July 22, 2015
When difficulties arise in professional relationships there are prescreening questions I encourage people to take a few days to answer – preferably in writing – before they enter into what may be necessary conflict or confrontation. The exercise usually results in creative solutions rather than in reactive or polarizing positions:
• Who immediately (person, team, or committee) is empowered to address the difficulties? Avoid going above anyone or short-circuiting avenues already in place. Going “to the top” is tiring for “the top” and leads to mistrust.
• What is my role in the creation of the difficulties? Difficulties do not arise in a vacuum. What have I chosen to ignore that has contributed to the difficulties?
• Am I making something personal that is not personal at all either about another or myself? Am I able to distinguish between what is about me and what is not?
• What can I do to present possible solutions rather than point out problems? Blaming others is seldom helpful or accurate.
• Am I regarding myself as one who is empowered and trusted or as one who is a victim? The former are usually inspiring to work with while the latter drain the joy out of the most inspiring of jobs and workplaces.
July 20, 2015
“My husband insists on access to my phone, Facebook, emails, and watches my spending like a hawk. I understand some of this. His last wife was apparently unfaithful. His suspicious ways are driving me crazy and driving us apart even though I have NOTHING TO HIDE. How do I get him to trust me more and to give me a little freedom?”
You cannot get him to trust you more. That’s his load, his burden. He has to face his problem and his challenge.
His “suspicious ways” are his issue. The harder you try to appease him the more he will make you work to prove you are trustworthy.
People do not desire privacy because they have something to hide. People desire privacy because it is a deep, profound human need.
Love and control – these are desperate attempts to control you – cannot live side-by-side in the same relationship.
Submitting to his immature acts of control will be helpful to neither of you.
If possible, meet with his previous wife. I am sure you will discover that his controlling ways played a part in the demise of his past marriage.
Stay out of control – change your passwords, and refuse.
Love loves freedom and you will never know it while you attempt to appease a controlling man.
July 19, 2015
“My husband and I married young (19, 22) – exactly the age our parents married. They have been happy for many years. We’ve been married for just over a year and things are stressing us in ways we did not expect. He constantly talks about money and work when he was very carefree while we were dating. I constantly worry about security and safety and I can never relax. We used to do everything together and now it feels like he is longing a little for his single. Now we have to focus on having fun now. This worries me. No one warned us before we married about this and I am at a very low point right now.” (Edited)
Stay at it. Your evolution as a couple sounds very normal, even beautiful. Request that you and your husband have several meaningful and vulnerable conversations with your parents. You might find they endured similar struggles and addressing them cemented and undergirded their marriage for years they have enjoyed. No one warned you! Engaged couples seem quite unable to hear much of what they don’t want hear. Perhaps someone tried. Your marriage has terrific promise – work on your maturity, not on the marriage, and definitely not on him.
July 16, 2015
Learning to use your Voice is no simple task and ought not be confused with talking.
Many people talk an awful lot, who’ve been talking almost non-stop for years, but seldom use their voices.
Some people, very sadly, for a variety of reasons, don’t even know they have one.
All talking does not mean the speaker is using his or her voice anymore than banging on a piano always produces music.
Talking without using your voice:
• Talking because silence is painful or even unbearable
• Talking without thinking
• Saying things you’ve said countless times because the tape (CD, record) runs whether you like it or not
• Talking about things that are safe and familiar – even intimate matters – to avoid and even bury material that is aching to come out.
Using your voice:
• Addressing necessary conflict and areas of disagreement with kindness and compassion even in the event it results in discomfort in relationships
• Allowing necessary silence to promote thought and the time to allow ideas to develop
• Expressing (even sometimes with necessary caution) the things that really matter even if the potential exists to upset those whom you love.
July 14, 2015
Things parents long to hear from their teenagers….
• Lets eat many meals together and talk about anything you’d like to talk about – I want to understand you and how you see things.
• Is there anything I’m missing in the way I treat you that you’d care to help me with – I want to treat others well.
• This weekend I want to stay home, get my bedroom in order, and handwrite some letters to each of my grandparents – it’s high time they heard from me.
• Could you please help me to see my blind spots – you know, the areas that others see but are perhaps to polite to mention – I want help with those in my life?
• I have decided to save as much money as possible – I see how necessary it is.
• Education is key to almost everything – I am going to get as much of it as I can get.
• When it comes to choosing a life-partner I am going to need all the help I can get – I want you fully in-the-loop when it comes to my friendships.
• Could you please take some time to help me understand your life, your childhood, and your good and not-so-good experiences – I want to learn as much as possible about you and from you?
