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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Sojourning Smorgasbord – January 2019

Seven articles for January 2019 are linked below. Feel free to share, like or comment on them. I can only promise to interact during the next day or so. Otherwise, next month. Click the titles that interest you below:
Determined diligence beats charismatic feats.
Quiet achievement meets, and faithfulness completes.
~
Relationships mature when
both sides own their respective fault.
~
Narcissism is a most nuanced condition of humanity. It helps to simplify the language. Think of it in terms of low empathy with high entitlement, high need for exaltation, with high capacity to exploit. But narcissism is highly nuanced. The worst narcissists are charming as hell. The paradox of narcissism suggests that anyone who can seriously consider they might be probably isn’t; yet the one who deplores the very thought, let alone accusation, there he is! The capacity for repentance is the key.
~
A good friend will
1) seek to understand,
2) show good care, and
3) help as much as they can.
~
There I was, waiting for the hearse to arrive, and though it was a beautifully cool summer’s day, God reminded me, through the finality of death, that I’m under constant observation.
~
This is a widow’s prayer. I recited it for her at her husband’s funeral:
God, give us strength to hold on and strength to let go,
courage to go forward and courage to look back.
Thank you for the joy of memories that are held in the heart,
that bring loved ones alive although we’re apart.
AMEN.
~
If I take ‘a fence’
(yes, that’s a play on the word ‘offence’)
and put that fence up between you and I,
I put up a barrier —
because I chose to respond in hurt —
I break the peace between you and I —
and I commit to carrying something heavy
at least wherever you or I are together.
Taking ‘a fence’ is onerous and heavy.
But, worst of all, it breaks relationship.
~
… thankfully a hard year, even a tough decade,
doesn’t characterise the rest of our lives.
~
And here is an eighth article as a bonus… and I think it’s the best one.
Sometimes we just never understand until
something happens that changes our perspective.
~o~o~o~

Image by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

Monday, January 7, 2019

From whom do we seek help?

People don’t always need care, but they do always care about what they need. And when people need help, their needs can be aggregated in the combination of three questions. For, people generally only willingly accept help when a few preconditions have been met.
If you’re someone that answers each one of these following questions in the yes, your friendship or relationship is a high priority to someone in need:
Do you understand? There is nothing to offer a person who needs help if we don’t first understand their plight. Those who seek first to understand rather than be understood, per the line in the Saint Francis of Assisi Prayer, are an immediate help, principally through listening — that dynamic art of discerning all of what another person is saying, only some of which is hearing with one’s ears.
There just aren’t enough people in our world that fit this criterion. Too many people in our world are just too absorbed in their own world, not to mention their own problems, to genuinely seek to understand another person. And the paradox prevails, that those who seek first to understand rather than be understand generally have fewer problems, simply because their humility places a higher priority on serving others than being served.
To understand another person is to walk with them as Jesus walks with us. It is a genuine feature of the abundant life that someone can put off themselves and put someone else on. It’s not denying our own needs as much as it’s seeing others’ needs as just as important as our own.
But understanding someone isn’t the be-all-and-end-all as far as help is concerned.
We need to be able to answer someone affirmatively with their second question.
Do you care? The old saying holds; people often don’t care what we know until they know that we care. We may understand, but if we have no empathy, whilst we understand perfectly, we don’t care one iota, as far as they perceive us. (You could argue that not caring is not truly understanding.)
The question, do you care? involves the first step in vulnerability. When someone asks this question they’re saying, I need you to care. That’s not such an easy thing to say. It’s not an easy state of being. But when we need care, we must be able to say we need it. Indeed, people do say it. And they’re hurt when they don’t receive what they need. If someone says it, and they don’t receive the care they need they may stop saying it. And there are so many ways that people ask that we care, and not all these are verbal.
The trust given to the person who understands and cares cannot be underestimated. Even if someone cannot answer the third question affirmatively, the sheer fact that they understand and they care is powerful. They’re already a cogent ally.
A good way to communicate that you understand and you care, is to say, “Wow, that must be hard for you,” or words to that effect, obviously communicated with sincerity according to their perception.
Additional to understanding and caring, the third quality answered in the positive in those who are sought out for help is the question, “Can you help me?”
Not everyone who understands and cares can help. For those who can, an extra premium is placed on the relationship. Sometimes people can help because they’re good problem-solvers. Other times, people are resourceful and can put us in touch with what we need or put us in the right place at the right time. And there are people we go to who can help us directly with the problems we have by the skills, knowledge, experience or expertise that they have. Again, some help purely because they understand and care — when that’s all we need.
There is a saying that “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” A friend’s niche is for times of need. It’s when we find who our true friends are. Always, when we’re in need, we’re destined to be surprised who they are and disappointed who they aren’t.
If you’ve helped someone in need,
anyone at their call,
you’ve been a friend indeed.
~
A good friend will
seek to understand,
show good care, and
help as much as they can.
Acknowledgement to Steve Frost, peacemaking guru, social justice lawyer, and all-round great guy for the idea behind this article.

