs met or if there is another reason that sex no longer interests you.   If you tell a man what he can do to make sex enjoyable for you, he will want to do it.   Men want to know what makes you feel good.   They don’t always know what that is.   Never criticize, but tell them honestly what drives you wild.   You’ll be surprised at how great sex can be when a man no longer has to guess.

Why do women lose interest in sex?   Women need to have their emotional needs met in order to feel good about having sex.  If a woman doesn’t feel respected, she will lose desire.  If she is really stressed out or just plain too tired from chasing kids around all day, she  won’t have the energy.  Women sometimes feel self-conscious about sex.   As their bodies change from pregnancy and childbirth to menopause, they may feel unattractive.  Men, you can help by reassuring her that you love her body.  Tell her she is sexy and the only woman you want to be with.   Also, if you have young children and she feels run ragged, try to plan a day off for her.   Allow her time to work out, get a massage,  or have a night out with friends.   If you can take care of the kids, by all means, do that.   If that is not the best option, get a babysitter.   Schedule certain days whenever possible that are Mom’s days off.   Even if it can only be once a month, it helps.

Ladies, you don’t have to be a size 6 to be desirable.  Great sex is about confidence.  If you love your body, so will your man!  Relax and enjoy the physical time together.  Immerse yourself completely into the moment. Try not to think about the kids or work or anything else.   A woman who is distracted will not get the most pleasure out of sex that she could.

If you have become stuck in a rut and sex has become non-existent, you can change that.   Ask your partner if they are willing to talk about it.   Tell them that you would like to rekindle your sex life.  If it’s been a while since you’ve shared that physical closeness, spend some time reconnecting as a couple.   Spend time together relaxing and having fun.   Touch each other, not just as foreplay.   Touch each other throughout the day.   A simple kiss or hug, maybe just lightly touching a shoulder or back can restart that physical connection needed to bring back desire.   If necessary, see a therapist or a physician. There could be a medical reason why desire has been lost.   You can always see a relationship coach, too.  If your partner wants to talk about your sex life, take it to heart.   If sex is important to your partner, they are not going to wait around forever.  Don’t help them decide to look for someone else, help them love and desire you.

Counting Stars!

Great song!  It got my attention.  Enjoy!

Friday Funny 5/16/2014

All of Mark Gungor’s Videos are worth the watch. Today I am sharing a few of my favorites with you. Very funny, but points worth taking! This one is for the ladies.

Video number 2 is also very funny and points worth taking for the guys!

Video number 3 is for the men and the ladies!

Positively Productive Mediation Experiences

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mediation can be an anxiety and fear producing experience.  it is rarely something people look forward to.  Many of the first conversations I have with people who are in the process of finding a mediator involve the following language, or something similar:

“Well, _________ says we have to try mediation.   It will probably be a very short meeting because we can never agree on anything.  I just don’t see him/her saying anything other than, “NO!”.  That’s all it ever is.”

Still, they are willing to set up that appointment and come in to mediate, and they are usually very surprised at the outcome.

Rarely does anyone look forward to mediation.  Usually, the parties have not spoken in quite some time, and if they have, the conversation quickly escalates into an argument.  Nobody wants to embrace conflict.  Conflict is unpleasant and something most people do their best to avoid.  The thought of sitting down in a room with this person seems unthinkable because of the history of the relationship and because you know this person all too well.  You can only think of all the mean and nasty things that other person has ever said to you, and every horrible experience you have been through with them or because of them.  Those negative thoughts are why it is easier to ignore the problem, rather than deal with the problem.  However, if you don’t deal with the problem, it will not go away.  Sometimes when that problem is dropped into the legal process, it will only grow bigger.  Legal proceedings are relationship problems on steroids.

If you can look at mediation not as a conflict, but as an opportunity to come to resolution, you can quickly see areas where you and the other person have some common ground.  A good mediator will point out areas where the two of you are in agreement from early in the process.  You need to remember that mediation is not only anxiety and fear producing for you, but also for the other person.  They are not looking forward to the experience either.

Mediation can be a very positive experience and it can change relationships for the better.  That doesn’t mean that you are going to repair the relationship.  That will sometimes happen, but more often, you can bring closure or a new direction to the relationship.  That may be a scary thought, but think of it this way, whatever the relationship is right now, if all it involves in not being on speaking terms, or escalating arguments, it is not working the way it is.  Putting an end to the conflict and changing the relationship going forward, can put you on a more positive path, even if that means you walk your path, and they walk a different path.

You can make mediation a positive experience for you, by approaching it in a positive way.  Don’t assume the worst.  Go about it with no preconceived notions.  If you come out without an agreement, you are no worse off than you were before, but remember, you may come out ahead.

