Archive for ‘Difficult Relationships’

May 23, 2023

How to be extraordinary in three easy steps

by Rod Smith

Say “please” and “thank you” and “well done” and “nice to see you” and look people in the eyes when you say these golden words. Make this a practice and you’ll be a one-in-a-million kind of person and others will consider you extraordinary. Not only that, your lens with which you see the world will shift to see beauty and kindness where you previously may have missed or ignored it.

Evaluate and solidify your core values and then perhaps decide you will return to no one evil for evil or unkindness for unkindness.  Rather you will respond to selfishness and deceit and indifference with engagement and generosity and offer goodness. This will make you extraordinary and enhance your days and bring you unadulterated and lasting peace. 

Decide who and what you are —- this will take extended alone time and a pencil and a few sheets of lined paper — and then slowly begin to declare who and what you are by living out your values. This act — always unfinished — will make you extraordinaryily self-assured and you will become a rock of confidence both to yourself and those seeking stability and guidance.

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 16, 2023

Mountains into molehills….

by Rod Smith

Do your part to make the mountains you face become molehills 

  • One day at a time, the Twelve Step mantra is really helpful. Not everything you face has to be faced today. 
  • Learning to “hold onto yourself” is a skill really worth developing and will reap huge benefits. 
  • Gaining some distance to improve perspective is always helpful.
  • Listen more than you speak. When you listen for what people are really saying rather than what you hope they are saying. Our hopes can distort what others are trying to tell us. 
  • How people treat any one person is how they can treat everyone. Watch out for those who treat others poorly. You may be, you probably are, next in line. 
  • We see the world and others not as the world is and as others are but as we are. The lens you use is always in your pocket. 
  • The best thing you can do for the people you most love is to take care of yourself. If you do not, no one else will. 
  • Watch how people behave rather than listen to what they say. If the two don’t seem to match each other it is a signal that you ought to be aware.
  • Plan tough meetings in great detail. Flying by the seat of your pants will result in others taking you to the cleaners.  
May 14, 2023

The Day After Mother’s Day

by Rod Smith

With no wish to “rain on anyone’s parade” – an American phrase I found rather fascinating when I landed in this great country three decades ago – I do want to write a few things about mothers and motherhood in the wake of Mother’s Day weekend which is so correctly and widely celebrated. 

Please join me in acknowledging:

Mothers who try to hold families together “for the children” whether you or I agree with such a necessity or not. Every family and every family issue is unique. When women “stay for the children” the women deserves respect and support for their choices.

Mothers who love with an illogical and irrational love and appear to be supporting or enabling an addiction or the poor choices of a son or daughter – or a spouse. Women have their reasons. Judgement and ridicule from outsiders are painful and unhelpful.

Mothers (and fathers) who have buried a child and for whom the wounds of grief are brutally fresh and, it seems, it will always be as if the death occurred this very morning.

Women who’d give anything to have or have had a fruitful womb but now must observe with dignified reserve those who shower them with platitudes.

Women who chose adoption (and often secrecy) for one – or two or three – babies born to them and now for whom these people are growing, grown, distant and unknown.

May 1, 2023


by Rod Smith


Feedback from Monday

Bowen Theory / its origins 

Suggested reading: Failure of Nerve by Ed Freidman  

The 8 principles of Family Systems


Differentiation of self

Nuclear family emotional process

Family projection process

Transmission process


Sibling position

Societal emotional process.

April 30, 2023


by Rod Smith

A flow chart or diagram of a person’s family of origin and extended family — usually three generations although people often invest more time and energy and “go back” another two or three generations.

There are many symbols and distinctive markings people use and each practitioner usually develops his or her own style.


Getting required information from your family may be a challenge and an exercise in healing in itself.

Creating a Genogram is an on-going exercise and it will change as a family changes with births, deaths, marriages, and divorces.

People can and do “defy” the predictions that reveal themselves (addictions, unwanted patterns, cut-offs, fusions) in a Genogram but are unlikely to do so without a committed plan toward greater individual health.

Calm or chaos in one generation is likely to “flow through” the system.

April 30, 2023


by Rod Smith

Monday / Family Systems 

MAY 1, 2023


  • A “new” way of thinking – well, not really. There are many ways in which you are already a seasoned and expert in systemic thinking. Do you drive? Ever thought of how complex an International Airport is?
  • Linear Thinking or Systemic Thinking 
  • Non-Living Systems / Living Systems / The Body of Christ. 1Co 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.


