Archive for July, 2010

July 30, 2010


by Rod Smith

I left this letter “as is” — before I respond to the writer, I thought I let it “sit” with you, the reader on the web. I did send a letter to the original writer to clarify what he means by “cut off her water” — this is not a term I am aware of and cannot imagine he expects his wife to live without water! We’ll wait and see. I also asked him to drop the capitals unless he is actually intending to yell at me.

The original writer responded: “Firstly, no shouting intended, I always use capitals, but point taken. Onto your enquiry, cutting off her water means exactly that, no money, car or internet etc.”








July 29, 2010

Are you in danger?

by Rod Smith

Passivity can be abusive, too.

Partner abuse is not restricted to physical violence. Emotional and psychological abuse, while not requiring hospital visits, can be as devastating as overt violence. Emotional abuse is also domestic violence. If your relationship drains your self-esteem, isolates you, “grinds” you down, feels like a prison more than love, it is likely you are in an abusive relationship. Get outside help if any one of the following is true.

Your partner:
1. “Railroads” conversations. You can’t discuss your concerns for fear of things getting out of hand.
2. Gives you no time to think believing he or she already knows everything you think and feel.
3. Criticizes, humiliates, undermines, and ridicules you, your family, and your friends – usually in private, sometimes not. You are afraid of the very person whom you are supposed to love.
4. Keeps you “in line” by withholding money, the car, your phone, or access to the Internet.
5. Has stolen from you and run up debt in your name.
6. Has thrown away or destroyed your things, opens, reads, even destroys or deletes your mail and scours your phone bill. Mistrust is his or her default position.
7. Blames you for his or her moods, failures, and missed opportunities.
8. Can be hurtful and obnoxious one minute, repentant and charming the next.

Received by email 7/30/2010

“I am in an abusive relationship. He chose the engagement ring, because he feels that “if he is paying for it, he must like it”. He sold my car in order for me to use his car and controls where I go and if it suits him. He does not support me financially. I am expecting his baby in December, he refuses to help pay my bills whilst I am on maternity leave, yet insists that I take 3 months, which I cannot afford to do. He is selfish and will only agree to any decision if it benefits him. He changes the DSTV channel while I’m watching a movie, because he pays the MNET bill. He came into our room one night, I was fast asleep, he put the TV on and turned up the volume, this woke me, when I confronted him about his inconsideration he said “this is my bed and TV and I will watch TV when I like.” He bought me sunglasses for Christmas and told me he needed to use my sunglasses, when I said no, he called me a bitch and said ” I paid for them…”

He refuses to accept that he is selfish and controlling. He says that I’m the problem. I cannot discuss any problem with him, because he gets defensive and we fight.

My coping skills: I’m saving to buy my own car and move out, I’m only taking 2 months maternity leave, I will never ask him for anything again.


July 28, 2010

I am completely invisible to her…..

by Rod Smith

“My husband’s sister treats me like I am completely invisible. When I have requested that we talk about it, my request is refused. My sister-in-law affirmation is not important to me. However what is important is that my husband does not speak up. This concerns and hurts me greatly. We have been married for 19 years. Only in the two years, since my sister-in-law got divorced, has my husband had much to do with her.”

Live fully anyway

Your husband is a wise man if he is opting to keep out of relationship problems that do not involve him. As an adult woman you do not need anyone, not even your husband, to run interference for you. I do not know how you will get the recognition you want, but do not need, from your sister-in-law. Efforts will fail if he tries to clear a path for you to his sister.

Live a full life anyway, despite your invisibility to her. The passive party in any relationship is the one who is in control (leading or determining the outcome) of the relationship.

I think it is your husband’s attention you crave. Address this with him without begging. Get his attention and, for good or for ill, his sister will surely begin to notice you.

July 26, 2010

Women, adultery, leadership, and Jesus…..

by Rod Smith

Used with permission:

What we can learn about FAMILY THERAPY and day-to-day living from Jesus and the woman caught in adultery?

