Building Strong, Loving Bonds We all desire loving relationships whether they be marital relationships or relationships we share with our children or other family members. Everyone wants to love and be loved yet so many of us feel unloved and unaccepted. This series is designed to locate communication patterns and personality types that feel love toward their family and friends but communicate otherwise to them. You can communicate unacceptance and disrespect whether you intend to or not and you can communicate it even if you are not aware of it. Just because you “didn’t mean to” doesn’t mean a negative message was not communicated and to say, “I’m not saying …… you shouldn’t feel that way.” doesn’t mean that you didn’t just communicate that. Your intent makes no difference. If you are in a “problem” relationship and cannot locate the problem, or if there is disharmony in your home or repeated patterns of fighting, perhaps you will be able to identify your communication style or personality type that prevents feelings of love, acceptance and forgiveness. Perhaps you can locate these in someone you are struggling to have a relationship with. Perhaps you just want to be a better parent and spouse and would like to improve your communication skills and relationships and reap the rewards of greater intimacy. For whatever the reason, this series will benefit you.
It is said that in order for a person to “feel” loved and accepted, they must be listened to and understood. How many of us grew up and knew we were loved yet we never “felt” loved or accepted? Most people who grew up never receiving their parents’ love and approval have difficulty in forming or maintaining relationships today and I believe that is one reason for the high divorce rate today. They are still seeking the love and approval of their parents and cannot leave their parents in an emotional sense in order to cleave to a wife or husband. As adults, these people have a void in their lives. They are not starting their relationships or marriages from a place of already being loved and accepted. They cannot love and accept someone else until they have been able to love and accept themselves. This is something they find impossible if they did not feel loved or accepted by their parents.
“The Blessing” by Gary Smally is an excellent resource book to read on this subject. These people come from dysfunctional families and they continue to relate to others in their circle of relationships in the same way that they grew up with. Thus the sins of the forefathers are passed down to the children. If your parents blessed you by making you feel loved and accepted, then you will bless your children as well. They in turn will bless others. We are determined here to learn new ways of communicating in order to bless and not curse those in our relationships. Before we can learn new ways of communicating, we need to identify harmful ways of communicating and see the effects of them on those we love. Our desire is to turn the hearts of the fathers to their wives and children and the hearts of the wives and children to the fathers. We desire to have hearts knit in unity because it is there that the Lord has commanded the blessing.
Jesus, in order to present His church to Himself as being without spot or wrinkle, will cherish her, feed her, nourish her, heal her and wash her in the water of the word where she is deceived or unclean. Husbands are to love their wives in the same manner. Parents are to love their children in the same manner as well. It is an attitude of meeting the needs of family members. This includes their emotional needs as well as their physical needs. It is not enough to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. Is your wife more holy, pure and loving as a result of having you in her life? Are your children more holy, pure and loving as a result of you parenting them?
Let’s look at some basic human needs and examine how we as Jesus’ representative to our family members, meet those needs. Perhaps we do not meet the needs at all but in fact negate them. In some areas, there may even be abuses. Perhaps you have even been abused in these areas.
Touch, being held, caressed, hugged or given some form of physical affection. “In the early 1970’s doctors began studying a mechanism within the nervous system which produces a morphine-like effect helping to alleviate pain and subduing trauma and shock.
These morphine-like substances are called endorphins and they are secreted to soothe pain, take the edge off, and promote general well-being. Some research indicates that overeaters and alcoholics produce fewer of these endorphins than normal people. Since you produce fewer endorphins, you often feel on raw edge. Eating sugar increases endorphin production, so when you eat, the rawness vanishes.
If anorectic, you get the same kind of soothing from the ‘high’ of not eating. That exuberant feeling comes from the endurance high of pushing yourself beyond your limits, much like the ‘runners high’. There is an alternative method to increased endorphin production. It involves hugging. That is right, hugging. When you turn to a fellow human being and you put your arms around one another, this starts the endorphins flowing and the raw edges are removed by the warmth of a loving friend. Never hug another person without their permission though. Some people are uncomfortable with hugging because they do not trust people and they have been damaged in some way. To hug someone without their permission would be violating a boundary. Your dog is no dummy when he jumps up for a rub on the chest or a pat on the head. He’s getting his endorphins up and keeping himself mellow.” He is also doing the same for his owner. This excerpt comes from the book “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie.
Actually, many who are alcoholics, or have addictive behaviors or eating disorders, come from dysfunctional families or are now in a dysfunctional relationship where they do not feel loved or accepted. A loving touch communicates love and acceptance. Those with addictions are finding other ways to produce the same feeling to take the edge off.
When my daughter was in the hospital as a result of an emergency and I was in a great deal of shock and grief over the situation, I would wake up in the middle of the night to find my own hand stroking my hair gently in a comforting way. I kept feeling like the Holy Spirit was doing this, using my own hand to comfort me while I was asleep, because I had no one else around that the Lord could use. I would wake up at night crying and full of grief and God would comfort me, even if my hand was the only one He could find to do it. I had to be asleep because I would never do this if I were awake. This was the Lord’s way of comforting me and getting my endorphins up to reduce the pain, trauma and shock. Might sound strange to some of you, but I know my God and this is just like Him. He’ll use whatever is available when needed. We need to make ourselves a little more available for Him to use.
