Welcome To Inner-Missions


My name is Richard St. Pierre. I am a licensed clinical social worker and founder of Inner-Missions PLLC.  I offer over 40 years of experience, insight, and support to you as you navigate your way through the challenges that life sends your way.

I offer: Individual and Family Therapy to help you discover your true self as you relate to the world around you

              Group Therapy  which will be offered on a variety of topics as they are developed to meet community needs.

The six links below below will guide you through the rest of the website: 

  1. About Inner-Missions PLLC  /  2. The Man Behind the Curtain: Richards’ Back Story /  3. Contact Us    /4.  Fee Schedule /  5. Resources for Life / 6.Home

I look forward to working with you.  To schedule your Initial appointment call:  757-639-8336

Please check out my profile at: Psychology Today

Richard St. Pierre LCSW

Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times by: Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D

This is the last day of 2016, there is much that could be said about the situation the world is in as we prepare for 2017.  A dear friend sent this to me a few days ago, and I pass it on to you now. I could never express what is stated here better than Jungian Analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D has done.

So I bid you all a warm, peaceful and loving New Year with these words from her heart  and pen:      (it is a long read but well worth the time)

                             Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times

Mis estimados queridos, My Esteemed Ones:

Do not lose heart. We were made for these times.

I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. It is true, one has to have strong cojones and ovarios to withstand much of what passes for “good” in our culture today. Abject disregard of what the soul finds most precious and irreplaceable and the corruption of principled ideals have become, in some large societal arenas, “the new normal,” the grotesquerie of the week.

It is hard to say which one of the current egregious matters has rocked people’s worlds and beliefs more. Ours is a time of almost daily jaw-dropping astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

…You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking.

Yet … I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is – we were made for these times.

Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement. I cannot tell you often enough that we are definitely the leaders we have been waiting for, and that we have been raised, since childhood, for this time precisely.

…I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able crafts in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

I would like to take your hands for a moment and assure you that you are built well for these times. Despite your stints of doubt, your frustrations in arighting all that needs change right now, or even feeling you have lost the map entirely, you are not without resource, you are not alone.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. In your deepest bones, you have always known this is so.

Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a forest greater. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

… We have been in training for a dark time such as this, since the day we assented to come to Earth. For many decades, worldwide, souls just like us have been felled and left for dead in so many ways over and over — brought down by naiveté, by lack of love, by suddenly realizing one deadly thing or another, by not realizing something else soon enough, by being ambushed and assaulted by various cultural and personal shocks in the extreme.

We all have a heritage and history of being gutted, and yet remember this especially … we have also, of necessity, perfected the knack of resurrection.

Over and over again we have been the living proof that that which has been exiled, lost, or foundered – can be restored to life again. This is as true and sturdy a prognosis for the destroyed worlds around us as it was for our own once mortally wounded selves.

…Though we are not invulnerable, our risibility supports us to laugh in the face of cynics who say “fat chance,” and “management before mercy,” and other evidences of complete absence of soul sense. This, and our having been ‘to Hell and back’ on at least one momentous occasion, makes us seasoned vessels for certain. Even if you do not feel that you are, you are.

Even if your puny little ego wants to contest the enormity of your soul, the smaller self can never for long subordinate the larger Self. In matters of death and rebirth, you have surpassed the benchmarks many times. Believe the evidence of any one of your past testings and trials. Here it is: Are you still standing? The answer is, Yes! (And no adverbs like “barely” are allowed here). If you are still standing, ragged flags or no, you are able. Thus, you have passed the bar. And even raised it. You are seaworthy.

…In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. Do not make yourself ill with overwhelm. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by perseverating on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the Voice greater? You have all the resource you need to ride any wave, to surface from any trough.

…In the language of aviators and sailors, ours is to sail forward now, all balls out. Understand the paradox: If you study the physics of a waterspout, you will see that the outer vortex whirls far more rapidly than the inner one. To calm the storm means to quiet the outer layer, to cause it, by whatever countervailing means, to swirl much less, to more evenly match the velocity of the inner, far less volatile core – till whatever has been lifted into such a vicious funnel falls back to Earth, lays down, is peaceable again.

