In Keeping Score, I discuss giving up the need to keep score in relationships and how doing so improves your life and your wellbeing.
In KNOW Regrets, I offer tips for dealing with regrets that may, if unattended to, impair your life.
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Perhaps it is because, a few weeks ago, the entire country just finished focusing on the Super Bowl,
that something keeps milling around in my mind: keeping score.
When I was first married, I was given a lot of advice (both unsolicited as well as solicited) and there was one exceptionally important point given by someone I respect enormously, "Don't keep score."
At the time I heard it I did not realize its profound significance and I also did not realize that not keeping score isn't as easy as it sounds.
Keeping score is usually discussed in the context of "quid pro quo", not in the framework of "How do I love you? Let me count the ways" as Elizabeth Barrett Browning proposed, or "Let me remind myself of the reasons I married you," or "Let me count my blessings," but rather, "What have you done for me lately? Look what I have done for you." This kind of keeping score reinforces ways that we feel badly about ourselves because it focuses on that which we perceive we don't have rather than what we do have.
So, rather than feeling good in relationships we feel awful because we "keep score." Instead of how great it is to have a birthday, we focus on who did not call me to wish me well. Instead of appreciating e-mail messages to congratulate me on my daughter's wedding, I lament why these same people did not call me. In this context, it does not matter what anyone does, it is just not enough. We compare our actions to theirs (We would have called) and everyone comes up short.
Nobody treats us well and therefore, (and here is where the trouble begins) there must be something wrong with me. What did I do to deserve their lack of caring?
We focus on how awful we feel and how dreadful these people are, and then we end up in a deep hole of abandonment. We choose to respond to another's communication or lack of communication by starting a list of negatives and the difficult fact is that we choose to go there. We could choose to focus on the good but we choose to focus on the bad, that which is clearly harmful to our health, that which is difficult to accept. We go to a place inside of ourselves that is all too familiar and painful, and we stay there, which sets off an equally familiar downward spiral, instead of stopping, and going to a place of rejoicing in the gifts of our life. Our brains know what we are doing and we allow the pain to take over.
In the past few years, brain research has helped us to understand that we go to the places of pain and we feel miserable. We go to the places of joy and we feel content. When we choose where we go, we can control our response. It does not mean we do not acknowledge disappointment. It means we do not allow the disappointment to control our response and our mood.
One reason keeping score is so powerful is because there is so much energy in it. We are all at risk of putting energy into our negative lists rather than our positive ones, and this is a choice we can make, or learn to make, if we recognize it's an issue we have in our life. There are countless examples in our lives of whether we choose to hold onto what we felt was a dismissal, a rejection, a lack of concern.
We each ascribe different levels of importance to our own and others' life events. For some of us, celebrating a birthday is a big deal and receiving a "happy birthday" via e-mail or text message may be fine. For others, it is far from sufficient. The other person's communication triggers questioning within ourselves, "Why couldn't they have called?" Which can lead to: "Am I not important enough to them?" Which kicks off the internal review of keeping score of myriad slights and offenses: "What did I do to deserve this?" Which slides into: "They don't value me."
If you have had a medical procedure and during recovery, you do not hear from someone whom you consider is important in your life, again, you can interpret their not reaching out to you as a lack of concern or care. Since we each like to be acknowledged by our family members and close friends, in the absence of their call, we have a choice regarding how we interpret it and move on. The way they reach out may not at all be an indicator of their view of us, or it may be. Either way, we can be quite certain that they are not internalizing the perceived "slight".
A Good Daily Habit
Make Some Time to Disconnect
In today's "über connected" world many of us feel naked without our cell phone or other mobile device. We feel "disconnected" if we are not talking or texting or emailing or tweeting or posting. For better or worse (mostly worse) our eyes, fingers, wrists, necks, heads, are all taking a rather harsh beating, to say nothing of the freeing feeling we can have if we directly engage without looking at a screen!
Everyday we can each decide that we will substitute a non-technological experience for a technological one. Write a hand written note instead of an email; read a book made from paper instead of an ereader; dine without any technological device at the table; have a conversation face-to-face rather than electronically.
By the way, the following link guides you to a list of mood-lifting books and comments from U.K. health experts suggesting that such reading improves health.: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/jan/10/mood-boosting-reading.
|Sanity SaversTM TIPS
Tips for KNOW Regrets
Some of us want to go through life with no regrets and others of us go through life with the desire to learn from our actions that caused us to have regrets in the first place. Instead of No Regrets, I advocate Know Regrets.
When something happens in our lives we can choose how to respond. Once we have the experience, we can do ourselves a favor and examine, process, integrate, and learn from that experience.
Here are some tips to consider:
Revisit Choices Made and Consider the Consequences. - When we do this, we can KNOW more about our regret and hope to alter our behavior when faced with similar choices in the future. If there is nothing we can do, then we need to come to terms and let it go. Ruminating, living in the past, repeatedly beating ourselves up over something we cannot change, can lead to depression and affect our ability to look at other situations clearly and wisely. Many people who live with regret find it impossible to forgive themselves and need to keep the regret scenario playing in their mind as a way to punish themselves.
Review with Perspective. - If your child or good friend had done what you did, what would it take for you to forgive them so they could begin to rebuild their sense of themselves and their life? Sometimes we need to be as kind and forgiving of ourselves in order to let go of the punishing aspects of regret and move on. Often, when we regret something, we look at the situation with the wisdom we have now. At the time we made the choice, we not only did not have the wisdom of today, we did not have the perspective and for any number of reasons, we chose badly.
