Archive for ‘Reactivity’

October 17, 2017

Will you be my friend?

by Rod Smith

I am very aware that people don’t analyze their connections in the manner I’ve described below. We’d have healthier communities and families if we did!

  • Will you search with me when I am searching, stand with me when I am standing, and drop to your knees with me in prayer if and when I need it? I will try to do the same for you.
  • Will you stand up to me with firmness and kindness when my many blind spots are blocking my thinking? I will try to do the same for you.
  • Will you join me and examine our connection (as casual acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors, partners, or spouses) so that we remain mutual and equal and respectful no matter the degree or significance of our connection?
  • Will you take time to listen to me? I will try to take time to listen to you?
  • Will you allow me my quirks and eccentricities and try to regard them as interesting rather than regard them as things you wish were different about me?
  • Will you seek my highest good as far as you are able given the knowledge we have about each other? I will try to do the same for you.
  • Will you try to be as unafraid of me as I try to be unafraid of you?
July 30, 2017

This week at Chatel…..

by Rod Smith

cropped-e-is-for-enmeshment1Five (very lofty) goals for the week

Teach, facilitate group so students and staff are empowered to find, enjoy, and use their backbones, most creative brains, and voices, each to maximum of his or her current level of helpful, “growthful” discomfort. (Yes, I occasionally make up my own words).

Facilitate each student’s possibility for growth (to get bigger or smaller) into his or her appropriate size (a) as a distinct individual, (b) as a distinct individual in within a variety of contexts (like current or immediate family, family of origin, a class of students, a sub-culture and a broad culture of national heritage), and (c) finally, as a member of the Church, immediate and universal. This means examining contexts, roles, boundaries, skills, talents, gifts, and resources.

https://kona.wordpress.com/2006/04/05/jesus-herds-traingles-and-a-woman/

Teach, model (if it possible) Differentiation of Self by “watching” it in Scripture. We will use three Gospel encounters to illustrate this delicious way of life.

cropped-ladderjpg.jpgGive practical insights into healthy or unhealthy TRIANGLES, GENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION, HERDING, and other usually INVISIBLE pressures that can undermine or sabotage healthy individual, family, and organizational functioning. We will use two, perhaps three, Gospel encounters in order to illustrate.

Give practical tools to minimize individual and group anxiety, to grow and support healthy invisible individual and group loyalties, and to develop the awareness of necessary sifts from REACTIVITY to RESPONSIVENESS, from STEMMING and EMOTING to THINKING, and from AMPLIFYING or IGNORING to EMBRACING and EMPOWERING.

Further reading: Bowen, Murray; Friedman, Edwin; Schnarch, David; Gilbert, Roberta; Satir, Virginia; Framo, James; Minuchen, Salvador

April 6, 2017

Driving lessons for my sons

by Rod Smith

It is helpful to think of every other driver as drunk, unpredictable, and crazy. This approach kept my father accident-free for more than 50 years (although it is unsure how many he caused). This attitude will keep you alert and will go a long way to securing your safety and the safety of others.

Never ride in a car with anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or any legal or illegal substance or substances even if this person is not the operator – and I don’t care if it is your favorite aunt. While I am on that subject, it’s not your job to transport drunk or drugged people.

Don’t drive any vehicle, not even a golf cart or ride a skateboard or bounce on a pogo stick, for goodness sake, if you have consumed anything that distorts, or potentially distorts, your judgment. If you have been drinking or even if you feel you have been out too late, call me, use a taxi or Uber.

I will NEVER refuse your call for help.

Don’t compromise your safety – even if it a very short ride in a very safe car in a very safe suburb. Cars are dangerous missile in the hands of sane, experienced drivers, and the danger quotient radically spikes in the shaky hands of anyone under the influence of anything – even anger.

Treat cars and the privilege of driving (it’s not a right) with great respect. If, from the minute you may legally drive and for at least the first five years, you never enter a car without humbly bowing for three to five minutes at the hood (bonnet), and then for three to five minutes at the trunk (boot) in quiet, humble reverence, with your hands folded in a typical stance of a person at prayer, you might develop the necessary awe cars and driving deserve.

Cars are like pulpits. They should be entered into in a spirit of humility and avoided by the proud, the angry, and blowhards. Driving is for getting from A to B. That is it. It’s not for the music, or texting, or eating, or watching movies. The journey is not the party Don’t make car ride into a party – there’s no quicker access to an ambulance.

