August 19, 2018

The dangers of love

by Rod Smith

A person who loves you will expect you to find, use, enjoy your skills and talents. Your skills and talents are much easier neglect (people do it all the time). Your lover will not settle for less than your best and will offer you the same. Upping your mutual game will require courage, effort, and commitment. Avoid love if you are lazy.  

He or she will respect your separateness and will know you each come with your own unique dreams, ambitions, longings, hurts, disappointments. In love you will be comforted, inspired, challenged, but he or she will not crossover and be you. He or she will always know you are your own person with the ability and courage to be the separate person you are. It’s love, not conquering or invasion. Avoid love if you think it will mean you can avoid personal responsibility or borrow an identity.

The person who loves you will offer you, and find with you, a powerful sense of belonging. Everything will assume greater meaning. You’ll commune. You’ll be as connected as two people can be while always remaining separate and independent. If being known scares you, being loved will terrify you. Run from it. It’s not worth the growth and transformation that will be yours.

August 16, 2018

You described my husband to a T

by Rod Smith

“I had to respond to your article about Dangerous Men. This is my husband to a T, although he has not been overly violent.  I have never felt afraid. This manifested itself about four years ago, out of the blue, and I was taken completely by surprise. We are pensioners now but looking back, he has been all of those things you have described, controlling, and manipulative, family hater. I was too busy working, bringing up the kids, to let it bother me. I was never allowed any close friends and what friends I did manage to hold on to have all now left South Africa and there is just the two of us. I am glad to learn that I am not alone in such a situation, but sad really that I have never been able to reach my full potential having definitely been ‘kept down’ all these years. There is no question of leaving him now at our ages, so I will just have to try to grin and bear it.  When he does start performing I try to walk away and ignore him.”

How ever many years you have left, live large and stay out of control. It’s never too late to find your voice. Thanks for the letter.

August 15, 2018

How to behave for school (for parents)…..

by Rod Smith

In order to love their school-going children, healthy parents:

·      Create a safe home environment where no topic is off limits.

·      Trust the school and their children and therefore seldom run interference for their children.

·      Have satisfying lives outside of being parents.

·      Don’t personalize their children’s missteps and encourage honest success and legitimate failure.

·      Don’t get embroiled in their children’s peer relationships.

·      Don’t do their children’s homework for them.

·      Live truthfully so their children see truth in action.

·      De-escalate almost everything and check on facts before escalating any school issue.

·      Go first to the source when issues arise.

·      Give the school the benefit of the doubt and listen objectively to all sides. Oddly, they tend to believe adults even over their children*.

·      Permit natural consequences to follow their children’s actions*.

·      Treat teachers and administrators with respect and speak highly of professions in education.

·      Are present for their children in a world of endless distractions.

·      Write affirming emails and letters to teachers and administrators to express thanks for the investment in their children.

·      Are respectful to coaches and officials at sports events if their child’s is winning or losing.

·      Say “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” and behave like the adults they hope their children become.

·      They mind their own business and resist gossip.

*There are always extremes where these will not apply

August 13, 2018

Dangerous men

by Rod Smith

Dangerous men are often charming in public. In private they are sarcastic and cynical, and commit private acts of control, malice, and deceit. They isolate intimates. When extended family contact is inevitable they limit, control, and monitor it. Visits with extended family are routinely bookended with intense blowups. They accuse their wives of lies, affairs, and demand unreciprocated honesty. They can pin their wives and children to the wall using dagger eyes. When feeling out of control, disobeyed, or disrespected, their malice will, without intervention, escalate to growing acts of violence.

Their acts of violence will usually start “small” and be followed by silence or shock or remorse, but they will grow until requiring the victim to avoid being seen in public. The victim will often, without pressure, cover her injuries or go into hiding.

Such men silence their children using a rich combination of charm, fear, power, threats, and a sense of exclusivity.

Women stay with such men for many reasons, primarily because their lives are baptized in fear.

Before I am flooded with emails informing me that women can also be violent know that I am aware. But, it is predominantly men. The last four very recent incidents of domestic violence I have heard about have all been men.

August 7, 2018

Miscarriage

by Rod Smith

“My wife and I are really struggling with a miscarriage we had just over four months ago. This has broken our hearts. We were very excited and had prepared everything for our baby. What breaks our hearts even more are the horrible things people say, even close family, like ‘it wasn’t meant to be’ and ‘God is in control’ and ‘the baby went back to heaven’ and ‘you will get pregnant again.’ I think I am a little better at responding to these stupid comments (which are meant to be showing comfort) than my wife is. She doesn’t want to be out in public or even with family and friends because she is so tired of the ridiculous things people say. What do you think?”

Your letter is sufficient to inform family and friends what not to say to a grieving couple. I hope your letter will be read and result in insensitive men and women becoming more aware of the intense grief you and couples like you have had to endure.

