Our REactions Reveal What’s in Our Head & Heart

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 12.02.23 PM“The remarkable thing is I have a choice every day of what my attitude will be. I cannot change my past. I cannot change the actions of others. I cannot change the inevitable. The only thing I can change is attitude. Life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.” ― Charles R. Swindoll

Multiple credible sources say that life is 90% about our reactions. If that is so, it behooves us to learn to react in ways that are beneficial. To do that we have to decide ahead of time who we are because reactions come from that deep place. They may be flippant and short lived, or drawn out for months or years. . . but the truth is a reaction comes from what we believe in our hearts and in our heads.

Years ago, I reacted to a friends cutting accusations by reeling in hurt for far too long. The truth was she had seen right through me, but my pride kept me from realizing it and owning up to what she was getting at. My intent was mostly pure. I wanted to help. Had I been forthright and acknowledged the fact that she was right – I did believe she needed help because she was inadequate (ouch), things might have been completely different. Instead of lovingly saying, you are right, ‘I do think you are deficient, we are all inadequate in some areas – that’s why we live in community,’ I reacted with an uncalled for amount of hurt.

I’m not excusing her words – it was an attack and even upon my apology she ridiculed me telling me I was acting like an adolescent. But that is not the point.

The truth was, not only did I truly want to offer my help because I knew that my education had given me tools she did not have, I wanted her approval because she had status within our community and I believed she held power. Sadly, it took me a long time of reeling before I chose to examine my beliefs and change my reaction.

I know many a person, like me, who claim to believe that ‘all things work together for good’, or ‘everything happens for a reason’ but when things don’t go as planned they react in ways that that reflect quite the contrary. Why? Because they doubt the truth of what they say they believe.

If you are in the midst of a reaction that isn’t beneficial, I hope that you will not spend time letting the wound fester. I hope that you will re-examine your heart and your head and make the choice to change your reaction accordingly. As Swindoll says our attitude is something we can change.

If you have flippant, quick reactions that you are not proud of, I hope you too will get to the core of what is causing them – then do the work it takes to change your beliefs to what you know as right, truthful and beneficial for you and the world you influence.

Saving Relationships – Step #9 – No Time?


I have to confess in the past I thought “I just don’t have time to work on my marriage” – or excused my husband because he was just too busy. Now I laugh when I hear people say this.  I know from experience that when I don’t take the time to maintain a good marriage it takes a ton of time (and for us – it took money too!) to restore the relationship.

I do wonder why God made everything in life take so much maintenance! From our personal appearance to our homes, cars and relationships….everything takes maintenance!  And when I don’t stay on top of things, they end up overwhelming me. When I don’t keep up with my daily chores and let everyone slide on their daily chores the house becomes a wreck and I dread dread dread the cleanup! So it is with my marriage. A good yearly spring cleaning is still a good idea even when I stay up with the daily disciplines but it doesn’t have to be so intense.

Marriage takes daily discipline too. From the things talked about in Step #4 like listening, affection, affirmation, unexpected gifts, to the simple loving words and gestures that communicate a desire for a good relationship.  When we let these daily disciplines go, we’re in for trouble.

While a marriage retreat, counseling or coaching may do a marriage a world of good, life is a lot more pleasant when we take the time to regularly nurture our relationships then, do these things to enrich a good thing – making a good marriage great –  like a good spring cleaning on a well kept house.

If your daily disciplines have been lacking and you’re feeling that sense of overwhelm or hopelessness – don’t despair – just do something!You may be able to simply begin implementing good daily relational disciplines.  You may need to begin healing through counseling. Or coaching may be right for you. When you want a better future and consciously make the choice to do something(s) differently, realizing that you have the power to be greater than the problem, you can count on a future that is better than ever before. Whether your relationship is in shambles or just status quo – coaching can make a big difference. And it can help even if your spouse isn’t interested. As the saying goes, “it only takes one person to change the world” and all you want to do is change your marriage!

One of my mottos for life that has served me very well: When something isn’t working, try something different – even if I’m not thrilled with any of my options. . . different is always better because even if it doesn’t work, it leads me to the next step which is one step closer to my solution. As you take time to consider what step you’ll take, try…..

Step #9  
Spend a little time daily 
to save a lot of time later 


and sick if you ask me.
This is not what we’re going for.

Dave & Suzette’s Story

weddingCake_1424403cMy husband and I have a healthy marriage, but that has not always been the case.

With our 27th anniversary quickly approaching we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs but two of our downs have been bad – real bad!

I tell you our story (with permission :)) because: I want you to know that if your marriage isn’t what you want it to be – we can relate! And more importantly, to give you hope.

Miserable would be a good way to describe us. It lasted a couple of years, back in the mid 90’s. I’m not proud of it, but it was so awful I threatened to leave. I said I didn’t want a divorce but I was leaving unless things changed – immediately. I would not advise this, but I told him that he had less than a week to figure some things out or I was on a plane and would not return until he had. He was shocked but knew I was serious. Things changed. It was a slow process, but once I saw him making an effort my patience was restored. No doubt, I had some changing to do myself but I didn’t know it then. Most of my changing came years later! Poor guy!

The next decade was great. Then it happened again. Who knows what triggered it, but we derailed off a lovely track. We sought help – together. This time it was him who was fearful that we might not make it. We worked hard and both grew individually and as a couple, but it was our individual growth that reignited the romance and fun and provided the strength and security that we had jeopardized.

