Doormat Living

Q. What are the characteristics of being a “doormat?”

A. Let’s Talk! Being a doormat involves feelings of being walked on. Moreover, this form of codependency means a person fails to set boundaries and has difficulty saying “no.

In many cultures and families, saying “no” seems impolite and not kind. But when saying “yes” most of the time – when you really want to say “no” — gives way to dysfunctional living.

I never thought I would be teaching small children to say “no” to family members, friends, classmates, etc., but as an elementary counselor, I did teach them to refuse when they were asked to do something wrong or unsafe. This message is just as important for adults. We live in such a not-safe world.

When you say “yes” and don’t say “no” — and you wish you hadn’t agreed — that’s a clue you are doormat-ing. There’s also a sinking feeling, an uh-oh feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I love finding Scriptures that speak into my life and can you believe there are even some verses in Isaiah 51 and 52 that urge us not to let others walk on us? Let us know your thoughts on doormat living.

For Deeper Reflection

Isaiah 51: 7b, 22, 23; Isaiah 52:2

Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.

Thus says your Lord, the Lord, even your God
Who contends for His people,
“Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling,
The chalice of My anger;
You will never drink it again.
“I will put it into the hand of your tormentors,
Who have said to you, ‘Lie down that we may walk over you.’
You have even made your back like the ground
And like the street for those who walk over it.”

Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.


Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com 

What About Group Anger?

Q. What are the dynamics of group anger or riots that are growing in the United States?

A. Let’s Talk! Clearly, an angry mob is one angry person finding another angry person and another! In my last post, I gave as a definition of anger, “the result of things not going the way we had hoped. Loss of hope. Things are just not right.” Somehow, when one angry person is with another angry person there is comfort and a dark sense of excitement. That fuels the fire!

Many have said our world is upside down and not at all the way it “should be” with answers seeming outside of our grasp. If we can find others who feel the same way, this strangely legitimizes our dark sense of being right in our anger.

There are several remedies. One internal piece that we talked about last time was reframing: changing one’s thinking, coping with the difference between how things should be and how they really are. Part of this is letting go of the expectation you had of how life should be. Ouch.

Then there is forgiveness. But, another action and external piece we can take is to go to the one or ones involved and try to talk about the problem and come to an agreement on some level. Talking is better than STUFFING our anger. The ramifications of stuffing are enormous. Taking up an offense is devastating too. Let’s talk about both of those next time.

One more thing to throw in the stew is the idea of processing the grief of things not being the way they should be. Grief and anger are cousins, so we hurt and we are angry all at the same time. Sometimes they are so tangled we can’t separate the two. Ask God to untangle the tangles and give you His wonderful wisdom and view of the situation. He will.

For Deeper Reflection

James 1:4-5 “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

http://braveandresilient.com/?p=3832

Let’s Talk

Feel Angry?

Q. What are feelings of anger about?

A. Let’s Talk! Anger is everywhere! Just drive anywhere for five minutes and you’ll see all levels of road rage. Go to the grocery store and you will see families out of control. You’ve seen anger many places in your day, haven’t you? Anger even seems to be on the increase. A working definition of anger is: Anger is the result of things not going the way we had hoped. It’s a loss of hope and feeling that things are just not right.

Our world today is so full of loss of control, things not going the way they “should,” and despair that our new normal will ever feel really normal. At times, so much feels different!

Sounds like I’m a glass-half-empty melancholic, doesn’t it? But, I’m a sanguine! I too have been reflecting on the anger I see each day large and small. I see both friends’ and strangers’ anger because “things are just not like they are supposed to be.”

Is this why we are drawn to entertainment and countless diversions? Is this why we like connecting in texts and social media? Are we driven to find a so-called happy place?

What do we do? For starters, God knew the damage we’d carry if we held on to anger too long. He says not to let the sun go down on anger. It’s normal to get angry and experience disappointment that things are not as they should be. We are just not to hold onto anger a long time. A day is as long as we need to be angry before this emotion needs to go. When things don’t go as you expected, can you think through your expectation(s) of what went south and let this unmet expectation go? Can you “die” to the expectation of how things SHOULD have gone?

Now, would you ask God to renew your mind? Ask Him to hit the Refresh button for you and cast your hope on Him instead of how things should be. Are you willing to switch your thinking around? Will you try it this week?

For Deeper Reflection

[google Bible verses on anger and you will find some treasure!]

Ephesians 4:27 “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Psalm 37:8 “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Feel Inadequate?

Q. You last wrote about rebellion leading to poor self-esteem. What about feelings of inadequacy?

A. Let’s Talk! Many people have had a sense of inadequacy – feeling that they are not enough or that they don’t have what it takes. Living in our culture plays into that, but we can recover from that with God’s help. HE becomes our adequacy.