Your parent head and your parent heart will never forget the child with whom you bonded for a brief time. You will love the child forever and part of you will grieve forever.

Hope awaits you both. The loss will ultimately transform you if you will allow. 

August 5, 2018

High-functioning people…..

by Rod Smith

Regularly relating to high-functioning people (intimate or casual):

• Will give you the lasting impression that life is an exciting adventure, filled with wonderful, endless possibilities.

• Will give you the impression that questions are more important than answers and that ambiguity is an ally and not a foe.

• Will leave you feeling empowered and encouraged and that if you apply yourself you can do about anything you can dream of doing and go anywhere on the planet that you’d like.

• Will leave you with the desire to read and discover more about areas of interest you did not even perhaps know you have.

• Will inspire you to become engaged in your own life at least as deeply as they are engaged in theirs.

• Will engage you in skillful humor that has no victims.

August 5, 2018

Mondays

by Rod Smith

How do you face Mondays? I hope you know you have a choice in the matter. It is up to you if it’s going to be a blue Monday or a beautiful Monday.

It’ll be blue if you see the people around you as a hindrance or as obstacles to your happiness. They are not. It’ll be blue if you see your work as a hardship to endure. It’s probably not. It’ll be a really blue Monday if you carry a load of resentments and grudges and anger from last week or from years ago into the week. It’ll be a blue Monday full of harsh surprises if you feel the world owes you something. It doesn’t.

Your Monday and your week and, if fact your entire life, will be beautiful if you treasure the people around you and regard them as your greatest gifts. They are. If you regard your work as your art you will be transformed by your career. If you enter the week free of resentments and full of forgiveness and ready for reconciliation, not only will you have a great week, you will inspire others to live similarly. Give the world your best, every day of the week and it will return the favor even though it owes you nothing.

August 2, 2018

The power of impartial listening

by Rod Smith

If you can find an impartial listener when you are troubled, or when you are embarking on new adventures, facing tough decisions, or find yourself in a relational impasse, you have found gold.

This person will listen attentively and ask probing questions. Questions will serve to drive you deeper to the heart and core of what you are facing. He or she will be unafraid to challenge you, evaluate your logic, and draw your attention to your blind spots.

Such invaluable encounters usually lead to greater objectivity. The very act of preparing and then articulating an issue can expose necessary steps or unearth essential nuggets to finding resolution, with or without the impartial listener’s help. Talking helps. Listening, even to your own voice can lead to new insights that may be unavailable otherwise.

Great comfort can be found in spending time with a person who has no ulterior motives, who can help you to reflect and act as your sounding board.

Perhaps even better than finding such a person is to be such a person.

Offer your mature, impartial ear to those who need it and you will be offering, and discovering, gold.

July 31, 2018

(quiet) Rage

by Rod Smith

I have met a few people who demonstrate what I call “quiet rage.”

They are usually very controlled, accomplished people who are often known for their ability cope with stress and difficult circumstances.

In truth, deep inside, they are often seething.

The controlled demeanor serves to bury agitation.

The façade serves a dual purpose: it gives others the sense that things are fine, it gives the perpetrator the idea that things really are under control.

This condition is filled with schisms and chasms within and among people. It creates separation both among others and within the self.

While quiet rage might not impact casual relationships in a meaningful manner (and of course it might), quite rage can be damaging for the host and all who love those who harbor it.

If this observation “rings a bell” for you I’d like to suggest quiet rage is deeply rooted in a few sources: disappointment, the desire to control the often uncontrollable, and in the painful discovery that each of us struggles to live up to our own expectations, never mind the expectations of others.

Quite rage will only be quiet and cooperate for a season.

Then, it grows. It wants out. It manifest in overt anger and illnesses.

Talk it out before it breaks out.

 

July 30, 2018

The Art of Living Well

by Rod Smith

Quick fixes to life’s problems annoy me.

The Art of Living Well is a process. It’s a life-long process. It’s a journey of joy and some sadness and many struggles.

Its challenges pivot on being willing to embrace and understand the unavoidable juxtaposition of the Beauty and the Brutality of life simultaneously occurring for most people.

And yet, there are some simple (not easy) things that we can all do that will immediately enhance the journey, make it even more meaningful, more beautiful and rewarding, despite the inevitable dilemmas that are served up most days.

· Take full responsibility for yourself – blame no one for anything at all, find your role in whatever you face – and your journey will be enhanced.

· Choose generosity at every possibility – and your joy will increase.

· Define yourself and refuse to define others (even those whom you truly love) and the respect you gain will be an immediate reward.

· Forgive everyone everything without exception – I never said it would be easy – and you will feel freedom come pouring into your life.

• Surrender control, let the natural process of living have its way – and see that much in life can be really trusted.