Food, warmth, shelter, clothing, water and medical care are also physical human needs.
Stimulation, education, excitement, challenge, security, peace of mind and boundaries fall into the mental category of basic human needs.
Safety, security, peace of mind and having boundaries are usually the biggest concern in this category. You must behave in a non-threatening way towards your family members so that they feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves and doing things. This means that family members can express their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs without being shamed or put down for them. They are not manipulated or controlled. Family members are treated with respect. They are listened to nonjudgmentally. They are being emotionally affirmed. Their opinions are valued. There is trust and support. There is honesty and accountability. There is shared responsibilities, mutually agreeing on a fair distribution of work and making family decisions together. There is an economic partnership. Decisions regarding money are made together. Both partners in a marriage benefit from financial arrangements. There is fairness in negotiations and seeking mutually satisfying resolutions to conflict. Change is accepted and there is a willingness to compromise.
In the negative context, family members are not to be put down, made to feel bad about themselves, called names, made to think they are crazy, humiliated, or made to feel guilty. Mind games are not played. Intimidation is not allowed. You cannot make a family member afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, etc., like smashing things, destroying property, abusing pets, displaying weapons, or even throwing down a magazine or newspaper when you are having a disagreement.
Fixing a family member’s feelings, thoughts, wants or needs is not allowed. This does not fall within your boundary or responsibility. Talking someone out of them is not allowed. This is disrespectful and abusive. This is done by justify, minimizing, denying, making excuses, and blaming someone else for your behavior. The unspoken message they are receiving is: You have no reason to feel the way you do. Feelings, thoughts, needs, wants, etc., are not accepted unless you have a good reason for them. This is wrong and damaging because feelings are neither right or wrong and are not to be judged.
Treating your wife as a child and making the relationship more a father/daughter relationship is degrading and mentally abusive. This is done by treating her like a servant, making all the big decisions, acting like the master of the castle and being the one who defines men’s and women’s roles. Preventing her from getting or keeping a job, making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money and not letting her know about or have access to family income would also fall into this category.
Using coercion and threats in order to control a family member is also mental abuse. This would include making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt them, threatening to leave them, commit suicide, making them do illegal things or making them drop charges if you have been abusive.
I need to say here that because a person speaks of suicide, that doesn’t mean they are manipulating you or trying to control you. They may be genuinely expressing their thoughts and depression and asking for help. Others use it to manipulate and control and discernment is needed. The same is true in regards to divorce, etc.
People from dysfunctional families are very insecure, live in fear, lack peace of mind and do not know where boundaries are because they were treated and controlled in a negative context. They were not treated with love and respect.
Social needs include structure, attention, friends, being regarded as special, guidance, modeling, identification with significant others, discipled, time with significant others, feedback.
Many today feel lonely, even when in relationship or in a marriage. Many from dysfunctional families lacked guidance, a role model, self-worth or being regarded as special or valuable. If you didn’t want, think, feel or look like everyone else or the way your parents wanted you to in order that they feel good about themselves, then you were shamed. Many today lack the ability to identify with others and often feel alienated. They lack the ability to listen and understand others as well. It is hard for them to receive feedback or to face problems regarding their behavior. Their value and self-worth have been so attacked growing up that they lack self-worth or value. They feel defective or like they never measure up. If there is anything satan will attack the most, it is your value and self-worth because if you don’t feel you deserve something, you won’t receive God’s grace. You will continually try to earn God’s approval and that of man’s. You become “works” oriented. What we are determined to learn in this series is how to communicate to our children and to others that they are special and valuable, so that they will receive God’s grace. This can apply to those outside the church as well. We are also determined to learn how to receive God’s grace and love towards us because He loves and values us.
Basic human emotional needs include affirmation of needs, feelings, thoughts and desires. Encouragement, praise, warmth, affection, sense of self as separate from yet cared for by others, sense of uniqueness and worth, or being wanted or valued for oneself.
We are going to learn of ways we negate people’s needs, feelings, thoughts and desires in our relations and in our communication. We leave people with the unspoken message that “You have no reason to think, feel or need the things you do.” We not only negate instead of affirm the emotional needs of others but we shame them for having them. This is emotional abuse. This is something dysfunctional families are notorious for. Many from dysfunctional families have been emotionally abused or neglected and as a result, they are emotionally immature and they deny and stuff their own emotional needs as well as others. They are not even in touch with what is going on inside of themselves because they have taken up where their parents left on in regards to their own emotions. They start negating their own feelings and become emotionally immature. This kind of person is incapable of being led by the Holy Spirit or operating in the gifts of the spirit. They stopped listening to what goes on inside themselves a long time ago. They explain it away and even explain away the convicting of the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual needs include grace, mercy, forgiveness, redemption, repentance, sanctification, maturity, gifts of the Holy Spirit, fruit of the Holy Spirit, strength from God, experiencing the God of the Word, not just knowing the word of God, truth, and The Life.
