Tag Archives: integrity

Jealousy

My dogs crave attention. We have three – a Basset Hound, Mini-Dachshund and a Chi Hua Hua mix (with what, we haven’t figured out yet).

I can call one of them and all of them will come. I can also start to pet one of them and the others will jump up and come over to get the attention.

This will not be a post teaching about dog behavior, but there is some value in trying to understand this concept through their example.

Dogs are pack animals. There is an alpha, and all the other dogs will vie for the attention of that alpha – if even to be considered higher in the order. In the house, they would consider me the alpha. If one of them is getting something from me, the others become jealous and come over to receive it to.

The Chi Hua Hua mix is the worst offender – but also one of the most loving creatures. She will literally push herself into the mix and place her head under my hand in order to get the affection over the other dogs.

A smile and a chuckle is the only response I can give as I equally spread the love to all three.

What is it that causes this response in dogs?

What is it that causes a similar response in people?

When someone receives an award…

When someone goes on a vacation to a place we have always desired to go…

When someone gets a promotion at work…

When one of our closest relatives makes more money…

When someone gets the job we wanted…

When someone buys a 60-inch television and all of a sudden our 55-inch is not good enough…

When someone has the affections of a person we desire to be with…want

Most of us have said the words, “I’m jealous of…” at some point in our lives. We become jealous because we observe someone who has an object, job, relationship, etc. we would like to have, obtain, purchase, love, own, enjoy, etc.

Jealousy can be very ugly. One of the main issues with jealousy is – it focuses on what we DO NOT have and on what we perceive someone else DOES have.

Jealousy usually rears its ugly head in a romantic relationship. A man or a woman can become jealous of the object of their affection’s time, or of any other person who has their attention.

Jealousy becomes the response and ultimately breaks down trust between the two. Jealousy will have the adverse affect – in that the person with whom you have the relationship feels so restricted in their other friendships all they desire to do is break free.

What causes jealousy? In a phrase – wanting what we believe someone else has.

Jealousy is entirely focused on ourselves. It can wreak havoc on your relationships.

It has difficulty, however, thriving when we become focused on the needs of others. Jealousy cannot survive when we are grateful of what we do have and celebrate when others have successes. It cannot destroy your relationships if you decide to be thankful for what you have.

Jealousy can present itself almost instantaneously when we start to believe we deserve something. It can tempt you to do things dishonest, to spend more than you have, to pass blame when the blame belongs to you, to put others down to lift yourself up, and also to enter into a self-deprecating perspective that becomes a vicious cycle of “woe is me”.

When our motive becomes “others” focused, and we begin to allow humility to permeate our thoughts and our actions, then our desire can be shifted to helping others.

What would it look like in this world if we were all more aware of the needs of others around us? What kind of society would we live in if the goal were to give rather than to receive?

Imagine what would happen in our own lives and attitude toward others when we share in the joys of another person’s achievements, showing honor, being dignified in our relationships, and trusting God will take care of our needs.

When Jealousy begins to creep into your thinking or your heart, recognize the self-induced emotion that wants something someone else has. Take that thought or feeling and transform it into an act of love and humility.

 

For more on the Lost Art of Relationship – read the archived articles at www.LostArtOfRelationship.com

I welcome your thoughts and comments!


F.I.R.E.

California is ablaze. It is surreal to see pictures of an entire town decimated by flames.

No amount of water could stop the Valley Fire from chewing up every piece of timber, plastic, metal, or anything else flammable that was in its path. It is shaping up to be one of the most destructive and costly fires California has ever seen.

Seeing the images and smelling the smoke has churned my thoughts. How does a fire relate to our relationships? Here are a few…

When you are antagonizing a friend – you are “playing with fire”.

When you are making amends – you are “putting out a fire”.

When you want someone (namely your spouse) – you are “burning with a passion”.

Fire has many uses. You can warm your entire home with a fire in your fireplace, wood stove, or gas heater. You can use it as light for your path (torch) or as lighting for a romantic evening with your spouse (candles). You can use it to cook, roast marshmallows, bend metal, heat glass to create beautiful art, purify virtually any metal, boil away contamination in water, and the list goes on…

Fire, if left unchecked, can destroy virtually anything. Have you ever had a spark fly off of a campfire and burn a hole in your clothes, your camp chair, or even your hair? Have you ever gotten too close to a fire and burned your skin? Have you or someone you have known lost a home to a fire unchecked?

In our relationships, FIRE is not the flame, smoke and ash we would normally see.

