Did You Weed Your Dream Today?

misc_mulching_300When I hear about gutsy people who have accomplished amazing things, I’m seized by a desire to Do Something! NOW! to turn my own daydreams into reality. All I need is grit, determination and courage. So I grit my teeth and burn my bridges, determined to lock myself into an ambitious new course before my courage fails me.

The sense of urgency passes quickly. Within hours I’m wondering, “What was I thinking? I can’t go rushing off to change the world. I have responsibilities. I have limitations.” [Read more…]

Emotional Levers: Guilt


A man calls his mother in Florida.  “Mom, how are you?”

“Not too good,” says the mother. “I’ve been very weak.”

The son says, “Why are you so weak?”

She says, “Because I haven’t eaten in 38 days.”

The man says, “That’s terrible. Why haven’t you eaten in 38 days?”

The mother answers, “Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”

Emotional manipulators use guilt-aversion as a lever to control the behavior of others. In the joke above, the mother has many options for dealing with her lonely empty-nest feelings. She could reach out to other empty-nesters, or make herself useful to friends and neighbors. When she wants to talk to her son, she can call him. She can give him incentive to call her by being pleased and happy when he calls: “It’s great to hear your voice! How are you? What’s going on?”—courting his attention as she would with any valued friend. She might even open up and confide to him that she’s having a hard time moving on to the next stage of her life.

The mother doesn’t take steps to solve her problems because, subconsciously, she believes she needs those problems as levers of control. Guilt mongers tend to view themselves as uninteresting and unloveable. Their only claim to fame is that they’ve suffered more than others and so deserve extra consideration. Therefore, they need to preserve a veneer of misery to use whenever they want to wring something out of someone. They are “victims with intent.” [Read more…]

Dealing with Shame

Emotional Levers — Part One:   Today’s post begins a series about the emotional pressure points used by Aggressive people to manipulate the behavior of others. We who want to live assertively need to stand our ground and pursue our missions undeterred by manipulative tactics.

The children’s book Ramona the Brave opens with an insightful portrayal of an experience of shame. Six-year-old Ramona hurries home from the park, eager to tell her mother how she stood up to the big boys who were teasing her sister. As Ramona launches into her proud description, the older sister, Beezus, interrupts to say that Ramona’s tirade embarrassed her almost to death. The book describes Ramona’s reaction:

She felt as if she were standing aside looking at herself. She saw a stranger, a funny little six-year-old girl with straight brown hair, wearing grubby shorts and an old T-shirt, inherited from Beezus, which had Camp Namanu printed across the front. A silly little girl embarrassing her sister so much that Beezus was ashamed of her. And she had been proud of herself because she thought she was being brave. Now it turned out that she was not brave. She was silly and embarrassing. Ramona’s confidence in herself was badly shaken.

[Read more…]

The Conversation After “No.”

As assertive servants, we want to have a positive influence on those around us. As purpose-driven people, we want to recruit others to join our efforts. As human beings, we need to ask for help. The ability to influence others is essential for survival, for success and for service.

Influence is built on trust. People are most receptive when they know we aren’t trying to pressure or manipulate them. We must demonstrate that we can gracefully accept an answer of “no.”

Does that mean we have to back off and drop the subject at the first sign of a negative response? No. A respectful attitude can turn a “no” into the beginning of a constructive conversation. [Read more…]

Radical Assertiveness

Praying_woman“Please don’t write another superficial, feel-good, ‘boy-meets-girl’ story. Women need to know how to really love their men.”

The speaker was reacting to my statement that I planned to write a romance novel. She went on to explain her point of view. “I married ‘Mr. Right,’” she said. “He seemed to be everything I was looking for. But after a while, he started criticizing me. The more I defended myself, the more he nit-picked. He blamed me for things that weren’t my fault. I retaliated with snide comments. Things went from bad to worse until we were barely speaking. I thought about divorce, but knew that couldn’t be God’s will for us. I prayed about it and decided I should try to love and honor my husband as if he were Jesus. At first it was hard. My husband rejected my attempts to be friendly. When I felt like crying, I would lock myself in the bathroom, read my Bible and pray; then I’d come out and try again. Sometimes God would show me where I needed an attitude adjustment. I focused on changing myself and left the rest up to God. After a long time, my husband began to realize I was for real. Little by little he opened up and we started talking things over. The more I listened to him, the better he listened to me. We both found areas where we needed to change. We have a completely different marriage now. My husband is my best friend.” [Read more…]