SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT
TEENAGERS – they must be the most complex creatures on earth. Even more difficult than a hormonal pregnant woman. And every parent I have met asks the same question at some stage - where did my lovely /sweet/funny baby go to and who is this stranger in my house?
Just for the record, I write from my own experience as a mum of two teens (one finished but still acts like a teen and the other going through it), as an ex- secondary school teacher and as a life coach. (And having been a teenager myself; though a long time ago now. Lol). Hence, everything I have learned has been through my own research and experience – books and internet and talking to and coaching teens and parents. So if you don’t agree or like what I say – go online and google the topic. There is a plethoria of mind boggling information there for anyone to choose from.
Being mindful of the limitations of what I can write in one article, I may not be able to cover every aspect of teenagerdom. However, hopefully this will give you a basis to start your own investigative journey for the good of your teen and your family.
Teens, you can’t live with them and apparently you can’t shoot them either. (It’s illegal). So we learn to walk around them and always approach them slowly and cautiously. And it can be exhausting.
Incidentally, those parents who have lovely polite perfect teens can stop reading here and just go make a coffee and sit and feel smug. You are one of the rare lucky ones. Now go away.
WHERE DID MY SWEET LOVING CHILD GO TO?
For the moment he/she is gone, I’m afraid. There is no point in harking back to that rosy time when your child looked up at you with adoring eyes and believed everything you said. Mention Santa and the tooth fairy now and all you probably get is derision and eye rolling.
The good news is they do come back, but not for many years yet.
TO SLEEP PERCHANCE TO DREAM
So what causes the almost overnight change?
It starts with the ever increasing need for more sleep. Remember when you would groan when you heard that little voice at 5am every
morning that pulled you out of bed. Weekend lie-ins were something you vaguely remember from your single days. Now you have to drag them out of bed or they would sleep all day.
The body’s internal clocks undergo a huge shift during puberty. Your teen’s sleep cycle shifts as they start to produce less melatonin in the evening, than an adult would. Melatonin is a hormone that controls your sleep patterns. In adults melatonin levels are up in the evening and low in the morning. In teens melatonin is high late in the evening and still high in the morning. This biological change explains why your teen is more alert and sociable later in the day onwards, yet can barely string a sentence together first thing in the morning, when the melatonin is still high in their body. It’s also known as delayed sleep syndrome. This puts teens at odds with early morning schedules and school etc. Schools are now well aware of the almost impossible task of getting teens to focus in the early morning classes however to this day no school that I am aware of has taken the leap to shift secondary education to a later or afternoon schedule. It will take one hell of a brave and maverick school to make that adjustment. Which is a pity.
Research shows that as little as 15% of teens get enough sleep – this affects their school performance, behaviour and moods dramatically. As school starts so early here in the ME we have even more of a struggle.
It is really important to get to know your teens sleep habits and to try and curb them to at least loosely fit the mold. Late nights and early mornings means most teens are working on a sleep deficit for five days a week. We think we are being kind by letting them sleep in as long as they want on weekends but that just maintains a completely disruptive pattern wherein the body cannot commit to any kind of regulation. The best is to allow your teen a couple of extra hours sleep at weekends and maintain a steady bedtime regulation so that by the time school comes around again they are not completely out of sync. During the long holiday period aim to reinstate the correct sleep schedule a least a week before school starts. This is easier if your teen is about to step into puberty as you can start as you mean to go on. It’s something to be aware of if you have a mid teen. In which case explain to them how their sleep pattern has changed and why it’s necessary to maintain boundaries of acceptable sleep times. If you suddenly bring in a rule of bedtime by 9pm during the week you may very well encounter strong resistance. Recent research shows that even a relatively low light focused on the pupils reduces the levels of melatonin. So the use of screen time should be avoided at least one hour before bedtime.
MOODS – HOW SHARPER THAN A SERPENT’S TOOTH IT IS TO HAVE A THANKLESS CHILD.
Shakespeare’s King Lear had his share of thankless children. Whatever he did for them it was never enough. However bad our children are hopefully they aren’t plotting to kill us.
Yet sometimes teens seem to treat their parents as if they are their worst enemy. Scornful responses, sarcasm, grunts, constant challenging are the order of the day.
Teen brains are a thing unto themselves. On entering puberty not only do they have the shifting biological clock; in addition, part of their brain pretty much stops working in order to deal with the huge changes going on and the hormones racing around their body.
Teens cannot help being moody and sulky, because they are still developing social skills and don’t always have the full mental hardware to see the world from someone else’s point of view. They are also at this stage, unable to fully comprehend consequences.
This does not mean parents should accept bad behaviour from their teens by any means. On the contrary, it is more important now than ever that they learn about responsibility, morality and respect. This will set them up for the future and the outside world.
So what is going on inside their heads that causes all this disruption.
There are lots of hormonal and chemical changes afoot. The brain grows and morphs through childhood/puberty and adulthood in different ways and not all parts grow and develop at the same time or rate. In adolescence some areas of the brain mature and build connections quicker and others disconnect. Simply put – the limbic system, which controls emotions and long term memory develops quickly. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), situated behind the forehead does not. In fact it pretty much stops working. The PFC controls decision making and complex mental activities. So in a normal adult the limbic system may advise to fight or flee in a situation and the PFC would assess any decision and keep unwise urges in check.
In adolescents, the limbic system is working alone without checks from the PFC.
