Archive for ‘Difficult Relationships’

October 11, 2020

International day of the girl

by Rod Smith



Part 1:

Run from men (and boys) who are more interested in your body than in your brain. Your appearance may be, in some settings, the first point of mutual attraction but if things don’t move beyond that within the first three minutes, forget it. Move on.

Dump the thought that you are a “half” waiting to become “whole” because some man will “complete” you. You are a person, not an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. You are a full person, partner or no partner. You are not lego.

Relationships are not a game to be won or lost and flee those who treat them as such. If you (or he) treat relationships like a game of Chess, Risk, or Monopoly, you will probably end up rather lonely. At the first indication of a check-mate situation (whichever way you choose you lose – or you have no choices at all) cut your losses no matter who he is or how much money is on the board.

It’s not your job to train or to teach men (and boys) how to treat women. That’s what parents do. If his parents were unsuccessful, hope life itself teaches him. Don’t take it on. If you assume the role of teacher or guide or therapist to him and you marry him, you will be signing up for an exhausting lifetime of parenting and guiding and counseling your spouse.

Enjoy your friends. The “right” man (or boy) for you will make you even more thrilled to be yourself than you already are. He will selflessly love your joy, encourage your freedom, and embrace everything about you. Please, please, settle for nothing less.

Part 2:

Without exception every one of you is gifted, talented, uniquely curious. Believe your parents or care-givers or teachers when they express something similar.

It’s not just “adult talk.” It is not said just to get you motivated. You are to be treasured, never exploited.

Talent, power, and bravery are divinely endowed. They are yours.

They are in your bones, your soul; in the very depths of your spirit and your being.

In the best of company your uniqueness, your talent, and the power within you will be encouraged, respected, and deeply valued.

But, some will try to exploit, ignore, or squelch you, and do so often in the “nicest” of ways, and even in the name of God.

Don’t cooperate. Not ever. Not for money, fame, recognition, or even to belong.

Stay out of control.

Arm yourself by chasing education (the only thing worth chasing), rejecting the foolish, pervasive belief that beauty is skin deep. Use your strong voice as early, quickly, and as loudly as possible.

Stand up for yourself.

Speak up.

Express your views. Don’t hold back.

Do it now so it becomes a way of life.

October 6, 2020

I (just) want to be happy…….

by Rod Smith

“I just want to be happy.” 

I hear it over and over again, often whimpered, as if happiness searches some people out and not others, or, as if it is some sort of award that may descend upon a person who is in the right place at the right time. It’s uttered as if happiness is being doled to some and not to others.  

Happiness has no victims.

You have more chance of being struck by lightning than you have being struck by happiness.

Happiness is a by-product, not a goal. 

It grows, emerges, unravels, out of purposeful living. 

Happiness is out of the control of the rich and powerful. That is surely obvious. You may have noticed its penchant for playing hide and seek with the rich and powerful. 

It’s yours when you fight and win the good fight over trying to be happy. 

It’s yours when you engage purposes greater than yourself, your pleasures, and appetites. 

The road to happiness is often paved with difficulty and things you may think will never deliver any joy. 

It hides from the lazy, the self-indulgent, the entitled, the spoiled, the whiner. It tends to embrace those seeking justice and authenticity and doing what is good and right by others.

Ironically happiness often escapes the rich and arrogant, but makes its home with the poor, the humble, and the rich and humble. Oddly, it’s one thing that doesn’t, “follow the money.”

October 4, 2020

For thinking this week…….

by Rod Smith

I invite you to think about the following this week. Respond, please, offering your ideas: 

There is beauty and brutality interwoven in every individual life and into every family. Thankfully the everpresent beauty – if you have eyes for it – softens the brutality making it easier to bear.

Forgive everyone everything everytime. But, know what to forgive and to remember. Know what to forget. Remembering can become a guide so past hurtful situations are not repeated. 

Most of us have more possessions than we need. Decide what to keep and treasure and what to give away or sell. A move or two will help most people evaluate what things are worth keeping. This is not really about stuff. It’s about a mindset of simplification, it’s about shredding and shedding. In survival mode we tend to hold onto far more than we need.   

You and I, whatever our age, are getting older. We have options about how we will adjust and what kind of people we will be as this occurs. If we are gracious we will be less inclined to feel entitled and discover a growing and greater sense of gratitude for the way things are, the way things have been, and the joy that awaits us in our advancing years. 

September 24, 2020

Boring? I don’t think so

by Rod Smith

If you take a close look you will see humanity is fabulous and people are extraordinary. Alone and together we are wildly capable, creative, generous, and kind. We can accomplish the most amazing feats of creativity and courage and can complete goals of heroic proportions. 

Don’t believe me? Look around you and look at your life. There is nothing normal or usual or boring about you! 

Indeed, that may not be how you see yourself or others and we have all encountered the classic bore. But, when people consider themselves or others to be boring, usual, normal or unexceptional it is the result of having given up, thrown in the towel, opting for paths of least resistance. The classic bore lacks a few interpersonal skills. 

But, you are still here. You are still fighting on. You have time to recover!

The “crime” I encounter quite often in clients is a refusal to employ or discover or use all of their talents. I see multi talented men and women who have ignored, even squandered, two-thirds of their talents and potential. They appear too tired, lazy, or indifferent to fire up what is latent and fully loaded within. 

If there is anything within us that will render us normal or usual or boring it is this.

September 16, 2020

What I wanted from my dad

by Rod Smith

I’ve heard these themes – these are not quotations – time and again from young people. The spin varies depending culture and economic status.

