Tag Archives: personality

Ask Mabel: How do I respond to my child, regarding her attitude, when she says ‘I was born like this?’

Hi Mabel, 

My child has had a real attitude problem lately and I don’t know how to approach it. She gets sassy with me and then responds, “I was born like this.” And I just freeze. What am I supposed to say to that?

Sincerely, Jen from Minnesota

Mabel: Hi Jen, sounds like a typical tween/teen problem. She is defending herself by saying that her attitude is just part of who she is, which we all know she has more control over than she is giving herself credit for. Next time she says this tell her that no one is born knowing how to talk. Talking is something that is learned over time and she can apparently talk pretty well now. Tell her that even though she may feel like she was born with something, she can always learn something else. 

What is changeable, and what is not…

There are things we are born with, those are things we cannot change such as skin color, height, etc. Talk with your child about what is changeable and what is not. Saying she is “born like this” is a cop out. It is her not being willing to try to improve, to learn manners, etc. It is laziness. Explain to her that it is always possible to change your ways. It is a good life lesson and hopefully will help ease up the attitude overtime. 

Good luck mama, and please know that you are not alone in this struggle. Raising any tween/teen is not easy. Just keep giving it your best shot and try not to get too down on yourself. 

Where do commitment issues stem from?

We all know someone who has trouble with commitment. You know the type—the serial dater, the person who suddenly stops calling or showing up when the relationship starts to progress. It can be frustrating for both sides.

Insecure Attachment

There are a few reasons why a person might struggle with commitment. They may have formed an insecure attachment/avoidant relationship style. This type of personality style usually stems from a person’s childhood and their relationship with their parents or primary caregiver. Likely, as children, they felt as if their emotional needs were not being met and have since learned to not give as much weight to their emotions making it harder to get close to people. People with this type of attachment style tend to enjoy being in relationships but become uncomfortable when relationships get too emotionally close. 

Another reason why someone might struggle with commitment is because of catastrophic thinking. They have severe anxiety about relationships and always think the worst— “it will never work out, why bother,” “I am going to be trapped,” “I am just going to get my heart broken,” etc. This usually stems from childhood experiences of seeing their own parents unhappy and arguing on a regular basis. Or, they may have had a series of bad relationships in the past that has led them to think nothing will ever work out. They have lost faith in relationships and are fearful of getting too attached. 

It is, of course, difficult for both sides of the relationship when commitment troubles are a factor, but it doesn’t mean it is not possible to find love and to have true, meaningful relationships. It just might take some work. Meeting with a licensed mental health professional can help those struggling with commitment to identify the reasons why they might have trouble in this area and what can be done to move forward. 

Source: https://www.psychalive.org/anxious-avoidant-attachment/

Why is it so hard to build self-esteem?

Self-esteem, self-worth are so important to mental health. And, so many of us struggle with improving our self-esteem. We never feel good enough. We find it difficult to love ourselves, to be proud, to feel satisfied in our own shoes. Why? 

Why is it so hard to build self-esteem? We live in a society where we have long been taught to tie our self-esteem, or self-worth, to personal achievement. We have goals we want to meet, jobs we want to get, and we work hard to achieve them. Once we get there we feel good, yes, but for how long? That one achievement is never enough. It is a dangerous cycle. It feels good to achieve a goal, and we do experience an increase in endorphin levels—and we like it. That feeling, that feel-good rush becomes our baseline as people. 

We always want to feel that good. We always want to achieve the next big thing. So, we continue to strive for more and more. Always looking to get higher and higher. I am not saying this kind of motivation is all bad. Of course, we want to be motivated to do well, to try hard, to achieve our personal best. But at some point, we have to be satisfied. The problem with tying our self-worth to achievement is we are never satiable and therefore never feel good enough. We never achieve a stable level of positive self-esteem because things are not all roses and butterflies all the time. There will be moments when you can’t go any higher.

Rather than tying our self-esteem to achievement, let’s switch gears. Connect your self-esteem to your personal qualities, the things that make you YOU. Maybe you are a compassionate person, a good friend, hard-working, loving, easy to talk to, open-minded. Maybe you are the one always willing to help a neighbor. Maybe you are good at making others laugh. We all have special things deep inside us that make us wonderful, beautiful people. Maybe you have been through a whole lot of hell in life and you are stronger than ever. Embrace that strength, look in that mirror, and love yourself. You are worthy. You deserve personal respect. You deserve to feel good about the person you are deep down inside. So what if you didn’t become an Olympic swimmer, or you didn’t get that job you tried so hard for, you are still wonderful, beautiful, unique YOU. 

Do you have unrealistic expectations about friendships?

I hear from clients all the time about how they are not able to maintain their friendships. They are kicking themselves, feeling bad, for not keeping the same relationships with their friends over time. 

They used to go over to their friends’ homes, talk on the phone daily, and share all of lives little moments. Now, they have to plan out a girls night weeks or even months in advance. They rarely have a chance to call and catch up. They realize that they haven’t even told their friend they got a new job or that story about how your kid fell asleep in the middle of the kitchen floor. 

