Love and Respect in Relationships


In each of the following examples one of the partners isn’t listening well, isn’t trying to understand and certainly is not working to compromise.  And yet, if I asked each of them if they loved the other, the answers would be “Yes.”  If I asked each of them if they respected the other, the answers would be “Yes.”  But, is this really how love and respect act?

Ashley and Ryan are both 54 years old; they’re engaged.  They have very different personalities.  Ashley is the Type A, Superiority type: a driver, so goal-oriented that she cannot “waste” any seconds or minutes.  She’s got to be busy moving toward one of her many goals all the time.

Ryan, on the other hand, is a Pleasing personality so he often gives Ashley what she wants.  But even Ryan has his limits.  Ryan is a more balanced person. He has goals but he knows his body’s limits.  He’s more realistic about how he uses his time, especially at the end of his day.  His job is making purchases worth anywhere from 5 to 15 million dollars for a large airplane manufacturer.  So, Ryan’s days are intense and generate a huge amount of stress. He’s understandably tired when he’s at the end of his workday.

Ashley and Ryan take a yoga class together on Wednesday evenings.   The instructor is always a few minutes late.  During that few minutes Ashley insists that they practice their tango steps even though the space is very limited. The space thing makes Ryan uncomfortable; he feels rude stepping over people. Or, she wants them to run the track to “warm up.”   Ashley knows Ryan is tired; he has told her.   He’d rather spend those few minutes sitting quietly, talking or stretching.  The truth is Ashley doesn’t respect Ryan enough to really listen to the meaning of what he’s saying.  And, she’s nowhere near compromising.  She just wants her way.   It’s interesting that Ashley has brought Ryan to me to “fix” so he’ll do what she wants, when it’s she who needs some skills.

Larry and Jan have been married for 36 years.  You’d think they would have accepted each other’s personalities by now and arrived at some peaceful place together.  But, no.  They are both on-guard, defensive and competitive.  They each want to win. They haven’t realized yet that in healthy relationships, winning can’t be a goal.

Neither Jan nor Larry has actually tried listening to the meaning that the other is speaking.  Neither has accepted that the other might be saying something of value that they could use to improve the relationship.  Instead, their “talks” usually end in a standoff with each one complaining about the other.  They’ve spent 37 years of marriage competing over who’ll change who.  It’s so sad.

Amy has been married to Steve for 41 years. They moved into the house they’re in 35 years ago.  For 35 years Amy has brought in the mail because she’s home from her job first.  For 35 years she has sorted her own mail out and left Steve’s for him on their kitchen counter.  That’s what he asked her to do.   The problem?  Steve lets the mail pile up even though Amy has repeatedly asked him for years to put it in the basket next to the counter.  Think about it:  all that time.  Such a simple thing, yet he doesn’t do it.  And in fact, when she mentions it, he gets angry (a convenient, powerful defense for him, and for Amy, a scary one). To add injury to insult, when Steve decides the pile is unmanageable on the counter, he takes it downstairs and lays it on the end of their ping pong table, which makes Amy even more resentful.  Steve just doesn’t respect Amy enough to listen to her simple request and do what he should.


What’s Wrong With These Sets of Partners?

A few things.

  1. When we enter any kind of relationship we should expect differences.  We should expect to work out our differences by:
    1. listening to our partner to understand how he/she is different,
    2. willingly negotiate and compromise so that we each get some of what we want, instead of one person winning and the other losing,
    3. respecting our partner enough to be open and genuine,
    4. become acquainted with our own defenses and work hard to drop them.

Webster says that the word “respect” means:  to prize, cherish and value.  So, if we value our partner and learn the skills of problem-solving and compromise, the relationship should go well.

  1. We should expect that that other person will not change his/her basic personality.  We can expect our partners to be interested in our personal likes (Ryan is taking a yoga class with Ashley even though yoga really isn’t his thing).  But, Ashley isn’t satisfied with Ryan’s gift; she actually expects him to change his body rhythm.  I don’t think so.  And sadly, as the three of us talked I could see the resentment on his face, though he didn’t express it.  The relationship is already suffering from Anna’s disrespectful Control.
  2. Focus on your partner’s positives.  Aren’t those traits one of the reasons you’re together?  Decide to actually like your partner.   In healthy relationships liking is nearly as important as loving. Think about it:  When we like someone we gravitate toward them and we want to get along; we want to be around them.  So, concentrate on knowing and liking the other person.
  3. Bring your best self to the relationship every time you have the opportunity to be together.  Yes, we all have days when we’re tired or cranky because something’s gone wrong or we didn’t get enough sleep, or whatever.  But, you can tell that to your partner, alert him/her that you’re not at your 100 percent, he/she should hear you.  Things should smooth out.


So, do you notice any of these negative habits in your relationships?  If so, I hope you’ll plan to drop them.  Really, they’re so destructive, you’ll just want them gone as soon as you can manage it.  Good luck!

