True Braveheart

The personality Dot is fascinating, as it seems to be the effort of our True Self to have a safe identity out in the world.  Born into families and cultures with values, and certain behaviors and feelings that are affirmed, we as clever little tykes quickly figure how to get our needs met by developing certain identities. Below is a list of common identities we can use:

Common Compensatory Identities

Why is understanding your Acting Identity important?  Because even though you bring the gift of yourself somewhere in the role, there are automatic reactions from the chosen identity that keep you from really connecting to others and feeling the kind of joy we usually reserve for celebrations and special occasions.

For instance, if you are the Angry One you tend to attack and push your energy/opinions forward or if you’re the Easy Going One you may withhold/withdraw and even though these actions keep you safe in the short run, they don’t make for respectful connections that bring the sense of being understood and loved – because your heart is not open.

So a braveheart for the Angry One: take a deep breath (Holy Spirit time) and truly listen, or for the Easy Going One: take a deep breath (equally Holy Spirit time) and put some words out there. True actions open opportunities for true interactions, and love is found in that space between.


Pray for the peace of Jerusalem


“Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.”

Oremus Hymnal: Comfort, comfort ye my people

Heroes series – Terrence Real

There are people who observe, people who write about change, people who do the change…  in the world of therapy there is an author who has observed couples over the years and written about change, AND he has also lived that change with his own marriage and relationship with his father.  Terrence Real is one of my relational heroes.

T Real autograph

“I Don’t Want to Talk About It” is a ground breaking book about relationships, depression and how it shows up in men especially in covert ways, often overlooked.  Such good stuff, stepping back to take in the American world view with the limits and repression of the patriarchy that has shaped our society for so many years. Splitting off certain qualities into more worthy (doing, accomplishments: masculine) and less worthy (being, relational: feminine) has diminished us all and led to some very dissatisfying and often destructive relationships over the years. He gives theory and action steps to develop and nourish exciting, vital relationships.

He encourages the women to speak up with savvy and respect, to go toe to toe for what they need and want in the relationship, which calls the man to be who he could ultimately be.  Revolutionary steps for those of us raised to be loving by not speaking up/disagreeing with others.  And equally revolutionary for those who feel safe behind their tv remotes and sports chatter to step out and engage from their heart.  The following quote sums up this change from safely uninvolved to growing honesty and joy filled connection:

“In twenty years of practice, I have encountered many unfortunate women who, afraid to make reasonable demands on their depressed husbands, wound up, years later, being left anyway. Most wives do not fully contain the resentment that they rightfully feel.  And even if they do, the relationship itself eventually loses vitality by virtue of the lack of honest engagement.  Conversely, unless the patient has already decided to leave his family, I have rarely encountered a man who was willing to set foot in my office but unwilling,with coaching and help, to pick up the challenge of increased relational skill.”     “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”, pg 318


What’s in a tone?

Have you ever noticed some of your work skills and talents aren’t rewarded at home like they are in the workplace?  Part of my job as a former therapist, and now as a Life Coach is to analyze, notice patterns and offer suggestions.  Our young adult kids don’t appreciate unsolicited analysis, go figure.  My husband is employed with a large shipping and transportation company, and his ability to cut to the chase, and effectively get tasks done each day gives him a nice paycheck but does not develop his empathy, patience or listening skills.

A good friend of ours is well paid to find potential flaws and risks, but his family doesn’t much appreciate those same skills applied directly to their ideas and opinions.  Another takes care of people, attending to their physical needs with skill and kindness, but as her kids grow up and become more independent she has found that they don’t always welcome that kind of hands on help. They can do it themselves, thank you.


So how can we remind each other that an effective work skill is not needed in the love and bond of more intimate relationships?  One of the most gracious people you will ever encounter would smile sweetly when her husband directed her or the kids in a bossy voice,  and would say “please don’t use your ‘Boeing tone’ at home”.   What a great reminder, and even though we don’t all work for the world’s largest aerospace company, repeat as needed!


image – 400 × 339Search by image 

A Tale of Two Leaders

If you live anywhere in the NW, you’ve probably seen or heard news reports on a local mega church leader.  This leader is no stranger to controversy, and being in a visible leadership position guarantees some criticism… but the number of former staff and members/attenders who felt their concerns and questions, their push for change were not addressed has peaked into action, and the leader is on leave.

If I could put one thing on his To Do List while on break, it would be to listen to Bill Hybels, Pastor of mega church Willow Creek Church back in the Chicago area.  Please click on the video below to hear an inspiring confession of fear and an amazing story of the process of change, it’s really worth it!  You see, when he was ready to face reality, to hear about the true culture around the church –  he took action steps to correct it.

