Archive for ‘Difficult Relationships’

July 14, 2020

Primal themes

by Rod Smith

In formal and informal settings I have listened to people talk about their lives all of my professional life. If there are frequently-recurring thematic areas of primal longings, they would be:

  • The desire for recognition from family and peers. Many times people have told me they feel, or might as well be, invisible.
  • The desire for a meaningful work – to accomplish something that counts, to be involved in work that makes a positive difference to others.
  • The desire to be understood – for another to take the time to hear and see life through their lens. 
  • The desire to be appreciated and for that appreciation to be expressed.
  • The desire to be surrounded by beautiful things – not expensive or opulent, just beautiful. 
  • The desire to be forgiven for indiscretions large and small, benign or damaging, many of which have been harbored in a tortured memory for decades. 
  • The ache for the affirmation of a father or a father figure. I have heard boys and girls and men and women repeatedly express a craving for someone who could be fully trusted, who was a non-anxious and listening presence, who offered necessary and appropriate protection and freedom, all at the same time.
July 13, 2020

Get on your feet, there’s a Woman approaching

by Rod Smith

Stand up men, boys and girls, there’s a Woman approaching:

Deep within her person, soul, bosom is the power to nurture, inspire, dream, and bring beautiful and magnificent dreams and plans to fruition. Listen to her voice. Listen and hear what she’s saying and what she is not saying. She has intuition – hindsight, insight, foresight. If you embrace and respect her intuition and allow it to shape and challenge your thinking, you will be wiser for it. You will save yourself considerable conflict, anguish, error, and money. 

Stand up men there’s a Woman approaching:

If you have the guts, backbone, wisdom to offer her unstrained equality, undiluted mutuality, pure respect – all of which God already affords every woman – it is you who will be enriched. It is you who will benefit. It is you who will find yourself more complete. And, when you develop the necessary fortitude to respect all women everywhere, you will find a place of growth and understanding that courageous, insightful men have always known, have always found safety and retreat. 

Stand up men and children, there’s a Woman approaching:

Get out of her way and remove your petty prejudices harbored so long and she will shape a nation, nurture leaders, turn a profit, feed a community, and, if you are available for it, she will teach you to love.

July 12, 2020

Others – how we treat others

by Rod Smith

How we treat one another on this planet is of vital importance. 

While we are indeed powerless over much, we are at least somewhat powerful when it comes to our own behavior. 

Improving the quality of human exchange begins with each of us. 

How we regard and respect others exposes (declares) who we are, not who “they” are. 

Our behavior, vocabulary, small-talk, laughter, rage, about whatever issues we face with others are reflections on who we are. Our responses to others reveals our character, our spirituality. It reveals nothing whatsoever about others and everything about us, no matter how we may try to frame it. 

It’s a responsibility we cannot hand off to another.   

You and I may not occupy some high and powerful office but it is clear – if you give it a close look – those who do occupy high and powerful offices don’t seem to treat others very well. It’s a rare political leader who uses his or her power for good, although, thankfully, there have been some.

Acceptance, respect, friendliness, clarity, and the willingness to listen, coming naturally from each of us are powerful agents of positive change in all of our human encounters. They do help to make the world into a better place. 

More importantly, they make us into better people. 

July 9, 2020

Weekend stuff to chew on…

by Rod Smith

You think yourself into a new way of feeling. It is not the other way around.The head leads; feelings follow. But, I concede, when it comes to people, there are always exceptions to the rule. We are not machines. Nothing is simple when it comes to humanity.

We teach people how to treat us. What we accept, what we reject, how we compromise; how we stand firm or how we give in or turn a blind eye, sets in motion how others see and respect or do not respect us. I encourage you to play your part in modifying how others treat you. I suggest the pain this may involve is worth it.

In the same manner we can only love others to the degree we love ourselves, we also reject or inflict pain on others to the degree we do it to ourselves. Hurt people do indeed hurt people. Rejected people do indeed reject people. Self analysis is a powerful tool for change in the hands of people who are motivated. “Other-analysis” and blame and finger-pointing are the tools of the immature. “What’s my role in this?” and “How did I get myself into this?” are the questions a mature person asks.

July 6, 2020

Know your power and your lack of it

by Rod Smith

You (we) are powerful over much. 

You (we) are powerless over much more. 

Knowing when, where, and how you are powerful, and when, where, and how you are powerless will save you a lot of energy, money, grief, and perhaps even add years to your life.  

You have power over:

  • How much you allow others to influence you.
  • The depths of forgiveness to operate as currency in your life – for others and self. 
  • Who you trust and mistrust despite what others may do with your trust. 
  • How much risk and adventure you are willing to embrace, how much you say “yes” and “let’s” or “no” and “let’s not.”
  • The quality and effectiveness of your personal boundaries.

You are powerless over: 

  • The choices other adults make even if you have been permitted to express your opinions over their choices.
  • Anyone’s addiction to drugs, money, sex, gambling, work, pornography, whatever.
  • The integrity of another to keep them faithful or honest or kind. 
  • Relationships of which you are not a part – your child and his/her other parent, your spouse and his/her parents, your child and his/her partner.
June 29, 2020

Hard times

by Rod Smith

The challenge of facing hard times is not to make the  times harder for others. A skillful person is careful not to contaminate others with his or her difficulties. It’s probably possible to lighten another’s load despite the difficulties you are facing. 