I wanted my father to talk with me – not only teach me or tell me what he expected or to tell me his stories from the past that seemed like ancient history to me – but to engage with me.

I wanted a dad, not just a sports coach – although I loved it when he coached me sports.

Even though I was trying to be very masculine and self-sufficient I needed to know my dad had my back.

Sometimes it felt as if my father was really trying to get close to me but that he didn’t know how – like he was afraid of me. I only know that now – I couldn’t see it then.

All I wanted was for my parents to be friends – the divorce didn’t stop the fighting.

When my parents were friends everything was hopeful about life – when they fought, even over the smallest things, it would feel like my life was falling apart.

“The thing I remember the most was when he’d ask my mother to leave the cooking up to him and to me – those are the times I really treasure.” (Actual quotation)

September 10, 2020

The power of forgiveness

by Rod Smith

In our families and among friends and associates it’s never too late to forgive or to ask for forgiveness. It may be difficult. It may hurt our pride. But, it is always possible. 

It’s as practical and near as a phone call, letter, or a face-to-face conversation. 

It may involve something as simple and difficult as a confession or request.

Sometimes, “I was wrong,” or “please forgive me,” or “I am sorry for the things I did to you,” or “how can I make things as right as possible,” are the hardest words to say. It may be as tough to say, “I forgive you” and “I am sorry it has taken me this long.”  

It’s never too large, too consequential, too long ago. It’s never too complicated for a sincere, “I am sorry, please forgive me,” or “I know it’s been a long time and I know you are not expecting this but I forgive you.” 

Forgiveness runs deep. Like water, it seeks the lowest point. Like water can do, it refreshes, feeds, cleanses. Forgiveness frees us up and frees others up. It restores. It renews. It brings back a spring in the step to the one who forgives and the one forgiven. 

It is beautiful, practical, so immediate, often painful, and so life-giving.

September 9, 2020

Take a moment

by Rod Smith

Take a moment to listen to that elderly man holding you up in the queue at the bank (grocery shop, post office) and chat. You may discover that he once ran a large enterprise, traveled the world, employed masses. He’s quite a lot more than someone who, at this moment, appears to be in your way. 

Take a moment to find compassion for the young woman you see alone with her children and who looks like she is at the end of her tether. You may find out she is fighting a few more battles than corralling young children. You may also discover she is fighting powerful illnesses and home circumstances that would be tough even if she were in perfect health.

Take a moment and be patient with that elderly woman who never met a stranger. Give her a little of your time and you will find out that she was married for over five decades and being alone has never gotten any easier. She is used to sharing her news and her life and the brief moment she has with you today may be the only one she has in weeks.    

Take a moment – you never know how powerful it may be for all concerned. 

September 8, 2020

Emotionally healthy people

by Rod Smith

Emotionally healthy people display many of the following strengths: 

They seem able to achieve their personal goals and keep strong relationships. They maintain individuality while embracing others. They don’t get “lost” in love or friendship. They love without invading or possessing. They resist telling others what others need, think, feel, or should do. 

Healthy people avoid siding with some against others. They recognize and refuse to participate in all forms of bullying (subtle and gross). They resist being manipulated into rescuing others, knowing it is usually unhelpful. They spend zero time or energy winning approval or maneuvering in relationships in order to feel loved or to feel powerful.

They appreciate differences in people, seeing no person as “all good” or “all bad.” They can defend their well-considered positions and beliefs without being rigid or defensive. They are open to change, are clear-headed under pressure, and can cope with difficulties without falling apart. They can keep their voice under pressure without confusing thinking and feeling.

They know that emotional health and well-being is not set in stone and can vary from day to day. Therefore, they allow themselves and others room for not-so-good days. On not-so-good days they are aware of the need to be cautious, to do no harm, and to avoid making decisions with lasting impact.  

September 6, 2020


by Rod Smith

Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. Not everyone who is alone is lonely. 

Being around people, even family, does not mean a person cannot be lonely. Being lonely in a crowd is common. 

On rare occasions when I am alone, I really enjoy it. If I am traveling and held up for a few days, or if I choose to self-isolate for a few days I find it very refreshing. But these are periods of choice, of privilege. 

There are people who are literally alone, month in, month out and not as a result of choice. There are people who are deeply enmeshed in families and groups who are wilting in desperate loneliness. 

There is loneliness where there is no significant, trusted, sustained human interaction or deep human connection. Where life is without give-and-take, playfulness, dialogue, or sharing there is loneliness. There is loneliness where the world seems indifferent, when it seems to make no difference whether a person is present or absent. When your life seems to not matter, not to anyone, alone or in a crowd, there is loneliness.

May we be agents of healing when faced with people who are seemingly without friendship and hope.

August 31, 2020

“Little” things that hinder

by Rod Smith

I’m aware these are tough standards, but how else will any of us improve at life and relationships if we don’t take care of the “small” things? 

  • If I retell a story in the presence of someone who was present as a witness and I exaggerate or lie (even in an attempt at humour) the witness knows I am capable of being a false witness even if he or she never lets on.
  • If I gossip even to a willing and eager listener, the listener knows I am capable of gossip and even if he or she never lets on.
  • If I am rude, demanding in a restaurant or the post office or with the cashier at the grocery shop when things don’t go my way I am revealing my true colours. If I treat a stranger in public with disrespect one can only imagine how I treat people who are close to me in private when things do not go my way.
  • If I cheat or lie in seemingly little or unimportant ways, people who witness it, even if they benefit in the immediate from my actions, will know not to trust me in other and unrelated circumstances.