Archive for ‘Domination’

June 6, 2017

Shame is a silent, debilitating companion….

by Rod Smith

Shame has pernicious intent for our lives. It lurks; it’s imbedded in our language as in, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” says the parent or teacher, and it casts its debilitating shadow and cuffs itself to the shamed hearer.

Here are some means it uses to set up house and does its work of life-long restraining:

Abandonment: “See, if you were good enough (prettier, cleverer, slimmer, taller, shorter) he or she would have stayed. It’s your own fault you are alone.”

Trauma: “You deserved it. If you’d been more alert (agile, aware, fatter, thinner, taller, shorter) then you’d not have been selected as a victim. What happened doesn’t happen to all children or adults so it’s your fault.”

Guilt: “What you have done is not only bad you are bad for having done it or even for thinking about doing it (no matter what “it” is). You are forever defiled and you will carry this around forever. People can see it on you.”

Shame-based living is tough and wearisome.

Shame is lessened, even expelled, through the exposure that authentic vulnerability brings.

Shame drives people into further acts of shameful behaviors.

Vulnerability in a community loosens its grip and ushers in well-deserved freedom.

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April 17, 2017

No matter how highly functional or not, here are some family challenges worthy of pursuit:

by Rod Smith

Talk about what you would like to do more as a family and what would we prefer to do less as a family. The list may include monumental challenges that take years to address. The list may include things that can be changed in an instant.

Talk about what you would each like to do more, and less, as individuals in the family. As above, some may be really easy and some may take seemingly forever.

Plan something meaningful and unusual (“off the charts”) that the family agrees to work toward. This may be a trip, a building project, or entering as a family into a race.

Discuss (according to age, ability, and appropriateness) topics that are usually taboo like death, sex, finances, and family secrets. Discuss why they are taboo in the first place. When and why and how did the secret become a secret. Who decides what is and what is not a secret?

Consult a professional who is able to construct a Genogram with your family. Request that it span three generations. This will (potentially) alert family members to troublesome trends and urges that pre-exist within the family system and therefore (potentially) equip members to face them if and when they emerge again. Nothing in families is new!

April 9, 2017

The company you keep…..

by Rod Smith
  • Embrace people who believe in you. Seek out the men and women who are in your unofficial support group and spend your effort in their direction. It is necessary and acceptable that you define your boundaries with men and women who pull you down and who try to minimize or ridicule your contribution to your family, your work-place, or your broader community. Be cordial, be kind, to such people but limit the power you give to people who denigrate you.
  • Embrace people who have a vision for their own lives. The more you can rub shoulders with people who are “going places” and are invested in building their futures, the greater the likelihood that you will get caught up in similar healthy habits. Drainers and downers and doubters are easy to spot but often harder to avoid. Disillusioned people love a target and are especially attracted to bringing happy and motivated people into their fold.
  • Invest or reinvest in a cause bigger and more meaningful than simply enhancing your family and yourself. There is so much need and suffering everywhere and you are fully capable of reducing some of both for people in your immediate environment.
February 27, 2017

Spirituality and spiritual abuse…..

by Rod Smith

Ten signs of the presence of spiritual abuse, manipulation, domination, or intimidation.

Spiritual Abuse (always on a continuum) is occurring when a pastor, leader, or even a friend:

