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Building Better Relationships — Week 2 Reflections

July 30, 2006

Ooops, I was supposed to post this on Tuesday of last week! I put it off, thinking I would do it Wednesday and now… well, now we’re almost on week 3. I guess time got away from me again!

This week’s chapter in our Bible study was “Loving One’s Neighbor.” The basic point was that we are called to love others as we love ourselves. The chapter focused quite a bit on how denying oneself was essential to loving one’s neighbor. There were six ways in which we can have difficulty denying ourselves:

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1. Self-importance — you walk into a gathering wondering who will speak to you, who will notice you, who will remember your birthday or prayer request, etc.

2. Self-occupation — you arrive at a gathering with lists of people to see and things to do, ignoring the hurting people around you or failing to hear the person telling you she will have surgery the next day.

3. Self-affection — you overtalk about your vacation, achievements, or family members at the expense of another’s need to talk.

4. Self-protection — your ego wants to defend itself against criticism and correction. You will criticize the person who criticized you.

5. Self-inspection — you check your feelings to see if you should do something.

6. Self-sufficiency — it is difficult for you to ask for help or you refuse offered help when you need to receive it.

I suffer from all of these faults at various times (I believe most people do), but in particular I struggle with self-protection and self-sufficiency. I believe that my sensitivity to criticism is due to the fact that I am such a perfectionist. I feel like in most things I do, I hold myself to a very high standard and put in 110% of effort. So when that extraordinary effort is criticized, I am quite hurt. When I took the Biblical Personality Quiz, I came up as a “Precisionist” for my private and perceived self. The description stated that criticism is a Precisionist’s worst fear. I’m not excusing my sensitivity to criticism, merely explaining it. I think that being aware of WHY I am sensitive to criticism helps me be on guard against any sort of over-reaction I may have.

As for self-sufficiency, I am still struggling with this one above all others. I have a hard time asking for help because generally when I ask for help, the results are disappointing. Last week I asked Dan to fax an appraisal for the diamond replacement and he didn’t do it. Logically, I know he was busy, has been having a rough week at work, and he just forgot. Emotionally, I was crushed, because I had let myself be vulnerable enough to ask for his assistance and he didn’t follow through (particularly because of the symbolic and sentimental significance of the diamond). Again, I think that this is due in large part to being a perfectionist. I grew up hearing, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” from both parents and I suppose I really took that to heart as my own personal motto.

Then there’s the trust factor. There have been other instances where asking people to help me has bitten me in the butt (or more appropriately, stabbed me in the back). But that just has to do with poor choices on my part; specifically, not listening to the gut feeling I had that I was making a mistake. Discernment is a wonderful gift that should never be taken for granted (let alone, ignored!).

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