When Jesus, the teachers of the law, the Pharisees and the “woman caught in adultery” – are forced together for the well-known encounter recorded in John 8, the interaction illustrates some fundamental concepts of Family Therapy.

More than this, the forced altercation shows a healthy leader’s response – a non-anxious presence – to an evil, toxic, and yet common set-up.

Traps for leaders abound. Theological minefields are everywhere. The flawed expressions of human “righteousness” are with us. Jesus faced these dilemmas thousands of years ago as will the local pastor, who, in 2010 is trying to build a church.

The EMOTIONAL PROCESS remains the same. Anywhere good leadership is occurring, the woman’s experience in John 8 will be replayed in its own way, and the leader will face similar stresses as faced by Jesus.

Like many events recorded in the Bible, critical building blocks of Family Therapy are illustrated. Particularly, this scenario shows (1) Triangles, (2) Fusion or Enmeshment, and most profoundly offers a “window” into the concept Murray Bowen, one founder of Family Therapy, named (3) Self- Differentiation.

“But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.” 5”In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

Trapped on all sides

This is the consummate triangle. The ferocious and determined Pharisees are fired up, fused with each other, and on the warpath, propelled by their sureness, the certainty of their righteousness. Their object lesson is a woman (keep your distance!), and she is wrong (unclean, unclean!) caught in a sin punishable by death. Jesus is pushed, accosted might be a better word, for an opinion by a herding pack of righteous men coming his way. You might want to take a moment to consider how violent and noisy and horrible it must have been to get this woman into the presence of Jesus. I am quite sure she did not willingly accompany the men.

In response to their invasiveness, Jesus demonstrates clear, well-defined boundaries, acute self-awareness and a tenacious understanding of humanity, the very hallmarks of self-differentiation, and the essentials of a healthy personality. (The Pharisees demonstrate the polar opposite.)

Jesus is taken by surprise with the arrival of the group of men who bring with them the adulterous woman. He has just sat down to teach. He is not expecting to be thrust into a theological or moral trap. The Pharisees are theological and social bullies. They barge in on Jesus and expect a hearing.

The men must have scouted the territory and gone out of their way to find her. They must have bullied and humiliated her into Jesus presence. To the Pharisees she is little more than a trump card, a means of exposing Jesus as theologically flawed. The camaraderie, their “blood-sport-togetherness” or “locker-room-bravado” is further fired by their “rightness” which blinds them to any possible surprises from Jesus and of course, blinds them to love.

The Pharisees focus on the woman’s sin, not because they want to bring her to correction. They have no care for her whatsoever. They use her to “win” something over on Jesus. The have no interest in her salvation or in her wellbeing. Their interest in her begins and ends with their attempts at trapping Jesus. Methinks the Pharisees sound much like the man who got her into this predicament in the first place! What is the difference between using a woman for sex or using a woman as bait? Both show no interest in her welfare and neither party respects her as a person.

This behavior demonstrates their poor boundaries, their fusion, and lack of differentiation. The sin of the woman is

Separate yourself from their relationships... so they can have relationships.

The accusers are fused -- cannot think or act alone

the focus of the Pharisees, not because they ache for her redemption, not because they want to fight for righteousness, not because adultery alienates spouses from each other and ruins, wounds, and challenges the social order.

People with sound boundaries, self-defined people, do not need the weaknesses or wrongness of others to underscore their goodness. Rather, they are sensitive to the vulnerable, compassionate with the weak, and can love and care without losing themselves to the object of their love, and without drowning in empathy or sorrow.

They went looking for her in order to trap her in her immorality. Now, with similar energy, they come looking for Jesus to lay for him a theological trap. Boundary violators have no way to self-govern and they are on a roll to show they are good and that she and Jesus are bad. There is no stopping the tirade at this point by anyone with equally poor boundaries. Confused people cannot “un-confuse” confused people. It takes solid, healthy boundaries to stop the invasive power of righteous confusion. Persons attempting such an intervention, from an equally unhealthy state, will merely escalate the conflict into greater polarity, avoidance, or estrangement.

