Category Archives for "Relationships"

Nov 25

How To Win With A Narcissist: 5 Secrets Backed By Research

By Admin | Relationships , Syndications



Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.


Is that difficult someone driving you up the wall? What’s the best way to handle impossible people?

I’ve broken down the research on how to handle narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths and other “cluster B” troublemakers, and the primary answer is always the same:

Run. Get outta there. No contact.

Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to treat, cluster B’s are notoriously difficult to deal with, and you’re not a therapist. (Though at this point you probably feel like a very frazzled one.)

But I received a lot of responses from readers basically saying: What do I do if I can’t leave? Is there any way to make them change?

It’s their boss and they need this job. It’s their spouse and they have kids together. It’s their best friend and they can’t in good conscience abandon them.

So how do you deal with a narcissist when saying “MEEP-MEEP” and sprinting away Road-Runner-style isn’t an option?

Dr. Craig Malkin is a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and his new book Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special offers some hope.

A lot of what you know about narcissists is wrong and there are proven ways to not only deal with them but to help them get better. (Not that narcissists need to get better — hey, they’re “perfect”, right?)

Okay, let’s get to work…

Sympathy For The Devil

Turns out we all have some narcissistic traits and they’re normal, natural and, frankly, essential. Without them you’d deal with crippling low self-esteem, Eeyore.

It’s when people go too far down the spectrum into “malignant” narcissism that we get the entitlement, exploitation, and other assorted nastiness narcissists are so well known for.

From Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special:

We need our grandiosity at times to feel happy and healthy. And a growing body of recent research concludes that a little narcissism, in adolescence, helps the young survive the Sturm und Drang of youth; moderate teenage narcissists are less anxious and depressed and have far better relationships than their low and high narcissism peers. Likewise, corporate leaders with moderate narcissism are rated by their employees as far more effective than those with too little or too much…. The difference between narcissists and the rest of us is one of degree, not kind.

Extreme narcissism is a disorder, and to help those who have it we need to remember it’s a disorder. When people suffer from depression, anxiety or borderline personality disorder we tend to feel sympathy but with narcissism we often moralize and say they’re “bad.” That’s like feeling sorry for people with tuberculosis but saying those with meningitis are a bunch of jerks who had it coming.

Malkin explains that narcissists weren’t given secure love when growing up. They weren’t appreciated for just being themselves; they were only celebrated for what they achieved. When you can’t count on empathy from those around you, you stop trusting, and you feel ashamed of your normal human frailties.

You stop trying to get your emotional needs met from love and instead try to be special — better than others. Better looking, more talented, smarter or more accomplished. You stop trying to soothe your insecurities by relying on people and instead turn to a fantasy self where you are superior.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my new book here.)

The childhood of a narcissist is sad and a little scary. But it also holds the secret to helping narcissists get better…

How Do You Fix Someone Who Is “Perfect”?

All psychopaths are narcissists, but not all narcissists are psychopaths. Psychopaths can’t feel empathy.

For narcissists, empathy is more like an underdeveloped muscle. Still there, but as you have probably experienced first hand, it sure doesn’t get used much. You need to help them build that empathy muscle.

Calling them a jerk or criticizing their behavior only makes them worse. But when they are compassionately reminded of the importance of their relationships — and how those relationships can help them achieve their goals — they can improve.

From Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special:

More than a dozen studies exploring whether or not narcissists can change have now been conducted… and they all point to the same conclusion: encouraging narcissists to feel more caring and compassionate reduces their narcissism… If narcissists are approached in a gentler way, many seem to soften emotionally. When they feel secure love, they become more loving and more committed in return… The lesson from research is that people only slide down the spectrum when they’re reminded of the importance of their relationships. Change doesn’t come from telling them off for being too success-driven, ruthless, or manipulative; it comes by showing them the benefits of collaboration and understanding.

No, this isn’t a Disney film and giving the Grinch a big hug isn’t going to instantly turn him into a sweetheart. But psychologists have found success with using what are called “empathy prompts.”

From Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special:

Prompting involves two components: voicing the importance of your relationship and revealing your own feelings. Voicing the importance of your relationship generally involves making supportive statements, such as “You matter so much to me” or “You’re important to me” or “I care about you a great deal.” Declarations like these signal how special someone is to us. They’re the kind of reassurance many narcissists don’t even realize they miss. They nudge people toward thinking about the relationship, moving the focus from you and me to we. More importantly, they signal your willingness to offer secure love.

So you might say:

  • “I consider you an important friend. That’s why I feel so sad when you don’t return my calls for weeks.”
  • “Mom, you’re one of the most important people in my life. So when you question my every move, I feel devastated, like I’m a failure in your eyes.”

One caveat: for people who have narcissistic tendencies, empathy prompts can, over time, help to reduce their bad habits. But if someone has full-blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder, well, the cancer has metastasized. They may be too far gone to improve without professional help.

That’s sad, but it gives empathy prompts a second use: they’re a good litmus test for whether there’s hope for the “narcy” in your life.

When empathy prompts are delivered properly and sincerely, without a raised voice or implied guilt trip, most people melt. If your narcy is impervious to them, they may be impervious to your help overall.

From Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special:

Can your partner, friend, or relative place the relationship— in other words, place you— ahead of their coercive attempts to feel special? Can they allow your pain to touch them and say they’re sorry or comfort you or just show they understand? If they can’t, you need to view their narcissism exactly as you would any addiction. The “drug” has taken over their lives…

So how do you know if empathy prompts are working? Malkin explains that you’re succeeding when your narcy responds by:

  • Affirming: “You’re my best friend, too. I don’t want you to feel bad.”
  • Clarifying: “How long have you been feeling sad around me?”
  • Apologizing: “I’m sorry— I don’t want you to feel like a failure.”
  • Validating: “I know my sarcasm hurts you.”

(To learn how to deal with psychopaths and other toxic people, click here.)

This is a great system for dealing with that self-absorbed loved one in your personal life. But you probably can’t get this deep and emotionally gooey at the office.

So how do you help a narcissistic boss or co-worker?

The Narcissist In The Corner Office

The knee-jerk advice everyone gives when dealing with a workplace monster is to report them. But as experts like Stanford professor Bob Sutton have made clear over and over, that just doesn’t work.

A 2008 survey of 400 people asked what their employers did when they reported being bullied. Malkin lists the results:

  • 1.7% conducted a fair investigation and protected the target with punitive measures against the bully.
  • 6.2% conducted a fair investigation with punitive measures for the bully but no protection for the target.
  • 8.7% conducted an unfair investigation with no punitive measure for the bully.
  • 31% conducted an inadequate/unfair investigation with no punitive measures for the bully, but plenty for the target.
  • 12.8% did nothing or ignored the problem with no consequences for anyone, bully or target.
  • 15.7% did nothing, but retaliated against the target for reporting. Target remained employed.
  • 24% of employers did nothing, except fire the target.