July 13, 2015
My urge for autonomy is screaming at me – it’s bouncing off the walls of my neo-cortex.
This time I am going to succumb.
Before I get hit the details let’s be sure that this is not a new thing nor is it peculiar to me. You probably have it too.
When my sons were much younger I’d take a shower to be alone. Or, I’d close myself in downstairs if the boys were napping upstairs and pretend I was in the house alone. This did it – it met my needs for autonomy. They settled down, at least until morning.
When I could legally leave my sons at home alone I’d go to a local coffee shop with a Time magazine and pretend I was on vacation, or, I’d go to Fresh Market and meander through the tropical fruit stands and pretend I was living back in Kona.
Once I was so desperate to think an uninterrupted thought I took the boys to church then lurked (unseen) through the building to the parking lot and headed for an early lunch at PF Changs where I pretended I was in Hong Kong.
I picked up the boys an hour or so later and felt like I’d had a sabbatical.
Anything, yes; anything – I’d do about anything to satisfy my strong urge for autonomy.
Next week is going to be an unusual week.
Nate is going to “The Great Escape” in Wisconsin. Thulani is going on a mission trip to New Orleans.
I am going to take the VW Beetle and drive to my brother California – and, wait for it, I bought myself a floppy hat so I can do it with an open sun roof!
July 11, 2015
A handful of (newspaper) readers have asked about our travel.
The suggestion is that I am independently wealthy, perhaps a little bored:
1. I travel mostly to speak in Youth With A Mission and its affiliated University of the Nations. I try to take my sons with me. This is a volunteer organization operating in hundreds of locations. I think I’ve been to about 40. I teach classes about growing up, personal responsibility, and about the concept of Differentiation of Self. I have loved this imperfect organization since I was 17. I have tried to play my role since 1986.
2. Outside of YWAM I have developed a readership through my newspaper column (The Mercury). Consequently, I have been invited to address schools, colleges, and public groups about various matters like RACE, ADOPTION, and SINGLE-PARENTING. My newspaper audience is predominantly in South Africa although invitations have come from the UK and Eastern Europe.
3. I travel to assist individuals and groups in conflict. I help people speak and hear each other and engage in necessary and meaningful conflict. On such missions I have no agenda but to help parties articulate what they think they need.
4. I don’t use PowerPoint, I have no bells and whistles. It’s all about the process, respect, mutuality, and love. When I use the term LOVE in this context I mean seeking the highest good for all concerned.
[YES. I will come to you, your organization, your school, church or whatever. It’s all about time and availability. No destination is too far. Am I expensive? YES. It will cost you everything – and the least expensive aspects of what it costs will have to do with money.]
July 10, 2015
Allow others to speak down to you and you will begin to look down on yourself. You will begin to see yourself through their lens and even begin to agree with them.
Allow others to speak ill of you and you will begin to hide and avoid people and believe their disrespect is somehow deserved.
You will begin to carry a sense of shame that’s difficult to shed.
Allow others to lie to you (and then on top of that make excuses for them) and you will begin to fumble with what it true and what is not and soon you will be unable to tell the difference.
You will begin to question your judgment (and sanity) about the most insignificant of matters.
Firmly, kindly address those who choose to treat you poorly, knowing you will ruffle feathers (or more).
Use “I” statements. Define yourself; not others. Don’t go into detail.
People who treat others in the ways I have described – power-hungry people – love an argument. They will bully you into seeing just how wrong you are and how much you’ve misunderstood them.
Relationships are not about winning or losing and you know they that. They don’t.
Do not be afraid to walk away from ANY relationship that does not hold you in highest regard. Life is far too short and already far too difficult to have to bear the added burden of accommodating another person’s unresolved power-issues.
December 28, 2014
When making your New Year resolutions – whether they involve very personal matters like ridding yourself of excess weight, changes you’d like to bring to your family, or how you conduct yourself at work – consider and respect the power of homeostasis.
This is the systemic pressure for things to return to “normal”. It’s the pressure that resists change. It’s the force that wants things to go back to the way things were.
Think of the power of homeostasis as an influential undercurrent, an invisible force. It’s why losing weight in the short term is easier than keeping it off in the long term. It’s not only that you may just get slack about watching what you eat. It is more than that. Your body is reaching for, even aching for, a state it once knew.
Understanding homeostasis will help you understand why some people will leave one abusive relationship only to appear to welcome another.
It’s why the “new broom” boss was only able to change things at work for a short time.
If you can accommodate the power of homeostasis in your plans you are more likely to succeed.
Understand this pressure is real.
Embrace it, build your plans around it, and you are more likely to harness it.
Awareness is a powerful tool.