Mediation is a confidential process so you can speak openly and not fear any ramifications in court later.  As a matter of fact, if the issue is taken into court, and the other party tries to tell the judge that you said, “X, Y or Z” in mediation, the judge will stop any further discussion of what was said in mediation.  Go into mediation and say what you need to say.  That alone can be quite healing for people.

Some other ways to ensure that mediation is a positive experience for you are to:

1. Make sure you are well rested.

2. Make sure that you will not be hungry.  If you schedule around lunch or dinner time, eat before the session if you can.  If not, bring a snack.  Feel free to take a break if you need to.  Mediators will usually do their best to make sure their clients basic needs are met.

3. Come prepared with your idea for resolution.  Do not think in terms of what you think the other party may or may not agree to.  You may come out very surprised.  It happens more often than not.  Ask for what you need, but also be prepared to compromise.

4. Consider what the other party is asking for.  If you need a moment to think about it, be sure to let the mediator know that.  You do not have to agree to something that you do not want to do, but sometimes a knee jerk reaction is to say no, when the reality is, it may be a workable solution.

5. Think about your life going forward, not about the past. Even if the relationship was bad, it may improve when you can agree to move forward after coming to some resolution of the issues that have you entrenched in battle.

6. Don’t think of it in terms of all or nothing.  Partial agreements can be very helpful, too.  You may be able to resolve some of your issues and that is a step in the right direction.  You would be surprised how often an agreement on a small issue starts the ball rolling on bigger issues.  Sometimes, people return to mediation after coming out of a first session with a partial agreement.  After having some time to reflect on a prior session, people realize that they can return to mediation and work out the rest of the agreement.

7. Keep your discussion positive and use I statements. Try not to place blame. How you got to where you are doesn’t have to interfere with a plan that moves you forward.

8. Consider mediation a new beginning.  Even when you do not find resolution, the conversation can help you clarify where the relationship is at.  You no longer have to wonder if you will or will not be able to have a productive conversation.  Let the experience shape how you will go forward with or without the other party.  Sometimes relationships do have to end, but it opens our lives up for new relationships going forward.  We can take what we have learned to make better choices in the future.

Mediation offers the opportunity to redefine relationships.  It also offers an opportunity to be creative when resolving conflict.  When you stay positive and are open to the possibility of what may happen, your experience will serve you well, even if you are not able to come into an agreement.

If you enter into a mediation session with a positive attitude, it will often spill over to the other side of the table.  You can have a positive, productive mediation, provided you go in with a positive attitude and are willing to sit down for an open discussion.  You may not get everything that you hope to, but in most cases you can both come out winners.

Can You Work on Coparenting by Yourself?



It takes two to co-parent, no doubt about that.  The family courts are filling a lot of people with false hope by making parents believe that watching a video, attending a parenting class, or having a parent coordinator or parenting consultant as the case manager of the parental relationship can force co-parenting to happen.  There are cases where none of those things are going to work.

I know that this line of thinking does not endear me to the family court or put me top of the list when they appoint a parenting consultant, but I have to say it anyway.  I am a realist and one who speaks the truth, whether or not that truth is popular.  Does that mean that there is no hope for the high conflict divorce parents?  No.  That is not what I am saying.  I am an eternal optimist and I believe that all things are possible.  When two people want to have a relationship, those two people will have the relationship they want, but one person cannot have a relationship.  That is what cannot be done.  In the same way you cannot make someone love you if they don’t, you will not get a cooperative co-parent if they have no interest in co-parenting with you.

Some people can and do co-parent effectively.  Those parents have had closure from the end of the relationship and have healed their hurts.  They also see a way forward without the other parent sharing their life and can separate parenting together from having a life together.

Those who cannot co-parent effectively, those referred to as high conflict families, have never had a healthy relationship.  They may not even understand what a healthy relationship is.  They have probably never experienced one themselves and have never seen one in action in their extended family. 

There are many factors that contribute to hostile co-parenting situations.  Chemical dependency may have been a part of the relationship, for one or both of the parents.  Abuse, which can take many forms, may have been part of that household in one way or another.  There may have been a prolonged custody battle, in which the lies and mud slinging stung and deeply wounded one or both parties.  As an aside, if you told horrific lies about your ex and now expect them to co-parent, SHAME ON YOU!  As I wrote about before, co-parenting requires a level of trust.  If the type of relationships I mentioned above exist for you, there is no trust, or at least not enough for someone to trust you with the children or take your word on anything.