Photo by J W on Unsplash


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Why Take ‘A Fence’?

If I take ‘a fence’
(yes, that’s a play on the word ‘offence’)
and put that fence up between you and I,
I put up a barrier —
because I chose to respond in hurt —
I break the peace between you and I —
and I commit to carrying something heavy
at least wherever you or I are together.
Taking ‘a fence’ is onerous and heavy.
But, worst of all, it breaks relationship.
Taking ‘a fence’ is always a choice we make. Certainly, we can still make a choice to not associate with a certain person; but making a choice to respond in a way that doesn’t take ‘a fence’ means I can always respect you, no matter what you have done to me. I just will not automatically give you unequivocal access to my life. Yet, there need not be any barrier of offence between us.
Proverbs 16:7 (NRSV) says:
When the ways of people please the Lord,
he causes even their enemies to be at peace with them.
There are certainly times in our lives when we need to protect ourselves from the abuses of others. But just as commonly, and even more so, there is the phenomenon of our taking offence when someone has hurt us. We can separate these persons from our lives without adding insult to them from our injury.
Indeed, the best retaliation is to install a firm boundary
and to install it respectfully with immediacy.
Such a ‘retaliation’ maintains our emotional control.
It resists empowering their pride because we infracted them.
Why give your abuser fuel for justifying more cruel behaviour?
We choose to take offence, and sometimes we may even insist on it, justifying it because it is our right, because we think we are right; that they were wrong. It doesn’t feel like a choice, but it is still the choice.
It’s inherently helpful, indeed it is empowering,
to see the pathology in our thinking.
At this point it is helpful to mention the progression of an idol. According to PeaceWise, we all have good desires that are not always met. We, therefore, are tempted to make demands out of our desires; in fact, we’re doing this all the time.
In other words, in our demanding that our desires be met, our attitude becomes one of judgement, and our behaviour quickly morphs into punishment. In short, we become capable of behaving cruelly.
Our human nature is to punish
those who frustrate our goals; those that hurt us.
It is good to be honest about this.
Of course, there is a better way. Instead of making an idol out of the thing we were offended about, we could simply appreciate the complexity of the conflict we have become aware of. We find it interesting. Instead of feeling offended about their behaviour, or even ashamed for our taking ‘a fence’, we explore and grieve the wrong of the situation with God. Hence, we learn.
It piques our curiosity. We are to remember that there are many factors we cannot understand, let alone comprehend; all we can see is what, for that time, we can see. For instance, how much of their perception is actually theirs? If their perception is theirs and theirs alone, and it is, assuming they are normal like us and have a mind of their own, we are better to accept the complexity of humanity (theirs and ours) in the conflict — given that as far as we’re concerned every other person is basically incomprehensible to us, especially in conflict. It’s only by good grace that people give themselves to us in good favour, and we to them.
Finally, it must be said in all this, that, whilst there are so many of us who take offence, there are those too who give offence as their modus operandi. We must be prepared to leave them to God. (More on this at a later time.)
We dare not arm those who give offence by taking offence.
Acknowledgement: to Rob Douglas for the idea that offence is something we take i.e. we choose to take.

Image: Photo by Mitch Lensink on Unsplash

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Things I learned on a road trip to Esperance

