Friday, April 27, 2012

Compulsive Planning

Today's post is about compulsive planning. Obvious confession: I'm a compulsive planner. I rarely act. I like to plan and design things. Doesn't matter what it is, I just like think about possibilities--weigh them, compare them, contemplate them--it's all very enjoyable for me. And when it comes time to act, I hesitate. Even when I do act, I end up reconsidering whether the strategy I selected was right. Because I just love planning that much. Can you relate?

In some ways, it's really helped me. Planning and strategy are involved in everything you do. You can use it to predict people, predict your environment, the economy, your business, and your life. To some degree, you always need to be aware of what's happening in case you need to make an adjustment. When circumstances change, your strategy may need to change too. Like me. I went to law school but it wasn't until afterwards that I started to learn more about myself and my values and the kinds of things I want to accomplish that were in line with those values. My original strategy--be a lawyer, make some money, have a family--had to adjust.

Another nice thing about compulsive strategizing is that there's a niche for you in a business. If you're good at strategy, at reading situations and finding solutions, you can land yourself a job as a strategist or business guy. That's nice.

But there's also a down side to it. You don't always have a person in your group to implement your wonderful plans for you. Example: your personal life. In your personal life you can get stuck in stages of planning. I know because I do. You hesitate to act for fear of choosing the wrong path, and when you do act, you don't fully commit. That can happen in your job, in relationships, even in your personal interests. These things require commitment to develop properly.

So how about you? Compulsive planner? Professional life strategist?

Question? Go here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How do I get my boyfriend to stop ignoring me?

Dear Edahn,

 I was wondering what to do about my situation with my boyfriend (he's 22 and I'm 18). We have been together for around 4 months now and he's a great bf. The only issue I have is that whenever I drive to see him he will be playing his video games and hardly if at all acknowledge me. Recently I came over to his house to spend a few nights and that's when the video games and ignoring start. He also will ditch me to go to his friends house or even when we have decided or made a plan (just the two of us) he will cancel it or bring his friend along.

I'm not sure what to do at this point either. I told him how I felt about it and he kinda felt bad but he does this all day. He plays video games instead of looking for a job (we have a baby on the way and I already have college and two jobs to boot). 

AW MAN, WELL, LET me start with the good news. Actually, it's all gonna be good news. The good news is that he feels bad. That's actually great news. It means he's able to reflect on his actions, see your perspective, and feel healthy guilt. If you didn't have that--if he just argued or shut down--then you'd have a real problem. 

So he feels bad, but what happens? Sounds like nothing much is happening. That's expected from someone with an addiction; they keep falling back into bad habits.

What I suggest you do is take a page out of behavioral psychology. Do you watch the Dog Whisperer? He uses a lot of behavioral psychology and you could learn a lot just by watching a few of his videos. Basically, he makes a change in attitude and then keeps an eye on the subject (le dog) to make sure it stays on track. Same idea for your BF. Talk to him again. Tell him that you have a baby coming and that it's time for you guys to sit down and get serious. Ask him what kind of marriage he wants to have, and tell him what kind of marriage you want to have. Together, ask yourselves whether both of your actions are leading to that ideal relationship and what could be done to improve things. Of course, it's cool if he plays video games, but it needs to be budget his time better and he needs to keep his commitments to you. This is a good time for him to speak up about things that bother him. You might have some things about yourself that YOU have to change, too. (Be prepared!) 

You can even extend this into a conversation about what you both want out of life in general. Do you want to see a change in the world? Contribute to a cause? Start a cause? Be good people? Develop a skill to perfect? Addictions will fuck up any plan simply because you need to dedicate time to meet those goals. 

Now comes the behavioral part. Come up with a few simple ways to get your relationship on track towards that ideal vision. Come up with things that are easy to follow and remember. For example: "hang out ourselves, once a week, no video games" would be a good one. Another one would be "limit game-playing to 1.5 hours a day." Another one is "hang out as a group at least once a week." Try and work together rather than against each other, and try to be reasonable and flexible. These are big steps for him.

The important thing is that you guys stick to the rules you create and remind each other when a rule is broken without penalty (without it turning into a fight). You'll slip up here and there, but if you guys keep your focus and positivity and work to help each other and yourselves, I think you'll be just fine. Let me know how it goes, ok?

Got a question? Go here or email If you like an article, feel free to share it with your FB friends (HINT HINT).

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Presentation: Anxiety, Zen, and Enlightenment

This is my newest PowerPoint creation. It's also a tribute to my hero, Alan Watts. If you enjoyed it, consider sharing. New question/answer tomorrow. Till then, America! :)

Anxiety, Zen, and Enlightenment  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How do I deal with my boyfriend's kids?

Dear Edahn,

I met a guy who I really get along with. He has a five year old and 2 older daughters, 25 and 32. I'm younger than he is and have never had kids. The 5 year old loves me to bits but the older girls are harder to deal with. 

