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Personal Responsibility
05/13/2010
IconIt's funny what stays in your mind - one shot of light in the darkness of memory.' One of the more important "shot of light" memories is from my days in the Marriage/Family/Child Therapy program at the University of Southern California.' I was being supervised during my training and displaying lots of frustration over one particular client.' I couldn't figure out how to fix, or help the client fix, the problem for which the client came in to get help.My supervisor, a well-known and talented therapist said five words which reverberated in my head - the head of a "Type A," over-achiever mentality person that I was (or am).' He said, "Not everything can be fixed." I was shocked and horrified.' To even think that there were limits to what any human being could do, to think that there were no remedies for certain circumstances, to think that I couldn't "lay on hands" and make all better every person I tried to help - well, all of this was unthinkable.As I matured, however, I realized he was right.I had several calls in the past week that demonstrated that truth -- that not everything can be fixed -- so it shouldn't be broken in the first place!! It's why I do what I do on radio versus having a private practice.' You all get to hear what decisions, choices, behaviors, and actions put you in a (probably) unfixable place.There was the 21 year old woman who came on the program giggling about how she had listened to me since she was 2 years old.' Now, with two children out-of-wedlock with a guy who won't marry her because she hasn't taken down her Facebook profile after she promised she would, she wanted to know how to fix the relationship and get married.Since he didn't marry her before the children, since he didn't marry her after the first child, since he didn't marry her after the second child, he probably isn't going to marry her after the Facebook argument gave his dumping her some legitimacy.' I guess 19 years of listening to the program didn't do it for her.The second female caller was about the same age, again with two out-of-wedlock children, living at her boyfriend's parents' home.' She was shacking up with him, and wanted to know how to get him to move out so they could be on their own, after he said he didn't ever want to move out of his mother's home!The moral of these stories is that when you insist on making impulsive decisions and act only out of the moment, then you will, at some point, dig a hole that you won't be able to get out of.'By the way, I told the first woman to move in with her parents, so the children can have a father (in the form of Grandpa), and she was not to date until they were grown.' I told the second woman to give up her dreams and faulty plan, keep her mouth shut, and just live there, giving the impression of being happy, so the kids don't have to grow up with a negative mother until the kids are grown.Of course, women are not the only ones who need to hear this message.' A lot of men marry "damsels in distress," only to be stuck with... distressed damsels!! They hope to save them and fix them, but....some things can't be fixed.' I tell them to stay with a smile until the kids are grown.I don't accept any of the "...but what about my happiness?" rationalizations.' The answer is that children matter more than you, and you need to sacrifice and behave properly so that they have a better chance of making better choices in their lives.Some things can't be fixed, so don't do them in the first place.' Consider my radio program a huge emotional and behavioral prophylactic, and take the lessons learned from the pain of others and make the right - even if uncomfortable - choices. More >>

Tags: abusePersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconFor me, an "issue" is a subject that comes up with some frequency on my radio program.' And lately, many callers (dealing with a range of concerns from being overweight to being affectionate to finishing school to exercise and more) have phoned wondering where to find "perpetual" motivation.' I know there are audio tape courses, blogs, and books galore on attaining and maintaining motivation, but I believe that is a hopeless quest.' Why?' Because human beings have moods and circumstances that interfere. It is impossible to feel motivated all the time about anything - even things you actually love to do.There are days you wake up tired; there are days you are distracted by work, plumbing, relatives; there are days during which minor or significant disasters occur (like the backing up of a toilet); there are those days during which you become reasonably upset by someone or something.' You get the picture.' Life happens and it impacts your moods and feelings.' Unfortunately, our culture has become enamored of "feelings" over responsibility, discipline, obligations, and common good sense.' We have come to revere feelings as the grand dictator of reality:' if you "feel" it, it makes it so.' If you "feel" your mother-in-law harbors negative thoughts, then you can retaliate, for example.This is why I stop people dead in their tracks so often with "I didn't ask you about your "feelings."' I asked you about what actually occurred."' We can talk about how you interpret what happened; we can talk about your ancient feelings and how they impact how you respond to today's reality, but first, what actually happened?? Feelings