Earlier in my life, the Karratha-Perth road trip was a more-than-annual experience. These past twenty years, however, it’s been the trips south and east of Perth that have been the main fare.
Road trips can be similes for life.
I’m sure you’ve all heard things like, ‘life is not in the destination but the journey…’
This is like that.
My earlier road trips of 1,500 kilometres and more were races in trying to get to the destination as quickly as possible. Not that I had a death-wish, but I really wasn’t focused on the journey at all. I had done that trips in a little over 13 hours, and, in a police pursuit-patrol car, in 12 hours, twice!
Having passed 50, and with a greater appreciation than ever of the meaning and significance of life, I enjoyed every minute of the 1,430-kilometre round trip. I wasn’t focused on the destination at all, both ways. I subconsciously knew we’d arrive there. I enjoyed this round trip so much that I didn’t need a break from the driving. We had Colin Buchanan CDs to play and occasionally we would tune into the cricket. We chatted as we went, planning what we would do when we got to our holiday destination, and on the way home we planned our upcoming Wedding Anniversary, my wife’s birthday, and talked through our next month. We also visited best friends in a town on the way home.
Our mode of travel was car and our trip wasn’t driven by haste to get where we weren’t.
This trip was revelatory to me in that it wasn’t drudgery. It was enjoyment.
Life’s like that. We hustle through life until we reach our holidays and then we’re in no fit state of mind to enjoy our time off. We save all our joy for Saturday and Sunday and miss the joys every Monday-to-Friday period bring. This is such a shame and a waste of most of our lives.
We must learn to value the journey of our life; the destination is death, and there is no sense rushing there.
What is life if we cannot enjoy it? And I challenge anyone who does not enjoy the abundance of life. If you don’t enjoy your life, do all you can to change it so as much of it can be enjoyed as possible.
My last thought: enjoyment of life is a paradigm, that’s all. It’s a mindset. We all have the power to choose our approach.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Been called a ‘narcissist’ lately?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


Chances are you haven’t been called a narcissist lately, but perhaps there is a person or people who could possibly perceive you that way. Don’t worry, they may not be right, but they do have their right to their perception.
Other people’s perceptions should not bother us too much, but having said that, we can also influence other people’s perceptions.
Generally, it’s the people we have most conflict with who perceive us negatively; they see fragments of our fragmented selves and that’s all they have to go on. It’s the same way for us, of course. Little wonder we all become judgmental.
I’ve been surprised by just how much is written and being written on narcissism. Much of it is good quality, and most of it borne out of lamentable experience. But the more I read, the more I seem to get confused as to just how broad the topic of narcissism is. It can unfortunately be the ‘go to’ “diagnosis” that too easily sidelines a person’s character, even if only in our own mind. None of us wants that treatment from others, yet we may be tempted to dish it out.
Two matters come immediately to mind in simplifying the subject matter. Both of these is about checking ourselves in preference to pointing the finger at others.
1.     Signs I might be somewhat narcissistic
Is it possible that others might view us as lacking in empathy, more than a little entitled, and as having the tendency to exploit people for our own gain?
Empathy, entitlement and exploitation. These are three very simple ways of detecting narcissism in ourselves. You may lack empathy yet not be entitled or exploit people. That doesn’t make you narcissistic. Most people these days have an elevated sense of entitlement in an area, a pocket entitlement; it’s our culture. As far as exploitation is concerned, only the true narcissist exploits people without any concern for them. But we all do have the capacity to exploit situations for our own gain. Something to be watchful for.
Where we are characterised as lacking empathy, having significant entitlement issues, and we’re known for regularly exploiting people and situations, there is perhaps some soul-searching to do.
2.    Signs I might not be narcissistic at all
Repentance is the fruit of faith that decrees Someone Else sits on the throne of your heart; not you, yourself. This is a comfort for true Christians, because we’re no longer kings and queens of our own world. And though we still sin, we account for these sins through the Holy Spirit’s conviction, our confession, and subsequent change of mind and behaviour. If you regularly pray in the vein of Psalm 139:23-24[1] and you find there is fruit of repentance in your life, it’s a good chance that, while you might still be perceived as narcissistic occasionally, there is no true basis to another’s claim of narcissism on your character.


[1] “Search me, O God, and know my heart!
[God knows our hearts better than we do!]
Try me and know my thoughts!
and see if there is any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
(ESV)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

