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Sunday, February 16, 2020

In all robust relationships the people in them do this ONE thing well

Over the passage of the non-Christian and Christian portions of my life, and through reflection on lots of experiences of relationship success and failure, through the looking glass of peacemaking, there is one sure way of sowing well and reaping peace in all our relationships.
But first, we need to get into where it doesn’t work so well.
OKAY, LET’S TALK RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWN
Although I’ve had some tremendous relationships, I’ve also been part of relationships that went horrendously wrong.  Some of these relationship breakdowns proved so painful to one or the both of us that it caused untellable and untold grief.
In every single one of these situations, the idea I’m giving in this article would have helped, and it could have even averted disaster.
I say this from the hindsight that suggests that, for every broken relationship I’ve been part of, there were contributions to the breakage on both sides, not just theirs or mine.
Relationship breakdown is hurtful, humbling, humiliating at times, and it’s always heartbreaking.
And yet, I suspect that just about all of us go through it, and, as I like to think, for some good purpose.
THE BIG IDEA – KEEP SHORT ACCOUNTS WITH EVERYONE
The idea is this: relationships have their best chance of succeeding when we have the courage to keep short account with the others we relate with.  This requires us to keep short account with ourselves.  This means not ignoring the things that irritate or concern us.
It means having the courage to speak up.  It also means trusting the relationship can endure conflict.  Finally, it also means praising people for the good things they do — immediately, and as often as they do praiseworthy things.
We may perceive that bringing up matters of conflict in some relationships may cause fracture.  We may not feel safe enough, or we may feel the other person won’t appreciate what we’re bringing up.
If they don’t, we certainly have a problem, because good relationships are about doing conflict well, for what close relationship doesn’t have regular conflict?
TRUST – THE BIG ISSUE – ALWAYS HAS BEEN, ALWAYS WILL BE
Trust is THE big relationship issue.  If we keep short accounts on what bothers us, and the other person is able to keep short accounts with us, we share the elements of a robust relationship with the other person.  This requires both of us committing to be honest.
Transparency is the most important thing between those in close and working relationships.
We cannot expect to hold someone to a short account and not allow them the same courtesy.
This means that we need not only to speak the truth in love all the time with them, we also need to expect and allow them to speak the truth in love all the time to us.
If we both have permission to speak the truth in love, we both also have the option of overlooking the occasional offence — not sweating the small stuff.  Overlooking versus talking is about discernment.  If it bugs us, we ought to talk about it.  If it doesn’t bug us and we can easily forgive a matter, we might as well overlook it.
Trust between two people helps them both communicate their needs of the relationship plainly.
GETTING IT WRONG AS IMPETUS TO GETTING IT RIGHT
I can think of working relationships I have had in organisational environments — with those I reported to — where neither they nor I kept short accounts, and both times it happened it ended in disaster.
We didn’t keep short accounts because there was insufficient trust.
It hurts parties when they find out through a third party that there are issues in the relationship.
It feels like betrayal — like, “Why didn’t he/she come to me and trust me enough to be straight with me?”  If only people can take the risk to communicate with the other person, it builds trust, but if we perceive the other person as a narcissist, we won’t trust them not to blow up and make a vendetta out of it.
Having experienced relationship brokenness through either the inability to do conflict well, or because conflict was avoided through not keeping short account, was impetus to do better next time.
Too often we can be lulled into thinking the truth is too hard to accept, and we shrink from just being gently and kindly honest.  It doesn’t serve the relationship at all well when one or both parties hold back or even pretend to overlook significant issues.
Getting it right is about attending to issues early, and while we’re still there, even a little troubled, we go to them and have a sincere, kind conversation about what we think or how we feel.
If they listen, the relationship gets stronger.  If they don’t, their reticence reveals something important to us early on.  The former is a good sign.  The latter is a real worry.
Empowering our partner or manager or significant other or good friend to keep us to short account is also important.  How we receive their feedback will tell them to continue trusting us to keep us to short account, or they will find it hard and think us disingenuous.
Most of all, we must recognise that good people value faithfulness in relationships.

