Archive for April 7th, 2011

April 7, 2011

Open your hand

by Rod Smith

Open your hand using all your strength. Stretch your fingers. Allow the lines on your palm to feel as though they might tear apart. Study the contours, colors, ridges and valleys, joints, dents and spaces. Push, pull, and rub. Move your fingers through their paces: together, apart, back, forward, curved, strained and relaxed, cooperative yet unique. Feel the texture and every curve. Touch the crevices. Spread your hand further, turn it at the wrist, examine and compare patterns from every angle. Here are pieces of yourself you might never have studied.

Your hands are your constant companions. They have met the needs of others, pioneered romantic moments and worn rings of commitment. They are the way your heart leaves fingerprints, the eyes at the end of your arms. Hands reflect a person’s being and are the front line agents of your life. If eyes are said to be the windows of a soul, hands express the soul.

Hold other people with your hand thoroughly open. Allow them to know the warmth and welcome of your hand, investigate its curves and benefit from its scars. Invite others to follow the lines into the fabric of your life and see the risks you have taken and the adventures that are yours. Allow them to wrestle and rest, search, see and speak. Let them stay; let them go, but let them find your hand always open.

The Open Hand of friendship, at its widest span, is most rewarding, most challenging and most painful, for it enduringly acknowledges the freedom others have while choosing not to close upon, turn on, coerce, or manipulate others. In such friendships, expectations and disappointments become minimal and the reward is freedom. As others determine a unique pace within your open hand, they will see freedom and possibly embrace their own with excitement and pleasure.

Openhanded people do not attempt to “fix” others, change, or control others even for their own good. Rather, each person is given freedom to learn about life in his own way. Openhanded people, instead, express kindly and truthfully what they think and feel, when asked, knowing even in the asking, others might not be interested or willing to learn.

The Open Hand is not naive. It is willing to trust, while understanding and accepting that no person is all good or all bad, and that all behavior has meaning. The Open Hand is convinced it cannot change others; it cannot see or think or feel or believe or love or see for others, but trusts people to know what is good themselves. It will not strong-arm, pursue or even attempt to convince others because it has little investment in being right, winning or competing. Here is offered a core-freedom of the deepest and most profound nature: allowing others to live without guilt, shame and expectation.

Further, the Open Hand offers oneself freedom that extends to one’s memories, ambitions, failures and successes. This allows for growth of enduring intimacy, greater personal responsibility, authentic autonomy, and the possibility of meaningful relationships with others.

In the discovery of a closed hand, even at the end of your own arm, do not try to pry it open. Be gentle. Allow it to test the risky waters of freedom. As it is accustomed to being closed and fist-like, it will not be easily or forcefully opened. So let the closed-handed do their own releasing and trusting, little by little, and in their own time and manner.

When openhanded people meet, lives connect in trust, freedom and communion. Community is set in motion. Creativity is encouraged. Mutual support is freely given. Risks are shared. Lives are wrapped in the safety of shared adventure and individual endeavor all at the same time.

April 7, 2011

Is your family “open” or “closed” handed?

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Clenched or open?

Openhanded Families are close and healthy. People feel free, unique and have a sense of community. There is enduring approval. Disapproval’s short-lived. The love does not feel overwhelming. Love is not a trap, trade, or deal. Pressures from outside the family, the opinions of others, societal trends do not significantly modify the family’s direction. The family is internally driven. Relationships are self-sustaining. Each person, to differing degrees, dependent upon level of maturity, understands that every person in the family desires, at one and the same time, both community (togetherness, intimacy), and separateness (autonomy, independence).

It is within the movement, wrestling, imbalance, and the struggle that emerges from healthy families, that each person is empowered to be a unique person.

The freedom enjoyed by healthy people, embraces the family member who, for whatever reason, chooses to be less involved with the family.

Ironically, such families can appear to be less healthy or unhealthy because they diversity is welcomed and individuals can be “all over the map.”

In an openhanded family a person can look, believe, feel, and speak very differently than everyone else in the family without having to face negative consequences.

(Interested persons are encouraged to read the work of Virginia Satir).

Closedhanded Families are “close” in a different way. They believe and need uniformity and control to keep people together. Togetherness is all-important. There is often disapproval between members of the family, often discernible when someone in the family will not “stay in line,” live in the family “box” or enjoy the closeness. In such families, people are “overly” close. “Closeness” (uniformity, togetherness) is insisted upon, even demanded. People feel cornered through an intricate play of rejection, judgment, and “love.”

Here, rather than relationships being self-sustaining, they are held together by musts and shoulds and hidden rules arising from an obscure idea of what constitutes a relationship and a family. In such families there are frequent tensions often from an unidentifiable source. A person can easily get the feeling that he or she is walking a tight rope of being “in” or “out.”

These families are reactive or legalistic and bonds are not chosen and togetherness is covertly coerced or overtly forced. In these families, fusion is mistaken for love and expressing the natural and God-given desire for autonomy is regarded as betrayal.

Ironically, these families can appear healthy to outsiders because of the appearance of togetherness, while some of the people within the family might be “dying” from the pressure to conform.

In a Closed-handed family a person can only look, feel, believe and speak differently than everyone else in the family according to the guidelines. Anything else might result in overt expulsion, a subtle shunning, or covert distancing.

April 7, 2011


by Rod Smith

• renders you partially deaf to what others are saying to you and you will tend to hear what you want to hear
• renders you partially blind to what is going on around you and will see what you want to see
• renders you hyper-sensitive to what others are doing and not doing and less aware of your own behavior

You will reduce your levels of anxiety if you….

“De-triangle” yourself by getting out of the middle of relationships that do not directly involve you (like stop trying to get your son to like his stepfather, your mother to like your wife, your boss to spend more time with his children).

Re-connect (appropriately) with people to whom you are related – especially when it is by “blood” (it is virtually impossible to be enduringly emotionally well if you have severed “blood” relationships).

Step out of the role of being a peacekeeper (one who avoids and helps others to avoid necessary and helpful conflict) and step into the role of being a peacemaker (one who welcomes and facilitating necessary and helpful conflict).