Celebrating the Holidays With a Narcissist?

17 Nov

Your resident narcissist — that excessively self-centered, self-important admiration hog — is ready to fill your holiday stocking with complication, drama and disappointment. Yes, just like last year – and you are already gearing up for it!

My definition of a narcissist is someone who possesses excessive amounts of self-centeredness and an inflated sense of importance. He or she likes to dominate conversations, tell stories that are either false or embellished, and make the room feel like it has just been rolled over by a mack truck. When a narcissist is a part of an event, other guests may try to ignore him, or overlook or justify his behaviors. Should you try to point out to a narcissist that he is behaving badly, he will tell you you are wrong, point the finger at others, or simply blame the issues on you. It is often challenging to figure out whether or not a person is a narcissist, because these people are highly skilled in protecting themselves and have an innate ability to deflect anyone who is trying to scrutinize them or their behavior.

Here are some attributes you might see in a narcissist…

1. The narcissist says, “I don’t care what other people think of me or my actions. I do what I want.”

2. When someone expresses negative emotions toward them, they brush it off, seem not to care or point the finger at someone else.

3. They are highly focused on trying to look good socially, intellectually and/or physically, and often do not realize when they do not.

4. They have a tendency to not listen, to interrupt and to get frustrated when the conversation is not focused on them.

5. They lack empathy and sensitivity when it comes to others, but are very in touch with when they believe that they are being wronged or if they are suffering – and they do not hesitate to share it with you!

6. You will find that no matter how hard you try to please this person, you will feel as if you can never succeed (because you can’t!)

7. The narcissist loves to give unsolicited advice and opinions when it may be inappropriate to do so. They believe they are entitled to do this and that you should listen and accept whatever it is that they have to say.

8. These people are highly competitive and they only accept a win. They will say they make the best stuffing, have the best sports team (even if they lose every season) or that they know more about the world than you do. Attempting to challenge these competitive statements can leave the challenger in an all out battle, and the narcissist will never change his or her point of view.

9. Narcissists are never at fault and will rarely admit that they have done anything wrong – because in their minds they haven’t!

10. These personality types will take a mile if you give them an inch. Be careful and watch for their efforts to take advantage of you or a situation.

If this list has you suspecting that you’ll be spending the holidays with a narcissist, here’s my advice…

Absolutely do not have a confrontation unless you want to end up exhausted and feeling as if you cannot make any headway getting your point across. Narcissists do not take criticism well and do all they can to not be impacted.

It’s helpful to know you are dealing with a narcissist so you can keep your expectations in check and plan for their behavior. Try to accept the narcissist’s shortcomings, ignore uncomfortable behaviors and do all you can to enjoy this special time of year as a gift to yourself.

If possible, opt not to see the narcissist or spend just a small part of the day in his or her presence. Adding other people to the table or party as buffers always help. Especially if you know someone who is amused by the person and not bothered by their narcissistic behaviors.

The 10 Biggest Lies Women Tell Themselves About Men

20 Feb

For nearly every man who cheats, there is a woman who told herself that what she suspected or worried about was wrong.

For nearly every woman who gets treated badly by a man, there is that “explanation” or “excuse” moment that she has to possibly justify or explain the what he has done.

For nearly every friend that has told her girlfriend “he is wrong for you” or “not good enough” there is a woman who gets upset with the friend instead of really looking at and listening to what she is trying to say.

It is each person’s responsibility to protect their own heart. Most women I know have had moments in their past when they were unsuccessful at accomplishing that task. They leave their hearts open and unprotected or hand them over directly to a man ultimately leaving them vulnerable in a potentially hurtful way. One of the biggest problems that women run into with men has to do with how we talk to ourselves. Each of us is built with what I call a “fantasy voice” in our minds. That “fantasy voice” takes us away from who he really is and what he is really doing and tells us things like “he is mean to me, but it is not personal” or “even though he only calls me once every two weeks, he must be interested in me” or ” he is not attentive to me because he is busy”. On top of having a fantasy voice we also tend to overlook bad qualities and behaviors and instead, explain them away by counteracting them with something good. Often leaving us overlooking BIG problems. For example, “he is nasty to me but he bought be flowers on Valentine’s Day” or “He talks down to me, but he is a good provider”.

Out of my twenty years as a therapist, I have compiled a list of what I have seen to be the ten biggest lies that women tell themselves about men. I am sharing them with you so that you can ask yourself if you HAVE BEEN or ARE telling yourself any or all of these lies.

