Driving and Relationships

What does Driving a car have to do with relationships? Are we just a bunch of driving hypocrites? How we drive when alone may say a lot about how we really feel about others.

Let’s see what we can learn about relationships through Driving a Car…

Please share your thoughts and comment or reply below!


LOVE…

LOVE

Ahhhhhhh! Love!

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this word?

Romance? Emotions? Honeymoon? Funny feelings in your tummy?

Kissing? Hugs?

Interestingly enough, I put this phrase into Google “first thing you think of when you hear LOVE,” and the first link to pop up for me was a Yahoo Answers link. On it were answers such as these – in no particular order:

Fairy tale

Anger, pain and sadness

…being hurt

It’s an illusion

What IS it?

What was your first thought?

For the most part, we have allowed our society to dictate to us what LOVE is.

The first thing we must realize is that LOVE has no working definition. WHAT?!?! Try to define it and someone else will come up with another definition totally different than yours. Also, some of us define love based on our own experiences – whether positive or negative.

Some would define love as “hugging your children” while another might say what you feel on your wedding day. The two are VERY different emotions/feelings, but is that love?

Some may even define love as a sexual relationship or attraction.

Here is my answer to all of these. LOVE is not ANY of these things!

So, what is love? And cue song… “baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” (By Haddaway)

Great question! I’m glad you asked!

First let me describe what LOVE is not

It is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. It is not sex. It is not getting what you want all the time.

LOVE is a behavior, an action, a decision, a commitment. Let me be more specific:

Love is a choice. You cannot fall IN to love.

Let’s say you are standing on the edge of a cliff and down below about 20 feet is a pool of water. You are contemplating jumping off into the cool water, but you hesitate. Finally you decide it is worth the risk and you make the decision to jump in.

NOW, imagine you are on that same cliff, looking at the same water. You trip and fall tumbling over the side into the cool water. What is your first reaction? Is it one of elation? Or are you unsure of what is happening and how it will end up? Will you be pleasantly surprised? Or will you wish you had not fallen in, and you claw your way out of the water?

Which do you have more control over? YES! The first one!

At least if you make the decision to jump in, you have some idea of what you are getting yourself into. You make the commitment and you jump, understanding there are some things you may not be aware of, like how cold the water is, but nonetheless, you go for it.

We choose who to love, when to love, where to love, and how to love.

The best example I can give to you is this – Jesus. I know, I know – there he goes again talking about Jesus. Well, get over it!

Jesus gave us the best example of LOVE in the face of a most certain painful situation that was imminent should he choose to go down that path to become the sacrifice for our sins.

He had the opportunity to walk away from what would become an extremely painful death. But He was driven by love. That’s right! Why would someone choose that kind of pain and torture for love? Because He realized that from that painful circumstance it would pave the way for us to have a relationship with God.

So what is LOVE?

Love is Patient. When you are faced with a situation where you just want someone to realize you are there for them – patience is an act of love.

Love is Kind. When you would rather respond in vengeance, you decide to show kindness.

Love does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. You make the choice to be content with what you have, to be thankful for others and to look at yourself with sober judgment.

Love is not rude. When your first reaction is to be sarcastic and snarky, you decide to lock up the lips.

Love is not self-seeking – on the flip side, this means you actually look out for the needs of others.

Love is not easily angered. Ouch, that one hurt a little didn’t it. It takes a decision to suppress the anger that rises so quickly to an unwelcome event or comment.

Love does not keep a record of wrongs. When you are in a disagreement, this is the decision to NOT bring up all of the past hurts or offenses the other person has done against you. It is a continual choice to forgive.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Have you ever heard gossip that you know is not true? This is when you decide to push away the lie and gossip and stand with the truth.

This is where we need to discuss the qualities of LOVE that should ALWAYS be present. If these qualities are NOT present, then it is not love!

Love ALWAYS protects.

Love ALWAYS trusts.

Love ALWAYS hopes.

Love ALWAYS perseveres.

