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If Your Partner Can’t Read Your Mind, Try This Instead.

“Who is going to take John to school?” I glared over my shoulder in my husband’s general direction, hoping he would overhear the question I pretended to ask no one.

“Are you wanting me to take him?” My husband, reading at the end of the table, already showered and dressed in his cardigan and jeans, appeared surprised.

“Well, I was hoping you would volunteer. I can’t take him like this,” I moaned, motioning to my braless shirt and yesterday’s mascara dotted beneath my eyes.

My husband rose from his chair, annoyed, snatched his coat from the chair, and shuffled my oldest son out the door. The new few minutes of my morning now free, I ambled back to our bedroom to transform into something more recognizable. But it didn’t feel like a victory.

I know better than to ask an indirect question to my husband when I need help. As a therapist for mothers in the early childhood years, I often advise mothers to move beyond the anger and resentment they have toward their partners when they don’t guess what they want, and instead, be specific and ask. Just ask, I say.

Yet it’s so tempting to make our partners guess.

As women, we want the men in our lives to intuitively detect what we are thinking, to pay such rapt attention to us that they know without asking which Anthropologie candle we want for our birthdays, how it drives us mad when the cabinet doors are left open, and that we actually hate roses. Like, what a cliché, right?

Okay, so we don’t want undivided attention. We also want our men to have a life beyond us. But we really, really don’t want to tell them what we want. Don’t make us say the words out loud. Ugh.

To us, it feels like asking for intermittent displays of affection, say, a compliment, a bouquet for no obligatory holiday, or a planned date night (where we don’t have to call the sitter ourselves) isn’t genuine. We secretely believe asking our male partners for help with the dishes or carpool on a school day shouldn’t be necessary. They should see what needs to be done and do it. Without our asking.

“If they cared, they would notice,” we tell ourselves. “So when they don’t notice, they don’t care.”

The problem is our assumption. As women, we are experts at reading each other’s minds, although not always accurately, and we assume men do it as well. When they don’t accurately mind-read what we want and need in the family and romance departments of the relationship, we assume (again) it is an indication of their disinterest in us.

In the context of these two assumptions, asking for what we want is terrifying. Because, we believe, they already know we want to be told we are beautiful and go out for a scheduled date night once a month, but they just don’t care enough to do it.

Here is the secret men want us to know: they can’t read our minds. The inner roiling turmoil of a woman’s mind frightens them. If we aren’t saying anything is wrong, they assume everything is right. If we aren’t asking for help, they believe in us and think we got this. They don’t see the myriad safety hazards around the kitchen and that the toddler is about to fall off her chair but you can’t prevent it because your hands are covered in spaghetti sauce.

We have to ask for help, say what we are thinking. Out loud. We have to ask for what we want. Because if we don’t, they won’t know.

No, seriously. Our men are not holding out on us. They are not secretly thinking about how to hurt our feelings by not opening the car door like they did when we were dating, or how to give us a complex about whether or not our marriage still has that spark when they check their phone during dinner. They simply don’t know.

And so, we must ask.

I know, I know. This feels like breaking all the woman rules you’ve been taught. Ever since Cinderella, we’ve been hushed to keep our dreams and desires quiet. Don’t say it out loud, Cinderella urged us, or it won’t come true.

Sorry, Cinderella. Saying it out loud, whatever it is for us, is the only way to make our relationship and family dreams a reality.

When we have this conversation with our men, we can tell them we’re going to try asking for help from now on instead of assuming they know what we need. We can even suggest they say, “How can I help?” when they enter a room, or simply scan the room and select one incomplete task. Imagine how much resentment this will save you.

When they do help, we don’t have to stand on the table and applaud. But don’t disregard their contributions either. Basic human psychology informs us to reward behavior we want to see more. A simple, “Thank you for helping,” will do just fine, and lets your man know you see him trying to do that one thing you asked.