The challenge of facing hard times is to learn new things about yourself in the midst of your challenges. Hurdles and roadblocks expose our weaknesses and our strengths. Focusing on weaknesses is a waste of energy. Highlighting your strengths will bring you hope. 

The challenge of facing hard times is to do what you can to acquire new skills to empower yourself for when things become easier. It is possible to emerge from the difficult times more empowered to face the future.

The challenge of facing hard times is to not allow the difficulties to drag you into memories and the anxieties of former tough times. This leads to deeper despair. Such thinking can spiral a person into a place of almost impossible hopelessness.

The challenge of facing hard times is to remember what you’re really good at and to be reminded that none of that has changed. You’re still good at these things and these skills and qualities will carry you into the future when things ease up.

June 22, 2020

As an adult……

by Rod Smith

Unless you are in a coma or have a diagnosed psychiatric condition, as an adult you are always responsible for:

  • What comes out of your mouth –  your words, curses, blaming, expressions of anger, spreading joy, and the beautiful acts of encouraging others.
  • What goes into your mouth: food (healthy, unhealthy), alcohol, drugs (legal, illegal) and whatever you may choose to smoke. 
  • What you do with your heart – who you give it to and from whom you withhold it.
  • What you do with your hands – how hard you work (or not) and what you give and take (legally,  illegally). 
  • Your personal boundaries, personal space – who you let in or keep out, much you will or will not reveal about yourself. 
  • What you do with your head, your mind, your thinking – if you live in eternal regret or if you look ahead and plan a greater future than your past.
  • Where you aim your spirit and soul – for some it is money, prestige, influence and for some it is to serve others. The occasional person can do both. 
  • What you do with your money – if you are rich or if you are in a financial struggle, until you take necessary power over your finances it will have power over you.      
June 18, 2020

My father

by Rod Smith

My father, EWG Smith, General Dealer, was the most generous man I have ever known. He’d pack boxes of groceries and deliver them to needy families from our grocery shop in Red Hill. “You are supposed to sell stuff, Ernest!” our mother would say. “What if it were us, Mavis?” was his stock reply.”

EWG served on the HMS Dorsetshire. Hardly out of his teenage years he survived her sinking. Consequently he was a man deeply engraved with the shock and the awe of World War II. The war years left him with grace, humor, and an appreciation of the goodness and terror of which all humans are capable. “Nearer my God, to Thee,” was his favorite hymn. He told of hundreds of men singing in harmony while afloat in life-vests hoping for rescue. 

He loved music and fancied himself an undiscovered Frank Sinatra. He’d come to the Oyster Box Hotel where my band played and give me a wink as he danced by. I’d announce we had a special guest and invite them to welcome EWG onto the bandstand. With great flourish he’d grab the microphone and croon any one of his favorites and glow in applause. 

This was among few favors I could give him in return for the life-long hard work he’d given me.

June 17, 2020

What matters?

by Rod Smith

What matters*? 

People matter. How we treat people matters. How we treat all people matters. How we respect and treat those with whom we are close, say we love, those whom we encounter at arms length, or not encounter at all, matters. 

It matters much. 

How we treat those with whom we disagree matters as much as how we treat those whom we claim to love. 

How we treat all others (near, far, loved, known, unknown, different, current family, former family, those on the other side of the political aisle) is a litmus test on our spirituality. It’s a test of our holiness if we claim to represent a faith or not. 

It’s a biopsy of our integrity – no matter who we are or what positions we may hold – megachurch pastor or atheist. 

How we treat all others says nothing (zero, zilch) whatsoever about others. 

How we treat others is a window – a large open window – revealing volumes about us, no matter how hard we may try to keep it closed, barred, and the blackout curtains taped shut. 

How we treat people matters for many reasons, one being it mirrors the love and respect we have for ourselves.

We love others as we love ourselves. 

The same is true for hate, rejection, and contempt. 

*I am always my first reader and audience – you may not need this, but I do.

June 17, 2020

Ready to grow?

by Rod Smith

If you are facing struggles, hurdles, you are set for healthy growth.

If you want it.

Allowing yourself to regard challenges as stepping stones to self-discovery will help you uncover remarkable strengths already residing within you.

These strengths can be harnessed and then employed through determined and scheduled reflection.

This done, you will discover:

• You have the capacity to find healthy humor in almost any circumstance. It is a rare and extreme day when life is devoid of all humor. It happens, but it is rare.

• You are able to uncover some remarkable beauty in every person you meet. Yes, even in (insert any name you want or don’t want).

• You have the capacity to find understanding and insight in the most confusing and challenging of circumstances. Some distance or objectivity is first required.

• You have it in you to forgive others to a degree some will find unreasonable, irrational, and impossible. It’s your choice – not theirs.

• You have the humility to appreciate that wherever you are in life, no matter how successful or acknowledged or accomplished, you did not reach this place alone. There are no self-made individuals. Self-ruined? Yes. Self-made? No.

• You have the heart to want the best for others, even those who demonstrate no interest in your highest good. This is naked Grace. You have it.