Long story short: 70+% of the time it’ll be you who takes it on the chin. So reporting doesn’t work and empathy prompts might be a little too personal — at least at first.

So what should you do to deal with your office narcy? Malkin has some tips:

1) Use The Word “We”

Use the first person plural whenever possible. Emphasize relationships in all communication. Yeah, I know, it sounds ridiculous that this is going to get Mr. Center-Of-The-Universe to grow a heart…

But research shows it works.

From Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special:

…researchers had narcissists read a passage filled with words like we, our, and us and count the number of pronouns. This simple activity not only made them more willing to help people in need (by giving them the spare change in their pockets, for example), it also made them less obsessed with becoming famous!

So “we” should start doing this, shouldn’t “we”?

2) Reward Good Behavior

Compliment them when they are warm. And compliment them for their warmth — not for achievement or performance.

From Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special:

…look for moments when the person demonstrates better behavior and underscore them. Nudging narcissists to center means focusing on moments when they show some capacity for collaboration, interest in other people, or concern for the happiness of those around them— in short, whenever they behave more communally.

3) Contrast Good and Bad Behavior

Is the complimenting helping? Okay, then it’s safe to take it up a notch. Diplomatically contrast their bad behavior with their good behavior.

From Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special:

Contrasting is much the same as catching, except that you’re describing the past and the present at the same time. Noting bad behavior becomes far more effective when it’s paired with some recollection of more communal behavior (assuming you’ve caught any).

Malkin suggests something like:

I had such a great experience on our team last week when we left time for everyone to contribute. Today, we had less of a chance and I felt a lot less hopeful about the project. Can we try to do it the same way as last week?

Getting good results? Now you can finally move to something closer to empathy prompts.

4) Teach Them Their ABCs

Malkin says that first you should tell them how you’re feeling:

A is for affect, aka feeling. Feeling statements use the word I liberally, as in I’m feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, unhappy. You can also use stronger words like sad, afraid, scared, but since you’re usually not in a friendship or romantic relationship with the person you’re speaking to, vaguer, less intense emotional language might be better. Follow your gut on that one. The main goal is to describe your experience only. Never use “you” in this step.

Then tell them what behavior is causing it:

B is for behavior. This is the experience, interaction, or action that causes the feelings. For example: When you raise your voice; When I hear only criticism; When you sound sarcastic; When you cut me off midsentence.

And then let them know what correction you would like to see:

C is for correction. This refers to the change you’re seeking. Proper assertiveness always involves a request of some kind. It’s a form of coaching. You’re telling the listener what they need to do to improve interactions. Examples: Can you lower your voice?; Can you tell me what steps you want taken?; Can you use a kinder tone?

For example:

“I feel unhappy the rest of the day when you criticize me in front of the entire group. Can you save your feedback for one-on-one meetings?”

(To learn the seven-step morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)

Alright, we’ve learned a lot. Let’s round it up and learn how we can always feel special… and not turn into a narcissist.

Sum Up

This is how to win with a narcissist:

  • In your personal life, use “empathy prompts”: Music doesn’t soothe the savage beast, but reminding them about relationships and your feelings can.
  • Use “We”: It’s just one word but it’s effective with narcissists. (If you can’t manage to do this you’re not paying attention to me. You should pay attention to me. I’m really important.)
  • Reward Good Behavior: When the puppy behaves, give it a treat.
  • Contrast good and bad behavior: “Normally when Jim turns in a report late you kick him down a flight of stairs. I thought it was wonderful today when you chose to throw a stapler at him instead.”
  • Teach them their ABC’s: Mention your affect, their bad behavior, and the correction you’d like to see. This is an advanced Jedi move. Build to this with your Sith Lord, young Padawan.

Narcissists come in many flavors (grandiose, covert, communal, etc.) but they all share one thing in common: they need to feel special.

And, frankly, feeling special is kinda nice. We all like to feel special. But what’s the path to the healthy way of feeling special vs the narcissistic kind?

Don’t put up a false front. You’re human and you screw up. That’s normal and natural. Trying to seem perfect often earns you only envy.

Instead, show others your true self. Warts and all. You’ll look stupid sometimes. But that is when the people who truly care about you will show empathy. And you’ll grow closer to them, showing empathy back.

Ruthlessly striving to seem special in the eyes of strangers alienates those who care about you and is the path to narcissism. If you open up and are vulnerable you can have the only kind of specialness that matters…

Being special to the ones you love.

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Posted On: October 31, 2017

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Nov 25

5 Ways to Curb Social Media During the Holidays

By Admin | Health , Relationships , Syndications

The holidays are fast upon us and, in the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve will have already come and gone. Along with the holiday season comes much time spent with family from near and far, attending parties, preparing elaborate holiday dinners, and buying expensive gifts to show loved ones how much we care about them.

For some, the holidays are a time to reconnect with family and friends they might not get the chance to see at other times of the year, bringing about feelings of joy and happiness. But for others the holidays can stir up unwanted feelings of angst, depression, and anxiety, and the holidays can be triggers for eliciting feelings of low self-esteem and shame by drawing comparisons to others.            

Holiday-related anxiety and depression can stem from family conflicts, divorce, complicated blended family dynamics, and recent deaths of loved ones. Also, disappointments around major life events, such as unexpected job loss or difficulty finding a job, financial struggles, and disappointments around intimate relationships can be sensitive topics that would want to be avoided and not be discussed openly at holiday gatherings.

When we feel badly about ourselves, our social media habits can exacerbate these feelings, making difficult times more difficult. Spending hours on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter witnessing friends and family enjoying their holiday season, their vacations, or celebrating momentous occasions can elicit deep feelings of depression, envy, comparisons, and shame.  When we’re going through tough times, setting unrealistic expectations and putting pressure on ourselves to make the holidays “picture perfect” as may seem to be the case for our “friends” on social media can set us up for feeling worse.

Below are 5 tips to help with curbing social media during the holidays:

  1. Gain a realistic perspective around social media. It’s normal for us to showcase our achievements and the highlights of our lives. This is part of the human condition. But, no matter how wonderful a person’s life might appear on social media, life has its down moments for everyone.
  2. Cultivate mindfulness regarding social media habits. Work on developing mindfulness around the time of day you use social media. For example, if you have a particularly challenging day ahead of you, going on social media in the morning may not be the best decision, especially if it will trigger bad and lingering feelings, making it hard to get on with your day.
  3. Tune into your emotions. Before going onto social media around the holidays check in with how you’re feeling. If you think seeing posts of friends and family having fun engaging in holiday activities will make you more angry, envious, sad or anxious hold off on going on social media for that hour, day, or week. Wait until you’re in a better emotional place before going back on social media.
  4. Consider joining online groups that can provide emotional support. For some, stopping social media or even pulling back from using it as much might be an unrealistic goal. Consider broadening your virtual relationships to include support groups or joining groups and/or professionals pages that offer both advice and support.
  5. Make an in person plan to see a trusted friend or family member. Having positive relationships are crucial for good mental health. So, cultivating and making an effort to maintain our important relationships is paramount and should be a priority.  Whenever it’s possible, up your communications to being in-person. When this is not a possibility use text or private messaging before resorting to more public and less intimate social media sites. Be conscious of not completely relying upon social media as a means of communicating with and relating to close friends and family.