If you love someone, you choose to protect them, choose to trust them, choose to hope for the best, and choose to persevere through the difficult challenges.

If we put all of these into effect, than we can always count on LOVE, it will not fail us. Now how many of these are dependent on the recipient of your love?

If you answered none of them, you would be correct! Just as much as you decide to show these qualities, others must also decide to show them toward you. However, you do not need them reciprocated in order to love someone.

This means we can choose to love a complete stranger and provide a need for them. We can choose to love someone that has been rude to us.

LOVE is a choice: a choice to be committed; a choice to place ourselves in a vulnerable position with someone else. When we look at it this way and not as if we are “falling in love” we recognize if we choose to love, we can choose not to love.

Emotions come and go. I WISH I could stay happy all the time, but inevitably something will happen where I will become sad.

LOVE does not have to be as unstable as our emotions. As a matter of fact, Jesus showed how stable it really is, by loving us before we ever accepted Him as the Son of God and the One that takes away our sins. He loved us while we were denying His existence. He loved us while we were living our lives for ourselves.

Maybe this is how we are to love others. With the example Christ gave us, we can love others.

Choose to love.

This is such a big topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Shoot me an idea of another aspect of love you might want to hear about.


COMPARING – Don’t Do It!!!

I have had a lifelong issue with comparing myself to others, except I usually come out on the short end of the stick in my mind. Comparing is dangerous and can hold you back from accomplishments or damage meaningful relationships.

It’s just not a good idea! Either you will be full of pride in yourself, or you will be self-deprecating. For more, click on the video below…

I welcome comments, remarks and suggestions for future articles/videos. Please reply or comment below…


SUPPORT __/\___/\__ and Relationships

I am still blown away at the strength of two people who feed off each other’s strengths and complement each other’s weaknesses. Healthy tension is GOOD for a relationship. It is NECESSARY to support the relationship! This video gives an analogy that I pray encourages you to “bridge” the gap of relationship with those in your life.


Relationship EXPLOSIONS!

Some of the most intense moments I have ever watched on television or even in the movies have been when a bomb is found and it needs to be disarmed.

Can you picture it? The timer clicks down in red numbers like an alarm clock from the 1980s; someone who knows more than the average Joe about disarming a bomb comes across THIS one that has motion sensors, wires that all look the same and hidden booby traps that would trigger its early detonation.

No matter how many times I see them, I find myself clenching my teeth and I find my hands in a fist because of the tension.

I am sure there are more bombs being set than we would care to admit, but we never hear about them because of the incredible talents of men and women who have made it their lives to know how to disarm bombs, learning the countless ways someone could build one and being familiar with just about every technique ever developed.

For most of us we will never actually come that close to an actual bomb. The closest many of us will ever be is when we go to see the fireworks during the 4th of July or a New Year’s celebration.

However, many of us – if not all of us – will be faced with incendiary relationships at some time or another. There are issues that arise in relationships that are explosive in nature.

Someone you know could be having a particularly bad day and their internal “I can deal with this” clock is ticking. You may just be unlucky enough to be in their general vicinity when that ticking time bomb goes off. You get caught in the blast of your friends frustration, anger, rage, or venting diatribe.

You may be at the grocery store and a customer in line is giving you or the cashier an extremely difficult time.

How about if you’re married? The argument (excuse me – discussion) can escalate to code red proportions because the blast of a disagreement can destroy an evening, week, month and unfortunately a marriage.

I can think of hundreds of situations where relational explosions take place. Sometimes it only affects two people. Other times there can be innocent bystanders (friends or family) negatively affected and there have been organizations that have split in two due to a relationship time bomb – affecting hundreds of people.

The imagery is meant to grab your attention.

So when we are faced with escalated situations – or potentially explosive relationships – how do we handle it?

We can respond in several ways…

  1. We can turn and run like crazy to avoid the conflict
  2. We can ask a close friend or family member to speak on our behalf to settle the situation
  3. We can go in with a verbal arsenal and detonate the relationship
  4. OR, we can follow some steps – that may work or may not work – depending on the situation.