Co-parenting means that you will be on time and return the children on time.  If you are going to have parenting time on certain days, you will move heaven and earth  to see the children those days.  You will make the children a priority and you will treat the other parent with respect.  The other parent has a life without you and their time, their interests and their home, including phone and email, must be respected.  The phone and email are not to be used to insult and threaten them in their own home.  You do not have to like what the other parent does and they don’t have to like what you do, but as co-parents, you must treat each other with respect.

If you have the misfortune of a hostile co-parenting relationship, nothing will make the other parent change their ways.  There isn’t a court order or a parenting consultant or a law in the world that is going to make them change their ways.  You already know this.  The court already knows this.  The only one who can change someone’s behavior is the person behaving that way.  Court orders won’t work.  You can tell the person until you are blue in the face that they need to change.  It won’t make it so.  The person who is behaving badly has to see their mistakes and want to change.

What can you do about it?  The only effective way to shut down someone who is trying to upset you is to work on your reaction to them.  The best revenge is to let them know that they are not going to get anything out of it and you are not going to waste time on what they do or say.  So many people fear that their children will believe lies the other parent tells them, but if you do right by your kids, they will know truth.  Kids will know who was there for them and who was standing strong for them.

You cannot force someone to co-parent with you.  Pushing the issue in court will only further alienate the other party.  If you are going to improve the relationship, give them some time and space and stop tattling on them.  If they are ever going to warm up to the idea, they need to have time to heal first.  Stop pushing them.

Focus on you and the way you parent.  Do not make excuses for the other parent when you talk to the children and do not criticize the other parent.  If the children ask why mommy or daddy won’t talk to you anymore, tell them that you hope, in time, things will get better, but you both need the space to adjust to single parenting.  Also tell them that you are always there for them and they will always be taken care of.

When you prepare yourself to be a great parent, regardless of what someone else is doing, you gain confidence and independence.  If you do not have to rely on that other parent, you will not be disappointed.  The other parent may do their part and that is great, but your saving Grace is to be able to parent with or without them.

Image courtesy of Jeron van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net





Update on my most recent personal experience


As you may have read previously, back in June, my ex filed for custody of my youngest son.  My son and I had had an argument over the fact that his room was a pig stye and I wanted it cleaned.  That was my only crime, demanding that my son clean his room.  I had let my guard down, expecting that my ex would not go backwards and would actually tell my son that his behavior was not acceptable anywhere and would not be acceptable at his home either, instead he filed for sole custody, told the same lies to the judge that he always had told way back when and pulled his poor, poor pitiful me act yet again.  I expected the judge to review the case and why I won sole custody, but the judge was lazy and did not want to do his job.  The judge did not allow me the opportunity to speak to my son or to allow me to set up mediation.  Mr. Judge Supreme wanted to show how powerful he was an after telling me that court orders cannot be enforced, he can uphold laws, such as law 609.26, ignoring the past physical abuse that my ex perpetrated against my son, the same child as was in the middle again, and not follow laws or court orders or even the proper procedure, and granted my ex sole custody.

As I strongly suspected, my ex was only interested in ending child support early.  Had he told me so, I could have accommodated him, but he could not admit to that.  I did know that my ex has been extremely jealous of me having my own business and being a mediator and divorce coach.  This has been driving him nuts and his attack was solely an effort to get back his money that he did not feel I deserved or needed.  You know what?  He can have it.  He is an alcoholic and it will not bother me if I see him drink himself to death with it.

You may think that this is a horror story and that I am upset about it.  I am not.  I have my son back.  I want to give you all some hope for those of you living in fear that your ex will turn your child against you.  I always tell people that the children will be the ultimate judge of you and your actions had better be in their best interests if you want to win not just the battle, but ultimately win the war.

I let my son go with his dad.  I sent him a few emails about my love for him and my expectations of what it would mean for him to be a man.  At the time he was 6 months away from turning 18.  I also let him know what truths I knew about him and explained to him that I would always be there for him, but that I would not allow anyone to treat me with disrespect or to lie to me.  Then I left him think about things and I completely left the choice of visiting me up to him.

After a period of adjustment, he did get past the fear of making his dad mad at him and started coming to stay with me with great frequency.  He learned that his dad is not there for him and he had been used.  You see, his dad got to keep his child support money but made my son pay for all of his expenses, including food, and medical supplies and medications for what is a chronic medical condition.  He would not help my son get his drivers license or any of the things one would do if they really wanted their child.  When he got sole custody, he left me listed as my son’s education coach at school and lead the school staff to believe that my son still lives at my house.  Why would anyone who wanted custody and claimed child endangerment (because I told my son to clean his room) not take over these issues for their child?  Because even in my case, the coparent’s issue is not about the child.  It is solely about control.  My son is even afraid to tell his dad that he lost his glasses because his dad is a horrible person when he is angry, even after 2 stints in anger management.

