Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
A big problem we face in sizing up a partner is getting stuck on, or being seduced by, his “light side”—that is, his apparently (or genuinely) wonderful, engaging, admirable, gratifying qualities. However, when we’re dealing with a sociopath, there is also the other side—the “dark side.” By “dark side” I mean, essentially, the sociopath’s exploitive side. And by exploitive I mean, very specifically, his calculated use of leverage to betray you somehow; moreover, to betray you with gross insensitivity to your experience of the injury or insult he’s inflicted.
The “light side” of the man must never compensate for his “dark side,” regardless of how well-concealed, and rarely, the latter may surface. Most of us would take six sunny days in exchange for one cold, dreary, rainy one. That’s a trade-off we’d probably gladly accept. It’s not perfect, but it’s good, and it does nothing to compromise our integrity. Yet six days, six months, six years of the man’s light side must not mitigate a single instance, a single flash (let alone pattern) of his dark side. One act of exploitation, the very first, necessitates, however sadly, that we cut our losses with minimal delay and filibustering. Yet, in case after case I see clients who, understandably, prefer not to see their partners’ dark side. They prefer, naturally, to see his light side—his strengths, what he can be, what he usually is, what he “really” is!
They seize on his capacity for sensitivity, thoughtfulness, tenderness, warmth, good humor, patience, soliticousness, you name it. They desperately want to convince themselves, if not others, that his capacities define his essence!
Because he can be thoughtful, his essence must be thoughtful! Because he can be sensitive, his essence must be sensitive! Because he can be unselfish and candid, his essence must be unselfish and honest! Because he can go periods when he’s not (apparently) screwing around, his essence must be faithful! I’m not speaking here about flawed partners who screw up, who make mistakes, who lose their course, their priorities, and in so doing sometimes wound others badly.
In our fallibility we can make a mess of things, and hurt the people we care and love. Whether our transgressions are forgivable is for those whom we’ve disappointed to decide. But the man with the dark side is a different case. When he reveals the capacity to exploit, he’s not revealing his human face, but his inhuman face. He’s revealing the face of his dark side.
And while it’s a sight you might like to avoid, you musn’t. While you’d rather turn away until the view of his “light side” resurfaces, you must not. You must, instead, see him, unmasked, and recognize him, unmasked. You must recognize him for who he is, in his essence.
(My use of “he” in this article is for convenience’s sake and not meant to suggest that females aren’t capable of the behaviors discussed. This article is copyrighted (c) 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW)SOURCE
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
By Rev. Renee Pittelli
SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, FOR THE RIGHTS OF ALL WHO ARE DESTITUTE. SPEAK UP AND JUDGE FAIRLY: DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF THE POOR AND NEEDY -- Proverbs 31: 8-9
DO NOT HATE YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR HEART. REBUKE YOUR NEIGHBOR FRANKLY SO YOU WILL NOT SHARE IN HIS GUILT -- Leviticus 19: 17
MEN OF PERVERSE HEART SHALL BE FAR FROM ME: I WILL HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EVIL. WHOEVER SLANDERS HIS NEIGHBOR IN SECRET, HIM WILL I PUT TO SILENCE;
WHOEVER HAS HAUGHTY EYES AND A PROUD HEART, HIM WILL I NOT ENDURE NO ONE WHO PRACTICES DECEIT WILL DWELL IN MY HOUSE; NO ONE WHO SPEAKS FALSELY WILL STAND IN MY PRESENCE. EVERY MORNING I WILL PUT TO SILENCE ALL THE WICKED IN THE LAND: I WILL CUT OFF EVERY EVILDOER FROM THE CITY OF THE LORD -- Psalm 101: 4-5, 7-8
REBUKE: (v) TO CRITICIZE SHARPLY, TO REPROVE SEVERELY; TO REPRIMAND.
(n) AN EXPRESSION OF STRONG DISAPPROVAL
“SON OF MAN, I HAVE MADE YOU A WATCHMAN FOR THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL: SO HEAR THE WORD I SPEAK AND GIVE THEM WARNING FROM ME. WHEN I SAY TO THE WICKED, ‘O WICKED MAN, YOU WILL SURELY DIE,’ AND YOU DO NOT SPEAK OUT TO DISUADE HIM FROM HIS WAYS, THAT WICKED MAN WILL DIE FOR HIS SIN, AND I WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS BLOOD. BUT IF YOU DO WARN THE WICKED MAN TO TURN FROM HIS WAYS AND HE DOES NOT DO SO, HE WILL DIE FOR HIS SIN, BUT YOU WILL HAVE SAVED YOURSELF AS SURELY AS I LIVE, “ DECLARES THE SOVEREIGN LORD, “I TAKE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED, BUT RATHER THAT THEY TURN FROM THEIR WAYS AND LIVE. TURN! TURN FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS! WHY WILL YOU DIE, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL?” -- Ezekiel 33: 7-9, 11.
