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October 01, 2013

Life Lessons Part I: The Debris Your Actions Leave in Your Wake

IStock_000015134817_ExtraSmallAs much as I help my clients to better navigate their lives and relationships, they also help me to better navigate mine. I have the unique privilege of working with clients on the most intimate aspects of their lives—their relationships. As such, the journeys of countless clients have taught me a great many life lessons. Many of these life lessons have, unfortunately, been the result of their pain and anguish, while others have come from their successes and triumphs. All are powerful lessons from which all human beings can learn…hopefully prior to making painful mistakes. 

Below are the top ten lessons learned from the painful side of the equation:

  • A hundred kind acts do not erase the burn left from a hot temper. Acting like a ticking time-bomb from which your loved ones have to cower and protect themselves rather than a safe haven for loved ones to lean into for love, support and guidance will burn out any relationship. The burning embers of your anger remain long after your explosion is over…often for years. 
  • If you parent by instilling fear in your children, they will remember the fear, not the love. 
  • Children live what they know and they know what they live. They will model what they see their parents do and will brush past what their parents say. Be sure that the lessons your actions are teaching them will serve them in their own lives. 
  • An untreated alcohol/drug problem will likely become an active addiction. The addict who models the addiction and the enabler who tolerates the addiction will often create and pass down a toxic legacy of addiction from one generation to the next. The toxic legacy continues until one brave soul finds the courage to actively change that legacy.
  • Violent behavior left unchecked leads to more violent behavior. As long as the abused shrinks and hopes for change, the abuser will escalate and then promise change. The only way to end the cycle is for the abused to leave the relationship, seek help and insist the abuser get into treatment. 
  • Just as unchecked violence leads to more violence, the silent acceptance of emotional mistreatment, leads to an increase in that mistreatment. 
  • Fathers who put their work before their family often raise daughters desperate for attention from men and sons who are absent dads/husbands. 
  • When someone has an affair with little to no remorse, future affairs are highly likely. The betrayed partner will benefit greatly from grieving the loss of the relationship rather than desperately clinging to the hope their partner will love them again. 
  • Don’t mistake your wife’s silence for contentment. Women wait too long to demand change in a marriage and men often wait too long to change. As a result, many women wake up after years of being unhappy, ready to walk out. Men, shocked by wives wanting to leave, often then become very willing to change. For the women, the change is too little, too late. 
  • Defensiveness and lack of accountability rot out relationships. Constant defending makes solution impossible. Eventually, loved ones give up, pull away and write the relationship off as hopeless. Once a person gives up hope, it’s often a matter of time before they leave the relationship either physically or emotionally. 
  • When it comes to relationships, there are universal truths that I have come to know. The ten above are only a fraction of those truths. And although, as in most things, there are always exceptions to the rules, in my experience the exceptions are few and far between. Few exceptions, however, are a gift. There is little confusion about what the future may hold for those who behave in some of the above ways. May you all heed the lessons of those who have had the courage to embark on the journey of change. Allow their work to be your insight into changing your families. I know they have greatly impacted mine.

    Challenge: Have the courage to read through the ten lessons above with an open heart, open mind and non-defensive spirit. Make the necessary changes and enjoy the positive shifts that happen as a result of your courage.


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

    I'm currently very confused over my fr
    Iend who is passive aggressive. This is my first ever encounter of the silent treatment over the slightest thing. She told me earlier in the friendship that her husband didn't speak to her for two yrs after she became pregnant with third child. Part of me thinks she is post traumatic and the other part is thinking they learned to abuse each other.

    These are profound truths. It is never too late to change. At 73 I am still in process. When I trip over the debris I am embarrassed within myself at how
    thoughtless I was. The bright light is that I have used these lessons hard fought to help my clients. They think I am so insightful but it is really that I have made many of the mistakes and I can help them predict consequences.
    Lisa, your writing style touches my heart.

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