First and foremost, when we are faced with a potentially damaging situation in one of our relationships, remember this…

When someone escalates – it is NOT the time for debates!

Arguing, getting angry, blowing up verbally NEVER defuses a relational bomb – unless in a controlled and safe, mediated environment.

Then we can do our best to follow some steps in order to de-escalate the situation.

  1. Defuse: This means to make a threatening or dangerous situation safer. In a relationship this involves calming a potentially damaging verbal exchange to minimize the damage. Plus – you cannot negotiate or rationalize with someone who is in a fit of rage or anger.
  2. Deflect: Meaning to cause (something, someone) to change direction by interposing something, or to cause someone to deviate from an intended purpose. In this step, we are interposing an objective point of view to deflect away from the argument or verbal explosion in order to change the direction of the conversation to the underlying issue.
  3. Direct: In this step we aim (something) on a particular course, at a particular person, or at a particular issue. When you have routed out the underlying issue, which would detonate the relationship into pieces if not disarmed, you then want to direct all your energy or the energies of those involved toward addressing that issue. Once this issue is addressed you have the best chance at de-escalating the relationship explosion and in most cases deactivating a potentially harmful conversation.

Will this work all of the time? No. It will not. It truly depends on the people involved and how long they have allowed this underlying issue to click away on the relationship time bomb.

Here is the cool thing. Most relationships can be reconciled. However, this takes great effort, work and daily choices in order to piece the relationship back together.

Oh and one more thing! When you place God at the center of your relationships, spend time praying with and for each other, encouraging each other, you can grow in your ability to Defuse, Deflect and Direct.

I would LOVE to hear your stories and how you may have worked through an escalated, explosive relationship issue – whether work or personal. You can leave a comment on this blog OR email me at TheSophosGroup@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!


Relationships: Christians and Our Responsibility

This goes out to all my Christian friends, pastors, churches, denominations and leadership teams of ministries…

Post your comments, whether you agree or disagree. I’d LOVE to hear from you!


VIDEO – Why Talk about Relationships?

I’ll be posting a video as often as I can that are just a few minutes each. This first video is an introduction. It is my first crack at videos – so go easy on me!

I’d love to hear your ideas for future videos – post a comment or reply below or send me an email to TheSophosGroup@gmail.com.


Hostility in a Relationship

Are there really people in this world that are hostile in how they treat others? Is it possible to be in a dysfunctional relationship and be trapped in a conversation and/or environment that is damaging to your spirit and emotional state?

The answers to these questions are a RESOUNDING YES!!!

The outcome of these types of situations usually drives the target of the hostility into a tailspin emotionally; they begin to feel as if the issue is their fault; and they spiral into this cycle where they feel trapped and as if they will never be able to break free from the manipulative grip of the one who is presenting the hostility.

This happens more than we would care to admit. We would rather not think about it hoping it will go away, or acting like it is not really an issue. We can be afraid to speak up or confront the person who is covertly or overtly causing the distress, because it may actually make it worse.

The only word for this behavior – is bullying. Bullying is hostility in relationships. Bullying and hostility happens when someone has crossed the line and begins to direct their abusive behavior or talk toward a particular individual that has not done anything to merit that behavior or talk.

There could be MANY reasons behind this kind of behavior or malicious talk. Maybe the personal life of the bully is a tornado of circumstance. Maybe they have a valid reason (at least in their minds) why they have chosen to direct their abusive behavior outward.

What I have found is no matter what the reasons are, there is absolutely no grounds to target an innocent individual, simply because they are different, have differing viewpoints, or may be a threat to your power or control.

I used to believe that everyone has good intentions and that there is a reason for their bad behavior or manipulative treatment of others. Through personal experience and research into this, I have discovered it is possible for an individual to have malicious intent toward another human being. There is no simple explanation as to WHY someone would do such a thing.