1. He’s just busy with work/friends and that’s why he is not attentive to me.
2. I can change him he’s just a diamond in the rough.
3. I will be the one who finally nabs this guy who’s always been a bachelor.
4. If I change myself (looks, the way I act, hobbies) he will like me better/be nicer to me.
5. He cheated on or lied to his last girlfriend, but he’d never do that to me.
6. He is only nasty to be SOME of the time.
7. He just needs more time and he will change/be who I want
8. It’s my fault he…stole, cheated, lied, yelled, threw things.
9. Even though my friends and family don’t like him, they don’t know him.
10. If I ignore what he is doing wrong, maybe it will stop.

If you are one of those women who read this list and have fallen into believing one or more of the above lies, then not only do you need to stop lying to yourself, but you need to learn to live by my 4 C’s. I always tell both men and women, if you’re not getting the 4 C’s in your relationship most of the time, then you need to take a good hard look at who you are with, how you might be contributing to the situation and then, start working toward getting the prize treatment that you are entitled to!

My 4 C’s of a quality relationship are:

Consider your partner’s feelings, thoughts, and desires.

Compromise as often as you can, and choose a partner who is interested in compromising as well.

Comfort your partner when he or she is in pain, We all deserve it. Don’t settle for a partner who can’t comfort you in return.

Compliment – It lifts people up and counteracts insecurities, makes up for challenges they’ve had or mistakes they’ve made.
(More details about the 4 C’s and my view on how to find and create a quality relationship, check out my book “How to be a Grown Up” at http://www.stacykaiser.com)

The ‘Big 8’ Relationship Issues

8 Jan

Every significant relationship encompasses hundreds of issues — some right on the surface, others deeply buried and never spoken about. Even in the latter cases, it’s easy for me to see when I spend time with a couple that they may be encountering some of what I call the “Big 8” relationship issues.  Here are 8 potential relationship destroyers and some examples from my professional experiences of how they play out in real life.  Names have been changed, but I think you’ll recognize some of the patterns.  Hopefully, if they are affecting your life, you will take steps to address solving the issues.

Brushing things under the rug.  Many concerns get ignored, overlooked and buried because the daily rush of life, leaving no time for discussion or because the dread of confrontation. However, brushing problems and issues to the side only makes for a big bump or pile to trip over later. I advise couples that if it’s a small issue, drop it or vent to a friend. If it’s a big issue, find the time to address it immediately and calmly.  Don’t wait months or years for suppressed rage to finally burst out. Deal with the problem before it escalates into a huge conflict.

Rebecca and Robert met in college and had been dating for five years.  Both enjoyed socializing, parties and going out with friends – and the drinking that accompanied these activities.  After living together for two years, Robert realized that Rebecca’s alcohol consumption was increasing; he was finding hidden bottles, she was spending days hungover in bed, bar charges on the credit cards, and so on.  An easygoing person by nature who hated arguing, he brushed it all off, hoped things would return to “normal,” and both of them ignored the elephant in the room.  One day, after drinking, Rebecca wrecked his car and lost her job. His anger was so built up that their relationship did not survive her rehabilitation.

Not listening/talking too much. One of the most common complaints I hear from couples is that their partner doesn’t listen to them. Remember when every single word out of your date’s mouth was fascinating; you couldn’t wait for them to call, to hear what they thought about anything and everything? These days are you distracted, too worried about the kids or your job? Are you bored with hearing your partner complain endlessly without doing anything about it and tuning out? Do you feel like your partner just rambles on about nothing of value? Make sure you are receiving as well as sending, and when in doubt, ask your partner if they feel you are listening enough or talking too much.

Jane talks and complains incessantly to her husband about her job and the state of their marriage. He has grown so tired of being barraged with words every time he enters a room that he throws on headphones the minute he comes home from work and listens to music, or stays out until after she has gone to bed. Jane takes this personally and thinks he is no longer interested or attracted to her. She comes to my office considering an affair or leaving him, convinced that she is no longer wanted by the man she married.  At a session she forces him to attend we learn the truth as he sees it – he still adores her, but can no longer handle her excessive rambling. Had they not come together to air out their issues, betrayal or divorce was imminent. I helped Jane to vent less to him and complain more to her friends. He’s left his headphones at the gym and they are repairing their bond.