So let’s finally make our requests. Patiently and out loud. Not as if they’ve been ignoring us this whole time. Because I promise you, they haven’t.

couple talking

Originally published at Thrive Global.

The Surprising Reason Receiving Is As Good As Giving

“Where are my Christmas presents?” my son whined in the kitchen a few days before the holiday festivities began. Nervous I was raising one of those kids, you know, the demanding ones, I reassured him Christmas was coming, but quickly tacked on a reminder that Christmas is not just about gifts.

“We want to be givers,” I retorted to his distracted ears. But that was mostly for my benefit.

I want to be known for my generosity. And not just that – I want to raise children who are givers too. As parents, the last thing we want is to raise greedy, insatiable little mongrels who are obsessed with satisfying their every whim.

And while I knew the message of giving was true for my son, it wasn’t the whole story.

As much as generosity is a value we want to live and instill in our children, we don’t provide much education on how to receive. As a result, most of us are terrible gift-accepters. At least I usually am.

We can’t always be the givers though, and there’s one big reason why we ought to be as quick to receive as we are to give. 

I’ve always thought of giving as the superior act. But it can get awfully one-sided.

After college, I hosted a weekly small group made up of women from all over the world attending a local university. In my efforts to prove how much I cared for the women in my group, I attempted to provide everything from the discussion topic and food to answers for their unresolved life questions.

Halfway through the school year, I attended a class on how to serve and connect with people from other cultures. The teacher told the story of a woman Jesus met at a community well, and his approach to service changed the way I thought of giving and receiving ever since.

Jesus seemed to think accepting gifts from people was an act of service to them, but he did it in his subtle, son-of-God way. Early in his teaching days, he found himself at a well in a region called Samaria. He was thirsty from his trip, and his disciples had left to find food or water. He sat down at the side of the well and waited for them to return.

Before long, a woman approached the well with her water jar. They exchanged pleasantries, then he broke all the cultural norms: he asked her for a drink.

This was always part of the story I skipped over. It just seemed like a Jesus-style conversation starter, but it was far more than that. Receiving a drink from the Samaritan woman was an act of empowerment.

What we intuitively know about giving is that the giver is the one with power. The one who gives a tangible gift or information is the person who has something the recipient needs or wants. So when someone gives us something, we are in a humble and vulnerable position, a place of need.

This is why many of us are great at giving but terrible at receiving. We want to be the one to pay for the groceries, but we hope to avoid ever needing our groceries purchased.

But we’ve mistaken receiving for taking. Taking something from someone is not necessarily empowering. Taking is similar to “grabbing” or even “theft”. When someone who has less than we do extends an offer or gift to us, it seems so natural to decline. After all, we don’t want to put them in a worse position.

Often, however, a person who may only have a little wants to give to feel that sense of influence in someone else’s life. And when we receive something from someone, a gift, advice or inspiration, we are giving value to them. We are placing them in a position of influence and power in our lives.

[Click for photo credit]
[Click for photo credit]
Isn’t that incredible?

So what if we stopped feeling guilty when our neighbor on a fixed-income brings us a Christmas gift?

What if we gave a hearty “Thank you” to the family at church who just applied for welfare but insists on bringing us a meal when we’re sick?

What if we gave those with little the chance to give big so they can feel the sense of power we get when we give?

This is by no means a chastisement against generosity. I still love giving. I only want to encourage us to be really good givers AND really good receivers. What if we could do both with great humility and grace? I think we can.

So this year, let’s use the same generosity it takes to give when we receive, knowing that our welcoming acceptance of the kindness of others is also a kindness to them.

Merry Christmas to you.

Why Not Taking Care of Yourself Is Selfish

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I am a Recovering Mother. For years, I was Everyone Else’s Mom, but I never took care of myself. I thought this was noble. I assumed this meant I sacrificed more than others. I believed having my phone on 24/7 sent the message I cared more for others than I did myself.

It was so bad that during the safety message on a flight, when the flight attendant reminded all of us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we help our seatmates. I thought, How selfish. I wish I was joking.

