by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Saturday

It’s no secret that I am thousands of miles (kilometers in your culture) from the bulk of my readers. Nonetheless, I want you to know I love receiving your letters. I love families and the minefields that accompany family life. That may sound odd, but, yes, families and their complexities are one of my passions.

May I remind you (as I remind myself) that so much pain and conflict is avoidable with very few simple (not easy) steps are followed. Here they are, whether you’re a reader on the other side of the world – and you see my work in your paper, or if you’re getting it on the website, or FB, or if you are a face-to-face client visiting me weekly:

• Clarify expectations. Be as clear as possible with as many people as possible about what you do and don’t want. If you are unclear with your expectations you will almost always get what you don’t want. If self-assertion is tough for you, you may want to avoid meaningful relationships. Self-assertion is NOT selfish. Avoiding it may well be.

• Your family, other people, your work, your church – none of these people or things or organizations will make you happy if you are already an unhappy person. You are asking for the impossible. The Promised Land is within. Happiness and fulfillment are inside jobs – always.

• Forgiveness and generosity and grace expressed to others (all others) are healthy foundations on which to build your (my) life. Without these as a base everything else you do will be anxiety-riddled.

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