The Pharisees lack self-definition and insight (if they had either this situation would not have arisen). Remember, they travel and attack in packs, hurt the weak and try to fuse with the strong. They need her (they cannot vouch for themselves) to validate who they are, to swing their claims. Ill-defined people cannot vouch for themselves or be their own object lesson because within each there is no healthy “I”. They have to triangle (recruit) someone or something in order to prove their position or display their worth. One-on-one confrontations are not attractive for ill-defined people, they simply do not have the self (the “I”) for it, thus their tendency to triangle others in order meet their goals.

7But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

Notice that like all well-defined people, Jesus gets to decide how he behaves. He knows he makes the rules for his own behavior. The seriousness of the hour, the gravity of her sin, the rightness of the Pharisees and the pressure of all who are watching to see what he will do and how he will respond, are not adequately motivating forces for him to decide something in the heat of the moment. The pressure of the moment, or even any sense of compassion or feelings of pity for the woman, do not drive him or dictate his behavior. He is sufficiently self-defined, grounded, integrated, to know what he believes, and to demonstrate what he believes before he falls prey to their evil trap.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.” Jesus agrees with the Pharisees regarding her condition. He does not defend her. He is sufficiently self-assured and self-aware, and insightful, not to take sides even at a time it might appear necessary. He suggests that the very people who have found her guilty dish out the lawful punishment. He asks those doing the punishing simply be morally positioned to do so.

Notice that in his magnificent expression of differentiation he gets them each to “think alone” and not as a group. By suggesting that they respond to her sin according to their degree of individual perfection, each has to begin some degree of reflection or self-contemplation. They arrive together (“unified” – in fact they are pack-like) but he talks to them as individuals. They depart as individuals (they become unglued). He strips them of the glue and the group falls apart. His capacity to differentiate (His integrity) un-fuses the fusion.

If he had been anxious and pressured and said, “Do whatever you all think is the right thing to do,” he’d have played into their zealous pack mentality and they might have immediately stoned her. After all, they are right. She is wrong. But being only right does not always resonate with compassion, empathy, acceptance and challenge. Being right, being kind, and being moral are not always the same thing. Some people are so “right” that the zeal, the power, the attitude behind their rightness makes them dead wrong.

8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11″No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Many writers have conjectured about why Jesus stooped down and about what he wrote. I believe such details are irrelevant. The point is that Jesus took the time to “steel” himself for the moment. He takes the time to be present for himself, to allow himself room to think. He gives Himself room to shift gears, to get perspective not distorted by their invasive zeal.

These are the marks of a non-anxious presence. He is not delaying or avoiding, nor is he confused. He is not “conflict-avoidant” or “conflict-averse.” Remember there’s a cross in his future!

The situation does not unsettle Him......

He is enduring and embracing the emotionally charged moment, and, with his own “non-anxious-presence” he is discharging the charge, he is deflating the emotional balloon, bringing it all “down to size” without becoming infected by the surrounding anxieties. Jesus is allowing everyone an opportunity to face each other as humans rather than endorsing the necessary polarity as law-breaker and law-keepers. Notice how easy it is to judge when the criminal is faceless, nameless and how putting a person in the dock can change the attitude of the jury. Jesus sees her face. Their intent was to embarrass her and to trap him but Jesus gives her a face and an identity. He demands they look at her as a woman, a person, for the first time.

He does what all great leaders do when faced with manipulators, with toxic triangles and evil people parading as righteous: he brings a calm by being calm, he acts as a thermostat to the volcanic emotions surrounding him, but, does not himself become “emotional” or reactive. He does not lash out at them in the manner that they have lashed out at the woman or at Him. He does not return evil for evil or try to combat intensity with equal display of intensity, He doesn’t not try to use reason with unreasonable people. Jesus talks to a woman. He talks with an unclean woman! This would be considered scandalous for a man, a religious man, and even more scandalous for a Rabbi. Jesus knows who he is and therefore is able to engage the woman with the full understanding of what the conversation “looks like” to others. If he were a person with blurred boundaries or one who was lacking in self-awareness, he’d have removed himself from her and either hidden himself among the Pharisees or gotten himself away from the Pharisees and the woman all together. When people are “triangled” (trapped, cornered) they have few options other than to be a victim – or run, attack or rescue. Jesus does none of these and he stays.