One of the most important steps you can take to help calm the storm is to not allow yourself to be taken in a flurry of overwrought emotion or despair – thereby accidentally contributing to the swale and the swirl. Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.

It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts – adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take “everyone on Earth” to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.

The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires … causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both — are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

…There will always be times in the midst of “success right around the corner, but as yet still unseen” when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.

In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But … that is not what great ships are built for.

…This comes with much love and prayer that you remember Who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.


Do Not Lose Heart, We Were Made for These Times by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. ©2001, 2016, All Rights Reserved. This is the original letter as written, unabridged.

This writing is included in 25th Anniversary edition of Women Who Run with the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, 2017, Ballantine/Penguin/Random House, New York– and also in A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump, 2016, Chiron Press, North Carolina.

Original title: Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times: with subtitle, Do Not Lose Heart, We were Made for These Times.



What Is It You’re Asking For?

1322As we talked about last time, people don’t always respond to us in the way we think they will. This response can take many forms, but when someone reacts in a way that we don’t expect, and is way out of the norm for them, we need to take pause before we respond and send events off in a direction none of us want.

Before we respond, we should ask ourselves these simple questions:

“What does this person want?”, “What does this person need?” “What is this person afraid to ask or say, that they could not think of anything else to say or do, than  what they just said or did?”

If we can take a few seconds to ask ourselves these simple questions we may respond in a much more compassionate and understanding way.Around the Games: Day 6 - 2014 Winter Olympic Games

At this time and season of Gratitude and Thanksgiving, Let us all look at each other, and ourselves with new eyes… and begin a new sense of understanding, forgiveness and acceptance of Ourselves and our fellow Human Beings.

As the French novelist, critic, and essayist Marcel Proust once said, ” We do not need to travel to new worlds to see new wonders; We need only to see our existing world with new eyes!”

May this beginning of the Holiday Season of 2017, bring you and yours all good things surrounded with Love, Compassion, and Peace!


Over the Top: To Be or Not To Be

Have you ever wondered why this happens?      talking-to-me


You and a few friends at work are having a conversation about something and you make a comment to one of them in jest; and next thing you know they are very upset and all in your face and distraught over what you just said. You stare at your friend in disbelief, thinking to yourself, “What in the world is wrong with them, all I said was…(fill in the blank)!

I’m sure this has happened at least once to most of us. We may even have been on the receiving end of such a comment, and for no apparent reason we, as some people would say, “over-reacted”.

Have you ever wondered what this is all about and why that kind of “Over the Top” reaction occurs in the first place?

I have seen this happen with clients, or have had them describe instances of this phenomenon for years now and have given it a great deal of thought. What I am going to describe next is what I think is going on. Now this is only one person’s view, and I’m sure some people would disagree.  However no matter what point of view you come from, I believe this is a good place to start the discussion.

When someone says something or does something we normally feel an emotional response well up inside us which causes us to respond in a certain way.  I do feel, however, that it often gets more complicated than that.

Depending on what is said or done, depending on what emotion it brings forth for us, our brain can go into automatic pilot.  In the blink of an eye, our mind pulls up every other time in our life something was said or done to us that triggered that exact same emotion…and BOOM!! We over-react!!

We over-react, not because of the one thing that was just said or done, but because of the torrent of events from our past, (that we may not even be aware are running around in our brain). These memories may be zooming around up there so quickly as to be subconscious; but the emotions they engender are very conscious and very real. The emotions are so intense, so strong and so amplified from all the times we have felt them, that the reaction we show to those around us is a result of ALL of those repeated expressions of emotion, causing the over-reaction.

As a result, to those around us, we seem to be way over the top in response to what they said or did, but in fact, we are simply reacting as we would if all those memories/events were in fact occurring simultaneously to us right there and then!  It can often feel very overwhelming.   over-the-top


If someone near you experiences your over-reaction, they will in their turn experience an emotion because of it, and their subconscious  can trigger their own flood of events that engender a stronger emotional response than normal and then THEY over-react.