If we have been physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally or socially abused, our relationship with God and others will suffer as a result. We will have a hard time receiving from God and we cannot give out what we have not received. We may know something in our head, but not our heart. We would like to make Christ real in people’s lives and impact their hearts. You can only love others to the degree you love yourself. You will love your neighbor as yourself (or less) so you can see how satan wants to attack your value, worth and self-esteem. He wants you in a shame state because he can stop all God has for you and all God can do with you and through you. I am not talking about going around thinking you are great and wonderful in a prideful sort of way. I am talking about knowing you are a sinner and you never will be perfect and measure up to God’s standards and you don’t deserve His grace and mercy, but God thought you were valuable enough to redeem you with His very life. It is not based on what you do, but on who God is and how He sees you. There is no room for pride and works in this picture.
If you have trouble receiving God’s grace or believing that He could forgive you, you are probably living in a “shame state”. People who come from dysfunctional families or families that shamed them, fixed them, controlled them or who only mentioned what the child did wrong while leaving out the praise, live in a shame state. They project their shame onto others as well. Below are listed basic characteristics of people who live in a shame state:
Hide their weaknesses Blame others – blame laying Project their shame onto others Defensive Critical of self and others Perfectionist Works-oriented – do things to gain approval of God and man. Many claim to be born again. Fear of closeness Keeping others away or at arms length Power or control tactics or manipulative Compliant or overly obedient People pleasing – they will tell you what you want to hear, not the truth. Being “nice” all the time. Judgmental behavior or thoughts – are not accepting of others feelings, needs, thoughts, choices, etc. They are opinionated and critical. Opinionated – the difference between an opinion and a conviction is an opinion is just a preference where a conviction is something you’d die for. Chameleons – will change colors or behaviors to suit or blend in with their environment or the people they are with. This is a defense mechanism for self preservation. They will become whatever you want them to be so as not to be rejected. Boomerang – This is also a defense mechanism. When you confront them on a sin or hurtful behavior, they throw it back in your face by bringing up something you did. This puts the focus on you and off them. Thus you now start defending yourself and they are off the hook. They will use comparisons in this technique too. Example: “Like you are a saint or something. You used to ……”
Defense techniques keep a person in a state of denial. This allows them to deny their sin, weakness or problem behavior or whatever it is your are confronting them on or talking to them about. In order to receive God’s grace and forgiveness, you must first acknowledge your sin, confess it to God and the one you have wronged and then receive forgiveness for it. God requires this in order to extend His grace and forgiveness. Maybe this is why many don’t “feel” forgiven by God and those in their relationships. They are in a constant state of denial or defensiveness. Adam did not accept responsibility for his sin. He blamed Eve and God for his troubles. He told God, “That woman you gave me…..”
It is impossible to forgive and reconcile with someone in our relationships if we confront them in their sin or in something they have done to hurt or offend us and they defend themselves and thus remain in a state of denial. It is easy to forgive someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. I have been bitten by a bird I have who had gotten out of the cage. When we caught this bird in a net and tried to place it back in the cage, it promptly bit my finger rather hard. The bird didn’t know what it was doing. I can’t blame the bird for biting me. It didn’t know any better. When you confront someone with a problem, sin or offense and you have given them the truth regarding it, they now know what it is they are doing. If they don’t listen to you and repent, it is because they just don’t care about you. They are more concerned about themselves. Because you have confronted them, they can be held accountable and responsible for their behavior. If they deny or defend, it is impossible to extend forgiveness to this person and reconcile the situation. The person who confronts and already has been hurt, now becomes angry. If you live with a person like this, you will have anger built up in you for years. Your hurt and anger never get resolved or released. You can become opened up to a spirit of bondage which causes bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and addictions. The father or parent who does this to his family will be held accountable for opening up that person to spiritual attack because of their actions. They have provoked their children to wrath. Later on, I will list ways in which stuffed anger will manifest in a person who is not able to heal or reconcile because the person they are in a relationship with continues in a state of denial and defending. That anger must go somewhere and we will examine what happens to this anger. Now I would like to list denial or defending techniques that a person in a “shame state” uses and I would like to show the unspoken or relational message given to the other person. I would like to show how these techniques negate the emotional needs of others. Thus the “others” have their emotional needs neglected and they are emotionally abused. An emotionally abused person will go through all the stages of abuse that physically or sexually abused person will. It does the same damage on the inside of a person as physical or sexual abuse. The fruit is the same. It is more important for “shame state” people to be right then to do what is right. When they are confronted with a sin or a way they have hurt or offended someone they:
Example: “I didn’t do that. I don’t know what you are talking about.” They will play mind games with you and make you think you are crazy or get you to question yourself and what you heard or saw.
The Unspoken Message: You are stupid or crazy and don’t know what you are talking about. How could you think such a thing?
They make you think that something is wrong with you and they make you feel guilty for bringing it up. The message is about you being defective. It is shaming. If you get shamed enough when confronting someone like this, pretty soon (they hope) you will stop confronting them.
Example: I did it because……………….
My intent was………………………….
They will always have a good explanation for why they did what they did too. They will always be well intentioned too. This allows them not to accept responsibility for their behavior and they won’t acknowledge it. This could also be called making excuses. You confront someone on being late and they tell you that they forgot their watch, etc. Instead of just saying, “You are right, I am late and I am sorry.” If they just admitted and took responsibility for the offense, then reconciliation and forgiveness could easily be extended.
