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

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

How guilt interrupts grief and delays healing

The role of guilt in grief is profound, and while some of it is productive, most of it’s both unproductive and misplaced.  

Guilt is misplaced because those of us who feel guilt — yes, it’s us empaths again! — really either ought not to feel so guilty OR we’re doing exactly what would exonerate us from guilt — we’re FACING what we could have done differently or better.

Guilt is also unproductive, because if we’ve done the business of FACING what we could have done differently or better, what’s the use in continuing to cruel oneself?

Grief is good in that it’s the channel markers to healing if only we’ll enter into the tremulous waters of lament and find our safety there.  Lament always threatens to be a hellish experience, but the paradox is it’s only through FACING in lament that we can process the hellishness of grief.  Otherwise, we stay in it — in the hellishness, or we cannot face it and therefore live a shell of existence.

But guilt interrupts grief, like so many other things interrupt grief — emotional and spiritual bypassing, being harassed, enduring other stressors, denial, addictions, etc.

Guilt interrupts grief because it consumes all thought and energy on the wrong (and unproductive) material.  Once business is done in guilt — and that’s a five-minute job for a sincere heart — all is forgiven.  It’s the way the Divine works.  After this is the wasteland of going around and around the mountain of a cycle you can’t get out of.  It’s like the Israelites going around the desert for 40 years.  It’s hopeless.

When guilt interrupts grief, the time, effort, and energy that could go into lament and being present with our sorrow, pouring out our tears, receiving comfort, etc, goes instead to time, effort and energy that’s invested in what will give a person cancer, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and a host of other health and medical issues.

If there’s one thing my Mum taught me and all of us who would watch her life is, there’s no stock, advantage, or sense in staying in a bad situation, and that forgiving oneself is vital if we’re to be free to love and serve others.  Thank you for living that life, Mum!

So what do we do if guilt is an issue preventing the resolution of productive grief?

We need to find the truth that will free us, and secondly, we need to believe it so we can live it.

Finding the truth that frees us of our guilt is simply a matter of committing afresh to the ideal that the truth matters that much that we’ll live its way no matter what it costs.  And it costs nothing!  It’s a freebie.

The truth is you understand what you could have done better or differently.  Understanding is all that’s required to receive forgiveness.  So, there’s a position to lock down.  Guilt is now inappropriate.  It doesn’t belong.  This motivates you to believe you’re worthy of living guilt free.  This is a holistic thing that will motivate whatever is needed to make the steps for great heart change to occur.

Having dealt with our guilt (a secondary emotion) we can then focus on dealing with our grief (the primary emotion).  Once the guilt is dealt with, there is no impediment to processing grief through the sacred means of sitting in the truth of our lament.  The only way is up from there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

8 ways wives subtly try to get through to their husbands before they quit

My motives are to awaken communication and understanding in marriages, to re-create that connection that’s missing between spouses.

There are no doubt countless ways that a spouse might try to get the attention of their partner in endeavouring to breathe hope into a flailing marriage, but first, let’s acknowledge that these dynamics are usually years in the making.  They can be patterns so worn into the marriage that the partner who’s “deaf” to the presence of problems is completely blindsided at best, though that’s also an incredulous idea to the one who has tried so many things to establish a true understanding of how they’ve felt for a very long time.

I’m posturing this as what a wife will be trying to communicate to the husband because that’s the most common dynamic I see.

Here are eight ways wives try to get through to their husbands:

1.             They speak to them directly and they’re rebuffed, ignored, or misunderstood.  The conversation doesn’t go anything like the wife plans it.  It’s a further discouragement.  The worst thing that can occur in this attempt is a fight breaks out.  This is oh so tragic when the wife is trying her best to woo her husband to her.

2.             A wife might try to get a friend to speak to her husband, especially someone that has the trust of both in the couple.  Though this happens, for a variety of reasons this is generally ill-advised.  The husband stands to become very disenfranchised if he isn’t already.