The cycle can continue like this for several rounds and escalate into a very unpleasant experience for all concerned.  BUT… If one or more of the persons involved can stop their over-reaction and hold it in check, or better yet, can react with LESS emotion than they normally would, their LOWER  response can in fact serve to deflate the situation rather than helping it to escalate.baby-1  Some food for thought!


Join me next time for: “What on earth are they trying to say?”

Thanks,  and share Joy and Peace with someone today!



Getting the Bull back in the Pen… or better yet, send him out to pasture.

During his monthly seminar, a wise man and ever wiser teacher told those of us in the audience a very important statement. The statement had to do with how and when to respond to a perceived hurt. He recommended very strongly that we need to ask ourselves three questions, BEFORE we respond in any way, to the comment or act that hurt us.  I am paraphrasing his statement below, and adding the action of “doing” to his comment, as well as “saying”. The three adapted questions are:

  1. Does something need to be said or done?

My thought: Is a response needed at all? Would it be better to just “let it go” or as someone once said, ”Turn the other cheek.” Would discretion truly be the better part of valor right now, given the situation.

  1. Does something need to be said or done now?

My thought: Should someone respond in some fashion right now, or would it be better to wait for cooler heads to prevail, in the hope of resolving the situation, rather than waving a red flag to the Bull and escalating the situation.

  1. Does something need to be said or done now by me?

My thought: Would it be better to let someone else step in and handle the situation? Perhaps a neutral third party would be better able to deescalate the incident.  It takes a very strong person to walk away from a potential confrontation. Anyone can explode in response or throw the second punch (metaphorically speaking). That takes no strength of will at all and rarely solves anything.

That being said, here are some great tips to help you turn the bull out to pasture and let him rest and smell the flowers, rather than waving the red cape at him for no good reason other than wanting to  be  “right”.

angry bull

Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper from the mayo Clinic

Keeping your temper in check can be challenging. Use simple anger management tips — from taking a timeout to using “I” statements — to stay in control.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion — but it’s important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.

Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.

  1. Think before you speak

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

  1. Once you’re calm, express your anger

As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.

  1. Get some exercise

Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.

  1. Take a timeout

Timeouts aren’t just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting irritated or angry.

  1. Identify possible solutions

Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.

6. Stick with ‘I’ statements

To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”

7. Don’t hold a grudge

Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.

8. Use humor to release tension

Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what’s making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

9. Practice relaxation skills

When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

10. Know when to seek help

Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, getting the best of you, causing you to do things you regret by hurting those around you.


Thanks for reading this and Thank you to the Mayo Clinic for the great tips.

If you or someone you love has a problem with anger, or anger is beginning to get the best of you, find someone to talk to and get professional help before a downward spiral begins..

If you live in the Tidewater area, give me a call. I’d be glad to speak with you.


Next : some reasons why people seem to over react in surprising ways.



Anger: Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

We have all allowed ourselves to become angry at one time or another. Anyone who feels they have never gotten angry needs to look at themselves long and hard! It is an emotion than can serve us well, when managed properly. Why do we feel the emotion of anger and what makes us exhibit it to others in the ways that we do?

Most of the ways we display anger are learned, culturally through the environment we have been surrounded.  At times in our life, we may have not had much control over our environment. One very important thing I want to say right up front is this:

There is nothing wrong with getting angry! Let me repeat that. “THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GETTING ANGRY.” It is almost always the WAY in which we display our anger that’s causes an issue for ourselves or others. I will get back to that in a minute.

Anger is NOT a primary emotion, but a SECONDARY emotion. It usually bubbles up in us when we are afraid. Fear is a PRIMARY emotion. “FEAR”; that other four letter word…. The one few people want to admit having, especially we males.   When we are afraid or frightened, surprised by something that has scared us, or embarrassed us, all the flavors of fear well up in us and instead of admitting we were scared, we mask it by getting angry. It is an emotion we all understand, and although we don’t want to admit it; anger is an emotion more readily accepted in society than is fear.

