Tag Archives: choice

Dog Eat Dog

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Dog Eat Dog

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes.

Like most animals, a dog will attack another dog when it feels threatened. Out of fear, people turn on one another. They fight for position, power, and validation. They reason out their undignified actions and justify their shady behavior. Leaving behind collateral damage, many people will do whatever it takes to make it to the top of their field. However, there are people out there who do not just look out for themselves; people who desire to be good at something but are not willing to take advantage of others. It is in the heart of most people to act out of integrity. Maybe we should start asking ourselves how can we protect others and still achieve our goals?

Being narcissistic by nature, we are typically self-serving. “What do I get out of this?” “What personal gain or benefit is there for me?” In the midst of pursuing life, liberty, and happiness  we must come face to face with worth and value. This includes our societal view, personal view, and world view. Insecurities stem from poor self image. It is not modesty or humility. This actually comes from negative self perception. First we must come to a healthy understanding of, “I am important.” Second, we must deal with the value of life in general and understand that “Other people are important.”  The conflict arises when we don’t know how to serve the needs of others while also attending to our own.

It becomes essential for us to push past the uncomfortably that comes from communicating about what is going on inside of us.
We do not have the right to blame others for our choices. Even in the face of peer pressure, ultimately we are responsible for our actions. Owning our decisions also allows for us to have grace to make mistakes. Doing this while living with other impephect people can be trying at times. It can be a lot of work, however, the benefits for everyone is tremendous.

Having children I see first hand the effects of egocentric behavior:

“Me first.”

“No me!”

“Hey, what about me?!?”

“Me, me, me!!!”

As our children grow, my husband and I are consciously teaching them how to take personal responsibility for their choices, including their actions. We are guiding them to operate in self-control. We teach them to tell themselves what to do and not try to control other people. We are instilling values for freedom and individuality. We are purposefully cultivating the celebration of each other. We want them to appreciate being in relationship with powerful people while also recognizing they are a powerful person themselves. The “I am better than you” mentality, or the “You are better than me,” has got to go. We use the phrase, “I am amazing just the way I am,” and “My best is good enough.” We want them to know that while we as people can always hone our craft and develop as people we can also be okay with where we are in process.

My husband and myself intentionally highlight the harms of comparing ourselves to others. We seek to remove jealousy between our children and others by focusing on gratefulness, building self-confidence, and a nurturing a personal  relationship with God rather than a religion full of rules. Our hope is that as our kids grow and mature they will get their identity from Him and not from what they believe others think about them.

As adults we need courage and wisdom to engage in “Brave Communication”. We need to risk rejection and let others know what is going on in our hearts as well as in our heads. We’ve got to get real. The security of being known takes vulnerability. It takes honesty; beginning with ourselves. It takes work. It can be hard, time consuming, and exhausting, yet, it is tremendously rewarding. What we fail to recognize is it takes just as much energy to bury our feelings as it does to deal with them.

In the midst of this we need to be careful not to tell others about them. This is called judgement. We assume we know the why’s and the motives of others, so we shove our judgements down their throat. We use deductive reasoning, we read body language, we listen to both verbal cues, and watch for non-verbal communications. All in all, we take the information we have gathered and observed, and after we process it we arrogantly think we know the heart and mind of someone else. We usually do not ask clarifying questions because they are awkward and uncomfortable. Instead we project on them our perspective, paradigm, and personal filters.

Growing in identity is the most important thing we can do as people. When we spend time with God we learn about His nature and character. We have nothing to prove to anyone. We don’t have to listen to introspective criticisms. We can ask Him what He thinks about us. Then we can either continue to believe a lie about ourselves as in the movie Freedom Writers, or we can change patterns, gain confidence, and prosper in life. Others may try to drag you back down like crabs in a barrel because it exposed the deep insecurities in their own hearts. Despite this we can learn to celebrate the success of others with sincere joy and also position ourselves to achieve our greatest potential.

Hopefully, as we grow in the knowledge of who we are, we will create a safe place for others to do the same. May we inspire people to be confident without becoming prideful. May we learn to be more assertive as that is where we have the most to gain. We do not have to become aggressive and run rough shod over others. We do not need to be passive and sacrifice our hearts or play martyrs either. Most certainly, we must be very conscious of becoming passive aggressive. We can’t pretend everything is okay when it isn’t: “I have no needs, no wants, and no dreams and only others are important”. Then we talk behind each others backs. We make sarcastic, cutting comments, and we undermine the core of relationships in general.

