Archive for March, 2019

March 31, 2019

Planning a great week? year? rest of your life?

by Rod Smith

Where does a really good day, week, month, year, or the rest of your life really start?

I think it starts deep within the heart, mine and yours.

The heart? Where is it? What is it? How do I see or tap into it? How do I see what’s there?

Of course I’m not referring to the fist size muscle that’s in the center of the human chest.

I’m referring to the seat of the emotions, the spirit, soul, the mind, – and some fabulous combination and intersection of all of these “places,” these distinctly human capacities.

The heart of a man or woman is the point from which the spark of a life emanates – the inner being. It’s the deepest place within – where dreams are birthed and often broken.

There is so much we cannot even begin to control but we can do our part in making sure our hearts are in good order and in the “right” place. I know mine is in the “wrong place” when I harbor resentment, blame others for anything, and have a bitter taste from something that did not pan out or from a relationship that soured.

Cop-outs for a turn-around: “it’s my spouse’s fault”; “if only my children would (insert desired behavior)”; “if only my dad hadn’t have (insert undesired action).”

March 30, 2019

Building blocks

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Thusday

Building blocks that will bring powerful shifts to your life:

• Deliberately become the most generous person you know. This is not about already possessing wealth before you can be generous. If you’re not generous when you have little you probably won’t be if you become rich.

• Hold everything you own with an open hand. Share, just as you learned (or as adults tried to teach you) as a five-year-old.

• Empower others. You lose nothing when you help others to gain.

• Say “yes” more than “no” to the adventures that come your way (Ed Friedman) although it’s necessary to learn how and when to say a firm “no.”

• Develop the capacity to “see beyond” the limitations set by your family history, your nationality, and your faith story. (Also Friedman)

• Learn to live within your means. In other words, make more money than you spend.

• Determine to embody forgiveness, freedom, and grace for all who will repeatedly and naturally attempt to sabotage you. You will meet more and more resistance as you become more and more intentional about your choices.

• Acknowledge and embrace your inevitable dark side. Try to understand it and accept it so that it will not try to take you by surprise in response to your denial of its presence.

• Be gentle on yourself as you would with a treasured loved-one. After all, you are all you’ve got.

March 28, 2019

Friday challenge

by Rod Smith

If you are working on your emotional health, with or without a therapist or a coach, you may want to set yourself a few goals to measure progress. Here are some “global” ways I try to measure my growth (or the lack of it). I want:

  • Greater maturity evident in my choices so I choose options and paths that yield long-term benefits rather than those that offer immediate or false comfort.
  • To engage in activities that reveal healthy unpredictability and spontaneity.
  • To watch my boundaries and want them to be clear without being rigid.
  • To work at lowering my levels of anxiety and my unreasonable expectations of others.
  • To be less sure of what I believe, to have more questions, fewer answers, more ambiguity.
  • To be more defined and have a good ‘sense of self’ in all my relationships.
  • To have less inclination to seek heroes, knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, or fairy godmothers and rather to see people as flawed, frail and fallible as I am, and not as saviors or as people needing to be saved.
  • To appreciate that there is a natural pain that comes with being human without trying to attract it (that would indeed be absurd).
March 26, 2019

by Rod Smith

Dear Coach:

Before I permitted my son/daughter to play rugby/soccer/cricket/water-polo/basketball (insert your sport) I did my research.

Therefore: I will trust your approach to coaching and your decisions. I will accept that you know more about the players, their abilities and needs than I do. I will trust that you are an expert in the sport and in coaching and that you have the highest interests of the team and of my son/daughter as you make decisions.

I will not coach from the sidelines, shout at you or the referee (or umpire), or at anyone else. I will not speak poorly about you, your coaching staff at any time in any context. I will not discuss the game or the outcome for 24 hours after it ends unless it is to thank or congratulate you. When I do talk with you it will be only about my son/daughter and how I may further assist you in your valued role.

I will a good sportsman/woman as a spectator and applaud good play whenever I see it – for or against us.

Yours truly,

Team Member’s Parent


I know, I know, I’m taking all the fun out of watching.

March 25, 2019

Dangerous men…….

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Wednesday

Dangerous men

Please don’t use this column to pigeonhole anyone. My hope is the man who recognizes himself will self-evaluate and seek necessary help – I know, I know, it’s asking a lot. But, there is hope, and there is help available.

The dangerous man:

1. Has an inordinate drive to impose his will upon others (very often in a religious context) and seethes “inside” if others resist.

2. Is a puppeteer, who understands love as being a good one – thus there’s no equality, reciprocity, or respect – he’s ALWAYS in charge.

3. Sees most other people as stupid, men and women who’d be better off if they listened or obeyed him.

4. He’s black and white – you are FOR him, or AGAINST him. That’s it!

5. He’s difficult to pin down about his ways or to engage in deep human connection because he handles truth and people like a seasoned juggler.

6. He is often very charming, charismatic, and, (usually unwittingly) employs his defensive arsenal to enhance or defend his image.

7. He is fiercely competitive, even about humility, and can out-humble others and therefore appear above question.

8. Harbors volcanic rage just beneath his smooth, shiny exterior. Very, very few people, usually a wife and children, and those who have a vested interest in allowing it to scare them silent, are witness to, and victims of, this rage.

