Archive for ‘Triggers’

November 16, 2017

Lessons: what is life teaching you?

by Rod Smith

What is the year teaching you? Please, reflect and let me know. Here are a few things I am learning afresh and re-learning:

  • Trust broken is hard to restore. My experience is that forgiveness can restore broken trust but the ability to trust again can take a long time to restore. This is especially so with close friendships and infidelity in marriage.
  • No one is more important than anyone else. To be intimidated by another is a waste of opportunity and energy. Yes, we all have different roles. We are afforded a variety of degrees of power and responsibility that come with our varying roles, but using that power to lord it over another is the surest indication that the power is in the wrong hands.
  • Some individuals are so significantly hurt that the real person has disappeared behind shame, regret, and pretense. The defense has become the identity. The vulnerable person inside died a very long time ago and, sadly, will probably never be known.
  • Ignored conflicts and family issues that are unaddressed will remain and usually grow. The issues may change shape, may go into hiding, may remain latent for decades – but they will surface and get necessary attention.
November 7, 2017

Anxiety – chronic and situational

by Rod Smith

If you find yourself identifying with the chronic list I would strongly urge professional help. Please, if you use my list at all, use it for yourself, and not to identify others.

Two kinds of anxiety: chronic and situational

Chronic:

  • You worry and you don’t know why – it’s generic and floating; it’s not connected to anything specific.
  • You worry even when things are going well – there are times when you worry about having nothing to worry about.
  • You worry as a way of life – when people tell you they are not in a state of constant concern you think they are surely in denial.
  • You worry about everyone you love and regard the amount of worry as proportional to the depth of your love.
  • The rumbling feeling of anxiety feels like it is deep inside you and has lived in you for as long as you can remember – it’s as if you were born with it or it came from another life.

Situational:

  • You are facing an examination, a tough conversation, or an important interview. You know the tension will ease once you get started or once the trial is over. Your worry is attached to something real and when that is dealt with the worry will ease and then be gone.

 

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.

March 12, 2017

I remind myself of these things….

by Rod Smith

When it comes to my sons, I remind myself of these things:

  • Their lives are larger at their ages than mine was at their ages. Of course, they’re starting late and the world is a very different place. Their platforms are more complex, and more dynamic than mine was and, I admit, I am somewhat limited in my ability to identify with it. This means I should not be taken aback when I am blinded to possibilities and experiences they see and want to embrace. Rejecting an idea or a possibility simply because I couldn’t envision it is a good way to widen a gap than is mine, and not theirs, to bridge.
  • While the world is a very different place than it was in my formative years, some things remain unchanged. Good manners, using please and thank you, looking people in the eye, standing up for adults, dealing honestly with money and time, working hard, and displaying empathy in the face of those who are suffering – are values that cannot be discarded just because the world is faster paced than it once was. One of my jobs as a parent is to encourage, even enforce some of these things if necessary.
  • I am enough for my sons and the only dad they will ever need.
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 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 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 8, 2011

Do you need therapy? Here’s a quick list to guide you……

by Rod Smith

Family meetings!

The following are pointers (two are enough) to suggest you could use therapeutic help with your family, relationships, and your faith:

1. Being part of your family feels mechanical, rigid. You feel locked in – you are an actor in someone’s play and you don’t particularly like your assigned role.
2. No matter how hard you try, things (tensions, roles, anxieties, problems) stay the same. Faces and circumstances modify over the years but the stresses and the issues remain constant.
3. At family holidays (Christmas and Thanksgiving most intensely) you feel pressure about where to be. You are the rope in a tug-of-war.
4. You feel intimidated when speaking with your parents about anything meaningful even though you are an adult. You knees get weak at the thought of engaging your parents about substantial matters.
5. Old arguments often resurface; minor disagreements seem monumental – there’s little sense of proportion and little things are blown up into huge issues.
6. You find it easy to talk about your parents but find it difficult to talk to them. You’re loaded with material about them but feel silenced when it comes to taking with them.
7. Feelings of loyalty and disloyalty can rage within and you feel pressure to compromise your integrity with your family of origin (parents, siblings, grandparents).
8. Your career and family life interfere with each other. It seems as if you can’t have both with any degree of success.
9. New relationships get intense very quickly (becoming sexual, manipulative, or controlling) despite genuine attempts to make things different “this time.”
10. You enthrone (make saints) and dethrone (make sinners) people rather rapidly. Your heroes quickly prove fallible and you are disappointed once again.

Call me / Skype me (RodESmithMSMFT) / Email me – I can probably help you or steer you to someone who can.

March 28, 2011

Children and death of a loved-one

by Rod Smith

1. Tell the truth, even to young children, as lovingly and directly as possible.

2. Avoid meaningless nonsense like “uncle has gone to America” – use words like “he died” and “dead.” “Gone away” or “passed away” are meaningless terms and only add to confusion.

3. Avoid nonsense like “God needed a helper and so God took your aunty.” Not only is this theological claptrap, it is likely to make a child wonder how an all-powerful God can need a beloved relative in Heaven more than a helpless child needs the same person on Earth.

4. Allow grief and mourning to freely occur for you and the child. Crying and wailing is helpful in the light of loss – stopping it up, blocking it, holding it in, will only allow natural grief to fester and transform into something unhelpful (anger, resentment) in the future.

5. If a child does not appear to be upset, don’t push the child toward your own grief. Allow the child to handle loss in his or her unique way.

6. I am of the opinion that it is helpful for children to attend funerals and to see the body. Of course I am aware that there are many who disagree and, of course, there are exceptions which include violent deaths, suicides, and so forth.