We think of solders in combat who have exhibited great courage and bravery in saving the lives of friends and others in harms’ way. While what they did may have indeed saved lives and was a brave act, most likely the situation they found themselves in was frightening. The fear turned to anger at the situation, and they did whatever they could to stop the situation, to stop the fear… not to be thought of as brave. The fear, turned into anger, providing the fuel they needed to find a way to end the fear.

Let’s get back to how we display anger. Let me also add that fear is not the only primary emotion that can turn to anger, embarrassment works just as well.  I’m going to use a far-fetched example to make my point.

Let’s say a friend and I meet for lunch and I am wearing my favorite shirt. My friend greets me and as we say hi, I notice he is staring at my shirt. When I ask him if something is wrong, he responds,”Richard, I can’t believe you wore that silly looking shirt out in public. It is the dumbest looking shirt I have even seen in my life, especially on a grown man.”

Well needless to say, when I heard my friends’ comments about my wonderful, beautiful shirt a shirt that I picked out to wear especially for this important occasion, I was crushed. I was surprised and hurt to the point of being offended as well as embarrassed.

Before I responded to his comments, I processed his words and my feelings regarding them, all in the blink of an eye and I decided to respond. I decided to respond through the filter of anger. One reason I may have gotten angry is that my friends comment, brought me all the way back to being six years old, when I dressed to go out to play and my father saw my shirt.  He yelled and threatened me with being grounded if I did not go back to my room and change my shirt. He was not going to let me go outside in a shirt he thought would bring embarrassment to the family. (Luckily, that never really happened.) My friend’s comment stirred up a sad, scary, and embarrassing memory, which brought up the feeling of fear, which I tried to mask with anger.

To respond to any situation with anger is a choice. To respond in a specific way because we are angry is yet another choice.  In the shirt scenario, I could just look at my friend and shrugged his comment off.  I could think of it as his way of making a joke, or him having a bad day. However if my feelings of anger go unchecked and I decide to act in anger, all in a few nano-seconds, the results could go sour very quickly. I could get up and leave, make a disgusted face, make a comment about how much weight he has gained or how his hair is thinning or pour my ice tea in his lap or over his head.

Or,  I could have wondered to myself,”What is it about what he just said, that hit me in such a way that I decided to get angry about it as a result? I then have to decide which would be the most productive way to respond, if at all, all in a blink of an eye.

Anger is a useful emotion, if handled maturely and with everyone’s best interest at heart. It can be a signal to us that we need to look at something with-in ourselves that may need further work. It may be a sign to us, if anger continues to be the first emotion we seem to act on, that we need to change our view of the world. We can do this by looking at or environment with new eyes or change it to a more peaceful one that is more congruent to our values, beliefs and serves our highest good rather than our ego.

We will discuss some tips for better exhibiting our feelings when angry at another time. Until then… Be safe and be well!



Fair Fighting Rules

The following can be found on: the website: “For Your Marriage” Please click on 25 ways to fight fair

25 Ways to Fight Fair:

Don’t waste a good fight by not learning from it.coouple arguing

Please note that the words “fight” and “fighting fair” are used below to mean expressing one’s disagreement or anger to another constructively. At no time should physical harm be considered “fighting fair.”

