Archive for ‘Boundaries’

September 24, 2019

Have you noticed?

by Rod Smith

• You can “know” some people for years and never have a sense you have really met. They are guarded. There seems to be no gateway, no pass code, to get beyond common pleasantries.

• You can “know” some people for hours and have a sense you have known them forever. They appear open, transparent; common pleasantries are merely a welcome mat to intimate conversations.

• You meet some people and you have the impression that if you give an inch they will take a mile. There appears to be such a hunger for acceptance, for connection, that the slightest indications of welcome will lead to more than you want to handle.

• You meet some people and they have a well-developed shtick, a practiced, often aged routine that everybody gets when they meet someone for the first time. You get the sense that you are just another audience and it’s “here we go again.”

I’d suggest that in the absence of other symptoms you have met “normal.” You have met a cross section of people who can teach you to love and to accept and to understand yourself in new ways.

Listen, learn, take charge of yourself, choose to disclose, choose to remain silent.

You are always in charge of you, no matter how others relate to you.

This is part of what it means to have secure and healthy boundaries.

September 20, 2019

Friday formula

by Rod Smith

Greet all people with a smile, even if you’re faking it. It’s not insincerity. It’s being polite. It’s refusing to infect others with your inner discontent. Get rid of your discontent in private, when you’re alone.

Be as clear as possible with plans and expectations so possible hurdles and misunderstandings are minimized. Most people like straightforwardness and honesty more than they like complex surprises that could have easily been avoided. Clarity now usually means fewer confusions later. Try it.

Talk less. Listen more. Ask questions that assist others to talk more. Promote other people’s dreams and desires. Move away from shifting every conversation to focus on you and your interests. Other people are very interesting, perhaps even more interesting than you may be.

Do simple things to lessen the load of others. Open doors, stand back, pick up after yourself, and say “please” and “thank you” a lot. Assume a servant attitude no matter how important you or others may think you are.

Work at being the most generous, forgiving, and kind person you’ve ever encountered and you’ll be amazed at how many generous, forgiving, and kind people you will repeatedly encounter.

September 12, 2019

Is it love?

by Rod Smith

When asked to officiate a marriage I ask couples to assess their shared experience and to use these points for discussion:

  • You find it easy, or it seems natural, to include many of your long-lasting friendships in your shared activities and find no feelings of control, jealously, or possessiveness within you.
  • You are each more yourself than ever; there are no eggshells to tiptoe around, no topics to avoid, no lies to continually conceal, no facades to perpetuate.
  • You maintain a distinct life of your own while simultaneously becoming closer to each other.
  • You enjoy working through issues that arise, even if the journey is painful, because the process brings you closer to each other and you have the sense of accomplishing something that is important for the future.
  • You enjoy sharing hard earned resources with each other without the thought that you are giving up something or wasting anything.
  • You have talks about faith, finances, career options, and have discussed the hurdles and complexities that accompany such matters.
  • You have fun together and are not preoccupied with the state of your relationship.
  • You speak highly and respectfully about each other always and to all – no exceptions; and you readily affirm each other both privately and in public.
  • You have met each other’s immediate and extended family and are both doing what.you can to embrace and understand how they view life and live life.
  • You’re getting used to each other and life feels better as you think about a future together.
  • You can hardly wait for each new day so that you may embrace the possibilities each new day offers.
  • You are committed to seeking each other’s highest good, no matter what.
August 2, 2018

The power of impartial listening

by Rod Smith

If you can find an impartial listener when you are troubled, or when you are embarking on new adventures, facing tough decisions, or find yourself in a relational impasse, you have found gold.

This person will listen attentively and ask probing questions. Questions will serve to drive you deeper to the heart and core of what you are facing. He or she will be unafraid to challenge you, evaluate your logic, and draw your attention to your blind spots.

Such invaluable encounters usually lead to greater objectivity. The very act of preparing and then articulating an issue can expose necessary steps or unearth essential nuggets to finding resolution, with or without the impartial listener’s help. Talking helps. Listening, even to your own voice can lead to new insights that may be unavailable otherwise.

Great comfort can be found in spending time with a person who has no ulterior motives, who can help you to reflect and act as your sounding board.

Perhaps even better than finding such a person is to be such a person.

Offer your mature, impartial ear to those who need it and you will be offering, and discovering, gold.

July 31, 2018

(quiet) Rage

by Rod Smith

I have met a few people who demonstrate what I call “quiet rage.”

They are usually very controlled, accomplished people who are often known for their ability cope with stress and difficult circumstances.

In truth, deep inside, they are often seething.

The controlled demeanor serves to bury agitation.

The façade serves a dual purpose: it gives others the sense that things are fine, it gives the perpetrator the idea that things really are under control.

This condition is filled with schisms and chasms within and among people. It creates separation both among others and within the self.

While quiet rage might not impact casual relationships in a meaningful manner (and of course it might), quite rage can be damaging for the host and all who love those who harbor it.

If this observation “rings a bell” for you I’d like to suggest quiet rage is deeply rooted in a few sources: disappointment, the desire to control the often uncontrollable, and in the painful discovery that each of us struggles to live up to our own expectations, never mind the expectations of others.

Quite rage will only be quiet and cooperate for a season.

Then, it grows. It wants out. It manifest in overt anger and illnesses.