Friday, February 14, 2020

A most disappointing day for many lovers – Valentine’s Day

Not that I want to be the party pooper, but I do want to locate the elephant in the room.
It’s this: if I was to bet on the most disappointing day for many and even most lovers, including married people (sometimes one in the marriage, sometimes both), it’s Valentine’s Day.
And why would I say that?
How often do people in partnered relationships have unconscious expectations that they’ll be swept off their feet on this most special of lover’s days and aren’t?  More often than you might think.
How many people end up silently slumped, crying on the shower floor?  How many others are bewildered for something they got wrong and didn’t even foresee the mess they’d find themselves in?  Many I suspect are in both camps.
How many, as a result of what happens or does not happen on Valentine’s Day, consider making a big relationship decision — not a positive one?  It would not be uncommon.
What about the money spent on the beautiful Valentine’s present — with no thought spared in some cases — that for some explicable reason falls flat.  One wonders, “What on earth do I need to do?” and the other thinks, “What on earth were they thinking?”  Both are devastated.
And then there’s the Valentine’s Days where partners are separated by thousands of miles, or by some random spiritual crevice.  It can be like two ships passing silently in the night, or perhaps it’s two lovers who could not be more in love, yet they miss each other like crazy!  Both suffer grief for the distance that separates their bond.
Sure, there are many couples for which Valentine’s Day is beautiful and special; a gorgeous memory that can be recalled for many years to come.  I recall my best Valentine’s.  My wife left notes at two of my employers and just the way she did it showed how much thought she had put into it.  It hardly cost anything, but her love spoke volumes to my words-of-affirmation heart.
Valentine’s Day works best, obviously, for the grateful couple — the couple who have realistic (or even low) expectations of each other.  And what’s wrong with a consistent love that loves all year round?
Social media makes fools out of the lot of us.  We get sucked into posting what our partners got us, without thinking of the people who missed out, or especially the people who end up in conflict because of it.  Nobody wins.  And realistically, how many people boast publicly yet are disappointed privately?
Besides Valentine’s Day being the most disappointing day for many people in a coupled relationship, it is decidedly a horrid day for those who are single, for those divorced, for widows and widowers, for those who have lost love or for those who’ve never been in love.
Special days are hard for more people than we realise.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are prominent examples.  Christmas for separated fathers and mothers, for those whose access to their children has been curtailed.  The list goes on and on.
If for some reason this Valentine’s Day is a forgettable (or worse, a lamentable) day for you, please take heart.  You are not alone, and there are many for which days like Valentine’s Day can’t be over soon enough.  Thinking these things doesn’t make you bad.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity we have on Valentine’s Day is to love a person who may otherwise be forgotten.


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Why it took me 16 years to make amends

I did a Step 9 recently, a making of amends I’d been planning a decade and a half.
I couldn’t do it until the right time.  Until I could be sure I would not injure the person I was saying my apology to and seeking forgiveness from.
I could not go to them in the fullness of confidence without knowing I would not hurt them.
Many people may read the title and wonder why I waited so long.  Well, I was making amends all along, but I couldn’t have the actual conversation I was planning until I knew it was the right time for them.
All the while I waited, I thought about them, about what I’d done, and about how I could make it better for them.  How I could be kind when I hadn’t previously been unequivocally kind.  How I could be gracious when I’d occasionally been harsh.
As I waited and as I spent time with this person, trying my best to love them in a way I hadn’t loved them before, I noticed their grace reciprocated.  They too were kind.  As I reached out, they reached back.  I didn’t reach out so that they would reach back, it was just that they reciprocated care for care.
Making amends is a sacred work.  It is a contrition that goes beyond shame to do restitution because making things right is the right thing to do.
In all reality, as broken, fallen human beings, we all ought to be in service to our fellow humans to the degree of making amends—generally and specifically.
We make our amends generally to all we wrong in a general way.  We also make a special commitment to amends to all those we develop close relationships with who we betray in some deeper way.
We look to our entrenched conflicts and we wonder and pray into why they’re so perplexing for us and the other.  We develop acuity for our own contribution to the malaise, and we disregard for a moment what they did.  We design our amends and then ask ourselves, “Is it safe for them right now to receive it?  Will it hurt them when I tell them?”
If only we were to imagine those who have perhaps abused us making their amends.  We do that and we realise the powers of God in redemption.  It restores our belief in the power of God to transform a person to repentance.  It gives us confidence that God is indeed at work in our world.  And, of course, we desire to see the flow of this Spirit in ourselves too.
Making formal amends after 16 years, having practiced amends all that time, was an answer to my prayers because it was an answer to their prayers.  Justice was served.  Two people touched by the Spirit of God.
The key principle in making amends is doing it to cause no more harm.  It’s such a commitment to amends that it blesses the person we’d harmed at every turn; that it wouldn’t be good enough to make them suffer more.
See what such amends does when we practice it in our mind?  It makes us gentle with them in our heart, it makes our heart hold them there, in a space where we can only wish them well, where we genuinely acknowledge they always deserved better.
Such a practice of amends is possibly the best investment in our spirituality.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Not their words, nor their actions, but their patterns define them... and us