 As with all things in life, nothing is either all good or all bad or completely wrong or absolutely right, so striking a healthy balance between time on social media and time off and between holding on and moving on should be helpful, especially if this holiday season might be particularly challenging.

Happy Holidays!

Nov 24

Sometimes People Don’t Say Sorry—Why It Pays to Forgive Nonetheless

By Admin | Personal Development , Relationships , Syndications

“Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” ~Roberto Assagioli

When I was a little girl, I used to wonder what my father was like. Was he a nice man? What did he look like? Did he think about me? Did he love me?

But, above all I wondered why he left.

I used to make up stories about him—one time I imagined him as a voyager traveling to foreign lands and picking up small gifts for me in every new place he visited. He met with the locals, and would learn new trades and languages. He’d tell them stories about how much he loved and missed me, and how he couldn’t wait to come home.

Another time he was a doctor stationed abroad helping to heal sick and impoverished children. He couldn’t come home because without him, those children would die, and when I was big enough, I’d travel to be with him.

I liked envisioning him as someone far away and out of reach, doing important work. In this way his absence made sense to me. But, the reality was not quite as heroic as I imagined it to be.

I first spoke to my father when I was a teenager and learned he was living in a different state and running his own business.

He’d remarried since my mother, and divorced, but had no more children. When I asked him why he left his answer was simple: “When your mom and I split up, I gave her a choice. Either she raise you without my help, or I raise you without her help. Emotionally. Financially. Everything. I needed a clean break.”

My heart dropped.

He wasn’t a doctor saving sick children.

He wasn’t a voyager exploring new lands and thinking of me.

Instead, he was just a man. A man who decided his divorce applied to both his wife and his daughter.

An overwhelming sadness filled the air around me, and disappointment set in. I wasn’t expecting or prepared for his nonchalant answer. The longing I’d felt to know him, the paternal love I wished to experience, the warmth, the guidance, the protection, the encouragement—all of it dissipated in an instant.

And in its place was emptiness.

But still, I longed for a connection with him. Growing up without a father made me feel somehow incomplete, like I was missing out on something everyone around me had access to.

I thought if I could prove I was worthy and deserving of his love and affection my father would never leave me again. I thought he’d realize he made a mistake and apologize for his absence, and work hard to make up for all of the years of fatherhood he missed out on. So I asked him if I could visit, and he agreed.

He booked me a ticket, and a few months later I was flying solo to see him. I was nervous and anxious. My palms were sweating and my hands were shaking. Would he like me? Would we get along? Would I finally have a father?

When he picked me up from the airport I could barely mutter out a hello.

“H-h-h-iii,” I stammered.

“Hey. Come on in, the traffic is really bad right now,” he said while opening the passenger side door of his truck.

Everything about him was different than I’d imagined. He wasn’t as talkative or full of stories as I thought he’d be. Instead he was quiet and observant, and somewhat withdrawn. But, he was welcoming and gracious during my stay—his girlfriend, however, not so much.

As my father and I got to know each other, his girlfriend distanced herself from our conversations and company. Initially, I figured she was shy or wanted to give us time alone. But, when I arrived home after my trip I learned she had given my father an ultimatum: choose her or me. He said he was furious with her, and he’d never choose a relationship over his daughter.

In an instant I felt validated. I felt important. And for the first time in my life, I felt paternal love and protection.

But, those feelings were short lived. When I tried to contact my father again I couldn’t get through. He changed his number. He stopped responding to my emails. He went completely off the grid, again.

I felt crushed, confused, and distraught. The man that I glorified for so long, and thought would love and care for me instead turned his back and walked away without so much as a goodbye.

And for a while I was shattered. I was angry. I was full of resentment. I was full of hatred. And I was sad because I didn’t understand what I had done and why he didn’t want me in his life.

And those negative feelings I held inside regarding my father were then projected into my relationships with men.

I found myself involved with emotionally unstable, unavailable men who were usually much older than me. The relationships were toxic—full of trust issues, fights and lack of appreciation. And each breakup left me feeling more broken and more unworthy, as if I was experiencing my father’s rejection over and over again.

After one particularly vulgar relationship characterized by emotional abuse and episodes of physical violence, I knew I had to get out. I knew I had to change my ways. I knew I had to learn to let go of the past and forgive my father for leaving because it was haunting my present.

All of those repressed emotions I felt toward my father were replaying over and over in my daily life like a lesson waiting to be learned—only I wasn’t learning. And I couldn’t move forward with my life because I hadn’t forgiven my father, and in the process I imprisoned myself.

And so I sat down and I prayed for guidance. I asked for help. For redirection. And, a voice in my head said, “We don’t forgive others for their salvation. We forgive others for our own.”

And in that instant, I knew what I had to do. I had to release the anger. I had to release the frustration. I had to release the sadness. I had to unlock the doors keeping me imprisoned.

Symphonically, my lips opened and these words poured out: “I forgive you for abandoning me. I forgive you for rejecting me. I forgive you for choosing her over me. I’m sorry for holding onto these negative feelings for so long. I wish you the best in your life. I wish you happiness. I wish you love. I wish you abundance. I am freeing you from my anger, and I am freeing myself.”

After that my entire life changed. A weight was lifted off of my shoulders, and I felt at peace. I felt happy. I felt free.

When it comes to forgiveness, we are each responsible for freeing ourselves because no one else can do it. Forgiveness is the key to self-salvation, and you can unlock your personal prison today and set yourself free now. Are you ready?

Here’s how:

Let Go of ‘Entitled’ Apologies

When I first met my father, I was certain he was going to adorn me with grand apologies, cry, and beg for my forgiveness. But, reality didn’t match my expectation. Not only did he not apologize, he also didn’t seek my forgiveness. In his mind, what he did made sense at the time and there as no reason to say sorry for it.

As I got older I began to understand the phrase “life happens, we all make mistakes.” And it’s true. None of us are perfect in our decision making, and it’s often through our mistakes we learn the quickest.

I can’t tell you what motivated my father to leave, but I can tell you I understand how overwhelming parenthood can be, especially when you’re a young twenty-something. I understand how when we have tough upbringing (as my father did) and we don’t let go of our past, it can negatively impact our lives and decisions in the present and future.

Sometimes people don’t say sorry. Sometimes people don’t believe they were wrong. But that doesn’t matter. Apologies aren’t what vindicate you—you vindicate yourself. Don’t wait for someone to apologize and behold a grudge against them until they do.

You know why?

Because the person that feels the wrath of your anger, frustration, and hatred is you. Those hostile feelings, emotions, and thoughts pulsate through your bloodstream like venomous poison, and you become the host keeping that poison alive.

