Tag Archives: conflict

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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Self Defense

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When we try to defend ourselves we bring out what ever weapons we have in an attempt to make us feel safe. When our character is feeling threatened, we fade into the background as what we hold on to comes to the forefront and is highlighted. We do not like being misunderstood. It challenges what believe about ourselves. It hurts when we are judged. Without the proper armor, we are cut by the remarks of others and carry wounds from their words.

The other day I found myself crying. Not because I was lonely; not because I was sad; not because I was depressed. I was crying because I felt helpless. My actions were misinterpreted. My motivations were in question. My heart was judged. What hurt the most was in my gut, at my core, from the center of my being I knew the truth, yet I did not know how to convey it.

The fear of man rose up inside of me. It appeared so strong, and I felt so weak. It was a powerless feeling that swallowed me whole. I felt unable to share about me. I felt unable to shed light and bring understanding, clarification, and be vulnerably honest about the situation. I struggled to be heard as the screaming presuppositions drowned out my voice. I was crushed as it appeared there was nothing I could do to reveal the perspective from my side of the fence.

My goal in the relationship suddenly shrank to simply being known. I was armed with the best defenses. What had been inferred was vehemently contrary to my viewpoint. How could I get them to accurately see when they assumed they knew what was in my heart? They do not live my life. They do not know what goes on day by day. They do not comprehend “all” the factors I take into consideration as I make decisions.

I wished to tell them how hard I am on myself. I wanted so badly for them to realize I am not cold. I wanted to show them how much I desire to live in humility. I felt my heart breaking as I agonized over how much I sincerely look out for the best interest of others, yet I could not find the words to express those truths. All the phrases that bubbled up fro my heart sounded like excuses in my head. Every well thought out reason only drew attention to my sword and further away from my heart.

Suddenly, I began to judge them in return. The more I thought my words to be invaluable, the more I felt I was wasting my time. I could hear myself making good arguments and watching what I said fall on deaf ears. I went from hurt to anger. “I am so glad others know so much about me and what goes on inside my head. I don’t even need to speak.” Sarcasm wanted to have the last word as I entertained negative thoughts.

The sending and receiving of messages is based on so many factors. Non-verbal and verbal communication is subject to so much interpretation. I should know. I have a degree in communication. I have a plethora of tools in my belt, and still in this situation I did not know how to clearly relay my soul. Misguided, I projected my heart to be so “pure” it should speak for itself. Shouldn’t they know me better than this by now?! However, relationships are messy. There are two (or more) people involved. It is like comparing a boxing match in a ring with a sparring partner to a training session in the gym with a sand bag. Hitting a punching bag that does not swing back is way different than being in the ring with someone who has instincts, training, and a coach.

A person’s normals can come from the instincts we have developed through our cultural, social, and economical upbringing. Someone’s perceptions comes from their “training” (i.e., experiences), and their  motives come from beliefs that have been shaped by those they allow to speak into their lives similar to an athletic coach.

When we question the goodness of others we set ourselves up to either attack or defend. When we speculate and reason as to another person’s responses in life, we pridefully assume we comprehend their “why’s”. To save ourselves from a lot of confusion, it becomes paramount to step into humility, and seek to understand rather than be understood. We end up having faith in others, rather than fearing them.

Being vulnerable is scary. It can be awkward, uncomfortable, and it allows for the unknown. Living in freedom may appear like chaos and anarchism. However, when we chose to honor rather than demanding honor we allow for unity, thereby strengthening the relationship instead of tearing it apart. Philosophies are easy to discuss. Its walking them out that takes effort.

Considering people, keeping the peace, and staying true to our hearts is a lot of freaking work.
Humans can be so complicated. Its difficult to want to be around them sometimes. Our narcissistic behavior opens the door to spirits of fear, insecurities, and perpetuation of lies. Our “fight or flight” mechanisms do not instinctively give us the option of staying connected.

So, we have to consciously chose. We have to see value in not retreating. We also have to lay down our weapons, and choose not to war against our fellow comrades in this battle we call life. The best warfare we can “engage” in is to remain “engaged” in relationship, to seek understanding before being understood, to use descriptions rather than persuasion, to seek connection over being right, and to release wholeness rather than hold unforgiveness.

While we will never gain perfection in the battlefield of relationships, we possess the remarkable ability to continually learn and become better communicators. In the end, even after doing our best to communicate our hearts we still run the the risk of being misunderstood. However, the truth does not change simply because someone chooses not to believe it. The world did not suddenly become round because those who thought it was flat changed their minds. The sun did not start revolving around the earth simply because someone thought it did. And ultimately what another thinks about you does not mean you need to change your behavior so they do. The only moral obligation you have in this world is to maintain a clear conscious through open, honest, vulnerable communication, as God is your judge.

Your neighbor is not.

 


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