Archive for ‘Reactivity’

December 6, 2017

The two E-s

by Rod Smith

Enabling is rampant in many families.

It can involve:

  • Covering for someone so outsiders do not notice or find out about his or her undesirable behavior (drinking, gambling, addictive habits).
  • Relaying lies to a workplace – calling in to say he or she is ill when he or she is unable to work because of the addiction.
  • Permitting, turning a blind-eye, cooperating, letting things go unnoticed to keep the peace or because it feel easier.

Enabling behaviors are often subtle way of disguising who it is in a family who is in need of help. The enabler often appears to be the strong or the healthy one. Control is the name of the game – and family life can feel like one.

Empowering is common in healthy families.

It can involve:

  • Getting out of each other’s way so people can learn from errors and get credit for their successes.
  • Allowing natural consequences to follow choices so people can learn just how powerful really are.
  • Trusting and believing in each other even when things do not go to plan or appear to be falling apart.

Empowered people require the company of other empowered people and all require a strong sense of self. Freedom to discover and to learn are the hallmark of the empowered.

December 3, 2017

Ego rush

by Rod Smith

You’ve heard about an adrenalin rush. I’ve seen ego rush. I see it in in groups, teams, and in classrooms. I detect it rumbling in me. Perhaps it’s natural and part of survival.

Symptoms of an ego rush occurring:

  • Authentic conversation – the give and take and the sharing and building on ideas of others – seems impossible. It’s verbal arm-wrestling or nothing.
  • Perceived insults, rebuffs, refusals, or dismissals are stored. They lurk in awareness, crouched for attack when the timing is right.
  • What a person knows must be known and he or she will nudge and provoke until you share his or her belief in his or her superiority.
  • The ego will win by winning or it will win by losing but humility and backing down are not options.
  • Actual loss, perceived as humiliation, is temporary – a matter of perception. The “loser” will circle around and get even.
  • Everything spins around hierarchy and real engagement, the wrangling, is delayed until the hierarchy is figured out.
  • Conversations are calculated and are a means to advance an undisclosed agenda.
  • The presence of authentic humility escapes or confuses those caught up in the ego rush as much as witnessing or trying to engage in a conversation using a totally foreign language.
November 26, 2017

Picking up pieces

by Rod Smith

The Mercury / Tuesday

I’ve seen women and men painstakingly pick up pieces of their lives after a broken marriage.

This is necessary, natural, and understandable. Deep love, when it ends, at least for one party, is scarily disorientating.

Some never recover. A broken heart can really cause a slow (or a quick) death.

Perhaps you are you tripping over evidence of a terminated relationship. Letters, photographs, or books seem to appear from nowhere and evoke fresh pains or salt for the wounds.

A purge may be necessary, but it’s not for all.

The loot may be all you have. It can become a crucial stepping-stone to greater health. Or it can be a debilitating anchor.

I’ve been confused about why some friendships have ended. I examine memories for clues to what, how, and why things went wrong.

There are times this is unnecessary.

My damaging role is painfully clear.

The pain I caused is deep for others and obvious to me. And, my own and deserved pain is utterly near.

What do we do with our pain – deserved or not?

Options are unlimited once confession occurs.

Confession, of course, does not mean mutual forgiveness is inevitable. It’s not.

Options broaden with confession and commitment to learn from the past.

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.