Practicing these tips is not to absolve, but to allow room for self reflection, self examination, and forgiveness. When a person does this, they assume responsibility, but they remove the "self-imposed hair shirt." When we take responsibility, we are then able to apologize if other people have been affected by our actions. We allow ourselves to learn from the situation. We examine the way we responded and investigate alternative ways of responding that we may not have considered before. We learn about what are the predictable triggers that allow us to behave in ways that cause regret. We can find out about what is truly important to us, what are our values, and how we can live a life that is true to those values without behaving in ways that will cause us pain.
TODAY Show (NBC).
Dr. Atkins is a frequent contributor.
Please check website, www.drdaleatkins.com, for latest updates, including changes of time.
Dr. Atkins comments on breaking news for CNN's HLN. Please check HLNtv.com for updates.
Canyon Ranch Living, Miami.
March 9th: Living a Life with Purpose. Lecture and Book Signing.
Miami Beach, Florida.
Darby and Friends.
March 15th, 5PM: Aging Well.
Canyon Ranch Living, Miami.
March 20th, 3 PM: Living a Purposeful Life: A Key to Aging Well.
Miami Beach, Florida.
TC Today Magazine
Dr. Atkins is the focus of Work - Life Balance, written by James Reisler. Access PDF of the article at www.drdaleatkins.com.
Topics by Dr. Dale Atkins:
Tips for Getting Along with In-Laws: http://video.about.com/marriage/Tips-for-Getting-Along-With-In-Laws.htm;
Warning Signs of a Troubled Marriage: http://video.about.com/marriage/Warning-Signs-of-a-Troubled-Marriage.htm;
Issues to Deal with before Marriage: http://video.about.com/marriage/Types-of-Issues-to-Deal-With-Before-Getting-Married.htm;
Warning Signs of Cheating Spouse: http://video.about.com/marriage/Warning-Signs-of-Cheating-Spouses.htm;
Tips for Maintaining Interfaith Marriages: http://video.about.com/marriage/Tips-for-Maintaining-Interfaith-Marriages.htm;
Tips for Growing Old Together:
and, Most Important Questions to Ask Before Getting Married: http://video.about.com/marriage/Most-Important-Questions-to-Ask-Before-Getting-Married.htm.
Visit Marlo Thomas' site to access my relationship column and Mondays with Marlo video stream. http://marlothomas.aol.com/search/?q=dale+atkins
Read Dr. Atkins' chapter, "Therapeutic
Issues with Recipients of Cochlear Implants,"
in the new text, Psychotherapy With Deaf
Clients From Diverse Groups, Second Edition.
Edited by Irene Leigh, and published by
Gallaudet University Press.
Read Dr. Atkins' chapter, "Family
Involvement and Counseling in Serving
Children Who Possess Impaired Hearing,"
in the new text, Introduction
to Aural Rehabilitation.
Edited by Raymond H. Hull, and published by
I invite you to visit my website to access archives of articles and interviews on line.
My sincere thanks to website developer, Barry Brothers, who, along with Carina Ramirez Cahan, brought vision and positive, creative energy to the site. Do take a look at Barry's work here: http://www.thelimulusgroup.com/bb and consider him for your business, development, design and communication needs.
|Sanity Savers: Tips for Women to Live a Balanced Life
SANITY SAVERS: Tips for Women to
Balanced Life is filled
with suggestions to save
every day of the year.
A must for any woman
seeking to find her balance!
Once again thank you for continuing to read
and talk about Sanity Savers: Tips for
Women to Live a Balanced Life.
WE CAN ALL ADDRESS THE LITERACY
CRISIS IN THIS
COUNTRY. Jumpstart is a national early education organization that recruits and trains college students and community corps members to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods in year-long mentoring relationships. Jumpstart's proven curriculum helps children develop the language, literacy, and socio-emotional skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.
Please help to spread the word about the mission of Jumpstart and the remarkable strides being made in low income neighborhoods every day. If you can, contribute by clicking on www.jstart.org/donate
www.jstart.org/donate. There is something that every single one of us can do to help those less fortunate. Over one million children live below the poverty level in the U.S. This shameful situation must change. Each of us has a responsibility to repair our world. Let us eliminate the 2-year achievement gap that exists between children from low income and those from middle income neighborhoods when they begin kindergarten!
to learn more about Jumpstart
initiatives - such as Scribbles to
Novels, April 17th in NYC; We Give Books; and Read for the Record.
"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."
Viktor E. Frankl
DALE V. ATKINS Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist,
lecturer and commentator in the media who
on the Today show.
She has more than twenty-
years of experience and focuses on living a
life, parenting, aging well, managing stress,
work transitions, family connections and healthy
Dr. Atkins is the author
and/or co-editor of several books including:
Their Private Thoughts about their Private
Families and their Hearing-Impaired
OK, You're My Parents
Let Go of Anger and Create a Relationship that
Wedding Sanity Savers
Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and
Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect
book . . .
Savers: Tips for Women to
Find out more....
As Seen on the TODAY SHOW!
Wedding Sanity Savers
How to Handle the Stickiest Dilemmas, Scrapes and Questions that Arise on the Road to Your Perfect Day
You're My Parents
How to Overcome Guilt, Let Go of Anger, and Create a Relationship That Works