Thursday, May 21, 2015
Improving Communication With Others
Dr. David Coombs, Ed.D., MFT
How in the world are two people ever going to communicate if both of them are angry, both are demanding to be heard, and yet neither one is listening? And no empathy! Angry people are rarely open to insight and generally feel they have been victimized; they think they have every right to lash out regardless of the consequences. The natural inclination of the recipient of these rude blasts is to be offended and to bark back. And the war is on. Feelings are hurt and the damage is done.
There is a better way to resolve differences. We don’t have to be so touchy and so ready to take offense. The prices are too high to allow ourselves to feel we have the right to hurt other people. Just because we think or feel a certain way doesn’t mean we have the right to express it. We can use a little discipline and say what we need to say without damaging our relationships by spewing forth acidic accusations.
Therefore, if we are upset, we need to stop, calm down, give others the benefit of the doubt, and refuse to think the worst. Others may have a perfectly good explanation for deeds that appear questionable; give them the chance to express themselves. Anger is a destructive emotion. It is a poor choice and damages relationships. It is better to take the high road, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile; that means we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced for the sake of maintaining peace and avoiding contention. We pay high prices when we lose our patience and are quick to find fault.
When we are confronted by an angry person, particularly our friend, colleague, or sweetheart, (but for the moment our intimate enemy), our duty and best choice is to agree quickly and employ the power of empathy.
You show empathy when you, as the recipient of another’s anger, sincerely want to understand what they are so upset about, and you are careful not to demean or to discount or to criticize or to offer advice. You may not agree with the charges leveled against you, but you at least want your angry friend to know that you are trying to understand. It takes a strong person to allow someone’s anger to blow right past without taking offense. Nevertheless, that is exactly what is being asked.
Empathic listening is a gift that is worth the effort to develop and yes, it does take practice. It follows the old adage, “If you want to be understood first try to understand.” After your angry friend has finished venting, you can ask questions to assure you have the full picture. See if you can respond by paraphrasing their feelings in your own words; try to capture and mirror the reasons for their anger.
When the angry person feels understood, you can respond with something like: “I think I know how you feel. You feel thus and so for these reasons.” You continue with as much empathy as you can muster while describing what the other is feeling and why. As you continue empathic listening, your hope is your friend will say, “Yes, that is how I feel.” They may even say, “It means so much to me when you sincerely listen to me without interrupting and not being critical or defensive or thinking I am being stupid. You really do understand me.”
Once people feel understood, their anger is defused. They are able to calm down and are ready to hear the explanation for the questionable behavior at hand. By using the power of empathy, people are empowered to be better problem solvers. They are willing to get on the same side of the issue instead of attacking; they focus on how to solve the problem.
If appropriate, be quick to apologize even if you are only partially at fault. Don’t be afraid to say, “Now that I better understand how you see things, I can appreciate why you are so hurt. I am sorry. I owe you an apology.” By doing this you are taking the high road and at the same time you are courageously making yourself vulnerable for more abuse. The other person may still be in their anger mode and say, “It is about time you apologized, you dirty rotten rat.” If this happens, as hard as this may be, you will still be better able to save your relationship if you stay in the empathic listeners mode until they can see that you really are not their enemy but their friend. If they do not want to respond to all your efforts to reconcile, then you have the assurance you have done all you can do. If they insist on holding on to their anger, then leave the situation but continue to love them and to pray for them. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 4:44).
You may be thinking, “Does this really work? “Yes!” Do people really talk this way?” Not very often. But in critical moments, doing so makes all the difference. All of us have differences and need to practice using empathy when disagreements arise. Once both feel understood, the differences still need to be resolved. What if you were the person being attacked and you were guilty of something that was offensive, could you take ownership and admit your error? Hopefully you could say, “You have a right to be upset. What I did was wrong. I apologize for my thoughtless behavior.”
If there is a problem that needs resolving, then after hearing each other out, you can then ask, “How can we resolve this so both of us can feel good about it?” A compromise may be worked out, or one may say, “I can see it would be best to follow your suggestion.” What a lovely gift that can be!