He remains non-anxious and present (a non-anxious presence) in the light of the confronting, attacking behavior of the Pharisees. He remains present for the woman in her humiliation. If he were a poorly defined man, an anxious man, he might have wanted to impress the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, or impress the onlookers with his “love” and compassion by running to the rescue of the woman. His behavior comes from within; it is internally processed, not externally dictated.

A less defined Jesus might have said, “You are most certainly correct,” in response to the Pharisees, if he’d wanted to side with them. “Not only do you accurately assess that I am one who knows the law, you know the law well enough to assess that she is breaking it.”

In this manner his response would have blurred the lines between who he was, and who they were. He would have removed any differences between them, fused with them. He’d have given up his beliefs and his behavior for theirs. This would have gotten the Pharisees “off his case” and they would certainly have made him their poster rabbi.

It is important to note that Jesus and the Pharisees agree the woman is a sinner but are polarized in the way they see her. They see Law. He sees a person. The Pharisees dehumanize and use her while Jesus responds to a troubled woman.

If he had been unsure of himself, seeking his identity in the acceptance of others, then siding with the Pharisees would not only have been right (according to the law) it would have given him “love” and “acceptance” enough to compensate for whatever he felt he was lacking at the time. When people need to use of the “badness” of others to show their goodness, something is usually awry.

On the other hand, if Jesus had expressed a lack of differentiation by siding with the woman, the interaction might have gone something like this:

“Yes. She is in the wrong, but where is your compassion?” he says, standing between the woman and the Pharisees, inviting her to hide behind him.

“Where is the man with whom she has sinned?” (He might have attempted to further triangle the woman by bringing in her fellow adulterer).

“She is more sinned against than sinning,” he might have said, “Get lost you evil men who want to trap a woman in her sin.”

If this had been his approach he would not only have demonstrated a lack of understanding of the law, he would have incurred their further wrath. Such a move might have managed to get a lot of sinners on his side and he might even have felt quite messianic in doing so, but still he would have been reacting (giving away his power) to the emotional environment, as opposed to responding and keeping the power.

By taking sides with no one in this unfortunate scenario, by remaining within, yet apart from it, and by not rescuing the woman, she gets to face herself and not hide behind Jesus. Because he does not attack the Pharisees they, unexpectedly, get to examine themselves. He masterfully steps out of the fray, clears the ground between them and “forces” them into self-examination, and, into seeing the woman in ways they had heretofore not had the eyes to see.

His response is good for everyone. It encourages her self-respect and it takes the Pharisees sufficiently by surprise. They have no option but to consider their own moral condition. His response shifts the focus off the woman and onto their own behavior and they take the only option they can, which is to leave the messy scene of their own creation with their self-righteous tails tucked between their legs.

To hide behind Jesus (in our sin) does none of us any good (this is an attempt to “fuse” with Jesus). As each of us must do, she faces herself. She faces Jesus and she faces her accusers. The Pharisees are compelled to see her, not as a thing, as a sinner, as a means to their malevolent ends, but as a woman and an equal. They have to see her for themselves, rather than as men who somehow managed to get God on their side against her. Perhaps you have noticed that when people think they have God on their side it is easy to avoid seeing people as real people?

Jesus lets no one off the hook, including himself. He could legitimately judge her and his judgments would be accurate. He could condemn her. He’d be correct if he did. Instead of these options he speaks the truth without allowing anyone else, or any emotional pressure, to define the truth for him. He is able to offer her grace because it is an expression of who and what he is, and not because the teachers of the law or the Pharisees are pressuring him to do so.