are not rational - they have no IQ, and they are self-oriented, as they serve only the self without taking even the "feelings" of other people into account.' Feelings are primitive, and using them as the pivotal point for your reactions to the world is quite childlike.' It takes the maturity of evolving adulthood to temper feelings with the necessity of examining the world and others in it while being less emotional -- sometimes, even bordering on dispassionate as you use your rational mind to assess the situation more concretely.So, back to motivation .' One doesn't have to feel like "it" to "do it."' Having some hang-ups about being affectionate with your spouse because of unpleasant childhood experiences is totally self-centered and ultimately irrational since, unless you married that parent (literally or figuratively), your current spouse is being punished for the misdeeds of the prior generation.' And you are continuing the pain of your childhood all the way into your grave.' What is the answer?' It actually is quite simple:' do what is right, do what is healthy, do what is loving, do what is smart, and do what is compassionate.' That means show affection, even though you aren't motivated.' Exercise every day, even though you don't feel like it.' Clean your house, even though you don't feel like it.' Do someone a difficult favor, even though you don't feel like it.To operate by feelings instead of compassion, discipline and responsibility is to abdicate being an adult.' It also makes you a slave to irrational, often self-defeating emotions, instead of the master of your destiny.' You are more human when you operate from nobility.' You are more adult when you operate from discipline.So, dump the idea of "motivation," and replace it with discipline and nobility, and then see how you feel! More >>

Tags: Personal ResponsibilityThe Proper Care & Feeding of MarriageThe Proper Care and Feeding of MarriageValues
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05/13/2010
IconAn all-too-typical issue that comes up on my radio program is cowardice, because someone didn't stand up for others, for values and/or for ideals.' The standard excuses range from not wanting to escalate a situation, being afraid of other people getting mad, fear of being marginalized or left out, being afraid of being "judged," not "liking" confrontation, not wanting to lose the image as a nice person, and so on.I disrespect the actions of not standing up for friends, fairness (even when a friend is not involved), and values.' Some of my callers are parents whose adult children are behaving recklessly, thoughtlessly, and in total opposition to how they were brought up.' Too many of these parents are more concerned with "peace at all costs" instead of continuing their parental leadership by clarifying their position and drawing the line.I remember a long time ago, there was a talk show host coming on right after my program.' We were polar opposites in our political views, and she would use her three hours on the air to critique my program.' This, of course, annoyed the heck out of me, but I never spoke about it on the air - not even once - because I don't use my air time to do anything but help people do and be better in their lives.Fast forward several years later, and a feminist group went after her with venomous attacks, attempting to destroy her career.' Mind you, she was a feminist activist leader herself, but she dared to have her own opinion about something that went against the grain of the activist group's position.' It turns out that I was the first person who called her the next morning - with a call of support.' It galled me that there was a concerted effort to unfairly destroy her career.' I just don't like life's unfair qualities, and I have generally stood up to them no matter what.Fast forward again years later, and I was being unfairly attacked by a different activist group that she had once been part of.' She went into numerous public venues to defend and support me.'We both took hits for doing these things, but we both turned out to like each other very much, and we both still maintained the bulk of our differing opinions.' We did, however, agree on one point of ethics, morals, and values:' you defend who or what is being attacked unfairly, and consequently, we both defended responsible free speech.We both lost to the power of the activist groups, however, but we won each other's respect and support, all while keeping the high ground.' We each went on growing in success and the respect of our peers as well.'That's one very personal experience for me.' I hope the next time you see rudeness or cruelty, you will stand up.Racial comments coming from Don Imus are as ugly and unnecessary (except for ratings) as the joke about Sarah Palin's daughter getting "knocked up" by a baseball player.' It isn't the term "knocked up" that's the issue - I use it all the time for out-of-wedlock pregnancies, because they usually end up with the child being aborted or growing up with the chaos of a life with one parent gone.' David Letterman wanted to shoot insults at Palin simply because she's Republican, and he aimed his gun at her child.' That's disgusting.' How many of you would stand for that happening to your child?'Imus lost his job...temporarily...and Letterman's ratings are higher.' And I'm left wondering if you'll stand up for others (or values, morals, ethics and principles) when most others around you will turn their gaze away. More >>