  • “Hears” God for you. God apparently “goes through” him/her to speak to you. This requires a sense of superiority – from him or her and is often framed as being “more mature,” and a sense of being “less” from you.
  • Alienates (shuns, ignores) you if you do not adhere to his/her guidance, leadership, or authority. This is usually VERY subtle – so it is easy to deny.
  • Suggests that rejection of his/her “higher understanding” is done so at your spiritual or even physical peril. You will hear things like, “Be careful. You will move yourself from the covering and protection of God if you don’t listen to me.”
  • Rewards your obedience with inclusion, and punishes your questioning or resistance with withdrawal. Compliance gets stroked; resistance gets struck.
  • Demands “cathartic” honesty. Unless you spew out every detail of your life you must be hiding or withholding something and that “something” will, of course, impede your spiritual development.
  • Lavishes you with praise, acceptance, and understanding when you are “good” and “pushes” you away when you are “bad.”
  • Is apparently fixated on the use of titles like reverend, pastor, elder and cannot appear to relax in the company of “ordinary” mortals. The issue is not in the use of legitimate titles (or robes or religious garb) – it is that identity seems impossible without the titles or the trappings.
  • Leaves a trail of cut-off relationships. Usually in the trail are those who refuse to bow, to submit, to stand in awe of, to be thoroughly entranced by, the will of the pastor, the leader or the friend. Always regard with suspicion or caution leaders who are cut off or alienated from members of their family, especially their parents.
  • Lives from a “for me/or against me,” “black/white,” “all/or nothing” platform of “relationships.”
  • Genuinely sees God’s Call so zealously, so fervently that any signs of resistance are seen as the expressions of The Enemy or an enemy – thus, relationships are expedient (disposable) in the light of getting on with God’s work.

The perpetrators of abuse apparently fail to see that reconciliation, and forgiveness, “space,” and room to move, and room to respectfully disagree (boundaries, morality) are all part of the glorious work of the Gospel.

Freedom begins with recognition. Recognition must result in action.

Stand up to those who misuse their positions of leadership. Spiritual abuse serves the welfare or neither the perpetrator nor the victim – quite apart from the disservice it does to the church.

All authentic holiness, spirituality, Godliness, is LOCAL. If it’s not present and respectful in the most immediate one-to-one relationships (spouse, child, secretary, mail-carrier, in the traffic, at the airline check-in, with the dog) it will not be authentic in the one-to-many relationships, no matter how many thousands or tens of thousands make up the many.

July 13, 2012

Love AND Control

by Rod Smith

Love and control cannot co-exist in the same relationship anymore than light and dark can exist together in the same space at the same time.

July 12, 2012

Draw the line…..

by Rod Smith

There is no good reason ever why any person ought tolerate poor treatment from another.

You teach people how to treat you.

I know you may feel trapped and without an escape route or a friend in the world, but you must get help if this post is reaching deeply into you.

June 6, 2012

My husband left me for my best friend

by Rod Smith

“My husband left me for my best friend. This not only devastated me but caused my children (and her husband and children) a lot of confusion. I don’t want things back how they were but I do want some peace of mind. Her husband has gone off the rails with anger and I have bordered on depression. How am I supposed to forgive two people who have been so close to me and who have done this bitter thing to people, including children, whom they profess to love?”

My response will focus on you and the double blow you have received.

You have lost two best friends and you have lost them to each other. They have together all of what you once enjoyed and you have none of it.

I do not write this to rub salt into the wound or to tell you what you do not already know – I write it so you may see that your loss is real and at least partially understood.

Your anger and depression is justified. Grieve, wail. Express it in any helpful way over the coming years.

At the same time (in sane, healthy moments) begin to rebuild your life.

It is possible to do both: grieve, build, grieve, and build – just not at the same moments.

June 22, 2011

Do you live in relationship or “intimacy” hell?

by Rod Smith

Mr. or Ms. Unpredictable

You walk on eggshells.

You fear a massive fallout – yet you also wish for it.

You say something honest – then, almost immediately you wish you hadn’t.

You know that no matter how innocent or insignificant or benign a conflict – it will get magnified out of all proportion.

Innocent statements, even vulnerable reflections on your part, will be misinterpreted, misquoted, and repeated incorrectly and used against you forever.

You feel trapped by what is supposed to be love but have second thoughts (actually a million thoughts!) about how love is supposed to feel.

You are usually wrong and you are told you are stupid.

When you admit fault, or even stupidity, you are at fault and stupid for admitting it.

When you are right you are wrong for saying so or you think you are perfect and trying to show others up.

If you are silent you are avoiding conflict and if you speak out you are “looking for trouble.”

