Category Archives: Selfishness

Addressing the “Self” in Selfishness

selfishness 2-children

Filling the cracks of an eroding marital foundation begin with addressing areas in which YOU bear responsibility.  Blaming your mate will produce nothing but further distance between you.  Besides, you don’t have the ability to change your spouse, but you can change the dynamics by focusing on areas in which you need to grow.  After identifying areas in which we may be exhibiting selfish behaviors, what can we do about it? How can we change our selfishness?

  1. Present yourself to God; ask him to make you aware of your own selfishness. BE PREPARED: if you ask God to show you, he will be faithful. Your job is to be ready to receive it and do something about it.
  1. Meditate and internalize the following scriptures:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  -1 Corinthians 10:24

These particular scriptures remind me that my relationships are not about me but about loving others.

  1. Try doing the opposite of what you feel. It sounds unusual but consider that your autopilot may currently be guided by your hurt (not the best compass), so your natural tendency is to self-protect that hurt. Take a chance and see what happens. We can only update our script by taking chances and gathering new evidence to see if our childhood beliefs are still accurate. Have these childhood beliefs skewed our adult perception of relationships, of life? Challenge your adult perceptions. Are they accurate?

Remember, in spite of what happened in your childhood, regardless of the pain that may have been inflicted, intentionally or unintentionally, you are no longer that child. You are an adult and bear the consequences of your adult actions. Ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?” It’s time to take responsibility for your own behavior. Seek God’s strength and help as you begin to take responsibility for the one thing that you can control: your own behavior.

In spite of the hurt and frustration you may be feeling, depending on the current state of your marriage, it is be important to begin taking responsibility for your own behavior and the decisions that you make. After all, who pays the consequences of your actions? Ultimately you do and perhaps your children.

Bless you in your desire to change.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Love, Self-Talk, Selfishness

Addictions in the Relationship (Part III): The Need for Healthy Connection

addiction 3

Those who feel the need to rescue people caught in the web of addiction are also often driven by a selfish desire to be a savior. It is a wrong motivation when the rescuer is driven by a boosted sense of self that comes from the gratitude of those we attempt to rescue. The relationship is one of co-dependence. We must realize that sometimes when we intervene in the life of someone and cushion their fall by attempting to take on the load ourselves, we may be short-circuiting what God is trying to teach them. Yes, you can love them, but you can’t heal them, and you can’t make the decision to change for them. You can walk alongside in support and be available for your loved one, but you can’t carry the load for them, relieving them of any responsibility for their behavior.

In walking out of addictions it is important not to attempt the healing process alone. God places people in our paths to walk alongside us, to help us be accountable in our decisions. Remember that accountability will only occur when first we admit there is a problem and accept that we can’t do it alone. Accept the fact that you have created an idol to replace the love, grace, and mercy that only God can give. Secondly, be willing to put yourself out there, taking a chance and trusting that other people are willing to love and accept you where you are. Thirdly, give other people (people you trust) permission to speak truth into your life. Be willing to receive the input of other healthy believers.

There are many Christian churches and Christ-centered organizations that specialize in groups and counseling that would welcome the opportunity to grow with you in fellowship and accountability. Contact your local church; many have resources and referrals available to tend to your particular needs. Don’t put it off any longer.

Only in developing transparency and cultivating fellowship with others can you step out of the darkness into the light and be free of the chains that have bound you for so long. Let God provide the wisdom and discernment about with whom to share. It is important that you develop relationships and allow people in that have your best interest at heart—people who will protect your heart as you begin your walk out of addiction and start to experience all that God can do in your marriage and relationships in general. The process begins with you; make the choice.

If you are ready to take that next step here are some helps to guide you in that direction.  Be blessed!

Alcoholics Anonymous, http://www.aa.org

Alcoholics Anonymous Family Groups, http://www.alanon.org

Narcotics Anonymous, www.na.org

American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) for Christian individual and marital counseling in your area.  Contact: http://www.aacc.net

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Accountability, Addiction, Behavior, Character, Communication, Idolatry, Restoration, Selfishness

Addictions in the Relationship (Part II): Filling the Emptiness

heart 

Alcohol is the noble addiction: “Who doesn’t drink?” “What’s wrong with a little drink now and then?” People make the claim that alcohol helps them to relax. “It makes me more comfortable around other people, and it helps me be who I am and removes my inhibitions. A drink now and then helps me to relieve my stress.”