(Kindly “share” – you may help save a woman or a child who are aching for someone to understand what they have to silently endure.)

March 25, 2019

Beautiful / Brutal – it’s both

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Friday

I’ve long observed that life is simultaneously beautiful and brutal.

Of course there are seasons when each can be amplified.

The two hold hands and are dancing around our lives and our families like unlikely lovers.

The family you see wandering the mall hand-in-hand (beautiful) – you are aware their beloved, vivacious grandmother has cancer (brutal).

That couple you saw eating dinner and watched them laughing and talking and looking into each other’s eyes and appear to be the perfect couple (beautiful): what you don’t know is that each is married to someone else and neither party yet knows it (brutal). The connection you witness is beautiful, yes, but the brutality awaits its cue.

My own sons are a perfect expression of my theory: they are beautiful boys, both highly functional in so many ways.

It’s unlikely either will ever know his mother.

There’s much that’s very beautiful about our lives together and I am dizzily grateful, but the brutal element is always there and it won’t go away.

I am not too sure I want it to.

To think it is beauty alone is denial – we share a fallen world.

Brutality without beauty is hopelessness.

We need both and the truth is, we have no real choice in the matter.

March 20, 2019

Column turns 18!

by Rod Smith

This daily newspaper column turns 18 today. It’s been that many years you’ve been reading my work and some of you have been with me every day from the very beginning. Thank you.

People often ask me why I do it. I can tell you exactly why:

  • Writing is a wonderful way to keep yourself somewhat sane. The daily joy of articulating matters of mental health and powerful living helps me to be the best version of myself (most days). As I’ve frequently written, I am my first audience and often my harshest critic.
  • It gives me great joy to hear from the many readers who have found the column helpful when making life-changing decisions.
  • The column keeps me connected with a city I love and a part of the world that’s inseparably part of who I am.

The manner in which a newspaper column can sometimes travel is fascinating. My best example is reflected in an email I got from Jamaica which read something like, “I was digging through some old newspapers here in Montego Bay and found this newspaper column and I wondered if you still have the same email address.”

Readers, occasional; readers, committed, I say a hearty thank you.

March 19, 2019

Healthy people

by Rod Smith

All emotional health is on a continuum, some days will be better than other days.

Here’s a quick self-reflection so you can see how you are doing today.

Healthy people:

  • Achieve their goals and keep strong relationships.
  • Know when “I” is “I” and “we” is “we” and the difference between the two.
  • Live in their own “space” and “skin” without being space invaders.
  • Maintain their individuality and embrace others at the same time.
  • Avoid siding with people even if it appears helpful.
  • Resist telling others what they need, think, feel or should do.
  • Usually say “I” rather than “you” or “we.”
  • Appreciate differences in people, seeing no person as “all good” or “all bad.”
  • Recognize emotional bullying (all kinds of bullying) and refuse to participate in it.
  • Hold onto beliefs without being rigid or defensive.
  • Can be clear-headed under pressure.
  • Cope in difficult situations without falling apart.
  • Know how much they need others and how much others need them.
  • Keep their voices under pressure without confusing thinking and feeling.
  • Spend very little time or energy trying to win the approval of others.
  • Resist playing games in order to feel loved or powerful.
  • Have learned that the voice of  “they” or “them” is better ignored if “they” or “them” are unidentified.
March 16, 2019

Swearing at your mother

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Wednesday

To the boy (about 15) who was swearing at his mother – I saw you, heard you, and you retreated in embarrassment when you were aware of others and of me.

Here are a few things I wish I could tell you:

Public scenes are very unattractive no matter who is angry with whom – you may want to try to avoid them.

Everything has a greater context and a history and I am sure that neither you nor your mother is a perfect person, but swearing at your mother (at anyone actually) is not good for you. You may want to see if you can stumble on some more helpful ways to address conflicts.

Swearing at the most important woman in your life (yes, your mother) suggests you will be able to swear at any woman in your life. It’s most unmanly to be disrespectful to women.

I have been around long enough to know that in our culture (North America) some will excuse you with “at least he’s expressing himself” or “he must have a poor role model” and other such nonsense. You are responsible for what comes out your mouth (and what goes into it) and no one else.

March 13, 2019

Ratchet up your functioning…..

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Friday

Ratchet up your level of functioning and watch your levels of happiness and fulfillment surge, or at least improve…

Allow the “when we” in you to meet its inevitable death. Your future will be brighter than your past only if you can successfully overcome the hurdles of wanting things to be the way things were, but, are no longer.

Have the difficult conversations you might have been avoiding. The only things that disappear if you ignore them are you teeth. And, please don’t credit me with this cute axiom. I saw it many years ago on a dentist’s billboard. I have used it ever since.

Give up the search for a knight in shining armor to save you, or a damsel in distress for you to save. Simply acknowledge that the arrival of one or the other, or even both, will not really do you any good.

Say “yes” more than you say “no.” What you do do is more likely to challenge you and promote your growth than what you avoid.

Get a mentor. No matter how successful you are, no matter how famous or influential you are, find someone who will tell you what you need to hear, and not necessarily what you want to hear.