Testosterone isn’t just a male hormone, it’s present in both genders, although more in boys, and drives brain changes. During puberty it rises.
What is interesting about testosterone is the more the adolescent has, the more control they have over their emotions. One study on 14 year olds asked to perform series of simple tasks showed teens with high levels of testosterone were more able to tap into their PFC to rein in emotions and regulate their deep brain limbic system. Teens with low levels of testosterone tended to rely on their limbic systems more and responded emotionally and immaturely: more like that of younger children.
That research involved a simple task of responding to emoji-like characters. Imagine what it must be like for a teenager having to cope with bullying, parents divorcing, impending exams etc. It’s a complete minefield of emotions for them.
Incidentally, high quality sleep and regular exercise help boost testosterone levels. Another good reason to regulate sleep times and get them exercising.
Enough with the science! I hear you yell.
But do you see where all this leads to with your teen?
Adolescent + emotions in overdrive, (limbic systems working alone) with little or no ability to make logical or reasoned assessment of a stressful situation, (PFC redundant) add in the overwhelming desire to fight/ argue it out or run to their room and sulk/ cry like the world is ending, plus lack of sleep = your teen.
And that body full of pent up emotions pouring out of every orifice is also unable to understand consequences and won’t until well into their 20s. (Apparently it’s 24 for boys). Hence the ‘ Oh my god I can’t believe he/she has done this again after what happened the last time’ constant cry from bewildered parents.
WHAT IS A PARENT SUPPOSED TO DO?
Just as with any area of parenting there is no hand book, no definitive guide to rearing your particular child. There are only guidelines and it is a matter of trial and error or knowing what you think would work. However be prepared to step out of the familiar zone you have been accustomed to and try new things. Constant communication during the teen years is vital. Your teen may exhibit all the signs of pushing you away, wanting independence, more freedom, more
rights. This doesn’t mean he/she is ready for it. Also it’s worth pointing out, the pushing away thing works only one way – from their side only. Really and truly that is the unwritten golden rule. They are going to leave home. They want more freedom from you. However the reverse does not work. You have to be there for them at all times, be ready to listen and if you are lucky they might even ask you for advice. Why? Because you are the mature adult and after reading this you now know why your teen does what he/she does. If you pull away from them, in their eyes that’s a betrayal. It’s tantamount to abandonment. They can’t articulate that. They probably don’t even consciously think it. Just consider the impact on any child you know after a divorce or when one parent leaves the family home. That’s when a parent literally leaves but I’m also referring to any emotional departure from your teen. Remember they are walking talking bags of emotions, they can smell emotional withdrawal like a vampire smells garlic, with the same response ensuing.
Keep reminding yourself that you are still the most important influence in your teen’s life. The way you behave and deal with things will have a life long impact on them.
Become familiar with the things that are important to them. You don’t have to like what they like but know enough to talk about it.
Talk to them about impulsive reactions to things and how they could have done it differently to have a better outcome. This helps them to develop the neural pathways from the limbic system (emotions) to the PFC (reason). Avoid sarcasm ( they can always do it better anyway) and criticism at all times.
Remind them they are resourceful and competent but still developing human beings and it’s ok to make mistakes as long as they learn from them.
Remind them you are always there for them and will be forever and ever. Even when they grow up and have their own kids.
If they do come to you with a problem ask them do they want you to respond or just listen. This is important as they don’t always want us to fix problems, sometimes they just want to have a rant or speak their mind.
If verbal communication is difficult try writing notes and slipping it under their bedroom door, or text them your thoughts. This gives both of you time to think about what you want to say. Be careful what you write as once it’s received it could be used against you. So always write when calm and re-read before sending. And remember, how
people interpret meaning in texts/ emails depends on the mood they are in when they read it.
Writing notes worked really well for me and my son. He was the classic grumpy, unapproachable, often ungrateful teen. There were times when I would look at my son and struggle to find a positive thought. Then I would feel guilty for the rest of the day. I was aware I loved my son, however I did not love his behaviour. I had to consciously separate the two in order to muddle through those dark years. Until one day he came down the stairs with a strange look on his face. I suddenly realized he was smiling at me and it nearly floored me when he said ‘Morning Mum’.
That was when we got our boy back. But remolded and reformed. And bigger.
Your teen today is tomorrows adult and the next generation that will form the society of the future. Imagine meeting your teen in 10/20 years from now. What sort of person would you like them to be? Irresponsible and immature? Unforgiving and self righteous?
Responsible and mature. Kind and loving. Contributing positively to society?
That future adult is there for you to shape now. He/she is literally in your hands. It’s up to you.
ICF Certified Life Coach.
I’m also a mum of two beautiful people, partner to an amazing man, cat rescuer, baker, quilter, photographer, reader, ex-teacher, aspiring writer, lover of good food and I’m told I make great coffee.
Follow me on instagram: wellness_with_ren
Contact me on 0097455313895
I offer a bespoke coaching programme designed for you because you are one of a kind.
BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE
Normally we associate bullying with school. If you were bullied at school you felt assured that moving on to university, going out into the work place or just becoming an adult meant not having to deal with disturbing or threatening behaviour again. You would be treated as an equal or simply recognized for your talents.
Unfortunately life and people are not that straightforward.
And even if you were bullied at school that does not automatically mean you have a higher chance of being bullied in the workplace. You might even have been the bully at school and now find yourself being harassed or intimidated by your boss or colleague. Food for thought.
