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Coping With Your Broken Heart Over The Holidays

Coping With Your Broken Heart Over The Holidays

Coping With Your Broken Heart Over The Holidays

Holidays + Heartbreak = Growth (Really)

It’s Not The Happiest Time Of Year If You’re Hurting…

Breakups and divorces are difficult any time of year, but most people find that the period between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day adds an extra layer of angst and anxiety to their breakup recovery process. Even if you’ve been making progress, encountering your first round of holidays alone can trigger a fresh round of grief, anger, and anxiety. Why?

1) You have painful old memories of (happy) holidays past.

2) You have to deal with potentially awkward social events, and difficult questions.

3) When everyone else is together, it highlights your loneliness.

On this edition of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m going to be giving you actionable advice to cope with all of it. You’ll learn how to take care of yourself, ways to manage your feelings, and most importantly — how to use this time to heal, grow, and move on to a brighter future.

Your partner in growth,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps. Don’t forget to sign up for the free advice and resources I mentioned in this episode. Signup box is below…

 

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Coping With Heartbreak Over The Holidays

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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From Emotional Eating To Intuitive Eating: How To Change Your Relationship To Food

From Emotional Eating To Intuitive Eating: How To Change Your Relationship To Food

From Emotional Eating To Intuitive Eating: How To Change Your Relationship To Food

Food is Good, and So Are You.

EMPOWERED EATING: Your relationship with food is just like any other relationship. It can be positive, supportive, nurturing and enjoyable…. or it  can be toxic, stressful and disempowering. The latter is very common, especially if you’ve been exposed to judgmental ideas about food (and who hasn’t?) that have disconnected you from your own inner wisdom, and led you to get caught up in a cycle of emotional eating.

First things first: Food is good. Food is an important part of a health and authentic self-care strategy. Intuitive eating is all about listening to yourself, trusting yourself, and having a positive relationship with the food that nourishes your body or that brings you pleasure. Food is not only nourishment, it’s an opportunity for connecting with others, getting in tune with yourself, and savoring all the good things that life has to offer.

However, it can be challenging to stay in a positive, empowered place when it comes to food. Especially when we have so many “experts” making value-judgments about what is okay and not okay to eat, and so many confusing and often contradictory information about what healthy eating “should” look like.

Furthermore, it’s extremely easy and common to turn to food for comfort and indulgence and fall into unhealthy, mindless emotional eating during times of stress. This can create a shame spiral where we start to judge ourselves for our food choices, and leads to restriction, “rules,” and rigidity… that only (ironically) makes it harder to develop a healthy, empowered relationship to our food.

One aspect of this can be more emotional eating. When emotional eating is happening mindlessly (and often), it can cause problems: Not just to your health, but also to your emotions and the way you feel about yourself. It can be easy to fall into reactive emotional eating, especially during times of stress. If you’re eating your emotions away rather than allowing yourself to deal directly with your feelings, emotional eating can get in the way of your personal growth process.

How to Tackle Emotional Eating

To assist you in reclaiming your power when it comes to food, I’m speaking to my colleague Kathleen Stutts, M.Ed., LPC to get her perspective and wisdom on how to release shame and judgment about food and start to practice intuitive eating. Kathleen is, among other things and intuitive eating counselor. She has spent years working with people to hep them increase their self-esteem, learn how to listen to themselves and their bodies, and practice mindful eating.

Kathleen had so much wisdom to share on this emotional eating podcast. Her first “wisdom bomb” is that emotional eating isn’t necessarily bad. It’s okay if eating things that make you feel good can be a healthy coping strategy, if it’s one tool of many. She also reminded us that food is good. It’s okay to take pleasure in the things you eat, and to mindfully savor the foods and flavors that you enjoy.

The first step to end emotional eating is not to restrict yourself, beat yourself up, or listen to what OTHER people say about what you should or should not eat. The key to overcome emotional eating is to end the feelings of shame that food can cause, by developing a more compassionate, tolerant and positive relationship with food, with your body and with yourself.