Poor self-esteem is more about reaping the effects of poor choices like toxic, irrational, and untrue thinking and resisting authorities and instruction.What these effects have in common are identity issues. Poor self-esteem is the result of failing in some areas and struggling to “be OK.” The sense of inadequacy is a more vague cloud over us when we are not sure we are OK.

Both poor self-esteem and a sense of inadequacy demonstrate our failure to comprehend God’s love and plan for our lives. Failures and inadequacies on this earth are common. But God doesn’t want us to base our worth or value on things from this earth.

I heard someone say the other day, “I entrust myself to Your loving reception, for everything I am and everything I am not. . . .” What a healthy balance! What acceptance of some things we are and the things we are lacking.

For Deeper Reflection
Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Rebellion and Poor Self-Esteem

Q. What are some pitfalls of rebellious adults?

A. Let’s Talk! There is a stunning truth in Scripture, “He who resists instruction despises his own soul” (Proverbs 15:32). We are seeing this combination in our culture of rebellion and poor self-esteem. Let’s talk more . . . .

When we resist instruction, we invite poor decisions and then shame. Self-esteem improves when good choices are made.

Even small children know that when we make poor decisions, we feel bad about who we are; and conversely, when we make good decisions, we feel better!

The truth is, we are to feel good about who are simply because we are created by God. But, our culture has other messages out there about what matters. Performance and achievement are just two. Certainly it is a good thing to do well, but that doesn’t mean we are to measure our worth or value by that measure alone. Counseling offices are full of clients with fear of failure issues, sense of inadequacy issues, and a sense of no value.

But it is God’s wisdom and instruction that can help us navigate the system. That is, if we don’t resist instruction and choose rebellion. We choose rebellion to feel free, to feel better, but this choice only brings the opposite. I bet we each have personal stories of prodigals who went on a search for pleasure and found that resisting instruction brought pain.

For Deeper Reflection

Proverbs 8:33 “Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.”

Proverbs 15:5A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible.”

Proverbs 15:31–32He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Rebellious Children – Part 2

Q. What are some more ideas for parents of rebellious children?

A. Let’s Talk! We left off the last post talking about the atmosphere in the home and the goal of better relationships and consensus to dial down rebellion. Let’s go right to one of the hardest discussions in a family: the rules, chores, routines, and—oops—what happens when these are not followed. Remember, though, that the outcome is not more important than the relationships and the messages you are giving in the process.

So, you ask for a family meeting and ask if all would be willing to help create the family goals, rules (I prefer the term agreements), chores, and how to handle agreements not followed. Future weekly family meetings are more about how the week is going, et cetera.

The family goals, rules, and chores are a consensus of core beliefs. You will want to linger the longest there as your family creates them at your first family meeting, which sets the environment. Examples are: we choose to respect others, and we purpose to take responsibility for our actions and decisions and not make excuses. Help make it a pleasant activity! Write down all suggestions so all feel heard and keep asking for feedback as you facilitate a final version. This is an important step because everything else hinges on it.

The next discussion in the meeting is to decide on the consequences when family members choose not to follow the agreements just created. [This is most often called punishment, but I’m asking you to consider a different term!] Ask all family members what they think certain consequences should be for choosing to not follow the various agreements. You will be shocked! Invariably, the children choose stiffer consequences than you would choose. Now negotiate in love until you reach a great agreement.

Once you’ve established an agreement, you can simply reference as your family moves forward and make adjustments as needed. A wise statement is to communicate to all in the family that if someone has a better idea to share it during the family meetings. You as parent get the final say, of course, but do you hear the love and openness and flexibility? There is less rebellion when a child of any age feels heard.

For Deeper Reflection

Philippians 4: 8 “[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Rebellious Children

Q. What are some practical, tangible ideas for parents of rebellious children?

A. Let’s Talk! Is there a possibility the child feels that the rules of the house are more important to the parent than their relationship? Children often rebel at rules when a loving relationship isn’t primary in the home. Is the atmosphere in the home a “punishing” one or a loving one?

All of us—young and older—naturally resist authority. Scripture indicates that rebellion is our very human nature! But, when rebellion occurs in a home, there are some ways to create consensus and help diminish the tension. These ideas in Let’s Talk are not meant to be pat answers to a complicated problem. I don’t ever like to sound like that. I would, however, like to offer a menu of some practical ideas over the next few weeks.

The relationship is the first goal. If there is building of relationships, there is more inclination that the children will want to follow and not resist the leadership. What could you do as a family to make things better? In a loving way, what about asking your rebellious child that question and ask for his/her input? You’ll want to be a good listener and not defensive at this moment. You will have other opportunities for your own thoughts.