Two applications of FIRE in our relationships could be the following:

  1. The FIRE we have in our hearts for those we love. We often hear we need to “keep the fire alive” when it comes to our married relationships. A fire cannot sustain itself without something to fuel it. Therefore, relationships need to continually be fed with the right combination in order to keep it alive.
  2. The FIRE of anger and resentment when faced with a difficulty in relationship. Think about it – if an issue in your relationship with someone goes unchecked, gossip, resentment, conflict, bitterness and hurt can rage on to not only damage the relationship with the one you are having the difficulty with, but other relationships around you as well. Remember, though, fire needs fuel to continue to rage. You can stop this kind of fire in relationship by battling it with forgiveness, grace, mercy and seeking reconciliation.

The other kind of fire that comes to mind is that of our own tongue. There is a passage in the Bible that says the following: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” ~James 3:5-6

Well, can you be any more blunt?

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a fire that warms, comforts, purifies, and incites passion than one that rages, destroys, burns and leaves wounds that take a long time to heal.

Here are four ways you can keep a fire in check and useful for keeping your relationships alive and healthy…

  1. Forgiveness
  2. Integrity
  3. Respect
  4. Empathy

Of course, there are many other positive elements we can focus on, but I can guarantee you, with these four you are well on your way to creating, maintaining, and even growing meaningful long-lasting relationships with others. All of them take work, humility, love and a willing heart.

Keep the healthy FIRES of relationship alive.

To learn more about the Lost Art of Relationship, keep on reading at www.LostArtOfRelationship.com .


Structural Integrity

…The ability of something to hold together under its own weight and whatever load is placed on it or in it. 

Each building is designed to hold its own weight of construction as well as whatever is placed inside of it. 

I’m sitting in my home right now and trusting that those who built the house followed the design of the architect, put enough screws and nails in place and built the house without “cutting corners”. If the house was not built to withstand its own weight, than a strong wind, or furniture that I put inside would weaken its connections and cause it to crumble – with me inside of it.

There is a challenge that was designed by Tom Wujec called the Marshmallow challenge. Teams of people are given 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow. They have 18 minutes to build the tallest free-standing structure that will hold the weight of the marshmallow on top. The marshmallow cannot be eaten, divided up into different parts, but you can utilize all the other items to build the tallest structure that will hold the marshmallow. The TED Talk can be seen below…

Sound easy? This challenge has been given to executives, CEOs, teachers, college students, and even kindergartners. Which group do you think scored the best?

The ones who scored the highest were …

The Kindergartners!

Why is it that children understand that the structural integrity of the spaghetti/tape/string tower is best when the structural integrity of the team is sound? No one is trying to gain power. No one is trying to be the one who gets the credit. There is the task, the team and the goal to be the highest tower to win the prize.

There is something to this…

Have you ever thought of the blueprints to meaningful relationships would help build a strong team in order to reach a goal – together – without one person rising to the top as the “winner”?

Relationships are only as strong as the structure the relationship is built upon. So often the leader of a group gets the “glory” or the “credit” for the completed goal, or the ongoing success.

Don’t get me wrong It takes creative, inspirational leadership to keep a team moving in the right direction, but that is only one part of the structure. The entire structure needs to be built in such a way that the team can withstand its own weight (all of the personalities on the team), a strong wind (pressures from outside influences, unforeseen setbacks to the goal, people leaving the team, new people coming on) and the furniture that we put inside (the systems and processes we put in place to set the scene when we work together).

When relationships are strong, mutual respect is shown, each person working in their strengths and complementing the weaknesses of others, there is a harmony that happens. That harmony creates the environment by which people can work toward a common goal and not worry about who rises to the top or who takes the lead. It is an environment where people understand that the integrity of the team is necessary and protected.

Are there perfect relationships? Absolutely… NOT! However, there are relationships that can withstand the test of time, adversity and emotion.

Why?

The principle of Structural integrity – the ability to hold together under its own weight and whatever load is placed on it.

Trust, Vulnerability, Love, Hope, Support, Respect, Honesty, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Good Communication, Connection, Purpose, Authenticity, and a host of others are the building blocks to a relationship that can last a lifetime.

This kind of relationship was designed by the Great Architect – God Himself. His purpose in creating us was to be in relationship with us and us with each other. If you desire a strong, structurally sound relationship with anyone, it will need to be built with these characteristics so they can hold together and withstand whatever load is placed on it (whether externally or emotionally).

To learn more about the Lost Art of Relationship, keep on reading at www.LostArtOfRelationship.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!


You’re My Favorite…

Do you have a best friend?

What constitutes a “best” friendship?

Take a look at this short clip (32secs) and then keep on reading…

2 Year-Old Best Friends

The kids in this clip are freakin’ cute! But that’s not the point. The interviewer (probably one of the moms) asks them if they are best friends. They look at each other and then answer yes.