“Drugs are not that big a deal.” Have you ever noticed that some people have no problem identifying certain sins as far worse than others? People naturally set boundaries on certain drugs, usually the ones they are not doing, but marijuana, for example, is “not a big deal.” “A little cocaine is not an issue for me. I know how to moderate.” I wish I had a nickel for every time the person sitting across from me has told me, “I can stop whenever I want to”—whether they were addicted to shopping or crack cocaine.

Shopaholics are a newer identified breed, those who love to go out and spend their money. The issue is not the importance or the desire for what they are buying, it’s all about the act of spending, spending, and more spending with little regard to whether they have money in their accounts.

These are but a few addictions, there are many, many more. The interesting thing about addictions is that they are all designed to fill an emptiness, a void in our soul. The root is always selfishness. For the addicted person, the addiction holds a place of importance above all else in their life.

In the marital relationship, addictions tear at the heart and foundation of your commitment. God, spouse, and children should have priority in a marriage. When you light up a joint in the garage when everyone else has gone out to the store, it means the joint is more important than the example you set to your family, especially the children. When you turn on the computer to browse the porn site you’ve visited so often, you intentionally put out of your mind the pain and insecurity you cause your spouse when they know exactly what you are doing. The damage is incredible.

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself…   -Romans 15:2-3

When we come into marriage we make a commitment to the other person. We commit to be there in body and spirit. We vow to give each other to one another and sacrifice selfish ambition and desires of self-gratification. Our marriage vows do not state that the exception is when things are not going so well or when we simply don’t feel like it.

The true healing power of all addictions lies in our motivations to follow the addiction in the first place. We are choosing, selfishly, to meet our own needs, to deal with our pain by not dealing with it. Rather, we simply medicate in a variety of forms, all to the exclusion of our creator. We are choosing to fill that hole in our heart with anything and everything we can get ahold of, when the only thing that can make us complete and heal the pain in our heart is our Lord and Savior.

What fear prevents you from entering into a personal and transparent relationship with God?

In part three we will explore the other side of unhealthy addiction, the co-dependent.  We will also look at some resources for help.

Alcoholics Anonymous, http://www.aa.org

Alcoholics Anonymous Family Groups, http://www.alanon.org

Narcotics Anonymous, www.na.org

American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) for Christian individual and marital counseling in your area.  Contact: http://www.aacc.net

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Addiction, Behavior, Character, Idolatry, Restoration, Selfishness

Addictions in the Relationship (Part I): A Growing Epidemic

addiction 1

 Over the course of my next three posts we will fundamentally explore an ever growing category of self-centeredness that is tearing marital relationships asunder. Addictions have to represent the most common coping mechanism in our society. They run the gamut from drugs, alcohol, and pornography to shopaholism and a variety of others, too many to mention.  Sometimes they can take on quite a noble air; workaholism is a great example. What could be wrong about working hard for my family? Motivation is always the core issue. More often than not, people who work all the time are trying to escape from their family for any number of reasons. For a man who doesn’t feel secure in his marriage, he will dive into his work where he gets the recognition he craves; it’s easier than putting forth effort into something he may not be good at—for example, relationships.

In fact all addictions, even where there may be a genetic or environmental predisposition, are determined by the motivation to pursue avenues of escape. After all, not everyone raised by an alcoholic is cursed to live a life of alcoholism. A man (or woman) reared by a workaholic is not doomed to live that type of life, although you may have been taught that such behavior is one way to handle issues you would prefer not to deal with. Predisposition does not mean you don’t have a choice about such things. But if a person is not deliberate about their behavior and fully aware of past predispositions, the odds are great that they will indeed become what they swear they will never be. No one should be relieved of the responsibility of personal choice.

Fear of intimacy and relationship can easily lead to addictions to pornography. There is no fear of engaging in intimate behavior with a person printed on a page, or the unfortunate damaged people performing in sex films. You never have to worry about being rejected or measuring up. You can pretend to be whoever you like in your fantasy realm. The problem is, it’s not real, and eventually you have to come back to the same issues and stressors you tried to escape from.

For the workaholic, you are always on top, always the best. You put forth every effort to please the boss. The boss can be much easier to please because there is no emotional investment in the other person. The expectations are very clear and the accolades are direct. If you do your job, you get personal recognition or financial rewards. Again, little of it has to do with the uncertainty of relational expertise, which can be daunting for men. Combine that with our manly plague of pride and it creates problems in developing transparency in relationship with both women and other men.

In part two we identify a common element in ALL addictions…a hole in the heart.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Addiction, Behavior, Character, Idolatry, Selfishness

Relationship Priorities (Part III): Developing Confident Assurance

balance

In this series on relationship priorities we looked at the first two elements necessary to grow great relationships (model Christ and focus on other people).  In this, the final post in this series we will examine the third and final element of our priority list.

3. Focus on yourself. It’s amazing how when you initiate the first two priorities, the attitude about the third changes drastically. When you demonstrate Christ and put others first, what you get back in the contentment of joy carries you through most of your other trials. Joy is the confident assurance and trust of God in our lives. Throughout his letter to the Philippians, Paul explains how his joy carried him through some pretty intense tribulation. Read through Philippians and discover for yourself the difference between happiness and joy.

Do what is “right” and let the appropriate emotions follow the behavior.

 It’s exciting to see how the confidence and security of right actions affect our emotional state.  I always refer to the Bible in determining that “right” position.  Imagine having a tough day, traffic was terrible and you almost got into an accident, you got into an argument with one of your co-workers, your head has been aching all day and to top it all off you leave work only to be greeted by a flat tire!  It stinks, right?!  Now finally you get home, emotionally you are frustrated to say the least.  You have a decision to make.  In choosing to do what is right and behave in a loving fashion toward your wife and family you will have a direct impact on what you will receive from them.  Loving behavior is usually reciprocated thereby affecting your negative emotional state.  It can directly affect your well-being.  You will begin to feel better because of the consequences of right behavior.

 Live intentionally. As I stated in the introduction, the Scriptures are a guidebook to life, written by the one who created us. You benefit by living with intention and making decisions that guide the path of your life, with God’s direction, rather than living haphazardly, just letting life happen to you.  Understand that none of us is perfect, not by a long shot! But if we make selflessness our goal rather than serving our own self-interest, the odds of receiving God’s best in our lives increases tremendously.  Mark sums up our priorities the best.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.   Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’   The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  -Mark 12:28-31

By modeling and loving God and investing in others, the impact that behavior has on YOUR well-being will lead to personal peace, satisfaction and joy.  Be Blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness

Relationship Priorities (Part II): Putting Others Before Yourself

People focus

In our last post we began to address the relationship priorities that grow and enhance our interactions and our lives.  Previously we examined the importance of modeling Christ in our daily walk rather than expectations of happiness.  Now, let’s take a look at the second element.

2. Focus on other people. If you take the focus off yourself and spend more time focusing on others, you make it less likely that your motivations will be driven by your own selfish desires. This is not to say you should neglect yourself, because you can only pour into others if you stay emotionally, physically, and spiritually full. You simply do not become the priority as we shall see shortly.

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  -1 Corinthians 10:24

The therapeutic effect of stepping out of your own emotional state to serve others is amazing. Mary was diagnosed with cancer.  Her knee-jerk reaction was to withdraw from the world. She lived in fear that any exposure to the outdoors, to the sun, would accelerate the cancer. Mary locked herself away, covering all the windows and never taking a step out of the house. She withdrew from other people, embarrassed by the hair loss associated with chemotherapy. She stopped coming to church, essentially stopped living.

What Mary had chosen to do is eliminate any new input or thought that would challenge her emotions. She simply recycled all the negative fear messages through her head. Her behavior followed suit and was dictated by those emotions. After consultation, she began challenging the fears and weighing the possible consequences of stepping outside her home. Commonly, we assume that things will be much worse than they actually end up being. One thing appeared certain: if Mary didn’t take a chance, her fear would eat her alive.

The following week she came to church. The outpouring of love and acceptance was heartwarming and had a great impact on her. Having all these people walking alongside her gave Mary a new lease on life. Her hair grew back following the chemo treatments, and her joy and confidence returned even faster. This dear lady made the decision not to follow her feelings but choose her own behavior, in spite of those destructive feelings.  She stepped forward, in spite of her emotions and engaged and invested in the lives of others to the benefit of all concerned.

Investing in others reaps dividends far greater than monetary riches!

As a matter of habit, do you find yourself more inwardly focused than investing in others?  What do you fear might happen if you extended yourself to others?  I want to encourage you to take a chance, you have much to offer others…God says so and that’s good enough for me!

In my last post in this series I will reveal the final priority in creating stability in our relationships and in our lives.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness

Relationship Priorities (Part I): They Go Beyond Your Happiness

priorities

Being aware of your emotional state and choosing your behaviors is one method to restore some peace in the relationship. Some of the other methods include the following.

 Don’t make happiness (a feeling) the ultimate goal in your marriage.

It sounds contrary to what you hear; everyone says, “I just want to be happy in my marriage.” Your desire should be to seek that deeper contentment known as joy. Emotionally we can be like a rollercoaster depending on what the day might bring. Happiness tends not to be consistent whereas the deeper sense of contentment or satisfaction (joy) remains constant regardless of what’s going on around us. True contentment is based on selflessness with a distinct priority system made up of three elements.

1. Model Christ in your life and in your relationships. The example Jesus sets in Scripture is the one we should follow while interacting with others. Christ’s example is demonstrated in the following passage:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…  -Philippians 2:1-5

Has the goal of “happiness” been an issue in your relationship(s)? How realistic is it to expect others to make you happy? How effective are YOU at making others happy? Do your relationships experience much emotional turmoil?

Modeling Jesus in our lives transcends personal happiness. When we strive to emulate him it produces in us a sense of inner contentment that those around us will only benefit from.

In my next post I will reveal the second priority in creating stability in our relationships and in our lives.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness

Bless with your Blessings – A True Display of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving

A very important aspect of relationship is selflessness.  This may seem like an odd topic to discuss at this Thanksgiving holiday season.  It is a common thought that being thankful involves gratitude for the things that we have been given throughout the year.  Yes, this is true, but sometimes we forget that the best way to show our gratitude to the one who has given us the most is through giving back.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.          -2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Often we too easily forget the warmth and satisfaction that comes to us when we have the opportunity to help someone that is truly in need.  Certainly our goal in helping others should not be motivated by what we can get out of it.  However, the natural occurring consequence of doing what is right produces a contentment that surpasses any emotional response.  Essentially we plant the seeds of joy in our soul.   Remember, we are called to be joyful even when facing trials.  This scriptural observation verifies for me that joy is not something as fleeting and inconsistent as an emotion.  Joy is something deeper, a foundational inner-contentment.  Such selfless action is truly a gift that we can be grateful for.

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.   -2 Corinthians 8:2-5

If we understand that all we have is a blessing from God, it does not seem unreasonable to give back to Him a measly 10 percent, known as our tithe, when he is allowing us to keep 90 percent. Tithing goes back to the church to support a wide variety of ministries and expenses that benefit others.  Remember, a very important aspect of relationship is selflessness.  It’s time to start investing in others if you are not doing so already.

Giving back to your church is only one way for you to bless and be blessed.  Not all of your giving has to go back to the church you attend.  I am sure that there are organizations that have instilled a passion in your heart and are worthy of your support.

I have yet to hear from anybody who is a consistent giver that they have not been able to make ends meet at the end of each month.  Quite the contrary, usually God meets their need far beyond their wildest expectations when they are good stewards of their money.  Keep in mind that blessings do not just come in the financial variety.  We serve a faithful and trustworthy God. Sometimes we just need to give him a chance. You will find that you can’t out-give God.

Final note, Giving is not just monetary.  Give love.  Fill your home with compliments, compassion, forgiveness and kindness unlimited.  In doing so, this will produce an abundance of things to be thankful for.

When we bless with our blessing, we will be blessed.  So remember, gratitude goes both directions!

Blessings to all of you and your families and God bring you peace and abundance.

Eric A. Disney

©2015 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  It’s a thoughtful Christmas gift for any couple’s in your life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Character, Finances, Giving, Selfishness, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving

It Starts in the Mirror

image

It is essential that parents realize the impact they have on their children. Few things are as rewarding as the joy you feel when your little child runs up to you, throws their arms around your neck, and says, “I love you, Daddy!” In such moments they can do no wrong. Unfortunately, life with children is made up of many, many moments, and not all of them are like that.

In order to maneuver through the role of parenting we must first establish a foundation of trust and respect; these are imperative to growing a healthy relationship with children. Trust is established from the get-go. We receive our children as blank slates in many regards. In our hands we hold a tiny new totally dependent being that is counting on us to provide all their needs. These little beings also happen to be very egocentric, thinking everything revolves around them. Rightfully so; that’s all they know. When they want or need something, they want it now and they make no qualms about letting you know it. This can be difficult for some parents who don’t truly understand the selflessness required of a parent. I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I got married. I was used to having things a certain way, and I was never challenged in my preferences or personal goals. I was free to come and go as I liked and to spend my money on whatever I chose.

When I got married that all changed. I was in for a reality check, but this was also true of my wife. We both had to move to a place of selflessness to develop our marital relationship. At times we still struggle with our own selfishness. Well, we thought we had it down pretty well, then along came baby…and baby number two. God took us to a whole new place. We were forced to grow in ways neither of us anticipated. We learned firsthand what was meant by “life is a refining process.” Our growth is far from done, and we often find ourselves having to adapt and grow just as our children do.

Remember, training the selfishness out of our children is a journey that starts in the mirror!

In what ways do you see your own selfishness on display in your child(rens) attitudes/behavior? What areas of personal selfishness will you need to change to better the dynamics between you and your child(ren)?

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Parenting, Selfishness

How My Past Has Molded My Present

past-present sign

Understand that there is no benefit to condemning our parents and our upbringing for where we are today. In most cases parents do what they believe to be the right thing, based on their own knowledge. This knowledge often comes from how they were brought up, their own life experiences, and their own pain and insecurities. In fact, none of us is perfect, and none of us will parent perfectly. That is exactly why Jesus Christ had to come to this earth, to fill in the gap for our inadequacies. All the money, gifts, work ethic, keeping food on the table and a roof over our head will never substitute for the love, acceptance, and affection that a parent is supposed to demonstrate to their children. When these are the substitutes for godly love, damage is inevitable in our upbringing.

The scarring that often occurs throughout childhood and adolescence can contribute to many lies being created in our belief system. A common one is that God could never love us. If our parents are to be an earthly example of who God is to us, and they don’t fulfill their obligation, it’s easy to understand how this can occur. This certainly has a profound effect on our spiritual relationship.

The child learns early on that this inherent need for love will go unmet, based on what has been demonstrated to him. In short order, the child begins to withdraw and shut down, not expecting the return of love and affection. He learns not to need it. This behavior is a reasonable response if you think about it. How many times does a person expose their vulnerability and have it rejected before they begin to withhold it altogether? They will only be hurt a certain number of times before they stop putting themselves in that hurtful situation. Now we have a child who has learned not to need love from others, and he becomes self-sufficient, depending on himself for his needs to be met and never extending himself to others.

This same child grows up, twenty years old, loaded with self-sufficiency. Now a young man, he continues to believe that the world functions based on his views of it—views established by areas in which his upbringing was lacking. People cannot be trusted. It is dangerous and painful to share feelings. Vulnerability is a prescription for heartache. He refuses to practice transparency or let others into the innermost parts of his being. Essentially he is thinking very egocentrically and everything revolves around his own perception. In essence his youthful self-sufficiency has become adult selfishness.

How do you think this dynamic can affect a marital relationship? How might it be affecting yours? What lies do you believe as an adult that may stem from your childhood perceptions? Is it time to stop blaming your history and begin to assess and change the way you interact with your spouse…with the world?

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Misconceptions, Parenting, Selfishness