Rather than waiting for an apology, or expecting one to come, realize it may never happen and that’s okay. Because your life and your happiness don’t depend on someone else saying sorry. Your life and your happiness depend on you and no one else.

Find The Lesson

Thrive on tough times! Because these tough times are simply life events that allow you to exercise your internal muscles. The more life throws at you, the stronger you’ll become.

If my father hadn’t left, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. If he hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have the same perspective and appreciation for life, love, and relationships. I am grateful for my father leaving because he taught me why forgiveness matters, which has enabled me to appreciate life more, be empathetic to others and love more, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Sometimes things happen, and we don’t understand why. Sometimes people hurt us. Sometimes life and its circumstances seem unfair. But, the truth is, every experience we have in life is meant to guide us, to teach us and to re-direct us.

So when you’re in a place where you’re feeling angry, resentful, and enraged step back and ask yourself what the universe might be trying to teach you through this experience. Even if this answer isn’t immediately clear, you will find it eventually and understand.

Reclaim Your Power

The misery I felt after my father cut me off was heartbreaking. My soul hurt. My body was tormented. My mind shattered. I lost my power when I lost my father because I associated his actions with my value, happiness and purpose.

But, we can’t control what other people do. They’re living their lives the best way they know how. We can only control how we react to them. And we either choose to empower or disempower ourselves with our reactions.

Grief, sadness, and anger are all normal emotions. They help us understand the world around us and build our emotional intelligence. And at certain points in our lives, we will express these feelings, and doing so is healthy. So, I’m not suggesting you repress your feeling, but I am suggesting you evaluate them.

Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” And if your answer is “because __________ did __________,” then ask yourself, “What can I do to move forward with my life?“

Create a strategy and timeline for how you can empower yourself to move forward and begin acting on it immediately.


“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past.” ~Anne Lamott

After I forgave my father I was able to move forward with my life, and my relationships with men, in a positive and loving way. No longer did I sulk in disappointment, depression, self-hatred, or stress. Nor did I seek validation from outside sources. Instead, I found internal peace, happiness, and love.

Forgiveness is the final step in this healing process. When we let go of our painful past, we make way for a bright and hopeful present and future. Our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions align with our newly freed state of being, and we become happier, healthier, and more positive.

Forgiveness is the ultimate expression of love, and one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves and others.

By practicing these methodologies, I was able to climb the ladder to forgiveness. Each one was a critical rung I had to experience and consciously step up to. Only then did I regain my power. The most important part is that he didn’t change, apologize, or live up to my glorification. Instead, I simply made it to the final step, at the top of the forgiveness ladder.

About Antasha Durbin

Antasha Durbin is a spiritual writer, life-long student of the universe, and psychic tarot card reader. Her website,, is dedicated to casualizing the spiritual experience and making it attainable for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Follow her for free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living.

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Nov 24

This Is How To Create Happy Memories That Will Last A Lifetime: 3 Secrets From Research

By Admin | Personal Development , Relationships , Syndications



Before we commence with the festivities, I wanted to thank everyone for helping my first book become a Wall Street Journal bestseller. To check it out, click here.


Your first kiss. Graduation. Your first job. Your wedding day. Birth of your first child.

These are the big memories that we all cherish. But there are other little memories that stick out because they had such a powerful emotional impact on you. Moments that enriched your life, bonded you with others and helped you define who you are.

Well, the latter are just “magic”, right? Serendipity. Can’t engineer that. They just “happen”…

*Writer rolls his eyes so hard he gets a migraine.*

Yeah, and sometimes they don’t. More often than not, one day rolls into the next, one month rolls into the next, you blink your eyes and you’re staring down the barrel of another New Year’s Day saying: where the heck did the time go?

Serendipity can be a bus that never arrives. So why do we leave special moments to chance? And why do we not do more to create those special memories for others — the way we’d like them to make some for us?

We get tired. We get lazy. And then boom — suddenly CVS is loaded with Christmas ornaments and it signals the end of another year. No good. If we want great memories we have to make them.

But how do you do that? What makes some little moments so powerful? And others the epitome of “meh”?

Chip and Dan Heath have a new book that lays out the science you need to know — The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact.

Time to learn how to construct more events that will restock your reminiscence reservoir. Boost your nostalgia number. Fill your flashback fund.

Let’s get to work…

1) Create Moments of Elevation

Parties. Competing in sporting events. Taking off on a spontaneous road trip. What do they have in common?

From The Power of Moments:

Moments of elevation are experiences that rise above the routine. They make us feel engaged, joyful, amazed, motivated.

If you feel the need to pull out a camera, it’s probably a moment of elevation. (Unless you’re taking a selfie. In that case, just put it away, you narcissist.)

So what is it at the core of a moment of elevation that we can add to any event to make it more special? Remember the 3 S’s: sensory, stakes, and script.

Boost sensory appeal: This is why concerts, museums and great meals stick in your memory and why sitting on the couch is so forgettable. Engaging the senses more intensely makes moments stand out.

Raise the stakes: Competing in a sporting event is more exciting than watching one. In fact, betting on a sporting event makes watching one more entertaining. If there’s something to gain or lose, you’ll be paying attention.

Break the script: Don’t do the usual thing. Don’t just get coffee or have dinner. Boring. Take your default and flip it on its head. Defy expectations and strategically surprise people.

Southwest Airlines broke the script by tweaking their normal flight safety announcement. One of the lines they added was:

If you should get to use the life vest in a real-life situation, the vest is yours to keep.

People loved it. In fact, those who heard the new messages actually flew more. And that resulted in an extra $140 million per year for Southwest. Breaking the script produces delightful moments.

The Heath brothers write, “The most memorable periods of our lives are when we break the script.” Sounds kinda pat and corny – but it’s true.

Research shows that when older people look back on their lives, a disproportionate number of their big memories happened in a very narrow window: between ages 15 and 30.

That’s not even 20% of the average lifespan. Is this because our memory is sharper then? Or because young adulthood is a “magic” time? Heck, no…

It’s because after 30 life can get pretty darn boring. After their third decade has passed, most people don’t do anything as novel as falling in love for the first time, leaving home, going to college, or starting their first job.

So months and years blur together because nothing new and shiny happens. But neuroscientist David Eagleman says that when you inject novelty into your life, you prevent the blur. Surprise stretches time. So break the script and interrupt the blur with moments of elevation.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my new book here.)

So boosting sensory appeal, raising the stakes and breaking the script can turn little moments into big memories. What else has that power?

2) Celebrate Moments of Pride

A graduation party. The ceremony where you received your black belt. Or that special session when the parole board declared you “rehabilitated.”

You want to commemorate achievements. When you have your skill noticed by others, you can puff your chest out and take a second to feel really good about yourself. And this is not a “nice to have.” Research shows we need these.