October 16, 2016

Being collegial…..

by Rod Smith

Secrets to working relationships:

  • See every opportunity or challenge as a potential to learn something new or to grow in new ways. No matter how many years experience you have there’s always room to learn and to grow. Your teachers may often be half your age. Get used to it.
  • See every conflict as an opportunity to learn more about grace and forgiveness. This is not some odd subservience or rolling over and playing dead. It’s acknowledging your possible part in any conflict and the willingness to learn from it – even if you didn’t cause it.
  • Do what you can to cooperate even with those who are not necessarily in your camp or on your side. Building bridges is usually better than burning bridges.
  • When you are wrong or make a miscalculation or a misjudgment or you over react to something admit it and make things as right as you are able. The truth is always better and easier to deal with. Nothing can be solved if you are protecting image over integrity or accuracy.
  • Volunteer wildly, but stay within your skills and talents. Things work better in organizations when people do the jobs they are hired to do and resist “bleeding” into other areas they are not necessarily skilled to work in – even as a volunteer.
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 27, 2011

I hope your “partner” reads this and sees it as her impetus to bail……

by Rod Smith

“Women put everything on the MAN! Talking about they need to be in the right mood. They need romance. Don’t get me wrong, I try to look at her point of view about sex but they never put US in the mood. We’ve been together for a year and engaged since February and I already feel like I’m 50 or 60 years old! These types of problems are supposed to happen around that age! I’m only 24 and she’s 29! I can’t win!” (Edited of hard language)

Clean up your language. It might (emphasis on the “might”) make you more attractive all round. If you swear (cuss) while you are writing about your most intimate relationship, one can only imagine what you must be like face-to-face.

How a person treats outsiders (those whom you do not know and who will read your writing) is a powerful indicator of how a person treats insiders (those close to you).

If you shifted your focus from what you want to what you can contribute you might see some change.

Diminish your desire to control. (“I can’t win” — healthy relationships were never about winning and losing).

Become less demanding, needy, and a lot more loving, and you may grow up a lot and be ready for the kind of sex a partner wants.

You are totally off in your understanding of men in their 50’s and 60’s. You, it is clear to me, don’t have enough behind your eyes (life experience) to have good sex – and if you keep on with your current manner of operating, which I call being “penis propelled”, you might never have it.

I hope your partner reads your post and identifies you (which you sent anonymously –another indication of your immaturity) and regards it as an impetus to bail. If she stays, and you continue to be as demanding as you clearly are, she is in for one sad, sad ride.

May 21, 2011

He says she’s jealous. Let’s help him out. Please comment…..

by Rod Smith

My wife thinks I flirt, and I think she is being jealous. Some examples:

* a female friend overseas emailed me, to pray for her mother who was very ill. I wrote back saying of course, and that I’d love to catch up on skype. I showed the email to my wife so she could pray for her mother, but instead she was furious that I wanted to “catch up” with a girl on skype. I explained that her mother was dying, and that we used to be good friends. Not good enough.

* Another girl who I used to be good friends with came in from overseas, and when I spoke to her on the phone and said “Sarah!! I miss you!” with a big friendly smile – I hadn’t spoken to Sarah for about 2 years and we were cool friends. My wife was furious I said “I miss you” to another girl. A huge fight.

* I helped a stranger – a mother – to carry a baby carriage down the stairs. I apparently made her laugh, (I’m pretty funny) and my wife was again furious at me that I made a married woman laugh.

* We went water rafting with the some friends, and a girl in another boat took my hat off (I love this hat), and I jumped at her to wrestle my hat back. My wife was furious and said that play fighting is flirting. I just wanted my hat…yes, we were laughing at the time, but I don’t feel I was flirting.

* When a girl is excited to see me, or says I’m really funny, or says they love a certain jacket of mine, my wife says that I let women feel comfortable to approach me and say these kinds of things. For example, we were walking down the street and a girl ran up to me and said, “hey!!! how are you Ronnie! This is your wife yeah! Your wedding was amazing” She acknowledged my wife in a nice way, and didn’t ignore her, but my wife’s problem was that she was so happy to see me. My wife wants me to be polite to women, but to exude a level of modesty, and act a little standoffish to show that they shouldn’t feel so comfortable to be all bubbly around me.

I could go on.

My wife says I’m being too flirtatious, or at the very least I need to work on becoming more modest. And I just want her to accept me for who I am, and not be so jealous.

It’s very painful for both of us. I now feel like I have to walk on egg shells around her in a social setting, and can’t just be my funny self. It’s caused me to be very depressed and I feel like I have to be someone else. Unfortunately it’s depressed me so much that I’m not feeling love for her, nor excitement, nor chemistry. I feel like I’ve made a mistake.

I know marriage is about compromise, and I want to grow in ALL ways. Perhaps I do need to grow in the ways of modesty. There is no end in ones growth.

For her, it’s so painful because she believe I’m putting other women before the marriage. “You are putting other women before the marriage” She would say. She feels I’m not respecting her.

But I feel, if only she would stop being so jealous and accept me for who I am.

My wife thinks I flirt. But I don’t think I flirt at all.

To me it just seems we have different Values. I’m not judging her for having more modest values than me. But I feel she is judging me for my values. Bare in mind, I don’t even touch women unless it’s my wife (no honestly, I don’t believe in it). So I do have certain boundaries. But I’m just not as modest as her, and it drives her crazy…which drives me crazy!