Tags: EthicsMoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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Tags: CharityFamily/Relationships - TeensMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityTeensValues
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05/13/2010
IconWhy the heck do we need role models?' Can't everyone just think for him or herself and make decisions about right and wrong and choices of action without somebody on a philosophical runway modeling what they could or should be?Possibly...but role models alert us to POSSIBILITIES, in addition to serving as INSPIRATION.Angry rappers role model distrust, rage, anti-social notions and actions: killing, raping, hating.Stupid "stars" role model self-indulgence and excess, self-importance: self self'' selfSuccessful people who "pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps" role model perseverance, giving up a "victim mentality," optimism and plain hard work.Heroic types (military, police, firemen, and caring bystanders) who put themselves on the line of life and death role model taking care of others.'and so it goes.These days, however, good role models are few and far between.' Pastor Bill Shuler, of Capital Life Church in Arlington Virginia, pointed the way in his recent essay: 10 Reasons Why we Are Losing Good Role Models.What follows is my paraphrasing of his list:1. Honorable people are attacked for taking a stand for morality and values The favorite attack here usually takes the form of being called either a "hater" or a "hypocrite." If a person disagrees with you, you can say that they simply hate you or your stand, or that they once (usually decades ago) behaved contrary to their own words so therefore, they have no moral ground on which to defend their position.' I don't have to explain how ugly, stupid, and dangerous those approaches are to the well being of a civilized society.'2. High profile scandals in sports politics and religion have caused us to become jaded. Yup - it's hard to believe that a moral high ground even exists if the people you looked up to don't respect what they have and the responsibility it gives them.3. Fewer dads are present in the home. Soon, most children won't come from intact homes where they see a dad providing and protecting and teaching them how to be decent men and women.'4. Success has been defined as fame, fortune, and power. We used to have the word "infamous" to describe people well known for skuzzy behaviors...now it's all just "famous."' "Octo-mom" Nadya Suleman now has a television show because she's famous for showing incredible insensitivity and irresponsibility in having 16 children with no dad or intact married family.''' If someone is rich (no matter how they got there), they have admirers.'5. Image often supersedes character. Bad boys and bad girls reign supreme in our media-drenched culture.' The more stupid and horrid their behavior, the more important they are to the media.'6. Indulgence replaces sacrifice. Just think daycare.7. The practice of self-discipline is losing ground. If you "feel it" you have license to "do it" is today's mantra.' Consideration of consequences to others, as well as one's own future, became secondary.'8. Seeking of "self," on the other hand, is an over-practiced art." If I hear one more person excuse stupid, cruel, or self-indulgent behavior on the basis of "low self-esteem" or "I guess I have to learn to love MYSELF," I think I'll scream.'9. Family values have become a political issue rather than an ideal to be embraced. The responsibility and obligation to spouse and children outweighs feelings and urges, which are temporary and often foolhardy.10. Good people with deep convictions remain silent when they should speak up. I have said it quite differently:' way too often, good people are "wusses;" they are afraid to stand up (not without good reason...see #1), because they want to be liked. I have gotten myself into all sorts of trouble by "standing up," so I know what it takes. "Being beautiful, uninhibited or rich has become a cheap substitute for courage, decency and selflessness," writes the Pastor.' And he is so very correct. That's why I often ask people to project themselves 20 years into the future, and then look back on themselves at this very moment.' I ask them to tell me what they would need to do in order to be proud of themselves.' It's funny how they always know what's right when looked at from that perspective. More >>

Tags: Morals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconNewsflash from the University of Colorado, Boulder: scientist believes that animals can have a sense of morality that shows them the difference between right and wrong. Professor emeritus Marc Bekoff explains in his new book that morals are "hardwired" in a mammal's brain and has gathered - he says - evidence showing how various species appear to have a sense of fairness, will help other animals in need, and can even show empathy.First of all, the very word "hardwired" indicates a lack of choice.' There is no knowing or choosing between right and wrong without a clear conception of the notion of consideration of options.' Animals other than humans are, indeed, "hardwired" - that is, they act by instinct.' Secondly, using anthropomorphic terminology is misleading.' I remember being on a morning television show eons ago, when some feminist was pointing out that rape was ubiquitous, and then showing a clip of alligators mating.' Trust me...that wasn't a pretty or comfortable sight...but it wasn't rape.' Alligator males have to overcome resistance so that the best sperm wins.' That's the female alligator's world of making a choice with whom to hook up - as violent as it appears to humans.A hungry lion coming into a room with ten frightened human beings is not going to starve to death because it isn't "nice" to kill innocent humans.' He's going to eat the first guy or gal he clamps his jaws on.' That's not an immoral act.' Morality requires a choice.' The lion is "hardwired" to eat meat.' That's it.Here's an example from Dr. Bekoff's book that I believe is way off base: "Vampire bats need to drink blood every night, but it is common for some not to find any food.' Those who are successful in foraging for blood will share their meal with bats who have shared with them." He considers this a reciprocity which indicates the acting out of moral precepts.' I think that conclusion is just silly.' Bats are gregarious and need to be in "packs" for safety and comfort.' Therefore, they are wired to keep each other alive.' You'll see competition when they're mating.Ants will pile up over waterways to allow other ants to pass.' This is not self-sacrifice after kissing your family goodbye - this is instinct built into the tiny brain of an ant, over which he has no control.And that's the point.' Morality is an issue of making a choice between personal gain and the welfare of another which may even take away from the self.' Risking one's life to pull a child out of a river in which you might very well die is not an instinct.' Most people would never set a toe in the water.' That's their choice.' However, some souls will put their lives on the line, because their compassion overwhelms their sense of personal survival.That's what makes some human beings magnificent.' The stories of people standing by and not helping others in other in need are legion, and include individuals, groups, and even whole countries.' This sort of analysis about animals is emotional , not scientific, in my opinion.' And it seems important fodder for PETA-types to argue their points.The good and bad point of the human brain is obvious:' we can figure out how to walk on the moon and discover penicillin.' We can also think of ways to fly airplanes into buildings to kill as many innocent people as possible for the sake of our "god."' CHOICE is wonderful in concept, but either beautiful OR deadly in actuality. More >>

Tags: MoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconResearchers at the University of British Columbia studied people who had undergone genetic testing to determine their risk for developing the neurodegenerative terminal disorder known as Huntington's disease.' Did you know (and can you believe) that those subjects who learned that they had a very high likelihood of developing this horrendous and ultimately fatal disease were "happier a year after testing than those who did not learn what their risk was."Many of you probably think that not knowing would result in more happiness, but you'd be wrong.' According to Dr. Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, "...when we get bad news, we weep for a while, and then get busy making the best of it.' We change our behavior; we change our attitudes.' We raise our consciousness and lower our standards.' We find our bootstraps and tug.' But we can't come to terms with circumstances whose terms we don't yet know." Even those of you who listen to my program regularly may be shocked when I tell somebody their mother or father or spouse or even their child is a bum.' You may wince when I have them scream out how righteously angry they are at parents who didn't protect them.'' You may also sometimes recoil from your radio when you hear me push and push and push a caller until they reveal their innermost horrible truth.' Perhaps you've seen me as cruel...or hawking for ratings stemming from the drama.The fact is, that as a professional psychotherapist I have long realized the value of dealing with the truth - as ugly as it might be.' I've seen and heard people fighting to keep ugly truths submerged as though it protected them.' In fact, the energy that goes into burying reality is huge, and not available for healthy living.Not everyone who calls is willing or ready for this evolutionary leap in their lives.' Sometimes, they have to think about it more and come back later.' That's fine.' The seed is planted.' I don't see my job as making every caller feel happy at the end of our brief conversation.' I see my job as one of freeing them from their own personal jail of denial and avoidance, all of which lead to depression, anxiety, and poor ( very poor) choices in life.Knowing is always better than not knowing.' Several recent callers have demanded that I give them some magic to get their loved one to stop smoking or stop being obese.' I tell them to give up that ongoing, unpleasant battle, and simply enjoy the time they do have with that person.' Accepting what is out of your control opens you up to more happiness, because you are left with dealing with "what is," instead of fighting to have it be something else.'You can wrap your arms and joys around what is .' You can't do the same thing with what you wish was the truth. More >>

