Let’s Talk

What Do I Say Exactly . . . to be a Repairer
of the Breach? Part 4

Q. You’ve talked recently about being repairers of the breach. Would you share more examples of what this looks like?

A. Let’s Talk! Reconciliation is a big subject for any time of the year, but the broken places seem to show up even more during the holidays. If you pray, think about asking for wisdom for what exactly to say and what not to say to others.

You might also want to choose to respond and not to react to difficult people or difficult subjects. When we react, we get defensive and start unraveling. Whereas, if we choose a response that is measured, fair, and truthful—and spoken in love—repair and restoration have a presence.

Walking away or physically removing yourself from a verbal conflict is often a good choice too. It can be a strong message, not a sign of weakness. For years I have shared with small children that if they are in a pressured situation, it’s okay to just turn and walk away. One doesn’t have to say a word, or if that feels awkward, say, “excuse me” as you leave.

Many times we wait for the “someone” who has been “most at fault” to initiate forgiveness. But, consider this: who is in the stronger position to initiate forgiveness? Maybe it’s you. The stronger, the more mature one can start the conversation!

For Deeper Reflection

James 1: 5 and 19 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him . . . . everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
Proverbs 16:7 “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

What Do I Say Exactly . . . to be a Repairer of the Breach? Part 3

Q. You talked last week about being repairers of the breach. Would you share more examples?
A. Let’s Talk! An example this week is, “What do I say exactly when there are big differences of opinions and philosophies within relationships?

This is a tough one! The land mines in family relationships seem extra important to resolve. I’ve listed some truths below. If you have others, please chime in and share with us:

  • Land mines and differences of opinion are to be expected in families, even though we seem constantly surprised when they show up! It’s normal.
  • A suggested goal is NOT to try to change the other person(s). That’s often a desire, but carries land mines of its own! We need to let that one go, both for ourselves and for the other person(s). When people feel someone trying to change them, it feels controlling. This destroys relationships instead of bringing us closer.
  • After you have asked if you can share your thoughts, another goal is to be able to communicate your information in a way that shares information but doesn’t attack the listener.
  • During your conversation, it’s helpful to make the point that the relationship is more important than the argument. You may still leave the conversation with the debate unfinished, but you will leave the door open for more conversation. In a healthy relationship, you will most likely have more opportunities. We often think it’s our one chance and take a bigger lunge than advisable.

For Deeper Reflection

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

What Do I Say, Exactly, to be a Repairer
of the Breach?

Q. You talked last week about being repairers of the breach. But how does one start? What does one say?

A. Let’s Talk! The desire to be a repairer is great, and good conversations are a part of healing relationships. Every word matters— as does tone of voice, timing, and body language. We can explore more of what to say exactly in the weeks ahead, but today let’s talk about the most important two foundational pieces.

First, our hearts need to be right! Is our heart pure or prideful? Is it genuinely concerned or critical? Is our goal to help or to be right? Do we want to make things better or control things? If you are a God-follower, did you get a burden for a repairer assignment and a download from Him? Are you walking in that anointing or just your own strength?

Secondly, it is huge to ask permission to share your words with the one(s) you wish to make repairs. It can be a simple, “May I share a concern?” “May I share a possible solution?” “May I share an idea?” “May I share some feedback?”

As we inch into this subject of What Do I Say Exactly, please send in some scenarios for the next post and I’ll be glad to give you some ideas on what you might want to say. The scenarios can be real or imagined. I won’t ask. Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing from you.


For Deeper Reflection
I am repeating last post’s verses plus some, in order to widen our view of this compelling invitation to assist in bringing restoration to our own hearts and to others.

Isaiah 61:1-4 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.”

Isaiah 58:12 “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

A Beautiful Mind

Version 2
My neighbor, Ilse, has a beautiful mind, it just doesn’t always cooperate as she’d like. Dementia has a way of muddling the brain’s communication pathways, leaving a person drifting in and out of a mental fog. Dementia is unpredictable and sometimes unfriendly. One hour you’re laughing and reminiscing, and the next you’re glum and refusing to take a bath.

I write about senior issues, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, for my at-home caregiving client Right at Home. It’s one thing to write about America’s 5 million people with age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s, the number one form of dementia. It’s quite another to personally know someone with the memory, thinking, and behavior disorders.

In February, Ilse’s husband, Herman, died unexpectedly. So their daughter Edie and her husband, Gary, moved in with Ilse as full-time family caregivers. Their sheltie puppy became fast friends with my collie pup. Now we’re more than waving “hi, there,” neighbors. We’re friends. We’re extended family.