Wow, the Lord can’t make it any clearer than that! If ever we had any doubts that God wants us to take a stand and speak up against evil, this passage should remove them. The Lord tells us that WE SIN when we remain silent about wrongdoing. God tells us that we are doing an offender a FAVOR by rebuking her. Offenders themselves may not see it that way, but quite frankly, their opinion doesn’t matter.
Although we hesitate and sometimes don’t know quite what to say, rebuking a wrongdoer isn’t really that complicated. Rebuke is simply making a statement directly to the offender. It is saying to him, “What you’re doing is wrong, and I don’t condone it”, or “What you did was wrong, and you need to be accountable for it.”
So why are we so reluctant to speak up? Maybe we never thought of it as being on a Mission From God before. Yet, that is what it is. Our mission is to turn as many souls to the Lord and away from the devil as possible. And rebuke is the God-given tool by which we will do that.
Rebuke is not condemnation, rebuke is CORRECTION. It is teaching, pointing someone in the right direction, showing him, by our disapproval of his behavior, what is appropriate and acceptable. When we rebuke, we are warning a wicked person. We are giving him a chance to change his ways and save his soul. God WANTS him to turn from evil. He does not want anyone to continue sinning and be condemned to hell. Therefore, he assigns us a divine mandate to REBUKE when we see evil being committed.
Unfortunately, few wicked people, or “fools” will turn from their sin, but the Bible tells us that righteous people will appreciate our rebuke and heed us. By rebuking, we can help good people to see the error of their ways, avoid destructive or hurtful behavior, grow in the Lord, and walk more closely with God.
REBUKE A WISE MAN AND HE WILL LOVE YOU,. INSTRUCT A WISE MAN AND HE WILL BE WISER STILL; TEACH A RIGHTEOUS MAN AND HE WILL ADD TO HIS LEARNING -- Proverbs 9: 8-9.
HE WHO REBUKES A MAN WILL IN THE END GAIN MORE FAVOR THAN HE WHO HAS A FLATTERING TONGUE -- Proverbs 28:23.
FLOG A MOCKER, AND THE SIMPLE WILL LEARN PRUDENCE: REBUKE A DISCERNING MAN, AND HE WILL GAIN KNOWLEDGE -- Proverbs 19: 25.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE, BUT FOOLS DESPISE WISDOM AND DISCIPLINE -- Proverbs 1:7.This is a Biblical version of “You can’t win them all”, but we’re still supposed to try.
Rebuking is different from setting limits or boundaries. We set boundaries on FUTURE behavior, but we rebuke PAST or PRESENT behavior. We usually rebuke ONGOING behavior, but we might also rebuke a one-time offense which caused pain for us or someone else.
Many times rebuking goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries. After we have rebuked an offender for something they have already done, or are doing on a continual basis, we then set limits on what we will tolerate from then on. The rebuke is the first step in letting someone know that their actions or words are unacceptable and will not be condoned. The boundaries are the next step, to make clear what is or is not acceptable in the future. Rebuking can be described as “speaking the truth in love”. BOTH TRUTH AND LOVE are equally important.
Speaking the truth plainly does not mean we cannot do it with love. We need to at least start out with a spirit of reconciliation and the hope of resolving the problem. Whether this is possible or not is not solely up to us, but will depend upon the offender’s reaction to our rebuke. Our only obligation is to live in peace with others.
Being loving does not mean that we cover up, whitewash, avoid, or deny speaking the truth. And telling it like it is does not mean we are not loving, although offenders will often try to make us feel guilty for doing so. Speaking the truth is stating, quite simply and clearly, what the offender has done, that his behavior is unacceptable, and what the results of his actions or words were, including pain inflicted on someone else. Since we did not cause the pain, describing it and stating the facts is nothing for US to feel guilt over.
However, God realizes that it is not always possible to live in peace with everybody because it does not always depend on US, and we need to realize that, too. We are not responsible for an abuser’s negative reaction to our rebuke or his refusal to listen to rebuke. We are only responsible to rebuke him in the first place. If he refuses to repent and change his ways, our responsibility ends and we are released from any obligation to continue the relationship under those circumstances. In fact, at this point, the Bible tells us to have nothing further to do with him. Rebuking with love does not mean we must be passive, wishy-washy, reluctant, or even calm when we rebuke.
How we approach rebuking an offender has more to do with HIS nature than ours. We need to adapt our approach to the offender’s personality and character. With some people, we will need to take a mild, although firm, approach, because anything stronger will overwhelm or devastate them. These people are usually not chronic abusers, as chronic abusers usually have much thicker skins, but are perhaps thoughtless or inconsiderate. Blasting them with both barrels would be very hurtful and counterproductive. We may wind up doing far more damage to the relationship than the original offense did.
Approaching them in a calm, laid-back manner and with a spirit of cooperation will give us the best chance for restoring the relationship to one that we can all be happy with. This is the best possible scenario, where everyone involved acts out of love, so that everyone’s feelings can be validated and hurtful behavior will stop.
Unfortunately, at the other extreme is the malicious abuser - the one whose behavior is outrageous and destructive - the one who betrayed you - the psychopath who couldn’t care less about anybody but herself- the one who makes your life, and probably everyone else’s, a living hell. This is not the type of offender you pussy-foot around. You are never going to get anywhere with such a person by being gentle and low-key. You will probably have no choice but to raise your voice just to be heard. This is the time to break out the big guns, make sure your rebuke is very strong, and make your disapproval of his behavior loud and clear. Allow yourself some righteous anger, and allow that anger to show.
Now none of this means that you don’t love your relative anyway - indeed, you are putting yourself through all this turmoil just to make your relationship better. It simply means that your relative’s stubborn, stiff-necked, or unloving nature makes it necessary for your rebuke to be powerful. Anything less, and this abuser will just steamroll right over you, and nothing will be accomplished at all. I smile when I try to imagine one of us having the courage to call even downright wicked people. It seems we try so hard to voice our complaints about someone’s mistreatment the “peaceful” way, even though that rarely gets us anywhere with true abusers. One way of looking at it is that with some people, you might as well prepare yourself because there is no way, no matter how nicely you try to approach them, that you are not going to wind up in a big fight anyhow. This is THEIR doing, NOT yours.
Getting all huffy and insulted and starting an argument when you try to reason with him is an abuser’s way of diverting your attention from the real issue, so he can avoid having to apologize or agree to any change in his behavior. In fact, if he’s really good at his little act, he’ll wind up getting YOU to apologize for upsetting him! This will also guarantee that in the future, you’ll be reluctant to ever again bring up anything else you might need to get resolved with him.
YOUR challenge, on the other hand, with a “professional” abuser, is to turn the tables on his strategy, and to make the confrontation so unpleasant for HIM that HE’LL be the one who is reluctant to rattle YOUR cage again. If you succeed, there actually is a chance that you’ll be able to resume a reasonably pleasant relationship with this person, because, if nothing else, at least he’ll have some respect for you and hopefully be more careful about ignoring your boundaries in the future.
If you can get him to censor what he says and does around you in the future, your interactions will at least be tolerable, should you choose to continue in the relationship, and whatever it takes to accomplish that should be tried. Again, although it is not the first and best choice, you can still love your relative and rebuke her severely if her own hard-hearted nature makes it necessary. When rebuking a fellow believer, by all means, point out what the Bible says about his behavior.
It is very important to lovingly show him how his sin will separate him from God. The one you are rebuking may very well believe you are not being loving, and may accuse you of “harshness”, “attacking” her, etc. But just because she feels unloved at this particular time, does not mean it is true. You can tell her you are sorry she feels that way but that doesn’t change the fact that what she did was wrong and you do not accept it. Such a reaction is the result of her own pridefulness and the shame she feels at being confronted with her unacceptable behavior. Rather than learn from your rebuke and repent, she chooses to try and turn it around to make YOU feel guilty for speaking up to her. An abuser’s negative reaction does not mean we are wrong for rebuking her. Her reaction really doesn’t matter. It is not our job to make her happy at the price of turning a blind eye to her wrongdoing.