Tags: AbortionMental HealthPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconI have often told callers struggling with their fears (real or imagined or exaggerated) that next to character, I admire guts.' Actually, having the fortitude to face the things we're afraid of is a measure of character.A few weeks ago, I was out for only the third time on my new paddleboard.' I was balancing well, in spite of passing motorboats leaving scary wakes in my path.' I was in choppy waters, which was not that smart at my level of experience, and feeling great about what I was doing, when-BAM-I hit the board full flat and hard on my left side and slid underwater.' I was stunned, cold, and worried about becoming a shark snack.' I swam quickly back to the board, pulled myself up, and lay there shaking with cold, shock, and fear. I pulled my knees under me, then got my feet down as I poised in a crouched position, and then stood straight up and paddled nervously for another fifteen minutes.' The point of these actions was that I knew that if I just swam ashore, I might never get on the board again.' My left ribs hurt tremendously, and I'm still healing.' But for me, the main point was getting back up then and there, and scowling directly into the face of fear.This is a small step for a girl like me.' A much bigger step for a little girl is the story of Bethany Hamilton.' She nearly lost her life in a vicious shark attack while surfing off the coast of Hawaii almost six years ago.' The shark attack happened while she was lying on her board with her arm dangling comfortably in the water.' The shark ripped her left arm off just below the shoulder, and she almost died from blood loss - the shark left a sixteen inch "bite" on her surfboard.' Grisly, to say the least.' By the way, they caught the shark.' It was a 14-foot-long tiger shark, which weighed 1400 pounds.What was Ms. Hamilton doing just a month after that shark took her left arm?' Re-training herself to surf competitively with only one arm.' Her positive attitude won her a 2004 EXPY award from ESPN for "Best Comeback Athlete of the Year."' She's now ranked among the top ten professional women surfers in the world.' With one arm.Does this mean she has no fears?' No. "When I'm feeling scared, I just sing a song or pray...or I just try to ignore it.' It's always in my mind, and it always will be, but I've got to keep my mind on having fun and just surfing." She says she sees two or three sharks per year in the water and heads in if she gets scared or thinks she sees a shark.' She doesn't go in the murky water after a storm.' In other words, she uses the common sense that all surfers should employ.She travels the world for surfing competitions, and for causes in which she can help children with fears - like going to Thailand to help young children devastated by the tsunami disaster.' With her unique experience, she has something very important to say about overcoming fears, much less overcoming fear of water.I've always said that one of the best learning tools in the universe is to read to yourself and your family biographies of people who have fought inner and outer demons and prevailed.' This is one of those stories.And you don't have to be afraid of the ocean to benefit.' Life has its disappointments, assaults, devastation, frustrations, challenges, and bad luck.' That's just life.' What you do after that point is the measure of your life. More >>

Tags: CharacterCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceCourageFearMental HealthPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconA 66-year-old British woman (yup - 66! ), unmarried (of course), went to the Ukraine and paid doctors over there to impregnate her with fertilized eggs.' The eggs were donated, as was the sperm, but the uterus - zapped with a regimen of necessary hormones - was hers.She is due to give birth by Caesarean section next month.' Wow.' What a medical miracle!' We have the technological know-how to allow a woman almost 70 years old to "make a baby" for her very own self!' Personally, I would have suggested a shih-tzu for her case of loneliness instead - she and the dog might live the same number of blissful years together.What about the child?' What about being born to a woman who could be your great-grandmother and statistically will not live to see you finish puberty or high school?' Well, that doesn't seem to matter - it's all about what the adult wants and not about how children pay the price.Yes, I know - parents of any age can die from cancer or car accidents, and, of course, that's true.' But this woman's chances of dying before her child reaches adulthood are pretty clear.' And with no daddy in the picture, what does this child do for family?The so-called "Octomom," Nadya Suleman, also wanted what she wanted, and now many children suffer not being able to get to a teat because there are too many competitors, and they have no dad to comfort them, either.I'm so proud (yeah, right) of women who have taken on the mantle of "I am woman, hear me roar."' They serve to make the example of how low women and humanity can go in diminishing the needs of children because of their own wants.' Shameful! More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenMotherhoodMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingPersonal Responsibility
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Tags: Personal ResponsibilityPoliticsValues
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