Another communication pattern that can be irritating if not devastating, is when you make statements or express ideas that others feel the need to point out as inaccurate. They may quibble with you over slight details. While there may be exceptions to everything, it is frustrating to make statements only to have them demeaned, put down, or discounted. We all like to be validated, given approval, or to have others be supportive of us. It is frustrating to have our ideas contradicted often by our spouse or good friend, particularly in front of others. It is less important to be right and more important that we be the guardian of each other’s self-esteem.
Another pattern that often gets in the way of good communication is when we are told in an accusatory tone that we are “always ” doing something or “never” do anything right. This all-or-nothing approach is sure to bring an unpleasant response and quarrels are bound to follow. Those accused will want to defend themselves and give examples that prove that the accusations against them are not true such as, “Wait a minute, that is not true. Remember when I did thus and so. So it is not true that I always do that or never do that. What about the times you . . .” The current issue is lost amidst a war of words. Good communication is the art of saying what you need to say while still being sensitive to the feelings of others.
The underlying issue in developing good communication is not only what is being said but how it is said. Sarcasm is very biting and destructive. The motive behind sarcasm is to demean. The Savior commanded the Nephites to allow “no disputations among them,” that “the spirit of contention is of the devil” and “such things must be done away . . . that whosoever is angry . . . “is in danger of hell fire” (III Nephi 11:29-30; 12:22).
What a world of difference is found when we approach each other with a sincere desire to communicate, to problem solve, to find solutions to our differences. When there is trust and we truly care about people, then we find others approachable and easy to talk to; conversations move along nicely. Others may not know all the right words or may not say things in just the right way, but because we feel of their goodness we are forgiving and even try to assist in helping them make their point. We also feel emotionally safe in their presence to bring up any and all issues that need to be discussed.
There is another tip that will improve communication. When we are sitting close enough to touch there is no need to yell. When we are talking softly, we find truth in Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
Books describing people’s near-death experiences and their visits to the next life often mention that communication there is not with words that are spoken out loud but by thought to thought that can be readily understood. There is no hiding what you really feel. You know as you are known. There is very little chance of being mis-understood. We are better communicators and listeners when we are real, genuine, and congruent. No false fronts. No thinking one thing but saying something quite the opposite. How would it be if we could be that honest and transparent in this life?
Good communication is vital to the quality of all our relationships and this is particularly true in marriage. Dr. Carlfred Broderick, In a scholarly text book on marriage, Couples, begins with an insightful and truthful first line, “A good marriage is the result of two people learning the art of simply being kind to each other.” Kind people are good communicators.
Dr. Coombs is a professional marriage, family, and individual therapist with a private practice in Washington, UT. He and his wife, Marva, write articles together and offer free presentations on marriage and family. Call 435-705-3579 or email to DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or on the web to www.DrDavidCoombs.com.
Monday, May 11, 2015
“Doubt Not, Fear Not”
David and Marva Coombs
Worry and fear cripple our ability to lead happy and productive lives. And there is a direct relationship between fear and a lack of faith in God; “Perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16). Just as the Lord said to Joshua, "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee"(Joshua 1:5), he has promised us all that if we will put our trust in Him, He will make us equal to any and all tasks. The Lord has repeatedly said, "Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not" (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). He has reminded us over and over that “the righteous need not fear” (II Nephi 22:17). In verses 18-22, the Lord repeats words of comfort to the righteous, particularly the saints of the latter-days, that they need not fear.
Being well aware that mortality is sometimes very scary, Heavenly Father has given many needed assurances, particularly to those who strive to keep all of His commandments, and even to those who “seek so to do” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:9). This verse tells us that just trying to qualify allows us to enjoy the gifts of the spirit that provide heaven-sent comfort. We mortals forget that we walk in full view of our loving Heavenly Father and are never out of His sight. He is always aware of us and knows our needs. He has assured us that He will always stand by us and, additionally, has assigned angels to be on our right hand and on our left, and has placed His Spirit in our hearts to buoy us up and to give us constant strength (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:88). With this assurance why should we ever be afraid?
We demonstrate a lack of faith when we frighten ourselves with "what if" questions that lead to awful and devastating conclusions. We all may choose to ask a myriad of “What ifs” that do nothing but create doubts, fears, anxiety and despair. We also may choose to remember the old preacher’s greeting to each new day: “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together can’t handle”(Source unknown).
We disobey the command to "Let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly"(Doctrine and Covenants 121:45) when we think the worst about ourselves, recall painful memories of the past, worry about our current circumstances, fill our minds with negative images, and overwhelm out hearts with dread. The power of the atonement of Christ allows us to feel clean from the past, fortified for the present, and confident of our future. We must change our "what ifs" to "so whats" and know that "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). When worries and fears creep into our hearts, let us remember to follow the counsel in Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
Are we not in good hands as we lean and wait upon the Lord? Of course we must seek to be obedient and to do all in our power to bring about much righteousness, but then we can let go of our worries and let God take charge of our lives. We want our will to be swallowed up in His will. Elder Neal Maxwell pointed out that, since our Father has given us everything we have, then the one gift that is truly ours to give in return is our will (October Conference 1995). There is peace only in surrendering our all to Him who promises His all in return.
Sometimes our fears come because we have created a fantasy of our own personal Camelot and plead with Heavenly Father to make it all possible. We are easily frightened when the Lord is late or says no to us; we forget that He is much wiser, has eternal perspective, and knows what is best for us. We must also have faith in His perfect timing. He is “a God of truth and canst not lie” (Ether 3:12). His promises are certain. He will not fail us nor forsake us as we continue to serve and love Him. He has promised the faithful "peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23). As we look to the future with an eye of faith, we come to know all that we need to know: our future is glorious. President Monson coined the phrase, “Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith” (April General Conference 2009).
We burden our families and create black clouds that hang over them when we wallow in fear and doubt. If one of our fears is not having sufficient money, then the surest way to solve financial concerns is in the faithful payment of tithes and offerings. We are promised that as we do so we will always have enough and to spare (see Malachi 3:10). The Lord looks after his own.
Of course, we can’t pay tithing and then heap unwise debt on ourselves and expect God to make our payments. But he will inspire us to budget and often leads us to get more training and to find better paying jobs.
Maintaining positive images helps us overcome our fears; for example, we may want to consider what the Lord said to Oliver Cowdrey as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 6:20: “Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of My love.” Now there is an image that can be a powerful source of great comfort!
It is possible that one of the most frequently repeated commands is “Fear not.” Mark 5:23-43 tells a touching story of Jairus, ruler of the synagog, who pleaded for the life of his desperately ill daughter and urgently invited the Lord to come quickly to his home to heal her. On the way Jesus was interrupted, and by the time he arrived the twelve-year-old little girl was dead. Jairus sent word to the Savior that He was too late. Jesus response was “Be not afraid, Only believe.” The Lord continued to the house and raised the girl from the dead. But even if the miracle sought by the father had not been granted, the command to “be not afraid, [but] only believe” was applicable to the father then and still applies to us all today. Being believers does not shield us from the pain and challenges of life, but it does give us the resources to deal with whatever life throws at us.
In his book, Way to Be!: 9 Rules for Living the Good life, 81, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “In my ninety-plus years, I have learned a secret. I have learned that when good men and good women face challenges with optimism, things will always work out! Truly, things always work out! Despite how difficult circumstances may look at the moment, those who have faith and move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.” Notice that he said “things always work out” three times? That’s powerful.
Many have been inspired by the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” noting the third verse, “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.”(Hymn 85).
The Apostle Paul developed an exemplary attitude as recorded in Philippians 4:11: “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” It is easy to compare our situation with others in such a way that we feel that God has abundantly blessed others but not us. Yet we know He is no respecter of persons: in other words, he does not love one more than another.
All persons have divinely designed curriculums suited to teach them what they particularly need to learn as they go through their mortal probation. (Neal Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience,6) This life is a test to see if we can endure to the end with our faith in God well developed and fully intact, being “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
In the Lectures on Faith, third chapter, it states that our faith is not complete till we have the assurance that we are living lives that are pleasing before God. Only those who “doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).
Paul wrote to Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). Having a sound mind is holding on to appropriate thoughts that are edifying and uplifting. Maybe this is what Jacob had in mind when he said, “O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads [apparently Jacob was speaking to good righteous people whose heads were hanging down probably due to negative or inappropriate self-talk] and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm forever” (Jacob 3:2). Those who have minds that are firm are those who are steadfast and immoveable in holding to the thoughts that push away doubts and fears and replace them with “the pleasing word of God.”
King Benjamin’s classic address offers these great words of comfort: “Moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:41).
We are the sum total of our thoughts. We can think thoughts that are fearful and create doubt and anxiety. Or we can feast upon the words of the Living God, plant them firmly in our minds, and be free from all fear. Why not follow the admonition offered by King Benjamin: “Believe in God; believe that he is . . . believe that he has all wisdom, and all power . . . that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend . . . believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now if ye believe all these things see that ye do them” (Mosiah 4:9-10).
Dr. Coombs is a professional marriage, family and individual therapist in Washington, Utah. He and his wife, Marva, write articles together and offer free presentations on marriage and family. Call 435-705-3579 or email to DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or find him on the web at www.DrDavidCoombs.com.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Why do women stay with abusive husbands?
David and Marva Coombs
Several societal myths are perpetuated regarding women who are abused by their husbands such as: 1. These women are not very bright. 2. These women must enjoy beatings in some masochistic way. 3. These wives deserve the beatings because they purposely provoke their husbands to anger.
Of course, these women are bright and capable. Some truly love their husbands and pray for the day when their men will mellow out and eliminate their anger. They say that, if it weren’t for the times when their men explode, they are really nice guys. And they are. Unfortunately, while a few men actually overcome battering their wives and do become excellent husbands, most often, the abuse gets worse.
Abusive husbands follow a predictable cycle: tension, explosive behavior, sorrow which includes apologies and making up by being very nice, followed by tension, etc. Some women feel if they can just endure the anger part, then they really enjoy the honeymoon phase when hubby is so nice.
Some husbands are not only abusive physically but also verbally. They discount and demean their wives and convince the women that they are at fault for making their men upset. This is the great lie. No one makes others angry. Anger is a choice. These men can change and can learn to take responsibility for their actions; they can learn not to blame others for their abusive behavior. Many abused women are told daily that they are ugly, that if they left the marriage, no other man would want them. With their self-esteem shattered, these women fear they would be worse off if they left.
Some abusive men live in fear their wives will leave them, so they make all kinds of threats: they will take the children from their wives; the husbands threaten to beat their companions even worse for embarrassing them; they will hunt them down and kill them. They threaten to burn their houses down. Faced with these options, most women courageously choose to stay to protect their children.
One researcher said battered wives will average five attempts to leave their husbands before successfully doing so. Some women are talked out of leaving by their church leaders who feel it is their job to keep the family together at all costs. However, the clergy does have a legal problem: if it can be proven that they encouraged a woman to leave the marriage, the husband can bring legal charges against that church.
One of the biggest barriers preventing wives from leaving their husbands is lack of money. St. George provides a solution to this problem at the Dove Center which shelters battered women and their children. The Dove Center offers shelter up to 90 days. They help victims of abuse to access government programs available to them. They also offer legal advice and assist them in getting court-ordered protection. Counseling services are provided without cost. Medical and dental services are available free from the Doctor’s Volunteer Clinic.
A private organization called the The Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation provides apartments up to two years after they leave the Dove Center and financial assistance to help battered women to become self-sufficient. Churches also offer free counseling, food, and clothing.
While in the past, battered women had very little support, that is no longer true. If women need help, their first call should be to the Dove Center crises line at 628-0458.
Dr. Coombs is a professional counselor with a private practice in Washington City. He and his wife, Marva write articles together and offer free presentations on strengthening marriage and family. Call 435-705-3579 or email them at DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or www.DrDavidCoombs.Com.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Dr. David Coombs, Ed.D, MFT
Everyone experiences periods of depression. It goes with being mortal. In the October General Conference of 2013, Elder Jeffry R. Holland said major bouts of depression, be they short lived or chronic, seem to be the lot of most, if not all, people. He spoke of his own battle with a major depressive episode.
The title of his talk, “Like a Broken Vessel,” provided the metaphor that describes how people feel, at times, broken. And they fear they may never become whole again.
Speaking of his own experience, Elder Holland gave encouragement to others who are hit with these psychic blows. He advised them to consider the following: take time to rest and to “not run faster than they have strength” (Mosiah 4:27); to ask for priesthood blessings; to seek the aide of professional counselors and medical doctors; to hold on to their faith in the Living Christ; and to not lose hope.
All people, when experiencing difficulties and challenging times, may benefit from repeating to themselves an ancient proverb, “This too shall pass.” The dark night will eventually give way to the bright morning of another day. When the prophet Joseph Smith was deep in despair, he received a revelation which is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 122:7: “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”
Depressed people want to pull away from others, to isolate themselves, and to hide. This may be necessary for a time. They need the patience of non-judgmental, loving family members and dear friends who will not insist that they put on a false front and pretend all is well when it is not.
However, after they have sufficient rest, have sessions with professional counselors, have the benefit of medications or a change in diets, after they have fasted, prayed, and given thanks to the Master Healer, if they have not yet done so, then they need to analyze the way their thinking has contributed to their depression.
In his book, Feeling Good, Dr. David Burns teaches the importance of trading depressive thought patterns for new ways of thinking that bring relief and hope. He emphasizes that we are the sum total of our thoughts ,and what we are feeling is often a result of what we are telling ourselves; our moods and our dark feelings are a result of our own poor self talk. Every action is preceded by a thought. People can interpret events so that they conclude that they are worthless; of course, that leads to depression. However, they can overcome their depression by choosing to think more rational thoughts that will lead to their feeling valued and worthwhile. To do this they need to identify how they think themselves into despair.
Dr. Burns identifies ten ways people do their depression:
- Think in terms of all or nothing, black or white, success or failure with nothing allowed in between. One student got a “B” in one class and “A”s in all the others. He was depressed because he wasn’t perfect. He had to have all “A”s to consider himself a successful student.
- Overgeneralize events, for example, a boy asked one girl for a date and she politely said no. The boy saw this as proof that all girls hate him; he will never marry; he might as well face the truth that he is worthless.
- Use a mental filter to pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their thinking is distorted. A woman shamed herself for being ten pounds over-weight and refused to be comforted.
- Disqualify any positives by saying that the good things they have done don’t count. They say things like, “When friends try to give me assurance, they are just trying to be nice. If they knew all the dirty truth about me, they would reject me.”
- Jump to conclusions. Because one person doesn’t like them, that proves that no one likes them. Some see themselves as mind readers who are absolutely sure that, while people are being nice, they have ulterior motives.
- Awfulize or take something that is unfortunate and make it much worse than it really is. A man found bird poop on his car and said, “This kind of thing happens to me all the time and it’s not fair.”
- Exaggerate the importance of certain feelings; they may even say things that make them appear odd: “I feel the world is coming to an end; since that’s what I feel, then it is true.”
- Frequently use the words “should” and “ought” to create unnecessary guilt. They feel the only way out of their depression is to live a perfect life. But because people are not perfect and never will be, they see no way out of their depression.
- Use the negative power of labels to call themselves “Losers,” “Dead Beats,” or “Worthless.” For example, a woman may say, “I am a bad mother. If I were a good mother, my boy would be a better student.”
- Grant themselves awesome powers by thinking if they had only said the right thing, at the right time, or had taken the right action, they could have prevented a catastrophe from happening. Some label themselves “Stupid” and hold on to the regret that their lack of action is the cause that others are in great pain. “If I had called or visited when I was prompted, my friend would not have committed suicide. It’s all my fault.”
So what is the answer? How do people overcome their negative thinking that leads, in part, to their depression? The answer is simple, but it requires hard work that only they can do. They must identify how they use one or more of these methods to do their depression. Anyone thinking irrational thoughts will be depressed. So the answer is for people to challenge illogical and destructive ways of thinking. One effective strategy is to keep a daily journal and to write out negative thought patterns; this shows clearly how they participate in creating their own depressions.
After identifying irrational thoughts, they write out how they wished they had thought and acted. In later similar situations, they will have the opportunity to do what they have planned. They vigorously challenge themselves to stop their inappropriate thinking and practice thinking more rationally. Be aware that many depressed people will not take this advice. They may fight it, resist it, and do nothing. They may find excuses to convince themselves that this will not work. People will say things like, “I don’t feel like doing this.” “This is too hard.” “I am helpless, powerless, and I simply don’t have the energy to do what it takes.” “How do you expect me to do this when I am feeling so depressed?” “Yes but...”
The slightest efforts reap rewards. Just getting off the couch or out of bed and going for a walk brings blessings. Breakthroughs occur when depressed people say, “I think I can do this. I might as well try something. I hate being depressed. This advice just might work for me. What if I get Dr. Burns book, Feeling Good and read it and get more ideas on ways to think differently? It just may help me.”
Some might say, “Do I have to write in a journal. Couldn’t I just process these ideas in my mind?” No! There is power in writing out how depression is done. Whether on paper or on the computer screen, seeing their thoughts in black and white is powerful. Additionally, they can talk with others they trust who can help them recognize more rational ways to think. Right thinking begins with the words they say to themselves. If they don’t think they can do it, they are right. But if they think they can, then there is hope. As they act on the possibilities, people will continue to move forward till they have found relief by learning the language of faith both in themselves and in their Creator.
Abraham Lincoln is credited with this thought: “You are about as happy as you make up your mind to be.” This is true!
Just as people can think themselves into a depressed state, they can also think the right thoughts that lead them to a life of increased confidence; they will know they are people of worth. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” People are responsible for their own happiness. No one can make them happy. It really is their choice.
Dr. Coombs is a professional marriage, family, and individual therapist in Washington, Utah. He and his wife, Marva, write articles together and offer free presentations on marriage and family. Call 435-705-3579 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at DrDavidCoombs.com.
How Does Pride Effect Our Relationship With Others
Dr. David Coombs, Ed.D, MFT
Why is it is easy for us to detect pride in others but fail to see it in ourselves? Possibly it is because it is difficult for us to look inward and evaluate ourselves. President Ezra Taft Benson delivered his classic discourse on pride in general conference April, 1989. He explained that many are sinning in ignorance. But to be enlightened, we have only to ask ourselves a number of questions posed by President Benson, and the answers can be quite revealing. For example:
- Are there people who we hate, disdain, and simply cannot tolerate?
- Are we conceited and think ourselves as better than others?
- Are we arrogant, self-serving, and critical of others?
- Are we offended easily and do we hold grudges?
- Are we critical and judgmental?
- Do we chaff when people in authority tell us what to do?
- Do we resent counsel and advice from others?
- Are we envious of those with wealth, beauty, and\or fame?
- Are we content with being who we are and in our place in life?
- Are we argumentative and contentious?
- If we see others succeeding, do we then see ourselves as failures?
- De we rationalize our faults and failures?
President Benson stated that “God will have a humble people.” We can either choose to be humble, or we can have experiences that will compel us to be humble. We can choose to be humble by doing the following:
- Accept counsel from the Lord, the prophets, and priesthood leaders.
- Forgive quickly.
- Be happy for others’ good fortune.
- Be quick to help others.
- Serve in the temple more frequently
- Confess and forsake our sins speedily.
- Submit our wills to God’s will and to His perfect timing.
- Yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.
- Agree quickly with others with empathy; show that you understand others’ points of view while they may not necessarily conform to yours.
- Turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, or in other words, allow yourself to be inconvenienced without resentment.
- Avoid unnecessary debt and live within your means.
- Freely pay tithes and offerings.
- Serve others without expecting rewards in return.
- Serve faithfully in church callings and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Continue to grow in charity, the pure love of Christ.
President Benson emphasized that those who are striving to have successful marriages, happy homes, those who are grateful people, kind employers, hard working employees, friendly neighbors are those who are humble followers of Christ seeking to establish Zion.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Adulation Is Poison
David and Marva Coombs
Children want to be told they are loved, are valued, and are special. When they work hard to achieve, to do their best, and to accomplish much good, their efforts need to be acknowledged. However, adulation occurs when parents and others heap excessive praise and flattery on their children. We see dramatic examples of adulation when fans literally worship athletes, movie stars, and rock stars.
One public example of adulation gone amiss was in 1986 when the Beatles bragged they had become “more popular than Jesus” (Wikipedia,”More popular than Jesus,” main page). It backfired. People were outraged. The Beatles popularity plummeted and tours had to be cancelled. This gives credence to the famous adage, “Pride goeth before the fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Adulation is heady; recipients of all ages find it difficult to stay grounded and humble. Most find it hard to maintain emotional balance when they are given exaggerated positive attention. Those who are rich, famous, and/or beautiful struggle with pride and few escape untouched. Too much praise and too many compliments actually harm all people on every level.
While excessive praise can damage children, some parents, unfortunately, go to the opposite extreme; they feel it is their responsibility to remind their children that, while they may have succeeded in something, they are still inferior, inadequate, or unattractive. Parents do so thinking they are protecting their children from becoming conceited, from getting a big head.
In reality, the children may get the message that they can never measure up, can never do anything right. Parents must find the balance between “You’re the best.” and “Don’t get a big head.” Whatever is said, praise must be real and genuine.
Consider these appropriate examples of praise: 1. “Congratulations on being crowned homecoming queen. What makes you so lovely to us is not only your God-given gift of physical beauty but also your ability to be kind and thoughtful of others.” 2. “We are proud of your working so hard on your school work. We love seeing you discipline yourself in your studies and also appreciate your willingness to help others in your classes who are struggling.” 3. “Receiving the award for most valuable player is a real honor. We are proud of you. You worked hard for this and you deserve it. What we also like is that you are a team player and inspire others to play their best.”
These comments acknowledge children’s accomplishments and recognize their good behaviors without using comparatives like, “You’re the best.” For most good behavior, smiles or a simple “nice work” are all that’s needed.
Some families display trophies, ribbons, diplomas, and certificates of achievements of their children’s accomplishments. None of these things are necessarily examples of adulation gone awry. Balance is evident when children are taught gratitude and give credit to supportive parents, friends, teachers, coaches, team mates--when they express gratitude for divine assistance that came in answer to urgent prayers.
The story is told that in ancient Rome, when the conquering hero rode through the streets basking in the wild cheers of the people, a companion rode along side him in the chariot and continuously whispered in his ear, “You are not a God, but only His servant.”
When people think they are better than others, they make themselves exceptions to rules and cross boundaries of integrity and appropriate behavior. No one is immune. When praise is received, the safest response is to quietly and politely say thank you and then don’t believe it, knowing that adulation is poison.
Dr. Coombs is a professional marriage, family, and individual counselor with a private practice in Washington City. He and his wife Marva write articles together and offer free presentations on marriage and family life. Contact them at 435-705-3579 or DrDavidCoombs@gmail.com or www.DrDavidCoombs.com.