Jesus is, in this exchange and in every encounter, himself. He demonstrates integrity to his very essence and, subsequently, everyone, the Pharisees and the woman, get to self-examine afresh. Potentially everyone is better situated for growth, for greater authenticity, deeper Godliness, and the same is likely to be true when anyone learns the wisdom of growing less Pharisaical (legalistic) and becoming more self-differentiated.

Everyone in this noisy and aggressive encounter has the potential to be freer than they were prior to it, which remains, to this day, a hallmark of encountering Jesus. To the woman, Jesus says, “Go and sin no more,” or “Go and TAKE UP YOUR LIFE.” To the Pharisees and teachers of the law he effectively says, “Go and stone no more.”

July 26, 2010

My brother steals from us…..

by Rod Smith

“My younger brother (19) just got out of jail with nowhere to go because our mother has kicked him out for good. He walked to my dad’s who, with loving arms opened his home to his him. He has been here for four weeks but after two weeks he picked back up on his old life: smoking pot, stealing money from us, lying, not coming home, and lying more. My mother (our parents are divorced) catered to this lifestyle for about two years until she had nothing left. I cannot bear to see this happen to my dad. My brother is the sweetest kid in the whole world but a habitual liar and a thief. I have begged my dad to kick him out but he is still under the illusion that his son might change.”

Rod Smith / 1964 - got to do something unexpected or you can expect the same results....

Rod in about 1962!

You have as much power over your dad as all of you have over your brother. It took your mother two years to reach a point that you want for your father to reach in a month. Until your brother sees the light and your father sees his enabling role, all of you better lock your valuables in a safe place.

Do all you can to stay out of the middle, to allow your brother and father to have to face each other, and increase your tolerance for your father’s pain. While this might sound hard or uncaring, nothing will change for your family while everyone is doing what everyone has always done The healthiest person in the family usually holds important keys for beginning transformational processes, and it can’t happen without the willingness to upset the applecart, and sometimes, even watch it crash.

While ANYONE but your brother assumes responsibility for your brother, he will continue to use behavior that has worked for him in the past – and something must be working if he keeps repeating it.

It is important for you to see that you are not responsible for either of these grown men in your life. You are responsible to each, but not for each – understanding the difference will make a world of difference for you and even potentially for your father and your brother.

July 25, 2010

He tells me I want to talk too much about everything…..

by Rod Smith

“My fiancé tells me I want to talk about everything too much. I have been the ‘therapist’ among my friends since first grade. He hates it when I want to talk through an issue. We were having a debate and I cut him off. He became very angry and told me it was horribly rude and disrespectful to interrupt him. Not even five minutes later, after listening to what he had to say and asking if he was finished, I began to explain my side. Mid-sentence he interrupted me. I stared at him in disbelief before losing my temper and blowing up. I am a firm believer in equality. When I tell him he is being a hypocrite, he blows up and tells me that we don’t need to talk about every little issue. Everyone calls him immature but I wanted to see what an impartial outsider had to say.” (Edited)

I think he's seeking some space.....

Constant in-depth conversations can be exhausting, enough to make some resist all conversation. Discard the therapist label – especially with your fiancé. The very suggestion that you’d be his therapist will be very inappropriate. Besides this, good therapeutic process often allows for silent, purposeful living. To think that therapy is only a matter of talking things through (over-and-over) is to misunderstand therapy almost completely.

I have no idea how immature he is. I’d suggest you not discuss him with “everyone”, which I know, is not only immature, it doesn’t do much for love. Also, keep in mind that our strongest attractions are toward those of equal emotional maturity.

Of course he resists being called names – do you know anyone who welcomes being the victim of such behavior? Try to focus on your behavior, and not on his. It seems you want to pick on him, fix him, change him, more than you want to resolve issues. I’d suggest you go on a month long fast of discussing issues.

Resist the urge to equate love with time spent talking. It can be as much an act of love to walk for hours in silence.

Ironically, verbal processing (talking things through) can send the very issues you wish to face and resolve into hiding.

July 25, 2010

Monday: day of opportunity…..

by Rod Smith

I try to regard Mondays as a smorgasbord of opportunity.