Intuitive Eating Principles

In addition to describing the underlying causes of emotional eating and how to begin to gain the self-awareness and self-compassion to begin to change those patterns, Kathleen turned this into an “intuitive eating podcast.” She shared so many pearls of empowering wisdom including:

  • How to listen to your body
  • How to release shame and judgement
  • How to practice empowered eating
  • How to practice mindful eating
  • How to start intuitive eating
  • Mindfulness exercises
  • How to trust yourself and your own body
  • How to practice a body-positive mentality that will lift you up

In addition to sharing her compassionate intuitive eating strategies she also provided lots of encouragement, an affirming body-positive perspective, and online resources to help you create an empowered eating approach in your life.

All for you! Listen now…

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and Kathleen Stutts, M.Ed., LPC

 

 

 

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From Emotional Eating to Intuitive Eating: Cultivating a Positive Relationship With Food

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits:  Egozi, with “Cookie Dough”

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Please Rate, Review & Share the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Commitment: The Key to Long-Lasting Relationships

Commitment: The Key to Long-Lasting Relationships

Commitment: The Key to Long-Lasting Relationships

Choosing to Grow Together

What do you think of when you hear the word “commitment?”  On a small scale, I often think of “obligations” that I would prefer to be free from, such as being committed to going to a social gathering when I’d prefer to be at home watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix or my “commitment” to being fiscally responsible despite my firm belief in retail therapy. 

What about commitment in terms of a relationship? Currently, we live in a culture where commitment isn’t always valued. For example, we get many messages that if something or someone does not bring you happiness, you should discard it or find someone else who makes you feel [fill in the blank]. 

Sometimes we buy into the notion that the grass is greener on the other side and we shouldn’t waste time being unhappy. If we buy into these messages, we can start to view commitment as something that we only do when we feel like it. 

Commitment is Not a Feeling: It’s a Choice

And honestly, it’s much easier to feel like being committed in the beginning of a relationship when things are fun, new, easy, and exciting. It’s much harder to be committed to someone when the monotony of everyday life (and stress) sets in, or when the reality of being in the relationship is different from what you expected. So what do you do when the new relationship bliss has long worn off and you’re left wondering if maybe you’re just not as “compatible” as you once thought? 

Commitment is a major key to long-lasting relationships. Why is that? Because commitment is a choice. It’s a conscious decision to choose your partner even on the days when they’ve disappointed you, hurt your feelings, or when you feel that initial “spark” has gone away. Commitment is the choice to love your partner despite their annoying habits, their flaws, and their mistakes. 

How to Strengthen Your Commitment To Your Relationship

You can strengthen the commitment in your relationship by practicing a few key skills:

Trust

Trust is the foundation that is needed for commitment because it allows you to feel physically and emotionally safe in your partnership. With trust often comes loyalty, friendship, and a mutual respect, and an acceptance of one another that allows for the ability to extend the “benefit of the doubt” to your partner when they disappoint you.

Forgiveness

This can be difficult when you feel your needs or wants have gone unmet by your partner, which can easily lend itself to a feeling of resentment. While communicating with your partner about those unmet needs is necessary, choosing to let go of the resentment and the hurt feelings that linger after you have resolved the issue is a continuous process. Choosing commitment means choosing to let go of past hurts without holding your partner’s mistakes against them.

Turning Towards Your Partner

This means choosing to be emotionally available to your partner by choosing vulnerability and connection instead of pulling away. Part of turning towards your partner is choosing to be present in the small, everyday moments that you share with your partner. For example, say you and your partner just sat down for your usual Friday night Netflix binge (can you tell what I do in my spare time?) and you hear them let out a sigh. Turning towards your partner would be pausing and asking your partner if they’re ok. While such a moment may seem insignificant, taking advantage of the small opportunities for connection enhances your relationship. This also helps to build trust, which is essential to commitment.