In most countries there is a process for dealing with workplace bullying. Some companies are great and others would prefer if you just quietly left and didn’t make any trouble especially if the bully is in higher management, ( you might have come across the ‘ oh but its very difficult to replace someone at that level with his/her expertise so maybe it’s better you left…’ line. It’s more common than we would like to think.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS BULLYING?
Persistent disturbing behaviour.
Persistent threatening behaviour.
3. Persistent intimidation.
Note the word persistent each time. It’s important to note that a one off scenario with any one of these behaviours does not necessarily constitute bullying. Unprofessional behaviour – yes. Rudeness – yes. Nastiness – yes. Not yet bullying.
Everyone can have a bad day and a build up of stress, frustration or tiredness, maybe even a looming deadline panic and you might react wrongly to something or someone in your work environment. You might deliver a comment like ‘get it done on time, I don’t care how late you have to work’. Once is forgivable, I always think. Especially if the person circles back next day and apologises. A second time and you need to be wary, perhaps ask colleagues is this normal behaviour for this person (especially if you are new), but a third time should raise all the red flags (with or without apologies).
Bullying is also when the consequences of refusing to do something, (beyond your job spec or something unreasonable), are damaging or disadvantageous to the victim. Intentional behaviour (sometimes subtle, sometime overt) that causes a normal person of ordinary sensibilities to fear their job safety or even their personal safety.
Bullying is intentionally creating a hostile environment for certain individuals that makes it difficult or uncomfortable to work in. This could be discrimination in the workplace. Being ostracized from social gatherings. Having important information with held from you to make you look bad e.g. told the wrong time for a special meeting, not passing on vital paperwork or the wrong paperwork. This sort of behaviour more often comes from a colleague rather than a manager.
Bullying is mental harassment. Repetitive hostile behaviour. This could be done only when you are alone with the bully so everyone else thinks you are exaggerating. Or it could be done deliberately in public in order to disgrace you or undermine you. It could be happening behind your back. Clever belittling of your work or suggestions of adverse behaviour. Unless you have a well intentioned person who quietly gives you the heads up on what happens when you leave the room, you may live with constant suspicions in your mind or be blissfully unaware.
Bullying is constantly undermining your work or talking over you in meetings.
Bullying is when a manager uses his/her position to threaten job security. With this one is does not need to be repetitive. Once is enough to get this threat.
Last but not least -
Bullying is asking for personal or intimate favours in return for either job security or promotion. What is known as quid pro quo which is latin for ‘something for something’.
WHAT BULLYING IS NOT!!!
Expressing differences of opinion.
Giving constructive feedback on work related behaviour.
Managing the poor performance of a worker.
Giving a verbal or formal warning as per the guidelines issued by your HR Dept. (If the guidelines have not been followed, seek advice).
So if you are unlucky enough to be caught in a situation at work wherein you feel you are being bullied in one form or another YOU MUST DO SOMETHING.
The bully and the bullying will not go away no matter how much you wish it would. Also if you continue to tolerate the bully’s behaviour you are allowing him/her to think this behaviour is acceptable to you.
All sounds easy enough in words but in practice it’s often extremely difficult to deal with as the balance of power is not going to be in your favour.
The biggest obstacle to overcome is to reset your thinking about yourself and your relationship with the bully. Believe it or not it’s not personal. It’s not about you specifically. If or when you leave your job, the bully will undoubtedly find another target.
You see, bully’s are rather clever. They make it seem like it’s personal and only you but in reality they are covering up for their own inadequacies. So by shining the light constantly on you and pointing out your misdemeanours, failings or perceived incompetence he/she is skillfully deflecting away from themselves.
Don’t wait for the next time your boss/ line manager rubbishes your work, talks over you in a meeting or shoots you down in a meeting. Have a meeting with them ahead and ask for their advice on how to improve on what they are not happy with. Tell him/her your ideas ahead of the meeting so he can’t shoot them down in front of people. If he/she still continues the negative behaviour in meetings or gatherings, you now are in a position to respectfully challenge them if they okayed everything the day before.
Remember – and keep telling yourself this – it’s not about YOU. You just happen to be filling a role that he/she has control over.
In the expat world, here in Qatar, things are complicated by the fact that the primary earner will often have schooling and housing as part of the package. So it’s not just the job that is being threatened; it’s your whole social life, your kids schooling and where you live that comes under threat (if it’s company housing). Losing your job or quitting means literally having to move lock stock and barrel and often to another country. This is a huge burden on anyone and often it’s much easier to grit your teeth and soldier on.
But years of working in such a toxic environment (and some people do live in it quietly for years), takes its toll on your dignity, self worth and a deep rooted shame sets in. It’s not easy to remain indifference and you may be too long in it to believe what I said earlier about reminding yourself its not personal. (The hell it’s not personal, you may be thinking. What does she know?)
And I don’t know for sure, of course as every bullying situation is different and unique and received by the victim in a unique way.
No one can tell you walk out now, leave your job, it’s not worth it. You can only do that if and when you feel you have had enough and it’s time. Something will click or snap and you will be able to make your decision one way or another.
You might decide to confront the bully (easier when it’s a colleague). However do it in a calm and controlled way. Rehearse what you want to say. Try it out on someone first. Stick to facts. Avoid subjective accusations like ‘you treat me unfairly’ or ‘you are always running me down’. Because believe it or not they might not be aware they treat you unfairly, maybe they treat everyone unfairly. And the hardened bully may think – so what! If you don’t like it – leave.