If you’d like more specific information on relationships and/or the personalities that make them, just leave a comment in the website’s comment section or email me.


Until next time, warm wishes

                                     to you and yours,


            Thanks so much for reading.  And, if you think anyone you know would like this article, please forward it.

Soothing Gratefulness

Sometimes when I’m really tired or I realize I won’t get everything on my perpetual to-do list done, I hear myself complaining.  My next thought?  Oh, it’s just me being grumpy; I’m feeling sorry for myself.  It’s then that I remind myself how rich my life is and how much I have to be grateful for.   So, today I’ve written a fresh “Gratitude List.”  It’s incomplete, of course, but I’ve started. 




I’m  grateful  for :


  1. My deep spiritual and moral beliefs.
  2. My grandchildren.
  3. My health—my body has been very good to me.
  4. The home I grew up in.  Everyone in that three generation household (my Italian family) modeled life skills and personal values that I needed.  Among many other values, they emphasized sharing with others and “doing good” in life.   They especially stressed good living:  faith and responsibility in all matters but balanced with good, healthy fun. 
  5. My brother, Jim, his wife, Mary, and their children who don’t lose faith in me because my communication is irregular.
  6. My piano – it has been a good friend to me since I was nine years old.
  7. My casual neighborhood restaurant where everyone knows me, welcomes me, and takes care of me.
  8. Talk radio, especially NPR where reason prevails, and I learn so much.
  9. Books:   I’ll read practically anything.
  10. Meeting new souls who constantly remind me how valuable each of us is.  We all have something to offer.
  11. The daily chance to learn the powerful lesson of acceptance.
  12. Jennifer for her kind offer of help with my business.
  13. The many daily opportunities for “doing the right thing.”
  14. The 30 years of trust given to me by others as I helped guide them down the path I’d already taken.
  15. My USA Today newspaper – it’s my morning treat five days a week.
  16. This blog/website – it’s a wonderful adventure.  And, for all of you who read the posts – thank you so much


Every day I wake up feeling grateful that I was born.  True; some choices I’ve made along the way weren’t wise, so there were periods of pain.  But, as I got better at handling me, they became good opportunities for growing.  So if you’ve been there and done that too, don’t be discouraged.  Just get up and get going again.  We can be content with Today.

Now, you might be asking yourself:  “Why take the time to do this exercise?   Are there any personal payoffs?”  Yes!  Just writing my list today lifts my spirits and gives me more energy.  There’s a little added spring in my walk and I’m smiling more even though I’m alone in my office.  Yes; it’ll work for you, too.   Okay, are there any more goodies?  Yes!  As I check in with my body I realize that I actually feel fuller and more satisfied, like I’ve had a really delicious meal.  I feel calmer, less anxious.  And yes, you will, too.

So, here’s a final thought:  Webster writes that the word grateful also means thankful and appreciative.  Is there something that you’re especially thankful for?  Are there thoughts or feelings within you or things or people around you that you can appreciate?  I bet there are. 

If you already have a gratitude list or you’ll be making one, I’d love to see it.  Please share.  And, in the meantime, I hope you have a feel-good Thanksgiving wherever you are.


All the best to you until next time,



            P.S.  Thanks so much for reading.  And, if you think anyone you know would enjoy this post, please share it.  Also, I’ll be blogging at least once a week on Tuesdays.  If there is something in particular you’d like to know about on the subjects of personalities, relationships and/or parenting, please leave your suggestions in the comment box below.

Participation in a Relationship is a Must

A Deeper Look at The Passive/Active Concept in Relationships.

Waiting isn’t Participating


Yesterday I talked with Frank and Nicole about their very different life postures:  passive or active.  Frank and Nicole have been together for a little over two years.  They truly love each other.  And, one important positive is that they have many of the same values and interests.

But, there is one huge “sticking point” for Nicole:  Frank’s passivity.  She can’t get past her need to have an “equal partner.”  She said at the end of our conversation that she wants that change from Frank NOW or she doesn’t see them going on.   Why press him like this?  They started talking about his passive behavior a couple of years ago and we have revisited the topic quite a few times since then.  She’s tired of waiting.

Frank has been working on this for some time and he’s definitely gotten better with his peers and his boss at work.  But, not with Nicole.



Okay, so let’s talk about passivity first.  The concept I’m referring to here is “the life posture of passive or active living.”  Somewhere in the years between birth and five or six, we all decide UNconsiously how we’ll “do” life.  Our choices are:

  1. actively (jump in it and live our lives to the fullest).   Or, we decide to approach life:
  2. semi-passively (stand on the edge of life and get in it at points where we feel emotionally safe).  Or we can decide to do life:
  3. extremely passively (stand on the edge of life and barely get in, maybe only to work but otherwise live a narrow but very protected emotionally safe life).   Whichever choice we make, we act it out for the rest of our lives unless we make a conscious decision to change it.

There are positives and negatives for each of these choices but today let’s just talk about the semi-passive posture and how it has impacted Frank’s life. 