From The Power of Moments:

Carolyn Wiley of Roosevelt University reviewed four similar studies of employee motivation conducted in 1946, 1980, 1986 and 1992. In each of the studies, employees were asked to rank the factors that motivated them. Popular answers included “interesting work,” “job security,” “good wages,” and “feeling of being in on things.” Across the studies, which spanned 46 years, only one factor was cited every time as among the top two motivators: “full appreciation of work done.”

According to one survey the Heath brothers found, the #1 reason people leave their jobs is “a lack of praise and recognition.” So take the time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished and to let others celebrate with you.

Now I know what some people are thinking: But I don’t achieve big stuff very often…

But you’ve already made big strides that you never took the time to revel in. Surface the milestones that already exist. How long have you and your BFF been friends? Ever celebrated that? Didn’t think so. (No, that does not make you a bad friend. I still like you. You’re cool.)

The Heath brothers tell the story of one couple that even looked back and actually celebrated fights the two of them had during their first year of marriage. Why? Because they got past them. They overcame the obstacles. That’s worth appreciating.

And for extra credit, set goals. Build milestones on the road ahead. Why? Because the more finish lines you set, the more moments of pride you’ll be able to celebrate. Not only does that feel good, it will motivate you.

George Wu at the University of Chicago looked at the data on how long it took over nine million runners to complete marathons. Most took about 3.5 to 5 hours. But the results weren’t evenly distributed. There’s this huge spike right before the 4 hour mark. Why? 4 hours is arbitrary, right?

Yeah — but it’s a nice round number. And for many it is achievable if they push themselves. People saw that “arbitrary” time limit approaching and kicked in the afterburners so they could say, “I finished in under 4 hours.” And so many did.

Celebrate moments of pride. You don’t have to win a Nobel Prize. In fact, celebrating a silly milestone “breaks the script” and may be even more memorable. Set goals so you have more moments of pride to motivate you to achieve and have more things to celebrate in the future.

(To learn the seven-step morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)

So you’ve elevating and celebrating milestones. Great. But relationships are what brings us the most happiness. (And ice cream. Ice cream brings happiness, too.) So how do we make memories that deepen our relationships with others? (And may involve ice cream?)

3) Build Moments of Connection

Vacations. Reunions. Holidays. The times that bond us with others where we feel all kinds of warm fuzzies.

These are the moments when some of the most powerful memories are formed. What does the research say deepens the connections you feel with others?

Struggle. Yeah, struggle. No, I’m not saying you should get in an argument with Uncle Jack again.

Anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas (say that three times fast) found that groups that went through “high-ordeals” bonded far more than those that went through “low-ordeals.” Struggling together made people closer. This is why fraternities haze. Why soldiers feel like they are kin.

So what the heck does this have to do with relaxing vacations and get-togethers with friends?

Less watching movies and more playing board games as teams. Less shopping and more touch football. If it ends with high-fives, you’re probably in the ballpark.

And even better if it’s a team activity that is connected to meaning. Yes, that even means helping your friend paint their new kitchen and having beers after. You’re helping them turn “that house” into “their home.”

Even if it sounds like a chore beforehand, we often look back fondly on those times…. especially if your friend paints himself into a corner.

(To learn the 4 rituals from neuroscience that will make you happy, click here.)

Okay, we’ve learned a lot. Hopefully it was a memorable moment — but just in case, let’s round it all up and learn how to make the most powerful memories of all…

Sum Up

This is how to create happy memories that will last a lifetime:

  • Create moments of elevation: Boost sensory appeal (light some fireworks.) Break the script (don’t wait for the 4th of July.) Raise the stakes (hope you don’t get arrested.)
  • Celebrate moments of pride: If your first book comes out and someone insists you go someplace special that night, do it. Otherwise you wouldn’t have a vivid memory. You wouldn’t have photos. All you would have is some random date to remember like in 8th grade history class.
  • Build moments of connection: Struggle. Working together on something, especially something meaningful, bonds us together. So just help Gary move this weekend and stop whining.

How do you make the most powerful memories of all? You don’t have to use just one of the tips above to improve a moment — you can use them all.

Celebrate a friend’s “moment of pride” with the “struggle” of a paintball match and “break the script” by also making it a costume party with everyone getting decked out in full military regalia — from the Revolutionary War.

Now that’s memorable. And insane. But insane is memorable. And not boring.

You now know how to make great memories that can last you the rest of your life. You can make them for friends as well – even better, share them with friends…

But usually we don’t. We do the hum-drum and the days blur together. Life becomes stale and boring and we die a little inside. But you don’t have to.

Break the script. Don’t let the script break you.

Join over 320,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

Related posts:

New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy

New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful

How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert


Posted On: November 12, 2017

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Nov 02

Seven Tips for Stepfamily Success

By Admin | Relationships , Syndications

The stakes are high in marriage for those looking to get it right the second time around. While remarriage can heal the scars of divorce and blended families can provide newfound hope and optimism, recent statistics show that over 60% of second marriages fail. As ominous as this sounds, there are key steps you and your partner can take to maintain a happy remarriage.

In his book Stepfamilies, James Bray found that at the heart of every well-functioning blended family is a stable and happy marriage, and research by The Gottman Institute found that the strength of a couple’s relationship ultimately determines the family’s success.

Remarried couples need a strong foundation of trust and communication in order to buffer the challenges that arise from stepfamily life, and with the understanding that marriage satisfaction determines stepfamily stability, a loving and well-adjusted stepfamily is possible when couples commit to taking the time and action necessary to get there.

These helpful tips provide a guide for couples who are navigating the ups and downs of remarriage.

Set Realistic Expectations

Couples can become disillusioned quickly when they fail to anticipate the number of difficulties unique to stepfamily life. Caught up in love and having a sense of family once again, they can forget that blended families are not a restoration of what once existed, but rather a brand new construction of family life.

Once blended families face key issues head-on like finances, stepchildren dynamics, and navigating relationships with ex-spouses, then they can create the right atmosphere for a new family to grow and blossom.

Communication Is Key

It is critical that remarried couples learn how to communicate effectively and not be afraid to discuss sensitive topics as they arise. Conflict is inevitable, and without the fundamentals of effective listening and understanding, a couple can become gridlocked on major marital issues.

Over time, poor communication can chip away at the foundation of the relationship – the foundation that keeps the stepfamily intact. Gottman’s research found that 69% of conflict is unsolvable; there is no magic cure to eradicate the inevitable. Instead, couples should seek to manage conflict with empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Gottman also warns couples against engaging in the four most destructive relationship behaviors, known as The Four Horsemen, during disagreements (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling). Using “I” statements to express your feelings and needs, accepting responsibility, staying respectful, having gratitude and appreciation for your partner’s positive traits and actions, and being able to take a break when things get tough are all helpful ways to keep arguments from escalating and to avoid these behaviors.

Parent Together, Not Separately

Loyalty to your own child is real and valid, and can feel very strong. This can make stepparent discipline a very delicate topic. Remember that love and trust develops over time between stepparents and stepchildren. It’s important to establish roles for parenting and discipline early on and adjust as needed to each child’s developmental cycle.

