Thursday, February 23, 2012

5 Reasons You Keep Trying to Prove Yourself

We have a need for social acceptance, but some people have a need that's almost like a compulsion. These people absolutely must prove themselves worthy. They often fail. Even when they succeed, they can't appreciate it - they did it for someone else, who usually fails to acknowledge it, if they even notice.

If you're one of these people, think about your deep-down reason for wanting so much to prove yourself. It might be...

• You're living someone else's dream. Don't you have your own? So you care deeply for someone who is incapable of fulfilling their own dreams. That's sad for them, but have you considered that doing it for them might make them even more aware of their own inability?
• You compare yourself to others and always find yourself lacking. Cupcake, there will always be someone smarter, better looking, in better shape, more qualified, or whatever. You can't make yourself someone else's perfect. Compare yourself to yourself. That's the only way to know if you're growing.
• You measure yourself against an impossible standard. Somebody climbed Mt. Everest, so you should, too. Somebody swam the English Channel, so you should, too. Somebody increased their net worth by a billion dollars, so you should, too. Goals are great, but only when they're realistic for you.
• You're so starved for attention that you sell out for any kind of recognition. Seriously? Forget the Klondike Bar, what would you do to be noticed by __(insert name of important person here)__ ? Up your standards and you'll get more recognition. And attention. The good kind.
• It's a competition. Maybe a grudge match, maybe sibling rivalry gone wrong. Who cares? As long as the boss/mommy/teacher/cute neighbor notices, you'll push yourself relentlessly to beat the competition. But have you watched presidential debates? Brutal competitive tendencies don't bring out the best in people and bosses notice that. Mommies love their children equally, just differently. The teacher knows who does well and who doesn't, without you being obnoxious. And just because the neighbor notices doesn't mean you're the right type.

Whatever your reason is, remember: you try to prove yourself to gain some kind of social approval. Social approval equates to some amount of power. But your level of need gives all the power to others, to either approve of you or not. How's that working for you so far?

Empower yourself. Make your own decisions about what's important to you, set your own goals around your own values, give yourself credit. One really cool side effect is that you'll build your own self-confidence. And with that, you'll find you don't need to prove yourself to others nearly as much.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk

I can't speak hick-from-the-sticks anymore.

That is, I am perfectly capable, having done a bit of growing up in the rural midwest, spending plenty of time with grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and so on.

But if I have a momentary lapse and say something about "when Hector was a pup," my city-kid offspring says, "That's a terrible name for a dog. Wait, was Hector your dog?" And totally misses the point.

It's the same lack of understanding as when I say "No use crying over spilled milk." I try to avoid expressions like that because nobody under 25 or so has ever heard them. At least the spilled milk is easy to translate into New Milleniumese: Get over it.

It's Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day. How great is that? It's awesome! We need an actual day to remind us that, well, milk spills. Stuff happens. To everybody. But as Les Brown says, when things go wrong, don't go with them! It's a day to apply the Get Over It perspective.

Thou shalt not whine. At this point, it's not about whether it's half full or half empty. It's not time for an apathetic "whatever." It's time to wipe it up, get over it and move on, already!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dump Your Significant Jerk

The 15th Annual Dump Your Significant Jerk Week begins today. The official do-the-deed day is tomorrow, Tuesday.

V-Day is just around the corner - if you're staying with some loser who is only going to disappoint you yet again, my question is why?

If you're the one putting forth all the effort, let this be your wake-up call. You can't love a jerk. You can pretend you do. You can be so deep in denial that you really believe it. But that doesn't make it true. Love is a mutual emotion; it needs nourishment from another. Anything else just isn't love.

And just so you know, the physical and emotional damage from a dysfunctional relationship is worse than the stress of a purely negative relationship. Research (Portland State University did a two-year study) shows that it's actually healthier and safer for us to have an enemy than be involved with a jerk. Results:
• lower overall health, higher number of health conditions (the increased stress of never knowing when the jerk will be a jerk reduces our immunity)
• family conflict (usually, our friends and family can see clearly what the jerk is doing, and they nearly always only want the best for us, but that creates more stress and turmoil, and sometimes arguments)
• pain of a broken heart (the brain processes physical pain in the same place it processes this kind of emotional pain, so you actually can feel physical pain!)
• suppressed anger shortens lifespan (think type-A personality, heart attacks, strokes, ulcers, killed-the-whole-family-in-their-beds-and-now-facing-lethal-injection, etc.)

How and why do people get involved with jerks, anyway? First, let's agree that humans, like water, seek the path of least resistance. We're inherently lazy. Add to that the fact that some people aren't secure enough to be alone and will latch onto the first person that comes along rather than wait or seek out a good relationship. And of course, some people will act like princes (or princesses) to get themselves into a relationship, and then quit acting.

So this could work two ways. In one scenario, we have Cindy. She's a sweet, innocent thing who grew up believing that Prince Charming would sweep her off her feet. She throws herself at Charming, who recognizes that by choosing Cindy, he won't have to pursue anyone, thus saving him effort, time, and money. He charms Cindy, they couple up. Once they've shacked up in a hovel (his parents disowned him so no castle for them), he isn't so charming. He's a jerk. Cindy's disillusioned but clings to him because to her, it's better than the risk of being an old maid.

In another scenario, we have Harry and Maggie. They have tons in common: smart, good jobs, non-existent self-esteem, and a fear of what others think of them for not having a relationship. They meet at a bar and it's desperation-at-first-sight. Of course they aren't compatible at all and they argue and threaten to end it all the time, but ultimately, it's better to be unhappy and unstable than alone.

If you are Cindy or Charming or Harry or Maggie ... STOP IT! Celebrate this week! Here's your game plan:
1. Dump the jerk as soon as possible.
2. Give yourself a day or two to get past the "Holy Crap, did I really do that?" phase.
3. February 11 is Satisfied Staying Single Day. It's Saturday. By then, you'll be ready to admit that maybe single can be better than being with the wrong person.
4. Spend the entire weekend doing things for yourself. Make Valentine's Day your finale and treat yourself to something special. It's cliche but true - you have to love yourself before you can be loved by someone else.

P.S. Sometimes people act like jerks who aren't. If you want to take a shot at saving the relationship, take a look at these two articles:
Emotional Vampires (
Five Reasons Things Keep Going Wrong In Your Relationships (

P.P.S. Ladies, staying in a bad relationship puts you at particular risk. One in three of women are victims of some degree of sexual abuse by the age of 21. And at least that many get caught up in potentially abusive relationships - physically, emotionally, or financially. Jerks can become much worse than just jerks.
This month ONLY, you can get the DIY version of my Single Shot Session, Avoiding Mr. Wrong, for FREE upon request. Just email your request to me at and I'll send you the entire package, including an extensive checklist of warning signs and red flags, and tips on how to deal with a Mr. Wrong to keep him away and keep you safe.