Archive for May, 2018

May 30, 2018

Do you have what it takes to be a bridge in a family conflict?

by Rod Smith

To the man or woman who wants to bridge, or negotiate healing, or initiate restoration, in a new or age-old family conflict:

  • Know clearly what you want before you initiate any dialogue. I hope the “you” is clear. It’s not what your spouse wants. It’s not what you think your parents (living or deceased) want. It’s what you want. If you are the one who wants it (healing, reconciliation) you’d best be very honest with yourself about exactly what it is you want. “I want reconciliation,” is not enough. What degrees of reconciliation are you willing to settle for? If you can’t get all of what you want how much compromise can you handle?
  • Find the most humble version of yourself and live there for a few weeks. This will permit you to enter the world of those who oppose. When and if you do meet, bring the most humble version of yourself to the meeting. This means you will listen more than you will talk and, in doing so, you will seek understand more than to be understood.
  • You are not ready for reconciliation until you are able to articulate the conflict from all sides. Work on that before you initiate any dialogue.
May 29, 2018

Rifts, wars, schisms, in families

by Rod Smith

Extended or immediate family discontent, even family rage, is more easily solved, healed, or negotiated sooner rather than later. Wait too long and it may go on for generations.

The longer schisms linger, the deeper they become and the more entrenched and “default” the reactive behaviors become. Bitterness, cynicism set in. Cut-offs become a way of life. Walls get higher and stronger.

The stories about who did what to who expand, often beyond recognition, in the heads of those who harbor and perpetuate the conflict.

To find healing or reconciliation, the “bigger” person, or the stronger member of the family, or the one who has the highest levels of “differentiation of self,” the one who wants the healing, initiates a conversation. That conversation must be devoid of all blame and all finger pointing. He or she does the necessary preparation and decides exactly what is wanted and what healing in a particular family may look like. Such an initiative demands humility, flexibility, and a deep desire for reconciliation.

Some families have been at war with each other for so long those who started it are long buried and those on the front lines do not even know anymore why they are fighting.

Please, don’t let that be true for you and for your family.

The consequences are too extreme, especially for innocent children who are inevitably caught in the crossfire.

May 26, 2018

How to fall in love with your backbone all over again:

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Tuesday

To Whom It May Concern: How to Love Your Backbone

A backbone is one of those “use it or lose it” things.

In order to love it you have to find it.

Some men and women have been filleted. This can be done swiftly, or painstakingly slowly by life, “love”, family, or by church.

If it was done some time ago its presence may be hard for you to fathom and locate.

But, complete filleting is possible with fish, but not humans. It’s in there. You just have to want to find it.

Second, you have to acknowledge its usefulness.

You have to see its purpose, its role in propelling you to face yourself and the world.

Third – you have to practice.

You have to show up, stand up, and speak up, even if it is in small ways about seemingly insignificant matters.

If you start with nonthreatening situations, perhaps where you have been a pushover in the past, you’ll get used to the feel of your backbone.

Once you begin to trust its usefulness you will like it more and more and begin to use it in more important situations like your intimate relationships, at work, with your parents, your children, or even, if you are a pastor, with your congregation.

May 26, 2018

You tell everything about a man from….

by Rod Smith

May 25, 2018

Change in others…. and self

by Rod Smith

The Mercury

Are you a therapist who believes you can’t change others but you can only change yourself?

What I believe may appear paradoxical:

I believe I can only change only myself but my powers to do so are limited. For instance, in the past 10 months I have lost 18 Kg (40 pounds). Keep in mind that I’ve done this at least 20 other times in my adult life!

I believe I am powerless over changing others and shudder at the thought of what changes I’d make if I could. Think about it. Playing God comes with consequence. Yet, I have seen people grow as a result of our knowing each other.

I believe that if I set out to change others the push back, which may take years, perverts the relationship. It results in emotional ducking and diving (hide and seek) which distorts or perverts the freedom and purity all humans crave.

I believe that RELATIONSHIP itself has remarkable power to changes us. We make, shape, and provoke each other. We stimulate each other to great, wonderful things. The converse is, of course, sadly, also true.

I believe all change begins with unilateral forgiveness, the decision to be generous, and a shoring up of both internal and external boundaries.

May 23, 2018

Some will think you’re selfish….. but, go ahead, anyway…..

by Rod Smith

Mercury / Friday

Healthy steps anyone can take in order to improve his or her relationships

1. Define yourself, not others.

2. Ask your own questions and not for the benefit of others (others can ask their own questions).

3. Forgive everyone, everything. It’s about you, not those who’ve hurt or offended you.

4. Clarify as much as possible before you agree to anything. Greater clarity before you start anything will usually result in fewer complications and confusions as things progress. This is not foolproof by any means but it is usually helpful.

5. Get out of the middle. Don’t play carrier pigeon for anyone for any reason, not even for your children.

6. Avoid hinting at what you want or do not want – be as “upfront” as possible. If you expect others to read your mind you’ll be victim to their peculiarities and their unresolved complexities.

