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

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

Let’s Talk

Relationship Busters

Q. What are some more relationship busters besides doormat living (your last column)?

A. Let’s Talk! Last post we talked about needing to say “no” when appropriate so you are not walked on, which is about maintaining too few boundaries. Another topic along this line is when one has TOO MANY boundaries. Let’s take a look at that now.

We talked last time about the underlying story of why one has too few boundaries (doormat living): often it’s about being a people pleaser.

When someone has too many boundaries, he or she exhibits an unspoken message to others to not come close. With this emotional distancing, the person appears too fragile, too busy, too angry, or as though they have put up another “wall” of some description. The reasons underneath that wall vary, of course, but usually there is a deep hurt or injury that has not been processed and healed.

Do you see a common denominator? Yes, people. There’s a cost when we injure others, and a cost when we let others injure us. Having too few boundaries or too many boundaries are not emotionally healthy places. If you find yourself in either category, I do encourage you to get professional help to unravel the places of injury to your heart and relationships.

Yes, you know the next thing I am going to say. God also longs to complete the healing needed for your boundary issues. Not as a mask or as a stick-on answer, but for the deeper healing needed.

For Deeper Reflection

Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” [emphasis mine]

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

Forgiveness in the New Year

Q. As I start the New Year, what can I do to help my relationships?

A. Let’s Talk! A great start would be to make sure you have cleared up any issues in your relationships. Maybe you have been faithful to take care of clearing up your part of the problem and asking forgiveness immediately “after” — but if not, here’s a review of the language you might want to use, PLUS a new important question at the end.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

“I was wrong to [name the offense such as “to be so unloving” or “to be so thoughtless” or “to hurt your feelings,” etc.] and I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?” Then you wait for the answer. Here is the new question I learned a few weeks ago from my dear friend Martha Wolfe. You ask, “IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?”

_______________________________________________________________________________________

How utterly stunning! When you take the initiative like this in your relationships, you have gone beyond an act of obedience and are bravely going to a vulnerable place of restoration.

Martha had a few additional thoughts: “When you go to the person you are asking forgiveness from, make sure you have already forgiven the individual in your heart for any offense. This makes your heart clear ahead of time toward the person. You can now concentrate on asking forgiveness for YOUR wrongs. Of course unexpected things can come up in the conversation and you will deal with those as they happen.”

It’s both terrifying and freeing all in one to settle issues in a relationship, but if your heart really wants to restore that relationship, the resolution is worth it. Have a brave week!

Deeper Reflection

Ephesians 3:20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us . . . .”

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

About Relationships, Boundaries, and Listening

Q. Could you please share some more about healthy relationships and boundaries?

A. Let’s Talk! Healthy friends learn to listen well with their hearts, don’t give unasked-for advice, and have wise boundaries. They are not controlling or needy. . . let’s stop there for a bit.

One of the sentences I heard long ago that I have chewed on over the years is, “Codependent friends don’t have relationships – they take hostages!”

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the expectations of a friend? Does a friend often take over your schedule — either not mindful of your time or disregarding your needs while focused on his or her needs only? Do your friends invite dialogue or do they want you to think like they do? Do your friends share you, or do they want you all to themselves? The list goes on, but you get the drift.

Another name for codependency is relationship addict. Where there has been emotional neglect or lack of emotional nurturing, that is the natural setup for looking for comfort in relationships/people. But! It’s a trap, isn’t it?

What’s the alternative? I believe the real cure is looking to God for what mankind just can’t give. People were never meant to fill up that hole in our hearts. Relationship dependency is a counterfeit of the real deal. We’ll talk more about healthy relationships in the next post.

For Deeper Reflection

2 Peter 2:19b, “For by what a man [or woman] is overcome, by this he [or she] is enslaved.

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

 

Here’s to You, Dad

I am teetering between rich joy and tender sadness. Father’s Day is just a few days away and many of you are planning incredible surprises for your father, your husband, your grandfather. While I no longer have a father or grandfather to surprise, or a husband . . . just yet . . . I still can celebrate my dad by telling you a bit about him.

This photo is one of my all-time favorites of Dad who is holding his first grandchild, Stephanie, who is only two months old here. I love Dad’s little dip of the head and his proud grin. You see, Myron, was truly a manly man who grew up on a Nebraska farm, managed to join the Merchant Marines in World War II (a little underage), and went on to marry a Minnesota city gal. Dad started his successful career with Phillips 66 in 1955 and later he added Sinclair to his service station and petroleum distribution business throughout southeast Nebraska.