Friendships change. As an adult you are busier, you have more responsibilities, more demands on time. You might move to chase a career or a spouse. Your worldview might change. It is ok to feel grief, sadness, loss over a changing friendship. It is ok to miss those phone calls and late night movies. But, it is also normal to lose touch. It is normal, and expected, to put your family and other demands on your time first. That is not to say it is not important to still have friends because yes, of course, it is. You still need friend time but it is probably less frequent and maybe with different friends than you previously had. 

As our lives change our friendship needs do also. Women with children often find they have more in common with other women with children. You share the same stressors and anxiety. You can relate. The same can be said for the working mom vs the stay-at-home mom, the boy mom vs the girl mom, the single mom vs. the married, etc. Maybe you have faced some health challenges and you need someone who can understand your pain and frustration. 

This is all part of life. We evolve, we mature, our circumstances are altered. We drift apart from each other, and that is ok. 

How much should you tell your new BF about your past?

People come and go out of our lives, friendships change and evolve, and new people fall into the role of best friend. When this happens there is often a series of thoughts that go through our heads — what do they need to know? What should I tell them about my past?

There is no hard and fast rule. There is not necessarily a reason why you need to tell but there may not be a reason why you shouldn’t. If this person is your new best friend chances are things will come up over time as your comfort level and different situations present themselves. 

If you decide that you should tell him, her, or they about something that happened in your past you first need to figure out why. Why do you want to tell your new best friend this thing? Is it part of who you are? How does it align with your personal compass? Does it impact your current life? Is it something that you just feel you need to get off your chest? Whatever the reason, and there are a million different scenarios, make sure you are comfortable with your purpose for sharing. Once you share, you can’t take it back. 

After you decide to confide in them, you are in control. You decide when you want to tell, how, and what. The ball is in your court. You don’t have to divulge more than you would like. Be clear with the person about how it aligns with your personal values. Let them know why you are telling them these things. Maybe you were in an abusive relationship and now you have trouble entering new relationships, maybe you were in a bad car accident that makes it hard for you to drive, maybe you lost a family member in a tragic way and now avoid certain situations, whatever it is, why you want to tell, it is all up to you. Don’t feel pressured to share anything you are not comfortable with. 

How much do you think you should divulge about your past? 

It is ok to walk away

I have a client who recently moved to the East Coast. She lives in a very loud, busy, and overstimulating area. As with anyone moving to a new place, she was going through a period of adjustment and forming new friendships, trying to find her place. 

In reaction to her fear of being lonely, she surrounded herself with people, any people. During a mindless event with one of these groups of people—who she didn’t really jive with—she opened her eyes, looked around, excused herself and walked away. She had a revelation of sorts—she didn’t need these people to fill in her blanks, to make her feel less alone. She realized she was sacrificing herself having to pretend she was something she wasn’t. She was sacrificing her authenticity, and at what cost? 

You don’t need to sacrifice yourself

It is ok to walk away. It is the genuine connections in our lives, the people we feel comfortable being ourselves with that add to our happiness, our wellbeing as people. Sacrificing who you are just to be surrounded with people will only leave you feeling more alone. Don’t be afraid to walk away and find those people that lift you up, that expand your horizons, without sacrificing who you are. You don’t need to be dependent on other people for your happiness. You are in control of your own happiness. You need to dig deep inside and surround yourself with the things you love. Embrace your hobbies, take time to do the things that make you feel alive inside. 

Find the people that share your values and will appreciate you for you. If you are a person who appreciates art, take an art class; if you like to exercise, join a gym or running group; if you like computers or video games, join a club; if you like to read, join a book club; if you like music, go to concerts. In time, you will find the people that see you and love you for who you really are. Don’t sacrifice yourself because you are afraid of the future, or afraid of how it feels to be by yourself. Love yourself, and do what you love. The rest will follow. 

Are you really being ‘fake’?

Clients tell me all the time that they feel “fake.” They are not their “true selves” when they are at work or with certain groups of people. But, is that really being fake? I often ask my clients ‘what are they pretending?’ And, then I ask them to consider if it is possible to be an authentic person but be different in different contexts of life? 

Having an authentic voice in different environments is a flexible, adaptive personality trait. It is a desirable and positive skill to have as a person, and some people struggle their whole lives to attain such a skill. We are made up of many different parts that together make our whole selves. Just because we might act differently in different environments doesn’t mean we aren’t being true, we are just acting on that part of our personality at that time. Think of ourselves as being onions with many different layers. We are not two-dimensional. 

Maintaining strong relationships

Being able to adapt your behavior, improves your ability to make and maintain strong relationships with people. I think we can all agree that in many cases we should be different people at work than at home. There are things that we do or say or wear, in the comfort of our home, or with friends, that would not be acceptable in a place of business. There are also different groups of friends or family that we may act differently around, for example, you are probably going to be different with your grandma than your college roommate. That doesn’t mean you are being fake. 

The traits that make up our true selves, tend to be the moral ones—the qualities of ourselves that lie deep down.  The traits that have been ingrained in us since we were children—be kind, be truthful, don’t hurt another, don’t steal, etc. Those traits stay consistent across all situations. Those are the core of the onion. 

So, next time you fear you are being fake, take a minute to think about what you are pretending? Are you really trying to be someone else? Or are you just a different genuine version of yourself?