In my mind, I was such a good person. But why was I so tired and resentful?

It’s because I was a mother to everyone else but myself. Instead of nurturing myself first so I could care for others with true altruism, no strings attached, I sought to heal others so they might turn and help me.

It was a transactional love, a love that hoped for something in return. A neglected soul cannot love unconditionally, even if she wanted to.

This unmet need grew into an addiction, my illness. The more I helped others, the sicker I got. My soul in chaos and disarray, I frantically wondered when someone would come take care of me the way I cared for others.

I grew bitter. I felt no one saw me. But still I served. Because someone would come eventually, right?

It took me 32 years to learn no one was coming.

Driving home from work one afternoon, I silently griped to myself about all the work I was doing and how no one else worked as hard as me. I am so tired, I thought, as the long list of my many contributions to the world unfurled before me for the millionth time. This list was my proof that I was more loving and sacrificial than most people. But this list was also the reason I was one of the angriest people I knew.

I wondered when someone was going to pay attention to me and give me what I need since I take care of everyone else.

Out of nowhere, a disconcerting thought occurred to me. “Sarah, no one is going to take care of you. There is no mother coming with chicken soup. If you don’t take care of you, no one will.”

Ouch. 

The truth stung, forcing me to reckon with it. I replayed the words again. “If you don’t take care of you, no one will.” The message was not that I was alone in the big, cruel world. It was a reminder to be responsible for myself. My faux selflessness was getting called out as selfishness. And it hurt.

After all, as a therapist, my training taught me I am in control of and responsible for myself. I aim to model life as a self-controlled person who knows when to say “Yes” and “No” to others by taking ownership of the state of my soul. Yet this habit of caring for others before I cared for myself flew beneath the radar of my awareness for years.

That day I learned a person who is not in control of herself, who compulsively says “Yes”, and believes sacrifice without self-care is noble, this person is imprisoned by her own unmet needs.

So to all you Recovering Mothers out there, the ones who say “Yes” when they mean “No” and are waiting for someone to take care of you, put on your oxygen mask first because it is impossible to care for others with pure generosity, seeking nothing in return, if you have not first met the needs of your own body, mind and soul.

As mothers, the best we can do is mother ourselves first. Yes, you first. If you need something, say something. Allow a trusted partner, friend or mentor access to encourage and support you, but don’t make them guess what you need. Be responsible for the state of your body, mind and soul, your whole self, because, dear Mother, no one else will be.

 

 

 

 

One Simple Way to Change Everything

The one thing in your life more powerful than your circumstances is your self-talk. Your self-talk is always with you, commenting on, observing and interpreting the happenings around you and inside you.

Surprisingly though, we rarely recognize that we are narrating our own lives. We assume the thoughts we think about ourselves, others and the circumstances we find ourselves in are basically facts. “I feel this way so it must be true,” we often think.

But we’re only getting part of the story.

Self-talk serves a purpose, to keep you in line with your goals, to help you survive, succeed, behave appropriately so you will be loved. Sometimes our self-talk is kind and empowering, but very often, it hinders us from the very thing we want and need in our lives.

So how do we interact with self-talk? How do we recognize it, and more importantly, how do we change it?

In this training, I talk about the process of noticing and transforming your self-talk with simple steps. Learning to change the conversation you have with yourself is how you will change your whole life. Don’t believe me? Listen in and see for yourself.

 

The Sneaky Truth about Perfectionism

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’ve had a bad habit most of my life. It’s called procrastination. It seems like one of the most common complaints my friends and clients have about themselves. We all do it and yet, we hate that we do it.

What’s up with that, right?

See, procrastination isn’t about laziness. Did you know that? Procrastination is actually rooted in perfectionism, the fear that if I can’t get it perfect right now, I shouldn’t even try. And so we don’t. Does that feel familiar to you? It does to me.