1. I will abandon all resentment and similar internal (emotional, psychological) attempts to freeze me in a less fulfilling past.
2. I will reject small-mindedness and try to see the “big picture” in all I do.
3. I will not alienate others through senseless confrontations and consequently have to expend valuable energy in “cleaning up” after myself.
4. I will focus on being loving rather than on being right even if doing so gives me the appearance of losing face.
5. I will try to be generous, gracious, flexible, and fun.
6. I will resist the natural urge to fix others and make them more like me.
7. I will not pursue those who avoid me nor hide from those who pursue me.
8. I will take time to acknowledge that I am part of a community, part of a team, co-creators, co-hopers, where each of us is working for our mutual success.
9. I will negotiate and cooperate with family members, friends and colleagues and play my part in empowering the greater fulfillment of others.

July 23, 2010

Are you a healthy member of your community (family, church, business, not for profit)?

by Rod Smith

Community is costly - if it is to be authentic - it's more than sharing a few meals and tea!

Community life, as in “we are starting an ‘Acts 2 thing’ at our church” tends to be is idealized. I wonder how long the Acts community lasted without severe conflict? We tend to hear about intentional communities when they are doing really well, or when they break up, or break away or split from the founding organization.

Have you noticed stories about communities always seem to portray groups that are be better, stronger, and wiser, or more blessed than the one you are in? Either that, or you read the account of what has occurred in some Christian community and fall on your knees with thanksgiving that whatever happened occurred somewhere else.

Leadership: It is not the leader’s (or group of leaders’) responsibility to make community more real, stronger, more fun, or more authentic, although the community will naturally place pressure on the leaders to do so. More Scrabble, more Pictionary, pitch-in dinners, and more communication will not do it. There is this

Lead.... and follow....

Take full responsibility only for your own life.....

tenaciously held belief that if leaders would just make it possible for people to “hang out” more, share more meals, play more games, and do more work projects then “more” community would result. A leader’s fundamental responsibility is to take care of his / her own growth and maturity – and try to lessen his or her focus on the people or the team or the “thing” he or she is trying to grow. It’s got to grow on its own or it won’t grow at all.

Community emerges when individuals authentically invest in diverse relationships, enjoy healthy personal boundaries, discuss (over an extended time) what they want as individuals and as a group, and mutually invest in the process of achieving what it is they say they want. There are no perfect communities. There are growing people in places where people are learning together about and growing into supportive and vibrant community.

Twelve signs of a healthy community

1. There is focused chaos. The organism is filled with activity as all pursue shared and individual goals with varying degrees of interest and intensity.
2. There are regular, often intense, conflicts over resources like rooms, cars, busses, schedules, and washing machines, washing powder, driers, refrigerators, kitchens, and copy machines.
3. There are frequent tussles over new vs. old, loud vs. soft, younger vs. older, traditional vs. contemporary, “experienced” vs. “inexperienced” and over what does or does not constitute healthy, respectful fun.
4. There are leaders, but it can be hard to tell exactly who they are. Leadership in a healthy community is not about age, experience or hierarchy, but about who understands what is needed of a particular leadership role, and at a particular time. In other words, the recognized leaders may “disappear” when person better equipped at a particular task steps up. Real leaders, also being good followers, can be led when necessary and so the community might sometimes forget whom the appointed leaders are. The same applies to teachers and teaching.
5. There are regular, natural celebrations that occur in spite of a leader’s desires to inspire such celebrations. In a healthy community a leader will often feel out of control, especially when it comes to celebrations.
6. There are times when it seems impossible to get all the key people together at one time, and so the persons in leadership of different groups and projects continually embrace compromise and approximation. People are not punished for their unavailability but supported for their continued work toward the greater goals of the community. In healthy communities there is on focus on punishment or banishment.
7. The weak members of a healthy community are embraced, accepted and challenged, but they do not set (or sabotage) the agenda even though they will quite naturally attempt to do so. Strength and vision set the agenda and the weak are challenged to grow and mature and heal and become strong rather than they are encouraged to hold back the communities natural growth.
8. Like faith, hope and love, negotiation, conflict and competition are always with us, and the greatest of these is approximation.
9. Flexibility is highly valued internal quality in all the members of the community. Flexibility comes from within and cannot be forced upon another.
10. Empathy and consensus are nice ideals, and they are encouraged, but they do not “carry the day.” Empathy has it legitimate place but tends, in my opinion, to be over-rated. I believe challenge is more useful than is empathy, and while healthy communities are also to be empathic communities, empathy is not the reason for its existence. Consensus is often the cop-out (“we just couldn’t come to a reasonable consensus – so we tabled the decision again”) when leaders lack nerve.
11. In healthy communities, all people’s views and voices are valued, but of course, not all are given equal power or weight. Weight (power) to an idea or a decision is given by how much responsibility a person holds and what their investment is in the organization.
12. In a healthy community, responsibility and authority go hand-in-hand.