In a healthy partnership, commitment is a necessary choice. Relationships naturally go through ebbs and flows, and going through the ebbs can really make the choice to continue to commit to your partner difficult. However, committing to your partner in the “ebbs” allows you to experience the fullness of your relationship.

Warmly,
Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C

Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C helps you create your very best life. She has a warm, compassionate, and gentle yet highly effective approach to personal growth work. She specializes in helping couples create healthy, happy partnerships, and assisting individuals to heal from past hurts in order to create fulfillment and joy.

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Are you struggling with grief? Maybe from a broken heart, the loss of a loved one, or even the too soon ending of a chapter in your life? Therapist and Life Coach Anastacia Sams, M.A., LMFT-C shares strategies for dealing with and working through grief. Read now…

Financial Counseling For Couples

Financial Counseling For Couples

Financial Counseling For Couples

How to Build Trust Around Finances In Your Relationship

Here at Growing Self we often do financial counseling for couples with people seeking to get on the same page around money. Let’s face it: money is a loaded topic. From our younger years, we are taught that finances are not a polite dinner-time conversation. It’s poor etiquette to bring up your salary, your expenses, your debt, and your money goals even among your closest relations. Why is this?

Our personal finances often influence how we feel about ourselves. They can have a huge impact on how much freedom, power, security, and comfort we experience in our day-to-day lives. 

Finances impact our significant life and relationship milestones, like getting married, having a baby, or buying a house, and can also figure heavily into big decisions like pursuing education, addressing medical needs, and planning for retirement.  

Money, more than almost any other topic about which couples fight, directly bears on survival (some researchers have even noted that fights about money are more likely to end a relationship than fights around other topics).

In my experience as a couples therapist and relationship coach, there are several reasons why couples struggle to address their money woes both individually and as a team. Today I want to provide you with easy to incorporate tips on how to talk about the taboo topic of money with your partner.

Why Is Money Such An Uncomfortable Topic For Couples?

Most of us were taught early on that sharing financial specifics is rude, and clients have sometimes told me that talking about money makes them feel embarrassed or “exposed.” If you feel this way too, you’re not alone.

For those who are in a budding new relationship, talking about money may not be necessary. Then, when you get to the point in your relationship that it feels like the right time to start addressing this topic, it can feel so foreign and surreal that you just keep pushing it off.

Because expectations around sharing and transparency are unclear, couples are left asking lots of questions without any clear blueprint for the “right” way to proceed.  

Do we combine our finances, or keep separate accounts? 

And if we are going to combine them, when do we do that? When we move in? 

When we get engaged? When we get married? 

How much influence should we have over each other’s spending?

Do I have a right to know where my partner’s money is going?

The discomfort goes both ways. For those who have been successful with their finances, they may feel rude bringing it up (almost as if boasting their money success), even though they have worked hard to get to where they are, practiced self-control, and self-discipline with their money habits.

For those who feel less than successful with their finances, they may feel shame or regret around their finances and they don’t want to bring that into their relationship with their partner. Talking about finances is emotional. Telling your partner about a large accumulation of debt may feel shameful.

You may be fearful of how your partner may view your spending or saving habits, or worry that entering a discussion about finances will end in a fight. The way you manage your money reflects your values, and when partners criticize these choices in one another, it can feel uniquely threatening.

When To Discuss Finances As A Couple

Many of the  couples who come to me to find clarity around discussing their finances are at a loss for how to move forward. They have already exhausted the topic, fought over whose approach is better for the relationship, and have often felt unheard by their partner (or have experienced broken trust surrounding finances within the relationship).

You don’t have to wait until you get to that point. In fact, the earlier you start talking about finances, the easier it will be to create a plan together moving forward.

How Do I Bring The “Money Talk” Up In My Relationship?

Start by checking in with yourself. Getting an accurate and up-to-date sense of where your money is going on a regular basis will allow for you to approach the topic with confidence. 

Take stock of bills and scheduled payments, debt (including any student loans, a mortgage, and credit card debt), regular monthly expenses (like gas, groceries, etc.), and any miscellaneous spending (think: eating out, travel costs, buying Christmas presents, and so on). 