Mom&DadStephnie1985 - Version 3When I look at this photo of Dad, I see his dark, wavy hair and think of Andy Griffith. Come to think of it, my dad and Andy were much alike. Easy-going fathers and well-respected leaders in their Mayberry-small towns. A dry sense of humor with a love for fishing and down-home cooking. A dedication to family and faith. A generosity that often helped the underdog take another step forward. A profound wisdom not derived from education. And a friend gregariously patient with life’s jittery Barney Fife types.

Of course, no father is perfect, but I have a difficult time thinking of mistakes my dad made in life. I know your relationship with your own father may bring about more angst than fond memories. I am truly sorry. I’m writing this not to brush against any scars you bear in your relationship with your father, but hoping to nudge us all to honor the good in our dads. Not the perfect but the good.

So this weekend while you may be treating the dads in your life to favorite foods, a new power tool, or a baseball game, I may just head up to the mountains and take a drive on the curvy highway that made even my brave-hearted yet flatlander father squeal a bit with a “weeee…whoahhhh” when we edged a little too close to the drop-offs. Here’s to you, Dad!

Brave and Resilient Tip #30: Look for and celebrate the good, not the perfect in others.

Let’s Talk

Harmony vs. Discord

Q. How can we get along better in our families and close friendships regardless of differences? I long for harmony, but discord is more prevalent because of our differences.

 

 A. Let’s Talk! Our hearts were built to love harmony, but we do live among others with great diversity of thought and life choices. Let’s explore how we can navigate that kind of music playing in our immediate surroundings!

Of course, we want people to think like we think. It’s undeniably more comfortable, but it is not realistic. What if differences among family members and friends help prepare us to love those outside our circle? If we can live well with those we know well—we can handle bigger differences at work, school, in our neighborhoods, etc.

So, how can we be okay with differences in our family or close circle? First, let’s go back a few columns. Remember we talked about how we can’t change others, we can only change ourselves. If we try to change others, it is called control. Ugh. It’s an awful feeling to be either the controller or the controlled one. You can only control your side of a difference of opinion. With that out of the way, you are then in a neutral place to ask for clarification, just so you know for sure the other person’s stand on issues. Then you can ask if you can share your views, not to change your loved one’s views, but just so your position is heard and understood.

Next you are in the classic place where you can ask if you can “agree to disagree.” It is even helpful to say, “I am sharing my beliefs so you will know where I stand, but my purpose is not to persuade you to share my position.” That eases the control tension. “Healthy” families should be able to disagree and be okay. If we can’t disagree openly, then we are stuffing and that is unhealthy. Many families even have family meetings deciding on language to use to respectfully disagree.

Unconditional love is choosing to love someone REGARDLESS of differences or blemishes others may have. Jesus is about the only example of this in its truest form, but He compels us to choose it as a way to live among imperfect humans. Isn’t it totally refreshing when we know that someone cares for us whether we mess up or not? It is a great gift one can give to one’s children, spouse, friends, or world.

I can hear you asking, “But what if I am ‘right?’” My answer is: So, you believe that being right is bigger or more important than the relationship? Is that the message you believe and are sending to your family or, is the relationship more important? Can we love them anyway, even if we believe they are “wrong?” Are you miserable because of these people in your life? A peaceful heart has everything to do with choosing harmony in spite of differences. Does it mean we have given up our principles? No, it means we are choosing to be gracious. Do you hear a new harmony possibly? I sure welcome your thoughts on this discord vs. harmony topic.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

 

For Deeper Reflection

 Proverbs 15: 16-17 “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and turmoil with it. Better is a dish of vegetables where love is, than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”

Proverbs 17:1 “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife.”

Proverbs 25:24 “It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

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.

 

 

Let’s Talk

Bravery in Today’s Culture – Part 5

What If I Am the Family Bully?

 

Q. Could you please talk more about the dynamics of bullying? I am the bully in the family.

A. Let’s Talk!  Thank you so much for disclosing. Let’s see if we can uncover some truth to set you free. It is common in familiar circles like families for someone to be the corrector-in-chief. Communication is often disrespectful with eye-rolling or “the Look,” teasing, name calling, and many other hurtful messages including raging and disrespectful punishing (as opposed to discipline). It is such a trap because you may mean to be helpful, but the effect is damage to your important relationships. It is a misuse of authority to disrespect others when you are correcting or instructing. Let’s talk about other ways to accomplish being a leader without bullying.

