Punctuality And Relationships

Punctuality And Relationships. Are you always running late? If you’re in a relationship and your partner is chronically late for social gatherings, events, family/school functions, etc. it can be a real drag on life. Some of us have a pattern of being late for appointments, social events, classes, and project deadlines. No matter how hard we try, no matter how strong our resolve to be on time, it just doesn’t happen. We are always late. Researchers estimate that 15 to 20 percent of the population is afflicted with chronic tardiness. Thankfully, with some self-examination, motivation, and practice, people who suffer from this affliction can deal with it successfully and learn to be on time.

The problem of tardiness affects all portions of the population equally – young and old, male and female, the wealthy and the poor. Research shows that people who are chronically late score lower on tests that measure nurturance, self-esteem, and self-discipline, and score higher on measures of anxiety and distractibility. Another finding from research is that people who are consistently late underestimate the passage of time.

If you are a late-comer to appointments, you are probably familiar with the embarrassment you feel when people, all of whom seem to be able to get there before you, begin to see you as a problem. You know well the jolt of anxiety that comes as you walk into a room late and notice glances between those who have arrived on time, and perhaps the dreaded rolling of eyes. You know the humiliation of being the target for someone’s sarcasm –  “Well, we’re glad you could join us.” You know the experience of making up excuses. “The traffic held me up.” “I had to take an important phone call and the other person wouldn’t stop talking.” “I had a family emergency.” “I couldn’t find my keys.” But the excuses only work a few times – and then the raw truth sets in. People learn not to take you seriously because, frankly, they feel that you don’t take them seriously. If you did, you would be there on time. People can see through the excuses, especially if these excuses are part of a repetitive pattern, and they resent being misled. Chronic tardiness affects not only the way others see you, but also the way in which see yourself. It compromises your integrity.

Too Much To Do
Our society places a great premium on staying busy. Busy people are seen as more productive and successful. You may believe that you must be productive at all times and that if you are not busy, you must be wasting time. You try to squeeze as many activities as possible into the time you have available. To arrive early for a meeting or appointment would mean just sitting there, doing nothing, and that would be unacceptable. So you strive to arrive exactly on time – but then you find several little jobs to do before you leave the house (taking out the garbage, sweeping the front porch, watering the seedlings). And your plan to get there on time is now gone. You are late again.

People who need to stay busy claim that constant activity makes the day go by faster. They believe that they are living life to the fullest or that they are more successful than other people. Studies of the natural cycles of our bodies, however, our biorhythms, suggest that continuously staying busy simply creates unneeded stress. Nature calls for us to intersperse busy periods with down time in a cyclical pattern throughout the day. Arriving a few minutes early to a meeting, sitting with nothing to do, gives us some time to reflect on the day and to sort things through. It gives us a rest so that we can then focus more clearly on the meeting.

Seeking stimulation some of us are unable to get going unless we have a deadline. When we are running late, our anxiety builds, the adrenaline flows, and we feel fully alive. Tardiness is a way of combating the lethargy we experience during the day. An adrenaline rush is exciting, to a point – our thoughts seem to clear and our actions become precise. We imagine that we are functioning at our best. Unfortunately, the reinforcement that comes from this frenzied state perpetuates our problem with lateness. It feels good, as if we are living in the moment, and we want to do it again and again.Research indicates that stimulation seeking may be a hereditary characteristic. There is a gene linked to the production of brain chemicals associated with the feelings of euphoria and pleasure that are released under conditions of excitement. So, some people seem to need more stimulation than others. Being late, however, is only one way of achieving this stimulation. You can learn other, more constructive ways to enliven your experiences – and they have fewer social consequences than tardiness. A regular exercise program is one way of doing this.
Lack of Self-Discipline
Some of us find it difficult to change whatever we are doing at the time. If we are sleeping, we want to continue to sleep. If we are reading, we don’t want to put the book down. If we are working on a project, we hate to put it aside to do something else. Breaking our momentum is stressful. We struggle everyday between doing what we feel like doing and doing what we know we should do. We seem to want both. Ironically, some people who lack the self-discipline to be on time are highly disciplined in other areas of their lives, so it might be hard for them to accept the fact that they need to work on self-discipline – in other words, accept limitations, consequences and boundaries. There is comfort to be found within a more structured life. The unstructured existence, although it may feel pleasant, can carry a huge price.

