Archive for ‘Differentiation’

May 21, 2023

Culture shaping…..

by Rod Smith

I enjoy moments when life places me with people of diverse cultures. I love it when individuals are sufficiently comfortable to discuss the power that culture has in shaping our lives and our perceptions.

Mary is amazed that Anvi met her husband for the first time at their wedding. Mary is further surprised that Anvi says she is happily married. Anvi tells Mary she could never have been brave enough to pursue a “love marriage.” Anvi says her parents, whom she does trust, know her better than she knows herself and therefore knew what kind of man she would want to marry.  

John is amazed to hear that I’m willing to respect women leaders. John is even more surprised to hear I raised two babies without women to change their nappies (diapers). He tells me I insulted the men of his culture by doing “women’s work.”

Sunmi is confused at hearing June is unwilling to give up her career to take care of her aging mother-in-law. She expresses that such a choice in her culture would be considered unusual. 

A child, to the annoyance of some of the adults, interrupte his mother while his mother is talking. The mother considers it perfectly “normal” for a child to exhibit such behavior and is unaware that a child interrupting an adult in many cultures is considered gross disrespect.

May 7, 2023

Who? What? How?

by Rod Smith

Pivotal moments; defining people, unexpected challenges, undiluted courage — identifying the moments of highest positive return in your life. 

What experiences shaped your life in powerful, beneficial ways? Who are the people who turned you around, pointed you in a new and helpful direction? Who was the teacher or coach who restored your confidence when it was shaken?

Please, let me know. 

Taking stock on your history and the people who shaped you and the moments that shifted your trajectory is usually a healthy and rewarding exercise. 

Richard Morey (RIP) was my English teacher in high school. He took an essay I had written and put red lines through most of it with comments like, “you’re wasting my time” in the margins.

Near the end of my essay he circled a portion and in the margin he wrote: “Do more of this: this will make you a writer!” and so I did.

Frank Graham taught me Afrikaans and knew of my debilitating stutter which I tried most unsuccessfully to hide. While caring and kind, Mr. Graham never backed off, he offered me opportunities to speak like every other student and imparted the idea that I really had something to say.

Fifty countries later traveling as a writer and speaker I have much for which to thank these two fine men.

[Written in Malaysia]

Room With A View
May 6, 2023

Things to try….

by Rod Smith

Things to try for a few days in the hopes will soon see they are life-style habits worthy of developing:

Plan your day. 

Plan who you will seek to empower and encourage. 

Write (using a pencil and paper) a few ideas as to how you will empower others no matter what your station in life. 

Oddly, the more you plan, the more you will allow for a serendipitous life. 

Besides, getting yourself ready for a great day will sharpen your eyes to recognize when great days come your way.

Plan your day as if planning a great day is in your power to do so. 

Write a few notes to yourself about how much money you will spend, how much you will try to save. 

Plan what and whom you will avoid because some things suck the life out of you. 

As you plan your day, remind yourself that you are not all-powerful and that things happen to derail the best made plans. This does not mean a plan is not worth making.

Plan your responses to tough or challenging circumstances and situations so that you are unlikely to spend the day in a reactive mode with fight or flight as your defaults. Write a few notes to yourself about what you will or will not say and whom you will and will not engage.

May 3, 2023


by Rod Smith

Recap on anything the group would like to look at again or to reconsider.

The Humble Samaritan – why it this such a radical parable?

Fables and other resources

Post-traumatic Growth

Helpers’ Lives

POWER Balloon

Every person has been given a Power Balloon that represents an allotment of power. This is the power to have a voice, to decide, to be, to have opinions, have fun, learn, experience, to be autonomous, to be intimate, to be fulfilled and to love.

Within every person’s capacity (power) is the ability to do research and to decide things for oneself, to worship, pray, accept, reject, remain free of abusive relationships and to create and enjoy safe relationships.

Every act of manipulation, of cruelty, of “over-functioning ” and of “under functioning ” is the denial of the power of another or of others.

People, for various reasons, will try to burst your balloon, boost your balloon, take your balloon, give you their balloon or render your balloon insignificant.

Resist such acts from others and resist doing such acts to others. Care for your balloon only; leave others to the divine task of caring for and nurturing their own balloons. This is not selfish.

Think of how selfish it is to say to someone, “Here, let me take away your power from you,” or, “Here, I do not want to take care of my own life but you have to do it.” Not even God will take your balloon from you. Your balloon is God-given to you for your care and nurture. (God has God’s own balloon to care for).

The power for you to be fully human is yours and that power should be offered to no one under any circumstances and the position of exercising power over our own lives should never be abdicated except in extreme situations of medical emergencies.

Every baby and child has his own balloon to be respected as much as the balloon of every adult. This, of course, does not mean that babies should be caring for themselves or that children must be given their every whim. Reaching such a conclusion is to misunderstand the concept of what it means to have personal power. The art of parenting a baby, of nurturing children involves respecting and nurturing their sense of personal power. Parenting is exercising the kinds of discipline and care that do not diminish a child’s self-worth or distort their capacity to discern and appreciate the power that is their birthright. Anything less is to “spoil and child.” It is to “spoil” their capacity to see and know themselves with accurate personal assessment.

May 2, 2023


by Rod Smith

I hope you are learning a lot and seeing a lot and enjoying what we are doing together. 

My goals are very simple. 

