Choosing Change #11: Building Character and Building People (Part 1 of 3)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” – Jeremiah 29:11 (TNIV)

Thank you for reading…

  1. The Introductory post about Choosing Change,
  2. Choosing Change #1: Safe People, Safe Places, and Safe Processes
  3. Choosing Change #2: So what’s my reasonable contribution to your change process? (Part 1 of 2)
  4.  Choosing Change #3: So what’s my reasonable contribution to your change process? (Part 2 of 2)
  5. Choosing Change #4: Gardening with Intention
  6. Choosing Change #5: Traveling with Intention
  7. Choosing Change #6: Schemas, Defenses, Distortions and Resolution (Part 1 of 3)
  8. Choosing Change #7: Schemas, Defenses, Distortions and Resolution (Part 2 of 3)
  9. Choosing Change #8: Schemas, Defenses, Distortions and Resolution (Part 3 of 3)
  10. Choosing Change #9: The A-C-T-I-V-E Model by Dr Ken McGill
  11. Choosing Change #10: Blueprints and Building Change

As a reminder, the goal of your work in Choosing Change #10, #11, #12 and so on is for you to build a house on the rock, where you and your family members are able to withstand any “predictable” and unpredictable calamities (rain, wind, and floods) that may impact your life, per what we read in Matthew 7:24-25.

These verses, found in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, infer that we’re apt to accomplish these tasks when we incorporate the “wise counsel and best practices” that Jesus conveys to us, which will help us to develop then deliver good character to others in our lives.

So in Choosing Change #10: Blueprints and Building Change, you created your “blueprints,” which reflect the person that you wish to be(come), based on the values, principles, and processes that you deem important to you and your relationships.

In that post, you were also encouraged to “pour” a foundation that’s infused with Love, your spiritual beliefs and values, fruitful rituals, and behaviors, sound disciplines, and principles that would support spiritual and psychological growth, in addition to character development for you and others in your home.

In Choosing Change #11: Building Character and Building People (1 of 3; 2 of 3 and 3 of 3), your progress continues toward your goal of converting your blueprints into specific and “specialized” behavior(s), actions and activities that serve to build up the occupants in your house over the course of yours and their lifetime.

To accomplish this, we’ll walk “room to room” with consultants, experts and specialists who’ll suggest to you specific but doable behaviors to incorporate into each room (or “domain” of your life) for your benefit and for the benefit of others, over the next day, weeks, months and years of your lives together.

For now, I encourage you to think about the rooms or domains in the home that you’re building, and who will occupy those rooms and what activities you’ll want to occur or develop with the occupants (your family and friends) in the rooms, so that the end result of each day amounts to activity that builds them up.

Remember, the domains are simply the rooms where you and your family members/friends live, hang out and interact with one another, where your actions with one another result in interpersonal growth. In light of that, I have a few questions for you:

  1. When people enter your home (into your presence), what values, virtues, and positive impressions do you want them to experience? What impression of yourself do you want them to have when they leave your presence? 
  2. What skills, strategies, values, virtues are appropriate, and that you’d want to develop with people in your home when you hang out in the living room?
  3. What qualities, growth points, and life principles do you wish to instill or impart to your children in their bedroom, especially as you consider launching them into the world one day? And with your Adult children or Grandchildren? 
  4. What focus, goals, balance, achievement, performables would you like to experience in your office, as it reflects your work, career, purpose, mission, and legacy?
  5. What healthy, fun, exciting, nurturing, pleasurable, growth and bonding experiences do you wish to create and recreate with your partner in your bedroom?
  6. What spiritual, meaningful, insightful, empowering and life-changing issues would you want to learn about then apply in your life and relationships as you frequent your study?
  7. What enjoyable, recreative, memories would you want to have with your family in your “game room,” where your activities are only limited to the world we live in? 
  8. Simply put, what “new designs” (new behaviors) or enhancements (with existing relationships) would you deem is a necessity as you walk through areas of importance in your home (your life)?

