December 18, 2018

You are as healthy as your secrets

by Rod Smith

“You are as healthy as your secrets” goes a common adage in talk therapy circles.

Our dark secrets: these are the secrets that shift us into shame-mode, haunt our memories, needle our rest at three in the morning, and bind and silence us, keep us enslaved to their dark powers. These secrets debilitate us, silence us, make us captives, make us suspicious of others, and make us edgy in the presence where exposure threatens.

Our dark secrets can drive us into parallel behaviors that mimic the events that initiated the secrets in the first place.

These are the secrets worth exposing to a professional that their powers may be broken and the holder of secrets may be set free.

Our healthy secrets (yes, there are healthy secrets): the knowledge of shared and powerful intimacy, the knowledge and the trust of mutual promises made between equal partners, the pleasures found in a revisiting exhilarating and treasured memories, empower us.

These secrets free us, amplify our strengths and, as a result, we spill health into our families and upon all whom we meet.

These are secrets amplify any goodness within us and are worthy of being hidden in our hearts for they do no damage.

December 9, 2018

Fundamentals

by Rod Smith

Fundamentals about human relationships:

  • Every interpersonal overreaction, poor attitude, expression of anger will have an equal and opposite reaction if it comes from a desire to control, manipulate, or maneuver another, no matter how much love there is purported to be. People are designed for freedom and attempts to restrict it will ultimately stir rebellion (it may take years) within the victim.  
  • The person who most wants whatever from another person (insert a desire: time, extended conversations, sex, a beach walk, loan, a long chat over coffee) places the potential giver in a position of power. This is part of the reason pleading and begging is so unattractive.
  • The stronger, more mature person of any two people in a relationship will be the one who seeks forgiveness and reconciliation when a relationship is derailed. While the focus is who is right or wrong and who need to apologize first and who started whatever, the people are not ready for reconciliation.
  • Mutual attraction is about matched levels of maturity or immaturity. People of dissimilar levels of maturity will hardly notice each other. Equally needy people will attract each other like powerful magnets and the attraction will feel like a match made in heaven – at least at first.  
December 2, 2018

It’s (simply) up to you (and to me)….

by Rod Smith

Some things are simply up to you (and to me)…

  • How open and available you are to new experiences, adventures, and meeting new people
  • How generous and kind and forgiving you are to others (and to yourself) under every circumstance
  • How much you communicate with your aged parents and how much time you generously and freely offer them
  • How much you interact or communicate with your brothers or sisters or other relatives
  • How you treat your in-laws
  • How much you respect and show that respect to all people and especially those who are outside of your chosen circle of relationships
  • How you use the power afforded you or the illusion of power afforded to you
  • How much you will allow friends and associates to know you and participate in your life
  • How angry or reactive you are when you are faced with the poor driving or less than perfect service or when you are overlooked or ignored
  • How much you will allow prejudice and stereotypes to shape your attitudes and behaviors

I will remind my treasured readers that I am my own first audience and everything I write pertains first to me. We are in this wonderful adventure of life together.

November 25, 2018

Healthy and not so healthy attraction

by Rod Smith

Healthy and unhealthy attraction – more than meets the eye….

When you are emotionally strong, determined to achieve declared personal goals, and are looking for healthy adventure – you will attract people who are similarly strong and motivated.

This is enough incentive to get your act together, as much as it is possible, before you launch into seeking a life-partner.

Healthy people attract healthy people. Healthy people are less likely to play relationship games. Healthy people don’t make relationships into win or lose contests.

If you are emotionally vulnerable, lacking in direction, seeking a savior or someone to rescue you from your woes – you will attract someone who needs a person just like you. Of course, when he or she comes along, it will feel like a match made in heaven.

Unhealthy people attract equally unhealthy people. Hurt people attract hurt people. Committed victims (those who use a shattered past for sympathy or gain), those who wallow in their wounds, tend to enter new relationships with old and familiar patterns. A relationship that seems to offer great hope will usually quickly descend into games of possession, control, and manipulation.

Attraction is about far more than what meets the eye, far more than skin deep. Health calls to health. Ambition calls to ambition.

Sadly, unresolved issues and traumas find great comfort, albeit temporary, in those who’ve known equal relationship trauma – and little is as attractive for some, than to have someone to rescue or someone willing to try.

November 12, 2018

Plan your inner life before you plan your day…..

by Rod Smith
Who and what you will BE each day is vastly more important that what you will DO each day. So, plan. Decide, first thing in the morning, on your emotional state. Strategize about planning HOW and WHO you will be and therefore you will also be planning who you won’t be. When you have decided HOW you will be, planning what you will DO during the day will probably go a lot easier.

Here’s a portion of yesterday’s column:

Kindness, patience, happiness, hospitality, the willingness and ability to forgive others and afford others the room to be imperfect are inside jobs. They are states you establish within your heart (soul, spirit, mind) and then choose to have as a platform that informs the manner you will respond to life and others.

You can: 
  • plan to be in charge of yourself and not of others
  • plan to NOT let the behavior (or misbehavior) of others derail you
  • plan to be the most generous, kind, and forgiving, person you know
  • plan to allow others their imperfections and not let them upset you  
Will things always go to plan? Probably not. At least if you have a plan you increase the chances of enjoying a fruitful day free of victim-thinking and victim-living.  
November 12, 2018

Inside job

by Rod Smith

Some mornings when I retrieve my son from his 6am basketball training I stop Jack’s Donuts for a tiger bun ($1.09 each).

Last week a middle aged man stood and the door and screamed into the busy shop, (yes, people line up for donuts at 6:10am).

“Who drives the blue Toyota?”

A customer nearing the front of the line raised a hand.

“Well how do you think I am going to get into my car when you park so close?”

My quotation omits his harsh, angry language, and fails to impart the bitter contempt in his voice.

This is on a dark and cold morning in a donut shop!  

Kindness, patience, happiness, hospitality, the willingness and ability to forgive others and afford others the room and space to be imperfect – are inside jobs. By “inside jobs” I mean that they are states or places you establish within your own heart (spirit, consciousness, soul) and then choose to have as a platform that forms and informs the manner you will respond to the world around you.

I guess the angry man at the donut shop has quite a life. I bet he’d try to convince any one who challenged his outbursts that it all really was someone else’s fault.

November 11, 2018

Stay or go……?

by Rod Smith

Relationships can set tone and trajectory for a lifetime. Almost all significant relationships, especially romantic relationships, will face moments that require a decision and the decision becomes a defining moment in the life of the relationship. While such opportunities for defining moments are usually delivered in conflictual situations, some couples are able to make them quite proactively. Either way, each person must decide to walk away or toward and be willing to face the consequences of the decision.

When to walk away, sometimes for a while, sometimes forever:

  • Where there has been violence of any kind or degree.
  • Where there has been betrayal and infidelity – sexual or financial.
  • Where there’s an addiction (and they usually come in pairs) where your staying is enabling or facilitating the addictive cycle.

When to walk toward and try again:

  • Where your feelings of fear and abandonment are familiar to you and have persisted within you in preceding relationships and now they are surfacing again.
  • Where there’s been genuine and visible change and it’s been for reasons other than trying to make you stay.
  • Where rash or impetuous decisions have caused you great pain and resulted in much regret in the past and you’d prefer to not repeat the pattern.
November 6, 2018

Generosity – the challenge remains

by Rod Smith

I have seen some remarkable acts of generosity:

  • A visiting speaker from England (to South Africa) did not receive honorariums when he came to speak to churches. He’d give them. He’d preach around the country and give out large sums or money wherever he preached. I know that one evening before he flew back to England he asked his host (a man I knew personally) if he owned his house and proceeded to take thousands of British pounds in cash out of his pocket, “Here, pay the bank off tomorrow. I am not taking all this back to England,” he said.
  • I was greeting a congregation at the door one Sunday morning and a man placed a wad of hundred dollar bills into my hand as he whispered a name of who he wanted to receive it. The thousand dollars saved the recipient of much anxiety having just lost his job. He never knew where the money came from.
  • The brand new car I drive was delivered to my house (in the USA) on a truck from the generous hand of my brother (who lives in Australia). The only thing I paid for is the personalized license plate. It reads “BROGFT.”

Please send me your similar true stories.

The challenge remains: Become the most generous person you know.

November 3, 2018

Are you here?

by Rod Smith

Your relationship may need some help if:

  • You find yourself sighing when you know you have to spend time together especially if you are unable to have someone join you to make the time easier to endure. You are both practiced at making sure you have someone with you to help you get along.
  • You are able to predict what each other will say, you finish each other’s sentences, and you think you have heard everything he or she has or will ever say. You talk over, belittle, interrupt, and regard each other with contempt.
  • Some of the things you partner talks about can trigger your anger in a split moment. Conversations can rapidly escalate to where voices are raised and foul and derogatory language is used. Cutting jokes or observations about each other are commonplace.
  • One, or both, speak negatively about the other to “outsiders,” to your children, to your extended family. One of you says things like, “I wish you’d treat me as nicely and kindly as you treat _____ (fill in the blank)” and it could be anyone from a friend to a total stranger.

*******

If you recognize anything about your behavior from the above markers, please, get help. There is no reason to continue with unhealthy patterns. While there’s life there really is hope.

October 14, 2018

While they, and we are young

by Rod Smith

If at all possible, and, from as young as possible:

Allow your children to be exposed to things multicultural, multiracial, and multilingual. Take the lead and they’ll probably follow.

Expect your children to be responsible for their actions, moods, successes, and for when they miss the mark, especially when it comes to good manners. Assume the lead position so they have someone to follow.

Expect your children to be kind to the ill, the elderly, those alone, those disenfranchised. Initiate, then model such behavior and they’ll think it’s a way life.

Encourage your children to speak their minds, especially if it means speaking up to you. If they can speak up to you with kindness, respect, and forthrightness, they’ll be able to hold their own with anyone, anywhere, and most of the time.

Get yourself out of the way so your children can taste the joy of discovery and learning. And, as much as possible, remain present and engaged as they also discover just how safe you make their worlds. Traverse this paradox while you’re as young as possible and the inner force that propels your sons and daughters into life will find your welcome rather than your surprise or resistance.

I will remind my treasured audience that I am my first audience. Everything I write pertains first to me.