How?                  (hint)   ear-clip-art-1

Listening!  First Pastor Hybels  invited a third party consultant, Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI), to ask the hard questions, and offer safety/confidentiality and follow up to the staff members’ experiences and concerns.  This is the man who is the founder and head pastor of one of the most influential churches in the country…

Today, more than 20,000 people worship at one of Willow Creek’s six regional campuses each weekend. Churches from around the world look to see what God is up to at Willow, and to find encouragement and equipping for their own ministries. Willow Creek remains, above all else, a local church of Christ followers—a place where people matter to God and to us, where together we seek to live out God’s vision of being an Acts 2 church.

What if our local leader could do the same, ask a third party consultant and learn to really listen?  Listen for understanding – the courageous, difficult task of letting others’ experiences to be heard, and to be valued and acted upon?  There may be many apologies needed here too, many coffees and lunches where relationships are addressed and put right.

It’s been done in Chicago, and it could be done here in Seattle.

To bring this point closer to home, in my home we are committing to:
the 30 day Zero Negativity Challenge (ZN), to build trust and a safe haven to honor our different ways of doing and being.  Watch for the results in one of my future blogs. Or better yet, take your own ZN Challenge and add your comments next month!


He said, she said


 one dollar bill front

One of the ‘Dots’ in relationships is communication. This Dot impacts the quality of our friendships, workplace and lives, BIG TIME- the way we speak and listen to each other is that important.  But what about the times when there are different memories? The shared events or experiences that we recall one way but others disagree, adamantly disagree.  Then it’s crazy making time.

Have you gotten into a he said, she said conversation recently?  It’s so frustrating for both parties, as there seems to be two speakers and NO listeners.  Even if you use a timer and set it equal turns (5 minutes can be quite a challenge when you disagree strongly on a topic), you most likely won’t get through that time without wanting to interrupt and set the story ‘straight’, ie give your perspective. You can start off listening with an open mind, but then slip into sharpening your rebuttal instead of giving full attention to the other person.

After my Monty Roberts blog last week, I was searching the web for more info on his amazing “Flag is Up Ranch” near Solvang, California. He is still in the saddle age 70 years + and teaching others through certification programs and classes, and offering Horse Sense and Healing to veterans, a program that can help with PTSD symptoms through connecting and caring for horses.  Good stuff!  But alas, the search also turned up a puzzling piece, a different point of view.  Monty has family members who remember the past differently and wrote a book about it, and have all kinds of good things to say about his parents and home life that would contradict some of his main stories… who is right?  Can they both be?

Part of my internship for my Marriage & Family Therapy degree was spent co – counseling with a wise, personable pastor who was well respected for his own marriage as well as his advice.  One of his favorite word pictures when the therapy session got bogged down into he said, she said was the Dollar Bill routine. He would take out a dollar and hold it up between them, and then ask each to describe what they saw…  it was an effective way to remind them, they are both right, and they have a right to their own perspective.

Maybe the second part of the great commandment, to love others as yourself is asking us to care about the other’s perspective as much as we care about our own.  Then when we are famous and wealthy, our family members might feel listened to and know that even if we have a very different perspective, both of our experiences/memories are important.

one dollar bill back

Heroes from childhood series – Monty Roberts, the man who listens to horses


noun (pl-roes 

  1. a person distinguished by exceptional courage,nobility, fortitude, etc


Cleaning out one of our bookshelves the other day, (we are downsizing and off to see the world in a year or so), gave a chance to glance through books that had a big impact on my life. If a person who questions what they are told is a brave human being, then one who questions what has been modeled by family and culture and finds new ways to create respect and love is a hero.

Monty Roberts, of “The Man Who Listens to Horses” fame has an a-maz-ing story!  If he is an honest cowboy then some of his life stories belong in the movies. From Monty’s earliest years riding and winning in horse shows with kids 5 – 9 years older, to his boyhood adventures camping overnight and observing the wild horses and their communication within the herd, to his stunt riding and a brush with stardom and friendship with James Dean to his dreams coming true with the most well planned out horse stables in the country off the beautiful coast of California and success with choosing, training and riding some talented race horses… and then an unbelievable triumph over an unbalanced business partner who nearly destroyed it all, to his command performance with the Queen of England and the Queen Mother.  His extraordinary way of “joining up” with horses and earning their trust without whips, tie ups or violence allows for the trust of a horse that has never been ridden to accept the bridle, saddle and rider in just 30 minutes!

Monty developed and refined his techniques, similar to other horse gentlers,  in spite of what some family members, the horse culture of the past, his school teachers and more than a few nay sayers told him was possible. He persevered and held to his vision through ridicule and alleged abuse to bring this observant, respectful way of handling horses (and people) to the main stream.  Monty, aged 79  is still in the saddle at “The Flag is Up” Ranch in California teaching these skills to others from around the world and offering Horse Sense and Healing workshops for veterans.