Please help! Any advice would be appreciated. We are really thinking of divorce, but we both don’t want it and would like to save the marriage.

May 15, 2011

Therapy (counseling, family therapy, individual therapy) works best when…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take UP your life - it is an act of LOVE

1. It is self-initiated and no one is “sending” you to therapy.

2. You are motivated to see change in your life and understand that it could mean an increase in your discomfort and some disruption to your relationships.

3. You are willing to recognize your sacred cows even if you are initially unwilling to lead them to the slaughterhouse.

4. You read widely about ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their lives.

5. You are willing to see the fruitlessness of blaming others (parents, boss, your ex, the economy, and politicians) for what you are facing.

6. You are willing to shift your focus off the behavior of others and be fully responsible for your own behavior.

7. You are willing to understand that others can only entangle (trap, manipulate, bother) you to the degree you allow.

8. You understand your therapist is a person just like you – but for his or her training. Elevating your therapist will prove to be unhelpful to you and it will obstruct the very process you wish to assist you.

9. You understand that all desired and healthy growth requires some loss, pain, and grief.

10. Your goal is to grow up and to fully live your own life – no matter what your age.

May 1, 2011

Is it okay to hate my mother

by Rod Smith

Is it okay to hate my mother? She is loud, inappropriate, pushy, and demanding. I know I can’t change her but I must be able to change how guilty I feel about not being happy to see her. She barges into our house. She talks crudely to my children. She is mocking of any attempts to talk on any meaningful level. I am a single mother of two teenagers.

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Hate is an emotional toxic spill

As an adult you can do anything you want. You may break the law, set your house on fire, and even abandon your children.

As long as you are able and willing to face the consequences, you can do anything you want.

Of course, not everything you are able to do is helpful, wise, or accompanied by helpful outcomes. This is something we are repeatedly told as children and sometimes fail to learn even as adults.

So – yes, you are free to hate your mother. The consequences of doing so are unlikely to be helpful to you. Hating anyone is usually harmful to the one who does the hating, but hating a parent, is especially personally damaging.

Hating a parent erodes essential, vital, invisible connections that help us all to remain somewhat sane.

Hating anyone allows the hate to do a number on our insides. It distorts our responses, reactions, perceptions, and attitudes to ALL other people, and not only our relationship with the person whom we have chosen to hate.

The hate may be targeted; the results are generic. Hate is an emotional toxic spill. It ruins the host more than the victim.

While your mother’s repertoire is jam packed with unattractive themes, hating her will ultimately destroy you, burn your house down (figuratively, of course) and alienate you from your own adult children.

You will move toward greater, and real love for her if you increase your capacity to be rejected by her and stand up to her and refuse to be her victim. Do not give your mother free passage to pollute your family yet, at the same time, offer her some manner in which to remain connected with you on terms that are acceptable to you.

Yes, hate is an option, but it is not an option that will result in the kind of growth (not all “growth” is helpful) within you that will be helpful.

Walking powerfully toward her (initiating, defining, declaring, welcoming, clarifying) will empower you with ALL other people.

You are no longer a child. Use your adult voice and do not allow her to manipulate, dominate, or intimidate you. Strive for an equal, mutual, respectful relationship with your mother so that she will learn how to behave herself when she is with you and your family.

I know this is a tall order, but the results, of even failed attempts on your terms, will result in the kind of empowering and growth you want, rather than lead you ever deeper into the shame you are already feeling.

Rejecting her will diminish you. It will rob you of your voice. It will enlarge her power to dominate and control you.

If you hate your mother she won’t have to barge into your house to upset you, she’ll be living in your head, even if you never see her or have nothing to do with her.

April 23, 2011

I was unfaithful and now he wants out

by Rod Smith

“I have been an unfaithful wife and my husband is tired of it. He has given me a fresh start on three or four occasions but this time he refuses. He says his trust well is empty and that he has to move on with his life. How do I convince him that one more chance is all I need? Please help.”

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Take responsibility for your actions

Your husband appears to be taking an option necessary for his well being. I’d suggest you move full force into recovery from serial infidelity.

Unfaithfulness can hardly leave you with good feelings about yourself and I’d suggest you get professional help to delve into its origins in your life.

While his actions are painful for you, I’d suggest he has not had a painless journey.

If your husband were consulting me I’d attempt to solicit from him the level of his desire to remain married. Given any suggestion that he’d prefer to stay married, I’d encourage him to embark on an extended separation to allow you to get your troubled house in order.

Unfaithfulness is an individual pursuit. There’s nothing anyone can do to make you unfaithful. It’s not your spouse or any of your multiple cohorts. It is you who needs the help – get it. Allow him, in the mean time, to do whatever it is he needs to do.