Saturday, June 25

Character Discernment, Spiritual Weightlifting Part IV: Principles That Help Us With Any Relationship ...................6/25/11

Ladies, calm down. No, 
this isn't a picture of me.
     In a recent post (See here.) I wrote:
"As we grow in our rela-tional skills, we see difficulties as opportun-ities. They allow us to do spiritual weight lifting. We exercise the inner strength gotten by applying healthy principles when relating with others. We do this even with those who are dangerous and hurtful. What a deal!"
         Just a second, before going further.   

         This week I disagreed in a blog.   The individual took it personally.   Untasteful descriptions of my character were tossed at me.   This per-son's friends chimed in, adding more invectives.  
          My, my.    I don't take anything personally.  So, this was cyber bullying.  The response was seen for what it was.  A lack of  maturity. 

        Progress doesn't occur when attacks are used.  This illus-trated an ad homi-nem argument.  Like the one to your left. 

       Most people, when confronted aggressively, back-pedal. They become off guard.  It's more effective staying present---on topic.   A person abuses us.   That's not the time to reason things out.  Waiting for a moment when they are not emotionally intoxicated makes more sense. 

      Life happens.

      In light of the principles listed below, I kept my perspective, when attacked.   I did not drink the venom offered.  It's hard for an angry person to engage me in an emotional tug-of-war, if I let go of the rope.  I did. 

       Their response lets me understand their values and worldview.   I was not in agreement with them. 

       Sure, it can be disappointing, judged by others.  It often happens in a disagreement.  Frequently, the person is labelled as wrong, stupid, an idiot or a twit.  That's what happened this week.

       But I do not allow others to define who I am or determine my moods,  

       I stood in my power.  I maintained integrity with my values.  It's sad when people see different viewpoints as rubbish, tossing in profanities in the mix.  Unfortunately, this reaction frequently surfaces when there are differences. 

       I was not sad in that I took it personally.  It was tragic seeing personal attacks used to win an argument instead of discussing the issues.
"When we realize that we can have differing viewpoints without either of us being wrong, we can all fit in together."  Courage to Change, p. 140
      This week I was grateful for applying healthy principles. They allow me to discern who are Safe and Unsafe People. The following list comes from the book, Safe People by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, of the Boundaries series book fame.  It's subtitle is: How to Have Healthy Relationships and Avoid Those That Aren't.  Their book, Boundaries, written in 1995 has sold over 3 million copies.   They've written numerous fine books.

      To see practical, brief, clinical video presentations on the subjects of Relationships, Goals and Success, Emotional Struggles, Leadership, Dating, Spiritual Life, Parenting and Marriage, by these psychologists, click here.   You'll be glad you did. 

       In the authors' words,
"Unsafe people have personal traits that make them extremely dangerous to other people."  
Below, we'll get a better picture of what these two psychologists mean.  

Some Helpful Principles to Keep in Mind 
Here are a few:

1. Unsafe people are defensive instead of open to feedback.
2. Unsafe people think they "have it all together " instead of admitting their weaknesses. 
3. Unsafe people are religious instead of spiritual.
4. Unsafe people only apologize instead of changing their behavior.

      For each of the points stated above, they go into detail, in their book.  I'm skimming the general principles.  The authors discuss many other points as well, in depth.  

The following points are from page 34 in Safe People:
5. Unsafe people avoid working on their problems instead of dealing with them.
    Unsafe people in this regard:
   a. Do not admit that they have problems, or they think they can solve the problems, by themselves.
   b. Do not submit their life and will to God. In fact, call others "holier than thou," when others suggest living by God's standards.
   c. Do not confess when they've wronged someone.
   d. Do not forgive people who've hurt them. They care more about the issue than they do about the relationship. (Safe People care more about the relationship than they do about the issue.)
   e.  Avoid facing relationship problems directly. (I've ended relationships because of this factor---if a person I'm relating with is unwilling to discuss the issue, there's little hope for the relationship.)
   f. Do not hunger and thirst for righteousness. In fact, they often mock those who do and minimize their own need for doing so.
   g. Treat others with a lack of empathy.
   h. Are not open to confrontation from others.
   i.  Are not in the process of learning and growing.
   j.  Blame other people for their problems, not seeing their part. [I often, when dealing with an issue between myself and another ask:  "Can you tell me your contribution, so that I won't feel like I'm the only person to blame?]
   k.  Do not want to share their problems with others, that they may grow.

       After  going into detail about this list, the psychologists Cloud and Townsend state: 
"People who are uninvolved in character growth can be unsafe, because they are shut off from awareness of their own problems and God's resources to transform those problems. Instead, they act out of their unconscious hurts, and hurting others."
      Having my perspective informed by these principles allows me to have an Attitude of Gratitude.  There's greater clarity, mindfulness with relating.  I have a guide that lets me know who to connect with.  I am more aware of those I want to avoid.