According to Bray, the adolescent period of a child’s life can be a very difficult phase in stepfamily development – one that usually catches the couple off guard and can cause great strain to the family dynamic as a whole. Be mindful of this time in your own family structure, and engage in what Gottman calls “emotion coaching” to help adolescent children understand their emotions and to show that you’re there for them.

Create Your Own Unique Family System

One way to think of the difference between blended and nuclear families is that blended families are like a crockpot meal, while nuclear families are like a quick skillet sauté. Purely biological families are seared together with fierce devotion and love, yet stepfamilies stew together slowly, taking time to bond and become unshakeable.

Bray’s research found that stepfamilies often don’t feel like a unit until several years after formation. Give yourselves time to come together and develop as a family. You can help this process along by establishing some special family traditions like a weekly pizza and movie night or a monthly outing to your family’s favorite restaurant. Shared experiences like these can help families bond and form their own unique identity.

Stay Connected to Your Partner

Staying true to your shared goals as a couple and supporting each other’s future hopes and dreams is essential for staying unified. Daily check-in conversations, engaging in shared hobbies and interests, and regular date nights away from the kids helps to keep the relationship strong, romantic, and deeply connected.

Practice Patience and Understanding

The blending of families is like a marathon, not a sprint. Commit to the journey and find ways to enjoy and learn from each moment of happiness and frustration that comes with it. Did your stepkids tease you for winning again during family game night? Tease them back and keep it lighthearted. Did your partner go against your wishes on discipline? Talk it through honestly, calmly, and respectfully. With every slip up or misunderstanding, keep in mind that you’re both on the same team.

Stay the Course and Don’t Give Up

When things don’t go as planned or you’re having a difficult time integrating as a family, think back to the beginning and remember why you came together in the first place. No relationship is without its own set of challenges. Couples who commit to overcoming the obstacles together build a strong foundation to get through tough issues in the future. Supportive statements like, “This is a rough time for us, but we’re going to get through it” or “We’re in this together no matter what” can provide powerful motivation.

Remarried couples committed to success do best when they understand the importance of having a strong marital relationship that acts as the foundation for the blended family’s happiness. Marriage, including its challenges, can be a wonderful adventure for you, your partner, and your new family.

If want to build a deeply meaningful relationship full of trust and intimacy, then subscribe below to receive our blog posts directly to your inbox:

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Oct 14

Is He Ready for Marriage? Put Him to the Test

By Admin | Relationships , Syndications

If you’re looking to marry, how do you know if he’s the one? Besides giving due weight to chemistry and other concerns, you can do some “litmus testing” to find out which qualities he has that you can accept and which ones spell trouble.

Marriage-readiness is necessary. It can’t be forced. When he’s ready, he’s ready and not a moment before. If you’re able to manipulate a not ready man into marrying you, he may resent you for a long time. You don’t want that, do you? So do test for readiness.

The “Sex and the City” television characters once compared a marriage-ready man to a taxi: At a certain time, he becomes ready to commit. His “available” light goes on and the next woman in his life gets the ring.

You can tell the difference between a man who’s got the light on and one who’s just driving around in the dark. Here are some positive signs of his readiness:

  • The singles scene no longer appeals to him.
  • He’s financially independent.
  • He’s at least able to talk about the idea of commitment.
  • He wants to be a dad or is willing to be a step-dad, if this applies to you.
  • He’s your boyfriend in name — your husband in spirit. He makes plans for the future, introduces you to his family and friends. He calls you regularly, wanting to hear about your day and to tell you about his. He’s open and honest.

Financial independence relates especially to a man who desires to start a family because he’s likely to want to be financially secure before marrying. Regardless of your age and life stage, if you want a responsible partner who is able to commit to a job, pay his bills, and so on, look for these qualities.

If a man objects to any talk about your future, he’s probably not ready for marriage. To further test the waters, tell him directly how you feel. You can say candidly that you’re wondering whether he’s dating with the hope of finding a wife or if he’s just, well, dating.

Signs that He’s Not for You

If he says he doesn’t want to marry, believe him and move on. But even if he does want it, make sure the answer to questions like these is a clear no:

  • Does he spend irresponsibly?
  • Does he speak negatively about marriage?
  • Does he hurt you by being unreliable or abusive; or by lying, cheating, or flirting with other women?

Watch out for red flags. If you want a good husband, know that a yes to any of the above questions is a likely disqualifier, even if he’s charming and says he loves you.

Test for Long-Term Compatibility

Talk about what your lives together would look like after marriage. Even many couples who live together first say that marriage changes their relationship.

Say what matters to each of you. Maybe my husband sensed that I wasn’t cut out for a traditional gender-based division of responsibilities. One evening while we sat on my living room couch, well before we got engaged, he said, “I’m not the kind of guy who expects his wife to have dinner on the table at a certain time each evening.”

Green light for me. I could be myself with him.

This is the main thing to test for: are you fine being yourselves with each other and able to accept your differences over time?

Read more at PsychCentral

Oct 09

Intimacy as a Spiritual Path

By Admin | Relationships , Syndications

Attachment theory and neuroscience tell us that we’re wired with a human need for connection. Neither infants nor adults thrive without safe and secure relationships. Might our longing for connection and intimacy be synonymous with a spiritual longing that lies at the very heart of what it means to be human?

When we hear the word “spirituality,” we may think of something otherworldly and transcendent. We pray to some larger presence beyond ourselves that we call God or participate in rites and rituals that we hope will secure our salvation or enlightenment.

Rather than pursue a vertical spirituality of transcendence, what if we pursued a horizontal spirituality that invites us to be awake in our everyday lives and relationships?

Horizontal Spirituality

Martin Buber, the renowned Jewish spiritual philosopher, had a profound revelation after a tragic event. One day he was praying in his room when a student came seeking self-understanding. Buber listened, but was perhaps more interested in getting back to his spiritual practice. Buber was later horrified to learn that the student had apparently killed himself.

The realization that he was not fully attentive and responsive to this man’s plight was a pivotal moment in shaping Buber’s vision of bringing spirituality into relationships. He later wrote that essence of faith is not “the pursuit of ecstatic experiences but … a life of attentiveness to others, the life of ‘I and thou’ in encounter.”

Buber proceeded to write the popular book, I and Thou. He explains how maintaining a fully open and non-judgmental presence with others is at the heart of spiritual life.

Meditation and spiritual practice can have enormous benefits. But as I discuss in my book, Dancing with Fire, these practices don’t necessarily translate into improved relationships — unless we expand our view of spirituality to include engaging with our human feelings and longings in a wise and skillful way.

In A Path with Heart, meditation teacher and psychologist Jack Kornfield reveals how meditation can be misused, despite its many benefits:

“Meditation had helped me very little with my human relationships. … I could do loving-kindness meditation for a thousand beings elsewhere but had trouble relating intimately to one person here and now. I had used the strength of my mind in meditation to suppress painful feelings, and all too often, I didn’t even recognize that I was angry, sad, grieving, or frustrated until a long time later.”