There’s something more important…

Photo by Victor Benard on Unsplash
Sir Doug Nicholls. Many of you, especially those beyond Australia’s shores, will have no idea who this Aboriginal man was. Honestly, until recently I didn’t know anything about his life.
He died in 1988, aged 81. He achieved so many things against the odds, given the racial discrimination he faced. Yet, he was honoured by Australian and Royal society. And, what inspires me most, he was not only a legendary footballer and a governor, but he was a pastor and Aboriginal rights activist.
At this time of year, I am especially given to vision. I’m wondering what God has in mind for me next year. I can imagine it might be the same for you. I’m in reflection mode, pleased with my efforts to do for this year what God has placed me on this earth to do.
But I cannot help asking, what next? What is around the corner… on the horizon?
Pastor Doug, as his family affectionately refer to him as, was an inspiration in the shape of someone like John Wesley — a doer. He achieved. He was not full of wind, not full of his own voice, like so many who waste their lives promoting themselves. John Wesley preached 45,000 sermons and wrote 300 books. Not satisfied to live the comfortable life, to write one or two best-sellers, Wesley just kept going. And so it was for Pastor Doug. He worked tirelessly and seemed tireless in his pursuit of change for his people; as a people made, like everyone else, in the image of God.
He made a difference. He spent his life out. And 30 years after his death, we’re still marvelling at his legacy.
I don’t need to do anything great, or be great, to honour God through the living of my life. Neither do you. Of course, I speak in terms of what the world considers great, for even as Christians we have much difficulty understanding and accepting what Kingdom greatness is.
One thing I feel compelled to do next year is live more boldly between the fissures of a divided church. I sense there are so many agendas, so much nepotism, so much partiality, so much politicking, and still so much abuse. I feel positioned as an inside-outsider, having lived most of my life outside of the church, I feel I have an historically-valid vantage point to pass comment on how the world might judge the church. Church and Christian exclusivity sicken me. I feel true disciples have been through, or are going through, tremendous and transformational suffering, yet there are many who don’t ‘get’ the gospel — much like I didn’t get it through my first nearly 13 years as a Christian.
If the gospel doesn’t radically challenge
and therefore change your life
you haven’t ‘got’ the gospel.
But the way I have to do these things will need to be moderated and harnessed in the kind of way Nicholls and Wesley would have done them. I can’t afford to upset people just for the sake of it. There needs to be due reason for due result.
There’s something more important than acquisitions, possessions, comfort, silence, favouritism, opinion, political idealism, one’s own achievements, being heard at all costs, sell outs, lobbying, and anything else apart from Christ.
That one thing more important is Jesus; for his agenda to be our one and all. This will cause us never to ever be predictable again, and his agenda will cause us to make true change, sacrificing hundreds of forms of compromise in the process.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

2018 Christmas Letter

We greet you with great joy.  2018 has been a great year for us, our first year in our own home!
Sarah continued working for the City of South Perth. Sarah is still our main breadwinner, but Steve has launched counselling and funeral celebrant businesses this year and continues to work 0.4 FTE for Regent College as their chaplain. He helped supervise students at the Year 4 and Year 6 camps, and once again spoke at Regent’s ANZAC and Year 6 Graduation services. We thank God for His provision in the area of our work. Steve also preached 35 Sundays and is grateful to continue to improve in this area. Steve was also invited to become part of the national training team for PeaceWise (biblical conflict resolution) and took part in a train-the-trainer in NSW in March and helped deliver 2 one-day programs in September. He also continued as Secretary for the Board of the Pallister-Killian Syndrome Foundation of Australia (PKSFA) (Nathanael had PKS) this year. Steve conducted four funerals and one wedding and has had significant counselling journeys with several (nearly 10) couples and individuals this year.
Ethan won the Pre-primary Respect Award at Middle Swan Primary School where there were three Pre-primary classes. He was in a great class with such a fabulous teacher in Ms. Bird.  Steve volunteered in Ethan’s class each week and in Term 4 became a mentor for two boys—one in Year 3 and one in Year 1.  Ethan had Malachi, Braxton, Iya, Lewis and William to his birthday party at Woodbridge Park.  Ethan did well academically and socially.  Steve was also active on the P&C committee this year. Oh, and Ethan won the Christmas cake raffle AND had a On Ground Experience (with Steve) at the Australia vs India Test at Perth Stadium! They loved every second of it.
Steve was gifted tickets by Coral and Ron (Mum and Dad) to visit Amy and Dan in Sydney in November before they returned to WA and moved to Baldivis. Zoe and Lewis moved into their own home in Seville Grove this year. Rhiannon is pregnant and her and Blake are expecting their baby on May 8, 2019, and they moved to a new home in December.
Steve graduated with a Master of Divinity from Vose Seminary in March 2018. In October, Steve and Sarah launched their Shining Gift of God: A Memoir of the Life of Nathanael Marcus at the 2018 Silent Grief conference they spoke at, and Steve was interviewed on 98five FM. Steve and Sarah also started a life group on Friday nights with three other church families. Steve, Sarah and Ethan are spending Christmas in Esperance with the Brown family.
The highlight of the year was moving to Stratton in February, from which we haven’t looked back. We have found our spiritual home at Bellevue Baptist Church, where Steve is now an elder. We love the people at Bellevue, they love us, and we love serving there. Steve and Sarah are both now integrally involved in several of Bellevue’s ministries.
What are our hopes for 2019? Really, that we would continue to build relationships in Midland. We continue to pray that Amy’s, Zoe’s and Rhiannon’s and their partners’ lives will further blossom. We’re so proud of them all.
We sincerely wish you a very joyous Christmas and pray that your hopes for 2019 are realistic and can be achieved.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Paralysing grief that strikes at any time

