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Dog Eat Dog


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.




Why is it so hard for us to do things simply because it is good for us? Too many of us do things out of force instead of taking initiative. Partially this is because we lack motivation. Without pain, stress, panic, or reactivity we rarely pursue anything that poses the slightest difficulty.
What would our lives look like if we did things on purpose? What if we lived intentionally? How would our world look if we wrote down our vision and pursued our goals just because it would benefit us and those around us?
Ice cream vs. Veggies!

We had just ate dinner a little while before discovering one of daughters sneaking a handful of chocolate covered peanuts from the pantry. When Matthew and I confronted her about the situation we chuckled a bit, at the same time using it as a teaching tool. It went down something like this:

Matthew : “What’s in your hands?”
Our daughter:  (Pausing in her tracks…) “Uhhh… Chocolate peanuts?”
Matthew: “Why are you trying to sneak them?”
Our daughter: “Because I just ate and I am still hungry… and I thought you wouldn’t let me eat these. I thought you would tell me I need to eat more dinner if I was still hungry.”
Matthew: “So what you are saying is you don’t believe we want you to have what you want and we will only force you to have what is good for you?”
Our daughter:  “I just wanted chocolate.”
In my head: …this is a girl after my own heart. (LOL)
Matthew: “If I was to give you the option to eat ice cream or veggies for dinner, which would you choose?”
Our daughter: (Without missing a beat) “Ice cream.”
Matthew: “Do you want to be healthy as you grow up or sickly?”
Our daughter: (a puzzled look on her face) “Healthy!!!”
Matthew: “Do we leave you out when we have desert?”
Our daughter: “No.”
Matthew: “Do you trust us to take care of you as well as give you what you want?”
Our daughter: “Yes.”
Matthew: “One day you are going to be an adult. You will get to tell yourself what to do all of the time. Until then, it is our job to help you be a healthy person. Hopefully, by the time you get to make all of your own choices, you will understand the value in eating veggies.”

You could see the light come on in our daughters head. She was not made to feel stupid. She was not yelled at. She was not belittled. She did not have to hide in secret her hearts desire to have something. She was instead guided through the process of making a good choice for a good reason. As a child she thinks like a child, as an adult we need to think like adults. It is all too common to find many who are adults in age but not in thought and especially in action. There are many that live in response to circumstances instead of creating a lifestyle of good habits.
Staying the Course
If we are not driven by pain or the threat thereof, we are driven by performance. We care about what people think of us. How others view us affects our response to a situation. If we set our standards low enough we can live up to them. We will save face. We have an innate sense of failure, and therefore we lack the ability to risk. We live “safe” in “doing things” because we are afraid. We hide behind “hard work” (manual labor),  “laziness” (out of balanced priorities), or a myriad of other excuses to keep us from success in any area.
We have greatness inside of us. We have ambitions, aspirations, and hopes. Ironically, we avoid achievement. The work is strenuous, tedious, and requires patience. Mistakes can be embarrassing. No matter how much we practice we discover we can never obtain perfection. We have bought into the lies that we are not good enough one way or another. The odds are never in our favor so we relinquish follow through. We end up suppressing our heart and settling.
On the flip side, we hide our insecurities with arrogance, self-righteousness, and pride. When we have shortcomings we tend to hide them. We don’t let people walk with us through our struggles. We take independence to an extreme. We isolate ourselves and consequently we repeat the same ol’ behaviors. This causes us to validate our feelings of inadequacies and incessant failures. Once  this occurs we tend to play life’s victim. Swinging to the opposite end of the pendulum, we are open to being controlled. If I can’t get things right, I need someone else to tell me what to do. Then if I fail, I don’t have to take responsibility because it is all their fault.
We close ourselves off from walking in relationship as those can be messy. There is conflict involved, disagreements, and collaboration. We don’t know how to master a craft. We often give up too quickly. We want it now or we are on to the next thing. We are broadly focused and not single minded. We spread ourselves too thin and get discouraged when we desire a simple solution. The “hard work” and effort it takes to complete a task we set out to achieve often requires requires extreme focus. Keeping our eyes on the prize is a necessity. Continual recalibration is important if we are going to hit what we are aiming for. Keeping this in mind, it is important to note we do not have to be on top of everything all of the time as long as we keep on going.
We have to learn to balance our here and now needs with the pursuit of dreams without compromising one for the other. We tend to lack intentionality and get scattered by the wind. On the other hand, we can hold on so tight we abandon everything else for the cause. We also have a hard time taking the pressures of adulthood.  We struggle with feeling overwhelmed, incompetent, and surrender to the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations. Dedication, perseverance, and achievement provide greater satisfaction with a higher pay off.
Like in the story of The Tortoise and The Hare, if we are good at something and it comes natural, oftentimes we think we have nothing to learn. So, like the Hare, we fail to grow only to be passed up by someone with less skills who has remained faithful to the cause. Tortoises with intentionality do not get wrapped up in the highs and lows, but stay the course. They will enjoy the journey and not fret over who is passing them up. Eventually they know they will make it to the finish line.

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