First, why would the very young Frank UNconsciously decide to approach life passively? 

There are a few reasons.

  1. First reason:  Frank is a second-born child.  His older sister, Julie, UNconsciously chose to “jump in life and LIVE it.”  When Frank came along, he had to decide UNconsciously whether he’d get in the “jump in it” area with Julie or not.  Instead, he chose the semi-passive position.

Why?  Kids won’t usually compete with the ones above them because they’re afraid they can’t “measure up.” (If you look at your present family or think back to your birth family, you’ll probably see an example of this idea there.)  This concept is partly why our kids are so different from each other.  So, Julie was the active” child; Frank the “passive” one.

  1. Second reason:  Julie was accomplished even as a little kid: obedient, helpful, serious, and Edward, her father, very much liked her enthusiastic, assertive style.  His attitude showed in his treatment of Julie; she got a lot of praise for a lot of things.

Frank came along and, even as a little kid, was more “trouble,” not a rebellious kid, just not “with it.”  Frank’s dad, Edward: criticized Frank heavily, negatively compared him to Julie, and called him names: clumsy, stupid, lazy.  Frank couldn’t seem to do anything right.   The really sad, sad thing about this was that Frank believed what his dad said about him.  He’s gone through life believing that his dad’s opinion of him was correct.

  1. Third reason: So, from the time Frank turned three or so, he tried and tried to “stay out of the way” and “figure out what others wanted or needed and then do it.”  He learned to stay in the shadows, do what he was told and respond quickly to others and always, always to apologize if there was any hint that he hadn’t done what was wanted.  So, in relationships Frank learned to be quiet, not to offer anything.  Frank is now 48 years old so the beliefs he has carried around with him have had years of reinforcement. Now, as always, he waits to be told.

Frank’s two highest personality types are Pleasing and ComfortWe can see why the Pleasing developed; an obedient child, Frank has spent his whole life trying to get approval from his dad.  The Comfort is a natural choice for kids who are scared of their parents or by their own self-judgment.



Now Nicole.  Nicole UNconsciously imitated her father’s style:  the Superiority personality type.  He was the strongest personality of her two parents and was an “active” personNicole’s mother was an “extremely passive” parent who made no decisions, but was very critical. 

What Nicole decided UNconsciously was that she could follow her dad’s Superiority because both parents admired her intensity about achieving high goals (Nicole is an MD).  But, she responded to her mother’s criticism and her father’s teaching about dress, manners, image and status by Pleasing them.  So, Nicole’s two strong personality types are Superiority and Pleasing and she acts both of them out very “actively.”


What’s Wrong in This Relationship?

Unfortunately, Frank took his passivity into adult living with him.  And, into the relationship with Nicole.

So, how are these two opposite life postures, “active and semi-passive” acted out in the Frank/Nicole relationship?  Nicole has to lead the relationship because Frank won’t.  If she doesn’t lead, there is no action, no movement.  This means that she has the responsibility of initiating everything between them:  any kind of talk, whether it’s about something intellectual or just conversation, any social plans, vacation plans, any other “together” activities, like classes, even sexual cues.  This is because Frank waits….and waits….and waits.  He does not suggest, start, initiate anything.  It just doesn’t occur to him.



To start, I talked with Frank about:

  1. Understanding which thoughts direct his passive behavior,
  2. Gradually giving up those thoughts, and
  3. Building new healthy beliefs that will serve him now in all of his relationships wherever they are, at work, out socially or with Nicole. 

He needs the most help in his intimate relationship with Nicole because: 

  1. That’s where he feels most vulnerable to criticism or other negative responses, and
  2. That’s where it’s toughest for him to risk making a mistake. 

As Frank and I talked about his severe reluctance to speak up or simply ‘act,’ I learned that:

  1. he wasn’t allowed, as a child, to offer an opinion or make a request.

So even now, he thinks he shouldn’t speak up. 

  1. Further, he thinks that if he does offer an opinion or ask for something, he’ll come off as boring or he’ll be criticized.  He might even be mocked; so he’s avoiding humiliation.
  2. He also thinks he can’t be “forward,” meaning he believes that it’s disrespectful to disagree with others.

Even in childhood teaching a child to be quiet and think of himself as stupid, is just plain wrong and awful.  But, when we’re in the adult world these ideas are crippling because they direct weak behavior or none at all.  People who appear weak get no respect and are “walked all over” in most relationships, if they have any.  Frank has been married twice before and in both of those relationships he was “walked all over.”

Fortunately, Nicole has no desire to treat Frank badly; she loves him.  But, at the same time she wants a full-fledged partner who’ll take on half of the responsibility. She isn’t going to settle for less.  She, too, came out of a long bad marriage a few years back. 

As I confront Frank’s old, illogical ideas, he responds with well-used defensesDefenses are statements or behaviors that we use to protect our beliefs.  All defenses are powerful, some more than others, but all are harmful because they separate us from those we care about.    And, many times, we don’t even know it.