Last Friday night, Edie hosted a one-year birthday party for her pup, Dutchess, and invited my puppy Ayrabelle and me. Doggie hats. Doggie balloons. Doggie cake. And a wonderful evening of Ilse fully lucid and loving the frolicking pups. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Ilse so talkative and thrilled.

Dementia can cloud the mind, but not the heart. Else is still my fun-loving, German-born neighbor, and I look forward to more parties and everyday moments when she is fully her
playful self.

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. If you know someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, how do you stay connected with the person or the caregivers as the disease progresses with its ups and downs?

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Let’s Talk

What Is a Relationship Addiction?

Q. I have just heard the term relationship addiction
– what’s that?

A. Let’s Talk! Relationship addicts don’t just care about relationships, they are hooked on relationships, more than most anything in their lives. They are “okay” if they are in relationship with someone and “not okay” (and unraveling) if there is not a relationship. So, it’s a kind of dependency, like substance abuse, where one is looking to that something for one’s love, joy, peace, and completeness. Addiction to relationships is dangerous territory. It’s idolatry. It’s using another person or more to get your own emotional needs met.

Relationship addiction is not exactly codependency because that involves two people! Just one person can be a relationship addict and not involve another person. In fact, relationship addicts are addicted to most of the key relationships in their life, regardless of the response of the other person(s).

A relationship addict may appear at first very caring and gregarious, but ultimately becomes controlling. Some have even said that being around a relationship addict feels suffocating, like the air is being sucked out of the room. There is also a feeling of panic when a relationship addict tries to pursue and control your time, telephone, and even your other friendships.

We are “wired” by God for a relationship with Him and with one another, but the human experiences are to be healthy. HE is the one who longs to meet our emotional needs and bring us freedom, breath and life! May our dependency be on Him and not one another. May we not treasure anyone above Him.

For Deeper Reflection

Proverbs 29:25 “The fear [reverence] of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord
will be exalted.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Post 9/11 Afterthoughts

Let’s Talk! I just found a treasure in my files that might encourage brave and resilient hearts about some hidden miracles on that dark day of 9/11/2001.

The author’s name is Everett Tatman. He wrote:

Dear Family and Friends,

I had a very dear friend question my faith in God right after the terrorist attack on America. Her question was simply put, “Where is your God today?” She was very hurt, as all Americans were, so I tried not to react defensively. Since that moment I have prayed and grieved over the disastrous events. However, I believe I have the answer. I know where my God was on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was very busy!

First of all, He was trying to discourage anyone from taking [a terrorist-targeted] flight. Those four flights together [had the potential to hold] over 1,000 passengers and there were only 266 aboard. He was on four commercial flights giving terrified passengers the ability to stay calm. Not one of the family members who was called by a loved one on one of the hijacked planes said that the passengers were screaming in the background. On one of the flights He was giving strength to passengers to try to overtake the hijackers.

He was busy trying to create obstacles for employees at the World Trade Center. After all, only around 20,000 were at the towers when the first jet hit. Since the buildings hold over 50,000 workers, this was a miracle in itself. How many of the people who were employed at the WTC told the media that they were late for work or they had traffic delays?

He was holding up two 110-story buildings so that two-thirds of the workers could get out. I was so amazed that the top of the towers didn’t topple when the jets impacted.

Although this is without a doubt the worst thing I have seen in my life, I can see God’s miracles in every bit of it. I keep thinking about the people and praying for them every chance I have. I can’t imagine going through such a difficult time and not believing in God. Life would be hopeless.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Relationship Builders

Q. What are some relationship builders for those of us with boundary issues?

A. Let’s Talk! Good and healthy conversations—spoken or written—are the vehicles for stronger and clearer boundaries, whether you have been too enmeshed or too distant. I’ll share some examples below.

If you have been too soft, wishy-washy, double-messaged, or enmeshed in your boundaries with others, here’s a good conversation starter for healthier relationships:

“I have recently seen that I fail to say no when I want to at times. Because I care about relationships and enjoy serving others, I am prone to be a doormat. This is a perversion of being a servant actually. I am trying to learn when I am to say no and when I am to say yes and be true to my soul and spirit. [Jesus said no many times!] So, when I say no to you, please hear me, especially since it is new for me and hard for me to say.”

If you have issues concerning too many boundaries, mostly no-s, here is a conversation starter for you:

“I have recently seen that I fail to say yes when I should. The pattern of my cautious life has been to say no, because then I feel more in control and more protected. But, I see that my over-protection is over-control and is not a relationship builder. I would like to begin saying yes when it is appropriate.”