  1. Know your own feelings. Seek to grow in self-awareness. Being in touch with your own true feelings is essential before you can constructively handle anger or conflict.
  2. Anger is an emotion – neither right nor wrong in itself. There is no morality to feelings. Try to understand what prompted the feeling. Morality comes into play when you take a destructive action as a result of a feeling.
  3. Negotiation and compromise are essential in any marriage. During a calm, clear moment agree that neither partner should “win” a fight. If one wins, the other loses and builds resentment. In effect, both have then lost because the relationship is damaged. Even when one spouse is wrong, permit him or her salvage self-respect.
  4. Cooling-off periods. Establish ground rules that permit either partner to “cool off” before trying to resolve anger. It may be necessary to walk or engage in some other physical activity in order to allow anger to dissipate. Such a period can allow a spouse to identify the issue more clearly and organize his or her thoughts, thus keeping the fight more on focus.
  5. Pin down a time and place. Be sure, however, that resolving an issue is not postponed indefinitely. After cooling off, pin down a time and place to continue. For example, after the news goes off and in the living room – not in the bathroom doorway while brushing teeth.
  6. Fight by mutual consent. Don’t insist on a fight when your spouse is tired or unable to handle the strain. A fair fight requires two ready participants.
  7. Stick to the subject. When a number of issues seem to be accumulating, present them one at a time. If you have not resolved past issues, put them on a current or future agenda. Make sure both of you go beyond skirmishing, insult rituals, or angry displays. Shooting broadside like a roaring cannon prevents resolution.
  8. State the issue honestly and clearly. Don’t simply say, “I’m hurt by the way you don’t show me respect.” Rather, be clear and specific as in, “I felt hurt when you said…or when your tone of voice sounds condescending toward me.”
  9. Don’t camouflage. Don’t evade a deeper grievance by allowing your feelings to center only on less important or extraneous issues. “The potatoes are too salty tonight!” might be a minor irritant that covers the unspoken, “I don’t think that you understand all the pressure I’m under at work!”
  10. Afraid to fight? If one of you feels afraid to fight, this should not evoke a put down but rather may be a fear of being hurt or rejected. Put the fear on the agenda for later discussion.
  11. Don’t hit below the belt. Everyone has vulnerable areas. Don’t use your confidential knowledge of your partner’s weaknesses and sensitivities to hurt him/her.
  12. Don’t label. Avoid telling your spouse that he/she is neurotic, depressing, or a bore. Rather, try, “I’m tense inside, honey, because you seem moody and depressed. I’d like us to talk about it.”
  13. Grant equal time. Agree that no resolution of an issue can be presumed until each partner has had the chance to express his/her feelings, ideas, and information.
  14. Feedback and clarification. If the fight is emotional and heated, slow it down by starting a “feedback loop.” One technique is to paraphrase back to your spouse what your heard. For example, “Honey, what I hear you saying is that I’m boring you because I have no outside interest. Is that right?” The other then responds by either confirming the accuracy of your statement or clarifying it.
  15. Gain new understanding. Extract enough new information and insight from a fight to permit growth. Don’t waste a good fight by not learning from it.
  16. Implement changes. Follow anger with a fair, firm, clear request for a change or improvement in whatever brought on the fight. Each partner must be clear as to what he/she agrees to modify or improve. Be specific and realistic. For example, it would be agreed that whenever the husband seemed tense, the wife would encourage him to tell her about it, instead of their old pattern of both keeping silent.
  17. Develop humor. Humor goes a long way towards promoting healing.
  18. Keep your fights to yourself. Exceptions would be when more serious problems suggest the need for a counselor. Good counseling is like medicine – it helps do what you might not be able to do alone.
  19. Handling anger in front of children. When anger and conflict initially erupt in front of children, also try to resolve these feelings in front of them. You may need a cooling off period first, but they need to learn about negotiation, discussion, and compromise by watching you do it constructively. Apologizing for excesses in front of children also teaches them about reconciliation.
  20. Don’t attempt to resolve a conflict when drinking heavily.
  21. “Touch” can begin dialogue. Use touch to help your spouse make the “entry” or “re-entry” into a communicative mood. A foot reaching over in bed, a hand on the shoulder can say eloquently, “Honey, one of us needs to begin the dialogue. I’m willing to start.”
  22. Exclude violence. Agree in advance that real violence is always ruled out.
  23. Is the problem elsewhere? Determine through honest inner searching whether your anger lies primarily (or only secondarily) within the marriage relationship. Spouses might be struggling with poor health, role insecurities at work, fear of death, anxiety about the future, or other unresolved issues. It can be reassuring when a couple realizes that their relationship may not always be the principle problem, even though the real problem still causes anguish.
  24. Respect crying. Crying is a valid response to how we feel. Do not, however, let crying sidetrack from getting to the real issue causing the conflict.
  25. Prayer as strength. Major religions view marriage as sacred and prayer as a vital strength. While human behavior principles must not be neglected in learning how to handle conflict constructively, neither should couples neglect the religious resources of their faith in working out their problems.