In this short, 10-minute training, I share what perfectionism has looked like in my life and what I’ve been recognizing and doing to change it. Hope this realization helps you as much as it did me.

Want to explore your perfectionism further and get out of the procrastination rut? Let’s do it. We can connect in a free initial coaching session here, or schedule a counseling session with me in my private practice by calling 785-539-5455 to request an appointment.

What do you do when you’ve tried everything?

Have you ever had a dream that you try to make happen on your own but it just won’t work? You try everything you know to do: you apply, you work-work-work, you pray, you talk to people who have done it, you cry yourself to sleep and shout at the ceiling, you give up and try to stop caring.

But no matter what you try or don’t try, the dream feels impossible, elusive, and sometimes, it even feels like it’s taunting you.

What do you do when that happens? Most of us shift between working really hard to make a dream happen and then giving up and getting apathetic and cynical. But there’s a better – more challenging but also more honest – way to handle these dreams that are beyond our control.

Here’s the thing: the dreams that are beyond our control are usually connected to our deepest longings and our truest selves. This is why we work so hard and feel so much pain when they don’t happen. We need to pay attention to these big desires because they are telling you about WHO you are and WHY you are here on the earth. It’s a Big Deal.

exhausted

I did a short video training on how to respond to these dreams that are so core to who we are, and yet no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get them to materialize. It’s a painful moment, but it’s almost universal to us as humans. You catch my training here.

Are you stuck in this work hard – give up – work hard – give up cycle? I’m offering my community the opportunity to get unstuck and shift into a more peaceful and liberated state of mind and heart with the freedom to desire without . It’s a short-term coaching package called The Breakthrough Sessions, which is 3 coaching sessions PLUS one strategy sessions for only $217, normally $450. I LOVE being part of someone’s breakthrough, and I’d love to do this with you. I only have three packages available because my schedule is almost full so message me at sarahsidersconsulting(at)gmail.com or comment below to get started.

I also want to share this with you, a poem I wrote 8 years ago when we were trying to conceive our first child. I was exhausted from holding the dream out and “trying” to have a baby when there was almost nothing – aside from the obvious 😉 – that I could do to make it happen. This poem has encouraged others who have felt the tension of longing, and I hope it encourages you too.

 

Hope, the Foolish Child

The child, Hope, is unrelenting in optimism;

Wakes up and says, “Today’s the day”, every day,

Even though It hasn’t happened yet.

With odds against the whole thing,

Hope seems blind to reality.

A starving Pollyanna,

Hope is a survivalist.

In a concentration camp of pain,

Hope is a finger of grass, poking through the asphalt.

Sometimes you want to strangle her neck,

Silence this thing that seems only to bring disappointment.

But she walks blindly, dodging death and famine,

Evading what seems to be true,

Believing in something that is nowhere in sight.

What shall I do with Hope, this child I can’t stop feeding?

I want to kill her, but she says the sweetest things.

She knows my desire,

Keeps telling me it’s coming, it’s coming.

I start to think she might be a liar.

And just when I’m about to stop standing there like a fool,

Hand over my eyes,

Staring into that thin horizon line,

Just then she points, shouts,

“Here It comes!”

I squint into the light and sure enough,

Here comes my Longing.

I reach over to hug Hope, that bouncing child.

But she’s gone,

Gone to lay claim to a new desire.

I wonder,

What if I’d given her up?

What if I’d sold her for a clever book title,

Something for the cynics’ best seller list?
What if I’d held her down and shut her up,

Put my hand over her mouth and made her quiet for good?

Disappointment would have moved in.

Skepticism would have been my neighbor,

Resentment shacked up on the couch.

I wouldn’t have been at the end of the drive that day.

I would have missed my Longing as It rode by.

My Cynicism proven right,

I would have looked haughtily from my balcony,

Confident my Self-Righteousness saved me much wasted time.

I would never have known.

I would’ve been right, sort of, but I would have never held Joy.

I thought of all these things.