I used to ask teachers to ask their students during the first week of school to circle up and have a meeting about what they wanted to happen and what they didn’t want to happen in the classroom that year. One by one agreements were formed and facilitated by the teacher, but the ideas were from the students and there was 100 percent buy-in for the rules they would follow that year. It’s also a model for the family, where rules are forged and agreed upon in emotionally safe family meetings where all feel heard and all input is respected. Kids feel like they are an important part of this process and feel more inclined to follow than rebel because of their own input.

Rebellion shows up the most in conversations and decisions concerning the rules and chores, as well as the discipline issues when rules aren’t followed. So, in the next post, I will share some ideas and language to facilitate that fun piece. In the meantime, let’s think about our parent-child relationship.

For Deeper Reflection

It is because of a relationship with God that I long to follow HIS instructions … in that order!

2 Timothy 3:1-5

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power….”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

More Double-Bind Examples

Q. Would you give some more examples of a double bind?

A. Let’s Talk! Generally, a double bind is the “shot-myself-in-the-foot” moment when we sabotage ourselves. One example is someone who is drawn to a party lifestyle but suffers with social anxiety. Another example is someone who is lonely and desires friendships, but alienates acquaintances with a critical spirit.

In other words, your choices about what you are doing and what you want CLASH! It can happen when you are a small child or when you are a senior citizen. We can spot that there’s a problem, but sometimes it’s hard for us to see that we ourselves created the problem.

I have long loved Dr. William Glasser’s Reality Therapy questions for self-evaluation. Question #1: What is it that I want or need? Question #2: What is it I am doing (my chosen behavior)? Question #3: Is what I am doing (my chosen behavior) HELPING or HURTING me in getting what I want/need? [the sabotage] Question #4: What do I need to do to make things better? [the problem solving now begins!]

There’s not room in this column to discuss excuses, except to say they are counterproductive. Problem solving begins when we take responsibility for our choices, for they are our chosen behaviors.

There is great news. I am not suggesting you do the problem solving in your own strength. Never do I ever mean to point you in that direction. The deep changes I seek for us all involve this Easter weekend. It’s the new life that comes when we turn to the God of the universe. He takes our dark, broken, and sinful choices and gives us eternal life as we invite His Son into our lives. It’s a real beginning if you have never done that—and then many, many wonderful new changes follow as we ask Him to empower us.

For Deeper Reflection

John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”

Romans 6:4 “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Double Bind

Q. You explained why changes are so difficult. So why make changes at all?

A. Let’s Talk! Thankfully there are areas of our life that don’t require change. But, for the areas that need change – and we don’t make those needed changes – it is called insanity. Seriously, the much-acclaimed definition of insanity is repeating the same old behaviors but expecting different results.

In other words, if you do “same old, same old,” you will get “same old, same old.” For there to be a different outcome, one of the variables must change. Ouch! Not fun! An example of a double bind is: it feels difficult to make a change, but it feels bad not to change. This is also called stuck.

Your needed changes may come in the areas of buying a different home or home repair or the relationships inside your home. It may be changing jobs or changes in your routine. Maybe your changes are even more personal. If you are a list-maker, this would be a good time to write down those pros and cons concerning your needed changes and begin to sort out the problem. Next, you may want to process your changes with a trusted friend or counselor.

You will want to listen to your heart as well. What do you have the most peace about as you change various things in your life? Peace is a great directional indicator!

For Deeper Reflection

1 Corinthians 14:33 “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace…”

 Isaiah 54:10 “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken…”

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

After the One Exercise for the New Year . . .

Q. Do we focus on the one thing until it’s completed and then choose another one thing? What are your thoughts about when to move on to other goals?

A. Let’s Talk! Changes are stubborn, so I trust you tied your first goal to a good hitching post! Until you see success for several weeks, I would hesitate to focus on your next New Year’s change. But! It could be helpful to start a list and begin to prioritize your “wish list” of goals if that thought doesn’t overwhelm you.

I have found that most of us resist change with every fiber of our being. We say we want to make changes and conquer many goals, but changes can die hard.

So, if your goal was an exercise program, is it really, really at a time and place you won’t resist? Is your goal tied to something else that you do regularly so you’ll have better chance of success? If your goal was more study time, is the time in a slot that doesn’t get slammed with other activities? You get the gist of how we sabotage our own desires.!

Another barrier could even be taking on another goal too soon. For example, if you chose exercise as your “one thing,” but then you throw in a new diet change, notice the result. If the second goal enhanced the first goal and didn’t discourage you (as in too much too soon)—hooray. Your second goal wasn’t too soon.

So, to answer your question: Watch your heart and watch for success. If your heart gets discouraged and you are not experiencing success, you’ve added a new goal too soon. If not, you are right on track making helpful changes to your life.

For Deeper Reflection

Is our gaze on the goal or on God? Our success comes from Him!

The enemy of our souls would wish to discourage us with even the pursuit of GOOD goals.

Joshua 1:8-9  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com