We get so concerned we will be taken advantage of. We do not wait until something occurs to a deal with a situation. We sabotage our success before we begin.  We are so afraid we will not get recognition that we draw negative attention to ourselves. We are so worried we will not get what we think we deserve that we rob ourselves from receiving honor when it is due. We get so wrapped up in others mishandling the relationship we don’t actually put forth the effort to have one.

Serving the vision of others can keep us in a place of humility. We do not all have to be missionaries to take care of one other. We just need to make people matter. We can do this by putting our money where our mouth is, our time where our social injustice passion is, or by tending to the needs and desires of another. Learning how to put people first, not exploit others for personal gain, and not live in a constant state of self-protection, takes self-respect. As a defense mechanism people hoard money, food, or random items. This is a sign of a wrong core belief. It is caused from a root of an unsafe psychological perspective. To counter this behavior in our children, we have adopted the philosophy of giving out of who we are. We choose to be generous no matter what. It does not come out of overflow and it is especially not used to manipulate.

What do you really want and what are you willing to do to get it? Blending dreams with vision is vital. Wisdom, rational, and faith are required to see the magnificent become reality. Being intentional about the direction you are headed in life and enjoying the journey in the meantime will make your traveling much more pleasant. It will also keep you focused, allow for you to navigate the turbulent waters of life, and get calibrated if you veer off course.

Don’t get me wrong. I want it all. The thing is, what I am willing to sacrifice to get it? Unlike Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization which is self seeking, self-serving, and self-focused, this way of life seeks first what is right, what is true, and the betterment of mankind. This is when we will truly get what is ours, others get theirs and more. Wholeness will manifest as you are satisfied mind, body, and soul. Being a leader is about serving not demanding. As in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” your wants will be met in the most unexpected way, because who you are will not go unnoticed.

We have the ability as humans to change our patterns of behavior. We have the ability to change how we have gone about things in the past and we have the ability to make different choices from now on. We can go from dog eat dog, to becoming companions who know how to live with strong and powerful beings.

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Abort!

Abort!

Panic sets in. Fear takes control. Rational thought abandons ship and ‘ABORT MISSION’ becomes the primary goal. In crisis situations people tend not to think through their options. Emergency responses kick in: “Fight!”, “Flight!”, “Act now!”, “Run and hide!” Our greatest fears become the focus of our reality. Survival instincts can betray us when we’re in this mode. We get so caught up in the moment. We may solve an instantaneous problem; however, we may also cause long term issues we regret.

Unlike most teen pregnancies, I planned my daughter. I was 15 when I got “knocked-up.” I was not under duress. This was not an accident. Nor was I ignorant of the consequences of unprotected sex. With full understanding of my actions, I sought out becoming pregnant. It took me a whole three tries, and ‘voila!’ – I was with child.

My boyfriend of a couple years was also a willing participant. He and I were “in-love”. We were going to be the exception to the rule. We were going to stick in there, make this relationship last, and we were going to defy the odds. All this except…. we were not doing anything different than anyone else. We did not have some amazing skills and relationship tools. We did not listen to wisdom and healthy advice. We were independent.

We were arrogant, self-sufficient, and cut off from genuine accountability. Like most teenagers, we thought we “knew it all”. However, in our culture today, even adults act like this. We have become so good at telling others what to do, how they should live their life, and pointing out their shortcomings. Yet, we isolate ourselves. We walk in pride, thinking we do not need others who have knowledge, wisdom, and expertise in any area.

We then reproduce dysfunction. We cultivate and perpetuate the need for right and wrong, fear and punishment, living in secret and walking in ignorance. We demand respect, but do not give it. We want freedom and independence without responsibility and covenant relationships. We do not want to be bothered and burdened. Most certainly we do not want the stress of learning how to have self-control and deal with conflict.

We want all the pleasures and no difficulties. We act like self-centered toddlers demanding our way. We are perpetually in the “mine” stage. As essentially very large children ourselves, we consequently view having our own children as an inconvenience, as an annoyance, and as a noose around our neck, like some necessary evil. They get in the way of the “mine” and the “me time.”

Even those children who are wanted can be strenuous. They can (and will) expose our core beliefs, our insecurities, our unpreparedness, and our own immaturity. Why then are they called a blessing? Why then desire to have them? Why bring one into this horrific and broken world in the first place?

You see those cute little faces and your heart melts. Something inside softens. Most people want babies, and most people have an intense fear of teenagers. Yet, even with babies, we get afraid. What about the cost? What about “my dreams”? What if I suck at parenting and I ruin their life? The “What if’s…” screw us every-time!

We don’t think about solutions. We don’t problem solve. We simply respond to our fear and trample faith beneath our feet. We dig a hole deep down and we bury possibility. We cover it with the dust of the ground and live within the rot of hope and the loss of joy.