And then I stood there one more day,

Stood waiting with Hope, holding her tiny hand.

I was there when the Longing came by.

I welcomed the Longing, gladly,

Snatched It up and planted It in the yard:

A Tree of Life for all to see.

A Tree of Life to remind me.

For those who will wait,

Who believe enough to stand out in all that weather:

She does not lie.

No, and Hope does not disappoint.

[by Sarah Siders. Written August 2009]

What Your Self Talk Says About You? 

More than your job, your fashion or your friends, your self talk says a lot about you. Your self talk is the secret to your standards, your expectations, dreams and hopes. Your self talk is the expression of your emotional experience. Your self talk is constantly narrating, interpreting and creating your world.

Your self talk is your life.

The crazy thing is, your self talk doesn’t only come from you. It is often a combination of how parents, teachers and coaches have talked to you throughout your life. Your inner self talk may also reflect how friends and peers have talked to you.

For most of us, our self talk is predominately negative. We have this impression that if we are hard on ourselves, it will help us to grow and change that bad habit we’ve been stuck in for years. But if that were true, wouldn’t you have stopped doing that habit and started doing something else instead? Hmmmm.

Sadly, as many of us have discovered, negative self talk is more destructive than constructive. We may think that we deserve to be talked to in this way after we screw up or fail or disappoint ourselves or others. So in that case, the goal of your self talk is punishment, not motivation.

In fact, much of our self talk is not designed to change us at all but to keep us exactly how we been acting, thinking and behaving our whole lives.

Intentional behavior change starts with intentional self talk change. Because we can’t shame someone, even ourselves, into greatness.

Self talk that promotes fear, guilt or shame will never help you make a long-term change. Negative self talk is typically an assessment of you at your worst, not a reflection of your true self, the person you are when you were at your best. So even though negative self talk might be telling the truth at times, it is only a small part of the whole story.

In order to change our lives, we need to change our self talk by identifying where we are stuck and what our unconscious narration has been saying about this area of our lives, and then identify how we need to talk to ourselves in order to actually change. Usually we need to be encouraging, balanced and positive, noticing where we have made progress and celebrating our forward motion. When we give ourselves this credit, we are more likely to feel rewarded for our progress and we will keep moving forward toward our goal.

I’ll be live in The Leap Year Community Monday night, 6 February, at 730pm CST. Join me there for a live chat, or catch the replay any time. Just click here to request access to our private coaching community, where we have daily challenges and inspiration, plus regular how-to videos and trainings for achieving our goals and living our dreams.

A Time to Speak and A Time to be Silent 


It’s loud out there, y’all. Voices of anger, fear and confusion on all sides. Everyone has an agenda these days. It’s hard to know who to trust. But don’t you feel that pressing in your soul, the call to “do something”? But what? 

There are times to take a stand and times to quiet down and listen. Usually when we are tempted to shout, it is a call to silence and when we want to hide, we are often being called to stand up.

It’s a counterculture movement we are part of, and often we are to act counter to even – and especially – our own tendencies and compulsions. 

The Truth is not usually obvious. It is not the first or the last thing we read or watched on the News. It is not someone else’s opinion. The Truth feels like peace and it takes quiet to hear him. Our restlessness and rage are what drown him out. 

How can we know what to do or say unless we are quiet long enough to forgive, let go and receive the marching orders, the call to act, to march, to write, to pray, to serve? 

In these crazy times we need silence more than ever. I fear for the trajectory of our souls without it. Join me in taking 10 intentional quiet minutes each day this week to allow yourself to hear something besides your own fears and suspicions. 

If we are to be the Essential voices of wisdom, compassion and guidance in a culture that is afraid and lost, it is silence that will allow us to finally hear. 

What Is The Secret To Actually Following Through With A Goal?  

Most of us have set goals or tried to make lifestyle habits with a little nagging voice in our head. “That will never work,” it says. “You quit or failed last time. What makes you think this time will be different?” 

