Category Archives: Disconnecting Habits


By Kim Olver


The third healthy relationship habit is encouraging. When I think of encouraging, I always think of Walt Disney’s Dumbo. Remember him? The elephant with such big ears he could fly? However, the first time Dumbo flew, he was asleep and had no awareness of his special talent. His friend, the mouse, was present and aware and told Dumbo he could fly. Of course, Dumbo was incredulous. He said, “Elephants can’t fly.” The mouse persisted but Dumbo wasn’t buying it. Finally, in desperation, the mouse handed Dumbo a feather. He told Dumbo this was a magic feather and as long as Dumbo held the feather in his trunk, he would be able to fly. Dumbo believed in the magic feather and flew.

I think encouraging is like being that magic feather. We need to be that magic feather for the loved ones in our lives. We must believe in our loved ones until they learn to believe in themselves. This is real encouragement.

Over the years people have asked me, what is the difference between nagging, a deadly habit, and encouraging. The answer is that when you nag, you are trying to get someone to do what you want them to do. However, when you encourage, you are trying to get the person to do what they want to do, to develop the courage or skill necessary to be successful.

Who do you have in your life that encourages you? When was the last time you encouraged someone?

Deadly Relationship Habits

By Kim Olver

Today,  I just want to mention seven Deadly Relationship Habits and later I will give you seven behaviors you can use instead to create a strong foundation to any important relationship in your life, including the relationship you have with yourself.

When I ask the question, “Whose behavior you can control?”, most people intellectually know they can only control themselves. And yet, how often to we attempt to control those around us to change so that our life will be better? Most people who don’t know about Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory psychology, tend to create their own misery by trying to get others to do things they really don’t want to do and even some of us who do use Choice Theory in our lives, still catch ourselves doing it from time to time.

This also happens with others attempting to get you to do what you don’t want to do as well. Has someone close to you ever used the following behaviors to attempt to get you to do something you don’t want to do? Have you ever used them with others?: Complaining, Blaming, Criticizing, Nagging, Threatening, Punishing and Bribing, otherwise known as Rewarding to Control.


I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t at least experienced these behaviors from others or you have used them with people you care about: your children, your aging parents, siblings, our significant other and most definitely, with yourself. When you have a strong foundation to your relationship, using these behaviors every now and then, probably won’t cause a big problem but think about a concrete foundation. Now, imagine taking a pickaxe to the concrete every time you engage in one of these behaviors. Can you see, hear and feel the relationship foundation crumbling under your feet? The more you use them, the less solid your foundation becomes.

After learning these, people sometimes start to guilt or punish themselves for using these deadly relationship habits. I once had a mother in one of my workshops declare that she was a horrible mother for using every one of these behaviors with her children. The truth is she was not a horrible mother. She was simply doing/repeating behaviors she had learned in her lifetime that had helped her get something she wanted.

The problem is we don’t always consider the cost of getting what we want. We can’t use a deadly habit without causing some damage to the relationship. So watch for upcoming posts where I will discuss the healthy relationship habits to substitute instead.

In the meantime, don’t attempt to stop using these deadly ones; just begin to notice when you use one. This will help you make their use more conscious so you can reduce their use without even trying. Just notice when you use them and you’ll be surprised how much less you engage in them.

Why can’t we just get along?

By Dr. Nancy Buck

There may not be anything more painful than being a member of a family that squabbles, bickers, and argues. Is this what your family is like? Is this what the family you grew up in was like? If it is then you know how tense, anxious and sad you felt or feel now. Anticipating family reunions whether that is for holiday gatherings or just a daily occurrence, is not need fulfilling at all!

Your sense of isolation may be intense, even though you are present. You know you belong, but you wish you didn’t. Are these the people to help you feel proud and good about yourself and your family?

You may feel powerless to change these unhappy relationships between family members. And you feel angry and frustrated because you can’t.

Being in this family is not fun, not filled with joy, wonder or awe except maybe in the negative. Perhaps you are able to feel free, by choosing to spend less and less time with these people. But if you are a child, there is not escape. There is not sense of safety and security either.

You are not doomed, without any hope for mental health and happiness. You can change your mental health habits leading to improved happiness even in this kind of a family. It is hard and it is impossible.

Here’s how you can change yourself, the only person in the situation that you can control. Start practicing the connecting habits that improve relationships:

  • Listen
  • Respect
  • Accept
  • Encourage
  • Support
  • Trust
  • Negotiate Differences

You may choose to practice these habits with family members, or with other people in your life outside of your family. Finding and practicing connecting habits will help you improve your ability to meet your need for love and belonging. Making strong, caring relationships with at least one other person is essential for mental health and happiness. These skills will help you move in that direction.

Stop practicing the disconnecting habits:

  • Criticize
  • Blame
  • Complain
  • Nag
  • Threaten
  • Punish
  • Bribe or reward

This is not going to be easy. It is difficult when you and other members of your family are practicing all of the disconnecting habits. You have all gotten into a rut, a habit of disconnecting.

But you can change. It might help if you remove yourself from the loud shouting matches until they have passed then try and connect again. Choose one of the connecting habits and practice. Make a list of all of the things you can say and do that are consistent with supporting, for example. Then practice. The more you practice, the more you will be able to stop the disconnecting behavior and choose a connecting behavior. You are developing a new skill, a new habit.

You will not immediately feel happier or better about spending time with your tension filled family. But you may start feeling happier and better about how you interact with your family members. In so doing you may be better able to meet your basic needs, be mentally healthier and happier.

It’s worth a try.