Kornfield’s disclosure reflects the experience of many people who have discovered that meditation practice does not automatically get integrated into one’s emotional life and relationships.

In the same vein, meditation teacher and psychologist Tara Brach reports that meditation alone wasn’t enough to heal the emotional wounds of many of her students:

“They assumed their feelings of inadequacy would be transcended through a dedicated practice of meditation. Yet even though meditation has helped them in important ways, they find that deep pockets of shame and insecurity have a stubborn way of persisting.”

Making Room for Feelings

Mindfulness is a practice of being present to what we’re experiencing in this moment. We might use meditation to let go of unpleasant feelings too quickly (and return to our breath), rather than being spaciously present with them — not getting too close or too far away.

Focusing, developed by Eugene Gendlin, is one way we can learn to be present for our feelings without getting overwhelmed. It’s a kind of mindfulness practice that embraces feelings and invites us to find whatever message they may hold for us. Somatic Experiencing, developed by Peter Levine, is another helpful way to heal from trauma by engaging with our feelings skillfully.

Mindfulness is a practice of gently welcoming whatever we’re experiencing, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Meditation teacher Jason Siff explains how in his own meditation, he allows feelings such as anger, fear, hurt, and longing to arise:

“Sitting still with those feelings, I learned how to tolerate them and, eventually, how to quietly and gently explore them.”

However diligently we might meditate, pray, or repeat affirmations, the undertow of old traumas and emotional wounds may undermine our spiritual intentions  — until they’re courageously faced. Feelings are a doorway into our emotional life and a bridge that connects us with others.

Making room for a range of our emotions allows us to find more peace within ourselves. As we become more calmly accepting of our own feelings, we become more comfortable with ourselves. We’re then better positioned to see and accept people as they are. We develop more satisfying relationships as we become more relational with ourselves.

Being Relational

Our spiritual potential isn’t to achieve some extraordinary state of consciousness that is removed from our day-to-day lives. Rather, it’s about opening to the precious gift of being alive in this moment. As Buber discovered, spirituality is about living with an available and undefended heart. As Buber put it, “All real living is meeting.”

Moving toward liberation means dancing artfully with the life that flows within us and outside us. As our life becomes our meditation, we live with more openness, presence, and joy. Being more intimate with life becomes our spiritual practice.

If you like my article, please consider viewing my Facebook page and books below.

Oct 09

More Terrible Relationship Advice

By Admin | Relationships

There’s a lot of bad relationship advice out there—whether you find it in how-to articles, on the shelves of your local bookstore or in conversations around the dinner table. When followed, it can spoil your relationship or a future relationship.

We’ve already featured some terrible tips in this earlier piece. Today, we’re sharing several more unhelpful perspectives, along with advice that genuinely helps.

Adjust your age or number of sex partners. Starting off your relationship with a lie is basically the antithesis to what relationships are. “The foundation to a healthy and successful relationship is security; both people need to know they can be vulnerable, open and honest without losing the bond,” said Jennine Estes, a marriage and family therapist who owns a group practice called Estes Therapy in San Diego. Of course, lies do the opposite: They create distrust and conflict.

Plus, we all deserve to be loved, no matter our age or number of partners. “Our past is our past and there should be no shame to it,” Estes said.   

Don’t depend on your partner. Many of the college students and young adults that Kirsten Belzer, LCSW, works with believe they shouldn’t be dependent on their romantic interests—advice they’ve heard from their peers. Some have even worried that they’re “codependent” because they think about their mate throughout the day and want to spend time together.

The term codependent “has been co-opted from its original meaning, which referred to the partner of a substance abuser who would unhealthily base their own happiness on the partner’s well-being,” said Belzer, a Chicago psychotherapist who specializes in couples, trauma, loss and life transitions.

Our brains are actually wired to obsess about new partners and to yearn to be with them. It’s almost like we’re physiologically addicted to love.

Use this game-like tactic to land your love. Belzer also has had clients who’ve intentionally acted indifferently with people they really like because a book said appearing uninterested is the best way to hook a mate. Some think they need to wait a certain number of days to call or text so they don’t appear desperate.

Numerous resources also tell women and men how they need to dress and act to attract a partner, she said. Wear heels. Go casual. Don’t ask about his job. Be positive (instead of making your usual pessimistic remarks). Make eye contact—but not too much. Mirror her behavior. Act dumb.

Basically, what such tactics have in common is that they suggest you mask your feelings and act in inauthentic ways.

According to Belzer, “books and articles that recommend various game-playing techniques in relationships are promoting some of the worst relationship advice, especially for people trying to find a long-term committed relationship.”

Instead, she stressed the importance of being our full selves, which is how we develop true intimacy and build trust.

Don’t fight. You might’ve heard that healthy couples never fight. But that’s not true. “All couples fight,” said Rebecca Nichols, a licensed clinical professional counselor who specializes in relationship issues throughout the life cycle, especially dating and divorce. “The difference is that healthy couples fight with respect.” That is, they don’t name-call or berate each other. They don’t issue threats.

“Healthy couples use disagreements to understand each other better and make changes to ensure the health of the relationship,” Nichols said. Conflict can help our relationship grow, and our connection to deepen. The key is to avoid getting defensive, to listen to our partner, and to be vulnerable.

Fights often start with surface complaints. According to Nichols, if couples are willing to delve deeper and discuss underlying issues, they’ll find that “You’re always late” is really “I worry that you don’t value spending time with me.” “You always leave the dishes in the sink” is really “This doesn’t feel like an equal partnership.”

Belzer stressed the importance of partners practicing the four S’s of healthy attachment: We need to feel physically and emotionally safe. We need to feel seen: Each partner understands the other or tries to understand. We need to feel secure: Each partner is present during tough times. We need to feel soothed: Each partner soothes the other’s nervous system.

The best relationship advice focuses on honesty and authenticity. It focuses on each partner being themselves. Fully. It focuses on cultivating trust and helping both partners to feel safe, supported and loved.

First Published in an article on Psych Central

How to be more assertive
Oct 08

How To Be More Assertive – The Top 7 Strategies and Why Power Posing May Not Work…

By Admin | Personal Development , Relationships

How to be more Assertive…

It’s a question that many people ask themselves especially after they have had an interaction in which they believe they did not stand up for themselves the way the wanted.

I had a friend once who was as strong as a tiger in almost every way and could be incredibly assertive in almost all situations. She even bullied a professor in college into changing her final class grade from a B to an A (true story).

But when I saw her interact with her father the one time he visited for parent weekend she turned meek as a mouse and I couldn’t believe the transformation that came over her…

I became fascinated with the topic of assertiveness that weekend, and being a double major in psychology and philosophy and throughout graduate school and the course of many years since then, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a great deal about assertiveness.

People aren’t born either assertive or passive – they’re shaped by many experiences over time that influences the mental models they develop about assertiveness, communication and whether or not it’s acceptable to express feelings, wants and needs.