We Can All Be Authors

I have been working professionally with people for close to 40 years now, and one topic of discussion that comes up time after time is the topic of “relationships”, especially as that dynamic relates to family members.

I have given the idea of relationships a great deal of thought; how they work, why they work, if they work, what causes them to break down, and what helps them survive.

What I am going to discuss next doesn’t always happen, but often happens.

writer male

It seems to me that everyone one on the planet is writing their own autobiography, whether they are aware of it or not. In that work, people eventually get around to describing everyone they know in terms that make sense to them.  Some people in their lives may get a short “one liner”. Others may get a paragraph or two, while others may get pages and pages of descriptors in the person’s attempt to paint a word picture of what “the other person” looks and feels like to them.

I will be directing most of today’s remarks to family dynamics, but the concepts could just as easily apply to any configuration of relationships that we find ourselves a part of; at the work place or with friends.

Now, as sophisticated as we like to think we are, we humans are essentially still “pack animals” in the sense that we, for the most part, live, work, and play in groups. We generally want to get along with others, we want to be “nice”, and not make waves when we are together with others, especially with family. This however, seems at times, to be much harder than it should be. Sometimes it seems the harder we try, the worse things can get. We begin to understand what Rodney King was referring to when he uttered his exasperated plea,” Can’t we all just get along?”

One of the things that we seem to do, in our attempt to “get along” is to go to the “family library” and read up on what others in the family write about us, what they think of us, how they describe us to others. Once we have educated ourselves as to how, say our sister, views us, we are better prepared to interact with her and have, hopefully, a meaningful exchange with her.

That’s all well and good, and everything is going along just fine… Then, our brother walks into the room and joins in the conversation. Now what do we do?  We love our brother, we love our sister. However we have read our brother’s description of us in his book and guess what? It is similar to our sister’s description of us, but not quite. Some very major things in his page are different from what sis thinks about us and how we should act when we are together.

We want this conversation to go well but we are caught on the horns of a dilemma. If we try to act the way our brother sees us, our sister could get her feelings hurt. If we continue to act and behave the way our sister prefers, then brother will sense that he may be a “fifth wheel” and begin to act in a different way towards us and perhaps sister as well.

So how do we act? Do we change the way we speak or the way we behave? If we try to please one, we run the risk of displeasing the other.   Wait a minute, we can fix this… we’ll act the way mom likes us to act… that will work!  She loves all of us and we all love her; well, maybe not in the exact same way, but I’m sure at least that we all love her (this will be another post).

All the while we have been trying to figure out which “us” to be with sis, and then with brother, they have been trying to remember how to be the right “person” with each other and with us. Just as we decide on which course of action is best, in walks dad. The whole scenario now changes, and perhaps not for the better

We are all trying to get along with each other, all trying to remember what the other person expects from us, how they expect us to behave, and when dad walks in, the whole think starts all over again!  Each of us start juggling the balls, that are our different personas, around like crack-crazed clowns trying to be the best juggler in the center ring of a three ring circus tent, in a vain attempt to please everyone.

Everyone ends up trying to remember how they are supposed to act when they encounter each other, instead of just BEING, and having a good time.  As a result, none of us are as successful at this juggling act as we had hoped to be, and we come away possibly confused and often disappointed.

Perhaps this is one reason why family gatherings, holidays and the like, can be so stressful, and as a result of the stress, not at all what we hoped the experience would be.

Perhaps we need to change our focus.  Instead of spending so much time reading what others think of us and how we should act, we should instead begin to write our own story. Perhaps we should inform the world who WE are, and how WE expect to be treated, and let others know what is in OUR best interest and highest good. Then and only then, can we begin to show our true selves to the world.

To do so, and to do so effectively, we need to concern ourselves less with that others think of us, and become concerned with what we think of ourselves; discover, or better yet, begin to remember who we really are, and instead of living the fiction of others, write down the truth of our own story word for word.

It may seem a daunting task at first, but it really is very simple, if you have the courage to pick up the pen and begin to write. It can start as simply as David Copperfield’s story began under the pen of Charles Dickens:                                ladywriter1    “I was born.”