Life is a long journey and age convinces us that we’re frequently given repetitive lessons in learning those things that God patiently insists we learn.
Like the matters of who we trust, and how readily many of us are given to trust.
If we’re Christian, we know all too well the necessity of trusting God.  It is our major task, and no matter how high up we go in worldly denominational ladders, no matter how many books we write, or sermons we preach, or people we impress with our knowledge, trust of God is tantamount to the whole journey.
But we often mistake this mandate to trust God with a need to trust our fellow human beings, and horrendously so in the case that we continue to throw beautiful pearls to swine.
The flow of life in relationships is stunning in the subtlety of its dynamics.  If we’re given to empathy, we enable the manipulator who will be drawn to us like a moth to light.
As persons given to the love of empathy, we simply must develop the ability to discern good patterns from problematic patterns.  Call it a healthy cynicism.
It is a loving thing to insist someone do their own work, and not to do it for them.  We all have a role in each other’s lives not to accept child’s play for adult work.  As adults in our sloth, very often we’re tempted to have others do things for us.  Let us be people who commit to loving fellow adults well by not doing the work of doing their life for them.
Some of this work is the work of change.  Nobody can change unless something in their heart changes—that they WANT to change!
Yet we often convince ourselves that we can change others, or at least support the change that only they can make.  If they’ll change, they’ll change without our help.  If we help them, we hinder their chances to change.  It’s up to them.
We’re all tempted to say the right things to convince people we’re serious.  But we full well know that our words betray our actions, let alone the patterns that need to develop for real change to occur.
If we’re in a relationship where there’s words of commitment without change, where damage is allowed to exacerbate and fester, without accountability, nothing will change.
The only thing that facilitates change is motivation to change.  They won’t change anything if you do it for them.
We don’t need to be the ones at the receiving end of poor behaviours and evil patterns to notice.  All we need do is observe.
We might find that our words of encouragement, that they cease putting up with abysmal patterns of behaviour, fall on deaf ears.  Not only is it the person who needs to change that doesn’t change, the enabler doesn’t change—they continue to enable—and there’s no sense getting frustrated that nobody’s listening.  At these times it’s time to move on and let the enabler work it out for themselves.
When we’re the enabler, we have the option open to freedom.  The only cost is to stand up and to enforce sensible boundaries.  And doing that, if we’re committed to letting them stand on their own two feet, which is love, is easier than we think.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

How your freeze response is used to manipulate you

I’m always amazed at just how subtle the dynamics of manipulation and abuse are.  To those who experience what I’m about to mention, this will make perfect sense.  For others, it may seem a bit of a stretch, but please believe me, manipulating the freeze response is a key tactic of those who would abuse.
Imagine you were at a party, and one person innocently suggests you do something where your instant felt response is “no!”  You want to say no, but you don’t feel in the moment you have either the words or the composure to respectfully decline.  In a perfect world, or in friendly social situations, you would be allowed more time to think, or you certainly wouldn’t be pressured into committing to a response. In a perfect world, people might discern you’re uncomfortable, and they would back off.
But, of course, we don’t live in a perfect world, and there are subtle manipulations in all kinds of social settings. My intent here is simply to pique your awareness.
Let’s take this above scenario one step further. Perhaps another person chimes in at this point while you’re still bewildered for what your tactful response will be.
Remember all along that there ought to be no pressure on us even to answer, because it’s OUR decision to make, not theirs.  But we often don’t feel this way; we want to accommodate the person and give their suggestion merit, even if it doesn’t feel right.  We’re concerned for treating people right.
When the other person chimes in, the manipulator, they add an additional layer of pressure, formed in the manipulation of kindness.  What I mean by this is, they suggest we do what has been suggested we do, but they do so in either a forceful or ridiculing manner.  They may even ridicule our freeze response.  “Like, why are you even pondering this... it’s a no-brainer [haha].”
See how subtle abuse can be?
They have no right to judge what we’re thinking.  They have no place doing it.  And not only is it pressure, it comes with the bonus agitation of belittling us.  All because we didn’t want to be rude to the first person.  Now we find ourselves socially embarrassed and pressured even more to comply with what we don’t want to do.  These are normal human forces used against us; we’re not just being “people pleasers.”
Of course, people can work in tandem to manipulate us, but the really good manipulators are champions of enlisting those who are both not manipulative and who are completely clueless to the fact they’re being used.
A good guide on manipulation is this: we would not want to offend a soul, and if we do, we ought to be quick to apologise for it.  Others, however, seem to exist to get one up on others.  All this comes from the heart.  Those who offend and don’t care that they have or deny they did anything wrong, without concern; these ones are showing us the fruit of their heart.
The only caveat to all this is about isolated incidents versus repeated behaviour.  Isolated incidents are instantly forgivable, but repeated patterns are a concern.
If we’re not for others, we’re against them.  Whenever we are not for others, we are for ourselves, and when we are for ourselves in this way, we will sin against others.
The truism of relationships in the mode of love is that we reach forward and are FOR others, just as they too reach forward to us and are FOR us.
Love breaks down the moment someone acts for their own good alone.


