Saturday, January 10

Character Discernment, Revisited ................ 1/10/15

Ladies, calm down. No, 
this isn't a picture of me.
I'm bumping up this post.  It has been the third most popular, all time.  It is the best I can do, as my computer is in the shop for repair. I'm borrowing one right now to get this in. 

Here it is: 

     In another post (See here.) I wrote:
"As we grow in our relational skills, we see difficulties as opportunities which allow us to do spiritual weight lifting. We exercise the inner strength we have that is the result of applying
healthy principles in our interactions with others, even with those who are dangerous and hurtful. What a deal!"
      Just a second, before I go any further.  I disagreed with someone.  Well, this individual got personal.  I was called names, publicly, put down.  This person's friends chimed in, with additional invectives.  My, my.
     Cyber bullied I was.  Such a response I saw for what it was.  A lack of adult-like behavior.  Progress doesn't occur by attacking  the person, instead of discussing the issue. This is using an ad hominem argument, as illustrated to your left.

       Most people, when confronted aggressively, back-pedal----are caught off guard.  It's more effective staying present, on topic.  If a person is abusive towards us, that's not the time to reason things out.  Waiting for a moment when they are not emotionally intoxicated makes better sense. 

      Life happens.

      In light of principles listed below, I kept perspective.  I did not drink the venom offered.  It's hard for the other person to have an emotional tug-of-war with me if I let go of the rope.  I did. 

       Their response let me understand their values. 

       Sure, it's disappointing witnessing, when someone disagrees with another, that the differing person is often judged harshly.  The differing person is wrong, stupid, idiotic or twits. That's how I was drscribed.  Oh well. 

       It is preferred not allowing others define who I am or determine my moods, which is what I did.

       It's sad when people see differing viewpoints as rubbish, tossing in profanities too.  This is the reaction of many who are otherwise considered normal, reasonable.

       It's not sad in that I took it personally, but tragic seeing personal attacks used to win an argument.
"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 increases my gratitude.  I have greater clarity---mindfulness---when interacting with others.

       Instead of reacting, I respond.  When I do, I am kinder 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 response 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.

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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.