Some people had parents that raised them to be accommodating and to put the needs of others first. The problem here is that this can become a pattern of avoiding conflict and only seeking to meet the needs of others which in the end is harmful because we all have wants and needs which must be met, at least some of the time.

Think of unmet wants and needs as pressure building up inside a tea kettle overtime with no way to be released…

In the end, it’s you that ends up harmed by the internal pressure of the unreleased steam. In fact, your health can be negatively affected, so it’s important to work on developing the tools to increase confidence to be able to speak up and be assertive without being aggressive so that we can appropriately express our emotions, wants and needs in the right situations whether that’s at home, work, in career situations, etc.

A problem that often occurs when you aren’t assertive is that you start to feel like others are taking advantage of you. It’s a strange predicament because you also feel like others will be upset with you if you stand up for yourself and so you end up feeling uncomfortable.

Sometimes people in this kind of situation resent the person that they are saying yes to even though it is their decision which puts them in the predicament because they feel “forced” to say yes, but sometimes its all in their own mind due to past conditioning.

How to be more assertive

Becoming assertive without tipping the scale into aggressiveness is a part of maintaining good mental health for yourself. Having good boundaries where you respect your own wants, needs, and emotions helps you to feel better about yourself and allows you to appropriately prioritize your own desires…


Here Are The Top 7 Ways To Know You Need To Work On Being More Assertive & What To Do About It.

Watch for these signs and Practice these Skills on How to be more assertive:


  1. Trouble saying “No.” When you have trouble asserting yourself you often find yourself saying yes more often than you want to. You may find yourself feeling like a victim because to you it seems as if you’ve been pushed into doing things you don’t want to do even though you’re the one who said yes in the first place. Afterall, it’s their fault for asking, right? No, it’s your fault for failing to say the simple word, “No.”
    • How To Be More Assertive Solution – Recognize that your difficulty with saying no is a result of past conditioning. At first, it may be difficult to change, but once you gain some momentum it will get easier. Practice saying “No” to small requests. Keep in mind that no one can agree to everything. Work on changing your beliefs about saying no- Remember your wants, needs and feelings are important! In order to be healthy, you actually have to prioritize some of your wants, needs, and feelings which means setting limits and being assertive.
  2. You fear rejection. How To Be More Assertive Solution – Increasing and practicing self-confidence is the solution to this problem. As you worry less about rejection you will become more assertive. Changing your beliefs about rejection and recognizing that rejection doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad can help change the negative feelings associated with it. This is one of the primary reasons people aren’t assertive (fear of rejection). It’s a particularly powerful fear that is often picked up during childhood.
  3. Your needs never seem to be met. Do you find yourself wishing that others would pay as much attention to your needs as you do to theirs? It doesn’t work that way. If you’re too accommodating to people sometimes they don’t treat you with respect because you have no boundaries and so they walk all over you.
    • How To Be More Assertive Solution – Set limits with other people. This is a skill that requires practice. Start small, say no to something with low importance for you to make it easy at first. This will help get the ball rolling to ensure you’re meeting your own needs. Consider enlisting others to help you.
  4. You find that taking responsibility is difficult. People who have difficulty with assertiveness often have trouble accepting responsibility. Can you accept criticism and compliments? If not, you’re probably not very assertive.
    • How To Be More Assertive Solution – Practice taking responsibility for your actions by setting limits and increasing your self-confidence. As you take more responsibility your self-confidence will increase and it will become easier to be assertive as well.
  5. You are conflict avoidant. When you are mistreated do you avoid doing anything about it? Would you rather make peace regardless of the cost?
    • How To Be More Assertive Solution – Learn to embrace conflict. Conflict is a natural part of life and human relationships. It requires an ability to tolerate internal distress and accept the belief that it is ok for people to disagree. The principle is to start small so that you gain success with small items and then build your confidence and success from there.
  6. You say, “I’m sorry” quite a bit. Apologies have their time and place, but you probably apologize for things that are not your fault at all.
    • How To Be More Assertive Solution – Practice going a full day without saying “I’m sorry”. Keep track of when you say it. Notice what situations, feelings, and beliefs serve as triggers for you. Continue to incorporate practice periods into your life so that you become mindful of your patterns and gradually lessen your use of this two-word term.
  7. You hold back on sharing your opinion. Do you ever choose the destination when you are going out with friends?
    • How To Be More Assertive Solution – You do have an opinion and it matters. Express your opinion. Practice expressing your opinion and increase the number of times you do so by a small number each day. Reward yourself as you keep expressing yourself.

The key principles are to start small to create easy victories, track your progress and celebrate your wins. If you backslide there is no need to punish yourself, you had more than enough of that growing up, time to let go of that mindset…

The advice on assertiveness I’ve given all has scientific backing. I want to show how difficult it can be for people to find good information out there…

Now I want to show how difficult it can be for people to find good information out there when they look for help on how to be more assertive…

Let’s say that you type into google or youtube the search term “how to be more assertive”

You might find this Tony Robbins video which looks great and is very compelling. What Tony doesn’t tell you is that the information he is talking about comes from the work of Amy Cuddy.  I was so fascinated by this topic a few years ago that I decided to actually look at the original research which left me with some questions about the validity of the research findings (not the author’s integrity)…

1st, here’s Tony’s video…

Now let’s take a look at a recent article that examines whether or not power poses, as described by Tony and so many others and based on the work of Amy Cuddy, has real-world results…‘Power Poses’ Don’t Actually Work. Try These Confidence-Boosting Strategies Instead – TIME A TED talk delivered by Amy Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and a co-author of the study, has been viewed an astounding 43 million times. And no wonder. As the paper’s introduction promises: “…a person can, by assuming two …

…So, as you can see this article summarizes the results of additional research showing that power poses may not do much to increase assertiveness in the real world and have the results that the original research seemed to indicate.

It’s very hard for the average person without a research background to separate out good advice from bad, and know that the results of one research study need to be replicated to see if the results hold true over a number of different trials. I have a big problem with the entire state of affairs with the self-help industry these days which in my own small way I’ll be trying to help with some course correction here and there…

All it takes is a very convincing charismatic person (and I don’t just mean Tony Robbins) to present information as if it’s true and then you have hundreds of thousands of people following flawed advice, believing its true and wondering what’s wrong with them when the technique doesn’t work. That’s a bad situation in my book.

In the end, assertiveness techniques, training, and skills all revolve around the idea that you are prioritizing yourself. It’s about recognizing that you are important and worth something in this world and that other people aren’t more worthy or worthwhile. When you always put the needs of others first your health will suffer. While there’s not an instant quick fix to assertiveness, there are time-tested strategies that work…Work on your assertiveness and you will become more respected by others, you own self-respect will increase and you will be both happier and healthier. So, here’s to you having a happier, healthier more assertive life!

You might be interested in checking out this article on Gaining Credibility even when you’re new

Share with me your thoughts about assertiveness and this article…