Photo by Alexander Sinn on Unsplash

Saturday, February 8, 2020

We are called not only to applaud the right but to address the wrong

It’s so easy to praise people, and like many I’m sure, I sometimes need to remind myself not to go over the top.
But one thing we don’t do well—especially in Christian circles—is gently and graciously highlight the wrong.
I have to make a concession here.  Having worked for so many years in organisational management before entering ministry in earnest, I’ve been shocked as to the culture in many Christian settings.
A culture of silence.  Yes, that’s right.
A wrong is committed, a person is abused, a mistake is made, and what often follows it is silence.  We seem to have fallen for the lie that us Christians need to be happy clappy souls with only praise on our lips.  Or, more insidiously, we contend with powerful personalities who don’t appreciate our truth.  I’ve seen this so many times.  A “detractor” paints themselves quickly into a corner.
The culture of silence has affected us, and it’s affected so many we have come to know and love as dear friends.  How is it that we’re allowed to speak about what’s going well, but we’re not allowed to speak about what’s wrong, evil or abusive.  I know that in the world of business, you NEED to be able to think critically (which is different to being critical).  But it’s not appreciated in so many faith circles.  And yet in faith circles we have the additional obligation that we’re serving a holy God!  We’re not just bound by the Law but by a superior morality.
Diane Langberg says, “Wrongdoing is never the path to right ends.  The way of death never leads to life.”  So, how do we as churches respond to that?  It’s often the case that fear of repercussions prevents us from speaking light into situations.  I know personally how much of a risk that is.  I’ve experienced more than one loss because of it.
Shouldn’t it be a red flag of warning to us that we feel we can’t be honest; that we fear our honesty could be punished?
It takes a great deal of courage to say what needs to be said; to trust one’s discernment of issues and to love people with the truth.
We are called not only to applaud the right but to address the wrong.  Indeed, as I often say, our relationships can’t survive and grow unless we learn to do conflict well.
We have to learn how to embrace what makes us uncomfortable, trusting people’s motives, and trusting God ultimately that good can come from conflict.
We cannot perpetuate the things of death as we proclaim the things of life.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Knowing what you don’t know may save years of pain