The Unspoken Message: I had a good reason for hurting or offending you and I can explain away your hurt feelings and make it better with my explanation. I tell you what to think and feel here and I’m going to control that, not you. You have no reason to feel the way you do because I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was trying to help you. You shouldn’t feel hurt. I don’t accept your feelings and let me tell you why. Feelings are not accepted without a good analytical reason. If you don’t have a good reason for feeling the way you do, then I don’t accept or acknowledge your feelings. I’m just going to explain away your reasoning anyway, so I do not accept your feelings nor do I acknowledge them. You have no reason to feel the way you do and you have no reason to be hurt or upset. I don’t accept you and I don’t accept your feelings.
This shames the person and makes them feel guilty for their feelings. Again, the focus is on you and you being defective. The feelings are just explained away and ignored like they never existed and in the mind of the person defending himself, they don’t exist. He thinks everything is now resolved and you have to see things his way. If you don’t, he goes into more shaming and explaining.
Example: I did it for their own good. I was only trying to help! My intent was to……….. I just wanted to……………. My desire is to……………
The intent, desire or whatever is always good and the reason behind the hurtful or offensive behavior is always “well intentioned” and they offer this to justify the hurtful behavior.
The Unspoken Message: You have no reason to think, or feel the way you do. You should not be hurt or upset. Same as above in “explanations”.
Example: Yes, I know I did that but so did eight thousand other people. It is not as bad as you think. I know I did that but did you see or notice this wonderful thing I did over here or did you happen to notice when I did it right.
You will notice a comparing when a person is minimizing. They will compare themselves to those who really blew it so they do not look as bad or they will bring up the good that they have done so that the bad doesn’t look as bad. They will bring up the number of people who do the same so they don’t look as bad and feel ashamed. Comparing is the name of the game in minimizing. They think you have the thing blown way out of proportion and they want to “put it in perspective”. Anytime someone says that they are just putting things in perspective, “watch out”.
The Unspoken Message: You have no reason to feel the way you do to the degree you do. You are not right for being so upset about such a small thing. My behavior is no big deal and you should be ashamed for even noticing. How petty and immature of you to even notice, especially when I have done all these good things.
Again, who is the focus on in this unspoken message. Again, it is shaming and relays a message about how defective you are and how there is something wrong with you for even noticing the behavior and feeling the way you do to the degree you do.
The reason Jesus NEVER defended Himself was because He was more concerned about the other person than He was about being right. He was not going to negate, emotionally abuse and treat someone disrespectfully by defending Himself. Besides, Jesus knew God would vindicate Him. If you believe that God will vindicate you, you don’t do it yourself or defend yourself. Defending comes from lack of faith. What you believe in your heart is shown by what you do. Look at what a person does and that will tell you what they believe in their heart. Love does not seek its own. Jesus was focused on others not Himself. A defensive person is focused on themselves.
Example: I follow you around to reconcile or convince you that what you are thinking or feeling is unfounded and if you would just see things my way, you wouldn’t feel the way that you do. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to talk about it or not because the bible says to not let the sun go down on your wrath so I am doing what the bible says. To heck with what you want or need. I am right and you are wrong and you’ll just have to see things my way. I have good reasons for doing what I did.” This person will then list their reasons or rationale. A person with this heart condition can find just about any bible verse to rationalize their behavior. Child abusers rationalize their physical abuse of their children with scripture verses and men do the same with scripture to rule over their wives and they miss the “heart” of the Lord in it all. Just because there is a scripture verse to “support” it, doesn’t mean it is God if you are using the verse to defend and rationalize hurtful behavior.
The Unspoken Message: I am right and you are wrong and I am going to debate you and convince you of it. You are stupid and you aren’t capable of seeing things correctly. I know better than you and your thoughts, feelings, wants and desires don’t matter because you do not have a good reason to think, feel or want the things you do. I’m smarter, better and more capable.
Be not wise in your own estimation the bible says. A person who is wise in his own estimation thinks he knows what is best for others and he will try to convince them to do things as he believes they should for their own good. He has a fierce desire to promote his own idea or way of doing things to the exclusion of others. He excludes other’s feelings, thoughts, ideas, wants and needs. He is closed minded and won’t listen to anything that differs from his way of doing something because he feels he is right and you are wrong and he is going to make you feel as he does about whatever is being discussed. He feels right and superior and knows what is best and he is not meek or teachable. His attitude is unyielding and unsubmissive. He is well intentioned and sees his actions as caring and loving and wanting the best for others. He will rally support for his way of thinking or doing something. He may even be right on the topic he is discussing, but his heart and attitude are being demonically influenced. This person’s wisdom is actually earthly, sensual and devilish and pride is at the root of this person’s behavior. This behavior causes division, strife and every evil thing and it puts you on one side and them on the other and they try to convince you to see or do things their way for your good. This is James 3 translated from the original language. I believe that some things we do in the name of the bible and Jesus Christ are done in this attitude. Some pro-life activities are this way. They are right on their topic, but their heart and attitude are not right and the way of going about things brings division, strife and every evil thing and they further satan’s kingdom, not God’s, because they are being demonically influenced. Satan wants division, not open hearts and open discussion. You will reap what you sow. If you have a hearing heart, you will be listened to. If you are closed to others, they also will not be open to you. This is the attitude of the rationalizer.