If you’re a little on the budget-avoidant side of the spectrum, it can be helpful to take your own financial pulse before raising the issue with your partner. That way you may be better prepared to answer their questions, and you’ll be more aware of whether or not you’re satisfied with your current spending habits. (If you’re already operating from shared accounts, you may be able to skip this step!)

Because finances can be an uncomfortable conversation (at first–it gets easier!) I recommend that you schedule a time to meet with your partner in a neutral zone – whether that’s at home, at a coffee shop, or maybe even out on a walk. Don’t spring the conversation on your partner in the middle of a romantic dinner, around friends, during work, or at your family reunion (although I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this!).

Financial Conversations Every Couple Should Have

You already know where you stand financially (hooray for finishing step one!), and maybe you now have a better sense of where you want to be. So, begin the conversation by sharing these details with your partner: be honest and transparent about where you are, and describe where you ultimately want to be financially as a couple.

Once you’ve shared, allow your partner to weigh in. If this conversation comes as a surprise to them, don’t expect them to have all their answers or point-of-view laid out clearly right away. They may need some time to think about what you’ve shared and to take stock of their own financial situation.

While you have this ongoing conversation with your partner, share your goals and listen respectfully to theirs (no matter how different they are from yours). Maintaining an open, nonjudgmental stance is the best way to keep the conversation from shutting down or spiraling into conflict.

Expectations From Financial Conversations As A Couple

Beginning this conversation will allow the two of you to set expectations around your money. The whole point of this conversation is to build trust, awareness, and success in your relationship and in your finances.

This conversation should lead you toward shared goals, an idea of what your future looks like, what you can each expect out of your current employment status, what changes you need to implement, and how you can achieve your financial and lifestyle goals over the next one, five, ten, or even fifty years.

Three Tips To Successful Communication Around Finances

Respecting your partner will be what gets you through any difficult conversation, especially when the conversation has to do with something as life-altering as money.

If there are large disagreements, try talking about the meaning behind your position and asking about what your partner’s position means to them. Example: having a higher eating-out and entertainment budget might be your way of prioritizing community and friendships, while saving that money might be your partner’s way of feeling secure in the face of potential future emergencies.

Here are three tips for successful money talks.

Be Patient

As discussed earlier, this is not a one-time-over-morning-coffee discussion. It’s an ongoing conversation that you may need to have weekly, or at the very least once a month. The more time and effort you put into discussing and implementing change in your finances as a team, the more successful you will be. It takes time, and that’s okay.

Be Realistic

Change is not going to happen overnight, and you’re not always going to see eye-to-eye but if you’re realistic with yourself, your partner, and with your bank balance, your relationship will have a better chance of moving forward at a manageable pace towards your goals.

Be Compassionate

Above all, be compassionate. People mess up. Have grace both for yourself and for your partner. Recognize that new habits take time to build, and that you probably won’t have everything figured out in your first month (or year) budgeting together. And guess what? That’s okay too.

Final Thoughts…

Do What’s Right For YOUR Relationship

There’s more than one way of handling your finances. If you are having trouble finding the right method for your relationship, maybe speaking with an expert to gain insight into what might work best is the right move for you and your partner. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Different Approaches

There is no one right way to talk about money or handle your finances. You don’t have to be a money expert to start making good money moves. Working together as a team is going to be the MOST important step to achieving your financial goals, and to maintaining trust in the relationship.

Avoid Financial Infidelity At All Costs

A good rule of thumb in relationships: the moment you feel an impulse to conceal something, that’s your cue to share it with your partner. Admitting that you made a poor decision is less harmful in the long run than getting caught hiding it.

Here’s to your financial success together!
Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC

P.S. Do you have any conversational tips to share about building trust around finances in your relationship? Share with us in the comments section below!

Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC is a marriage counselor, family therapist, life coach and individual therapist who creates a warm, safe environment, bringing out the best in you and your relationships. She empowers couples and individuals to heal and grow using evidence-based approaches that create real results and lasting change.

