Four Reasons Why You Need to Respect the Future

No one would argue with the importance of living in the present. God designed creation so that we live and breathe in the present. When we lose current experience, we are only half alive. But here is the problem, and it’s a huge one: Focusing only on the present is just as dysfunctional as focusing only on the future. The entitlement mantra about the future is: Ignore the future and focus on today. But the Hard Way mantra is: Respect the future and let it guide today’s experience. And why should we respect the future? Here are four reasons: One Day You Will Experience Your Future Your future is not “out there.” Very soon, it won’t be called the future; it will be called Now. And you’ll experience it, feel it, touch it, and taste it, for better or worse. The future certainly will arrive — and as much as possible, we want to think about the things that we will experience before they overtake us. Think of it this way. Small children don’t have the skills to truly understand the impact of the future. Their neurology and emotions are all about today and now. One of the roles of a... Continue Reading »

Praise and Reward Problems that Lead to Entitlement

We sometimes reward (through actions) and praise (through words) our spouses, employees, children, and friends in ways that can actually harm them, even though it feels good at the time because it seems so positive. But what seems positive is not always what is best. A pizza slice or two is positive — but four can cause problems. These unwise reward/praise approaches, although well intentioned, create bad fruit. Remember — these are patterns, not isolated events. Doing these things every now and then would be all right, but when they become trends, they risk fostering attitudes of entitlement. Praising What Takes No Effort Rewards and praise are most effective when they focus on an achievement that took time and energy. Most of the time, when praise is at its most effective, that achievement would involve a person’s character or internal makeup. To repeatedly praise a little girl for being pretty puts her in a bind. What she hears is, What gets me loved is something I can’t do much about. She also hears, My inside isn’t important, just my outside. We all know people, especially women, who have received that sort of treatment. What happens to many of them as... Continue Reading »

How to Fail … in Healthy and Redemptive Ways

God designed your self-image to be your friend and ally, to help you make great choices, to find your passions, and to succeed in all walks of life. And it was designed also to help you fail well. This is one of your self-image’s greatest benefits. You need to learn to fail in healthy and redemptive ways, because fail you will. People with a healthy and accurate self-image don’t have a big problem with failure. When they don’t get a promotion at work, or their spouse gets mad at them, or their kids don’t respect them, they know what to do. Here’s what failure looks like when our healthy self-image enables us to fail well: Disappointment: That was a bummer; I’m sad about this. Leaning on God: I need his help and wisdom in this. Support: I think I need to call my friend Pat about this and get some face time. Learning: What was my contribution to this problem? What do I need to change? Adaptation: It’s time to swing the bat again and try things a different way. That’s how it should work when we fail. Since failure, and even repeated failure, is simply a given in life,... Continue Reading »

Your Next Hard Thing

You have never received a winner’s trophy before playing in the championship game. You have never been offered a promotion before you excelled in your job. Your parents never instructed you to make sure you ate your dessert first and not worry about the vegetables, since they would take care of themselves. Why did none of these things happen? Because that’s not how successful lives work. It makes no sense to earn trophies before you win games, get a promotion before you perform well, or eat sweets before you consume your dinner. An attitude of entitlement, though, tells us that it can and should be this way: “You can have it all. Do what is easy and comfortable first, and you’ll be rewarded with a lot of amazing things.” It’s a lie. The entitlement disease’s insistence that you leave the hard stuff till later (or never) results in disaster. Let’s find out why. Let’s say you asked me to coach you in how to find your dream career. You are forty-two years old and a pleasant person, and while your current position has paid the bills, it’s not exciting, it is not you, you have no passion for it. You... Continue Reading »

Boundaries Q&A with Dr. Townsend: 4 Tips for Dealing with a Narcissist

Question: Dr. Townsend, can you give advice for someone who thinks they are married to a narcissist? Everything seems to revolve around my spouse’s wishes and demands. Dr. Townsend: I’m sorry to hear about your situation. First off, the label of “narcissism” is not very helpful unless you are talking with a licensed therapist who has actually done an interview and diagnosed the person. People throw around the term, “narcissism,” a lot and it gets confusing. It’s much more helpful to talk about specific attitudes and behaviors that are problematic. For example, your second sentence, about everything seeming to revolve around your spouse’s wishes and demands, is clear and specific. So let’s deal with that aspect and get you some relief. Here are four tips: 1. Be clear about the problem, and be vulnerable about its impact on you. Many times a spouse who is self-involved will not be able to pick up hints, nuances, and indirect remarks about their attitudes. You need to be direct, though vulnerable, with them about the problem. For example, you could say, “I love you and care about our marriage. But this past week, when I tried to talk to you about our financial... Continue Reading »

The Cure for the Disease of Entitlement

Entitlement is the belief that I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment. Entitlement is: The man who thinks he is above all the rules. The woman who feels mistreated and needs others to make it up to her. I need you to understand the concept of entitlement thoroughly, so that you can recognize it and help others get past it. It is not always easy to understand. Entitlement is not the person who has needs or struggles that she cannot deal with on her own. She is in need. Chronically ill individuals and disabled veterans often are in great need of help, and we need to help them. Entitlement is the person who is capable of taking care of himself and still expects others to do that for him, because he feels he is owed that. This includes the able-bodied adult child who continues to live with his parents, refusing to work, to contribute to the home’s upkeep, or even to clean up after himself. It can also include the worker who takes advantage of disability benefits after she has recovered. There is a solution to entitlement, which I call the Hard Way. The Hard Way... Continue Reading »