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash


Panic attacks, the very first experience of them, teach us something about the nature of a life we never knew existed.
There is a suffering that is deeper and darker than much of humanity typically comprehends.
This is not said to glorify something that ought not to be mentioned. It ought to be mentioned to corroborate the experience of the few.
I recall speaking with a 50-year-old director of a psychology firm — a man with great access to the best psychological resources humanly known — who had never suffered any mental illness. Having experienced an unprecedented failure, something that he could not have foreseen, within days he plummeted into such a sharp depression that panic attacks came as a rude surprise. He lost weight overnight and his face was gaunt. He was beyond words for the hours he had never previously experienced.
For me, I was a 36-year-old when paralysing grief struck at a time that I could not have predicted. I was plunged into a darkness beyond words and comprehension within hours — the nature of an irredeemable loss that couldn’t be denied. And yet, it was months later — five months later to be exact — when I had one paralysing day that couldn’t have been predicted. A day when I almost ended my life, such was the power of feelings that overwhelmed every sensibility of my personal capacity.
You’re shown something in that moment where paralysing grief overwhelms you. There are experiences in life that are completely foreign to our experience of life. Once you have survived these experiences, you’re granted the opening of your eyes. God gets your attention and your life is never the same again. But staying the experience is about resting within good support that is available to you.
You can fight reality all you like, but when loss strikes it takes no prisoners and you quickly find a grievous reality is yours and it lasts and lasts and lasts.
There may be a plethora of ways we can kick against the goads, but each time we find ourselves thrashing in quicksand. To no avail. Sooner or later you realise there is no shortcut to a rectification to your circumstances. And when you would settle for acceptance, even that, for a very long time, is impossible.
Paralysing grief is only experienced by those who 1) have the rug of their lives pulled from under them, and who 2) experience such a poverty of resources to deal with such a tormentingly perplexing reality that they submit to their despair.
But here is a paradox! Not everyone will have the humility to allow such a slide into such an abysmal oblivion. Many, many people will run to a crutch, some form of handle to attach themselves to the scaffold of distraction that saves them from entering transformational grief.
It is no good for someone to sidestep suffering. Insisting upon control in a life situation where there is no control, attempts to delay the inevitable. It is utterly futile, yet so many go there for fear that they will not survive the crushing.
If life throws us a situation that involves paralysing grief, though it seems counterintuitive, we’re blessed to go with it, to suffer the truth of the love we’ve lost, which will crush us again and again, rather than betray the experience by somehow denying our grief.
Denial of the reality of grief is denial of our very identity. We become less when to be transformed by grief would be to become ultimately more.
The promise of grief is the promise of growth.
Suffering the truth of the love we lost crushes us again and again, but in facing a reality of suffering we never knew existed we find resources for hope and recovery we never knew existed.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