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How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

Stop Beating Yourself Up

Do you beat yourself up? Criticize yourself? Pass judgment upon yourself? Have a running commentary in your head about all your mistakes, faults and shortcomings?

Even worse, when you DO do something kinda awesome, does this inner bully slap it down and tell you why it doesn’t really matter?

I can’t tell you how many times, in my role as a therapist and life coach, I’ve articulated the above questions out loud to a client sitting in front of me… only to have his or her eyes suddenly brim over with tears: They’ve just been seen.

When You Feel Like You’re Never Doing Enough…

They are trying so hard to be good, likable, loveable, and worthy — and they are. They absolutely are. But they don’t feel like it. They beat themselves up, nonstop.

They might work harder, do more, achieve something even more spectacular… but they always find something to critizise. Other people tell them they’re great, but they don’t feel it. It’s never *quite* good enough.  It’s like a bottomless pit — no matter what they do, or how much approval they get, they still beat themselves up. 

It’s so painful. It’s so exhausting. It’s also so common — especially in high-achieving, successful types. (Ironically). Yes, the people who seem pretty darn close to perfect in the eyes of others are often the ones struggling the most to feel peaceful and self-accepting. [Read: The Problem With Perfectionism]

Can you relate? Do you feel like you’re never doing enough? Or like you have to be perfect (but even when you are, it could still be better?

If so, the latest episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast is for you. We’re going to be talking about how to stop beating yourself up, even if (and especially if) you’re going through life circumstances that make you more vulnerable to beating yourself up.

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

Specifically, we’re discussing:

  • Why You Beat Yourself Up
  • How to stop beating yourself up for mistakes
  • How to stop beating yourself up over the little things
  • How to stop beating yourself up for past mistakes (that feel big)
  • How to stop beating yourself up over mistakes at work
  • How to stop beating yourself up after a breakup
  • How to stop beating yourself up emotionally
  • How to stop beating yourself up for not being perfect

Listen to this episode to learn how to start pushing back against this “inner bully”  so that you can cultivate self-compassion, feel less insecure, feel good about yourself, and take pride in your many accomplishments so that you can own your awesome.

You are worth it! 

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: What’s on YOUR mind these days? Have a question or a suggestion for an upcoming blog or podcast? I’m listening! Feel free to drop anything in the comments below, or via this secure form.

Listen Now

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Please Rate, Review & share the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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How to Deal With Selfish People

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Building Awareness and Setting Boundaries

Do you have someone in your life who consistently makes you feel like they don’t care about you, or whatever you’re feeling is not *quite* as important as whatever is happening for them?

If so, you may be in a relationship with a selfish person. This can be emotionally draining, not to mention frustrating — particularly if they’re your husband, wife, or partner. (Though selfish bosses, friends, and coworkers are challenging too).

If you’re trying to figure out how to get your needs met in a relationship with a selfish person, here are some strategies to make it work. (Or, give you the clarity and confidence to let them go).

The first step? Understanding the psychology of selfish people can help you get insight and compassion into the way they think, and why they do the infuriating things they do…

Why Are Some People So Selfish?

Emotional intelligence exists on a spectrum. Some individuals are higher in emotional intelligence than others. One symptom of low emotional intelligence is the tendency to be self-absorbed: Exclusively concerned about what you’re thinking, feeling, needing and wanting, rather than attuned to the thoughts, feelings, needs and desires of others.

One thing that I have found to be helpful is to conceptualize the way that people are functioning in the context of their life experiences. People who are “selfish” (have little awareness of the thoughts, feelings, or needs of others) tend to have been raised in environments in which their feelings, thoughts and needs were not recognized or valued. In contrast, highly empathetic people had — from earliest childhood — their feelings and thoughts reflected back to them, and at least respected.