I would like to think it is an anomaly, but unfortunately it happens all too frequently in this world.

The question is…how does someone who is the recipient of bullying behavior to respond?

First of all, we could respond out of fear. This is a tough one. The fear this person is experiencing is usually a fear that if they confront the issue it will only elevate the negative behavior against them driving them further into depression, questioning themselves and keeping them from moving forward in their life.

Another response is to lash out. The recipient of this behavior can press down their feelings for so long that they become like a ticking time bomb. A person can only take so much pressure before they break. This breaking point can manifest in several ways. No matter how it manifests, the outcome is not positive.

Another response is to direct your anger towards those that you love. In other words, bullying can beget bullying. The way to stop this vicious cycle is to get the recipient of the bullying or hostility to open up in a safe and trusting environment – address it and provide a way out of it.

Still yet another response is to shut down completely and enter into a depression that affects you and those around you.

Any one of these responses has one thing in common. The recipient has allowed the source of their pain to have control over their heart, their emotions and their immediate future.

This is unacceptable.

I have been the recipient of this manipulative controlling behavior. It doesn’t feel good. I lost sleep. It affected my health. I allowed it to affect my family relationships. I even entered into a depressive state for a while.

Then a couple of things happened.

  1. Someone in my life saw what was happening and helped me to see what I was allowing to happen to me
  2. I realized that I needed to confront the issue or it would continue to drag me down.
  3. I understood (with some counsel) that I was yielding control of my life, emotions and heart to someone that did not truly have my best interests in mind.
  4. I realized my life, emotions and heart need to be protected, if only for those I love to have the best of me, and not the broken pieces left from a dysfunctional relationship.
  5. I decided not to willingly walk into any situation where this person could possibly manipulate me, control me or drag me down with their hostility.

None of these things were easy.

There is a way to frame this that I have found is the best possible way to deal with hostility in relationships.

I have a relationship with God that helps me understand that my identity is not the sum total of all my experiences, my life is not defined by the negative people who wish to step on me in order to get to a higher level.

My identity is found in my relationship with Jesus Christ. If God would send His Son for the express purpose of providing a way for me to have a relationship with Him – God sees value in my life – His creation.

I am not perfect. I am far from perfect. I make mistakes. I mistreat others on occasion.

The difference? My relationship with God helps me to see where my flaws are relationally and to work on them. If someone decides to treat me unfairly, with malicious intent, or with narcissistic tendencies – whether they know it or not – I decide how I am going to respond.

My first response now is to pray. My second response is to understand that Jesus is my source of strength. Everything that comes out of that is framed around my relationship with God.

As long as I maintain my integrity, honor and dignity in a situation – I believe God will protect me, avenge me, and provide what I need to make it through the relational emotional storm at the words and actions of someone else.

Besides, even though I cannot control or even change someone who treats me with hostility, I do not have to allow them to control my heart – because it belongs to God. I can confront the situation and rest assured God will give me the courage and the words to say.

One young man decided to take control over his emotions and heart after being bullied and treated with hostility. His example can become a catalyst for us to effect change in our surroundings – to help others to become less “me-centric” and more “you-centric”.

Watch this video and then feel free to post comments, email me directly or share your own story of how you overcame a hostile relationship.

I would LOVE to hear your stories and how you may have worked through a hostile relationship – whether work or personal. You can leave a comment on this blog OR email me at TheSophosGroup@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!


8 LEVELS Of Relationship – Part II

First you see or hear of someone. Then you meet them. Then you become an acquaintance. Then you do the hard work (or sometimes easy depending on who it is) of getting to know them.

What comes next?

Know What They Are About

When you enter this level, you have not left the level of Getting to Know Someone. Actually, the last four levels are only higher stages within that level.

You never really stop getting to know an individual. Why? Because, as your relationship grows you both change. It is inevitable that you and the other person are going to adapt to certain situations.

Also, people usually do not lay all their “personal cards” on the table. There is some area or areas they continue to hold close to them. We will get back to this.