Talk it out before it breaks out.

 

July 26, 2018

Friday (hearty) applause for:

by Rod Smith
  • Parents who hold demanding jobs, yet are involved in their children’s academic and sports lives.
  • Men and women who love and enjoy their in-laws and who break the stereotypes of the alienated or rejected in laws.
  • Grandparents who lavish their grandchildren with love and attention while supporting the family values treasured by their grandchildren’s parents.
  • Men and women who work the late shifts and serve their communities while most of the population are asleep.
  • Men and women who have beaten their addictions and live productive, sober lives as recovered addicts.
  • Teachers who have worked faithfully, decade upon decade, so their students may learn and grow and be equipped to find great success.
  • Bosses and supervisors who are kind, who listen, who seek to understand more than they seek to whip things into shape or to wield their power.
  • Churches and places of worship that embrace and welcome all people.
  • Single parents who are able to hold things together and provide stable homes for their children.
  • Divorced parents who are able to be kind and cooperative with their former spouses, even if it is just for the sake of the children they co-parent.
  • Men and women who deal graciously with the pain of the distance of having family living overseas.
July 18, 2018

Good with people?

by Rod Smith

Do you want to be an excellent employee especially when working with people?

  • Look people in the eye. Listen with your whole body. Listen to others before you speak. When you do speak, speak up and speak clearly. Avoid thinking you already know what a person is going to tell you or is trying to tell you.
  • Anticipate needs and wants of your clients (customers) while simultaneously being aware that you may anticipate incorrectly. It’s a fine balance. When you near perfection at this you will regard your work as art and not a job.
  • When faced with complaints or problems do not escalate matters, take sides, or assign blame. Focus on understanding and solving, not diagnosing.
  • Don’t chew gum at work, ever. Dress well and be well groomed, always. Shower, often (not at work).
  • Tell the truth efficiently and kindly. A good reputation, which can take years to build, can be permanently ruined with one lie.
  • Don’t date co-workers or anyone with whom you work. You’re at work to earn a living not find a spouse.
  • Turn your phone off at work.

Seeking a fellow teacher: A teacher, whom I know well, wants to have her 40 students (eight and nine-year-olds) correspond with similarly aged students in KwaZulu-Natal. Teachers, please reach out to Stacy directly at SGraber@SRESDragons.org.

July 15, 2018

Teaching personal responsibility

by Rod Smith

It’s never too early to model and teach children about personal responsibility. There are people of all ages who persistently refuse to assume it for their lives, treating it as some heretical or selfish notion:

  • It is not selfish, unkind, or “unchristian” to expect people of all ages to be responsible for themselves. Of course there are exceptions like the ill and elderly.
  • It is usually unkind and selfish and “unchristian” to expect others to bail us out of the consequences of our own irresponsible behavior.
  • Teaching personal responsibility is more modeled than it is taught, but it must also be taught and talked about.
  • The sooner a person assumes full responsibility for his or her life the better. The evolving plan, beginning at birth, will hopefully have children fully prepared to be responsible for their lives by age 15 or 16.
  • If we rescue and enable others (especially those whom we love) we deny them the joy of taking responsibility for their lives and endorse a message that they can’t get on without us.
  • Rescuing, saving, running interference for a sibling, parent, child teaches that person a way of life and sets the rescuer up for a lifetime of rescuing. Avoid behaviors you are unwilling to perpetuate.
July 12, 2018

Alcoholism

by Rod Smith

Why is it so hard to get obvious alcoholics to see or to admit they are addicts?

Here are the three indications (only one is needed) of an addiction whether the addict is willing to recognize them or not:

  • Physical craving
  • Loss of job or status
  • Loss or threat of loss of a significant relationship

For the typical alcoholic the label “alcoholic” often suggests someone who is more desperate, more out of control, than he or she perceives him or herself to be.

Many alcoholics are well-controlled men and women who have perfected the art of charade. They hold important roles in our communities and appear successful.

To admit there is a problem with alcohol (or drugs, sex, or gambling) is costly. Denial is at least perceived as the better option than exposure, than seeking help. The closet is safe, it’s routine, and there are usually family members well trained in the art of enabling.

“Rock bottom” is a frequently used term suggesting that an addict will usually resist the label or resist getting help until he or she reaches rock bottom. It’s a sad place to reach for the addict and for all who love the addict and for all who are caught up in the addict’s web of denial and survival.

June 26, 2018

The power of a really good friendship

by Rod Smith

He or she is able to sit, stand, walk, and rest with you when times are really wonderful and when times are not.

He or she is almost always able to finish your sentences and complete your thoughts but chooses not to. Similarly, he or she is able to predict most of your moods, needs, and wants while simultaneously offering you all the room in the world to be unpredictable and spontaneous.

You notice, after years, that he or she has been a transformative influence in your life even though that was not the reason you became friends; you were not looking to be “fixed” or changed but it happened and is happening because your lives have touched.

He or she is unafraid to tell you where you may have blind spots and shortfalls but  delivers the message with such grace and kindness it feels like you are hearing really good news or discovering something wonderful about yourself and your life.

He or she is almost always excited to see you no matter how many times you cross paths and no matter how intertwined your lives are.He or she remembers things you’ve talked about and remembers things that are important to you.

He or she opens possibilities for you, extends your friendship circle, and is not possessive or jealous.