In this way, thoughtful and compassionate people are not born: they’re made. Likewise, people who have arrived in adulthood without the easy ability to understand or value the emotions of others are products of their environment. The good news is that everyone can learn how to become more other-focused. However, this work is long and slow.

Can Selfish People Become Less Selfish, Over Time?

While emotional intelligence is different than cognitive abilities in that it can be strengthened and increased through deliberate learning and practice, it requires the person who is lower in emotional intelligence to 1) recognize that there is an issue, 2) have an interest or desire in improving the situation 3) learn specific skills and strategies to increase emotional intelligence and then 4) commit to practicing these skills regularly.

Unfortunately, in this situation the question “can we ‘train’ self-absorbed people to take more of an interest and listen?” is describing the central problem which is also creating barriers for the solution. People with low emotional intelligence generally have zero awareness that their relational focus is creating distress or annoyance for others…. Because they often fail to pick up or consider how others are feeling. “Being trained” would require them to pick up on cues given by others and then respond by doing things they struggle to do: containing their inner experience to the point that they’re able to focus on the other person, listening, etc.

All of these activities, though they seem simple, actually require a complex emotional intelligence / emotional regulation / communication skill-set that is developed over time. Expecting that someone who doesn’t do these things should be able to if they only cared enough is a recipe for disappointment and resentment.

Should You Call Someone Out on Selfish Behavior?

You certainly can point out when someone is being self absorbed or inconsiderate. But, consider this: 

When you (naturally) react negatively to someone with low emotional intelligence (again, someone who may have little to no self-awareness around how they may be impacting others) they will often feel genuinely surprised, offended, and even attacked and victimized. For this reason, enerally speaking, more often than not, attempts to directly confront self-centered behavior and ask for improvement results in defensiveness, minimization and often an unproductive conflict.

It is therefore extremely difficult for others to create change in a self-focused person.

The person doing the calling out is usually just going to get dismissed by a self-centered person as being hostile, difficult, “selfish” (ironically), or a variety of other things. It usually takes a self-centered person to experience consequences in multiple relationships as well as in the occupational domain in order for them to entertain the possibility that they themselves are the common denominator.

Now, what CAN work is to “assist” the other person in experiencing natural consequences for their relational patterns. For example, it’s normal and natural to not want to spend as much time with someone who is self-centered and a poor listener. Over time, they may notice that they don’t have that many friends, or have short-lived relationships, aren’t advancing in their careers, or often feel lonely and disconnected. They may start to feel badly about that and wonder why. 

This type of self-reflection can lead them to enter into a personal growth process, ideally with the assistance of a therapist or coach who can help shine a light on the relational blind-spots that have been causing others — and ultimately themselves — so much pain. This can lead to a transformational new level of self-awareness and personal responsibility, particularly when it’s coupled with effective direction around how to learn emotional intelligence skills.

How To Become Less Selfish

People committed to the process of increasing their emotional intelligence can then begin learning how to understand their own feelings, and use that as a starting point to develop empathy for others. Often, learning how to name and manage their own feelings feels like new territory for them. 

They can shift away from the “mind-blindness” that may have characterized their relationships in the past, and begin deliberately focusing on what others are thinking, feeling, or wanting. Often, learning how to actively and empathetically listen, ask open-ended questions, and slow their process down to incorporate the perspectives of others are central to developing stronger relationships going forward.

However — and this is key — no one can do this work for them. The selfish person has to be motivated to do this work for themselves. If you try to “help” a person grow in this area by confronting them, nagging them, or pushing them towards personal growth work it’s just going to make YOU angry, and THEM defensive. (And less likely to do the work).

Should You Stay In a Relationship With a Selfish Person?

The  answer to this question depends on what type of relationship you’re hoping to have with a self-focused person, and how committed you are to supporting them through their growth process.

Dating Someone Who is Selfish

If you’re dating, it may be wise to let this person go sooner rather than later so that they have time and space to continue to develop themselves personally. You’ll be saved the frustration, hurt and resentment that you’re certain to experience if you continue attempting to get your needs met by them before they are able to do so.