For example, Frank’s most-used defenses were silence and avoidance.  His unhealthy beliefs were hidden from Nicole’s view (and from himself, too). If she hadn’t challenged them so strongly, Frank and I probably would never have talked.  Their relationship would have fallen apart and Frank might never have put it all together. 

And, just as importantly for Frank, he wouldn’t have known that: 

  1. He had these deep beliefs that compelled him to behave in ways that disrespected him.
  2. He could learn skills that would respect the other person and him and would make all his relationships better, as well as making him a stronger more confident person.



Communication.  Frank understood submissive talk; he’d done it all of his life.  He also understood aggressive talk; he’d been the target of it all of his life.  He didn’t know anything about assertive talk.  So, he did the homework I asked of him:  he read a couple of books on assertiveness as well as some handouts I gave him.  As he learned, we practiced so he could gain confidence.

Frank now has a new skill:  Assertive talk.

Self-Confrontation.  Frank and I discovered his old misbeliefs when I confronted him time and time again on WHY he behaved as he did in certain situations.  As we uncovered the old misbeliefs, his defenses would rise, so we got acquainted with those, too.  I wanted him to learn this process so that he could do it himself.  And he did.  Over time, of course.

Frank now has the skill of Self-Confrontation. 

Better Choices for Behavior.  When Frank’s defenses rise, I ask him to think of other better choices for his actions.  At first, like all of us, he got stuck and couldn’t come up with any.  But after a while, after staying with it and practicing, Frank is growing the belief that “he always has better choices than being defensive.”

Yes, we all do.  Life is, among other things, a series of problems that need solutions.  So, if we understand that there usually are many choices, or at least more than one, we won’t need defenses.  We can all become more responsible and love each other more deeply in the process.  


Big Thoughts In This Article.

  1. Listen carefully to your partner as she expresses her wants and needs in your relationship. Rather than feel annoyed or scared, get clear what she means. Expect the same from her.
  2. Confront yourself about any of your behaviors that are negative in your relationship.  Do this by asking yourself WHY you do the behavior.  Your answer will probably be an old misbelief that’s still hanging around and causing you trouble.
  3. Confront any beliefs that don’t help you now in your adult life.  Defenses will probably come up.  Remember that they, too, are old and have not served you well.  Determine to drop them.
  4. As you drop your old beliefs and defenses around them, you’ll need to build new positive, constructive beliefs that will improve your life and your relationships.  Good!!
  5. You’ll need to develop new skills to act as a foundation for the new beliefs.  Decide not to feel bad about needing additional skills (like Frank needed assertive talk).  We all get to our adult years without ALL of the skills that we need.  We can simply acquire them.  No shame.
  6. Look back at what you’ve accomplished and give yourself a good pat on the back.  Or several.  You’ve worked hard:  (1) gone from having misbeliefs, defenses, and lacking skills, TO (2) discarding old misbeliefs, dropping old defenses, building new, productive ideas, learned new, important skills.  Enjoy it all!  You earned it; you deserve it!  Celebrate!


Warmest regards until next time,


Thank you so much for reading and if you know anyone who would also enjoy this, please forward.    


Getting to Know You: A Necessary Requirement

A Deeper Look at Personality.


I’ve known Tony for quite a while.  He’s going through a rough time now, divorcing for the third time.  He doesn’t really understand why his marriages fail.  Two reasons:  (1) he doesn’t know himself deeply.  That means he always reacts to people instead of actively making decisions.  (2) And, he doesn’t know enough about why others behave as they do.  The guy is really naïve.’


So, just as a start, I asked him to list positive qualities that he knew about himself.  The list he gave me is below:


  • Reasonably attractive
  • Good physical Condition
  • Good/dry sense of humor
  • Well-mannered
  • High morals and high values
  • Intelligent
  • Good listener
  • Compassionate and caring, sensitive
  • Romantic, passionate
  • Take control, leader type personality
  • Conservative personally and politically
  • Organized
  • Cares deeply about others
  • What you see is what you get:  genuine

I looked at this list and thought, “Well then, what’s the problem?”  Something else must be going on because the Tony I know does fit the list he gave me.

So, we talk more and I learn that, unfortunately, he has some negative beliefs that are leftover from his childhood.  And, these beliefs along with his naivete’ about others keep him unsure of himself in personal relationships.  Typical Pleasing personality.  Here are the old beliefs Tony has been carrying around.

  1. I’m not good enough; others don’t value me; I’m inadequate.
  2. Others will judge me.
  3. I need to feel safe emotionally before I can be me.
  4. I believe what others tell me about me.

 So, we talk.  He hears me say that these ideas are not even true, yet he’s letting them seriously undermine his personal relationships.  Here’s what I mean.