Self-discipline in adulthood is often a reflection of how we learned to manage responsibilities in childhood. The expectations learned within our families as we grew up influence the way we structure our activities in adulthood. Did we learn to make up our beds everyday, to pick up after ourselves, to get homework assignments in on time? (Conversely, were these tasks so formidable, or even used as punishment, in childhood, so that we gave them up altogether once we left home and felt we could finally take it easy?)Some Other Reasons for Lateness

There are several additional factors that might be associated with a person’s problems with punctuality.

If you are distractible, have difficulty with focusing, or have problems with attention, you might be prone to tardiness. For example, people with attention deficit disorder sometimes have problems with their punctuality.

Anxiety or the fear of having panic attacks may dissuade some people from getting to places on time.
Depression saps our energy, and this may make punctuality difficult.
Some people play a power game with others. If they can make others wait for them by being late, it gives them a false sense of power and control.
People with self-esteem issues may have trouble engaging in positive actions, such as getting to their destination on tim
A consultation with a professional therapist can help to clarify the causes of tardiness – and it is a positive first step in conquering a problem that holds many good people back.
What You Can Do To Become More Punctual:
As we have seen, problems with punctuality can have several different causes. The most effective strategy for dealing with this problem is to work with a professional therapist.  In Counseling you can explore the various causes of your tardiness and come to understand why it has become a problem. You and your therapist can also devise a strategy for changing this problematic habit. You will know that you are not doing this alone and that an experienced professional is behind you all the way. With a positive attitude, a willingness to change, and some motivation, you should be able to have a successful outcome.
Here are a few general guidelines I use to help my clients deal with their punctuality problems:
1.  MONITOR YOUR TARDINESS. Keep a journal of times you were late and by how many minutes. Keep track of the excuses you used.
2.  TALK TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY about your problem. See what they have to say.
3.  UNDERSTAND THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHER PEOPLE who had to wait for you. How do you think they felt?
4.  CARRY A TIMER to see how long it actually takes to get where you want to go.
5.  PLAN TO ARRIVE EARLY – not right on time and certainly not late. Use that time before a meeting to relax and review how you feel.
6.  SUBSTITUTE OTHER WAYS OF ACHIEVING EXCITEMENT if you enjoy the adrenaline rush of being under a deadline.
7.  IMPROVE YOUR SELF-DISCIPLINE by giving up some of your comforts (e.g., making the bed everyday, giving up that second cup of coffee before leaving the house, etc.). Learn that you operate more effectively in the world by using a structured approach where you meet challenges head-on.
8.  STICK TO A SET DAILY SCHEDULE in order to add structure to your life. And organize your home, your office – and your life.
If you would like to know more about being punctual please do not hesitate to give me a call at (858) 735-1139.

Enhancing Your Relationship

Enhancing Your Relationship.  To become acquainted with oneself can be a terrible shock. Emotionally committed relationships bring excitement and passion into our lives, especially when they are new.  Over time, however, we come across roadblocks based on personal issues that can distance us from our partners.  When we first enter into a committed relationship, we may think that we have found the answer to life’s problems, that we have a partner to share in daily turmoil, that we will never be alone again, that it will be smooth sailing from here on out. If we base relationships on these assumptions, however, we may be sorely disappointed when our partners fail to live up to these expectations. There is a strong probability that if we look to another person to provide fulfillment, we will begin to focus on the failings of that person as the cause of our own disappointment. This pattern is the reason for a great deal of discord in committed relationships.

Many people who come in for couples counseling hope that the therapy will change their partner because they are convinced that the partner is the source of the problem.
Over time many relationships enter a stage where the partners feel distant from each other. The initial passion, sexual freedom, intimacy, and feelings of connectedness with the partner fade. Either person may begin to feel that, although they love their partner, they are no longer “in love,” feeling like roommates.  At the same time, both partners may feel that they have lost themselves in the relationship. They have given so much to the relationship in terms of their time, their energies, and their emotions that they have lost what made them feel unique as individuals. They have abandoned old friendships, hobbies, and activities that brought interest and excitement to their own lives in order to devote time and energy to the relationship. When a feeling of distance comes to define the relationship, resentment toward the partner may emerge.