When a person who is in a “shame state” uses these defending or denial techniques, he negates, neglects and abuses the emotional needs of those he is in a relationship with. Instead of honor, he is dishonoring. Instead of respecting, he is showing the utmost in contempt and disrespect. Instead of acknowledging or affirming the needs, feelings, thoughts and desires of others, he tells them that they have no reason to feel, think, want or need the things they do. They don’t have a “good enough” reason. Feelings are neither right or wrong. They just are and should be accepted and acknowledged. A person in a “shame state” moralizes or judges feelings. He feels that some feelings and needs are wrong and shouldn’t exist. They convey a defect or weakness that must be denied or hidden. They feel that you shouldn’t have some feelings and they try to talk you out of your feelings. They do this to themselves as well, although many of them do not realize it. What they do to themselves, they do to others. They are not in touch with their own feelings and the feelings they moralize or judge as wrong, they will shame you for having or expressing. This applies to needs, thoughts, wants and desires as well.
For example, a wife or child may express a need or desire to do something and the dysfunctional father will discount their need or desire and shame them for having it, or he may say, “You don’t need that, you need this instead. ” In any case, the needs, feelings, thoughts and desires are discounted, negated or neglected instead of affirmed or acknowledged. This communicates to the person that is being discounted that they are not being listened to and they are not being understood or accepted. Remember I stated that if a person is to “feel” loved and accepted then they must be listened to and understood and their feelings must be acknowledged. We must show the person that they are valuable to us and that we honor them. To honor means to place a high value on something. If we are to honor our spouse and children, we must place a high value on them. We must value their thoughts, needs, desires and feelings and communicate that value to them. We do not want to be communicating to them that they shouldn’t feel the way they do and their feelings are of no value. We do not want to communicate to them that we don’t care what they want, think or feel, and that what we want, think or feel is more important than what they want, think or feel. We don’t want to communicate to them that we are better, smarter and more capable than they are and they don’t know what they are talking about and that they are stupid.
You cannot change another person’s feelings by explaining yourself, giving your intent or position on something or telling them what you wanted to accomplish by what you did or what your intentions were. In doing this, you shame the other person for having and expressing their hurt feelings or their needs or desires. You are negating their emotional needs not meeting them. You are actually doing the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. They will not listen to you because you have not listened or acknowledged them. You are closed and now so are they.
In any relationship, you will reap what you sow. If you show respect, you will be respected. If you listen and understand, you will be listened to and understood. If you honor and value others, you will be honored and valued. If you don’t like the crop you are reaping in your relationships, then let’s take a look at the seeds you are sowing. If you are trying to force your will, feelings, thoughts and desires on others then you will probably have “rebellious” children and problems in your relationships. People will pick up the unspoken message and be hurt and their spirit will be closed to you. You will have offended them. In order to be reconciled, you must acknowledge their hurt, confess your wrong doing to them and ask for forgiveness. If they are hurt, you need to repent, even if you are “right”. Right and wrong have nothing to do with it and do not enter into the picture.
The goal of parenting is to produce children who can think for themselves and make wise choices. We must teach them to be on their own eventually. If parents are always telling their children or spouse what to feel and what not to feel and what degree to which they can feel what you do acknowledge, then parents are teaching them to ignore or stuff their feelings. If parents are always telling them what to think and what not to think then they will not be able to think or feel for themselves. Their peers will take over where the parents leave off when they are away from them. They will be strongly influenced by their peers instead of them influencing their peers positively.
They will give in to peer pressure and they will let their peers dictate what they feel and what they think and what they should and shouldn’t do. They will be what their peers want or need them to be in order for them to be accepted. Other people will tell them who to be, what to think and what to feel because the parents have. The children will marry controlling, abusive people who will also tell them who to be, what to think and what to feel because that is what the parents always did to them and since they can’t think for themselves, they will find someone who will think for them and tell them what to think. If they do not marry a controlling, abusive person, then it is because they became one themselves because they followed in the footsteps of a parent and found someone they could now rule over so they could feel good about themselves. I know. I grew up in a family like this and for almost my whole life I let everyone tell me who to be. Everyone else dictated who Joanne was and how Joanne felt and what Joanne thought and how Joanne looked. Joanne didn’t know who Joanne was or what Joanne liked or what Joanne’s interests were. Joanne was not in touch with Joanne at all. Joanne married men who controlled and dictated who she was and what she thought, etc. Everyone else controlled Joanne and what happened in Joanne’s life and Joanne felt like she didn’t have any control over anything and Joanne developed eating disorders because Joanne learned at a very young age of three that no one could make her eat. Now there was something she could be in control of, until it controlled her. One day, after praise and worshiping at home, the Lord spoke to Joanne. Jesus said, “Joanne, he (my husband) only has as much control over you as you give him. Who really has control?” Joanne realized that Joanne was the one who really had control and I wasn’t about to give it over anymore. I stopped letting others tell me what to think, feel, want and be by using all the techniques described in this series. Jesus set this oppressed child free with the truth, just as His word states. He is faithful.