Stick to hard facts – ‘I’ve noticed you don’t always agree with my ideas in meetings, could we meet up before the next meeting and I can go through everything so we are both working off the same page. It would look so much better in front of the management?’
If your boss continues to reject or pick holes in everything you suggest, simply ask him/her there and then what they would recommend as an alternative.
‘I’ve noticed you stand very close to me sometimes, please understand that my religion requires modesty in all areas of my life. I would appreciate it if you would leave more space around me. Nothing personal of course’.
This is a mixed gender issue. More often it is the male invading the female employee’s space. But it does happen the other way around also.
Bully’s like this rely on their actions being so subtle that you come away thinking – did he or didn’t he??? Was it a mistake or my imagination? Once maybe, but not anymore than that. And if you challenge him he can easily put it down to your imagination or the classic retort – Yea you wish.
Trust your instinct. Avoid close contact as much as feasibly possible. If you have to pass each other in a small environment make a big thing of letting him go first. Sit down rather than standing if you are having a meeting. If you feel you are being touched. Jump up and say OMG was that a spider and again make a big thing of it. And of course you have every right to call him out on it as soon as it happens –
In a loud voice say –
Did you just touch me? I swear you just touched me. You have done it before but I wasn’t sure, this time I am. Please keep your distance or I will involve HR or the police for my own safety.
Even if he blusters and denies it. Suspicion has been laid down and that may be enough. If it persists then you have to take it further. I would always recommend finding someone in HR rather than your line manager as this is a private thing.
Do you have a separate or effective HR Dept? Make discreet enquiries and source out a name that you feel would be willing to believe you and support you
If possible document any persistent bullying. Date, time, place, what was said or done, any witnesses? As much information as you can. Did you tell anyone after it happened? Would they be willing to be a witness to your distress?
Does the bully pick on anyone else? Can you rally up others and build a case.
Be careful regarding the laws in Qatar about defaming anyone’s name. Talk to your HR Dept. and ask their advice first and always.
Even when your job is the secondary income with no threat to your home or school, it is very demoralizing to have to make decisions about whether this environment is worth the anguish or the constant erosion of your dignity. Especially hard if you enjoy the work and earning your own money.
Everyone has a breaking point. A moment where you feel you have given so much to this job or forsaken so much of yourself that you reach the point of no return and just quit.
Before you get to that point start finding ways to either deal with the bully. Rally support or talk to someone who has the power to do something about it. Ultimately it may not change anything, depending on how important the bully is to the company. (It’s a sad reality I’m afraid). They may even be aware of the behaviour and compiling evidence. In which case your evidence may not help you now but may help someone in the future.
Start looking around and see what’s on the job market.
You may still be thinking ‘Why should I move?’
Instead ask yourself ‘How does it serve me to stay? What is the cost to my dignity and self worth? Is it worth it in the end?’ Answer the questions honestly.
This is the part where you have control. You have 100% control over your decision to stay or go. Prepare yourself so that if you do decide enough is enough it will happen because you want it to and are ready to go. Not because your hand was forced or you felt you had no other option.
Remember this person’s comments and views on you and your work, are just from one person. Someone who is prejudiced against you or has it in for you. It is not the truth. It does not in any way sum you up as a person.
I always say to clients ‘You are not the sum total of one person’s estimation. No one person can completely define the whole you’. Whether their estimation is good or bad it is coming from one source and often with an agenda.
The future is bright and you are about to step into it.
ICF Certified Life Coach.
I’m also a Mum of two beautiful people, partner to an amazing man, cat rescuer, baker, quilter, photographer, reader, ex-teacher, aspiring writer, lover of good food and I’m told I make great coffee.
Follow me on instagram: wellness_with_ren
Contact me on 0097455313895
I offer a bespoke coaching programme designed for you because you are one of a kind.
WARNING: TOXIC LEVELS HIGH
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if some people came with a warning.
We have all encountered them. Some are in our lives and some in our homes or our friendship groups. We may work with them, be related to them or grew up with them.
What am I talking about? TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS.
Yea baby, you know it.
That person who swallows you up, dwarfs you, talks over you, interrupts constantly, tells you what to do and huffs if you don’t listen. Plays the blame game, manipulates, criticises or puts you down. Is negative about everyone, jealous of everyone, can’t be happy for anyone. They may be some of that and more.
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is an unhealthy one sided relationship. It is an emotionally harmful relationship. One where the balance of power is tipped in favour of the toxic person. The other person may feel powerless, have low self esteem (especially if the relationship is a close one and has gone on for a long time).
The feelings of powerlessness are often redirected onto the inner self in the form of mirroring any criticism received. E.g. Jane, the toxic person may comment to Jess that she is easily influenced. Jess internalizes this and without realizing uses it on herself when she finds herself unable to pull away from Jane’s ‘friendship’ as she now distrusts her ability to make decisions. Jess now does Jane’s job for her and continues to erode her own self esteem in other ways. This is the power of the toxicity. Like any contamination – it leaches out, spreading silently.
There are many types of toxic people. Some may be deeply embedded in your life, a parent, a spouse, a boss, ( even your relationship with your child can become toxic).