How does a relationship, which may have once shown such promise, end up in a place where the two partners feel distant and may not even like each other very much (even though they feel that love is still there)? The answer lies within. Two people who come together in an emotional commitment carry with them a legacy of their own fears, anxieties, and unresolved problems. It is sometimes uncomfortable for us to come to terms with our own baggage. It is, in fact, so troublesome that we are unable to look within ourselves. When that happens, we tend to attribute the problem to our partners, a process called projection. Rather than accepting the fact that our partners are just being themselves and probably have the best of intentions, we define the source of our own anxiety as lying within the other person. When we feel uncomfortable about something our partners say or do, we may not realize that our discomfort may derive from a source that we have not examined within ourselves like our own control issues, our jealousy, our insecurity, or our fear of dependence or independence.
Our partners may simply be triggering our own unresolved difficulties. The clue is to search within our own lives to see why we have difficulty with these issues.  And this is no small task. To become acquainted with oneself is indeed a terrible shock.
For more information on the topic please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

1st Step In Saving A Marriage

1st Step In Saving A Marriage.  Family pathology rolls from generation to generation like a fire in the woods taking everything down its path until one person has the courage to turn and face the flames. That person brings peace to its ancestors and spares the children that follow. – Terry Real
There’s a way of immediately improving your relationship that passes down to your next generation. It takes awareness of one aspect of your relationship: patterns.
Here’s what I mean. A pattern is a combination of qualities, acts, or tendencies that form a predictable sequence of outcomes in your marriage. The outcomes can be positive or negative.
First, start by becoming aware of recurring actions and reactions.
Here is what a negative pattern would look like.
Jane gets ignored by Jim.
Jane feels hurt and unimportant when ignored by Jim.
Jane reacts by snipping and getting critical of Jim.
Jim reacts by snipping back, getting defensive and then emotionally disengaging (shuts down) from Jane.
Jane feels ignored even more by Jim. Jane grumbles to friends and the friends are supportive of Jane. Janes stops snipping and emotionally withdraws from Jim.
Jim is glad Jane stops snipping. But is puzzled why Jane is distant. All they talk about are kids, work and responsibilities to manage their complex lives. The discussions are important but both partners end up feeling emotionally shallow.
Neither takes an emotional risk to say what they feel and miss.
Wash, rinse, repeat for twenty two years. Kids leave home. Jane and Jim feel like they are strangers or roommates.
And they are.
What can break this pattern?
It starts with awareness.
Here’s what I mean. They each think, “When I feel X what do I do about it? Do I take the risk and speak up directly? Or do I communicate what I feel indirectly? When I communicate indirectly (for example, by snipping), what is the response I get (defensiveness)? When I get a defensive response from my partner, how do I respond (withdrawal after snipping back)?”
And then, “What happens when I stop snipping and withdraw?”
“Oh, we are civil but have no emotional connection.”
Now comes the big question. “Do I choose to break MY pattern?
Basically it is very difficult to break old patterns and sustain new ones when there is no awareness about them.
Being aware is a crucial first step. The vast majority of couples in my practice have total clarity about what their partner does that is dysfunctional. But they have little awareness of the impact of their own dysfunctionality on their partner. They simply keep repeating the dysfunctional pattern and hoping the partner gets the message and responds with new and improved response.
So here is a three step approach to a better relationship.
  1. Be aware of what you both do that keeps getting repeated in a negative way.
  2. Decide you want to break your part of the cycle.
  3. Tell your partner what you have observed and what you are going to do differently and why you are going to do it. Your motivation is going to be for one reason only, which will keep you out of a trap. You are going to be motivated by the desire to become a better person when faced with adversity. You are going to become bigger than the problem instead of the problem being bigger than you are. You are going to do it because you will feel better about yourself and not criticize your partner if they don’t immediately jump on your bandwagon of change.

In Couples Counseling this is the first and most effective step to creating a better version of you and a healthier relationship.  In addition, I hear parents say they love their children very much. Yet they continue to exercise unhealthy behavior. We are what we lived.  Unhealthy childhood patterns don’t discriminate. I provide Individual, Couples and Family Counseling in San Diego and its neighboring communities. Please call me at (858) 735-1139 if you would like help with your relationship.  I offer in-person, telephone or internet counseling.

Emotional Unavailability – When Your Partner Can’t Connect

Emotional Unavailability – When Your Partner Can’t Connect. When we commit to a relationship, we usually expect that our partner will reciprocate with roughly the same level of emotional involvement that we put into it. Many of us hope to find a soulmate, a partner who can share and understand our feelings and ways of thinking on an intensely personal level. Others don’t expect such an intense level of involvement and feel more comfortable maintaining personal privacy within a relationship with more appropriate boundaries. Conflicts may arise when the two partners differ in their expectations of how close they should become. One partner may feel emotionally stranded, feeling abandoned and craving more closeness, while the other partner may feel smothered or pressured into providing more of his or her emotional self than can possibly be given.