While you are in this stage, if you are attentive to it, you will begin to understand what makes this person you are in relationship with tick. What gets them up in the morning? What do they enjoy? What frustrates them? What kind of hobbies do they have? What are some of their pitfalls?

What do they define as success in their life? What kind of friend do they need? What are the goals they have set for themselves? And the list can go on…

The key word here is “WHAT”.

It is all part of understanding the person you are adopting as friend. You will find similarities you have – whether it is in opinion, history, philosophy, faith, etc.

You will also discover traits or characteristics you are not in agreement with. When you do discover this, you need to make a decision as to whether you will simply accept this negative trait or influence this friend and help them overcome it.

CAUTION: Your friend must know this negative trait and they must desire to work on it or change it. Otherwise, it may cause a rift in the developing relationship.

Know WHO Someone Is

This level is one step above knowing what someone is about. At this level you start (and continue to learn) to get an understanding about why this person does life they way they do it.

Why do they respond in certain ways to specific events or circumstances? Why is it they may react positively or negatively to the same situation someone else may normally react opposite?

What is their thought process?

At this stage it may be common for you both to finish each other’s sentences. It may also be common for you to be able to speak on behalf of that friend, because you know how they may respond.

CAUTION: Just do so with great care. A mistake here could set back your relationship or even stall it.

This level is where you have the realization they are what and who they say they are. There is a revelation into the nature of your friendship and the feeling that as long as we maintain healthy communication and boundaries, we could be friends for a very long time.

Someone you can call FRIEND

This is simple. If you have made it to the Knowing WHO Someone Is level, more than likely you have already started calling them “Friend”.

A friend is someone who accepts you just as you are, but is not afraid to call you on your issues. There is a trust that has grown to the point where you can share personal, confidential information and believe it will stop there.

You can also rest assured they will not judge you for your actions, but share their opinion in love to give you a healthy, balanced view of you.

We throw this term around WAY too often. It is a term that should only be used when it is understood mutually that this is the nature of the relationship.

When you vouch for your friend, you believe they will represent your opinion of them well and represent themselves in an honorable way. Besides, your own reputation is on the line when you call them friend.

A friend at this level will sense when something is amiss in your life. When you are down, they know it. When you are happy, they celebrate with you. When you are sad, they listen and allow you to cry – but not for long. When you are in need of a push, they provide motivation.

Then, at some point – and no one can really say for sure when this happens in any relationship – you move on to the highest level of relationship…

Someone You Can Call Family

At this level, the boundaries are all but removed. Sure, you still respect the relational boundaries, but truth, honesty, opinions, issues; NOTHING is off the table for discussion here.

You know that even if you yell, get into a disagreement, or even become separated by circumstance or miles, if they needed you, you would be there for them. This doesn’t mean you will fly 2000 miles, but it means you are there for them emotionally.

If it is possible to be there in person, then you do it. However, miles should NEVER be an excuse not to pick up a phone, talk about your feelings no matter how irrational.

There are some people in our lives that describe family as only those who are blood related, or married into. I would like to blow that definition right out of the water. Sure, being blood related or related by marriage technically makes you family. It does not mean you have developed the relationship through all 8 of these levels.

For example, I found out last summer that I have a cousin whom I have NEVER met. I just heard about her and saw her on Facebook.

I cannot expect her or her expect of me that we are at the highest level of relationship simply because we have a common bloodline. It will take time and a mutual desire to walk through the levels of relationship.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts about these 8 levels of relationship. Offer your opinions about the levels, share with us. Or email me at TheSophosGroup@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!


8 LEVELS of Relationship – Part I

Have you ever wondered what might happen if you just took the chance and forced yourself to meet a total stranger?

How many people walk by you every day and you have NO IDEA who they are, what their story is, what brought them to where they are, and who they have in their circle of influence?

DISCLAIMER: The author takes NO responsibility for WHO you choose to try this experiment with, nor can he be responsible for the outcome, whatever that may be.

