Archive for ‘Difficult Relationships’

February 16, 2019

Leadership

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Wednesday / Pitfalls of Leadership / No matter who you are or what you lead…..

• Using your role and influence for personal gain or for matters unrelated to your position as a leader. These can be as “innocent” as using your influence for premier seating on planes or thinking you’re too important to wait in lines. The minute you use your role outside of its scope you create “us and them” and you will begin to lose the heart of your constituents.

• Believing that somehow you are above or superior to others and seek to be served an honored rather than seeking to serve others and honor your constituents. When you do this you may get temporary obedience but you will never have the heart of your constituents.

• Believing you are owed more than the joy that’s imbedded in leading anything at all. This shows you are leading for selfish reasons.

• Manipulating people and groups by being aloof when it serves you and being vulnerable and connected when it serves you. “Playing” people in this manner confuses your constituents and will create unwanted resistance when and where you don’t need it.

• Elevating people “beneath” you into a special or private conversations and ignoring others who occupy similar status within your hierarchy. This kind of power-play will come back to haunt you.

February 14, 2019

More difficult than divorce

by Rod Smith

There are things worse than divorce for children….

• Like being caught in the endless crossfire between warring parents.

• Like switching sides and armies every few days as you switch territories.

• Like being super-over-protected in the name of love and concern when the hyper-vigilance is really a means to get back at the other parent or to suggest the other parent is negligent or not as committed or as loving.

• Like hearing constant threats of court hearings and custody hearings and fights over money.

• Like not knowing what you can talk about and who you can say you love depending on where you are and who you are with.

• Like having your childhood freedoms curbed and stunted because the adults in your life refuse to grow up and so they use you as a trophy in their unresolved stuff that happened years before you were born.

• Like having to keep secrets and face weird punishments if you leak information you didn’t know was a secret.

• Like hearing both parents say they never speak badly about the other and you know both are lying.

• Like loving your mother’s or father’s new man or woman but not being free to say it or show it.

February 13, 2019

A little help for Valentines?

by Rod Smith
Cut and paste, all or part, for your Valentine card or Valentine conversation. Perhaps you can also make it a little more romantic….
Loving you means:
  1. I will never do anything to cut you off from your family, friends, or from anyone else whom you may love. Your freedom is important to me.
  2. I will take care of myself (my body, mind, emotions) so that I am better able to enjoy and appreciate myself, and therefore also better and to enjoy and love you. Our wellness is important to both of us.
  3. I will resist all attempts, subtle and gross, to control you. I know that love and control cannot coexist. Your God-given human independence is as vital to your happiness as it is to mine.
  4. I will encourage you to stay out of control in all of your relationships, be it with your parents, boss, or best friends. The ability to occupy the driver’s seat of your life is crucial to your mental health and to the health of our relationship.
  5. I will support you in all endeavors to get further education (formal and informal) and I will also chase all such possibilities for myself.  None of us is ever “too educated” and there is always time and room for more.
February 12, 2019

In preparation for extraordinary encounters

by Rod Smith

As I venture out into an ordinary day I shall seek the potential for extraordinary human encounters.

Therefore:

The person with me – no matter who he or she is – deserves my full attention. I will listen with my ears, eyes, head, and heart. I will keep in mind that this person has a network of family, friends, and acquaintances, all of whom have shaped (and misshaped) who he or she is.

I understand the mishmash of both positive and negative ongoing forces in this person’s life may influence our interactions. I will remind myself that no one is an island, and when someone tries to be, there are usually strong reasons for it.

Detecting grief or fear I will listen with patience and say little. Detecting a lack of confidence, after listening, I will seek to accurately affirm. Sensing a desire for conflict I will not retaliate, take sides, or fan the flame.

I will remember that rich, poor, young, old, frail, or strong, people want love, acceptance, listening ears, an open heart, and, above all, respect. Therefore I will avoid sarcasm, promoting stereotypes, prejudice, indifference, and tolerance, and replace these harmful tendencies and habits with playful humor, acceptance, empathy, and, above all, respect.

February 11, 2019

Child-centered families

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Thursday

Child or children-centered families

Mom and dad (or one or the other and sometimes both) have lost their lives to the children. The parent is tethered, leashed to the children, and the children have the power to shorten or lengthen the leash at will. In time the children behave like the CEOs of a corporation and the adults are employees. Outsiders call the child entitled or spoiled.

Mom and dad (or one or the others and sometimes both) has such anxiety about children that other adults (friends, extended family) tend to avoid social contact with the parents in order to avoid the exhaustion that comes with trying to be together. The progressive isolation is hardly noticed by the anxious parent given that the children get all the attention anyway.

The family’s social life is subject to the children’s schedules, wishes, whims, pleasures, and displeasures. Given that the happiness of the children is all-important, plans with outsiders are cancelled or postponed without thought. If outsiders express dissatisfaction about the children possessing inordinate power the overly-focused parents dismiss the objections as a lack of understanding committed parenting or love.

Bringing children to size is a lot more difficult than it is to allow them to have appropriate size right from the outset.

[Your insights are valued – please post below. Thanks.]

February 9, 2019

Broken wings

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – Wednesday / Broken Wings

I’ve seen “broken wing” children in almost every youth gathering in every country I have ever visited.