  1. Tony, and you too reader, must believe in yourself.  Believe that you are “enough.” That you are definitely more than adequate.  And, that you’re entitled to the same respect you give others. Yes, you have some faults; we all do, we’re human. But, you have many good qualities, like Tony, and you can work to improve the not-so-okay ones.  Become aware of who you are.
  2. Yes, unfortunately others may judge you.  That doesn’t mean you should believe or accept their comments.  Others may use judgment to build power for themselves and to keep you down.  It may sound weird to you but Tony did believe many of the criticisms without checking them against his personal knowledge of himself.  He accepted them without thinking through why the other person was judging, criticizing or disapproving.   This quick acceptance is common to the Pleaser.  The Pleasing personality is very afraid to confront anything because that might jeopardize the relationship.  The person they care about might leave; that’s the worst kind of nightmare for a Pleaser.
  3. Tony, and you too, should build your confidence enough to be your natural, relaxed self, no matter where you are.  Don’t let others intimidate you.  Instead, actively make smart, informed decisions about whom you prefer to be with.  Please don’t cheat yourself because of fear.
  4. Actually, when someone gives us information about ourselves, the first thing to do is consider how accurate it is.  If it’s right and you need to make a change, do it.  But, if it isn’t correct, then ask yourself what’s motivating that other person to make the remark.  Don’t take whatever is said to you as totally correct, ever.  Your personal strength comes from you knowing who you are.    

Well, the first time I challenged Tony’s old, deeply rooted ideas, he heard me.  But, he didn’t embrace the new, different thoughts right away.  That’s simply not how we humans make changes.   But, over time, he built enough courage to try them out.  Over time, Tony’s feelings of self-worth and confidence grew, and finally, the old beliefs just fell away.

If you’re a “Tony,” make a list of your own positives and negatives.  Emphasize your positives.  But, understand that any negative ones keep you from doing life as successfully and happily as you might.   Have the courage to confront your negatives and change what you need to.  During the transition be patient with yourself and trust that your attention to you will definitely pay off in your future.  Good Luck!


Big Thoughts In This Article.

  1. Spend serious time getting to know you.  Not the surface you that you can make a quick list about and then forget it.  Tony did that but we learned that he really didn’t believe his own list, he still felt that he didn’t measure up. No, I mean look deeply at the qualities that you are confident about or those you’re uncertain about. See what you find.
  2. Become aware of how much you bend or give up to others without realizing it.  Are you a Pleaser like Tony? Do you give much more to others than you even think about giving to yourself?
  3. It’s time for you to (a) Respect yourself, and (b) Value yourself. Of course, I don’t mean that you should become self-centered.  No, but I do mean that you should take care of yourself by valuing and respecting yourself as much as you do others.  Then you’ll be more balanced and that’s always a good thing.


All the best until next time,


            Thanks so much for reading.  And, if you think someone else might enjoy this article, please share.


 Author of the Smart Parenting booklet.

Author of the Smart Relationships book.

Talking With Your Kids

A Deeper Look at Positive Parenting.


Sometimes, especially if our child/teen is doing well, we parents tend to forget about giving her that pat on the back.   Or, we assume she doesn’t need it.  Not so.  Everyone enjoys being noticed or getting support.  Your child/teen also wants to know that you see her effort and progress as well as her successes.

All relationships flourish when the people in them sincerely affirm each other.   So, consider telling your child/teen that you notice how hard she works or that you like the goals she sets or that you’re aware that she manages her time well or anything else you see that’s positive.   I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Below you’ll see some words and phrases that you might use to get you started.  You might feel uncomfortable or even awkward at first.  A lot of us parents aren’t used to talking this way.  But, I hope you’ll try them anyway.  After a while I’m pretty sure they’ll feel more natural or maybe you’ll just develop your own.  And, there a great bonus to this, too:  if you do the affirming over time she’ll come to understand and believe these things about herself.  That’s a tremendous boost to self-esteem.  Give it a try. 



  1. It looks like you’ve worked hard today.
  2. See, I knew you could do it.
  3. Hey, way to go.
  4. Yeah, it looks like you figured out how to do it.
  5. I can’t improve on yours.
  6. Couldn’t have done it better myself.
  7. Hey, good for you.
  8. Yeah, you’ve got it.
  9. It looks like you’re really good at that.
  10. Nice going.
  11. Keep it up.
  12. You must have been practicing.
  13. I really like that.
  14. You figured that out fast.
  15. Good for you.
  16. Yes!
  17. Good thinking.
  18. Look how far you’ve come.
  19. Keep on trying.
  20. Nice going.


And, of course, we don’t want to forget to say, “I love you.”  That’s always the frosting on the cake. 


All the best until next time,

                                     Joan Chamberlain


Respectful Talk, Negotiation and Compromise

Hi All,

I have a new article up today, taking a Deeper Look at respectful relationship talk.  Did you know that we don’t have to fight?  There is another way.  I explore the case of Ed and Lisa, who are not communicating effectively because Ed is not giving Lisa the respect that she deserves.  This leads Lisa to withdraw and completely shuts down any hope of meaningful communication.  I show in this article how we can turn our arguments into productive discussions by remaining respectful, negotiating fairly, and being willing to compromise.