In your intimate whirlpool (more like an emotional tornado) white is black, black is white and the water is very murky.

Innocence is guilt.

Pointing out obvious error is entrapment.

You are exhausted with the load of meeting the emotional needs of someone who cannot, or will not, take responsibility for his or her own needs.

You “share” (it’s better described as emotional wrestling) life with an emotional piranha and yet, for some unfathomable reason, you stay, feeling unable to escape.

June 21, 2011

Three poisons for love: Manipulation, Intimidation, and Domination

by Rod Smith

When people have to use intimidation, manipulation or domination, the relationship is already spoiled or poisoned. It has become a power play of control. Redeeming such a relationship is possible with the implementation of a wise plan, strongly re-defined boundaries, enduring commitment, and the possibility of a time of separation in order that a modified perspective might be gained.

Willingness and desire to be together, equality between people and complete mutuality are the hallmarks of healthy relationships. Where any form of strong-arm tactics are used, the relationship has already taken a turn to become something harmful to both the parties.

Each of these relationship-poisons (manipulation, domination and intimidation) can be very subtle, coming in different shapes, sizes, and intensities.

Here are some of the evidences of manipulation, intimidation, and domination in a relationship:

1. The relationship has been kept on an unequal footing in order that one person might keep power over another. In a severely controlling relationship, both persons might have forgotten there are choices at all.

2. One person tries to get what he or she wants without declaring what is wanted. In attempting to get what the one person wants, both persons are in some way diminished.

3. One person does not see the other as totally free.

Confused boundaries4. One person tries to get what he or she wants through threats or withdrawal.

5. It is expected that every move, thought, and feeling will be reported at least from the less-dominant person to the other. If one person is unwilling to tell all, it is assumed there is something to hide.

6. One person is not free to make plans without consulting or getting permission from the other.

7. One person in the relationship continually evaluates and examines the commitment and love of the other.

8. The dominant person tells the other how they should feel and usually re-scripts any division or disagreement into the appearance of unity.

9. One person feels at liberty to speak for both people and then, is offended when the partner wants to express his or her own views.

10. Desire for self-expression or a distinct voice (by one) is considered betrayal or a lack of trust (by the other).

11. One person expects unilateral support for his or her opinions, choices and desires, declaring somewhat of an attitude which says: If you say you love me then you have to love everything about me, under all conditions, and all of the time.

12. Difference in opinion or having different interests is considered a lack of love, or a lack of respect and commitment.

Simple definitions and a metaphor which might be helpful in considering the three “cancers” of relationships:

Manipulation: playing chess with another person or with people. Maneuvering as if life were an attempt to checkmate others into loving us or doing what we want.Explosive

Domination: playing chess with another person or with people as in manipulation. The difference is the dominator has removed the opponent’s pieces without declaring so in the first place.

Intimidation: playing chess with another person or with people where winning and losing comes with either the threat of punishment or actual punishment.

Healthy Relationship: There is no element of either winning or losing; it is not a game. It is free of tactics, ploys, moves, and agendas.

June 20, 2011

There’s yelling, name calling, and pointing……

by Rod Smith

“I’m getting ready for church. He assesses what I’m wearing and suggests a dress he bought me. He wonders why I’m unhappy about it. We get into a fight. There’s yelling and name calling, and pointing. He advances into my personal space. He turns it into me being a victim based on my past. I’m very broken. He also threw out an ultimatum.” (Letter edited)

Destructive exchanges lead couples nowhere worth going. The “thinking brain” shuts down. The “fight, freeze, or flee brain” kicks in, assumes control, and wants ward off the perceived threat. Both people, in the heat of the moment, feel choices are limited and so things to escalate – they fight fire with fire and insult with insult until a domestic war ensues.

While difficult to do, walking away is the more helpful option.

If she’d said something like, “You choose your clothing. I’ll choose mine. I will not fight with you. You do not have permission to ruin my day,” and left for church without him, he’d have had the time and the space to face the unresolved issues that predate his marriage.

Why else would he want to determine what another adult wears?