These are very needy young people who attempt to derail the focus of the group in order to get the attention they think they need. They look for sympathy and attention, and interpret both as the only expressions of love. They are very easily offended. They personalize the slightest, most unintentional oversight. Benign oversights are interpreted as rejection.

New friendships become bindingly exclusive and anything short of exclusivity is considered rejection or even hate.

When they don’t get what they want in the way they think it is to be delivered, they sabotage activities through moodiness, withdrawal, and threats.

They often leave the larger group and expect to be rescued.

They are often masters of passive/aggressive behavior and can flip from being upbeat to going “offline” in a blink of an eye.

As teenagers they have an uncanny ability to divide communities.

The wise adult leader pays this child careful, mindful, helpful attention.

The wise leader does not permit him or her to derail the community.

The wise leader does not allow the group to rescue their moody peer – but alerts the child’s parents so the child can get the help he or she really needs.

February 5, 2019

Lost in love, parenting, or career

by Rod Smith

Maintaining a unique and separate self in any relationship is an ongoing and necessary process for the person who desires growing emotional wellness. This can be most challenging in the intimate relationships or being a spouse and a parent but it doesn’t stop there. Maintaining a self can present an enormous challenge at work.

We all know someone who got so consumed by a career that who he or she was got lost in what he or she did for a living. Similarly, we all know someone who got “lost” in love or gave herself completely to parenting and didn’t know herself or her husband when the children left home.

Such blurring of boundaries in intimacy, family, and career, is often affirmed as love or commitment and sacrifice or the call of mothering. Some parents joke about it with “I used to have a life and then I had children.”

The emotionally well are able to stand alone (maintain self) and engage in intimate relationships and satisfying careers and powerful and effective parenting.

If this describes you, all is not lost.

Begin somewhere: express your opinions (even if they are unpopular), learn to say “no”, do something wild, unexpected, make slow shifts in your focus, reclaim your voice.

January 31, 2019

Love – a quick summary

by Rod Smith

This is an imperfect summary of the Greek words for love, something everyone seems to search for and what can lead to so much healing and heartbreak:

  • Philia is affectionate regard, friendship, it’s among equals, it’s the loyalty, it’s brotherly love, team-love. It requires honesty, equality, and grows with familiarity.
  • Éros is the love of sexual attraction and passion. In the hands of the mature it builds and supports a family and a nation. In the hands of the immature it can be a most destructive and driving force.  
  • Agápe is divine, unconditional love, the love God has for humanity and for individuals. Spiritually mature people may know and offer this love in brief, divine spurts.   
  • Storge is tenderness, affection, family love, the love a parent has a child. It’s natural empathy.
  • Pragma is the love that two people may enjoy and show during a lengthy marriage.
  • Philautia is self-love, the ability to appreciate and value oneself.

I am convinced that we love others, not because of who or what they are, but because of who or what we are. Please, join me on the journey of growing up (nothing to do with age) and becoming, by the grace of God, the most loving, generous, and kind person you have ever met.

January 25, 2019

Anxiety

by Rod Smith

Behind the smile…..!

There is natural, necessary reactivity within each of us. It’s part of a primal protection mechanism. Over reacting (over-protecting) usually leads to trouble. 

The higher our anxiety and the greater the threat (real or perceived), the higher are our levels of reactivity. 

Thinking people, as opposed to reactive people, can think their way into a determined, cool, controlled response when faced with threat. This is usually short lived. We’ve all met “Mr. Cool-Calm” who can also quickly become “Mr. Explosive.” 

Anxiety will get you in the end. 

A better antidote to symptom-producing anxiety (symptoms might include irrational fear, fury, rage, some forms of depression, acts of isolation, acts defying long-held values) is to go to the source. 

Anxiety breeds in unresolved family of origin issues. It lurks within immediate significant relationships, especially where unhelpful compromise and denial of Self have occurred. 

So you thought you simply lost your cool or were pushed over the edge? No, you were probably howling at your forefathers or expressing some deep lack of fulfillment. You were probably trying to shed yourself of generational baggage you never agreed to carry. 

All this said, as adults, we remain 100% responsible for our reactivity (rage, fury, outbursts) 100% of the time – no matter where it comes from or ominous its origin.

January 23, 2019

He says our house is my priority

by Rod Smith

“My husband said this morning that it looks like our house was my priority over our relationship. We discussed it in my lift club of women and it would appear that women do put their houses as a priority, wanting it to look neat and beautiful without clutter. Is it a crime?”

It appears your husband’s wife-house-relationship monitoring is his priority, which makes me ponder how much effort he gives to both the house and your marriage or, does he consider both to be women’s work?

Perhaps you could both (together) decide to have your husband take full care of the house so you may offer greater attention to your relationship.

You’re in a classic double bind: neglect the house and you’re going to hear about it. Care for the house and you’re regarding it as a priority over your marriage. Either way you lose.

I’m interested: which requires greater effort and maintenance, husband, house, or marriage?

While it’s all on you you’re married to an under functioning man. While you cooperate with him as if it’s all on you, you are over functioning and headed for burnout.

You’ll know your husbands (lift club women) have grown up when they focus on their houses and their marriages and offer their wives full and endless freedom to love and explore their heartfelt passions, interests, and friendships.