3.             Books are bought or podcasts are subscribed to — or articles like this are shared — in the futile attempt to win his attention.  He might watch (or read) these and externalise matters as “not a problem I’ve got,” or he says to his wife, “What are you trying to say?”

4.             A wife might try aspirational encouragement through notes and gifts designed to entice the husband toward acting out those kind words they’re writing, like, “You’re incredibly thoughtful when you think of me...” and the husband receives these as “all’s good” or “that was a bit weird,” but all the same, she’s trying to get through!  What a wife’s trying to do here is create an awareness in her husband of, “I’m not really what she’s saying of me at all — I/things need to improve.”

5.             When she’s more desperate to reach him, a wife will send hints all kinds of ways in the frantic attempt to get his attention OR to justify, “See, he’s not listening and not interested!” (It’s usually the former, but the latter shows how exasperated the wife is).

6.             Especially when there’s a last-ditch attempt to go on that romantic getaway holiday, a wife is trying her hardest to wake her husband up from his slumber.  This can backfire badly if the problems in the marriage become more prominent in the time away.

7.             When a wife begins to share marriage horror stories with her husband, she’s holding up a mirror to him as if to say, “This is us...” — but he is unlikely to get it.

8.             There are also attempts to create some distance of her own to see if he’s even noticed she’s not around as much.  This feels like a real betrayal when he doesn’t.  When he’s not affected at all.

What have I left out?

As I said, this is just a few things I’ve seen.  The tragic thing is the marriage ought to stand for something intimate and important to both partners, but for one it’s an arrangement of convenience, or at least it’s become that way.

One of the marks that the heart isn’t in the marriage — and this was me! — is when a man says, “Just tell me what I need to do, and I’ll do it.”  What that says to a wife is her husband is only interested in “keeping the peace” and isn’t sufficiently engaged in the intimate and passionate business of the marriage.

The main thing I’m saying to men in all this is, what’s required of you is a step change, a transformation, not just a little tweak here and there.  Just don’t be disheartened, because the change your wife wants is the change deep down that you should want too.  It’s a journey of faith that’s required.  And it’s not just your wife and you that will prosper, your family prospers too, and there isn’t the collateral damage of, “Your father and I are separating and divorcing,” which is hard on family.

For those who have been through the tragedy of this kind of crisis, and it’s breathed life into your marriage, I celebrate you.  Your strength and humility, and your faith in each other, is to be praised.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Unheeded marriage warnings herald dire consequences

There are times and situations when a spouse, let’s say it’s the wife in heterosexual marriage, tries to reach her husband with an essential message, a message designed to save the marriage.

Perhaps she has tried a few times beforehand, perhaps she has tried many times, but to no avail.  There has been no regard given to her warnings.  Simply put, he has not listened.  He has not taken her or her warnings seriously.

The problem we have right here is there is a toxic dynamic that can’t be addressed.  One is trying to get through to the other, and that one is impenetrable.  He is engaged in the abuse of neglecting his marriage.

When a woman is in a situation like this, and her cries for help and for him to change are not listened to, and those warnings go unheeded, there is no choice for her but to escalate the matter.

Don’t worry, I’ve been in this exact situation.  For all husbands out there feeling a bit miffed that I’m even writing this, please know I’ve been in your position, and I have lost a marriage to it.  I know exactly what this is like.  I got it wrong, and I took the opportunity to learn from my mistake.  And I have nothing but empathy for the wife who is trying to get through, like my first wife tried, but despite her efforts, couldn’t or cannot get through.

If this is you in the present situation, you may be getting the final warnings, and you’re not being warned to be threatened; you’re being warned for the life and for the health of the marriage, because your wife would prefer you change than end it.  Truly she would.

Do you see the desperate plight your wife is in?

When one person tries valiantly for months if not years to get through and each time receives a brick wall.  There comes a time for a different plan.

I’ve been in the chair when a wife has come to me with her husband to end a marriage, and it has been my humble and terrible duty to report to the husband that it is gone, that I’ve been in his situation, and I know how terrifying that reality is.

In life we get warnings if we’re not on track.  If we do not heed those warnings, there are consequences.  This is simply adult life, and yet even children must bear the consequences of their actions if we’re committed to loving them well.

The role of a person learning too late of their plight is of responsibility, of suddenly realising and reconciling the cost of not listening, and owning it, however hard that is.

It’s never too late to make a fresh start, but the consequences will mean that fresh start will be in another relationship, and let’s hope that there is something learned along the way, so the next partner does not need to endure what the previous partner has.  

Taking our responsibility also means we ought to make amends for our neglect of the relationship, the biggest failing of which is to deny one’s wife the intimacy the marriage both needs and deserves.

If this sounds harsh, and I’m sure to some it will, please be assured that I know personally how terrifying that journey of loss is, but we must also understand the cost of not listening and heeding the warnings we were given.

In the case where the husband has been abusive through neglect, and there is such a thing—where he denied her of her intimacy and connection needs—rather than deny or deflect or defend/attack or disintegrate the partner’s reputation (this is commonly called gaslighting) he ought to simply face the situation from her viewpoint.  

With such lifegiving empathy, he will breathe life into the situation.  If he hasn’t understood her until now, now is his opportunity, even if the relationship is over.  This takes a lot of humility, not everyone is capable of it.

I know there are many in this situation who will refuse to face the truth, and who will go on the attack against their wife.  It’s basically the norm.  There is only death in that; not only for the marriage, but for the one who chooses attack over making amends.

But for the man reading this, please, go another way.  Go the way of seeking to serve that one you loved with a love you’ve previously failed to serve her with.

This is one reason why I love the Twelve Step program.  It’s because the focus is on being honest, taking responsibility, owning our failures, resisting resentment, and making amends.  Only through this modus operandi is there heart to forgive and be forgiven.

A life of making amends amid the consequences that must be accepted is the way to peace.  Peace for one and all because justice has been served.  It’s simply about doing the right thing.  Even though it might feel crazy to do this, it’s the only way to growth and life.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Spotlighting the covert, malevolence of gaslighting

Against truth, which is about as clearcut as anyone can get, gaslighting is a powerful form of a lie, designed to throw people off the scent of truth.  Gaslighting is such a conniving deception it can truly confuse individuals and groups for years allowing one party to escape detection so they can continue on their way of harming innocents the way they’ve always done.

The way of the malevolent is often many levels of depth below that which normal people even comprehend is possible in a realm where an expected morality is only a mirage of what is actually occurring.

People wistfully go about their business, thinking they are part of a good community, blissfully unaware of the malevolence in full swing absolutely within their very sight.  It is astounding what is done that may be seen but often isn’t.

It is the occasional person with the gift of discernment that sees what most people do not see, who call awareness to it, naïvely thinking they are doing the right thing, who put themselves in the crosshairs of those who propagate sheer malice with penetrating intent.

A statement is made, where the truth is highlighted to those who are engaging in the gaslighting, those who lead the sheep to a silent slaughter.  Woah!  “That would not look good for [the leader]?”  And whether those words are actually used or not, or some other reproving statement is used, the person reporting the truth, acting as a prophet, is about to be scapegoated.

It happens in families,
it happens in workplaces,
it happens in churches,
it happens in communities.

When some things just cannot be spoken about,
it’s a narcissistic system providing cover through 
the age-old evil art of gaslighting.

The person who senses and then investigates and then sees the truth, the one who summons attention toward it, thinking they’re doing the right thing, walks headlong right into a trap.  Not only will they be dispatched by those who are innately threatened, they will lose the support and fellowship of everyone enabling the narcissistic system.

They, in full effect, are in the process of being gas-lit.

They, who have material being in a communal sense, are in the process of disappearing before everyone’s eyes.  That one who reports the truth is converted in a moment to a vapour.  An ignition source is provided in the form of a lie.  Whoof!  Gone!

There are many who will read this and wonder what all this is about.  There are many who will read this who will say, “What is this guy going on about?”  There are many who will read this who will say, “This is dangerous stuff!”  There are some who will say, “Get rid of him!  He’s revealing our modus operandi.”

The truth is a dangerous commodity for those who have a kingdom to protect.  And for those who believe in innate goodness, that truth will always be honoured, are sadly about to be consumed by the flash of light and heat.  They who are soon to be no more herald life for the entire community, but malevolence will pounce before that truth is broadcast.

That’s gaslighting for you.  It is insanely effective for ridding truth from the assembly.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Assumptions of ownership in marriage kill intimacy and passion

A decade and a half ago, when my wife and I were married, there was a precious moment in the car as she arrived with her father, as he prepared to give her away to me.  Truth be told, as I look at our wedding video, that little scene of her interacting with her father speaks volumes.

It’s just a few moments, but the look of earnestness on both their faces is intriguing.  Sarah’s father is actually saying, “If ever you feel unsafe, you come back home.”  We’d courted for only eight months and there’s no question in my mind with the counselling I’ve done since that red flags may not always be seen in that time.  I so appreciate the relationship Sarah has with her Dad, but I also know that at times, when I’ve felt insecure, it’s also felt threatening to me.

One thing a lot of people will not consider, a thing that should always be considered, especially in marriage, is women are especially vulnerable.  This is not always just because there is a physical power imbalance.

I think generally speaking, men have their needs met much easier than women do.  Sex, for just one instance.  Men are “done” very quickly and very easily, typically speaking, whereas for most women, to be properly met, there is the need of time, intimacy, connection, real engagement.  A man can have his needs met without connecting emotionally at all.  But for many women it’s the opposite.  People can joke about it as much as they want, but the plain fact is what a woman needs—again; time, intimacy, connection, real engagement—is exactly what the marriage needs, whereas what the man needs isn’t necessarily good for the marriage.

Men may end up in their marriages thinking they’re giving everything required, but marriage is much more than bringing home the bacon.  Marriage requires more of a man than simply bringing resources into the home, though that was “the standard” in yesteryear.

The reason why I say the above is I’ve had seasons of life, certainly in my first marriage, where I thought I was doing everything I needed to do—I was a “good” husband, in other words, a “good enough” husband, a “pass mark” husband, a “51%” husband, a husband who was “ticking the boxes.”

What if a partner wants more than a token effort?  Marriage is and should always be about more than a token effort.  There ought to be great intentionality—as if it’s the most important focus of our lives.  “When two become one flesh.”

Because marriage is supposed to be the closest intimacy ever, it feels like a massive betrayal when we get anything less.  It’s one thing to not be getting along, so long as there’s effort and passion in it, but it’s an entirely different thing when there’s the ambivalence of just going through the motions.  Marriage just must be more than humdrum.

I think what’s at the bottom of this for men is an assumption of ownership in marriage, and if that’s true there’s little wonder that it kills intimacy and passion.  Ownership says, “I’ve got you now, I owe you nothing, and you exist for me and my pleasure, and I will give to you whatever I feel I wish to, usually according to my needs, not yours.”

Now that might be a harsh assessment, but I do see it in men, and all I’m saying is, as a humble man, can you assess yourself honestly against this criterion?  Are you a “good enough” husband?

Don’t react to these words, just simply ask yourself if you really exist to serve and truly love your wife in marriage and seek to meet her needs.  It’s not a bad thing to find yourself needing to improve.  It’s a great thing!  It means growth is ahead, and blessing for your wife and probably for your kids as well.  Your effort and intent needs to come from the heart, like you WANT to do it.

It takes a great deal of humility to read and digest these words, but if a person does, they stand to find something of more value than fine gold.

POSTSCRIPT – occasionally, there is a reversal in roles that needs to be catered for.  Anyone who behaves in an entitled way in a marriage-type of relationship is neglecting their partner.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The sincerity of apology steeped in repentance

There are many elements of apology consisting of acknowledging the hurt, addressing everyone affected, admitting our part without saying if, but, or maybe, accepting the consequences, asking for forgiveness, and altering behaviour.

All of these, except the last one, can be done in one sincere moment.  The last one, however, requires a consistent effort over time.

Sincerity is always the biggest test when it comes to an apology.  Is it sincere enough?  Or perhaps we’re convinced how cut to the heart a person is, and their sincerity convinces us that they understand the level of depth of the wrong they have done.  Understanding is the key matter because these are matters of the heart.

The enormous caveat when it comes to apology is always, what motivates a person to apologise?  Is it for the benefit of the person apologising, or is it for the other person and the relationship?

The sincerity of an apology is steeped in repentance, mainly because repentance must stand the test of time, and a heart for change must endure.  There is no better test for sincerity than the test of time.  Sincerity can be faked in a moment, but faking it doesn’t stand up over time.

The standard for repentance isn’t always to be set by the person doing the repenting.  The person forgiving them ought to be given some role to assess the planned repentance.  Indeed, a good repentance probably presumes some level of the person repenting seeking feedback from the one who has been wronged, like, “I plan to make restitution by doing ‘this’, and I want to show you it won’t happen again by doing ‘that’.”  That takes significant humility on the part of the person repenting, and humility is a hallmark of someone who has the capacity to repent.  Not everyone has the humility to adequately repent.  Not everyone has the character for it.

It is comparatively easy to say sorry, but it is harder to say sorry without an if, but, or maybe to qualify the wrong.  “If you hadn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have done this... If you feel hurt... If you think I hurt you... I acknowledge I hurt you, but... Maybe if you don’t do this from now on, I won’t do that...”

It is comparatively easy to ask for forgiveness and yet not understand the wrong done or acknowledge the level of hurt and what it all really means.

In essence, a bad apology means the person apologising 
doesn’t learn what a good apology would teach them.

Understanding goes a long way to convince one heart that another heart gets it.  And when the heart understands the depth of hurt and the wrong done, that conviction mounts up in that heart and repentance is the next logical step.  But a person won’t get anywhere near committing to repentance if they don’t understand the depth of the hurt and the wrong done.

The sincerity of apology steeped in repentance is obvious from the vantage point of the change that has taken place in a person’s life.  You can see a deep learning has occurred, and that they have grown as an individual.

The change that has occurred means they have put steps into place that mean they won’t return to the behaviours that caused the hurt in the first place, or they’ve gone as far as they personally can to ensure a recurrence is unlikely, and if it were to happen what they would then do.  This signals growth in both personal and social awareness.

Repentance is the best evidence of an apology’s sincerity.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Marriages die through the heartache of a lack of intimacy

Despite the issues of violence in coupled relationships, where victims have every right to leave and get themselves to safety, just as common is coupled relationships that die from lack of intimacy.  I’m talking neglect, whether it’s intentional or unintentional.

Certainly when it’s intentional it’s most hurtful, but when it’s unintentional it can be so hard to get through to the partner who seems to have no interest in connecting and engaging.

Sometimes it’s about the seemingly disinterested partner getting what they want, and they’ve got little or no interest in what their partner wants.  This is not uncommon in relationships with a decade or two or more of longevity.  It’s like a partner or the relationships slips into an unhealthy groove, like two ships passing in the night.  Neither notices the other.  For months or years.  But a lot of the time it can be about one partner really missing the other, and the other having very little interest in them.

It’s so common that partners will be more intimate with their device than with their partner, it really is.  But good relationships always find ways to put these things down, and to demonstrate their priorities, that human connection and engagement, partner to partner, is always the most important thing.

The keyword in all of this is neglect.  Partners can find themselves so alone in their relationships that they feel more alone than someone who lives alone.  The travesty of all this is that there is daily and even hourly evidence that there is no regard shown.  There is no fruit of love in the relationship, and the relationship bears the feature that it has died.  There’s no life in it or about it.  The one partner is grieving the death of the relationship, while the other partner is either clueless, satisfied with the status quo, or doesn’t care.

In this day and age, the overt abuses of narcissistic abuse are indeed common within marriage and long-term relationships that break down.  But in relationships that bear more chronic features of death like the lingering abuse of neglect, barring the vital issue of the risk to one’s life, the death is just as devastating.

There are at least two problems presented in these situations.

The first is how do we broach the subject that a lack of intimacy is killing us.  It takes many people years to muster up the courage or to find the words to speak about their needs.  Some never do.  And some do but never get through.

The second is finding yourself in a situation where you have broached the topic, and your partner shows little interest in counselling or anything else that might help give you hope.  They are getting what they want, and though they might have great difficulty admitting it, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get what you need.  They put the ball back in your court.  Whilst they may contribute in some ways, their investment in the relationship from an intimacy viewpoint is non-existent.

Without intimacy, relationships wither and die, and for the partner who desires connection and engagement it’s an excruciating living death.  It’s an emotional void where a pungent form of loneliness takes shape that rocks confidence and often leads to clinical depression.

It’s worth reaching out in a last-ditch attempt to call the partner to intimacy.  Whilst the truth of rejection should that happen is devastating, it’s better to know what they really think than continue to live a lie and die.

The real pity is, some learn far too late that they could have addressed their neglectful demeanour far earlier and breathed life into the relationship.  Whilst it’s never too late to learn for the next relationship, it’s always such a pity that neglectful behaviour isn’t addressed so both can heal.

At least the one who learns late actually does learn.  Too many otherwise feel entitled to a relationship where their input is nothing.  By definition, that’s not a relationship.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Things you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t seen them yourself

This is a bit of a different article for me.  I typically try to focus on helping those who want to be helped.  I don’t often focus on commenting about people who behave in ways that you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t seen them with your own eyes.

One of the saddest things a parent must do is educate their child about things that should just not happen.  Sadly, we have seen too much of what should never happen to even be surprised any more, especially from those who should know better, those we expect integrous behaviour from.

It’s the character of a person who will choose to abuse others, and if that isn’t enough, they redouble the abuse, compounding the trauma, by covering their tracks.  “Nothing to see here,” their approach is.  People who do these things, do them with malicious intent.

The greatest surprise for people who don’t anticipate such behaviour is they discount the possibility, because they impute a character of integrity on a person who should be entirely trustworthy.

This is something that catches many people unawares, even to the point of defending people who have betrayed goodness and behaved malevolently.  People caught unaware like this are dangerous in their own right because they defend those who manipulate them.  The trouble is, unless you see it with your own eyes sometimes, you don’t believe ‘good’ people are capable of evil.

Let me say it plainly.  Good people, supposedly good people, are entirely capable of doing all sorts of things; good, not-so-good, and downright criminal.  We are all capable of criminal behaviour, but what sets the normal person apart from the malevolent one is intentionality.

But we still don’t believe some things unless we see them for ourselves.

Would we believe a pattern?  Would we believe a string of people saying pretty much the same thing?  Would we believe one person who is an outlier?  And what do we think of the theology of scapegoating?  So many people who should know better do not believe in such a thing because they have never seen it, lived it, or had to endure it.  I can tell you, scapegoating is a thing—a terrible, terrible thing—and it’s far more common than you may realise.

Everyone who suffers abuse feels castigated and all alone, and this is part of the imperative of the abuser.  Even if it is a string of a dozen people at the same time or one after the other in series, each person abused feels alone, as if THEY did something wrong, and completely disempowered.

If you are reading this right now, please consider that there are things that occur in life that you may not believe or want to believe but that are still altogether true.  You just haven’t seen them yet.  If a thing seems too fanciful, and if someone is telling you a story that seems too far-fetched, just give a little benefit of the doubt.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

When romance turns out to be woemance

Red flags are the order of the day in retrospect as we look back on relationships that “didn’t work out”.  Like the management team I was part of in the early 2000s, when it came to a certain manager commenting on new staff who suddenly were no more, “oh such-and-such didn’t work out.”  I knew, and I think everybody else knew at the time, what was really happening.  I’m not saying that this manager was toxic, but it always seemed strange to me the regularity of that comment, “oh such-and-such didn’t work out.”  Like, “we agreed we weren’t good for each other.”  I always wondered what the truth was.

So many relationships, and it doesn’t matter whether they are romantic or business relationships, or friendships for that matter, start out in a whirlwind of romance.  One makes overtures to the other, and these overtures are returned.  It’s all glitz and glamour.  There can be much excitement, expectation, exhilaration, and the extolling of virtues... and then somehow, sometimes, without much warning, something sours in the relationship, and the relationship status suddenly changes.  All goes quiet at times.  One person is “no more.”

When romance turns to woemance – as in “woah, I didn’t expect that...” or, “woah, that’s not what I signed up for...” or, “woah, they can’t do that!” – there is a WOE in that revelation, and something must be done.

Moments of realisation like this always have us exclaiming, “WOAH” because they are so devastating.  The hopes we had that a particular person would measure up can never be realised by us alone.

Such a moment is always a significant woe.  But the moments after that that might endure for months if not years are woes in their own right.  The initial woe was merely the tip of the iceberg.

“Woe” is defined as “great sorrow or distress” and it’s often expressed hyperbolically.  The saddest thing about woemance is how much great sorrow and distress is heaped on the one who must bear the burden of the woe, and if anything what’s felt in the initial “woah!” is an understatement of what will transpire rather than an exaggeration.

The more the romance shone bright – the more brilliant the leader, the partner, the friend seemed – the more the woemance period will hurt.  Suddenly, as the person is revealed in the truthful light of day, that truth beams into all the darker corners that weren’t previously seen, and it’s painful.


It’s always good to contain our burgeoning excitement about a new relationship.  Both parties have some things to prove to one another to show they’re going to be faithful over the long haul.  One party’s faithfulness is NEVER enough for such an exercise of sustainable relationship.  One party’s faithfulness is never enough to cater for abuse on the part of the other.  One party’s faithfulness is never enough to cater for unfaithfulness on the part of the other.  One party’s faithfulness is never enough to cater for duplicity on the part of the other.  And so on.

The encouragement in enduring such a woeful turn of events is there is the gift of discernment imparted.  We become aware for future of the red flags that blindsided us.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Leader, if you’re nesting negatives within positives, you’re doing it wrong

Feedback is something that reveals the heart of a leader.

When I was initially trained in giving feedback over 25 years ago now, and it was stressed on us that feedback must always be more positive than negative, to inspire and reward good performance and not punish what you don’t want, but what I find these days is plainly negative feedback is the norm.  Leaders seem to have lost the art of maintaining the trust and confidence of those they lead.  What I find is so common these days is the negatives are nested within the positives, which simply devalues the positives, because what is really being communicated is the negative.

An example of this is when someone writes you an email and they start out positively, but you can quickly sense that the real reason for the email is the negative.

So many managers and leaders these days don’t get it that an inspiring leader encourages.  And through that encouragement there is less need for negative feedback.  Because there is more of a willingness to task properly, by communicating properly, giving task clarity without micromanaging, an employee is set up for success and they’re left to do their job.

People hate being micromanaged.  It leads to anxiety and work stress and is a real psychosocial hazard.  It’s often leads to people feeling bullied.  Micromanagement is a form of workplace harassment.  The effect of this is workers taking their work home with them in their minds, where sleep patterns are interrupted, where they cannot escape the circular movement of what should only be a quarter of their life in their minds.  It breeds trauma.

A lot of the leadership malpractice and dysfunctional management stems from a critical heart behind the feedback given.  Managers like this are bent on control.

How many reading this will attest to the stress and anxiety that is suffered when a particular person’s name flashes up on their phone or email account?  That’s the evidence trauma, right there!  Right there is the fight, the fright, the flight, the freeze, and the fawn.  In an instant.

If a leader is giving negative feedback just about all the time, they’re doing it wrong.  Even if someone deserves negative feedback after negative feedback, surely the way to encourage different or better performance is through encouragement or better direction.  Instead what’s given is often a set of mixed messages, so the person being directed is constantly in a state of confusion about what’s required of them.

Without any doubt one of the tangible needs of a worker is the confidence and backing of the person they work for.  It is a need.  It is a human right.  If a worker does not have this, they are on the conveyor belt to trauma.

The leader who hides negative feedback within the positive is just trying to soften the blow and appear like a good leader.  Their heart is not in the positive, it’s in the negative.  Leaders must be honest, because workers can smell it a mile off when they aren’t.

NOTE: this is NOT a comment on ANY of my present leaders but emerges out of patterns I’ve seen in clients I’m helping!  Indeed, it’s because I’ve got sound leaders at present that I can say these things today.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The reason why some may never understand

The day after the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Junior died, school teacher Jane Elliott conducted her famous blue-eyes, brown-eyes experiment to reveal the insidious effects of discrimination, in this case, racism.  One thing Elliott was able to show was that if you treat a person with privilege they will prosper, but if you treat a person poorly, they will respond negatively.

This is a phenomenon known as the Pygmalion effect.  Whilst the original psychological study was flawed, what is irrefutable about this concept is people respond to how they’re treated.  This is a ubiquitous trait in all humanity.

Think of this from the perspective of your own life.  Look through the lens of your own experience.  Those times when a person believed in you, you prospered, your confidence was higher, you were more relaxed, and felt more at home in your own skin.  Those times when a person treated you poorly, you were diminished, you lost confidence, you lacked self-belief, and part of you possibly became damaged in a toxic environment.

The reason why some may never understand the pain, the suffering, the lack of confidence, the difficulty in forgiving, the triggering of trauma, etc, is that some people have never been to those places.

Some people were always picked up when they fell, whereas others were rejected and there was no recognition of this.

Privilege has kept some people secluded in supportive environments.  Meanwhile, for others, it was the opposite, it was a life of difficulty, of neglect, of not having needs met.

If you were to put a privileged person into a vulnerable situation for a period of time, they too would respond “poorly,” because the essence of humanity according to the Pygmalion effect is to react and to respond according to how you’re treated.

If you have been treated poorly throughout life, this principle explains why you have reacted in a way that causes you to feel shame.  This is a psychological fact.  The shame is unfair, because had you not been treated poorly you would not have reacted poorly.  Life doesn’t stop there, however.  Every person who has been treated poorly has an opportunity to grow through such adversity, to see those responses as normal, but to recover from those horrible experiences.  Their opportunity is to redeem the shame and increase, bit by bit, on the worthiness that is inherent in their human life.  To reclaim their experience of worthiness.

If you are a person who cannot understand the abysmal behaviour of another, take a moment to step into their shoes, and to empathise.  Whilst you’re not accountable for what they do with their pain, you can treat them with equivalence and respect.  This is just an honouring of another human life, and it is never wrong to do this.  Indeed, what it says to treat someone with equivalence and respect who’s been disadvantaged is you understand there’s a crucial role that an individual’s experience of life plays in life.

Some people will never understand what you have been through, and how that’s translated into your reactions and responses until now or historically.  Jesus certainly understands.  Remember on the cross, when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34)  The Saviour of the world was one of the most misunderstood people in human history.

If we can understand that some people may never understand, it somehow resolves something that otherwise irritates us.

We don’t need to convince anyone.  And it heralds the fact that there are people who have an intimate understanding of what we’ve been through and why we reacted.