Sunday, February 27, 2011

Updates and Relationship Skills

I had the opportunity to visit with some old friends this last Tuesday.  It was fun visiting with everybody, and I wish it could happen more often!  We enjoyed catching up over breakfast at Mimi's Cafe in Sandy, and before we all left, we got a picture of us all. 

 Isaac has taken up a new love, which is cooking!  He watches cooking shows with Rob and I, and he will seriously sit there and watch the whole program!  A couple of weeks ago, he came in with his super hero cape, but it was on backwards, covering his front instead of his back.  He also had a nifty furry hat on, and when we asked him who he was, he said he was "Super Chef"!  I think Rob got a picture of him on his camera, so I will have to post it one of these days, but I thought it was so cute and funny!  When I got home from my get together with my friends, he had "created" a surprise for me!  It was a pop-tart (already toasted for me, but not so hot anymore) covered with a layer of peanut butter and topped off with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal!  Yum!!  Another funny story was that last week I made him fried eggs, which we call flat eggies.  I gave him his, and as he started eating it, he told me, "Mom, I love the spices you put on this!"  The "spices" consisted of salt.  I thought that was too funny!
On a sad note, as I got home from my visit, the kids came out to the garage to greet me.  As we were going back up the garage stairs, Eden slipped on the bottom stair and landed face first on the upper step, hitting both of her shins and knocking out her top two front teeth!  She hit so hard that it actually knocked her out for a second!  She also got a huge fat lip in the fall!  Thankfully, both teeth were baby teeth, and one was already loose, so at least we didn't have to go visit the dentist.  We did call the doctor because she had been knocked out for a second, but she didn't have any of the signs of a concussion, and was feeling a bit better even a few minutes later.  On the up side, the tooth fairy must have known it was a tough way to loose teeth, and she got $3 dollars instead of just two, and in a fun way!  She got a dollar bill, a golden dollar, and 4 quarters!  She was very excited about that! 

I thought that this time around I would include 9 important relationship skills.  These skills come from the research done by John Gottman, who is one of the nation's leading researchers on why marriages are successful or unsuccessful.  He and his researchers have pinpointed these nine skills and have determined that, if learned, these skills can help to put a relationship on a positive path.  There are basically two different categories for these skills: the do's and the don'ts.

The Don'ts

1. Criticism-Attacking someone's personality or character with accusations and blame (for example, "You never think of anyone else," or "How can you be so stupid").

2. Contempt-Intentional insulting, name calling, rolling the eyes, sneering.

3. Defensiveness-Feeling victimized by others in response to contempt, and refusing to take responsibility for personal actions.  Being defensive blocks a couple's ability to deal with an issue.  Even if one partner feels completely justified in his/her actions, becoming defensive only adds to the couple's problems.

4. Stonewalling-Withdrawing from interactions and refusing to communicate at all.  When couples refuse to communicate about their issues, the relationship becomes fragile. (Note: It is completely fair in a relationship to explain to your partner that you are overloaded emotionally and that you need to take a break, call "time out," and calm down before you say something you don't mean.)

The Do's

5. Calm Down-Disengaging from an interaction before something hurtful is said must last for at least 25 minutes for a person to really calm down.  Otherwise, it is easy to slip back into an emotionally charged conversation and to say things that are hurtful.

6. Complaint-Bringing up a complaint about a specific issue or behavior is actually one of the healthiest activities a couple can engage in (for example, "When you fail to call me to let me know you are going to be late, it makes me feel like you aren't considering my feelings and the fact that I will worry about you.")

7. Speak Non-Defensively-This kind of language is an art form that usually includes speaking with a soft voice, beginning with "I feel..." statements rather than "You..." statements.  Listeners must demonstrate trust in order to communicate effectively without eliciting defensiveness.

8. Validate-To validate another person, one must: Listen by giving full attention, listen to the emotions and needs being expressed, and understand from the other person's point of view.

9. Overlearn Skills-To overlearn means to master the eight other skills in the list so that they remain available even in times of weariness, stress, or anger.

All of these ideas came from the same source as in my last post

One suggestion I would give if you really want to know where your strengths and weaknesses are in these skills is to keep track of them for a week.  Write them down on a tally sheet, and then 3 or 4 times a day put a plus or minus sign next to each skill: a plus if you did the skill correctly, or a negative sign if you did not.  After the week is up, tally up all your scores and see where you stand.  This also helps you to learn the skills better, and think about them more often, which can help you implement them more in your life, which is good!  You can also use this same method to track your 8 personal needs to see what areas you are lacking in and need to improve in to help find greater balance and happiness in your life!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Running Fast and 8 Personal Needs

Okay, so I wish I was actually physically running fast, but it's more my life that is just running fast!  Sometimes almost too fast, to the point of not being able to keep up!  I really can't even tell you what has been going on the last month that has been so time consuming that I haven't had time to write!  I guess I'll just have to chalk it up to school and taking care of 4 young children! 

Oh, one milestone we have reached in the last week is that Ammon has started crawling!  He still isn't super fast, but I'm not giving it much time before he is going everywhere!  He has started to put EVERYTHING in his mouth, so I spend a lot of time trying to keep the floor clean.  It is amazing how much the vacuum can miss!!  Of course, the vacuum can't do anything about siblings sharing their OREO cookies with him at any rate!  One thing that I am grateful for, knock on wood, is that so far Ammon has been pretty good at not really choking on things.  Isaac was the worst, and I swear if anything touched his lips he was choking on it!  NOT good for the nerves, especially our nerves!! 

I haven't been very good at actually writing about things I'm learning in school, so I decided to include something in this post.  In learning to know ourselves better, and in our efforts to balance the different aspects of our lives, we need to know ourselves.  Researches have found that there are at least 8 needs that must be met if people are to feel happy, satisfied, and fulfilled.

1. Develop a positive picture of themselves.  We all have weaknesses and shortcomings that we want to overcome, but focusing on these weaknesses in an obsessive way only makes us depressed and can lead to untrue thoughts of ourselves.  Instead, when you find yourself thinking negative thoughts of yourself, try to replace those thoughts with positive ones, such as "I am a good friend, I can be trusted, I'm kind, I'm spiritual, etc".  This kind of talk is called positive self-talk.  Inner conversations can have a powerful effect on self-concept, so make a conscious effort to turn negative thoughts into positive ones!

2.  Develop close real-love relationships.  All people need to have close real-love relationships in order to feel worthwhile and to feel like they belong.  Real love and real relationships build; they never destroy.  It is kind, giving, unselfish, and sometimes unconditional.  Counterfeit love is manipulative, selfish, and conditional upon performance instead of worth as members of the human family.

3.  Feel like they belong.  Get rid of all conditions you place upon yourself, such as : I won't feel like I belong unless I'm popular, or unless I get a raise at work, wear the nicest clothes, etc.  These are mind traps, and you stop them by consciously not allowing yourself to think in this way.

4.  Receive the respect of others and themselves.  People have a real need to be honored and to be held in high regard, both by themselves and by others.  If you have to choose between popularity and self-respect, always choose self-respect.  It is miserable to be respected and liked by others, but not like or respect oneself.  Be true to who you are and what you know.

5.  Feel worthwhile by developing a healthy self-esteem.  When you are alone with you, have you ever asked yourself the question, "Do you love me?"

6.  Feel competent.  We all need to feel that we are good at something.  What are you good at?  Social and emotional skills such as showing kindness, making good moral decisions, and showing compassion and forgiveness may be less noticeable than other skills, but they are just as critical, and maybe even more so, to feeling competent.

7.  To experience growth.  Stretch, learn, and climb out of your comfort zone and try something new!  Learn a new hobby or skill.  Improve your home, or start a collection.  Volunteer or work in your yard.  Read books or learn how to cook something new!

8.  To feel safe and secure.  People need to feel some degree of safety and security. 

Once you understand how these needs relate to yourself, expand your thinking to realizing that everyone you know has these same needs that need to be met, and recognize how you can help them to reach these needs for themselves.  Also, work or other responsibilities also have these needs, and recognizing that can help you to be a better employee/person in how you deal with these responsibilities if you are conscious of meeting these needs for others as well.

This information came mostly from the text book, "Balancing Work and Family in the Real World" written by Victor W. Harris, a professor in Family Life Studies at Utah State University.