Emotional Unavailability – When Your Partner Can’t Connect

The course of a relationship follows a predictable path. The early weeks, months, or even years of a relationship, in fact, are a time of togetherness – when partners search for and experience the similarities that bring them together. It is common for a couple during this first phase to experience a level of emotional sharing so intense that they want to carry their relationship to a more committed level. The next stage, however, is when boundaries are established, when we focus on our differences and in maintaining our own individuality. Couples who can negotiate their way through both of these stages are moving toward a successful long-term commitment. Both of the initial stages typify a good relationship – the coming together phase, followed by the firming up of our own identities within the relationship. A solid relationship is one in which feelings can be readily expressed and shared while each of the partners is able to experience a sense of their own identities.

Emotional Unavailability – When Your Partner Can’t Connect

All too often, however, there is a discrepancy between the two partners in terms of how much of their emotional life they make available to the other. When one partner is able to share emotionally and the other is not, it is usually the emotionally available one who feels more pain. Take the classic example of a couple who has an intense courtship. One partner lavishes the other with flowers, expensive dinners out, and intimate phone calls. Sweetness fills the air and it feels like a dream come true. You have finally met “the one” you had always hoped to meet. But then, almost as quickly as it began, your partner fails to reciprocate when it comes to sharing emotional feelings. Dating comes to a stop, voicemail messages are not answered, and it’s over. There is no fight. There is no discussion about why things are coming to an end.  You’ve now experienced being “ghosted.”

After you accept that it’s over, you struggle to make sense of the relationship and notice that the focus was always on you, and that’s why it felt so good. In fact, your partner knew a great deal about you, but you knew virtually nothing about him or her. You confused flattery and attention with emotional involvement. You may finally realize that your partner was unable to connect with you or anyone on an emotional level. He or she was an expert at luring people in, but had no ability to sustain an emotionally available relationship over time.

It is a painful ride, but you can learn a valuable lesson from it – that relationships entail reciprocal self-disclosure and sharing. The next time, you’ll have the wisdom to know this before being drawn in.

For more information about emotionally unavailable people and how to avoid them or try to live with them contact me at (858) 735-1139

The Dumpers and The Dumpees

The Dumpers and The Dumpees. A breakup seems easiest for couples who decide mutually to end the relationship. In most cases, however, as suggested by Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti, in their book, Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, a breakup involves a dumper, the party who takes the initiative to end the relationship, and a dumpee, the one who wants the relationship to continue.  Sometimes, when one analyzes the nature of the relationship, it may be difficult to decide just who is the dumper and the dumpee. In general, however, the dumper is the one who says it is all over, and the dumpee is the one in shock who begs the other not to leave. Dumpees often say they were taken completely by surprise by their partner’s announcement.

The Dumpers and The Dumpees

The breakup experience is often very different for each of the two parties. The dumper usually began preparing for the end well before the final announcement, and the actual parting often comes as a relief for the dumper. The primary emotion experienced by the dumper is guilt. The dumpee, on the other hand, is usually hit by surprise and with a great deal of pain. The turmoil of the breakup itself is usually much more intense for the dumpee, but it is this pain that can motivate more personal growth. The main task of the dumpee is to work through feelings of rejection. Both parties usually experience a great deal of pain as their relationship comes to an end, although the pain of guilt is different from the pain of rejection. For a healthy adjustment, it is important to recognize which role has been assumed, dumper or dumpee, and to work on the issues appropriate to that role.
The Dumpers and The Dumpees

How Long Do I Wait Until I Get Into Another Relationship? Expect that it will take at least a year before things begin to feel at all normal again. For most of us, depending on the length and the nature of our previous relationship, it will take two or three years. This may seem like an eternity, but in reality, this is a wonderful and precious opportunity to find out who you are as an unattached individual. A word of warning is in order – don’t expect to involve yourself with someone else immediately! You are on the rebound. To attach yourself prematurely in a love relationship is unfair to you and to the other person. You must deal with important personal issues when your previous love relationship comes to an end.

Living through the transition and exploring these issues can be painful – and falling in love again may seem like the perfect way to end the pain.  If you enter the dating scene too quickly and before you have a chance to explore the issues which led to your breakup, the other person becomes a replacement object, and that is not what a healthy relationship is about. You will probably carry into this replacement relationship the same issues that helped to lead to the demise of your former relationship – and similar events may very well happen again. Your real goal is to discover who you are and to explore what happened. When you are at the point of being able to have a happy and fulfilled life as a single person, then you can choose when, or even if, you should involve yourself in another love relationship. When you know that you have that choice, you may be ready. I help individuals and couples who have broken up, with this process in therapy.

The Dumpers and The Dumpees

If you would like to know more about working on personal issues as they do effect relationship issues, please call me at (858) 735-1139 and I can help you sort out what you need to know about what is contributing to your relationship.

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