5 top reasons why people come to counselling

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash


Conflict. Grief. Recovery. Advice. Empathy. These are not the reasons why people come to counselling. They may be five they initially want help with and inevitably find, but there are five better, deeper reasons why I find people come to counselling.
Firstly, whether people know it or not, they want something different; something more dynamic, even if the dynamism offered and received actually slows things down. Counselling is a unique relationship. You pay a counsellor to give you something no other relationship you have can offer. One session (1 – 2 hours) is dense in two dynamics: the level and depth of the truths you speak, and the attentive engagement you have with your counsellor as they direct you deeper in your own pilgrimage. You encounter in your counsellor quite a different human being in the way they interact. It really is all about you, and it needs to be.
Secondly, people come expecting advice and help and coaching; to be told how to fix their problems. Many people are astounded to find that the process is far gentler and more respectful than that. Somehow, subconsciously, people do most of all want to be listened to. But they don’t realise this is their desire until their either have been listened to well, or they have been ‘missed’ and the counsellor hasn’t listened well. Again, if it’s really all about you, then listening is primary. And listening is more a science than an art. There is no substitute for focus and concentration and of the counsellor expending all they have to achieve presence with you in the room. The counsellor needs to be completely in your story.
Thirdly, people come needing their confusion allayed. They come for peace. They come for hope. Peace is the sense of completion amid complexity. People come with their complex lives completely askew. Therefore, people come for simplicity, or what is termed elegant simplicity; a process by which the complexity is dealt with so elegantly that it feels simple. A roadmap is possible even if the way there seems utterly enigmatic. This is a mysteriously spiritual process, but counsellors seek to give you crystal clear clarity, and this comes through their surrender to the principles of simply serving you. With clarity comes confidence. With confidence comes belief. With belief comes motivation. With motivation comes action. With action comes results. It all starts with clarity.
Fourthly, people come because it’s almost too late. Usually it can be a last-ditch attempt. This is not always bad news, because if there’s enough will, there’s enough hope to work with. But people who come in this situation must recognise how forlorn things are. Ideally, the sooner issues are addressed the easier and better the process. But there’s a reason people come when it’s almost too late. We all believe we can do things in our own strength and power. If only we were wisely humble enough, however, to concede we need help earlier. And yet, there is massive power in the rock-bottom experience. There is nothing like the power of having your back against the wall. Many people find the reserves to fight against all odds. They’re inspiring to work with.
Fifthly, people come either expecting hard and finding easy or expecting easy and finding it hard. About even numbers of both kinds of people. I like to think that counselling tackles what is hard to make things easier. Facilitation literally means to make something easy. Counselling can be seen as a process for helping make your life easier. It’s very common for someone to come to counselling feeling stressed and leave an hour or so later and feel a lot lighter. But that’s usually because they’ve been courageous. The person counselled has trusted their counsellor and been honest. And they receive acceptance. This always helps. And as the counselling relationship deepens, therapeutic gains become even more efficient and effective. The goal is to do away with the counsellor and go it alone.
People most often come to be helped with conflict, grief, recovery, or to receive advice or empathy. But as you see above, people actually receive something else.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Signs I’m in relationship with someone narcissistic

Photo by Ludomił on Unsplash
As opposed to a symptom, which only others can tell me, a sign is something I can observe about another. Now, I need to set the record straight from the get-go; I do want to love you. That’s my beginning premise; that you want some kind of friendly relationship with me. It’s okay if you don’t. There is a plethora of reasons why you might not want to go there. But, if you do express some desire to relate with me, we will need some boundaries that we can both respect and reciprocate.
Here are some signs that indicate to me you might be narcissistic:
·        That your time is more important than mine. That you’re happy to keep me waiting. And I’m not talking just once. I’m talking about a consistent pattern that you’re tardy. But, if I’m late once… well, that’s upsetting to you. In a word, entitlement.
·        You have communicated to me in a language beyond words that we have roles in this relationship. Like, you do all the talking and I do all the listening. Or, I support you, like that’s my role, but you’re nowhere to be seen when I need you. In two words, entitlement and control.
·        You have little tolerance for the interruptions to your time with me. You have little grace regarding the inconveniences all relationships must occasionally bear. You are easily irritated.
·        You talk in tones of care and concern, but do not ever seem to have the capacity to behave in caring ways and seem only concerned about yourself and your needs.
·        You don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and even when it seems you’re okay with ‘no’, you still make some veiled attempt at manipulating me or the situation to get your own way.
·        Control. In one word. You seem to need to have control. And the more skilled you are, the more nuanced are the forms of control you operate in. You may even admire how deftly you operate your control.
·        Being vulnerable is either impossible for you and/or you’ve developed it as an art form, i.e. for manipulation. In other words, you’ve weaponised vulnerability.
·        You are adult, meaning that I understand that if you’re still developing there is still hope for you, but if you’re adult… I need to be realistic that you probably won’t or cannot change.
·        You have weaponised empathy and compassion, because they’re stock in trade for manipulation. In other words, you don’t have empathy or compassion.
·        You expect things to go your way all the time, even if you say you don’t. In other words, words are tools for you. They don’t mean a thing.
·        Others exist for your use and advantage. People are helpful while they’re helpful. When they’re not, they’re not. You’d never say this, but people can be disposed of.
·        You have a piqued relationship with envy and are constantly comparing with others. You exist in a land of better and worse. There is always a pecking order.
·        Success is very, very important to you, however you define it, and heaven only help the person who blocks your path.
·        Intimidation, bullying and other forms of abuse seem to be your right, but if anyone tries these on you… whoa! In a word, entitlement.
People who are narcissistic tend to be entitled, have no issue exploiting people, and have no capacity for true empathy.