My high school sweet heart and I did not make it. After many years of a co-dependent relationship we separated. In our wake, two amazing, devastated children. It would be over a decade later their father would pass away, leaving more heartache and trauma. I learned, as most of us do, no matter how much as we plan life isn’t always smooth sailing. At times we have to batten the hatches, but no matter what storms we weather the most important thing is that we remain true to our destination.

My beautiful daughter grew up, and at the age of sixteen she surprised me. It was not exciting. It was not bliss. And it was not welcomed with happiness. As we stood together in the bathroom, her body fell to the floor. She began crying in emotional agony. She felt she had made the biggest mistake of her life. With two blues lines on a pee stick, I was now going to be a grandmother and she a mom to an unwanted, very unplanned pregnancy.

It was all I could do not to carry her shame. Riddled with guilt, she clung to my body all night long. Being passionate about life I encouraged her to believe in herself. I held her hand and whispered in her ear. Though I was disappointed, it was not in her. I felt I myself had failed as a parent. I came to terms with being a young grandmother, but she could not get over the fears of raising this child “alone.”

Her dreams were so big. Her imagination so wild. And her better judgement did not get control of her. She entertained all the truths that are subject to interpretation. “It’s going to be harder to date.” “It is going to be harder to finish school.” “It is going to be harder to pay for things.” Suddenly, all she could hear was, “Life is going to get really HARD!”

Several weeks into her pregnancy she made a decision. A decision she later regretted. A decision she can never take back. We had already been shopping, preparing, going to classes, etc. I was so proud of how she was handling herself and the predicament she was in. I had embraced becoming a grandma. I was even going to be known as Glam-ma. I had gone to all her doctors appointments and had even been talking to her belly.

All the while she was dying inside…

She never got past her fears. One mistake and everything changed. But two wrongs don’t make a right.

Quietly, she laid in a clinic convinced she was doing what was best. Behind my back she got rid of this ‘tissue’ as if was some cancer growing inside of her. She justified her actions as morally responsible. Knowing I would be grieved, she hid her secret from me. Trying to save me from pain, her from condemnation, and us from from conflict, she fabricated the loss of her child to my face.

Betrayal was beyond what I was feeling. My daughter was engrossed with sadness. She felt alone. She gave up her baby for the sake of the greater good. Why then did we both feel so bad? I bonded with my grandchild. I was mad at my daughter. I was trying to be sensitive to her pain without condoning her actions.

We sat in our driveway as she explained her heart the best she could, while I mourned the loss of my grand baby. It was such a helpless feeling. I wanted so badly to reach into her situation and change things. Her life was going up in flames. My power was in maintaining self-control and by not adding more fuel to her flaming, crumbling infrastructure.

I watched as my little girl drive off in my car. She had kicked me in the gut with her words and was now leaving because she did not know how to deal with the intense pain we were both enduring. I prayed for peace. I prayed for comfort. And I prayed for wisdom.

With the impression that the baby was going to be a girl, Trinity Honor was going to be her name. This precious human being that now resides in heaven with her grandfather has never left my heart. More-so, she has haunted her mother ever since she departed.

It took over a year for my daughter to attempt to get over what she had done. She turned to substance abuse to drowned out the noises in her head. She shut out everyone she loved and was close to. She abandoned the dreams she sacrificed her daughter for. And she herself no longer lived but simply existed waiting for time to pass her by…

I am not saying planning a child when you are a teenager is a good thing. I am not supporting nor am I condoning my own behavior in that area. I love being a mother and I adore all of my children. I also do not support or condone abortions. I know many people who have had one and I still love those people.

In life we make mistakes. Hopefully we learn and grow from them. I do not expect people to be perphect, nor do I demand perphection out myself. It is not my place to judge others actions. I do not have to, nor do I get to live their lives. What I can say is:

Most people’s consequences for their own actions condemn and shame them enough.

When we pull others from their self imposed guilt, we empower them to walk in their destiny. People are pretty amazing. Given the opportunity, most will choose to walk in the light.

How can we impose our values and beliefs on others when we ourselves do not view children as a blessing? How do we “make” them believe they should want their children when we do not “like” our own? How do we show people that generations are to be enjoyed when we ourselves avoid the vulnerability of messy relationships?

Today my remarkable daughter started beauty college. I am so proud of her. She has gotten healthy. She has forgiven herself and she is pursuing her dreams. Though she is learning how to let go and how to manage her emotional pain, she holds dear a little girl who is forever apart of this world.

May we never give up on our dreams, and may we never ABORT our blessings even if they do come by accident.

Resources:

CareNet Pregnancy Center

Moral Revolution

Loving Our Kids On Purpose


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