  • Time to focus on SELF and to get focus off OTHERS – you are a PERSON – become an expert in YOUR behavior, The People you love will probably survive without your intense focus but they might sizzle (or fry) from it.  
  • Jesus had a thorough self-knowledge and understood His relationships and was never taken off guard by others. Jesus Perfected the art of DIFFERENTIATION OF SELF – engage the life-long process to do the same.  


  • Family or Origin – size and position matters.
  • You are part of a NETWORK of RELATIONSHIPS – it is called a FAMILY and you are part of a GET to know  yourself WITHIN that system.
  • Why I love Bowen Theory and Family Systems  – there are at least 5 reasons, maybe more.

Your DAY 1 challenges:

  • Name relationships where you could do with more space (freedom, room to move) – be careful now.
  • Name relationships where you could do with more intimacy, more feedback, closeness– be careful now. 
  • Name the people whose behavior you are an expert in at the expense of focusing on your behavior. 
  • Has anything taught today caused you to experience some pain or sadness – are you willing to name those areas to someone important to you?      

I am I

You are You

We are We

Let Us not ConFuse

The Three

April 30, 2023

Let some things become “second nature” to you

by Rod Smith

Things to practice until they become second nature and are identified with how others expect you to behave:

Show up, stand up, and speak up for yourself. Suggest, when necessary, that it be rare for others (all others) to have to do very much of any of the three for you. When others try (and they will) politely suggest that you can handle things about yourself, for yourself. If you are called rude or selfish – because you want to take care of yourself and you are able to do so –  point out that expecting others to prop up your life or manage you or be your voice for you, is surely the epitome of selfishness.

Refuse to engage in gossip or “dark” talk about others even if it may be true and spicy and hot off the press. Be above demeaning others as attractive as it may be to some. You are too busy achieving your goals and becoming who you want to become to participate in taking another down or wallowing in another’s troubles.

Train your eye to see goodness and your tongue to report it. Make this a daily habit and you will be inundated with beauty and kindness as your eyes lead you to more and more beauty and as you spread goodness in your wake. Way leads to way, and beauty to beauty.

April 26, 2023


by Rod Smith

Suggestions for “Never Agains”

Use another or others for undisclosed ends, the seed at the heart of maniputlation and dishonesty. 

Use personal power, minimal or vast, to ends for which it is neither awarded nor intended, the essence of intimidation and arrogance. 

Use guilt, punishment, exclusion, to get or keep another or others in order or under control, the height of domination and darkness. 

Speak ill of absent others anf those who cannot self-defend or offer explaination, especially if the sentiments are not first expressed directly face-to-face to the subject or subjects of negative talk, the mark of cowardice.

Blame another or others for things or outcomes and deflect responsibility, be it through avoidance or complicity, an indication of authentic immaturity.

Fall for, be seduced by a “single story” — a partial truth, accepting incomplete understanding of context, ignoring the idea or possibility there may be more to learn or to understand about a circumstance — and acting upon it. This is to be uneducated and willing to remain so.

Succumb to “othering” and prejudice, to exclude others no matter who they are or what may be said or believed about them. This is the bull’s eye of entitlement and damaging, alienating pride, and even more prideful and damaging if perpetuated in the name of faith or of God.

April 22, 2023

Monday’s are for ……

by Rod Smith

Mondays are re-set days, days to plan the week (unless that’s a Sunday evening activity for you). Monday’s are days to plan for what’s left of the month, or to make a blueprint for the rest of your life. It’s blue-sky Monday, not “blue-Monday”, a term I’ve thankfully not heard in years. 

Before you get to planning try to take care of some foundational issues. 

Clear your head and heart of lingering resentments or unforgiveness — plans made on top of foundations of bitterness are sure to backfire and be costly to much more your wallet.

Make right with people in your immediate and extended family — plans made while in conflict or dissention are likely to crash into barriers of invisible loyalties and burn you up on the inside. 

Relax and breath deeply before you begin your planning — futures  developed in anxiety and desperation will hardly lead to a peaceful future, be it for the week or forever.

Plan your way out of debt, first — nothing will be a more perfect barrier to achieving your hopes and dreams than trying to pay off maxed out credit cards. 

Be assured that your plans may indeed not come to full and planned fruition but if no plan exists, and you plan nothing, you’re most certainly sure to achieve it.