Or they may be part of your general friendships groups, maybe they come as part of a friendship made with someone else, so you have to accept them. It may be a friend of your partner or spouse. You may have moved and this was the first friendship you struck up.
And people stuck in toxic relationships are not necessarily weak or easily led. You can fall in love and be blindsided. You can meet someone and initially enjoy this fun outgoing party person, your new friend/neighbour may have just had a bad run of luck and things will get better. It’s a slow erosion here, a subtle manipulation there and it probably won’t happen again, you think.
Baseline checklist for toxic relationship assessment.
So here are a few signs for you to think about.
Do you dread seeing them?
Do you lose yourself in their presence and hate yourself afterwards?
Do they lie or exaggerate for effect on a regular basis?
Are they hurtful or dismissive of your feelings but expect you to acknowledge theirs?
Do you find yourself adopting their negative views without thinking?
Do you agree with them just for the sake of peace?
Do you invite them to gatherings more out of fear than because you want them there?
Do you come away feeling agitated, down or a general feeling of dissatisfaction?
Do you hang out with them out of necessity, (because of who they know, or their position/authority overrides yours)?
Do you find it impossible to say no, or create boundaries?
Some of these may ring true. If you feel you are caught in a toxic relationship ask yourself what you are getting out of it? What keeps you tied to this relationship? What is it costing you to stay? What will ending this relationship give you? And ultimately do you want to end the relationship? Because nothing changes until you are ready to change it.
It’s worth pointing out what actually is a healthy relationship.
A healthy relationship involves a lot of mutual feelings- respect, communication, trust, support, understanding of the need for space and FUN.
If you are having fun, having a laugh now and then, coming away from this person feeling good about yourself. Then the signs are good.
If you are going through a tough time and you come away from a chat feeling supported – good.
You allow yourself to be emotionally vulnerable with this person and feel safe – good.
Things toxic people are good at –
Passive aggressive behaviour.
Criticism/contempt. (May be followed up later by pleas for forgiveness or praise if they sense they have gone too far).
How to spot a toxic person.
The Energy Vampire.
These people suck the life out of you. They always seem to need help/support/advice. Something is always bringing them down and misery loves company so they want you down with them. Everyone has their ups and downs and even a run of back luck, but in this case it seems never ending.
So ask yourself is this a mutually supportive relationship/friendship?
The Drama Drama person.
Now in general these people can be fun and great in a social group as they will always have a fun story to tell. But in extreme – it’s only their story that’s interesting. Something is always going on that’s funnier, more dramatic, more interesting in their lives than anyone else’s. They will dominate conversations with stories of their life. (If you are around them a lot you may actually spot the loop). They don’t even want advice when things are wrong, why should they? Their life is far more exciting. Yours just sucks.
Probably the most dangerous. Usually very clever people. Like Narcissus, they love themselves and believe themselves to be superior to everyone around them. If they do admire someone, then by heaven, you had better admire that person also because the narcissist has deemed them worthy. Their aim is to control. They will build you up with compliments and will pull you down just as quick with criticism. It’s how they roll. They made you they can break you. Also just like Narcissus, they have to have an Echo. Someone who hangs onto their every word, panders to their weaknesses.
Are you some ones Echo?
There are other types, like the habitual liar or exaggerator, or people who see every conversation as an opportunity to show off how much they know, or every conversation is an opportunity to brow beat you into accepting their way of thinking. Whatever you do, avoid talking politics to this person.
Overall these people are exhausting to be around. They bounce around life and people and often have no idea of the effect they have on people. They are just so into themselves they can’t see beyond. Some are harmless irritants others are dangerous users.
But what can you do about them?
The first thing to accept is that you can’t change them. They have to want to change, (if in their eyes there is anything that needs changing in them).
But you can change you.............
The next thing is to accept that this is not a healthy relationship and probably not a happy one either.
So what the hell are you doing in this toxic environment?
What exactly do you get out of this? Do you enjoy being treated with contempt, having your life dismissed, or your feelings run over with hob nailed boots?
Would you treat someone like this? What makes it acceptable for someone to do it to you?
The next step.
Acknowledging your emotions. What goes on inside you when you think of removing this person from your life or distancing yourself from them?
Guilt? He/she doesn’t seem to have many friends. I’ve known him/her since childhood. But it’s my Mum/Dad – they must want the best for me.
Fear? I’m new here, I don’t know anyone else. She/he is my boss I don’t want to lose my job.
Lack of confidence? I don’t make friends easily.
Loneliness? I’m stuck at home with a baby, I don’t see anyone else all day, but him/her.
it’s a tough call. And only you can make it.
Something has to change in you.
Start with being easy on yourself. You don’t have to feel guilty for wanting to protect yourself. You don’t have to feel bad for wanting people around you who will support you and make you feel good about yourself.
If anything look at them and feel sorry for them. One day they will crash and burn if they don’t stop and assess their lives. Often toxic people have very fragile egos. They crave approval. They need attention and like a child it doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative, as long as you are focused on them. They need to be in control because they are convinced its either control or be controlled. It’s all they have learned.
However, feeling sorry for them does not mean you have to put up with being treated badly or shodily.
By being honest with them you are doing them a favour. You may lose them as a friend or create initial disharmony in a relationship but if this relationship is to continue in a healthy manner something has to change and if they aren’t willing to accept that their behaviour is upsetting, then at least you know where you stand and can make a decision based on that.