After a few months of healing some wounds our sessions stalled out. We began talking about the same things from week to week with no new growth. Dave finally said, “If we are going to continue getting professional help we need to find a coach to help us move from good to great.”

We didn’t know of any Relationship Coaches back then, so we just decided to apply the skills I’d learned in coaching to ‘us’. It worked so well I wanted to try it out on others and became certified.

Being instrumental in taking relationships from good to great is wonderful but walking hand in hand with couples who are on the court room steps back to the arms of a loving spouse is more fulfilling than any job I can imagine.

The end of our story to date is ….. “and they lived happily ever after.”

Unresolved Issues

uncertainty-aheadWouldn’t you rather just avoid unresolved issues? Bringing them up can feel like we’re asking for a fight. However, unresolved issues that have caused wounds tend to raise their ugly head when new conflicts arise yet if we can keep our minds focussed on the current conflict, resolve to that issue comes much more quickly. Until past wounds have healed those memories will, more than likely, arise causing pain, uncertainty and unneceesary turmoil over current issues.

I recently took care of a 4 year old issue. I know, that’s crazy – I’m a relationship coach! But I do happen to be human. It wasn’t that I’d meant to stuff it. At first it was too painful to talk about. Every time I tried I’d end up in tears and then get flustered and couldn’t make my points and he’d get mad because we had a good and loving relationship so he thought we should have been able to move on -and I agreed. So I stuffed it.

Years past and it didn’t rear it’s ugly head anymore – except when it did. I was going to say it was only because current circumstances seemed to mimic what had happened. I wasn’t mad but the pain felt a little raw so I’m sure hormones and other factors also played into it. Fortunately, being a relationship coach, I did realize that trying talk through it when I was feeling the pain was a terrible idea, so I waited for an opportune time. To him it seemed odd. We hadn’t dug up old stuff in years – we just don’t do that because we’ve forgiven and given most things a proper burial.

But this one thing . . .

So, one evening when we were dreaming together I caught myself backing up very quickly because a wave of fear swept over me and I knew it was the right time to bring it up.

Another thing I’ve learned is that prefacing sensitive conversations with the intention helps tremendously so I told him I needed to talk about something before I could dream freely. I told him I wanted to be confident that we could move into this new phase of life on the same page and know for certain that we would work through differences by communicating openly. I let him know that my intention for the conversation was to give me the security and confidence I needed for us to have the best relationship possible. While he still wasn’t excited to have the conversation he understood the importance.

It wasn’t an easy conversation but by prefacing it with my intention and expressing how I was hurt rather than accusing him we were able to work through it pretty quickly. Funny thing is, there wasn’t a lot of forgiving to do. Just hearing how he viewed what had happened acknowledging both his part and mine gave me the assurance that we were on the same page. Finally it could be laid to rest permanently.

No couple will ever agree on everything and there may always be sadness around some issues, but wounds that fester and are buried do not die quickly. These memories hurt our relationship. They need to be laid to rest properly and permanently. It takes two mature people who love each other deeply and are committed to a good and growing relationship to tend to old wounds. If you’re not there, don’t rush it. The last thing you want is more damage done.

One way to test the waters to see if your relationship mature enough to handle tending to old wounds is to preface your conversation with your pure motives and see how it flies.

For me, I knew that I couldn’t dream about certain things with him or entertain ideas that were even remotely close to looking like the situation that our unresolved issued was around. I was afraid that a nightmare would creep in and steel the dream again. I wanted us to acknowledge that without intentionality it could happen again. And I wanted assurance that we would be make our relationship more important than the dream.

A demand for a confession or forgiveness is never helpful, so don’t go there even if that is what you think you need. Instead ask yourself, what is the benefit I want from talking about this issue? And proceed with confidence and sensitivity. Another day may be a better choice. Choosing your time wisely will help ensure the outcome you desire.

Book Review – Magnificent Mind At Any Age by Dr. Daniel Amen

magnificent-mind_packageI read the book, Magnificent Mind At Any Age by Dr. Daniel Amen, a year or so ago, but return to it frequently to validate what I think I remember. It is a wealth of information on how the brain functions and how we can either care for it and enjoy the benefits or pretend we have no control over it and reap the consequences. He says it’s important to acquire skills for living life to the fullest and that ‘natural supplements, diet, exercise, and thinking strategies’ are vitally important to our brain’s health and our over all well being.

Dr. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist began establishing clinics in 1989 “specializing in innovative diagnosis and treatment planning for a wide variety of behavior, emotional and cognitive problems for children, teenagers and adults.” What sets his clinics apart is their extensive research. “His clinics have the world’s largest database of brain images related to behavior.” He is recognized world wide as a leading authority and has authored numerous books.

Amen’s work has shed light on many misconceptions of ‘modern’ psychology. For many years doctors and therapists have promoted the idea that we are not in control of our emotions or, we can’t help how we feel. He has proven that feelings and emotions are the direct result of what we choose to think. Because we do have control of what we think, it follows that we are also responsible for our feelings. I find it interesting that the proverb, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” has been proven true with the latest scientific research!

For more about Dr. Amen’s findings and how they relate to coaching, sign up for my newsletter and see the article: “What Makes Change So Hard? Scientifically Speaking – Our Brains!” contact me on face book, or email me at [email protected] if you’d like to receive it.

His you tube videos are a bit dry but worth watching if you’re into this stuff.