Anyway, it was a difficult period of time and since then my son has turned 18.  He is making plans to move closer to where I live.  The only reason he hasn’t done so is because he has a job out near his dad’s house.  The best part is that he now spends a great deal of time at my house, pretty much whenever he is not working.  His brother took him to get his drivers license last week when he was at our house and he passed.  Even though his physical address is his dad’s house, his dad spends very little time with him.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that you can win in the end, even if you have lost some major battles during the process.  In the end your child will know who is the one who is there for them.  The other point I am trying to make is this: you know who your ex is.  He or she may perform in front of court authorities or other professionals that are involved with your child and draw people into their pity party or manipulate them into aligning with them, but ultimately there comes a time when the kids are grown.  You will find that you were right all along.  Your ex is who they are and they can pretend all day long to be what they are not, but where it matters, for example, with their children, they cannot hide the truth.

Another bonus is that I think my son learned some important lessons as well.





Coming Soon!






As I have mentioned before, I have been very busy working on a couple of major projects.  I hope to bring help and guidance to parents who are stuck in coparenting hell and maybe bring some change to the way coparenting conflicts are handled in Minnesota.  I am ready to finally announce one of my projects is complete.  You will soon be able to purchase my first book, “The Parenting Consultant Nightmare”.

The book is in the editing stages right now, which is taking a little longer than I had hoped, but I do expect that it will be available for purchase within 2 weeks or so.  Stay tuned.

“The Parenting Consultant Nightmare” is a simple explanation of the parenting consultant process, the pitfalls, how to avoid it if you can, and if you can’t, offers some communication strategies and coping techniques.  I think maybe even a parenting consultant could gain some insight into why parents often react the way they do, but it may be too much to expect for any of them to read it.  Time will tell.

Anyway, it was hard for me not to announce it months ago, but I wanted to wait until the time was right and I think it is close enough to fruition that it is time to make the announcement!





If you would like to be notified once the Parenting Consultant Nightmare is available for purchase, contact me.  It will be available through my website, Amazon and some select retailers and will cost $19.95.




Let Them Surround You


 

Are you being beaten down by a parenting consultant, another court authority or your ex?  Have they convinced you that you are a horrible parent or that you might be crazy?  Don’t let them do that to you.

I am certain that you most likely have some people in your life who love you, care about you and are amazed at your strength and your perseverance.  They know you are not perfect, but they also know that you are not a monster and you should not have to put up with the accusations and insanity that comes by way of a nasty, bitter, ugly divorce and coparenting situation.  Those people are the people who matter and they outnumber your attackers.  Keep them near you.

What I am suggesting to you is to do the math.  Quite possibly, there are three to four people who are making your life hell.  Those people are in the minority.  They do not count and they are not worth using your energy on.  The players are probably the following:

        1. Your ex
        2. A parenting Consultant
        3. A Family Court Judge
        4. A Guardian ad Litem

That is it.  The maximum number of hellions in your life.  Their opinions of you do not matter worth a hill of beans in the scheme of your life.  They are in a system in which they choose a winner and a loser.  That is just the nature of the family court beast.

If you have five or more people in your life who build you up, love you, and believe in you, those other people are outnumbered.  Why do people tend to believe the voice of the few over the voice of many?  Why do you take to heart those things that are said to cut you down by those who don’t matter, instead of basking in the words of the people who are there for you and are in the majority when it comes to the court of public opinion and know the truth about you?  Think it through.  Think of the family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors and compare the numbers.  If you do, you will find that the numbers are on your side.  Let yourself be surrounded by people who matter, people who will still be in your life after your children are grown and the family court experience
is only a painful memory.  I am also in your corner because I know the truth.  Family court authorities do not know you.  They do not know your child.  They are not going to take the time to get to know anyone.  It may appear to you that they have gotten friendly with your ex, but it is doubtful they give your ex the time of day either.  That may be your perception.

You may want to believe that because they don’t like you, they do like your ex.  The reality is that they probably think very little about either of you.  The court authorities see cases like yours day after day after day.  They think you are all the same.  They do not know what it is like to have to live with the eyes of the court on you year after year.  It is horrifying.  Because they are never going to understand how it makes you feel, they are never going to understand your reactions to it and they are going to draw the wrong conclusions.

The people who are close to you and support you have seen the toll it is taking on you.  You owe it to yourself to let them be the loudest voice you hear.  If they are telling you that you are a great parent and you are not crazy and that you really are under attack, you owe it to yourself and them to ignore the others and focus on what it true. 

*Image courtesy of Ventrilock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 





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