Unreasonable expectations. Unreasonable expectations are exactly that — unreasonable. Many men and women have them and don’t even realize that they are being so demanding. The list of areas where people have unrealistic expectations are nearly endless: how their partner should look, the job they should have, how much money they should earn, and on and on. When I talk with couples, I encourage each person to tell me what they want and expect in certain areas of conflict that are especially heated; then we can examine whether or not their expectations are reasonable or even possible to attain.

Lisa was hosting a dinner party and using beautifully-patterned plates and linens. Busy cooking, she sent her husband to the flower shop to find some flowers that matched her color scheme for the evening:  red and black.  Sure that he would be “smart enough” to select red roses, she wasn’t specific about exactly what she wanted. Her husband walked back inside ten minutes before the guests were to arrive with an armful of yellow daisies. It seems he thought that yellow was a good match with red and black – oh, and yellow was his favorite color! Lisa burst into tears… “These are hideous! Our party is elegant, and these are casual! No one would pair yellow with red and black — you are an idiot!” Her husband was crushed. He thought he had been so creative and was happy to add his favorite color to the table. His wife’s lack of clarity and unreasonable expectations made for a tense dinner party, a blow-out fight later that evening and his firm decision to never help her plan a party again.

Blaming your partner for the problems. Refusing to accept your part in the deterioration of any relationship generally manifests as blaming and finger-pointing. Very few people enjoy apologizing and admitting that they have could have done things differently. For whatever reason (their childhood, a previous relationship where they felt powerless, pride) some men and women simply cannot admit that they may be contributing to problems in the relationship. Everything gets turned around to: But he did this first! Or, I never did anything wrong, she had the affair… In cases like this I hope that we will be able to show the hypervigilant mate that this is about saving a relationship, not keeping score, and that no one is perfect or needs to be. You “I” statements to talk about your feelings instead of “you” statements that place blame on your partner.

Lauren and Bradley had been dating two years, during which he generously paid for everything that the couple did together. When the recession hit and money grew tighter, he began to pull back on trips and evenings out in hopes of saving money. He never told Lauren about his financial situation, and she soon grew restless about how often they stayed in watching movies and cooking dinner. Feeling the pressure, Bradley returned to their old pattern and started spending money again. His debt grew along with his anger at Lauren for being so demanding and high maintenance.  Ultimately, he blamed her for his financial problems. Had he been clear about why he wasn’t taking her out, or had he put his pride aside and asked her to pay, everything might have been fine. But his blaming of her for his financial woes instead made her leave him.

Living in the past. If you have a problem with your service or food at a restaurant, do you tell your server about every problem you’ve ever had at that restaurant your entire life? Or do you just get down to the complaint at hand? Relationships are the same. Talk about what’s happening now. Bringing up issues and problems in the past – once – may be helpful in establishing a relationship history. To complain over and over about past events only dilutes the current issue, leaving the other person worn out, overwhelmed and likely to tune out about your current complaint.

Christine’s ex-husband had betrayed her by sleeping with other women. Every man she has dated since gets brutally interrogated about their stance on fidelity, is constantly monitored and faces her constant warnings about how she was once burned and didn’t want to be twice burned. In short, her current dates are being punished for her past husband’s behavior… and now she wonders why she can’t seem to get a man to date her longer than three months.

Respect.  Couples who speak to each other with a lack of respect — talking down to one another; downplaying a mate to others; yelling or showing other abusive behavior — is a surefire relationship killer. Most relationships I see that end in a breakup have this element. Strategies for better, more dynamic communication can be taught, but the real question is why be with someone you don’t respect or who doesn’t respect you? You can use tools or learn new ones to build the level of respect with your partner. Ideally, both parties treat the other how they’d like to be treated and hold their partner’s feelings and thoughts in high regard.

Every time Todd and Annabelle go out with other couples or to a party, Todd criticizes her publicly. “Why did you order that? You know how many calories are in that dish,” for example, or begins most of his stories with, “You won’t believe what Annabelle’s done now…”  Todd would tell you that he’s only looking out for her health and poking fun at how ditzy she can be, but for Annabelle his comments are embarrassing, out of line and disrespectful. His insults are numerous, he continually rolls his eyes at her and his overall attitude is so disrespectful all of the people in their presence grow uncomfortable and quickly move to other parts of the room at parties. At the moment they are still a couple, but this behavior has impacted her willingness to be intimate with him, her desire to accompany him when he goes out and will ultimately leave them either miserably married or divorced.