Being Friends With a Selfish Person

Likewise, casual friendships with people who relate to others this way are rarely satisfying. You’d do better to invest your time and energy into friendships with people who you can have a more balanced and mutually generous relationship.

Married to a Selfish Person

Now, if you’re neck-deep in a marriage / kids / mortgage situation with someone who you’ve come to realize is a self-centered and lacking in emotional intelligence skills, it may be worth working on things with them. In these situations “working on things” tends to look like one person getting really angry with the other person for doing what they usually do — being thoughtless and self-absorbed — which leads to defensiveness and withdrawal.

A better solution is to bring this party to a good marriage counselor who can help you both understand what is happening in the relationship in a neutral and productive way that’s more likely to generate real and lasting change. The person who struggles with emotional intelligence skills needs guidance around how to be a more emotionally present partner. However, the person on the other side of the dynamic may also need to work on having acceptance, compassion and appreciation for their partner as well.

A particularly difficult relationship to manage is when you have a parent or a close family member who is very self-centered. The best strategy here may be to 1) lower your expectations dramatically 2) limit your time together and 3) look to other people to meet your emotional and relational needs, because you’re not going to get them met here. 

Early Warning Signs That Someone is Selfish

You can save yourself a lot of frustration and heartache by avoiding getting entangled in relationships with selfish, self-absorbed people from the get-go. When you’re getting to know someone new, observe how they relate to you, and other people too.

When you’re dating, take self-centered behavior extremely seriously, and do not make the mistake that too many people do (especially women) which is to “date optimistically.” Optimistic dating is thinking that behavior / personality / values / life goals will change in response to how much someone cares about you or how committed they are to the relationship. 

A lot of women take selfish behavior on their new boyfriend’s part to indicate that they should work harder to be more loveable because then their boyfriend would treat them better. This is not true: The guy is being self-centered because that’s actually who he is. If you want better, cut them loose. 

Furthermore, remember that the way people do small things is generally a microcosm of the way they do big things. Not taking five seconds to text you back all day “because they were busy” implies that your needs are actually secondary to theirs, in their mind. Pay attention to that, especially early on.

A great way to test someone’s generosity vs. tendency towards selfishness is to say no to them when they ask you for something. A generous person who is capable of having empathy for your feelings will understand and respect your boundaries. A selfish person who struggles to understand and prioritize the feelings of others sometimes will likely get upset, “hurt” or even angry with you. 

A fantastic and very reliable way to prune self-centered people from your life is to get good at saying no. Expect that they’ll get mad at you, and stay the course. If you set a new expectation for the relationship — that this is a two-way street — they’ll either have to do some important growth work, or the relationship will self-destruct. Win – win, either way.

How can someone break a cycle in which the selfish person in their life frequently asks them for favors or time, without reciprocation?

Having Compassion For Selfish People

If you’re navigating a challenging relationship with a self-centered person, it can help you to hold on to empathy and compassion for them. Keep in mind that the self-centered person really has no idea how off-putting their way of relating is, and that the origins of their selfish behavior are in their own unmet needs for emotional support. These ideas can help you stay in a compassionate place when dealing with these types of people. 

Remember that they just want to be loved too, and they are also doing the best they can with what they have. They got dealt a crappy hand in the supportive family department (OR they are on the autism spectrum, which we have not touched upon, but which is also very real).

All of the above can help you be patient, but also manage your expectations so that you don’t find yourself getting hurt, disappointed, or resentful when they don’t behave differently. 

Until they discover that the way they’re relating to other people is pushing them away, and decide to get help for this, they’re unlikely to change. That’s not your fault, but it’s also not your problem. You can be kind to self-centered people, but knowing who and what they are will also help you set healthy boundaries for yourself and invest your energy and attention in people who can love you back.

Wishing you all the best,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Have you had to develop boundaries with similar relationships in the past? Share with us your suggestions in the comments section!

 

 

 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Happiness, Kathleen Stutts, Podcast, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, lisabobby

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