This voice is the evidence of what we believe our true identity is. If we think of ourselves as someone who quits or fails or doesn’t follow through, someone who tries only to be rejected or disappointed, then we will sabotage any progress we appear to be making in any area of life. 

In The Leap Year, a free coaching community I recently launched for men and women taking a leap in the areas of health, career, finance and relationships, we are facing the dissonance between our goals and our identity. Click here to come join us. 

This is an internal conflict that so many of us relate to. Here is the truth: 

The dream you have is often a reflection of your true self, the person you are when you are at peace and have your emotional and physical needs met. 

The doubting, skeptic voice in your mind is the voice of the false self, the self who has been wounded, disappointed and frustrated by others actions and our own personal choices. The skeptic doubts because it thinks it is protecting us but the true self keeps bringing us back to our dream. 

It can feel confusing to wonder who we truly are. But the Bible offers us a beautiful solution in 2 Corinthians 5, that our new self, the gift we received from Jesus, is our true self. We can be confident in our dreams and desires because even if we have not yet followed through or achieved them, they stem from and are powered by our true and redeemed self. How cool is that? So now we can be confident in the changes we want to make because these changes are the desires of the whole and redeemed self. 

I hosted a live interactive training on Tuesday night on this very topic. It blew my mind when I first learned these truths so I want to share them with you. Check it out here.

And for those who want just a summary, here are a few inspirational thought graphics related to this idea of identity: 

I’m doing something fun…wanna join me? [VIDEO]

Today is January 15. It’s not a holiday or anything, but it’s still a significant day. See, recently I learned that by January 15, most people have given up on their new year goals and resolutions. Just two weeks into a brand new, fresh chance and they’ve already moved on. That’s sad, isn’t it?

Truth is, most of us can relate to diving in with big ambition, driven by the feel-goods of the new year, only to realize there is more work or obstacles in front of us than we anticipated. When we realize our health, career, relationship or finance goal is further into the distance than we thought, it’s easy to slip back into old patterns, the ones two weeks ago we swore to avoid.

See why today is an important day?

Maybe you’re like me, and you have some big goals for this year. But already you’re feeling the tension of leaving old habits and thought patterns behind. Or maybe you’re trying to achieve the entire goal in one month – that was me last week. I felt like I had to do everything at once, and I was starting to lose my passion and move into anxiety mode. And I’m no fun when I’m there. So I had to slooooowww down. That helped a lot.

There are so many ways we stall our efforts, sabotage our progress or get ourselves stuck, and most of the time it isn’t intentional, but we know we can do more – if only we knew what.

I spent the last year making up excuses about my health and the career I wanted, and when I realized 2017 was giving me a fresh chance, I leaped. But I didn’t want to do it alone. Taking on a challenge together is more fun and has a better rate of success. So….

Will you leap with me?

jump

I wanted to personally invite you to theleapyearcommunity.com , a FREE community of coaching and accountability on Facebook. Here’s what we’ll be doing together:

  • Release ourselves from past limitations and failures
  • Define and clarify our ultimate goals
  • Break down our goals into actionable steps
  • Link up to provide accountability and encouragement
  • Share tips, progress and setbacks
  • PLUS…
  • I’ll be interacting with my own leap story, and coaching tips via video and Facebook live.

So are you in? Let’s leap together this year. We kick off on Monday, January 16 – I will be hosting a Facebook live in the group to get to meet you and hear your stories, share mine and talk about how we can best support each other. It’s totally free so what do you have to lose?

I’m so excited!! This is the year we do it. Click here to gain access to The Leap Year community. If you still haven’t made up your mind about your goals or resolutions, it’s not too late. Join us and let’s make this year one we can be proud of. I hope I’ll see you there!

I’ll leave you with a favorite quote of mine that reminds me that the work is worth it:

“Don’t give up on a dream because of the time it will take. The time will pass anyway.”

See you in The Leap Year, friends.