7. Don’t take sides among friends, even if it is clear one is wrong and one is right. Siding among friends is not helpful in the long term.

8. Don’t gossip. If you cannot say something directly to someone don’t say it about him or her to others.

9. Tell the truth. It’s usually better than anything you can fabricate.

10. Lead when it necessary; follow when it is necessary. If you’re not doing both something’s wrong somewhere.

11. Don’t talk negatively about your boss – if you have to complain do it face-to-face with the boss.

12. Never write anonymously. If you can’t sign it, don’t write it. There are unusual exceptions but I won’t go into those right now.

May 22, 2018


by Rod Smith

Grief is a complex matter. Expressing it ought to be encouraged. Stopping it up, denying its presence or refusing to express it can be downright dangerous. Lodged within, it is poison to the soul. It corrupts thinking, messes with feelings, and diminishes the capacity to experience the full range of human emotion.

The power and reward of denying it or ignoring its necessity ought never be underestimated.

If grief is in you, rather get it out.

If it seems impossible find someone who is trained to assist.

Grief unexpressed can shift personalities and be a welcome-mat for toxins to enter whole families and set whole communities off in directions they would rather not go.

Ignored grief poisons while it steers.

Un-cried tears turn to anger and anger transforms into walls of the heart and walls of the heart are vividly signposted with “Keep Out” and “Danger: No entry” posted on all sides.

Please, don’t tell the man or woman who has suffered loss to “get over it” or to “move on” or to “man up.” Grief-suppressing exhortations that are most unhelpful.

That miscarriage, that betrayal in marriage, that loss of a child, that sudden illness that took a beloved spouse, may take years to seep into the psyche of the man or woman who has faced it, let alone make sense of it, or even ever be able to “move on” from it.

May 20, 2018

Things you want and don’t want in your family or group

by Rod Smith

Things you don’t want, and, what you do want in your family, church, business, school, or not-for-profit organization:

  • You do not want peacekeeping. Peacekeeping is the often-nervous dance to avoid conflict. It seeks to protect everyone’s feelings and wants everyone to look as if they get along (even when they don’t). It accommodates weaknesses to the extreme all in the name of care. You do want peacemaking. It creates an environment where necessary conflict is welcomed and, when handled well, the outcome is an enduring and authentic peace.

  • You don’t want scripted opinions and conversations which satisfy some imagined or hoped-for image. You do want freedom to think and to express opinions that may be contrary to the party line.

  • You don’t want uniformity and sameness so lock-step ways seep into thinking, speaking, and acting (and then lead ultimately to resentment and cut-offs). You do want unity around established goals with the accompanying freedom to challenge and modify the goals as needed.

  • You don’t want a “yes-sir” or “yes-mam” culture where the parent or the boss is always right and always affirmed and seldom challenged. You do want a respectful, free environment where a necessary “no-sir” and “no-mam” are considered sometimes necessary and healthy and are respected and encouraged.

May 17, 2018

Voice – part 2

by Rod Smith

Compromise yourself, your talents and skills for no one. Be silenced or made “smaller” or rendered without a voice for no one. It is never worth it. There is no cause, no relationship, worthy of your silence.

There is no person of any rank, no spouse, boss, or spiritual leader deserving of your downplaying or silencing who you are. Only those with dark motives will seek for you to be less, minimized, diminished, or silenced.

Walk away from such small-mindedness, even if it is costly to do so.

Loving, good people will celebrate your strength, encourage your freedom, and admire your talent. Stick with such people. Stay with those who enlarge your world, not restrict, shrink, or contain it. Live fully, love fully, and speak fully.

I am weary of men and women, irrespective of who they are, who hold others captive, especially in the name of love. I am weary of spiritual “leaders” who are afraid of gifted people; of bosses who silence talented people lest their own inadequacies be revealed.

If you live above, and beyond, the damaging jealousies that surround you, you will stimulate the dreams of everyone in your circle of influence, and make your dreams come true before your very eyes – and the world will hear your voice.

May 16, 2018

Finding your voice (1 of 2)

by Rod Smith

Every person has a voice designed for full expression. Some have allowed their voice to be stolen or silenced and might find it necessary to take time to find or re-establish the voice they have chosen to deny or ignore. Thankfully, suppressing a voice seldom kills it. It can usually be found even after years of denial.

Any person who refuses to hear what you have to say or who tries to silence you doesn’t love you even if he or she proclaims otherwise. It is never a loving act, except in extremely unusual circumstances to stop another expressing who he or she is. Likewise, it is not a loving act to withhold your contribution to the world by maintaining your silence.

You were not created to be silent. You were not created to silence others. The world will benefit for hearing who you are and what you have to say. Part of having a voice, and using it, involves the process of discovering how best to package and express your voice so others can hear what you have to say.

One should not confuse talking with having a voice. Many talk and talk and talk and yet have never found their voice.