If you live with a person who is in a “shame state” and they repeatedly practice the denial or defense techniques when you confront them on their abusive or insensitive behavior and you are unable to resolve or reconcile the problem, then it leaves the offended person with a sense of hopelessness and despair. They again must stuff their anger. They feel like it is no use and the person will never change and things will never get any better because the abusive person feels that he has good reason for doing hurtful things and he is blind to his behavior and he absolutely refuses to look at it. Many of these offended people become severely depressed and even suicidal. Many develop eating disorders or addictive behaviors. When they go to pastors or other Christians for help and they explain the situation, they are shamed for not forgiving and are told that a good Christian doesn’t notice the offense. Yet scripture actually explains that when a brother offends you, rebuke him. If he repents, then forgive him. To repent means to change your mind about what you are doing and turn the other way. Someone who is in a continual state of denial isn’t changing their mind about what they are doing. They are actually defending what they are doing and saying that it is ok. God can’t forgive us unless we acknowledge and accept responsibility for our sin and confess it to God and the one we’ve wronged. God does not expect us to do something He cannot do. We also need to have someone acknowledge and accept responsibility for their sin or the way they have offended us in order for us to actually forgive. We can desire to forgive, yet find it impossible when a person constantly defends and denies. The bible says that when we rebuke a brother who has offended us or trespassed against us, then we are turning him from darkness unto light and from the power of satan unto God and whatsoever we bind on earth is bound in heaven. Cross referencing scripture for this is whosoever’s sins we retain are retained (not forgiven) and whosoever’s sins we forgive are forgiven. That is heavy stuff. The bible also says that “He who covers his sin will not prosper. It is important that we be humble and meek and acknowledge our sin and behavior and not defend or deny it. The result of covering our sin is destructive to everyone concerned.
Many times in marriages or in our parenting, when we are approached by a family member with a request, we automatically say “no”. Sometimes we do this as parents because it is too inconvenient for us to let the children do what they would like, or perhaps we do not want to clean up the mess or take the necessary time to allow them to fulfill their desires and wishes or perhaps we are always too busy. Many men act like their wives opinions, views, feelings or thoughts are of no real value in regards to any topic, but particularly in choices or decision making. He may give lip-service to respecting her thoughts, but later shoot them down one by one because they “are not logical”. As a result, many men always have their own way and anyone else’s opinions, thoughts, feelings and views are discounted on a continual basis because the man knows better than anyone else what is right for everyone. He believes that he has a God given right to control the family and he answers to God for the outcome of everything. He forces his will on everyone else. I know of one couple who have been married for ten years. Whenever the wife asked the husband to do anything, no matter how small, it never got done. It was ignored, forgotten or never made it on his priority list. Finally, the wife became so emotionally crippled that she could not ask anyone to do anything for her. The constant rejection became too painful as her emotional needs were neglected and abused by her husband. The wife finally came to realize that something was wrong when she could not even pick up the phone to call a baby-sitter to sit for her children. The hurt and emotional pain of being “turned down” again was more than she could take. As a result of being hurt in this way so much, many from dysfunctional families learn to “code” when they talk. Instead of coming out and asking for what they need or expressing what they would like done, they talk in code. It would sound something like this: “The trash can is rather full.” If the other person doesn’t pick up the “code” and take the trash out, it doesn’t seem to hurt so much.
We need to listen and act upon the needs, wants and desires of those in our families. We need to acknowledge their opinions, thoughts, feelings, views, and requests. That doesn’t mean that we have to agree with them, it just means that we have to acknowledge them and accept them and act upon them. That also does not mean that we let children always have their way. It just means that whenever possible, we should honor their emotional needs. A good rule is that if something is going to be spiritually, physically or emotionally harmful, then we as parents reserve the right to make the final decision. You will have less conflict in your home if your children know that you will consider their requests, desires, needs, thoughts, views and feelings. Then when you do say, “no” to something, they will usually accept it readily.
If a parent tends to be “controlling” and does everything for the child without asking or forces the child to do things the parent’s way, then the unspoken message that the child receives is: You are stupid and incapable of doing this yourself and that is why you always need help. Control conveys that the person is not capable where encouragement conveys that they are capable. Control destroys self-worth and confidence and I dare say that most under-achievers have controlling parents. This doesn’t have to be in just parent/child relationships. You can have a controlling spouse or someone else who is controlling or manipulative in your circle of relationships.
Controlling people flatter, pile on guilt or make you feel indebted to them in order to control your feelings and actions. They shame you as well and discount your feelings in the manner we discussed above. They force their will on you and they always must have their way. The message they always seem to convey is that you are stupid, incapable, not worth much and your opinions, needs, thoughts, feelings and desires aren’t worth a hill of beans either. Controlling people have dependent and/or codependent personalities which come from their “shame state”. They project their shame onto others.
It appears on the surface that controlling people know it all and have everything all together and they feel superior, but in reality, they are motivated by fear and insecurity. These people are full of fear because they have not been loved and accepted and they have trouble receiving the love of God. They cannot give out what they have not received. It is love that casts out fear. By the same token, fear will cast out love. A person full of fear is incapable of being focused on anyone else but themselves and their needs will get met at the expense of anyone else.
A person with a dependent personality needs things and people to be just as he would like them to be or he cannot be happy. His world must be “just so” or he loses his peace and happiness. When someone acts or feels counter to how he needs them to be he becomes controlling in order to get things back to how he needs them to be so he can be happy and have peace. We call this a dependent personality because he is dependant on things around him to give him happiness or he looks to things outside of himself for happiness. Externals rather than internals guide his emotions and direct his behavior.
A consistent characteristic of imperative people is the desire to persuade others to be just like them. Many times children are expected to act like the adult dependent parent and the developmental years of childhood are full of relationships that feature arm-twisting, intimidation, manipulation or threats so that the children will behave and then the parents’ world will be in order.
Dependent personality types act superior yet feel inferior. They are dictatorial and controlling. In a husband/wife relationship if one has a dependent personality then this relationship will be more like a parent child relationship and the one treated like a child will experience all kinds of repressed anger as they are constantly being made to feel incompetent, stupid and inadequate. The dependent person will force his will and ways on others and disregard the others’ desires, needs and feelings. A dependent person tries to make others be like himself. In his circle of relationships, everyone must think as he thinks and feel as he feels about things and do things as he would do them. I know of one married couple where the husband has an idea of how his marriage should be. He wants a “traditional” marriage just like that of his grandparents where the grandmother waits hand and foot on the grandfather and does everything for him. This young man’s wife has different needs, wants, desires and thoughts. He basically forces or manipulates her to do everything because he will not do anything. His happiness is dependent upon his marriage fitting his ideal of “tradition” and his ideal of tradition is not scriptural. This is where the traditions of man make the word of God of none affect. This man’s wife has all kinds of repressed anger and there are many fights. This man also comes from a home where he was grossly neglected as a child. His mother would leave the small children alone at home at night to feed and care for themselves while she went to bars. As a result, this young man was trying to get his wife to do for him what his mother never did. He was forcing her to fill his mother’s shoes and meet the needs he never got met as a child. His wife, though, did not sign on to be his mother and when she is forced or manipulated to be something she is not and when her needs, wants, thoughts and feelings are negated and she is emotionally abused, then she becomes angry. When she confronts him, there is the usual denial or defending as he justifies his behavior and debates with her as to why things should be the way he wants them. Things are never resolved or reconciled and she cannot extend grace or forgiveness and her anger gets stuffed or repressed. This is a continual cycle. This husband has one set of blue prints for building his house and the wife has another set of blue prints for building this same house. With two people building the same house with two different sets of blue prints, we can be assured this house won’t stand. A house divided against itself will not stand. That is why we need to follow the Lord’s blue prints for marriage and parenting. Let’s explore seven typical imperative thought patterns found in dependent people that move them to control. We’ll also look at the emotions behind them.
These are taken from the book: IMPERATIVE PEOPLE – THOSE WHO MUST BE IN CONTROL by Dr. Les Carter
I emphasize performance over relationships.
Have you ever realized that achievements, projects, chores or work can take priority over people? For instance, would you rather finish a project than spend time with family members? When you are working on a project do you often become so focused that you get irritated when someone interrupts you? Do you snap at them? When you are involved in work or a project, do you find it hard to stop working to meet the needs of a family member? Does it seem that once you get your agenda mentally fixed, others’ needs or feelings become secondary? You may succeed in getting your work completed, but it comes at the expense of hurting personal relationships. Example:
A father and his two boys were doing yard work when one boy stopped to talk with a couple of his friends who came wandering by. The father became irritated because he started thinking that his son shouldn’t be goofing off until he finished his work. The father became really irked and snapped at his son in front of his friends even though the boy was just doing what any other sixteen-year-old kid would do.
I’m uncomfortable with beliefs or ideas that are different from mine.
Insecurity or fear causes us to have a low tolerance for different ideas, beliefs or opinions because they seem to be a threat to our authority or validity. We sense that differentness will require us to step away from our comfort zones, potentially exposing our weaknesses.
When someone expresses a different idea, belief or opinion, we feel the need to “set them straight”, express our views and convince them that our way of seeing things is correct. We may even debate them. If we are unsuccessful in our attempt, we have a hard time accepting the other person and we become judgmental. We have a hard time tolerating them and may need to “put them out of our company” or exclude them or shame them. The bible teaches that because many are deceived, they will betray one another. The word “betray” means to leave or put you out of their company. Blessed are we when men shall revile us and put us out of their company for Jesus’ sake, for great is your reward in heaven.
A normal person can accept the fact that others have different views, ideas and beliefs and it doesn’t seem to bother them. They can be loving and accepting of others that are different or believe differently. In many Christian circles, we reject and shame others for not believing exactly as we do and we think “less of them” or we believe that something is wrong with them. Many times as we witness to someone, we’ll reject them if we can’t convince them that our way of thinking is correct.
James 3 says that if you have a fierce desire to promote your own idea to the exclusion of others, and you have an “I’m right and you are wrong” attitude and you are just going to prove it or maybe rally support for your way of thinking, then your wisdom is earthly, sensual and devilish. This is James 3 translated from the Greek. From whence comes wars and fighting among us? It is because someone wants to have things his way. This is the dependent person. He cannot receive the peace and love that the Lord gives because he is dependent upon things outside of himself to give him peace. He is full of fear and fear casts out love. He cannot receive the love of God because of his shame and fear.
I try to control as much of my life as possible.