Can you talk to this person honestly and explain that when they behave in a certain way you feel angry/depressed/frustrated/not listened to/demeaned?
Can you toughen up and not take everything personally?
When someone tries to humiliate you in front of others’ it says more about them than you. Call them out on it and ask them in front of people why they feel the need to behave like that. If you don’t think that’s something you could do, then can you avoid being near that person in social occasions or if it’s in your control – not invite them?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again – you are not alone. You are not the first person to feel like this. There are many others like you. And guess what? There are lots of lovely interesting fun people out there – if you would give them the chance. Join a group. Create a group. Do something positive and proactive for yourself.
Holding on to a toxic relationship makes no sense. But sometimes the familiar is more acceptable than stepping out of our comfort zone. You may even blame yourself or just accept that because of past experiences you gravitate towards these kinds of relationships. Whatever the reasons for the toxicity in your life – acknowledging it is there is the first step.
Well done. When you are ready to make the next step you will do it.
Like I said earlier, being caught in a toxic relationship has nothing to do with your strength of character. But being caught in a toxic relationship can erode your confidence, drive down your esteem, make you doubt your judgement.
And most importantly…
Remember you are more than the sum of one persons evaluation of you.
Don’t accept negative labels. You are not made of Velcro – so don’t let labels you don’t like stick to you. Brush them off. Do it literally. It helps, I promise.
Love and friendship should leave you warm and fuzzy inside – always.
Love isn’t cruel or destructive, dismissive or demeaning. If you are not thriving, growing and flourishing in your environment, then you’ve built roots in the wrong ground. And just like plants we need the right environment to grow strong and flower.
Are you growing in the right environment for you?
ICF Certified Life Coach.
I’m also a Mum of two beautiful people, partner to an amazing man, cat rescuer, baker, quilter, photographer, reader, ex-teacher, aspiring writer, lover of good food and I’m told I make great coffee.
Follow me on instagram: wellness_with_ren
Contact me on 0097455313895
I offer a bespoke coaching programme designed for you because you are one of a kind
Marriage and relationships in the expat world
We have nothing in common anymore.
We both end up slumped on the settee too tired to talk.
The kids take up all our time and energy.
The magic is gone. It’s all so humdrum.
Sounds in anyway familiar?
Maybe you have your own unique reasons for doubting your marriage. Perhaps you have already made up your mind but can’t make the step.
Or you maybe you see your spouse drifting off into a direction you don’t want to go, but you still want to save your marriage.
There is no easy way to say this - just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to make a marriage. That’s what I want on focus on here – saving something that was once worthwhile enough for you to stand in front of family and friends and swear to love each other ‘till death you do part’.
Even if you are not sure you want to save this marriage, perhaps you are not sure your husband wants to save this marriage – ask yourself have you done enough on your part. Can you honestly say you have given 100% into this marriage from the outset? Given it your absolute best shot. If it ended tomorrow could you walk away and look yourself in the mirror and say – I did my absolute best with all my heart, with the best intentions. I can sleep at night.
Problems can be exacerbated when we live away from family and friends. If you had strong family connections or a good community in your home country, being cast amongst strangers in a strange culture can make everything seem worse. You might not know people well enough, (even if you have been expating for a few years), or maybe you move countries a lot, to bring up such personal topics as a troubled marriage. When you ring home, the natural response is to say everything is fine, we are having a great time. So it can feel like you are on your own.
If there really is no one you feel you can trust then seek professional help. Better to enlist help now to save your marriage rather than paying for a family lawyer later.
There are a couple of things to acknowledge first.
Some people blame the environment. (Too many temptations in the expat world. If we had not left home this wouldn’t have happened. If we hadn’t had kids so soon).
Whatever the reason, if there is a problem in your marriage it doesn’t matter what country you live in or where you go or how much money you are making. The problem comes with you. Imagine having a favourite water bottle with a crack in it. Everytime you fill it with water, it leaks. You promise to get it fixed, but never have time, or your spouse won’t fix it. Its always manãna manãna. (Or in this side of the world - Inshallah I will get it fixed tomorrow). So it leaks everywhere. In your bag, in the car, on the table. You moan about the mess in your bag, having to clean the car, constantly wiping the table. It becomes a habit to just moan and clean, because that’s what you have become accustomed to doing without even thinking about it.
Is that your marriage? Have the cracks been there for so long you have accepted them as part of your marriage. How many countries have you lived in and made the same complaints to yourself or your spouse?
Expat life can take its toll on a marriage. There is no doubt about that. It can also be the saviour of a marriage. New life. New opportunities. New attitude. New water bottle.
As Leonard Cohen said;
There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
The second thing is recognizing that we can’t always have our cake and eat it.
Social media sites are full of memes about grabbing life, living it to the full, women in power, women finding themselves, women putting themselves first for once. Where once we hovered in the background now we are elbowing each other for the limelight. So when our marriage hits problems we think – I didn’t sign up for this. My mum had this all her life , I’m not putting up with it. This was not how I planned my life/marriage to be. Every other woman is getting what she wants why can’t I?
We have cultured and nourished ourselves from impoverished to entitled. Is this what we want to hand to the next generation of women? Are we in danger of tipping the scales too far? Where once we simply gave in too easily, now we give up too easily.
Of course there are many reasons why marriages struggle or fail. Sometimes the best course of action is to accept the differences and leave. And sometimes it’s good to do nothing for a while and think.