There is so much wisdom in the featured quote.  It’s a kind of wisdom, however, that when we’re younger we don’t listen to.  Of course, we know better.  “Things that happened to you won’t happen to me,” and the like.
Valerie Jacobsen’s featured quote is telling:
My greatest regret is that I did not know THIS.
You cannot put your foot down hard enough to change the heart of an abuser, for hearts cannot be changed by human effort. 
Resistance will either be dangerous for the woman (it can get a woman maimed or killed) OR it will persuade the abuser to find other targets. If the closest options are children, some of those children will be selected to pay the price for their mother's resistance. And the abuser will be able to hide the abuse of children from their mother just as capably as he had hidden the abuse of their mother from the community.
Resistance is no more effective than subservience, and it is DANGEROUS.
It is so sad that when we’re dealing with narcissistic abuse, there are NO winners.  The fact that the narcissist insists on winning means everyone loses.
It means that when the only dignifying response you have is resistance, you give your resistance courageously, and it means there is always someone who will pay.
I know many people who paid for the sins of adults when they were children.  Some very close to me and some who I’ve worked therapeutically with.  Once the damage is done it can’t be undone, but at least situations like these are ideal opportunities to get to know the Saviour.
When I read Valerie Jacobsen’s quote, something struck me.  There are many directions I could have gone given the nuances of the wisdom within it.
My choice, however, is to risk writing about the more general phenomenon of how we never think things will happen to us.  “It’ll never be me who has a relationship with a violent, vindictive partner...” “It’ll never be me who must wrestle with irresolvable dilemmas...” “It’ll never be me who will mess up my own children, where so little of it is my fault...”
We always think bad things happen to others and we therefore stay in toxic relationships too long.  We’re like the boiling frog: the pH of the relationship turns acidic or alkaline slowly, and we don’t realise how burned we’re truly becoming.
Of course, there’s the specific issue of the children in our care.  We resist and the narcissist finds some way to get back at us.  Their secret keeping is not only sociopathic, it’s ruining lives when we’re blissfully unaware.
The moral to the story is resistance is dangerous, even though resistance is the predictable and almost necessary response!  See how impossible these situations are?  The narcissist always wins, even if everyone must lose.  He loves it when everyone loses, because if he can’t have his win easily, everyone ought to pay for it.  Punishment is a reminder of who’s the boss.
If only everyone who read these words, or the words of the quote, began to trust their own assumptions less.  If only we asked ourselves, “Could I have misread this situation?  What if it’s a whole deal worse, and what about if I find that out in 20 years?  What then?”
Narcissists need such special consideration it would take a mastermind to out-strategise them.  But the fact is, we need to put in that kind of endeavour anyway, because if he’s like this, he won’t stop just because you want him to.
We seriously need to think through how we respond to a narcissist on a daily basis.