We hold the false notion that the best way to find personal satisfaction is to control as much of our world as we can. Often, we do not openly admit this belief because it makes us appear too controlling, but our many daily efforts to control another person’s behavior, thoughts or feelings indicate that this is a firmly held belief. This person has to have things their way which is a cornerstone trait of imperative, dependent people. They try to tell themselves that this is leadership but the tactics they use show that they will be content only when they maintain a superior hand over others. These tactics are destructive to healthy interactions since none of us were created to constantly dominate other human beings. In Rev. 2:6 Jesus said, ”But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolations which I also hate.” The deeds of the Nicolations were that they lorded their authority over people. That is the definition of the word Nicolation. They dominated and controlled people. Many church leaders do this and they endorse husbands doing this in their households saying that the husbands are to be heads of their households and basically whip that family into shape. Rules being kept and everyone looking “good” is more important than meeting the needs of the people. If you don’t keep the rules or if you break a rule, you are shamed and not accepted. If you don’t meet the standard, then you are not accepted. I know of a family who went to a church that taught that men were to dominate the household or “be heads”. If something looked amiss in the family at church, a well intentioned male would mention to the husband or father that “the daughter looked unhappy or rebellious” at church. The male was judged among other males in the church for how the family looked to others. The family, as a consequence, was fixed and emotionally abused and controlled before church so that they “looked” fine at the service so the father looked good and wasn’t judged. How do you think those children grew up feeling about church and God? This goes on all the time in Christian, charismatic churches.
Many control tactics are very obvious. Scripture is manipulated in order to shame and control you. Unsolicited advice is always given and you are rejected or persecuted if you don’t take it. A normal person may give advice, but they aren’t offended and they don’t persecute you if you don’t take it. Other control tactics can he quite subtle like withdrawing, ignoring advice, procrastinating, giving weak excuses, or being quietly uncooperative. Many ignore or use silence to respond to those who disappoint or disagree with them. The common thread in all controlling behaviors is the preservation of oneself at the expense of the other person; the need to be dominant supersedes any other concern.
I often feel driven to do something because it is my duty.
There is a fine distinction between commitment and obligation. Commitment implies a freely chosen plan which may at times require self-restricting decisions. Obligation, however, often implies a forced activity which is fulfilled against the will. Dependent people have a way of turning commitments into obligations, which creates feelings of resentment in themselves and in others. They sometimes resent having to do so much for their family. They are operating from obligation rather than commitment. When we are locked into imperative thinking, we hold our absolute convictions so tightly that we have little or no recognition of our choice to say no. Obligation becomes our driving force. Relationships with other people and our responsibility to them then becomes a matter of dread, resentment, and guilt. Their need for a structured, orderly life can be so powerful that they refuse to make allowance for choices or differences. To them circumstances are either black or white. Once they settle upon a conviction or preference, they feel rigidly obligated to abide by it, with little variation.
Dependent people are almost afraid to allow for the luxury of choices. They feel the need to minimize their risks by sticking to the rules that they have made for themselves. They do not allow for changing their minds either, even when shown truth from God’s word when their beliefs are not scriptural. They will not allow themselves to be washed in the water of the word where they are deceived or unclean. As Jesus said to Peter when Jesus tried to wash Peter’s feet at the last supper, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” Peter then wanted Jesus to wash all of him and Jesus told him that He only needed to wash that which was unclean or deceived. Peter did not have a dependent personality. He was humble and teachable.
It is difficult for me to admit my faults, weaknesses and sins.
Dependent people are sometimes teased by others who say, ‘You know, you are never wrong, are you? Dependent people feel that they should never make mistakes. No one who is trying to write an ideal script for his or her life will want to include the ugly side of his nature. Most of us have a natural inclination to gloss over our weaknesses. A dependent person, however, will go one step further. They want everyone to see them as perfect and having no flaws at all. A dependent person has a powerful need to point out other people’s shortcomings, but there is little willingness to openly consider their own. It is unnatural for a dependent person to say, “I made a mistake”. To do so would require them stepping out of the driver’s seat and into the less comfortable position of vulnerability. This is where all the denial and defending come in. This is why they never receive grace from God or the people in their relationships and this is why it is impossible to extend forgiveness.
I don’t like my emotions – or other people’s emotions – to get out of control.
Emotions are not always logical and therefore are difficult to predict since they represent the subjective part of our personalities. Yet despite the impossibility of maintaining tight control over emotions, dependent people wish to do exactly that. Emotions have to be explained. If you don’t have a logical reason for feeling the way you do, then the emotion is repressed. Dependent people talk themselves out of their emotions and they do this to others as well if they think the other person doesn’t have a logical reason for feeling the way that they do. They debate and shame others for their feelings and they do this to themselves. Many give their intentions, explanations, etc. and you receive the unspoken message loud and clear, ” therefore, you have no reason to feel the way you do.” They are not consciously aware that they do this to themselves. They are very out of touch with their own feelings because they have suppressed and talked themselves out of them for so long. They feel a need to resolve any matters or feelings that create discomfort. Many cannot just accept feelings or emotions. They think they have to do something about them.
Our feelings should not be the guiding force of our lives, but they should not be bottled up and contained either. We need to allow others to express their emotions without offering advice or explanations or shame.