 Trust issues. The foundation for every solid relationship is based on trust. Honesty is the best policy applies more than ever in intimate relationships. This means being truthful about how you think, what you feel and what you’re doing. You should have your partner’s back and they should have yours. Sadly, many of us grew up in homes where trust between parents was fractured and these childhood histories can easily lead any of us down a familiar dysfunctional relationship path.

Jonathan developed a platonic relationship with a female co-worker. He called her his “work wife,” and both were very open about their close friendship and respect for each other’s business abilities.  Jonathan invited his wife along on many work activities in an attempt to convince her this relationship was innocent and aboveboard. Despite his attempts, his wife remained suspicious — she was convinced that the “work wife” was trying to oust the “real wife.”  Jonathan eventually gave up on trying to persuade his wife to accept her and began lying about when he saw the woman from work.  He even switched the colleagues’ name in his cell phone from “Marilyn” to “Mitch.” This worked until Jonathan’s wife got curious about “Mitch” and dialed his number, only to get Marilyn’s voicemail. Needless to say, a huge fight ensued.

It’s important to note that while this work relationship was indeed platonic and innocent, it was Jonathan’s deceit that ultimately led to trust issues in his marriage and finally, his wife’s ultimatum of “her or me.” He picked his wife, and they are working on things. But she still checks his cell phone and email because she really doesn’t completely trust him.

Selfishness. If you need it to be all about you, all the time, then maybe you should either live alone and date as many people as you can handle; or hire a team of people to cater to your every need. Relationships are about give and take. You should want your partner to be as happy and content as you are. It’s only natural to want it your way: on your birthday, for a particular vacation or meal, let’s say. But if you’re not asking your partner what they want and need and exerting effort to provide many of those things, then you’re in for conflict, resentment and the likelihood that they won’t want to work towards giving you what you want and need.

Tom was a very accommodating man.  He supported his household financially and lavished his wife with gifts.  He gave in on restaurant choices, vacation spots and what kind of pet to have.  When his mother became ill, his wife Erica not only refused to visit her or help out, but complained that he was gone all the time. This selfish behavior ultimately led to Tom retreating emotionally from his wife and having an extra-marital affair with a woman who asked for nothing.

Although these stories are more dramatic than many, the fact is that these issues in these forms or others make significant impacts on any relationship. They leave even the greatest of connections on shaky ground when they rise up and are not addressed. It’s important to note that relationships can move in and out of these challenges over time, and that couples need to be aware of these destroyers both to prevent them from happening and to repair when they’re already damaging the relationship. It is important to seek help via your support system or a good counselor to work on remedying these issues if you feel as if you cannot fix them yourself.

New Year’s Resolution’s – Six Ways to Set Them and Keep Them

27 Dec

Most Americans make New Year’s resolutions around January 1st, and most don’t continue with them by the time they reach February 1st! It takes approximately four to six weeks to start to truly change a habit, so it’s important to have a good plan to keep up the momentum. 

Here’s my advice to help you set and keep your resolutions:

1. Make resolutions you can reasonably keep. Something that starts out impossible is likely to stay impossible. 

2. Be very specific about your goals. Don’t just say “lose weight” or “be more organized” say “eat healthy & exercise daily unless it’s a special occasion” or “I will organize my desk every evening.”

3. Lay out an exact plan on how you will change your behavior. For example: I will go for a walk every morning at 6AM, or I will go to the gym four days a week after work. I will eat fruits and vegetables as snacks and I will not eat any processed foods.

4. Set out a plan for rewarding yourself. Take yourself to buy a new piece of clothing after each ten pounds lost or reward yourself after each month you’re no longer smoking. 

5. Let your close circle of friends in on what you’re doing. Having a good support system when trying to make a change in your life makes all of the difference. Let your friends know what you are trying to change, and ask them to support you. Set up an option to call them if you are feeling like you are not going to stay on track. 

6. Cut your self some slack. No one is perfect. Allow for some space to make mistakes. When a mistake happens and you go off track on your resolution, don’t beat yourself up, just start over again.

To join Stacy’s email list go to: http://www.stacykaiser.com

What kind of communicator are you?

10 Dec

In my book How to Be A Grown Up, I put my thoughts about effective communication right up front in Chapter One because I think how we communicate is one major key to our success and happiness in all areas of life. How the world perceives us is heavily based on the way we speak, think, act, dress, behave, listen, live and interact — translation, the world takes in everything about us and that impacts not only how we communicate with the world, but how the world communicates with us!  In this blog, I’m going to help you better get to know what kind of a communicator you are. In the quiz below, we’ll assess your standard communication style and that will help you pinpoint any areas that may be hindering you. It is important to know who you are and what style you use to communicate so that you can be more successful in everything you do.

We will be assessing three styles of communication: The Aggressive Communicator, The Passive Communicator and the Dynamic Communicator. Please chose option A, B, or C for the questions below. Answer the answer that BEST FITS how you might respond in the particular scenario. Don’t over think your answers – you are who you are and your initial instincts are usually the most accurate. I obviously cannot give you ALL of the solutions to improving your communication skills in this short little blog. I can however, direct you to chapter one of my book (hey, this is MY blog, shameless self promotion should be expected here 🙂 ) and I am also happy to answer any questions that you have if you send them my way. Happy quiz taking! Off you go…

1) When I am involved in an argument or disagreement with someone important to me….

A. It’s easier to walk away and brush it under the rug, or back down immediately to avoid conflict.

B. I will engage in the discussion no matter how heated it becomes until I’m sure I’ve gotten my point across. After all, it’s important that my voice be heard.

C. The relationship with who I am talking to is more important than the outcome so I respond based on wanting to stay connected, despite our disagreements.

2) When I feel my needs are not being met or there is something I want out of a relationship…

A. I rarely ask directly for what I want. I hope they the other person will figure it out on their own and do it for me.

B. I tend to be demanding. If I don’t put it out there, I know I won’t get it.

C. I find a way to discuss it or ask for it that provides the least conflict but gives me the best chance of getting what I want.

3) When it comes to having a heart-to-heart with someone I care about…

A. I don’t have heart-to-heart conversations. I just let the relationship play out and adjust to whatever the other person says and does.

B. I often become angry and accusatory during serious discussions. It’s hard for me to stay calm when I discuss important matters.

C. I express what I am trying to say calmly and give the other person a chance to express themselves. I want things to remain peaceful.

4) When it comes to expressing myself at work…

A. I typically can’t even articulate my long-term goals, and find it very difficult to approach those in a position to help me. I generally keep my head down and do what’s asked of me.

B. I know exactly what I want and need and am very vocal in expressing them to my superiors. I will achieve my professional goals at any cost.

C. I take time to consider the best person to approach and consider every detail of what I want to take away from our conversation. A plan is in place for several eventualities before I communicate.

5) In important meetings in my life (job interviews, evaluations about myself or my child, relationship discussions) I tend to:

A. Get so panicked thinking about all the possible negative outcomes that I am unprepared for the actual discussion and often feel I left much unsaid.

B. I am demanding and to the point. I have been told that my style could be considered aggressive or abrasive… but I look at it as getting what I need.

C. I carefully prepare the points I want to make, the questions I have, and chose a good time for a calm discussion.

6) My style of talking could best be described as:

A. Shy, quiet, self-deprecating, quick to agree and placate. Will always give in to get along.

B. I’m loud, boisterous and am easily noticed. I generally set the agenda or plans and others follow.

C. I shift styles based on where I am, which friend or business associate I’m dealing with, and go with what feels right in the moment.

7) At social gatherings like parties or events…

A. I prefer to blend in. I am often sitting in a corner keeping a low profile – if I’m there at all. I prefer not to attend events full of strangers; the thought of approaching/talking to them is too stressful.

B. I am often described as the life of any party. I generate most of the conversation and activity. I feel a sense of obligation to keep things moving along – sometimes inappropriately (excess drinking, gossiping, etc.)

C. I can function well in large parties of mostly strangers, and am completely comfortable in familiar settings with friends.

8) When I am with others and not feeling well or in a good mood…

A. I hide it all costs and try to stay quiet and hope no one notices. “I’m fine,” is my mantra.

B. I tell everyone. There’s no hiding it, so I’m not shy about telling everyone exactly why I’m so miserable. Maybe they can help, and at least they’ll listen.

C. I am open about what is going on in my life if I feel the time is right to confide, but not if it will adversely impact the mood or flow.

9) When something isn’t going as I had planned and I have to make a last minute adjustment…

A. I withdraw from the situation. I get quiet and retreat.

B. I get frustrated and have a hard time shaking it off. It impacts my mood for a while afterwards.

C. I adjust to the situation and move on as quickly as possible in hopes to make the best of an uncomfortable experience.

10) When I am in line in a crowded retail store and someone with a large amount of items cuts in front of me in line…

A. Say nothing. There’s no point in saying anything.

B. Loudly let her know that she has cut in line and that she had better get to the end of it where she belongs.

C. Tap her politely on the shoulder and casually let her know that she may not have realized it but she has cut in front of you.

If you answered…

Mostly A’s: You are a Passive communicator.  Passive communicators tend to be fearful and avoid confrontation at all costs. It might be that you feel that you are not entitled or worthy enough to ask for or receive what you want; or perhaps you are willing to sacrifice your own wishes in exchange for avoiding conflict or confrontation. This style of communication might ultimately lead to feelings of anxiety, anger, depression and helplessness, which can certainly impact your ability to be personally happy and professionally successful. Some celebrities that might score as Passive Communicators: Katie Holmes, George Harrison, Jennifer Aniston

Mostly B’s: You are an Aggressive communicator. Aggressive communicators then tend to be confrontational and angry. Your (very) direct way of expressing your feelings and communicating can leave others feeling unheard, insignificant and even violated. This style of communication may ultimately lead to feelings of isolation, powerlessness and agitation that can ultimately alienate you from getting what you want from others. Some celebrities that might score as Aggressive Communicators: Charlie Sheen, Joan Rivers, Howard Stern

Mostly C’s – Congratulations! You are a Dynamic Communicator, the most desirable form of communicator. A dynamic communicator always wants both sides to walk away feeling somewhat satisfied; they are so successful in their skills that they can easily impact others with their words and style. Translation: Dynamic communicators get more of what they want, more often, with less conflict. A dynamic communicator lets go of the need to win and instead knows that the real winning comes when communication is effective and relationships are solid. Some celebrities that might score as Dynamic Communicators:  Oprah, Ellen and Jay Leno

Having a Narcissist for the Holidays?

16 Nov


The 5 Steps To Raising Children Who Feel They Can Take On The World

7 Jan

Most of us have had those moments where we just KNOW that we have got it all together. Maybe you were walking into a party or a meeting and felt incredibly confident and strong, maybe you took on the challenge of that new diet and just knew that this time you would be successful.  Or maybe you got a new terrific outfit or haircut that lifted your spirits. Whatever your experiences, we all know that there is no better feeling than the one that says “I’ve got it all together, I can do anything”.

I keep hearing over and over that parents worry about their kids – I mean, that’s our job, right? We worry about peer pressure, the influence of the media and reality shows and we worry about the challenges that exist in our society today. Well, I have news for you — kids who feel good about themselves and have good parental role models handle these issues better than any other kids.  I always say, children learn what they live. As parents, it’s important to raise children who feel confident, secure and self assured. Those children grow into adults who are successful and happy  and they have less problems along the way– don’t we all want all of that for our kids?

Here are my 5 steps to raising children who feel that they can take on the world….

1. Children who feel they can take on the world feel lovable and loved. As a parent, you can instill those feelings by accepting your child as they are. Let them know that they are kind, lovable, smart, funny, etc. Say things like “You are a special person” or “you are wonderful inside and out”.

2. Children who feel they can take on the world have responsive parents. Those parents meet their children’s needs, listen to what their children have to say even if it’s wrong or not negotiable and they make their children feel heard and cared for.

3. Children who feel they can take on the world have involved parents. Their parents are involved in their activities and school, they make their children feel like a priority, and they set aside quality time to spend one on one.

4. Children who feel they can take on the world feel confident and competent. They have parents who understand which behaviors are age appropriate for them and which are not, they have realistic expectations and they teach their children how to take on responsibilities and how to do age appropriate chores and tasks. They praise them for their successes and guide them through obstacles & challenges.

5. Children who feel they can take on the world are disciplined in a firm but loving way. Their parents discipline with encouragement, clear expectations, firm boundaries and consequences. They avoid harsh criticism, unrealistic expectations, violence and unreasonable consequences.

If you have any questions about all of this, please ask me in the comment section of my blog. I look forward to connecting with you!


The Narcissist Test – Are you one? Is he one? Is she one?

29 Nov

There is a big difference between taking care of yourself and being self-absorbed. A person who takes good care of him/herself is a person who has more to give back to others. A narcissist, on the other hand, not only has little or nothing to give back to others; they have neither the skills nor, more importantly, much desire to do so. I describe a narcissist as a person who is looking into a hand mirror and holding it so close to their face that they can’t see anyone else!

If you have read my book “How To Be A Grown Up” you know that I am a big fan of quizzes. I think they are fun to take and can also be helpful in figuring out who you are and how you tick. To that end, I have created the quiz below to help you figure out if you or someone you know is a Narcissist.

This quiz can be taken about yourself or someone you are in a relationship with, so answer with either yourself or the other person in mind. Mark each question with ALWAYS, SOMETIMES, or NEVER.


1. I don’t care what other people think of me or my actions. I do what I want.


2.  When someone expresses negative emotions towards me, I brush them off and feel that there’s no need to dwell on or reflect upon what they’re sharing.


3.  I don’t depend on other people to get things accomplished.


4.  When I am with friends or my partner, they must always look good.


5.  I am only happy when I spend time around powerful people.


6.  When it comes to relationships, I make the decisions and expect others to follow along.


7.  I find it easy to manipulate most people.


8.  When it comes to my accomplishments and skills I tend to exaggerate about them.


9.  I believe I am more capable than other people.


10.  I don’t have much time to cultivate relationships as I am busy becoming a success in my own life.


11.  I like to show off my body and don’t pay particular attention to what others think about that or the dress code.


12.  I have been called selfish more than once by partners or family members.


13.  When talking with others I tend not to ask for information about them and their lives.


14.  When I am walking with someone, I have caught myself walking ahead of them instead of next to them.


15.  At a restaurant, I find myself wanting to be the first to order no matter who I am with.


16.  When there is conflict, I don’t want to hear what the other person has to say because I am convinced that I am right. Others very rarely sway my point of view.


17.  I believe that I know most of what there is to know.


18.  I don’t need anyone else. I’d be fine without intimate relationships or friendships or family.


19.  I like to look at myself in the mirror often.


20.  I think I am more competent at most tasks than the majority of people are.

21.  I tend to tune out when others are talking about themselves, waiting for the conversation to come back around to me.


22.  I don’t believe in being modest or humble. It’s important to share my talents and successes on a regular basis.


23.  Being the center of attention is important to me. I sulk when ignored.


24.  When I am in a bad mood I don’t care who knows about it. I’m entitled to be in a bad mood.


25.I frequently borrow money or items from others, and often forget to return what I borrowed.


FOR EVERY ALWAYS, add 10 points.

FOR EVERY SOMETIMES, add 5 points.

NEVER is a zero. Add up your score.


Under 50 – You are dealing with healthy narcissism – we all need to put our own needs and wants first some of the time.


From 50 -100 – This is the narcissism danger zone – meaning you have a tendency toward being less considerate or attentive to others’ wants and needs than is healthy for you to be successful in relationships and life.


Over 100 – In all likelihood, your life is greatly impacted by your narcissism. You have enough self-centered tendencies that you may not even be aware of how much this trait is affecting your life! If you scored high on this test then you may need to take a good look at all areas of your life and examine how you might be more attentive to others and less inwardly focused.


So?? How did you do? Did you discover anything about who you are or someone you know? If you have found that you have some narcissistic traits, that’s okay — just make more of a conscious effort to listen to others, attend to their needs and put more of yours aside.

xo Stacy


I eat mashed potatoes and if you want to you can too!

24 Nov

The holidays are just around the bend and with that typically comes the two F’s – family and food. In this blog, I will be talking to you about food. Family will come later….and for many of us, the later family comes – the better!

In case you don’t know much about me and my history with food, let me fill you in on some important facts: I was an overweight preteen and teen with every bad habit in the book! Overeating, emotional eating, closet eating, binge eating – you name it! I overindulged in the worst of the worst foods from Cheese Puffs to Donuts to French Fries. I thought nothing of downing a candy bar, buttered popcorn and large soda at at the movies and then heading straight to dinner for a few slices of pizza. A few years into my bodily self-destruction I had a big awakening in high school. I realized after trying nearly every diet on the market and failing (often because I’d reward myself for losing a few pounds with a burger and fries) that I needed to wake up, stop pigging out and learn to bring exercise into my life. Since that time, I work hard every day fighting my bad food baggage and habits and challenging genetics in order to stay physically healthy – I also avoid eating full bags of Cheetos – saves on both my waistline and those dreaded stained orange fingers that announce to the world “I have eaten Cheetos!”  Now, here’s the problem….I LOVE FOOD! And I don’t just mean fruits and vegetables, I mean I love chips, cookies and lots of other things that can lead to added pounds and health problems.

