The following is an excerpt from A Field Guide to Relationships by Christopher T. Rogers. It’s a featured Speakeasy selection, and there are still limited review copies available for qualified reviewers.
TOOL #9: 1-2-3-4-HELP
We all have people in our lives who need help. It might be a friend or a child, a spouse or a parent, but we all have someone. There are a series of common questions that go something like:
“How do I help my ________ (son, husband, friend, etc.) with his/her addiction?”
“How do I make my wife understand what I need in our relationship?” “How can I make it clear to my husband that he works too much?” “Why won’t my daughter let me help her?
“Why does she cut herself and hide it from me?” And on and on and on…
The steps to helping someone are easy to understand but difficult to keep in order. We all want to start with helping someone, forgoing the need to first be asked or invited in to help. (Remember 50/50; ME manage ME?)
The matter is complicated further because, offhand, people say they want help but aren’t ready to take in what help is being offered. Most of us do not understand and appreciate the simple hierarchy of human needs:
first to feel safe, then loved, followed by a willingness to observe and outline our actual problems. Once we are willing to see the problem, we are then open to Love is a MIRROR.
The illustration is of steps building upward. The steps must be established one on top of the other, in order. Each step must remain intact in order to move forward. If, say, step 1 is compromised, but you’ve been working on step 3, you are now back at step 1. Any attempt to fight this natural building process is counterproductive. You may get compliance, but you will not get real and genuine change.
The 4 STEPS
1) SAFE with you
The person must believe they are SAFE with you and not under any threat of harm or punishment.
The person must believe that you are in connection with them, free of requirements to change and without an agenda.
The person must believe that you are for them and not against. Connection comes before correction.
If practiced well, this will already be in place when correction becomes necessary.
2) LOVED by you.
Your mutual understanding is: “you are free to be you around me.”
The person must believe your priority is to care for them, to love them as they are, and not to push them to change or correction. *At this step, it is still all about the person being helped. You are there to listen and even to comfort when possible.
Remember that listening DOES NOT necessitate agreement or condoning unhealthiness. You are agreeing that the person needs love, not necessarily ascending to what they are saying, or believing.
Often you must look past the behavior of the person here. To maintain integrity of step 1, you might need to set limits around your ability to create a SAFE place and to LOVE them. If you cannot do this, then you are NOT the one to help create change.
Again, if the other relationship tools and keys are practiced well, then step 2 will already be in place when correction is needed.
3) OPEN to you
Once steps 1 and 2 are in place you can begin to talk about yourself.
In order to successfully work through step 3 you must maintain steps 1 and 2 (SAFE and LOVED).
Talking about yourself means using “I” statements
“I’ve always struggled being patient when it took a long time to change something about myself.”
“I know myself enough to know I cannot drink that much anymore.”
“Man, that sounds really tough to me.”
You are NOT trying to change, fix, or manipulate them. You are just sharing from your own stories.
Once this seems to go well (and they still feel SAFE and LOVED) then you can start to talk about how their behavior affects you or others.
“It scares me when I don’t hear from you for a few days.”
“I often feel alone when you are gone.”
“I cannot stay calm when I’m being yelled at, so I tend to shut
“I do not feel safe with the choices being made.”
In this exchange—with you sharing about yourself first—the other person is getting a FREE opportunity to see themselves without feeling under a microscope.
It is here that people are most likely to see the need to change or at least look at the problems.
This is LOVE as a MIRROR.
Their response to you talking about yourself tells you how OPEN, SAFE and LOVED they feel with you.
4) ASKING for HELP
A by-product of being SAFE and LOVED, and then encountering you as OPEN in the relationship: People start to experience the MIRROR and see themselves, unguarded.
Without being judged or punished, people are more likely to not only ASK, but be willing to pursue further levels of HELP.
DO NOT jump in headlong!
Slowly begin to help, direct, and encourage—one “pearl” at a time. The “win” is when you are brainstorming together.
Your best HELP is directing people toward cleaning up their own messes and troubleshooting their own solutions.
We all want to create change BUT we all want to control the process.
- Real and sustainable change is only possible through a free exchange
of mutual respect.
- Parents and bosses alike want to ASSUME their authority gives them
the necessary position to offer receivable direction, without fail.
- Partners and spouses ASSUME steps 1 and 2 are a given.
- Honoring these steps creates sustainable change.
- Real change is different than conformity.
- Fear is a great initiator, but it has no finish.
TOOL #9 REFLECTION QUESTIONS
With whom do you feel the safest?How open are you in those relationships?
What are the qualities and the nature of a safe relationship?
Where do you tend to start off when trying to“Help”people?
What mistake or assumptions do you make when “Helping?”
Praise for A Field Guide to Relationships
“Rogers provides the type of insight and perspective that can be understood and applied by anyone.”
—Robert Whitlow, bestselling author of Chosen People
“… you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove of relational wisdom and insight.”
—Alex Johnson, Pastor of Adult Discipleship, Highlands Community Church, WA
“An excellent book that gives relationship strategies that actually work.”
—Elijah Stephens, author and Executive Producer, Send Proof film
About the Author
The goal of Christopher T. Rogers’ work is quality, tested, and proven methods on how to develop individually in all of your relationships, both with your community and with your God. His work focuses on making the keys to successful relationships accessible. He provides Individual and Family Therapy that focuses on creating sustainable connections and intimacy in all of your relationships. He has a passion to help people get free from addiction and the painful patterns of self destruction. He loves the art of Spiritual Direction that partners with the on going work of the God in your life, teaching you how to take over the reigns yourself for sustainable spiritual growth. And he offers conferences, workshops and talks on all the above topics including how to shift the culture of your staff from dishonor to honor from unsafe to safe and productive as well as able to deal with conflict successfully. You can find him online at chrisrogerswrites.com.