Archive for ‘Anxiety’

October 5, 2017

Weekend superhero

by Rod Smith

The world is disturbed by threats of nuclear war. There have been horrific mass shootings, race riots, and re-emergences of violent extremes.

Entire regions of the world have been destroyed by hurricanes and earthquakes. Millions are homeless because of severe weather and millions more live as refugees fleeing oppressive political circumstances.

May we (you and I) deploy our most powerful individual forces. As limited as we each may be, the world needs a few superheroes and we can each in our own way be one:

  • Design and commit specific, routine acts of kindness and generosity. Make them pointed, uniquely tailored for someone in need. If possible, make your target an enemy and make your act anonymous. The “routine” will help us form healing habits. The “enemy” element will transform us into fine-tuned agents of grace

  • Extend your immediate community by embracing the stranger, the sojourner, the person on the fringe. Resist the urge to create him or her into your own image by expecting your guest to conform to your ways or to convert to your ways. Superhero hospitality accepts people exactly as they are.

  • In the spirit of St. Francis, indeed a superhero, may we seek to console and to serve rather than to be consoled and to be served. I know, I know – it wasn’t supposed to be a direct quotation.

September 5, 2017

When therapy works, and when it usually doesn’t

by Rod Smith

Therapy works:

  • When clients are highly motivated to grow
  • When clients are willing to take risks and do new things
  • When clients are willing to be vulnerable with the people with whom they share life
  • When clients are willing to face, rather than deny, necessary and inevitable loss
  • When clients establish a realistic view of what therapy can and cannot achieve and have realistic expectations of the therapist and the process.

Therapy will be an exercise in treading water and wasted expense:

  • When clients go through the motions of getting help without wanting either growth or change
  • When clients attempt to outsmart the therapist and therefore treat the process as a game
  • When clients have a distorted view of the power therapist have and an unrealistic view of what the process may deliver
  • When clients withhold pertinent information
  • When the therapist “pushes” or “pulls” clients against their will and in conflict with their abiding loyalties.
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

December 31, 2014

Planning 2015 / Become your own CEO

by Rod Smith

The Mercury – January 1, 2015

Ways to think about the New Year that will lead you into new dimensions of living that you design for yourself:

All behavior has meaning. Assess your behavior – your responses, your attitudes.

Try to see the behavior of others (good or bad) as none of your business.

Draw. Using stick figures of various shapes and sizes, draw your family according to the influence you perceive them to have.

Think about your patterns. Diagram your relationship traps and triangles.

Chart your position: how it’s changed over the years and how you’d like to see it modified in the future.

Use colors.

Give the colors meaning. Track the information-flow.

Until you become your own Chief Executive Officer and Human Resource representative in your own family you will not see the changes you’d prefer. While you are not in charge of you, someone else will be.

Keep your drawing private. You are looking for change, not an argument.

Everyone sees his or her family differently because we all live in different families – EVEN if we are siblings.

Allow yourself, and everyone else, the kind of grace you’d like shoveled your way. This is partly what it means to accommodate homeostasis (yesterday’s column). Allow for some degree of regression and failure on all of your parts.

December 21, 2014

Text for help from a woman who is cutting……

by Rod Smith

“There’s a young woman cutting herself outside my flat. What can I tell her?”

(Text received from South Africa)

Assess the level of urgency.

Does she need an ambulance or your presence?

If it’s the latter, your presence is more important than your words.

Be very respectful.

Be calm.

Be gentle.

Ask if she wants you to say anything at all.

If she tells you to be quiet, be quiet. Tell her you will sit with her in silence.

Allow the quietness between you to settle in, and this could take a long while, then tell her gently that you are willing to listen to her for as long as she wants to speak, and that you will not say a word while she talks or try to rearrange her thoughts or mess with her feelings.

If she tells you that you may talk, tell her very gently, after much silence, that there is help available to people who think that hurting themselves is helpful; that while her strong feelings that result in her inflicting pain upon herself may offer her a tangible outlet for her strong feelings, there are steps available toward more permanent relief from whatever she is facing.

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July 17, 2012

The joy of our humanity

by Rod Smith

Is found in our connection with others (a connection sufficiently powerful so that we are not alone) and can therefore give and receive strength to and from each other. It is yet separate enough so that we not drain each other of the adventure of being unique and distinct beings. This is one of the greatest blessings accompanying our humanity and, when it fails, it becomes the source of exceedingly powerful pain.

July 14, 2012

Indications of becoming healthier in an intimate relationship

by Rod Smith

1. You experience greater OBJECTIVITY and can “see” your most important relationships as if looking at them through someone else’s eyes.
2. Despite any pain, any trauma, any uncertainty, you can see some HUMOUR in what you are experiencing even if it is short lived.
3. You are progressively gathering a small community of friends who know everything (or almost everything) about you and their SUPPORT is becoming easier to trust.
4. You are seeing with greater and greater CLARITY what are and what are not your responsibilities within your most important relationships.
5.”No” comes easier and it is not accompanied by guilt. “Yes” is your response when you really want what you agree to. You begin to BELIEVE the words you say. Your words reflect you, your desires, and are not said from guilt or the impulse to keep the peace or make others happy.

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 1, 2011

Achieving MUCH with YOUR life is a profound act of mothering

by Rod Smith

1. Enriched is the woman who does not lose herself to her marriage or motherhood. She has a strong spirit of independence while being a loving wife and mother.

2. Enriched is the woman who does not accommodate poor manners (being taken for granted or being victimized) from anyone (not husband, children, in-laws, siblings, or her parents).

3. Enriched is the woman who lives above manipulation, domination, and intimidation. Her relationships are pure and open; her boundaries are defined, secure, and strong.

4. Enriched is the woman who does not participate in unwanted sexual activity. She honors her body as her private temple and shares it, even in marriage, only by her own deliberate choice.

5. Enriched is the woman who has developed a strong, clear, identity. She regularly articulates who she is, what she wants, and what she will and will not do. She is unafraid of defining herself.

6. Enriched is the woman who knows that pursuing her dreams to be educated, to work, to accomplish much, to expect much from her life, are profound acts of partnership in marriage and profound acts of mothering. She knows that the woman who “takes up her life” does more for herself, her husband, and her children than the one who surrenders it.

June 29, 2011

There is help for addicts but the first step is recognition….

by Rod Smith

Addictions and addicts are swamped in denial.

The use of any substance or participation in any behavior is a problem (an addiction) for you if one of the following is true for you.

As a result of the use of a substance or engagement in a behavior:

  1. You’ve lost, or come close to losing, a significant relationship or a job.
  2. You’ve had a run in with the law.
  3. Your children are unsettled by your activities.
  4. You have physical cravings when you have been without it for a few minutes or a few days.
  5. You violate your values, or appear to have no values, to sustain your activity.
  6. You build your life around something people who love you wish you wouldn’t consume or do.
  7. Your life – finances, faith, and relationships – has become progressively unmanageable.
  8. You hide or you lie about your whereabouts and/or behavior.
  9. People who love you are put “on duty” and you expect them to lie for you.
  10. People, especially those you love, are embarrassed by your behavior.
  11. You hate a list like this list and hope certain people won’t see it.
  12. When confronted with this list you argue about definitions, display anger or rage, or write the writer off as an idiot.

Please, get help, AA, AL-ANON, and similar organizations are able to assist you. You do not have to live like this!