Click here to read the article.

A Missing Personality Trait

A Deeper Look at Personality Traits In a Relationship


When Ashley came to talk last night, I expected Mike to be with her.  But instead, she was alone. He’d gone grocery shopping and had completely lost track of time.  She was disappointed and frustrated at the same time. She and Mike are planning to marry in a year or so.

Mike is divorced with two children, 14 and 8.   Ashley is also divorced but has no children.  Before they get married, she wants to talk out some things she’s concerned about.  Better to exchange thoughts and settle issues now. Fortunately, he agrees.  So, why wasn’t he here?

About 10 minutes into our talk, Mike called. He was home.  And, he’d thought he could leave right away and still make our meeting, but now can’t find his car keys. The rest of my talk with Ashley was spent on two topics, both coming out of this incident.  It turns out; this behavior is not unusual for Mike. 


Current Situation.

Ashley and Mike are both financial planners and while they don’t work with each other, they work at the same firm. Yesterday they drove to work together in her car. Ashley assumed they would ride home together. But, in the late morning, Mike needed to go to a client’s office.  He told Ashley he’d be taking the car; that was fine with her.  She assumed he’d be back by 7:00 p.m. when she’d be ready to leave the office.

At 7:15 p.m. there was no Mike, no car and no call from him.  Ashley texted him but got no response.  Finally, she called and found him at home with his kids, having dinner.  Mike had completely forgotten she didn’t have a car; it had simply gone out of his mind.  Ashley took a cab home. 

As she was telling me about this, Mike called again to say he’d finally found his car keys in the snow outside by the car.  He must have dropped them when he unloaded the groceries. Could he still come?  No, we’d be finished by the time he arrived. 

While Ashley is really patient and understanding with Mike in situations like this, it happens every day in some way.  To say it’s annoying is an understatement.  Though she loves him very much, she’s really anxious about (1) living with his flaky disorganization (absolute chaos), and (2) raising a child with him. Why?  This is the way most Comfort style people behave.  They lack organization skills and, worse, they expect someone else (whoever) to do it for them. What if their child imitates Mike’s behavior?

Ashley’s the opposite; she’s the Superiority (goal-setting) style, maybe even a little exaggerated.  But, she also has the Control Over Her Situation style; she’s great with order and organization. How does she do it? She makes a to-do list every morning.  Why?  It empties her mind and gets her thoughts on paper where she can see them. Once a list is made, she may even reprioritize the items on it. Again, why?  See the payoffs from her process below.

(1) Ashley’s process (skill) makes sure that immediate things get done on time.

(2) It also insures that she uses her time efficiently. There’s no wondering where things are, no doing things over again because something’s been lost.  There’s no wasting time.  In using this process: her order/organization skill, she makes sure deadlines are met at work and goals are met at home.  Nothing falls through the cracks. 

(3) Ashley’s anxiety falls as she does this process.  Because she’s dropped that anxiety, she’s free to focus all her concentration and energy on moving through her day. 

(4) It feels wonderful to check off the tasks as she completes them. Ashley loves this feeling; it means that she’s moving ahead.  Both movement and completing her goals are Superiority style core qualities.

(5) Having the planning-ahead skill means life goes smoother and, therefore, much calmer.  No heightened anxiety.  By contrast, Mike lives in chaos. And, when they’re together, so does she.  Witness the above situation.


What’s Wrong?

On the other hand, Mike’s process is:  (1) He promises something. Ex: coming back to pick up Ashley, (2) Ashley expects him to follow through (because he promised), (3) he doesn’t follow through, (4) she’s disappointed or resentful or angry or all of it because, (5) her life and their relationship are now seriously affected (because it happens over and over and over), and Ashley’s worried; she knows that love feelings are fragile and can’t stay whole indefinitely before they’re badly affected.

Fortunately, Mike sees the benefits of Ashley’s process and would like to have it.  He’s often frustrated with himself because his life is so chaotic; the process of “being in charge of himself” is something he just never had to learn. So, building it would not only help out in his daily life, but it would also mean his relationship would go a lot smoother. How to do it?



(1)  Mike must slow down, both his thoughts and his body.  His mind is busy but scattered and since he doesn’t capture his thoughts in any way, on paper, or in an iPhone (or some other device), his mind continues to be busy but scattered throughout the day. He acts on those thoughts that are most immediately important (having dinner ready for his kids), but literally forgets the others.  In this case, Ashley.

(2)  Mike has to build a new skill, one that reminds him that now he’s the one who is responsible for planning his everyday life. That means he can’t just react.

When Mike was growing up, his mom did the household tasks while he did school and sports.  During his first marriage, his wife worked so they could afford a daily housekeeper; she did a lot of the chores, errands and scheduling for the family. When Mike’s wife stayed at home, she did the day-to-day chores and errands.  At work he has two assistants that structure his day.  Since Mike has never lived on his own, there’s never been a reason for him to think about it any of it: lists, structuring his off-work hours, and so on. 