       Instead of reacting, I respond.  When I do, I remain kind and courteous towards those with whom I differ.  I detach, while still being loving.  I don't treat them as sub-human with scorn.  I'm not interested in hacking away at them with the hatchet of cruel words. 

        Detaching prevents me from responding with a gut reaction.  This regrettable emotional reaction is easy to do, if we aren't careful.  For most of us, it's a default response.  

        The good news is that my relating healthily, when challenged can improve.  It occurs when I apply healthy principles above my personality----those sore areas where I'm vulnerable to being passive, timid, aggressive, abusive or frozen in the headlights----when faced with the vicissitudes of life. 

How About You? 
1. What have you found helpful, when dealing with conflict?  
2. How do you respond towards others who are being unkind? 
3. What are signs that let you know that a person is not safe to relate with?  
      I look forward to your comments. Here's to growing communication within this inn of hope, encouragement and recovery,
 Other Related Posts: 
1. "Calmness in the Eye of an Emotional Storm."   To read that entry, please click here. 
2. "Dealing with Emotionally Charged Conversations"   You can read that here.


Southern Cross said...

Good Advice on staying away from unsafe,emotionally detatched personalities. We all need a reminder on this one. Learning to observe before proceeding with relationships can save many hardships and wasted energy.
Recently I had Miss Kitty a cautious cat approach me. She darted out from under the deck to the cover of a nearby tree. Before jumping onto my lap for her affectionate cuddle she looked from side to side as though crossing a street. Once safe to proceed she ran across the yard and up onto my lap. I was sitting quietly viewing the evergreens of the nearby forest. She had been checking things out and because she didn't know me too well she took time to observe me before getting too close. Her caution paid off as she was held and scratched behind her ears. I observed her movements were cautious and deliberate and in the end led to a very pleasant experience for her as well as myself.

Anonymous said...

This has really helped me have a more enjoyable life. I am looking out for my wellbeing when I can see a person for who they are and decide to get closer or back away. Relationships are becoming a dance, some I do well and others require practice.
As i grow in my ability to discern character I notice the relationship with people in my life changing. I have a few particularly difficult people in my life to deal with presently. One is a boss and the other is an ex-boyfriend. Depending on which day it is the boss can change her personality. We can go a month or two where it seems she is authentic in her caring and then suddenly I feel as though I am just another person to occupy her time. I dont have time to be a doormat to a person who is like shifting sand. I set boundaries as best I can and leave it in God's hands.
The X has been another issue which has taken years of practice to stop obsessing about. One good approach has been to put him in a place of safe keeping where God can handle him. I know I can not. Its called the "God Box".
This is a great place for people, places and things which trigger unpleasant emotions. What is great about getting to know more about myself, my likes and dislikes, is I now have a blueprint for what I need in my life from myself and others. I need "safe people" who are supportive and loving to me as well as being emotionally available to have a relationship with. I am learning to trust my instincts again and listen to what people are telling me about their character by their actions.

Pablo said...


Thank you for taking the time to write. I appreciate your honesty. I agree with you. It's best not taking things personally.

Thanks for mentioning the God Box. It's a great tool for many. It helps knowing we are not alone. Turning things over to God is a great antidote to fear, anger and resentment.

Having an inventory of acceptable and unacceptable behavior makes it clearer, when someone violates our boundaries. If we aim at nothing, that's exactly what we'll get.

It must feel terrific, having more clarity about your values when it comes to relationships. You must be happy that you are having better, healthier, friendships that nurture you and meet your need for companionship.

Drop by again. Also, in a recent post,the second one for 2/28/12, I asked you a question. Perhaps you can answer it the next time you drop by.

Wishing you a great weekend, and I'm thankful, I think I hear three gratitudes in your comment!

Muse said...

I visited the Inn in 2012 and knew all the right words to use. I knew it intellectually but didn't experience the pain I felt in my heart as a result of my choices. I want the "Grand Prix". I'm learning how to stop the washing machine in my mind when it gets started and say kind words to myself instead of self destructive ones.
I am learning to become my own best friend. It's great to get help from a life coach. I am grateful the Inn has been designed and wtitte by my coach.
It's wonderful to have someone on your team who helps me focus in the solution and on a new way of thinking.
Most unhealthy people judge and condemn but show little grace. At the Inn I find strength to break through old ways that are not working. It's taken courage to look at my part in relationship dramas and I want to grow to be a better human being. I grow from kindness, love and helpful others who are sincere and do not judge.
Im having to build a new life because it hurts to stay in unhealthy relationships.
Thank you for your research and thoughtful writing which carries the message if great possibilities for all who continue to learn.

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.