Community killers

1. Gossip.
2. Dark alliances (hurtful inside jokes, negative labeling, boo-hoo-ing, mumble-mumbling).
3. Random (and specific) acts resulting from minimal or chronic anxiety.
4. Specific (and random) acts of sabotage.
5. Rigid rules about amoral issues, rituals, or programs.
6. Being “nicer than God” by accepting damaging or malicious behavior because we want to be
nice or inclusive.
7. Triangle-ing (cornering, trapping, coercing).
8. Speaking out of two sides of the same mouth.
9. Confusing worry with love and love with worry.
10. Confusing tolerance (putting up with someone) with love.
11. Under-functioning (by abdicating your role so someone else fulfills it) or by over-functioning (by doing someone’s job or occupying someone’s role to be sure it gets done).
12. Interfering in the relationships of others.
13. Insisting others embrace you point of view.
14. Being unwilling or unable to relate to people who do not agree with you.

Pseudo-community is exhausting. Authentic community is hard work can be very rewarding, even exhilarating. Do your part in being a healthy member of your community – or move on to a place where you can. This does not necessarily mean leaving. Reassessing your role and function in your community will bring you greater health.

Community Enhancers

1. Focus on your own growth and maturity.
2. Get out of the way of others and their conflicts – get out of the crossfire and give them
the joy of dealing with their own stuff.
3. For the INTIMATES – increase your AUTONOMY.
4. For the AUTONOMOUS – increase your INTIMACY.
5. Become the most GENEROUS person you know.
6. Say “yes” more than “no”.
7. Create a blueprint for your life.

July 22, 2010

My friend Steve about reading, thinking, and his wife….

by Rod Smith

Can be read at

I did try to make it an easy link for your convenience — sorry, it did not work.

July 22, 2010

My grandson breaks things in our home….

by Rod Smith

Fortify your boundaries and stay out of control

Clarify what you expect in your own home

“My grandson (7) has broken numerous electrical and other items whilst visiting at our home. My daughter and son-in-law think it is okay not to offer to compensate or repair the items. When I ask them what they intend to do about my damaged goods they are silent. I believe the father needs to set the example by attempting to repair the items. That way the boy learns by example. He learns that if we break other people’s item, then we are responsible for fixing them or making good.”

1. Supervise the child – this matter is about the adults, not the child. You, the grandparent, are empowered to make his visits a joy.
2. Gather old irons and toasters for the boy to work on while at your home.
3. Get him a set of tools to keep at your home.
4. Sit with the boy and request he teach you how things work as he dismantles used electrical items you have collected and set aside for him.
5. Place his usual targets, your valued items, out of his sight for a short time.
6. Pack everything already broken in a box and ask the family (as a group) what it intends to do to repair the damages.
7. Be prepared for some conflict as you articulate your expectations for what occurs in your home. Your intent appears to include “fixing” something about your son-in-law. Quit it. Focus on creating a fabulous (real, forthright, fun, flexible, and fascinating) experience for your grandchild every time he walks through your door.