Let me know if this helps!

Deeper Reflection

Matthew 5:37: But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Doormat Living

Q. What are the characteristics of being a “doormat?”

A. Let’s Talk! Being a doormat involves feelings of being walked on. Moreover, this form of codependency means a person fails to set boundaries and has difficulty saying “no.

In many cultures and families, saying “no” seems impolite and not kind. But when saying “yes” most of the time – when you really want to say “no” — gives way to dysfunctional living.

I never thought I would be teaching small children to say “no” to family members, friends, classmates, etc., but as an elementary counselor, I did teach them to refuse when they were asked to do something wrong or unsafe. This message is just as important for adults. We live in such a not-safe world.

When you say “yes” and don’t say “no” — and you wish you hadn’t agreed — that’s a clue you are doormat-ing. There’s also a sinking feeling, an uh-oh feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I love finding Scriptures that speak into my life and can you believe there are even some verses in Isaiah 51 and 52 that urge us not to let others walk on us? Let us know your thoughts on doormat living.

For Deeper Reflection

Isaiah 51: 7b, 22, 23; Isaiah 52:2

Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.

Thus says your Lord, the Lord, even your God
Who contends for His people,
“Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling,
The chalice of My anger;
You will never drink it again.
“I will put it into the hand of your tormentors,
Who have said to you, ‘Lie down that we may walk over you.’
You have even made your back like the ground
And like the street for those who walk over it.”

Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.


Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com 

What About Group Anger?

Q. What are the dynamics of group anger or riots that are growing in the United States?

A. Let’s Talk! Clearly, an angry mob is one angry person finding another angry person and another! In my last post, I gave as a definition of anger, “the result of things not going the way we had hoped. Loss of hope. Things are just not right.” Somehow, when one angry person is with another angry person there is comfort and a dark sense of excitement. That fuels the fire!

Many have said our world is upside down and not at all the way it “should be” with answers seeming outside of our grasp. If we can find others who feel the same way, this strangely legitimizes our dark sense of being right in our anger.

There are several remedies. One internal piece that we talked about last time was reframing: changing one’s thinking, coping with the difference between how things should be and how they really are. Part of this is letting go of the expectation you had of how life should be. Ouch.

Then there is forgiveness. But, another action and external piece we can take is to go to the one or ones involved and try to talk about the problem and come to an agreement on some level. Talking is better than STUFFING our anger. The ramifications of stuffing are enormous. Taking up an offense is devastating too. Let’s talk about both of those next time.

One more thing to throw in the stew is the idea of processing the grief of things not being the way they should be. Grief and anger are cousins, so we hurt and we are angry all at the same time. Sometimes they are so tangled we can’t separate the two. Ask God to untangle the tangles and give you His wonderful wisdom and view of the situation. He will.

For Deeper Reflection

James 1:4-5 “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

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Let’s Talk

Feel Angry?

Q. What are feelings of anger about?

A. Let’s Talk! Anger is everywhere! Just drive anywhere for five minutes and you’ll see all levels of road rage. Go to the grocery store and you will see families out of control. You’ve seen anger many places in your day, haven’t you? Anger even seems to be on the increase. A working definition of anger is: Anger is the result of things not going the way we had hoped. It’s a loss of hope and feeling that things are just not right.

Our world today is so full of loss of control, things not going the way they “should,” and despair that our new normal will ever feel really normal. At times, so much feels different!

Sounds like I’m a glass-half-empty melancholic, doesn’t it? But, I’m a sanguine! I too have been reflecting on the anger I see each day large and small. I see both friends’ and strangers’ anger because “things are just not like they are supposed to be.”

Is this why we are drawn to entertainment and countless diversions? Is this why we like connecting in texts and social media? Are we driven to find a so-called happy place?

What do we do? For starters, God knew the damage we’d carry if we held on to anger too long. He says not to let the sun go down on anger. It’s normal to get angry and experience disappointment that things are not as they should be. We are just not to hold onto anger a long time. A day is as long as we need to be angry before this emotion needs to go. When things don’t go as you expected, can you think through your expectation(s) of what went south and let this unmet expectation go? Can you “die” to the expectation of how things SHOULD have gone?

Now, would you ask God to renew your mind? Ask Him to hit the Refresh button for you and cast your hope on Him instead of how things should be. Are you willing to switch your thinking around? Will you try it this week?

For Deeper Reflection

[google Bible verses on anger and you will find some treasure!]

Ephesians 4:27 “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

Psalm 37:8 “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com