We get so comfortable with our current relationship setup sometimes. OR, we withdraw into our own bubble of relationship because we don’t want to take the risk of getting hurt, rejected, and the list can go on… This site is not meant to dive into the psychological areas that keep us from relationships.

There is literally NO END to the amount of connections we can make in relationship with people around us. We may say it’s a small world, but is it really? With 7 billion people in the world, can we ever stop the cycle of meeting others?

One of my favorite things to do is to meet someone and spend some time hearing their story, from where they were born to what brought them to where they are in life currently.

I am not always successful in getting to that point with someone, because they need to be willing to share their story.

However, what I have found in meeting people and developing relationship is there are at least 8 different levels of relationship – four of which I will address in Part I and the other four in Part II.

Seeing or Hearing

Yes, the first step in Relationship is the knowledge that someone even exists. It may be that you see someone across the room, or walking down the street consistently at the same time you cross that same path every day. It could be the person at your office or church that passes your line of sight and you “notice” them.

It is possible that you hear of this person through another friend or acquaintance, and the purpose of them informing you of their existence is because it could be a strategic relationship, or just one where it would be mutually beneficial.

This is the level of relationship where you know OF someone. You have bits of details and information – just enough to intrigue you to the point of wanting to go to the next level of relationship.

Meeting

This level takes effort on our part. Just because we have seen or heard of someone, does NOT mean they have seen or heard of us.

At this level, it can be quite difficult for some to break through. At this level our fears can overtake us – depending on our past, our confidence, or our feelings.

However, if we desire to move forward in our relationships and developing new ones – we need to overcome these fears and insecurities. If you find you are having trouble in this area, it would be best to seek help, whether from a counselor, pastor or even a mentor.

The fears that can keep us from moving past this point are fears of rejection; feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, or even fear of someone knowing you have these fears.

In order to move forward, whether in life, job, or friendships this level of relationship is critical.

Take the risk. After seeing or hearing of someone, and assessing the value this potential relationship could add to your life (and remember, you should be able to add value to their life in some way as well – this is mutual), jump in with both feet. Call, email, or simply walk up to this person, reach out your hand and introduce yourself. You have nothing to lose here.

After you reach this level, you have already entered into the next level.

Acquaintance

Acquaintance literally means “a person’s knowledge or experience of something, or one’s slight knowledge of or friendship with someone.”

This level is strictly surface knowledge and experience. You may have had coffee or lunch with someone. You do not really know this person. You only know of them.

I would not place a large amount of trust in them at this point. You have crossed the threshold of relationship and broken the ice. You now know of each other and may slightly know about their background and current life.

Unless you are an expert at interrogation, you really only have a small percentage chance of knowing if this person has misrepresented themselves.

This is why you need to decide whether you desire to enter the next level of relationship. If you are going to pursue a deeper connection (whether business or personal) the next level is critical.

Getting to KNOW You

This is the level that probably takes the most time, attention, emotional investment, and care.

In order to get to KNOW anyone it takes time: time spent talking, time spent working, and time spent testing the relationship. Usually this means you have common ground with them, or you mutually will benefit from the relationship.

It is during this level where you will see clues and cues that will either raise a red flag or encourage you to spend more time getting to know them.

There is no set amount of time that works as a formula in this level. How long this takes is up to you and to the object of your relationship – this newly forming friendship.

You both need to desire to continue the pursuit of friendship. It will not work otherwise. This is why paying attention is imperative. There have been many times in my life where I have been complacent and unaware of the signs and was burned.

Don’t get burned. Turn up the heat slowly.

If the relationship is to work you need to move at a comfortable pace, the other person needs to be open to it, and know beyond any doubt the forming friendship will be tested at some point.

Then one day (it could be months or even years), you will realize that you have entered into levels five and six of relationship.

To Be Continued…

I am very curious to hear your thoughts on this topic. Thank you so much for continuing to read. You can email me or respond to this post by Commenting below.