(3)  As Mike builds a responsible daily process he can count on, he should tune into the feelings that it brings.  He’ll find that actually knowing what he’s doing at the moment and knowing what he’s doing next, produces great feelings.  His overwhelmed and scattered feelings will gradually disappear.  In their place he’ll notice that he feels more certain, more confident, stronger.  He can finally trust himself. Great.  These dividends are well worth the effort.


Big Thoughts In This Article.


  1. Understand that by the time we reach our late teen years or early twenties each of us should be enough in charge of ourselves that we don’t live in chaos or draw anyone else into it.
  2. Understand that many of us for various reasons do reach our adult years without various practical living skills.  It’s nothing to be defensive about; we can learn what we need to.
  3. Understand that as we learn organization and order skills we equip ourselves to be proactive and so can direct our lives instead of reacting to life. What a relief!


Warm wishes until next time,



I’ve mentioned specific personality types in this article.  You can become more acquainted with the four personalities that I write about by visiting my site (by this Friday, the All About Personalities page will have an entirely new look and a lot more useful information) and my site.

Thanks so much for reading.  And, if there’s something in particular you’d like to know about in the areas of:  personalities, relationships or parenting, please leave your suggestion in the “comment box.”    And, if you think someone else might enjoy this article, please pass it along.


Crazy Drivers Make Me Mad

A Deeper Look at the Control Personality. 

Sam and I were having a conversation about why he’s depressed.  I said that I knew his dad, Carl, had the same problem.  Yeah, he thought his personality was like his dad’s in some ways.  Like his dad, he’s angry a lot. (By the way, over time, chronic anger makes depression.)

For example, he said that while driving on the highway today, some guy cut him off and then slowed down right in front of him.  His reaction was pretty much how he’d seen his dad react in the same situation.  He felt really burned. And, the more he thought about it, the angrier he got.  He could hear his heart pounding. He heard himself talking out loud to the other driver:  “You’re crazy!  What are people like you doing on the road?!  Take a driving course, Buddy, or park it.”  Well, you get the idea.  Sam, though, doesn’t like that he reacts like this.  So, why does he?

First, this may be hard to believe, but people like Sam and his dad haven’t yet accepted the reality: that life will not always go as they want it to or even as it “should.” They can’t control it.  The reality?  There have always been drivers like this on the road and always will be, whether there should be or not.  Sam hasn’t decided yet to accept this reality.

Secondly, Sam REacts as though the incident is about him, like it’s a personal insult.  It isn’t.  There’s nothing personal about it.  The other driver took what sounded like an unsafe risk.  No doubt he has the belief that he can get away with doing whatever he wants whether he’s on the highway or anywhere else.  So, he probably drives like that most of  the time. Sam needs to emotionally separate from incidents like this.

Sam looked surprised; he’d never thought it through like that.  Then, he said, “Well, I’m done making myself feel bad and talking to some guy who’ll never hear me and wouldn’t care if he could.”  Sam’s already started handling his anger. Great!  Will he have to “practice” this change?  Sure, and he will.  The payoffs (less anger and depression) are too important not to.

You, too.  If you’re like Sam, redirect your mind and feelings away from incidents like this.  Realize that this kind of happening is not about you. Direct your thoughts and feelings to something that will move your life forward, or at the very least, will not rob you of a good mood.


Big Thoughts In This Article. 

  1. Are you like Sam, angry or depressed a lot or even from time to time?  Observe yourself to see how often “shoulds” go through your mind. You know, like “Andy shouldn’t be acting like that,” or “Doris, You should do it this way,” or “I’ve told you, Lee, you should not do it that way; now change it.” Or, the thought:  I know the right way to do that.” Do you think in “shoulds” a lot?  What did you learn about you?
  2. Understand and gradually accept that both the world and others have a reality of their own.  You can’t change that.  Happiness and Success come from “fitting in independently.”  Of course, we retain our individuality, but we don’t force it on others.


My best to you until next time.



If you think someone else might enjoy this article, too, please forward.  And, thank you so much for reading.  Make sure and check back here next Tuesday for new material, and over at the movie blog on Friday for a new review.

 (Image by I’m Not Quite Jack)



Hi Everybody,

I really, really appreciate all of your comments.  Now that my site is mostly up and running, I’d like to write more about what most interests you.  So, if there’s something in particular you’d like to know about, just leave your suggestion in the “comment box.”  I may not be able to cover every one that’s submitted, but I’ll do my best.  And, thanks in advance for your requests.


Warm wishes ‘till next time,


Whoever Said I Don’t Have To Do It Because I Don’t Want To?

Hello Readers – I have a new article up, taking A Deeper Look at the Comfort Personality, and the propensity for Comfort people to be passive in life, avoiding responsibility and expecting others to handle things for them.  I examine where these beliefs come from, how our childhood experiences and observations can lead us to take a “wait and see” approach to life, which indicates a belief that we can’t handle the demands of the adult world.

Click here to read the article.