First let’s talk about owning your bully behaviors. An idea is to have a family meeting and self-disclose (as you did with this column) that you see what you have been doing is “bullying.” Share your deep regret for harm done. “I have been wrong to ____. My behavior has been disrespectful and very hurtful, and I am so sorry. Will you forgive me?” You then need to build in some ways to change your behaviors so that you don’t revert back to the bullying. Some adult bullies have asked their children to make a hand signal or another cue when the bullying shows up again. Hopefully the correctors of your bullying will be kind and respectful. It is a good thing for families to keep seeking better ways to communicate.

Coercion is a first cousin to bullying. And, under most forms of coercion is fear. You may want to self-evaluate and see if coercion and fear are issues for you. Many people use coercion with people close to them for fear that if things aren’t done a certain way that bad things will happen. We don’t want to ever let fear drive us or our behaviors. This is a huge issue for your own mental/emotional/spiritual health. Many times I end my column with “Ask God to show you” and that is the case here. Ask Him to reveal any fear(s) in your life. You don’t want that stronghold. Moreover, ask Him to show you all of the issues in your choice of bullying behaviors; and ask Him to replace those behaviors with loving correction and instruction.

I hope you are not hearing me just say, “Quit it!” because I am not. It is a journey to make life changes and not an overnight destination. In summary, your disclosure that you are a bully is a huge first step. Kudos to you!! A second step is sharing with family or a wider circle. Thirdly, this change involves replacing the bullying behaviors with other more desirable behaviors. Hey, you are moving forward.

You as the parent or adult really can set the standard for loving, firm, and respectful leadership—void of bullying behaviors. Our world has become so full of the fruit of bullying such as verbal abuse that it almost seems “normal.” It is not the norm. Here’s the real model for us: Jesus had all authority, but was not a doormat, nor was He a bully. Ask Him to grant you a renewed leadership style that blesses all those around you. THAT is the pattern we all long for in our relationships and everyday lives.

For Deeper Reflection

 Colossians 3:8 – “But now, you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”

Colossians 4:6 – “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

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.

 

 

Let’s Talk

Bravery in Today’s Culture – Part 4     

What About the Family?  

 

Q. Could you please talk more about staying brave when people are bullying you in your own family? My teen is our bully!

 A. Let’s Talk! This is a tender subject, but it is good to talk. Thanks for sharing about your child. I am going to throw out some thoughts and hope they connect with your situation. I will speak in generalities since I don’t know the specifics. Many times a child bully or teen bully in a home is actually “acting out” what is happening to him/her. Is it possible that your child is being bullied at school or in the neighborhood? Remember the principle of patterning [repeating what is being done to them]? Moreover, sometimes children find it a shameful incident to be bullied and so won’t tell – and sometimes they have been threatened not to tell.

We have talked in earlier Let’s Talk conversations that it is important to “look under” the behavior. Does your child have some anger or hurt that is stuffed or buried? What we know about every behavior is that there is a reason or backstory for it. Sometimes we just need a little help exposing the reason(s). There IS a reason your child is choosing bully behaviors.

Here’s another interesting sidebar piece of information. Bullying in families always feels personal, but most of the time it is not. The hurtful behavior is about them and not about you. Secondly, sometimes the victims are the scapegoats because they are “safe” emotionally to the venting member of the family. It’s sort of like hitting a backboard to practice your tennis swing. You are just a convenient target. This does not make bullying okay – I am just sharing various possible elements underneath the behavior.

Do we ignore the bullying? No. Ignoring the bullying enables unhealthy behaviors to continue. It’s like ignoring the proverbial elephant in the living room. But, how does one start taking out the huge elephant? Telling your teen bully to just stop bullying is not wise. You want the bullying to stop, but don’t we need to address what’s under the bullying even more? A defiant bully will sternly resist an authoritative statement by you to “just quit it.” The result will be something like a tug of war without a rope.

Talking about what is under his/her behavior might be a wiser place to start. Here is a sample: “I am very concerned about your choice to bully members of our family. Could we talk about what you feel that you need? We want to help you. Your heart matters to us. You can try to share with us as your family, or we can seek counseling together to help us navigate this disrespect and anger . . . .”

What if YOU are the bully? That’s for next week! If you have questions about bullying, I would love to hear from you. Let’s Talk!
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.

For Deeper Reflection

Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life.” (Actually, the whole chapter is inspiring.)

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.