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

Saturday, February 27, 2021

What it feels like to have been heard

“I didn’t like to hear it, but I needed to...” was the one sentence phrase that stopped me in my tracks. I’ve been on a journey with a person for nine months, and it’s incredible to see the growth in them, simply because they have nurtured the capacity to be vulnerably honest.

Here’s the thing.  Their partner lovingly pointed out a truth to them.  It hurt; the shame of being wrong, selfish, prideful.

That moment is a precipice.  I’ve experienced it.  A few times my own wife has said, “Mmm, sounds like pride.”  “Grrrr....” went my pride in response, but then in a God-sponsored pause, I was able to contemplate — could it be?  Yes, indeed!

So it was for the person I was working with.  They hated for a few seconds or a minute or two, what had just been told them.  But they had the compunction of humility to go deep enough within to ponder — could it be?  Yes, indeed!

From a moment of pride where anger flares and says, “How dare you make me face my shame... I will get you back for such a horrid truth that you’ve made me face,” a simple moment of humility to hold space for oneself — could it be?  Yes, indeed.

For the person I was working with, within moments or a little time, there was gratitude that their God-sponsored humility was big enough to hold space for the truth spoken so courageously and lovingly.

I mean, what partner speaks such truth other than the one who feels safe to do so?  And... who loves so much that they’re committed to communicating truth.

The prayer of gratitude was, “Oh Lord, thank you that you gave me the courage to hold that moment in the suspension of grace, to ponder if there was any truth in it or not.  Thank you that it was a growth moment for me and for my relationship; that trust goes from strength to strength because I didn’t react aggressively or didn’t deny it.”

The point is this.  We all bear such weakness from time to time.  If our loved ones don’t have permission to say these things, what kind of relationships are we nurturing?

If we can’t hold space for people to be honest with us, we offer them less than the complete version of ourselves, and we cheat us both out of true relating, and we certainly don’t deserve the same right of respectfully challenging them.

The person who can receive feedback that feels initially hard to hear gives to the other person the feeling of having been heard.

The essence of true relationship is holding space for each other to the extent of feeling heard.  It’s a power for the building of trust and intimacy and it’s the genesis of growth.

It takes a lot of courage to speak the truth in love.  It also takes a lot of courage to hear those words.  One feels heard in the simple recognition of what is being said.  The other feels heard in being validated for the humility to look within.

And the relationship prospers.  Love conquers all.  Truth is essential.

Being heard is feeling valued.  Understanding is the power of love.  It’s one of the greatest gifts to give and to receive.

Photo by Marco Midmore on Unsplash

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Abuse and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

There are those people in all our lives whom we feel safe with and there are those with whom we don’t.  It’s great to attach to safe people—we nurture and enjoy each other.  But it’s often necessary to detach from those people who regularly, consistently, constantly manipulate and intimidate.

Those we feel less safe with, even if it’s a feeling we discern almost unconsciously to begin with, make us feel vulnerable at varying levels.

These are the harms done, aligning with Maslow’s hierarchy (in reverse order), to help you understand when and why you can barely discern them:

1.             Physiological needs – this seems obvious, but when people deprive people of nutritious food, clean water, safe shelter, adequate sleep, warming or cooling clothing, etc., they hit at the heart of the cruelest humanity.  Deprival at this level will almost always be done in secret behind closed doors, much so that the abused person feels completely isolated.  The best of relationships is in the provision of all our needs in this basic physiological sense.  Imagine having to beg for what many, many humans take for granted.

2.             Safety needs – still such basic needs, deprival of these needs leaves us feeling threatened, aggressed, even traumatised.  It’s frightening to be assaulted.  But just as much, to be deprived of employment so we can’t make a living, and especially when we cannot get the resources we need, and cannot maintain our health, we enter existential crisis.  It always finishes with rapid diminishment of our mental and emotional health.  When people deprive people of these basic needs it’s patently criminal.

3.             Belongingness and love needs – now we get into the heart of emotional and spiritual abuse.  Sometimes the deprival of these needs is deliberate, and sometimes it’s not acknowledged in such obvious ways, but when a person is deprived of the connection to friendship and the intimacy of loved ones, their soul begins to grow sick and die.  Souls begin to die when there’s a paucity of hope, unless the soul believes better is coming by faith.  Where people sense they’re being cut off from human connection, there is a very real problem.  Connection needs are inherently basic human needs.

4.             Esteem needs – once again, you might find that anyone who deprives you of your feeling good about life and yourself amid your life is bent on your inward destruction.  These include those who are jealous about your status (at whatever level), and those who are threatened about what strengths and freedoms you possess.  These abuses can often be subtle, and it’s in being separated from these needs – isolated not less – that makes the subtleties more obvious.  Of course, your abuser will always deny it and gaslight you to your face.

5.             Self-actualisation needs – perhaps the subtlest of all abuses, done by those who don’t want you to succeed at any level, and will even go to bizarre lengths to ensure you remain ‘mediocre’.  This gets weirder when people justify this as doing you a favour; they’re doing it always for your own benefit, so loving and considerate are they – NOT!

We ought to be able to be vulnerable without being taken advantage of.  But abuse makes us feel vulnerable when we least feel safe.  Use the above to try and understand WHY it is you’re feeling vulnerable when you least feel safe.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Why was there no Nathan for Ravi? Well, there was; they were scapegoated

“What if David’s sin was covered up because someone thought that it wasn’t right to “judge him” and instead only focus on his positives? We would be robbed of the benefit.”

This very poignant tweet by @GameArtPalettes in reply to a thread I’d replied to six weeks ago about why Ravi was no David took me straight back to a conversation my wife had with a church leader’s wife once.  The words my wife heard were, “Well, if we told the truth, that wouldn’t look very good for him, would it?”