Our only obligation is to be obedient to the Lord and stand up and confront wickedness as he has told us to do. Here are some examples of rebuke in some common situations. First, I have given the mild version (A), and secondly, the more forceful version of these examples (B), for when the milder versions won’t work. These are just examples of dialog to demonstrate how rebuke might sound. The possible situations which might call for rebuke are endless and it is impossible to give exact examples to cover every circumstance, but I hope to give you some ideas as a jumping-off point:
(A)It was wrong of you to keep that money when the clerk gave you too much change. What if it comes out of the clerk’s pocket? You need to give it back.
(B)It is dishonest of you not to return that money. That’s stealing! Since when are you a thief? I’m ashamed of you!
(A)You embarrassed me when you told Aunt Marge about my marital problems. You broke a confidence and now I feel as if I can’t trust you anymore. (
B)How dare you tell anyone my personal business? It’s not your place to talk about me to others. If I want anyone to know my business, I’ll tell them myself!
(A)I know you don’t realize this,, but your behavior is inappropriate and your judgment is poor when you’ve been drinking. So you cannot be with my children if you’ve had a drink.
(B)Being drunk in front of the kids is totally unacceptable! You are never to drink in their presence again!
(A)I don’t like it when you raise your voice to me. Let’s stop this conversation now and pick it up again after we’ve both calmed down.
(B)I am another adult, not a naughty child you think you can yell at. From now on, you will address me with respect, is that clear?
(A)Maybe you didn’t mean to hurt Sally’s feelings, but what you said to her sounded a lot like criticism. I think you owe her an apology. (
B)Sometimes you say very hurtful things and you need to keep that in check when talking to Sally. No one really wants to hear your criticism. You need to apologize to her for what you said,.
(A)Let’s try and make our get-togethers enjoyable for both of us. I don’t want to spend our time together listening to you evaluate me, so please stop.
(B)If you are going to be judgmental of my life, then you need to keep your opinions to yourself. What I do is none of your business!
(A)How could you say that about Ellen? You know that’s not true. You need to go back and set the record straight.
(B)Why did you pass malicious gossip around about Ellen? You are a liar! She never did what you said, and she never did anything to deserve such treatment from you. I will not let you get away with hurting her reputation. You need to go back and admit to everyone that you just made it up!
(A)You know, Joe, you can’t always have what you want when you want it. You need to be a little patient.
(B)You know, Joe, you seem to think you’re the only one who’s waiting for this. Stop being so selfish and wait your turn like everybody else!
(A)Mom, sometimes you have to take other people’s wishes into consideration.
(B)Mom, you are being very demanding and selfish. It’s not all about you. Try to have a little consideration for somebody else for a change.
Sometimes, there are situations in which the behavior is just so wrong that a mild rebuke would be inappropriate. These are times we need to be direct and tell the offender in plain language that he is WRONG! Only forceful rebuke fits certain circumstances:
You used my apartment to cheat on your wife? How dare you involve me in your adultery! I will not be a party to this. Give me my key back now- you’re not welcome here anymore!
I know you beat Jessie up. Your behavior is deplorable. You need psychiatric help! Stay away from me and my family!
No, I’m not your friend since you were convicted of child molestation. I don’t have friends who are child- molesters! I have to have SOME standards- What’s next, serial killers?
How can you have anything to do with Jim now that he’s in prison for raping your daughter? That’s disgusting! As long as you continue to support the pervert who raped your own child, I will have nothing to do with you!
You stole money from your sister?! That is disgraceful and despicable! What kind of lowlife are you?Mild or forceful, rebuke of a truly wicked person has little chance of actually working. The Bible tells us not to bother rebuking fools who will not listen. The point of rebuke is to correct and help turn from sin those who will listen, and to at least stand up to the evil of those who will not. The Lord’s judgment is righteous and perfect and all who continue in their evil ways will be punished. Our job is to rebuke wrongdoers, for their own sakes, and to try to influence them to repent. But God does not tell us to try forever - once we have given an offender fair warning that his behavior is wrong, then if he remains stubborn and continues in his sin, we are to give up and let him be. The Lord will deal with him after that.
HE WHO HEEDS DISCIPLINE SHOWS THE WAY TO LIFE, BUT WHOEVER IGNORES CORRECTION LEADS OTHERS ASTRAY -- Proverbs 10:17.
HE WHO LISTENS TO A LIFE-GIVING REBUKE WILL BE AT HOME AMONG THE WISE. HE WHO IGNORES DISCIPLINE DESPISES HIMSELF, BUT WHOEVER HEEDS CORRECTION GAINS UNDERSTANDING -- Proverbs 15: 31-32.