Image: Valerie Jacobsen

5 Ways to NOT be the Narcissist

Don’t you just love articles that begin with “5 ways...”
Yes, I think they’re boring too.  My point is, once you begin to see narcissism in others, you begin to see it in yourself (hopefully), and if you’re Christian, that bothers you.  
First, let me pray the kind of prayer all us Christians ought to be praying: “Lord, can You help me to do something about this, so other people’s experience of me isn’t what would tick me off if I were them?”  AMEN.
One thing I can assure you of is that there is far more narcissism around than possibly ever before.  Life has never been easier from a convenience viewpoint.  Yet there is a case that the world has never more been so visibly divided.  Conflict abounds.  And unmitigated trauma besets so many of us, and when that’s not healed—or when we’re not truthful with ourselves and humble about the trauma we carry about us in our bodies—narcissism results.
Let’s apply Jesus’ “Golden Rule” of Matthew 7:12:
In everything, then, do to others
as you would have them to do to you;
For this is the essence
of the Law and the Prophets
.
Jesus is saying that we wrap up our entire faith system in loving God by loving others to this extent—yes, especially when it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, and where conflict abounds.  The “Law and the Prophets”—pretty much the Old Testament, or all the Scripture written when Jesus was alive.
It doesn’t matter how we live to the extent that anyone can think US the narcissist with the least cause at all for that thinking.  But, being Kingdom thinkers, what others think is nothing to us.  Or should be.  What GOD thinks, however, is to be our immediate interest.
This is why we MUST live the Golden Rule to such an extent that we’re willing to suffer that someone else would live.  In other words, if anyone is a narcissist, we would prefer it be THEM.  We would rather suffer than cause people to suffer.  Antithetical, I know!
I know that that would seem harsh to anyone who has suffered narcissistic abuse, but please look at it this way.  Even more important than our comfort and our suffering is the Kingdom in our hearts.  Jesus has told us that we WILL suffer in this life, and he has also alluded to the idea that many Christians (let alone non-Christians) carry a Pharisaic spirit.
Jesus has warned us NOT to be one of them (Matthew 7:15-23).
This is why there can be great joy in our hearts notwithstanding the things a narcissist will do to us, for the pure fact, hopefully, we won’t do those things to them.  Or, others.
Can you see the temporal and eternal significance of this?
I say these things to be an encouragement.  Also, if you’re not safe, get out.  You do not sin to get out of an abusive relationship.
Now to those five ways to NOT be the narcissist:
1.    Keep all of life at short account – all your relationships, all your dealings, all your conflicts; all your grief and healing.  Live with everything in you, the ministry of reconciliation.  What I mean by that is this: hold short accounts with everyone; be quick to apologise and be humble; rather be seen as humble than right.  Hold short accounts with your habits; be honest when they turn into dependencies and addictions.  None of us is immune from addiction!  But addiction is resolved by going deeper into our emotional dysfunctions—we get addicted because we don’t want to feel pain.  So, find safe ways to FEEL your pain.  There you meet Jesus!
2.    Be on the watch for entitlement, empathy and exploitation – these are the signposts of progress and regression to watch for.  Entitlement is sin and it’s in each one of us.  Watch for it.  As Dr John Townsend says, we all have pockets of entitlement.  Get interested in rooting these out, being honest about what we insist on or demand above making reasonable (and sometimes essential) demands for our safety.  Watch for a lack of empathy.  How despicable that some so-called Christians are demonising empathy and treating it as a sin!  No, the Golden Rule IS empathy.  Everyone hates to be exploited, so it goes to show that we should want peoples’ experience of us to reflect peace.  We ought to feel safe in relationship.  At all times.
3.    Learn about narcissism – you will find there is a plethora of resources out there on this topic.  Read the reputable ones.  Psych Central, for instance.  Anything academic that you can digest.  But read through the filter of your own life, even as you contrast how you feel when others treat you narcissistically.  Don’t be so closed or fearful to your own narcissism that you resist seeing it.  God shows us so we can repent.  It’s godlier to sin and repent than it is to pretend we don’t sin in the first place (1 John 1:8-10).
4.    Keep some narcissists in your life – God put them there for you to study.  Not to judge, but to study, and to learn to love.  Sure, you’ll be angry or preoccupied in your mind with them at times, but properly used they help us see our own bent toward our selfish heart desires.  I’m not for one-minute advocating keeping sociopaths or psychopaths in your life.  Keep the safe narcissist in your life; you know the one, who’s selfish and self-absorbed but in the less harmful ways.
5.    Be honest, be honest, be honest some more – there’s no limit to what God can teach us, but if there is any limiter it’s how honest or dishonest we are.  Can I be this blunt?  Any of us can achieve incredibly—not least, the most incredible healing—if only we’re brave enough to be honest.  Being dishonest always holds us back!  But we think we are being honest.  Just wait and see when you say to God, “Lord, here I am, more honest than ever; show me what I don’t yet see.”  God will show you many deep things that will cause an avalanche of guilt and shame.  All God desires is that we look, face the actual facts, and do not submit to the guilt and shame any more than is required to commit to doing better from now on—there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  The beautiful thing about this is we only need to BEGIN to start doing it and God blesses us with fruit in our lives that we cannot deny.  Hence, we’re rewarded for every honest work that flows from a courageously humble heart.  The honest life is the abundant life.  All will be given unto us who commit to such a life (Matthew 6:33).


Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Don’t be pressured when people demand that you move on

We’ve all heard people say, “Come on, you just need to get over it,” and sometimes it was for our own good.
But a lot of the time people said this simply because they had lost patience with us.  This being the case, their request that we “move on” for “our own good” was actually not motivated for our own good at all, but for theirs.  To placate their frustration.
There are all sorts of good reasons to move on.  And there are some bad ones.
Just as there are all sorts of reasons to not rush the process.  Any moving on in a rush is ultimately forlorn, so if we’re on our own side, and there’s no reason we wouldn’t be, then it pays that we would take our time in moving on.
There are all sorts of things we might want to move on from, just as there are all sorts of reasons why we would want to.  The truth is, we have far more chances of success when we, ourselves, have decided without external pressure.  Indeed, the more the external pressure we’re under, the less real and sustainable change we will exhibit.
Whenever people try to convince us of a course of action, especially if we feel coerced or manipulated, we need to be mindful for their motives.  Sometimes people do the right things for the wrong reasons, just as people can do the wrong things for the right reasons.
If someone is genuinely for us, they might know what action would be good for us, and they will support us in that action, at the right time for us, at the time we select.  They accept it is our life.
If a person is genuinely for us, they will accept that they aren’t living our life, no matter how much they think they know the challenges and opportunities before us.
Putting pressure on people to act a certain way or to do certain things may have short term impact, but it’s no way to create long term change.
There are many people, who for many different reasons, cannot simply move on.  It could be trauma or grief or a desire to hold to something treasured.
Let us value the sanctity of life that feels it must, at least for the time being, hold on.


Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash