A Toxic Behavior to Watch For

Uncategorized Jun 04, 2020

Please note that this is not meant to invalidate pain you've experienced. This is written in the context of resolving conflict that can happen between two people. 

Safe relationships are centered and grounded in forgiveness. When you have a friend with the ability to forgive you for hurting them or letting them down, something deep occurs in the transaction between you two. The healing process begins to liberate both people of the harm that was done. Guilt, shame, hurt and fear start to dissolve, so receiving forgiveness when we know we’ve truly blown it is a humbling and growth-producing experiencing. It’s the only thing better than forgiving someone else.

On the other hand, an unsafe person who is unable to forgive can be very destructive. Unsafe people are often good at identifying your weaknesses. They can quote the minute and hour you hurt them, and recall the scene in intimate detail and living color. Like a good attorney, they have the entire case mapped...

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Addressing Gaslighting that Takes Place in Church

Uncategorized May 31, 2020

A new group for divorced singles was opening up at Megan’s church, so she decided to join. On the first night there, she shared a story about the issues with her husband. 

“He was an addict, and I made excuses for his behavior all the time. I didn’t want to believe things were that bad, so I tried to overlook it for awhile.” 

Another member of the group interrupted her. “Well, did you pray for him?”

“Of course. With friends, too.”

“Have you forgiven him?”

“I’m working on that,” Megan said. “That’s why I’m here.” 

At the end of the group, Megan was hesitant about going back. She knew that she needed to forgive her husband for the hurt he brought in her life, but she was still working on processing the trauma that happened within their relationship. 

Sometimes when we’re sharing our pains with another person, they think they’re being helpful when they...

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Unsafe People Exist at Church, Too

Uncategorized May 31, 2020

I got an emergency call, and the office relayed to me that I had a suicidal client. I called Theresa on the phone. She was distraught.

“Tell me what happened,” I said.

“It’s not going to work,” Theresa replied, sobbing.

“What isn’t going to work?”

“Telling other people about my problems,” she said. “I went to my fellowship group tonight and told them about the depression and the problems with Joey, and they really came down on me for being depressed and for all the other stuff that has been going on.”

“What did they say?”

“Well, they said that I shouldn’t feel that way and that if I was still having all those problems then I probably wasn’t walking with the Lord. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried all this ‘safe relationship’ stuff, sharing and all that, and now it doesn’t work.”

“What would you say if I told you that you still...

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Wise, Foolish or Evil: How to Know Who You're Dealing With

Uncategorized May 31, 2020

If you believe that you’re a responsible and loving person, it’s easy to assume that other people think like you. You think that they care about other people and how their actions affect those people. Since you have a concern about how what you do affects others, then it makes sense that everyone else is just like you, right? The truth is that not many people take responsibility for themselves or care about how their actions are affecting other people or the mission. Moreover, some are even worse than that, and they’re actually out to do you harm. If you don’t want to accept this reality, then you’re going to waste time, money, energy, and resources on people who will either squander or destroy it.

There are three types of people in the world, or rather, three styles of behavior that a person can exhibit in a particular time or context. Depending on whether you’re a psychiatrist, employer, a spouse or a judge, there are different ways of...

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9 Ways Words Kill a Relationship

Uncategorized May 31, 2020

In a group I was leading once, a man held the floor for some time. He’d go off on tangents, change the subject and spend inordinate amounts of time on irrelevant details.

(I promise it wasn’t me this time.)

He couldn’t seem to get to the point. Other members were spacing out, dozing off or becoming restless. Just as I was about to speak to the man’s struggle with getting to the point, a woman in the group spoke up.

“Aaron, talk net, will ya?”

“Talking net” rather than “gross” means putting a net or boundary on how many words we use and how we use them — and that can be a struggle for many. How we use language can deeply affect the quality of our relationships. The words we use can be a source of both blessing and cursing. They can be a blessing when we empathize, identify, encourage, confront and exhort others. They can be a curse when we use them to do the following:

  • Hide from intimacy by talking nonstop
  • Dominate...
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Don’t Allow Yourself to Enable Irresponsible People

Uncategorized May 28, 2020

Christine was an administrative assistant in a small company that planned training sessions for different industries. She was responsible for booking the training sessions and managing the speakers’ schedules. Her coworker, Jack, was responsible for the training facilities. He took the materials to the site, set up the equipment, and ordered the food. Together, Christine and Jack made the events happen.

After a few months of really liking her work, though, Christine began to lose energy. Eventually, her friend and coworker, Lynda, asked her what was wrong. Christine couldn’t put her finger on the problem at first. Then she realized: The problem was Jack!

Jack had been asking Christine to “pick this up for me while you’re out,” or “please bring this box of materials to the workshop.” Slowly, Jack was shifting his responsibilities onto Christine.

“You have to stop doing Jack’s work,” Lynda told Christine. “Just do your...

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How An Addict Started to Make Changes to His Life

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

Sam, 28, was admitted into our hospital program after an accidental drug overdose. He had neglected to keep track of how much cocaine he was ingesting.

In the first few sessions, we discovered that although Sam had a genus IQ, he had failed out of two colleges and had never been able to hold down a job. His relational life was equally troubled. He would totally lose himself in a relationship and recklessly abandon the rest of his responsibilities. In the process, he would smother whomever he was dating and scare her away. At the time he was admitted, his last girlfriend had just dumped him.

When we asked Sam about his family, he told us that his father had died when Sam was four. Depressed and withdrawn for many years, his mother had never remarried. In an attempt to make up for the loss of their father, she had tried to be as nice to her children as possible. And she gave them everything they wanted. To hear Sam tell it, he had been “living his best life,” emphasizing...

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Let Go of the Toxic Friendships and Feel Good About It

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

Michelle and Kristin were partners in an online craft business they launched over social media. Though the two had seen a great deal of success, personal issues were starting to come between the two friends.

One day Michelle confronted Kristin on a behavior that had been bothering her.

"You always interrupt me when we are meeting with vendors,” she said. "It makes me feel inferior."

"Well, that’s because I think you’re too soft and undersell our brand!” Kristin shot back.

Michelle stared at her, stunned. "How can you say that?" she asked. "I've always worked just as hard as you, and I care about building relationships with our vendors!"

But Kristin could not take the implication that she was flawed, and when she heard about it, her immediate response was to insult Michelle. When Michelle tried to resolve the conflict, their friendship and the joint business venture eventually fizzled.

Michelle was devastated. But as she thought back over the years with...

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The Mistake You Can Make When You Think Someone Will Change

Uncategorized May 26, 2020

When you think about whether or not hope is realistic — whether it’s a relationship or a certain scenario — you have to ask yourself, “Who am I dealing with?” Character, giftedness and all of who a person is, the person’s makeup, is the future.

This is often the biggest error that people make in determining whether to have hope or not. They forget to think about whom they are depending on to get it done. Instead, they look at what they want or wish to happen and forget who that person is in their entirety. The mistakes come in a number of forms when they place hope in someone they shouldn’t.

  • The person who is not bringing results is really “sorry” and promises to do better.
  • The person who isn’t performing “gets it” and tells you that he/she is really committed “this time.”
  • You want the best for the person and want to believe that he can do it “this time.” 

There are a lot of...

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This is What Your "No" Muscle Can do for You

Uncategorized May 25, 2020

"Your safe people need to point out to you that you aren’t really 'present' when you can’t bring your differences to a relationship."

In most adult children of controlling upbringings, the will to be self-directed and separated is undeveloped. We all need the ability to decide what we love and don’t love, like and don’t like, want and don’t want. However, the children of controlling upbringings often can’t separate their feelings and values from those of the significant people in their lives: mom, spouse, or friends, for example. They aren’t able to be distinct in their relationships.

The process begins by first owning a “no muscle.” We can’t really know who we are until we know who we aren’t. That’s why babies go through the “no” stage first. They must first become aware of their differences from their parents before they can explore their own traits and characteristics. In the same way, you need to...

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