Vision for home

Again, your rooms (or domains), and what work will occur with the people who dwell there is the next area to focus on and develop in this upcoming stage of your building process.

It’s quite possible that what you wish to accomplish, construct and how you’ll build them (and yourself) up is already illustrated and included in your blueprints. If so, then you’re way ahead of the game, as you’ve contemplated your needs, the needs of your family members, your abilities, your resources and what it’s going to take to “build in” quality experiences with them over the course of your lifetime, or for however long they are with you in your home.

If you hadn’t considered what sound, wise and functional behaviors you’ll want to accomplish with the occupants in your home, then you have a lot to think about, plan, discuss and collaborate with the important “co-builder(s)” in your life! No worries here, as this is actually very exciting! Remember, you get to envision, dream big, then choose what you want to intentionally accomplish and develop for the benefit of all.

This is exciting and empowering because the “experts and specialists” who you’ll consult with will suggest and offer specific actions, behaviors, performables, practices, and characteristics for you to consider incorporating into each room when you do your “walkthroughs.” These suggestions, when incorporated, will help you to achieve and receive an optimal return on the work you’re investing into each of the occupants in your house.

Regarding the experts, I encourage you to strongly consider what these researchers and practitioners state are “must haves” when it comes to the development of your marriage, family, children, work, spirituality, recreation, purpose, etc., so that the energy you expend on building up others in your home will yield a functional and fruitful return.

Are you ready to do a walkthrough to hear what the practitioners have to suggest? In addition to the questions above, let’s remember to include the preliminary questions about Choosing Change #11 which were written in the previous post:

  1. When you think about converting a house into a home, what have you heard from your family members that they’ve needed and wanted from you?
  2. What healthy values would you like to incorporate into your home that was present in your family of origin?
  3. What healthy values would you like to develop for the well-being of your current family?
  4. What constructive behaviors have your Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, Therapist, Sponsor, Spiritual Advisor, good friend, great insight or internal hunger taught you that these are the virtues to focus on and live by?

Equally, remember that your role is that of the “Oikeodomeo,” which means “the Builder,” who is engaging in a “building process,” in order to “build up” yourself and others who are occupants in the home, so that everyone is not only able to breathe and live but are also provided with the opportunity to thrive in life as a result of your efforts.

Finally, with every step that you’ll take toward the building up of others, I encourage you to integrate the S.M.A.R.T. goal process (George Doran, 1981). You’ve seen this acronym before, but this time, let’s apply it to your “home-work” (I’m not trying to be a smart …). S.M.A.R.T stands for…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Appropriate
  • Realistic
  • Time-Focused

As you approach any building, maintenance and repair activity with your home, and certainly any activity as important as character development with others within your home, you’ll probably find that you’re most apt to be successful when you integrate and apply these steps. Here’s my recommendation regarding how to integrate the S.M.A.R.T. goal process:

  1. Specific: You’re encouraged to be very specific and intentional as you consider the characteristic(s) you wish to develop in yourself and in others. What specifically is the target behavior that you wish to develop? Why is it important to you? Who needs to be involved in the project? What is the overall purpose and function of the character that you’re seeking to develop? How do you see it benefiting others?
  2. Measurable: You’re encouraged to identify measurable and quantifiable behaviors that indicate change, growth, and progress is occurring, especially with the characteristics you’re focused on developing. How will you know you’re growing? What personal and relational changes are developed and delivered that are clear-cut, concrete, definable and trustworthy, and contribute to the positive functioning of the home? Can others hear the “coins” of positive behavior that you’re depositing into the family piggy-bank?
  3. Appropriate: You’re encouraged to identify and deliver the appropriate behavioral response that the situation deserves (i.e., bring resolution to a conflict, empathy to someone who needs understanding, and encouragement to someone who needs uplifting). When situations arise, what do you think is the appropriate or approximate value, virtue or characteristic for you to behaviorally demonstrate, to either fertilize relationship growth or to resolve conflict with others? 
  4. Realistic: You’re encouraged to work to provide reasonable and attainable behaviors that are within your limits as a human being, but equally, don’t reflect underperformance nor sub-par contributions either. Are you able to deliver on what you’re committing to, or is a discussion required to renegotiate what behavior you’re able to deliver? What tools, strategies, or activities will you access or acquire to reach the level of productivity that you’re aiming to reach?
  5. Time-Focused: You’re encouraged to identify, create and work within a time-frame to produce the real, credible and fruitful character values that are necessary to complete your project(s). What’s a realistic time-frame to develop and deliver specific values and characteristics, that takes into consideration the needs of all involved?  Is there a passive-aggressive or hidden “payoff” embedded with procrastinating? Do you expect a reward for developing then delivering specific behavior(s) “under schedule?” Have you delivered the values that are necessary and appropriate to any situation within a reasonable timeframe? If not, what adjustments will you make?