Then they proceed to argue over which one was two or five, as if they both cannot be the same age and one of them owns that age.

The two two-year-olds have no clue what a “best” friendship is. At this age, they spend most of their time together because the parents facilitate their playtime. They haven’t experienced enough life yet to really say they are best friends.

Has one of them gone through something traumatic where the other one doesn’t judge, but consoles, listens and carries the burden of the other? Have they been tested in their friendship and shown they can overcome any external circumstances and become closer friends through it?

Of course not! The cool thing about this video is the fact that they are different ethnicities, and they are clueless to this fact other than they probably see they look different.

There are so many different ways we could go with this conversation, especially after watching this video. However, we are going to view this from the angle of how relationships go from surface to deeper friendships and what would cause us as adults to say we have a “best friend”.

Hopefully, those who are married would say this of their spouse. However, although married, each one could have someone else in their life that they would consider a best friend. The trouble with this, is how can you have two best friends?

Doesn’t the phrase “best friend” literally mean there are no other friendships in our lives that compare?

How does a “best friendship” develop?

The only answer we can give to this is time. I would like to suggest that we can only look back over time and assess whether a relationship is a “best friendship” by the tests placed on that relationship.

My wife and I have been married for almost 18 years (in March). We have often said of each other, that we are best friends. I can assure you, there is NO ONE else in my life that I can share as deep and meaningful a relationship than my wife.

We have been through many difficult circumstances and situations. We have shared some of the most wonderful experiences together. We have learned how to communicate (well, I’m still learning). There have been situations we have individually gone through where the other has had to step in and be the strength when the other was weak.

We have had to care for each other when either one of us was sick or had surgery. We have had to comfort each other when we have experienced a loss. We have “been there” just to listen, be a shoulder to cry on, encourage, and cheer up.

We have called each other on our weaknesses or mistakes (this one took a while).

We have certainly not developed a perfect friendship (because we are imperfect and still have a lot to learn), but with all we have experienced, positive and negative, we can say our friendship with each other cannot be compared to any other friendship in our lives.

Take a look at your list of friends. Who has been a constant, consistent, persistent person in your life who has influenced you and that you have allowed in your life to speak into the darkest parts of your past and the brightest areas of your life?

I have had friends over time that met these criteria. However, there are only a handful of people I can say have truly never judged me; have seen potential in me where I could not see it; have corrected me when I was being stupid or needed to be drug out of my negative emotions; let me vent until I was done and then didn’t tell me I should feel differently; allowed me to be the same for them.

There really is no other way to determine a “best friendship” unless it has been tested over time.

If we take it one step further, a meaningful relationship can only be determined through the test of time.

It is possible to have more than one meaningful relationship. As we have mentioned in previous posts, having a deep meaningful relationship with another person involves vulnerability, trust, love, good communication, respect, and many others we have yet to explore in this blog.

Is it possible for someone to be a best friend, but the “best” part is not reciprocated? Some may immediately answer no. In a marriage, which I believe should be the “best friendship” you ever have, the answer is definitely NO!

However, in other friendships it is possible. If we live our lives in such a way as to benefit others, treating them as we would want to be treated…then it is possible you or I could be someone’s best friend without them responding in kind.

Why would I want to be in relationship with another person where it was not reciprocated? Great Question!

The answer? Because we should strive to treat all people we come in contact with as we want to be treated.

Of course, you cannot be present, consistent, and persistent with everyone. You are only one person.

Nevertheless, there are fundamental attitudes and actions we can have with everyone that would be the basis for any friendship, and especially a “best friendship”.

They are…

Integrity, Honesty, Respect, Listening, Supportive, Generosity, Honor, Forgiveness, Truthfulness, and Encouragement.

I am sure there are others I could add to this list.

Our relationships are built on these and other fundamental qualities. When we exemplify them others will see authenticity in you.

So what is our goal? Are we to search and find that ONE person to be a best friend with? That depends on whether you are looking for a spouse.

I would encourage you to BE the friend you desire to have with others. Practice the fundamental qualities of relationship with others. Watch for those who will only take from you and be cautious in your vulnerability with them.

When your relationships are put to the test, you will discover which are meaningful and which are not. I am in no way saying you should allow yourself to be rolled over and taken advantage of.

I am saying that if you are looking for deep and meaningful friendships, you will find it difficult if you don’t at least take the risk.

With the person you consider to be your “best friend” – make sure you are respond in kind, otherwise you will jeopardize the relationship.

Do not be like the kids in the video you watched. Let time be the test of any friendship you have with others. In the meantime, BE a friend.

Thank you so much for continuing to read week after week. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me or respond to this post by Commenting below.