Lots of couples go through phases of muddling through their relationship. Marriage has its ups and downs, we are constantly being told that. However look at what happens when we continue muddling through and being constantly in the ‘downs’. It becomes a habit. It’s easier to not talk and watch TV. It’s easy to talk about the kids, but lets not touch on the huge problems in the relationship. Maybe you have a tumultuous relationship. Full of arguments, sulks and not talking.
How can it be that someone you once loved could so provoke such anger now? What happened? What’s causing the anger?
Anger is often a surface emotion that hides more vulnerable emotions. Do you feel let down, unappreciated, unloved? Maybe you have been lied to, not given a choice in important matters, ignored?
These feelings often present themselves in the form of anger. It’s easier to express anger than to leave yourself vulnerable by saying you feel unloved/ignored or let down.
It’s also the amount of investment we put in to our relationships that flips the balance. When we love so deeply, when we are vulnerable with that one person, when we give ourselves unconditionally and then something goes wrong, all the invested time and emotion has to go somewhere. We can’t switch it off like a light. Click! Gone! No more love so no more heartache.
‘Heaven has no rage, like love to hate returned.’
Instead all that emotion festers, acidity sets in and what was once love congeals into a mess and we no longer trust our judgment to trust and love. So we resort to safe default emotions, ones that are easier to deal with.
In its mildest form when love has slowly been eroded it manifests itself in lethargy. Can’t be bothered if he can’t. We are ok, aren’t all couples like this after kids. It’s up to him. He won’t talk about it.
In its most ardent, when love is strong, it manifests itself in hate. A dangerous emotion, because it blinds us and makes us act irrationally.
What is your default emotion when things go wrong? Anger, withdrawal, indifference? Think about it. Where do you go to in your head when things are going wrong?
One very important point.
There are some relationships that are toxic and or violent. (That can be psychological or physical violence). No one needs to stay in such a relationship, unless you want to or are afraid to change. Seek professional help and support if you think you need it. You may need more than marriage guidance for that kind of relationship.
Why do I have to be the one to do something. You said it takes two to make a marriage!!!
I’m addressing the women out there because I am making the assumption that only women are reading this. So I am talking to you, the woman in the relationship. If what I am saying resonates in any way the next step is up to you.
Look at it this way. Whether your marriage has simply hit the doldrums, or has hit a crisis, someone has to do something if it’s worth saving. And I am going to assume, for the purpose of clarity that you want to save your marriage. Otherwise you might as well stop reading now.
So you are aware there is a problem. And you want to take action before it’s too late. Fantastic start. Well done.
First thing - ask yourself. What have you done so far to save your marriage / make amends / bridge the gap?
What proactive, or positive outcome related measures have you made to help your marriage? Think about it. Your marriage is ailing. If it were your child you would take it to the doctor, google tips, ask friends for advice, look to your partner for support.
From now on try to look upon your marriage as being unwell, what can you do to do to help it get better?
5 things not to do when your marriage is in trouble.
1. Attribute blame. (Blaming is about removing responsibility from yourself. It’s not helpful and will result in your spouse becoming defensive).
2. Whining. (It’s not attractive and if you get anywhere with it, it’s short lived).
3. The silent treatment. (Not talking is a one way street to a build up of resentment).
4. Doing your own thing. (Marriage is a partnership remember?).
5. Shaming him in front of your friends. (Seriously! You think that’s going to help your marriage. Would you want to hang around someone that made you look small in front of your friends?).
Harsh words. I know.
So lets flip them into something productive and positive.
If your marriage is on shaky ground then both of you have to accept responsibility. Not blame. Recognise that both of you could do more. Even if one of you has done something unforgiveable and broken trust, if you want to save your marriage you can find a way back. You may need professional help to get there. It will be worth paying someone to get you back on track. See it as an investment in your marriage.
So ask around. Whether it’s a marriage counselor, relationship coach, therapist, make sure it’s someone you can feel comfortable with and that you are all working towards the same goal.
Instead of whining about things that you feel aren’t right. Make suggestions.
You never take me out anymore.
You always leave it for me to do.
You don’t understand….
Hey, lets get a baby sitter and eat out.
Can we sit down and work out who can take on these chores/jobs as I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Can we talk? Can we be honest with each other?
Notice the good section involves a more cohesive ‘lets do it together’ kind of language.
It may feel awkward at first. So practice in front of the mirror or on your kids. New habits take time to form and become natural.
Giving your partner, or being on the receiving end of ‘The Silent Treatment’ is incredibly destructive and soul destroying. Sometimes after an argument it might be best for both sides to say nothing and give time to cool off. That’s different from the silent treatment. The silent treatment is about power and control. I can’t do much else but I can decide not to acknowledge your existence.
It’s about wallowing in your anger and the desire to punish.
Acknowledge your anger. Say hello to it. What is it hiding? Can you talk to someone about it? More importantly, can you talk to your spouse about it?
Communication is the key. It also helps to remind yourself regularly that your spouse is not a mind reader. How many of you have wallowed silently only to find out later your spouse thought you were just being quiet. The silent treatment is no use if the recipient doesn’t even know he is getting it.
If you are angry over something –tell him.
If you are upset over something he did or didn’t do – tell him.
If you feel taken advantage of – tell him.
Talk. Talk. Talk. Then talk some more.