For me as a psychotherapist and healthy and balanced living advocate, the holidays mean an abundance of conversations with people like you. Talks about gaining weight over the holidays, what diet to start on January 1 if any and how family or financial stress can lead to wanting to throw all of your best thinking out the window to live with reckless abandon! Whether it’s pecan pie, mashed potatoes or your mother-in-law that you blame, most of us gain weight over the holidays only to regret it later. It’s just so unfair how easy it is to gain 5 pounds in a week and how it can take a month or three of feeling like unreasonable suffering to only get 4 out of the 5 pounds off!

So….here’s the deal…. it is holiday time and no one should be deprived! As a matter of fact, the research AND my experience as a therapist for 20 years confirm that deprivation only leads to chasing what you were deprived of – later! What you are looking for is moderation and cutting corners:

Definitions of moderation according to the dictionary – because I like what they had to say:

  • quality of being moderate and avoiding extremes
  • easing: a change for the better
  • temperance: the trait of avoiding excesses
  • the action of lessening in severity or intensity

Definition of cutting corners according to ME – because I like what I had to say better than the dictionary:

* taking out the food or fats that you won’t easily notice.

* eating a bit less than you would have if you were not cutting corners.

* getting out of that “it’s the holidays, I can pig out and deal with the consequences later” mentality and getting into the “I am going to enjoy what I love, but eat less than my ‘gotta have it all’ self wants.

Some examples…

— I told you I LOVE mashed potatoes! (If you didn’t recall me telling you that, perhaps you didn’t read the title of this blog) – I researched healthier versions of mashed potatoes so that I could still enjoy my favorite starch in a healthier way. Here are some links to what I found and you can do the same for your favorite item too….




— If you normally would eat two dinner rolls eat one, if you traditionally eat seconds of everything allow yourself seconds of one thing.

–Squeeze in some extra exercise – every calorie you burn will allow you room to eat more AND raise your metabolism.

–Eat what you love on the actually holiday DURING the actual holiday meal — don’t graze before or after and don’t head for round two three hours later.

–Cut back on the days before and after the holidays. Be on your best food and exercise behavior so that you can relax on the holiday and enjoy what you love.

Now you know a bit more about me, my thoughts on food around the holidays and I even proved to you that as computer illiterate as I am that I am capable of cutting and pasting links! Tell me something about you…

What is your greatest challenge around the holidays?

What food(s) lure you in so much that you can’t say no?

What else would you like to hear from me about?

Thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving!

Take care, Stacy

Do you bully yourself?

15 Nov

The country has been talking non-stop about all of the bullying that we have been hearing about in the news. Being bullied for being gay, wearing a stereotypically “girl” Halloween costume as a little boy,  for being overweight, etc. But how many of you have thought about how YOU bully YOU?

Ever grabbed that proverbial baseball bat or emotional grenade and heard yourself say anything like this?

“I’m so fat”

“That was really stupid of me”

“I hate myself”

“I’ll never amount to anything”

“I ate too much/spent too much/talked too much so now I have to punish myself”

“I deserve what’s coming to me”

Put those words in the mouth of another person. Imagine them shouting them at you during a party or even whispering them to you in your ear. Would you put up with that? Would you think it was okay? What would you say back?

Self esteem is directly connected to how you feel about yourself. Do those words, thoughts and emotional lashings make you feel good about who you are?

Research shows that kids AND adults who are bullied have lower self esteem, more trouble being successful and happy and can suffer from depression. What if the person bullying you is you? You know, the one person in the world that you are with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year? Talk about crushing self esteem!

So why do we do it? Most of us have been trained to do it or it’s become a bad habit! Maybe our parents were critical or even verbally abusive. Even our culture tells us that bragging isn’t “appropriate” and that you can actually bond with other people by being hard on yourself. Saying things like “I’m so stupid, I don’t know how to fix this problem” or “I feel like a fat cow after the holidays, don’t you?”. All of these fall under the category of self bullying. Your emotions hear your words, and those words carry a lot of emotional weight.

My advice….

…put the bat, grenade or chain saw down – soften up.

…when you begin to hear yourself thinking berating or mean thoughts stop immediately and get up and distract yourself  –make a phone call, talk a walk, turn on the tv, read one of my blogs 🙂

…come up with 3-5 things you like about yourself and remind yourself how great those things are every day.

…ask a friend or loved one to tell you something they like about you and believe that what they say is sincere when they say it.

Remember – you are the prize. You deserve to be treated with kindness, love and respect. Don’t settle for less from anyone!

Take care, Stacy

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