Archive for September, 2016

September 30, 2016

Emotional process

by Rod Smith

Emotional process (your “inner-brewing” or the “subterranean-working” – usually invisible – beneath the surface of any person group) is on a broad continuum.

My writing and my thinking about emotional process is deeply influenced by the likes of Murray Bowen, Edwin Friedman, David Schnarch, and many others. They have articulated these thoughts with much greater clarity and thoroughness – and I’d suggest the interested reader research their many books.

One the one end, the primal or reptilian end, individuals and groups are highly reactive. Conspiracies abound. Either/or, or black/white thinking (it’s hardly actually thinking) is rampant. Walls and fences are erected because “others” are the enemy. It’s impossible to have a reasonable conversation because reason doesn’t work with unreasonable people. “Reasonable” requires listening and reflection and reactivity doesn’t have the capacity for such pleasures. In this world weakness is failure, vulnerability and mercy are indications of surrender. At this end people are very, very serious. Intense times calls for an intense reaction.

When I (dys)function on this end of the continuum I am uncomfortable and thinking people are uncomfortable around me. The result is I tend to herd (to band, to storm) with others who are just like me.

One the other end, the thinking, creative end, people are more human. Ambiguity can be embraced, opposing points of view can be entertained and minds can even be changed. Openness to others, mercy, welcoming a stranger, is not seen as losing but as potential for growth.

When I function on this end of the continuum I am at my most humane and my most creative.

September 29, 2016


by Rod Smith

Grief labors long over its healing work. In so many ways it is often never over, never complete. Some losses seem beyond healing. Accommodation is possible, a full life is possible, new relationships can develop, but the vacuum of some losses is never filled. Many want to rush grief and they want pain to be gone. Who cannot want pain to be gone? But in rushing grief along, the pain gets buried, runs deeper into the soul only to manifest itself later, often disguised as something unrelated to the initial loss.

  • No matter how long past your loss may have occurred welcome the tears you feel welling up. Let them flow. Tears are grief’s first agents, first responders in a tragedy.
  • No matter how long past your loss may have occurred welcome your desire to talk about it. Speaking about your loss stimulates grief in its unique work. Conversations facilitate healing and recovery, especially conversations with those who have waked a similar path.
  • No matter how long past your loss or breakup or violation may be, welcome your desire to write about it. Words strung together into sentences and then paragraphs and then chapters can help deliver the hurting person into realms of peace and healing.
September 28, 2016

Precursors to an affair

by Rod Smith

An affair doesn’t just happen. There are thoughts, behaviors, and shifts in habits that are indicators one is brewing. Here are a few precursors. Take heed. There’s no affair powerful enough to make it good and right to hurt your spouse or your children. If you really don’t want your marriage there are more civilized ways to go about exiting a marriage. An affair is the ultimate insult both to your spouse and to the person you use, surely unwittingly, as your exit strategy:

You are covering your tracks and not truthful about where you are and who you are with. You are spending more and more time with a specific person under the guise of having to complete work or secure a deal. Time with this co-worker or new friend seems to fly by and you feel rejuvenated having had the time together – your shared experience is reminiscent of how you felt when you first spent time with your spouse. Although the friendship is open and honest you cannot include your spouse in the friendship and there are times you feel guilty about the fact that it exists. You really want to be with this person and your family feels like a hindrance to your happiness.

September 28, 2016

Healthy families

by Rod Smith

Forgiveness is always available and ways to find it are known and discussed. Then, once it is granted, the forgiven person is free to go on his or her way and live as if the transgression had never existed.

There are bizarre circumstances when forgiveness cannot be immediately available, when reconciliation is impossible, but these circumstances are so extreme I will not address here.

People go out of their way for each other; they pool resources to empower each other; they put family and the needs of family ahead of the needs and the demands of those outside the family. There are exceptions and there are friends who become family.

Then, there are family members and friends who will milk others dry. They should not be enabled.

Safety and protection can be found and trusted in a family. Secrets, weaknesses, vulnerabilities are safe in the sacred circle of the family. People can be strong and weak and brave and afraid without fear of exposure.

Of course there are secrets that should not be safe and expressions of weakness that should be exposed but again, these situations are so extreme I will not address then here.