I will consider myself as having done a good job if:

You live more powerfully from today than you did before by making very simple decisions to speak up more than you did before and to clarify yourself more than you did before. Self-advocacy comes with immediate feedback and rewards. Keep in mind that not everyone you know will applaud your renewed or “discovered” voice, especially those who have benefitted from your choice (known or unknown) to function at lower levels. If you are stronger on some days than you are on others do not despair, you are human. No one is highly functional everyday although we can by practice and newly formed habits improve our averages.

I have given you an overview of a subject I love and around which I have built my life. There is far more to Family Therapy and to most topics of mental health and counseling that can be covered in a week. Those of you who enjoy this particular approach to mental health and counseling will find yourselves motivated to go deeper. You’ll immerse yourselves into the readily available vast array of books and reading on this and many related topics. Try to read as much Roberta Gilbert as you can. Robeta has several books available and two that come to mind are Extraordinary Relationships and Extraordinary Leadership.

Today we will finish the 8 principles and then look at some disguised but real client family stories.

We will close the day of teaching with an overview of The Formidable Triangle. 

Your DAY 3 challenges:

  • How is  your Backbone? If it were a tank of courage is it running on empty or full? 
  • You were a creative child – what have you done with that God-given capacity? 
  • How is your Voice and are you using it for its intended purpose?
April 29, 2023

Calm down

by Rod Smith

What will it take for you to calm down and be less anxious? 

Your answer will almost certainly include another person or something from outside of yourself if you are given to anxiety.  

“I’ll calm down when he gets a job.” 

“I’ll calm down when his ex-wife is out of our lives.” 

“I will calm down when the house repairs are complete.” 

The minute we loop others in and believe their behaviors are the reason we are anxious, our anxious state will be at their mercy. 

I’d suggest you can calm yourself down even if he never gets a job or his ex wife never stops interfering and if the house repairs take another five years.. 

The keys to calmness, to reducing anxiety, are within our grasp and not in the hands of others. 

Rise above yourself. 

Get a “bird’s eye” view of your life. 

Become an expert in your behaviors. 

Look at how and why you choose to do the things you do and make necessary changes even if they displease others. 

These are vital steps in modifying your behavior and in reducing your anxiety and therefore calming down.

Calming down is a life-long process, a life-style of self-management, of assuming personal responsibility for who and what we are. 

You will wait forever if you wait for others to do what you alone can only do for yourself.

April 25, 2023

What does love look like….?

by Rod Smith

Love is seeking another person’s highest good, every time, day in and day out. It’s holding nothing back if it’s in the highest interests of whomever you love. 

Love is being willing to be unpopular because some truth is tough to hear and receive. It is being willing to be corrected by the people you love when they think you are wrong or need correction. 

Love is finding legitimate ways to earn the extra money needed to protect and educate and serve the people whom you love. 

Love is thousands of loads of laundry for the baby and then toddler and a young boy or girl and then it’s  teaching young  teenager to do his own.

Love is dealing with men and women who will tell you you are a bad parent for not giving rules and not checking phones or monitoring teenage behavior as if your teenage son or daughter cannot be trusted to exercise good judgment. Their unsolicited scoldings clearly mean they do not trust themselves or their own children.

Love is being committed to telling you the truth as lovingly and as efficiently as possibly. 

Love is learning to love and embrace and fully accept the people whom your loved ones love.

April 24, 2023

What will it take?

by Rod Smith

What will it take for you to tell your story? 

By “your story” I mean your unabridged, unedited story, the meanderings of your life, the whole truth, not only the shiny parts. 

If we are at all similar and we probably are, you may have noticed our propensity to play the well-worn tracks, the golden-oldies, we speak of those areas of our lives and they come out well-rehearsed, cute lines, anecdotes that flow with ease, often with intent to impress. With these areas of our lives we are seasoned raconteurs. 

What will it take for you and I to unblock the blocked, dislodge darker areas, give the hidden areas of our lives a little light? 

When we give these parts a little airtime, allow ourselves and others to know us at deeper, unrehearsed levels, it usually – if we are careful about whom we choose as an audience – gives the opportunity to be known a little deeper and to discover something new about ourselves.

“Out of the mouths of babes,” usually refers to something cute and endearing from children. 

Out of the mouths of adults, the unrehearsed and previously unsaid, can be painful to admit and hear, but it may bring greater redemption and healing for both speaker and the carefully selected listeners.

April 14, 2023

The Poetry of Healthy Relationships

by Rod Smith

I am I

You and You

We are We

Let Us not ConFuse 

The Three 

(Rod Smith 4/12/2023)

April 12, 2023

People of courage

by Rod Smith

I’m sure that you won’t have to look too far if you want to find people with courage. I run into men and women – and children – with remarkable courage for which they are apparently seldom lauded. I have noticed that the more I listen rather than talk, the more courage and love I encounter. 

This week I met a woman who has two jobs and two high school children in her care. She is keeping track of it all with calm and good humor. I met a woman of courage. 

I met a man who is facing a life-threatening illness while taking care to visit his wife daily. His wife is in a long-term care facility and has not known who he is for years. I met a man of courage and who knows about love.

A week ago I met a teenager who uses a ride service three times a week to spend time with her aged grandmother. She told me the visits also give her time to perfect her school work and time to apply for bursaries and scholarships to help her pay for the university she’d like to attend when she’s finished high school. I met a teenage girl who knows about courage and love and commitment.