What Happened To Tiger Woods?

A Deeper Look at the Exaggerated Superiority Personality and Awareness of Self.


Good ole’ USA Today; they even make the sports page interesting.  Last week in a wire service report, there was a short article about both Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh.   Only five paragraphs about Tiger Woods.  Only five paragraphs about Vijay Singh, too, but the lone picture accompanying the writing was of Vijay Singh.  At one time, not too long ago, unlimited space would have been given to Woods, but that time has passed, at least for now.

Here’s the sum of the five paragraphs about Woods:  in early December he will host the Chevron World Challenge Tournament in Thousand Oaks, California.  But, if Woods doesn’t make the 50-person cut, he can’t play in his own tournament.  Woods, who started the season at No. 2 in the world (he‘d spent quite a few years as No. 1), dropped this week to No. 38.  The whole message made me sad for him.

Woods was born in 1975.  By 1978 he had bested Bob Hope in a putting contest on television.  Hope was a serious amateur golfer and Woods was not yet three years old.  From then until now, he’s been in the spotlight with a heavy, heavy responsibility to perform.  And, he has.  But, even though he’s super-talented, he hasn’t lived anywhere close to a normal life.

It was in the winter of 2009 that over a dozen women revealed that they had had sexual affairs with Woods.  Neither his personal life nor his golf game has been the same since.  There are obvious reasons, of course:  his multiple infidelities, his five-month leave from professional golf in an attempt to save his marriage, his subsequent divorce, numerous injuries and, just a couple of weeks ago, a painful parting with his caddy of 13 years.

But, I think the problems that surfaced in 2009 actually started when Tiger was two years old.  Here’s what I mean.


A Deeper Look at Personality Formation.

Tiger Woods was born in December of 1975.  Before the age of two, Woods’ father put a golf club in his hand.  Clearly, Tiger was capable.  Looking back he’s piled up an unbelievable record surpassed only by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. In the press he was often labeled a child prodigy.

And, according to various articles, some written by his father, Earl, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran, his father trained Tiger to rise to the top.  From then until now, essentially the last 33 years, he’s been living an unbalanced life, clearly, one that was not in touch with the real world.

Tiger Woods is an exaggerated Superiority personality type.  If we define that style as:  an expert in his field, a heavy goal setter, intense, as well as, persistent and thorough, Woods certainly fits the description.  He has all of those qualities.  He did rise to the top: No. 1 athlete in the world.

But, along the way he lost his way as a person with values.  It would shock me and probably everyone else if Tiger Woods didn’t believe down deep that (1) he was special.  (It would be hard not to believe it with everybody in his universe telling him so.)  And often, a child who is treated as a special child or has the kind of off-balance childhood that Tiger experienced, also believes deep down that (2) because he’s special, the normal rules of life don’t apply to him.  Of course, these two beliefs are not only unhealthy but also incorrect.

  1. About being special:  Actually, we’re all special; we’re each a unique human being and because that’s so, we have value.
  2. About doing life without respect for normal, healthier choices:  It’s always a gamble.  We can do life the way we want for a short time and that can feel really good, but in the long run, it’s usually devastating.  As it was for Woods.

The thing I like about Woods, though, is that he actually, after a short time, “admitted that he had been unfaithful to his wife and that growing up he had come to believe that he was entitled to do whatever he wanted to do, and that, because of his success, normal rules did not apply to him.”

Going further, he apologized and offered an explanation:  he’d strayed from Buddhism, his childhood faith, and stated that when he practiced Buddhism, it helped him to curb his impulsivity.  And, he entered a therapy program for 45 days.  What I like about all of this aftermath is his new seeming self-awareness.  You know, sometimes, tragically, it takes a shock like Woods has had to take us to another level of insight about what we’re doing.    

That was a year and a half ago and Woods still doesn’t have his footing.  But, I believe that’s because Woods second very strong personality type is Pleasing.  We know that he was an obedient kid and that his father was Controlling.  That combination often turns out a Pleasing person.

The other big clue that he’s a Pleasing type is that Woods is so naïve.’  Can you imagine what it must be like to BELIEVE for 33 or so years that you can do exactly want you want and it’ll be fine?  Then, you come crashing down and have to build entirely different, even opposite, beliefs.  It’ll take Woods longer than a year and a half to get his footing back, probably in all the facets of his life.  While this will take a lot of searching for answers as to how he really wants to live his life and what he values, there is a bright side.  And, that is true for all of us.

If how we’ve been living our lives hasn’t measured up to the results we expected and wanted, we have the opportunity, at any time, to look inward and challenge ourselves to make a better life.  When we become introspective and get to know ourselves better, we almost always come out of the exercise stronger, with increased personal power and better direction.

If any of this applies to your life, try it.  Good luck and I hope you’ll let me know how it went.


Warm wishes,



Thanks for reading!  Be sure to check back in next Tuesday for a new blog post, and check this Friday at the movie blog for a new review.

(Image by Keith Allison)