The older one has 2 kids who come over all the time and trash the place. The 25 year old has a boyfriend, but he's gone every other week. During that week, she spends a lot of time at her dad's. The daughter has a 5 month old son herself and can't seem to do anything without her dad. She needs him to go shopping with her because it's too "hard" to shop with a child. If we're both at the house, she'll decide to go to the store for food and asks her dad to go with her. She pulls him away when I'm there. It's not just because I'm new and she's possessive; I think she has always been like this. I think he goes along with whatever she does to keep the peace. He relies on her too, for babysitting needs. Do you think I should leave? I love him but it doesn't outweigh the family issues.

IT SOUNDS TO ME like your boyfriend has an issue with boundaries. He's letting him oldest daughter (and her kids) do what they want with the place, and letting his younger daughter take up his time--time you consider "yours." Why is that? These things have multiple causes. Maybe, as a single dad, he's letting his children do what they want to keep them happy and close. Maybe he never had boundaries himself. Maybe he likes feeling useful. And then, maybe it's part of an implied bargain as you suggested.

A couple of things are clear to me. One, that if this is a longstanding issue, he is going to have to intervene to change things. Two, that changing things is going to be tricky: his daughters are not going to want to change; they may take his attempt to put up a boundary as a threat; he is probably getting certain payoffs (like usefulness, attention) from the arrangement; and he isn't going to want to risk his relationship with his daughters.

One of the issues can be dealt with easily, and that's the older daughter's kids cleaning up after themselves. You can have a talk with him and explain some of what you've seen and how having boundaries and teaching responsibility is healthy for a child. Not to mention, having a clean house is healthy for everyone living in it. He doesn't need to have a big drawn out confrontation with the daughter. When the kids start playing, he can say "okay kids, the last time you came here everything with a huge mess. I had to call Shrek just to help me clean it up! So this time remember to put everything away before you leave. Okay?" (Depending on how old they are, of course.) Ten minutes before they leave, he should announce that clean up time has started. He shouldn't let them leave until everything is put away and it's important that he not let anything slide.

The more complicated issue is with the younger daughter. It sounds like she's not comfortable doing things alone. Maybe it makes her feel lonely. One thing you can do is get to know her a little more. You don't have to be her mom. Just get to understand her world, without judgment. Maybe you can join your boyfriend and his daughter when they go shopping. The other thing you can do is try and schedule time in with your boyfriend. Plan some time for yourselves in advance. Show that you understand his situation, but explain that you want time with him alone. Don't try and convince him to change, just help him see the reasons why. Ask him to respect that and let him know that it's important to you and to your relationship. He'll have to learn how to say "no" to other requests that conflict with your time. 

If he can learn to set up boundaries, them maybe things will work out. If not, then you need to ask yourself what your life will look like with this person and whether you'll be satisfied or not.

Got a question? Ask here

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Boyfriend and I Keep Fighting


My boyfriend and I keep fighting. It is almost a year. I believe it is always me. Three years ago I broke up with my ex-fiance who I found out was cheating on me so now I have trust issues. However, back when I first started dating my boyfriend he went to a concert with some girl behind my back and I just recently found this out within the last two months through a photo on Facebook. He swears nothing happened, but yet he ignored me the entire night and made me believe he was with his sister. Today, he texted me asking if I was at work. His phone died but I didn't know and kept asking why. Eventually he texted me back and then ignored me. I'm fucking up my life because of the emotional drama. Granted this was my fault, but still.

Every time we fight, I am told I am a horrible cleaner. On Saturday, I cleaned because his daughter was coming. He got back and he was being a jerk so I was texting my mom trying to figure out why he bought her here if he wasn't feeling well. He threw my phone across the room and broke it in front of his daughter. I was shaking. I cry often. The emotional drama is taking a toll. Every time we get back on track something else happens. He always threatens that he will leave. He just has no where to go and almost everything in the apartment is mine. I already know I'm not getting money back for the car I paid for.

THERE'S A LOT GOING on here, so let me try and deconstruct it. First, it sounds like you haven't healed completely from what was obviously a very, very hurtful betrayal by your ex. I get the sense that whenever there's even a whiff of possible infidelity, you get flooded with all the memories (or at least feelings) from your last relationship and go into alert-mode. You say it's just "your issues" but maybe it's not so simple. The guy has given you an explicit reason not to trust him, and there may be other implicit reasons too, things you're picking up subconsciously about his character.

Second, he's very on-edge. He goes from normal to agitated very quickly, and when he does, he's putting you down very harshly, telling you you're incompetent and disposable. Now his anger has turned from verbal to physical. It's abusive, and it's totally inexcusable.

The fact that it keeps happening over and over isn't your fault. There are lots of factors that contribute to fights like these. The main issue, as I see it, is that you guys trigger something unstable in one another. That may be because of your past, but more likely it's because of the way you talk to each other and the way you've hurt each other. Bickering, yelling, stonewalling, and ignoring might look like little things by themselves, but over time the accumulate and cause damage. They start to automatically trigger emotions like resentment and anger even when nothing is happening. If you're not good at managing those feelings they're going to make your interactions with each other more hostile.

Here's the bottom line. It sounds like he's using you and abusing you. This kind of abuse is dangerous because it erodes your self esteem which compromises your common sense. Don't let it drag out any longer. Move one and find a warm therapist to talk to about what happened with this guy and your ex and you'll be fine.

Wanna ask something? Go here.