I’ve met quite a few couples that ‘do their own thing now’. It works when both sides are honest as there maybe be many factors involved regarding why they can’t or don’t want to separate. It could be the children, finances or simply appearances. The key lies in being open, honest and accepting.
Last but not least. Shaming. Another common symptom of a fractured relationship. It’s a form of insidious bullying.
Talking down to your spouse, disparaging your spouse, demeaning your spouse in front of your friends or mutual friends is one sure way to lose friends and your marriage. Even worse when it’s done in front of the children.
When people carry suppressed anger it comes out in uncontrollable spurts, often in a negative form. Shaming is also about control over another person. You might think you are being funny or just trying to make a point, however it actually makes you, the shamer, look bad. But people will be too embarrassed to say anything. If you have a problem with something your spouse is or isn’t doing?
Talk. Talk. Talk. In private.
If you are the one being shamed, then are you ready to put your big girl pants on and do something about it? Every bully needs a victim. Are you ready to stop being a victim?
The 10 golden rules of a happy marriage:
8. Mutual goals
10. Caring for each other.
Simple isn’t it.
It can never be stressed enough for any relationship – communicate, communicate, communicate.
That doesn’t mean one person talks and the other switches off. Communication is a two way street. If your spouse wants to get something off his chest, give him the air space without interruption or criticism. If you can’t trust yourself not to butt in, grit your teeth and just nod acknowledgements or hmmms. When he has finished, discuss what he said. Acknowledge his feelings on the matter, even if you don’t agree or feel aggrieved. Now that you know how he feels you can both begin to work on it.
Then ask for the same thing back – that he to listen to you without interruption or criticism.
Be nice to each other. As an expirement agree to commit to doing random acts of kindness for each other but not tell each other when you have done it and not to always expect thanks. It can be as small as leaving the remote within reach when you leave the room, or making a cup of tea/coffee. These random acts of kindness should be easy and effortless and everyday. After all if you can’t do something that’s easy and effortless, something you both should really be doing anyway because you are two caring human beings, then how are you going to get onto dealing with the big things?
ICF Life Coach. NLP Practitioner.
Follow me on Instagram: wellness_with_ren
I offer a bespoke programme, designed for your life, because your life is one of a kind.
4 Yummy and easy snack recipes that will come in very handy!
When the weather is not too favorable for outdoor fun, my husband
and I often end up entertaining friends at our place. This means, we need to keep some tasty snacks handy, and no, not just chips or cookies. Different guests usually have different preferences and while some love binging on fried goodies, others choose to
go a little healthy. So, here are some snack ideas that I opt for when loved ones come over. You can try these out too!
1. Tasty mix of nuts and seeds
Being in Qatar means you have a lot of options when it comes to nuts and seeds. Preparing these snacks takes only 10 minutes and here is how to go about it.
You need 1 cup each of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans. Also take half cup each of dried and chopped dates, dried papaya pieces, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You will also need 1 cup raisins and a handful of flaxseeds.
Just mix all the nuts and seeds and fruit pieces in a large bowl and store it in an airtight jar. Now, even if someone drops in unannounced, you can serve them this delicious mix from the jar.
2. Cereals in a spicy avatar
No, cereals are not just for breakfast, and they can be consumed in other tasty ways, and by not adding milk! This spicy cereal mix will prove that in a jiffy. You will need around 40 minutes for the entire process.
You will need 1 cup cornflakes, 3 cups of rice cereal squares, half cup unsalted pumpkin seeds and 1 cup of whole grain pita chips, broken. Also keep handy 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, half teaspoon garlic powder, half teaspoon onion powder, half teaspoon ground cumin, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. You will also need a dash of salt.
First, preheat your oven to 350⁰F, while you combine the hot sauce, garlic powder, cumin powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and olive oil in a bowl. Now, add the cornflakes, rice cereals, pita chips and pumpkin seeds. Then spread the spicy cereal mixture on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. They will come out golden, crunchy and yum!
3. Easy mango salsa
Tangy, sweet, and spicy, this mango salsa can be enjoyed with chips and nachos whenever you have friends over or simply want to pamper yourself. It will take maximum 20 to 25 minutes to make.
Take 2 mangoes to make 8 servings, and peel, de-seed and chop them into small pieces. Medium ripe mangoes work best for me. You will also need a diced tomato, a minced onion, a de-seeded and minced jalapeno pepper for a fiery boost. Also keep the juice from a lime, a tablespoon of minced cilantro and some salt and black pepper handy.
Mix the mango and tomato chunks, and the minced onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the lime juice and sprinkle salt and black pepper as per taste. Your delectable salsa is ready!
4. Refreshing banana and orange smoothie
A snack doesn’t always have to be something to munch on. You might want to serve a yummy smoothie that quenches thirst and provides energy too. Moreover, this orange and banana smoothie will just take 5 minutes of your time.
You will need one banana usually to prepare this smoothie for two. Take little less than 1 cup of strawberries, remove the tops and then dice them in halves. Also, you will need 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice and about 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice.
Add the banana, strawberries, lime juice and orange juice to a blender. Then process it till you get a smooth drink without lumps. Refrigerate the smoothie before serving. You can serve this in tall glasses and perch a partially sliced strawberry on the glass rim for a stylish effect!
So, all set to wow your guests with some simple yet tasty snacks? Do try these out and let me know if you liked them.
Best Wishes Ladies!