Improving Relationships with Self-Talk

I was in the process of writing, rewriting, and editing my article about using self-talk rather than nagging or complaining to improve our relationships when I came across an excellent story.

This article is located on the Blog of Dr. William Glasser, author of one of my favorite books: Choice Theory.

Read Mary Amanda’s excellent article about using self-talk to improve relationships here: It’s a long yet easy read about a simple story that probably faces all of us virtually every single day!

Then, post your questions or comments right here, so that we can help each other to make decisions that aid us in building solid and healthy relationships.

To our children’s success,


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  1. Lynette says:

    This reminds me about a workshop I once attended where a guy was mad that his apartment-mates left trash bags in the hallways instead of bringing them downstairs to the dump immediately.

    The lecturer asked a very simple question to the angry guy, “Who is upset about the trash-bags in the hallway, you or your neighbors?”

    The guy answered, “I am.”

    The lecturer continued, “Who should take care of the problem with trash-bags in the hallway: the person who cares about the problem or the person who does not care about the problem?”


  2. I clean my kitchen every night before going to bed. However, when my husband’s children come over, they leave dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs all over the place, food on the floor, etc., run off to school, then return to their mother’s house and we don’t see them for another week. Yes, I have choices. I can clean up after them, and that takes time away from my other responsibilities, including my 2 year old. It also sends them a message that they don’t have to take responsibility. I can choose not to clean up after them, but we’ll get ants and cockroaches. Also, I want my son to be raised in a clean home, and when my 2 year old finishes eating, he cleans up his area (according to his ability). I don’t want my son to think it’s ok and normal if the kitchen is dirty. My husband would clean up after them, but that could take time and I would be left a whole day or two with a dirty kitchen, not to mention the rest of the house. Talking to them doesn’t help, and when they do wash the dishes, for example, at my husband’s insistance, the dishes need to be rewashed, and this goes for everything they “do”. How can self-talk help me? I would appreciate some ideas. Thank you.

    • Hi Aliza,

      This sounds like a very challenging issue with your blended family. Generally, it is best for the parent, rather than the step-parent, to give their kids chores and responsibilities. Therefore, this ought to be an issue that your husband addresses.

      In the meantime, here are a few things to say to yourself: “I married a wonderful man who comes along with a package of messy kids.” “My dear husband is nearly perfect, but his kids’ messy habits are challenging for me. May that always be the most challenging issue in my life/marriage.”

      A practical idea- how about serving these kids using disposable plates and tablecloths?

  3. Candy Gill-Knickerbocker says:

    I really like the practical idea of serving these kids using disposable plates and tablecloths. And, at the risk of really kicking a hornet’s nest, I’d go one step further and suggest that to really get your point across you could serve these children at a picnic table outside on the back porch. Then if they make a mess, you can (while they watch) pull out the hose and clean up after them as you would pigs in a trough. Should they ask why they are being served outside and not at the dining table with everyone else, you could calmly provide an explanation whilst having their full attention.

    I once had a GP recommend withholding food from my picky eater with the understanding that he wouldn’t be so picky when he got hungry enough. Although I would not recommend them to everyone, all of the time, these “passive aggressive” techniques are great attention getters (esp. with teenagers) and work really well most of the time. Good Luck!!

    • Candy,
      I love your idea! I know someone who once suggested (without the complication of a blended family) to serve the kids on dirty plates! [Don’t forget to hide the clean ones]