In other words, the church leader needed to be protected at all costs because HE was the Lord’s anointed.

But was anymore more the Lord’s anointed than King David?

It is ludicrous in this era of the church where narcissists reign and co-opt allegiance from their minions in doing the devil’s work in God’s name.

Ravi, it seems, had no Nathan — nobody who challenged him.  But actually, there is evidence that there were people who challenged Ravi about his behaviour; but they didn’t last long.  They were despatched with force, and an example was seen — don’t cross Ravi!

In our personal case, we were the ones being despatched — and the conversation my wife had occurred 21 days after we lost a son to stillbirth.  All the care and compassion went toward the person who had shown no care and compassion.

It’s the same the world over, as it was in Lori Anne and Brad Thompson’s case.  They were groomed, used, abused, and spat out of the mouth of the one who — with enraged disdain — sought with all his might to destroy them.  They have been gaslit and scapegoated all these past four years.

The root cause of the issue with Ravi is Ravi himself, and the fact that the church these days loves to elevate and enable power figures, and if they’re ‘successful’, they can do anything they want.

Thankfully the reformation is occurring in our midst.  We live in a world, thankfully, that will not tolerate such heinous hypocrisy that burns souls — in the name of God!

Those, however, who have stood in the gap and spoken as Nathans have all too often been gaslit and scapegoated.

The great question before the church these days is how do we restore these torched souls?  Torched for having the gumption to tell the truth.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Are narcissists emotionally intelligent?

Somebody asked me whether I thought narcissists are emotionally intelligent or not.  It’s a complicated answer.

I think in many ways they are extremely emotionally intelligent — especially in how they read social situations and manipulate them.  But on the other hand, they have such a dreadful paucity of self-awareness.

So, while they may read social situations like a mastermind, they’ve got absolutely no interest in self-examination.  This makes it tricky on the subject of emotional intelligence.

Most narcissists are intentionally bending the game to suit themselves.  Very few are clueless to their own wiles.

They know the abuse they’re procuring, but they don’t see it as abuse, because they feel it’s their entitlement to exploit others’ empathy, which just reveals their lack of empathy.

On the other hand, they are well aware that what they’re doing is wrong, because they orchestrate elaborate machinations to cover their tracks.

When we know that the narcissist chooses to behave in ways that deliberately upset, undermine and abuse people, we know that it’s not a low emotional intelligence we’re dealing with.

The fact that the narcissist is ahead of the curve suggests some intelligence for manipulation—to manipulate the emotions of unsuspecting others.

This cannot, however, be considered an example of emotional intelligence — the manipulation of others’ emotions.  Somehow, it’s on another scale.

Emotional intelligence is normally considered an asset for the person possessing it, and their community.  A bit like someone being intellectually intelligent, if that person used their intelligence to rob a bank, we can well imagine the narcissist robbing us of the free expression of our emotions.

Those emotions are stolen from us when the narcissist executes their plan of social grand larceny.

Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

Watch out for the spiritual abuse of James 1 verses 6-8

I’ll never forget the person who came to me once and told me about their manager who called them a name, in jest of course, for their “flip-flopping” attitude.  It seemed that they were given to changing their mind on occasion.

But I’ve also seen this happen a LOT in Christian contexts to defame.

Worry about the church leader or church member who find a passage of scripture with which to weaponise for their barbs.  In such a local case, it’s like saying, “You’ll never get what you want if you’re always ‘tossed around like a wave on the sea’.  You must learn to be more stable.”

But let’s take a look at the passage in context:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you much believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave on the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:2-8, verses 6-8 bolded)

Let’s work this backwards.

Who is a person “double-minded and unstable in all they do”?  The one who doubts, having asked, that they’ll be given the wisdom they seek.

Whilst it might be more broadly interpreted, this passage actually has a fairly confined context — a personal prayer for wisdom.

It’s all too easy for someone to pick up the words “blown and tossed by the wind,” and “double-minded and unstable” and suddenly extrapolate that out to apply to anything related to indecision.

Think about it this way.

Our most solemn prayers are our deepest wishes.  We cannot help but hold them as prayers of our heart permanently.  We cannot go back on them.

For instance:

§     the man or woman who desperately seeks a husband or wife.

§     the person who desperately needs a job.

§     the couple who desperately want a baby.

§     the family who desperately want a home.

§     the incarcerated person who desperately wants their freedom.

See how our most earnest prayers are not wishy-washy.  Even when we doubt, we cannot let go of them; we always come back to praying them.  They’re the desires of our hearts.

While we don’t pray for genuine needs in any flippant way, we’re being hammered by our abuser for simply being indecisive.


§     being shamed because you changed your mind.  

§     not being safe enough in your relationship with the person that you can’t have second thoughts. 

§     them not respecting your ability to reflect and pivot.

Think about indecision like this.

We’re all indecisive, and while some may be more indecisive and fluid than others, it doesn’t mean they’re weaker or have less faith.  It could be that they’re simply introverted and need more time to reflect.

But, lastly, think of abuse in this way.  It’s always:

§     that unkindness that’s said or done that rips the air out of your sails.

§     the thing that you would never do, or if you did, would necessitate a quick and sincere apology.

§     rudeness (without apology) that the abuser believes you fully deserve (they’re NOT repentant).

Abuse like this is throwing Bible verses around with power to steal, kill and destroy.

It’s always used to:

§     give the person saying and doing it more power as they rip the little power you have away from you — stealing.  

§     denigrate you at a visceral soul level — killing.  

§     flip the script, gaslight you, and identify you as the bad guy — destroying.

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash