Years ago, my wife, Michelle, and I went to Stetson University to visit our kids while they were attending a summer camp. During the afternoons, the kids got to enjoy recreation. One of the more popular activities during recreation was a long slip ‘n’ slide they had set up that was covered with soap and water. As you can imagine, the kids had a blast running and sliding onto the slide that allowed them to stay cool on a hot summer day. For some crazy reason, my wife decided she wanted to give it a try. She not only ended up embarrassing the kids, but she also became the center of attention when she took off running toward the slide. Consequently, she didn’t know you were supposed to dive onto the slide. Instead, she kept running onto the slide. As soon as her feet hit the slippery slide glazed with soap and water, they slipped out from under her, and she fell straight back and landed on her booty and the back of her head. All the kids (including ours) made a big gasp as they witnessed this horrific fall. Fortunately, she was alright. It was not only a scary moment but an embarrassing one as well for our kids. For the rest of the week, all the kids kept talking about the epic fall of Mrs. Gage. It was a moment we would never forget.
Have you ever had a relation-slip? Whether it is with your spouse, your kids, your parents, your co-workers, or with “those neighbors” next door? The truth is, we’ve all experienced relation-slips.
We say things we shouldn’t have said, do things we shouldn’t have done, or maybe it is the opposite. It’s what we didn’t say or didn’t do that tripped us up.
After 28 years of marriage, raising three kids of our own, and working with couples and parents every day, if there is one thing that trips relationships up more than anything else, it is what I call good old-fashioned self-centeredness. If we were to be honest with ourselves, most relation-slips are a result of self-centeredness.
The definition of self-centeredness is: “engrossed in oneself and one’s own affairs; selfish.” Webster’s defines self-centeredness as one who is concerned solely with his or her own desires, needs, or interests.
When it comes to healthy relationships, there is one thing we know for sure; you can’t be selfish and loving at the same time.
How to Avoid the Relation-Slip of Self-Centeredness
1. Change Your Attitude.
Whether we realize it or not, our attitude is a choice. We choose to be others-centered or self-centered. For some of us, our attitude STINKS! You may not smell it, but everyone else around you does. There is very little difference in people. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative. The truth is we get to choose.
2. Practice Self-Denial.
There have been countless times where I have been guilty of cutting my wife, Michelle, off while she is talking, so I can get in my “two cents” or have the last word. I wasn’t listening to what she was trying to say because I was so preoccupied trying to build my case and prove my point.
Why do we need to practice self-denial? Because life is not about YOU! Back in the day, there was a national campaign called “Just Say No!” It was an anti-drug campaign challenging young people to “Just Say No” to drugs. Imagine what our homes and marriages would be like if we learned to “Just Say No” to self.
It’s hard to beat the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Or “treat others as you would have them treat you.”
3. Give Yourself Away.
The greatest way to avoid the relation-slip of self-centeredness is to give yourself away.
Imagine what it would look like if we became givers instead of takers?
Let me give you a challenge this week. It’s what I call the “One Person Assignment.” Reflect on the relationship that is slipping the most in your life. The question is, what will you do to serve that person this week? Let’s shift your relationships away from slipping to equipping those around us.
Rodney Gage is a family coach, author, speaker, and the founding pastor of ReThink Life Church that meets at Lake Nona High School. His passion is to help families stop drifting and start living with greater intention. To learn more, check out familyshift.com and rethinklife.com