Thanks for considering these thoughts as you move toward creating and building a “smart home.” One more thing that need not be said because it’s implicitly woven into your building process, but I’ll say it anyway: If you’re doing your work, there should be noticeable and measurable progress at your construction site at the conclusion of each day. Eventually, the culmination of your work and your investment will be a habitable house. If you’re seeing progress occur on a daily basis toward your overall goals, let’s celebrate! If you’re not seeing the progress, then I’d simply suggest less talk about action and more consistent engagement in action.

So let’s do our walkthrough to survey your progress, and receive some suggestions! By the way, do you have your keys available to open your doors?

Your “Master” Key

keysIf you had a master key that you’d use every day that’s cut with “indelible values” which could help you to open “closed doors” in your home, what would they be?

If you cut your master key to not only guarantee you access into those rooms in your home but would also assist you to gain access into the hearts of the inhabitants in your home, what strong and capable values would you see yourself demonstrating repetitively?

If you’re open to suggestions, I’d like to posit a few values that when implemented, could assist you to open, gain access and move through situations in your life (versus getting stuck, frustrated and resentful). If these behaviors were “cut indelibly into your life,” what would the consistent manifestation of them look like to others?

  1. Safety/Security: Here you’ll decrease behaviors fraught with danger, risk and the possibility of injuring another while also demonstrating behaviors that facilitate calm, peace, stability and confidence.
  2. Sincerity/Sharing: Here you’ll decrease behaviors that deceive and are disingenuous, while also demonstrating behaviors that facilitate openness, honesty, integrity, and connection.
  3. Sympathy/Empathy: Here you’ll practice behaviors that help you to understand, feel, experience and deliver compassion to others as the need for this arises.
  4. Spirituality: Here you’ll practice behaviors that inspire, encourage, bless, and reflect your commitment to display unconditional positive regard for others.
  5. Sensuality: Here you’ll practice behaviors where your desire, passion, and sentimentality are respectfully and accurately placed, honored, enjoyed and contained.
  6. Synergy/Sacrifice: Here you’ll practice behaviors that creatively help others to reach and achieve their potential(s), especially when the outcomes require a healthy dose of generosity from you.
  7. Self-Control: Here you’ll practice behaviors that reflect you’re living by values that facilitate focus, boundaries, devotion, gentleness, life, learning and love.

Could you see yourself demonstrating values like these on a daily basis? If not, which values would you replace then practice? Could you see how the continual demonstration of these specific values would be helpful to you in your effort to gain access and develop fluid connections with others? Remember, your key has to fit the lock, which means your efforts must be fashioned and geared so that they fit well with the recipient of your actions. Thanks, and since you’ve now cut and have your keys, let’s enter in and begin our walkthrough!

Walkthrough Area #1: The Entryway


Beginning to build a new home with your partner is a lot like the beginning of building a new life together in marriage. When the decision is made to seal their commitment in matrimony, each person brings with them hopes, ideas, and commitments to the new home they wish to create along with baggage, scars, and more than likely, a few maladaptive schemas.

Still, we certainly intend to deliver our best to achieve and experience the best of all possible outcomes with each other, but sometimes when life throws lemons at us (or we throw them at each other), we may not recover quick enough or soon enough to convert the lemons into sweet and rejuvenating lemonade. Thank God for the vows we took (“…for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part”) which means we’ll give ourselves ample opportunities over months and years to work on and refine our ability to make sweet versus tart lemonade in our life experiences!

So if you’re starting to build a new home together, or, if you’re rebuilding a new relationship or marriage, what would a relationship specialist convey to you about what you’ll want to consider in your building process? Here’s what three specialists convey to us as we do the first walkthrough into the Entryway of your home. The specialists are Dr. Erik Erikson, Dr. Sue Johnson, and Terrence Real.

(Note: As with anything you’re about to read in the remainder of Choosing Change #11, Choosing Change #12 (1 of 3; 2 of 3; 3 of 3) or other posts in the Choosing Change series, the suggestions are not exhaustive, which thankfully gives room for more diversity of thought, opinion, and application, when diversity of life requires diverse opinions and approaches, which could be the case with your life situation. As mentioned before, take what you can use, leave the rest, but please continue your research as you endeavor to identify resources and clinical processes to meet your own unique needs).

Specialist #1: Dr. Erik Erikson

Dr. Erik Erikson was a neo-Freudian (a student of Dr. Sigmund Freud), who studied personality development over the course of one’s lifetime. His research led to the development of his model, called the “Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development (Growth).”

In the table below are the stages, the age range of each stage, the developmental tasks or “conflicts” for a person to work through in each stage, in addition, the specific virtues that Erikson identified a person cultivated as a result of doing his or her work in said stage of development.

Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial

All of the stages are important, and Erikson will accompany us on other walkthroughs in the home (i.e., the Children’s room for Childhood Development as well as the Office and the Study, as we consider one’s work, career, purpose, and personal growth), but for now, let’s look at two of the stages of psychosocial development (Stage 6: Intimacy versus Isolation, and Stage 7: Generativity versus Stagnation) as these stages are key in the development, maintenance and enjoyment of healthy Adult relationships during the bulk of one’s lifetime (Ages 20 – 65).

As mentioned earlier, Erikson realized each stage of development presented the individual with internal conflicts that he or she needed to overcome if they were to successfully advance to the next stage of personal development. However, overcoming the internal conflict doesn’t mean that we “live at one end of the pole and never move toward the other end” (i.e., living at Trust and never having problems with Mistrust in each and every situation of our lives, as in Stage 1).

For Erickson, overcoming the conflict presented in each stage of psychosocial development means that we learn to live in the tension that exists between the two extremes, knowing that there will be times where we’ll have to cultivate Trust even in the midst of times when we feel and experience substantial Mistrust.

Erikson believed that when we’re able to find the “healthy middle ground” between the two poles, then we’re most likely to cultivate and experience the virtue that comes from doing the necessary work in that stage. With this in mind, let’s look at the tasks, conflicts, the virtue and a few values that are inherent in Stages 6 and 7 of Erikson’s model of personality development.

Stage 6: Intimacy versus Isolation (Age 26 – 40; Virtue: Love)

As we walk across the threshold into our new home, Erikson would have us know that as Adults, this stage is marked by us learning what intimacy is, what it will take to establish intimacy, enjoy intimacy, and maintain intimacy, especially in our relationships with others. Different types of intimacy are, but not limited to:

  1. Spiritual Intimacy: Experiencing connection and empowerment with one’s Higher Power, which among other benefits, translates into the knowledge and ability to care for and love oneself and others appreciably.
  2. Intellectual Intimacy: Gaining and transferring knowledge about oneself, your worldview and your viewpoints to others.
  3. Emotional Intimacy: Experiencing trust, warmth, safety, and connection which facilitates the open and vulnerable expression of passion, sentiment, and feeling.
  4. Physical Intimacy: Experiencing connection through affection and healthy non-sexual touch that facilitates bonding, closeness, safety, and importance.
  5. Genital Intimacy: Experiencing sexual and erotic passion, enjoyment and health.
  6. Conflict Intimacy: Expressing and working through problems and differences, in order to regain relational closeness, understanding, and connection.
  7. Experiential Intimacy: Experiencing meaning, purpose, “re-creation” and enjoyment due to fun, mutual and overlapping activities with each other.

Didn’t know there were so many Intimacies to attend to huh? Erikson would have us to know that a healthy relationship in this stage would look like two separate but committed people who wish to develop, deliver, enjoy and protect these different intimacies for the benefit of their relationship.

Erikson thought this was most apt to be accomplished by building upon the healthy, reasonable, principled and respectful values that you identified in Stage 5 (Identity versus Role Confusion), currently live by, and are now practicing on a daily basis.

Due to the distinct nature of Intimacy, I imagine you’ll be talking with your partner to identify what mutual values you’ll want to develop and practice consistently in your new home, as revealed and discussed in your blueprints. They don’t (or won’t) be developed overnight, but we should show some progress toward their development, which helps us to proficiently demonstrate these intimacies each day.

Erikson stated that Isolation tends to be the default stance opposite of Intimacy. Not being intimate with oneself, or said another way, not possessing the ability to know and express yourself, that is, your wants, needs, emotions, desires, hurts, etc., is akin to driving a vehicle with the instrument panel covered up.

A lack of self-knowledge “isolates” us from being aware of what our intimacy needs or feelings are, and, if we experienced personal or maladaptive challenges in Stages 1 through Stage 5 of our psychosocial development, then we run the risk of being “isolated,” unaware and may lack valid, healthy and credible methods to get our intimacy needs satisfied. If we don’t know what our needs are, and we don’t have healthy ways to meet our needs, then we may experience difficulty in loving our self and loving others in healthy, credible and mature ways.

So a key task for any couple during Stage 6 of their relationship, especially at the onset (or at any time during their relationship) is to use their energy to cultivate the above-mentioned intimacies versus misusing their energy manipulatively, which painfully results in various levels of being isolated and feeling disconnected from one another.

Stage 7: Generativity versus Stagnation (Age 41 – 65; Virtue: Care)

Erikson thought that this stage of our adulthood is marked by us developing then experiencing maturer forms of self-love, and our demonstration of maturer expressions of love to our spouse, our children and also reasonable forms of care to the larger systems and groups that we’re involved in (i.e., church, schools, civic or fraternal organizations, the arts, philanthropy, etc.).

For me, Love is defined and experienced by the theological words that explain it, as becoming competent in, understanding, then delivering the behavioral descriptors of Agape (to Love, to Esteem, to Cherish, to Respect, to Favor, to Honor, to Accept, to Prize, to Relish and to Be Devoted to) are indicators that I’m using my energy in creative, productive, caring and effective ways to make my life, and the lives of others, better today than they were yesterday.

For Erikson, being Generative meant demonstrating healthy and appropriate Care to others, where we “give toward and give back” to current and future generations beginning with, but not limited to our spouse and our children, so that we feel our life has meaning and purpose, as evidenced by small acts of generosity, or through profound expressions of mission, ministry, philanthropy, and kindness.

For me, this is the epitome of “loving my neighbor as myself.” Why is this? Because the practical expression of this value provides the necessary care, attention, help, service, and assistance to others who need it, whether inside or outside my home, while also presenting a model of care that reflects how the values of devotion and altruism are important to me and will hopefully become a model to be emulated by others around me.

To not develop nor deliver this healthy expression of love to self or with others may result in us taking on the characteristics of being stagnated. Stagnation, in this context, is evidenced by a cessation of personal growth, development, and achievement in one’s life and a lack of contribution for the benefit and good to those around them.

Erikson mentioned this is the stage in which we’re apt to see the “mid-life crisis,” which for most of us is the time to reconcile what we’ve done in and with our life, with the remaining amount of time we have left to achieve any or all of our unfulfilled goals, activities, and experiences that remain important to us.

Interestingly, Erikson states the maladaptive tendency in this stage is not being lazy (which most of us would think naturally leads to Stagnation); no, the maladaptive tendency in this stage is Overextension, which causes us to become spread too thin and subsequently compromises our ability to be Generative.

So a key task for any couple or family during Stage 7 is to not only resolve what Erikson thought was the chief question that represents the struggle in this stage (“How can I contribute to the world?”) but just as important, will we develop the ability to remain psychologically balanced, spiritually empowered and appropriately committed to self and other care to accomplish these tasks effectively?

So I have one more question for you: In light of what Dr. Erik Erikson has recommended, what will you focus on developing or revising as you and your partner enter your new home (or aspire to deliver when you arrive home each day)? 

Specialist #2: Dr. Sue Johnson

Dr. Johnson is a Clinical Psychologist, researcher, speaker, and professor who is best known as the primary developer of Emotional Focused Couples and Family Therapy (EFT). This form of therapy, as illuminated in her excellent book, Hold Me Tight (2008) encourages a couple to look at how unhealthy and predictable psychological “dances” (“Finding the Bad Guy,” “The Protest Polka,” and “Freeze and Flight”) prohibit them from “attaching and attuning” with one other.

For Dr. Johnson, your desire to emotionally attach to your partner and remain attuned with him or her arises from your “hard-wired” and basic need to be “held tightly,” which not only promotes emotional regulation (calmness, stability and security) within you, but is also a critical need that contributes to your overall health and happiness.

Among the many things I appreciate about Dr. Johnson is that she provides evidence-based data that shows when couples engage in healthy, safe and consistent touch with each other their capacity to withstand pain, shock and distress increases. She states that the people we love are literally the “hidden regulators” of our bodily processes and our emotional lives.”

Dr. Johnson would encourage the builders to focus on and develop daily processes that help to establish and maintain secure connections with each other. The ongoing presence of secure connections causes us to smile and touch more frequently, helps us to give and seek support more often, tolerate and work through conflict more easily, and helps us to understand ourselves better, which is empowering.

Secure connections are also achieved by a couple’s investment in being Accessible to communicate with each other (preferably in real time), Responsive to discovering and endeavoring to reasonably meet each other’s needs, and by delivering upon their commitment to remain safe and Emotionally Engaged with each other. Practicing “A.R.E.” living is key in helping couples to not only work through issues as they arise but it also helps them to experience value, safety, and interconnectedness.

Finally, Dr. Johnson states it’s understandable that couples may drift or pull away from each other, however, she states that healthy couples will engage in the work of communicating and not letting their “demon dialogues” interfere with their reconnection. Successfully dealing with these moments of “detachment and reattachment” is crucial to creating and maintaining the emotional responsiveness that will develop into a love relationship that will serve you over your lifetime.

So I ask the same question posed to you earlier: In light of what Dr. Sue Johnson has recommended, what will you focus on developing or revising as you and your partner enter your new home (or aspire to deliver when you arrive home each day)? 

Specialist #3: Terry Real

Terry Real is an internationally recognized Family Therapist, Speaker, and Author. Terry founded the Relational Life Institute which provides clinical help for couples as well as training for the therapists who may meet with the couple. Terry has authored a number of books, and it’s the great insight from The New Rules of Marriage: What you need to know to make love work (2008) that gets him invited to this first walkthrough into your home.

Terry introduces the term “Relational Empowerment,” where he asks couples to articulate 3 things between them:

  1. This is what I want…
  2. Tell me what you’d like…
  3. And tell me what you need from me to help you to deliver my request to me

To Terry, this is the crux of Relational Empowerment, as his model encourages and empowers each of you to operate and function in your Adult Ego State as collaborators, as you work to reach the important relationship goal: “What can I give you to help give me what I want?”

Terry also asks the couple to consider…

a) How they are going to be together in a way that works for each other…

b) How are they going to negotiate their needs and the fulfillment of their needs, and…

c) How are they going to move back toward one another when conflict or hurt is experienced?

Terry identifies five “losing Strategies” that couples fall or default into which impede conflict resolution (i.e., Needing to be right, controlling your partner, unbridled self-expression, retaliation, and withdrawal).

To overcome the losing strategies, Terry identifies five “winning strategies” that he encourages the couple to focus on cultivating for their benefit (i.e., Shifting from complaint to request, speaking out with love and savvy, responding with generosity, empowering each other and cherishing). Terry states that employing the winning strategies helps the couple “to create a non-violent life where their wants and needs are asserted with an attitude of helpfulness rather than judgment.”

Finally, I’d like to comment on two quotes from the New Rules of Marriage (I wish it could be more, but you’ll have to read them for yourself in this valuable and practical book!).

Quote #1: “Understanding is so important because understanding builds empathy, empathy builds compassion, and compassion ends combat. Compassion means that you are sensitive to, feel the pain of, someone else’s suffering” (page 216).

Unfortunately, there will be times in your marriage where disagreements will create  “ouch, that hurts” moments.  When this occurs, I encourage you to listen to your spouse to gain insight into what hurts (or, what you did to create the hurt), then roll up your sleeves and bring in the psychological equivalent of a basin of water, oil and a towel to treat the wound. Engaging in this form of behavior is not only compassionate but it helps to tenderly heal versus becoming defensive or indifferent about the hurt your spouse may be experiencing.

Quote #2: “Repair demands that both partners ask: ‘What can we do to work as a team? How can we face the challenges life throws at us and the challenges we present to each other in a practical way? Isn’t it in our best interest to assist each other? What do you want from me in order to feel loved and fulfilled? How can I help you give me the things I would like to feel loved and fulfilled? How are we going to make our lives together as rich and trusting and joy-filled as we can?'” (page 232).

These questions speak to the need to move out of what I’ve called the victim stance and into an empowered stance when conflict occurs in the coupleship. I think Terry would encourage the couple to facilitate relational empowerment by using their skills and tools to rapidly move into relationship repair (versus misusing their energy brandishing weapons) because a “living love” philosophy as he calls it requires that we cherish versus demean or devalue our partner.

Empowerment is more likely to occur when, as a hardworking teammate, we give ourselves permission to demonstrate generous and loving behaviors consistently as opposed to withholding good from the other, especially when it’s within our capacity as adults to choose, then deliver what is best for our relationship.

So as we leave the Entryway of the home you’re constructing, wait for it, I’ll ask you the same question as before: In light of what Terry Real has recommended, what will you focus on developing or revising as you and your partner enter your new home (or aspire to deliver to others when you arrive home each day)? 

Thank you again for allowing me to introduce these virtues, values, and viewpoints regarding how to build character and build people in your life and in your relationships.

Our next post, Choosing Change #12: Building Character and Building People (2 of 3) is devoted to the work of Dr. Dan Siegel, as we look at how his work in the area of Interpersonal Neurobiology will assist you in your process of building character and people in the Living and Dining rooms of your home.

In addition to presenting Dr. Siegel’s work in Choosing Change #12, I’ve also written about his work in 3 other posts to further elaborate and integrate his valuable contributions to your home life. The posts are:

  1. Changing your Mind in the River of Integration
  2. Changing your Mind with the Practice of LoveWorks
  3. Changing your Mind with Interpersonal Neurobiology (12 Steps)

As time permits, make sure you visit these posts to take in what I think is valuable and supportive information based on Dr. Siegel’s work. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to download and print some of the information to assist you in your studies.

Finally, as time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3 – 2 – 5 – 4 – 24″ for additional information that could be helpful. I welcome your comments below or via email and your favorites, your retweets and your “+1’s” if you have a brief moment and find the information helpful. Again, it is my desire to provide the very best info for your consideration.

Dr. Ken McGill

TeleHealth/Video counseling sessions are available for those who prefer to meet online – Dr. McGill

Businesswoman presses button psychological counseling online on virtual screens. technology, internet and networking concept.



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