In the Introduction to the Killer D’s and the Empowering E’s (Part 1 of 3), we briefly looked at how the practice of these specific words that begin with the letter “D” tend to derail or “kill off” communication, connection and intimacy, within ourselves and in relationships that are important to us (Spouse, Children, Parents, Higher Power, etc).
Equally, our ability to create health within ourselves and in our relationships is diminished if not downright sabotaged when we use the best of our energy to produce these “defects of character.” If practiced too long, the outcomes may resemble behavior similar to what may occur if the shark in the picture above were to attack us: unwanted and unnecessary suffering if not the death of our identity, character, marriage, relationship and possible life itself.
The Killer D’s are not good. The sooner we replace them with the “Empowering E’s” (Part 3 of 3), the sooner we empower ourselves to move closer to experiencing the restoration of health, hope, connection and other character values that protect and enrich our lives.
For now though, lets look at these defects of character. I encourage you to identify which are active in your life, how they harm you and others but most importantly, what changes will you make to swiftly eliminate them by cultivating any of the Empowering E’s or other values that could help you versus harm you and others. The Killer D’s are…
The Killer D’s
1. Denial: Denial is a defense mechanism and is marked by one’s behavior that refuses to acknowledge, integrate or accept vital and often factual information regarding the feelings, thoughts, events or circumstances, about oneself or conveyed to us by another person.
Denial is a subtle form of self-delusion, where a person may not wish to look at and own problems and errors they have committed, which could lead to corrected behaviors within the self or in the relationship. Denial is also marked by a refusal to bear responsibility for any hurt or pain caused in the context of a relationship, which means burdens will never really be explored nor healed in earnest.
Finally denial sets one up as “Judge, Jury and Executioner,” as this falsely empowered stance puts one in a “one-up” position over another, which means power in the relationship will not be shared effectively. Like the shark in the picture above, denial could be deadly to the person and to a relationship.
2. Defensiveness: Defensiveness, another ego defense, is behavior that excessively guards against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one’s ego or exposure of one’s shortcomings. Defensiveness squelches communication, as active listening skills are not used to hear the other person, typically because a rebuttal is simultaneously being planned in the mind of the person who is defensive.
3. Dismissal: Dismissal means “to put off or aside,” especially from your consideration. Dismissal is especially painful because it is behavior that seems to reject versus explore and validate the rights, viewpoints, opinions or reality of another. Dismissal, as are most of these Killer D’s, is corrected when a person takes time to empathetically learn what is of importance in the context of the relationship, then moves to validate your partner’s experience and their reality.
4. Deflection: Deflection means to “bend or turn aside; turn from a true course or straight line, or to swerve.” This is harmful to relationships because taking personal responsibility for one’s actions and subsequently the generating of solutions that could help to resolve impasses is what is typically deflected or “turned from.”
5. Dishonesty: If truth is good fertilizer for personal and relational growth, then dishonesty contaminates and disqualifies any behavior that is demonstrated in an effort to rebuild trust in a relationship. Dishonesty is a selfish way to protect one’s own ego, but it often generates mistrust and anxiety within the life of your partner because (s)he never really knows when truth and authenticity will be bombarded with deception and falsehood.
6. Delusion: Delusion is a fixed and false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact. Delusion is harmful to a relationship because outside information that would explain or clear up circumstances is not integrated into the picture. This creates a power imbalance in the relationship because one person holds all the cards (“the truth as I see it“) leaving the other person in a disempowered position of fault and who in all likelihood could never provide data or behavior that would disprove guilt or demonstrate innocence.
7. Digs and Digging In: Digs are statements and eventual behavior done to another with the intent to wound, harm and hurt another person. Digs can be a way to provoke angry, bitter and/or violent reactions within another, because the dig by definition is a “bite” that originates from the provocateur. As with many of these Killer D’s, the Digs/Digging In is also a reflection of one’s stubbornness and hard-heartedness.
8. Dissuade: Dissuading means to deter by advice or persuasion, and often seeks to persuade someone to not do something or engage in action that could resolve or clear up a matter. Dissuading often employs the behavior of “fractionating,” that is, wanting the other person to see only a fraction of the truth (1/4, 1/2 or 3/4’s) but never the whole truth, typically because something is to be gained by covering up the part that one wishes to keep secret from another.
9. Discouragement: Discouragement means to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence, and leads to the disheartening and possibly breaking the spirit of another. This unfortunate behavior is often fueled by fear, and is another example of the misuse of one’s energy: using it to tear down versus building up oneself or another in healthy ways.
10. Defaming: Defaming means “to attack the good name or reputation of another, by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything that is injurious.” The defamation that I see in my office that harms relationship tends to be unintentional; often one person focuses on the negative attributes of another versus the positive attributes and contributions of another.
Remember the “I want what I want when I want it” way of being? This form of behavior tends to discount or minimize the healthy behaviors of/from another, but instead tends to harm (or assassinate) the character and behavior of another, by “friendly fire” comments because one has mistaken their partner/spouse for the enemy.
11. Diluting: Diluting means “to reduce the strength, force, or efficiency of by admixture.” Diluting is another way of obscuring the truth as one person sees it, and when I see it, it involves minimizing the behavior or contribution of another.
Keep in mind that all behavior has a function, and when I see a person engage in diluting behavior, it is usually employed because a person wants more of what ever behavior is being given to them. They perceive that if they can “dilute” or minimize the current contribution, then perhaps the other person will do more, provide more, offer more, etc. It is a backwards and counterproductive way of getting one’s need met.
12. Doubt: Doubt means “to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely, leading to hesitation, indecision or disbelief.” Doubt marked by healthy skepticism and a hesitation to accept behavior as trustworthy until it is credible is not what we are talking about here. That type of behavior is usually credited to the relationship account as trustworthy when the behavior is reliable and consistent.
On the other hand, what harms a relationship is the manifestation of unhealthy and unnecessary doubt, marked by the engagement in “double-minded thinking” and subsequently “double-minded behavior.”
This form of behavior is a reflection of a person having conflicting thoughts and duplicity in his or her thinking and behavior, which leads to choices to follow his or her own way, even when clear evidence points toward unhealthy outcomes with some of the choices. This type of thinking and behavior creates doubt within a coupleship regarding will they ever be able to reconcile and “get on the same page” in their relationship.
13. Demonic: Demonic does not infer that a person is possessed by a demon. However, it does mean that the person is acting insanely and may engage in behavior that sets out to do harm, injury or evil to another.
Preceding the action, the person may speak poorly or unfavorably about the other person (spewing a form of toxic shame which results in the dehumanization of the “offended” party), creating a bias or prejudice against them that “justifies” any behavior that they may serve up or employ. Again, nothing that is possibly good can come from swimming next to a person who engages in this form of shark-like behavior.
14. Deprivation: Deprivation means “to remove or withhold something from the enjoyment or possession of a person or persons.” I tend to see deprivation when one or both people get emotionally flooded and regress into a child-like ego state, and you guessed it, in their upset stomp off with their toys in hand refusing to “play with” or engage in connection with another.
Hurt is often the catalyst and the “toys” are healthy intimacy needs in nature (love, deference, safety, collaboration, kindness, gentleness, etc.), with additional and prolonged damage being done when resentments are allowed to recycle within and between them. Remember the old saying, “he who seeks revenge should dig two graves; one for the other and one for himself” as this process slowly and painfully may kill off a relationship (with one’s God, self and others).
15. Desertion: Desertion means and speaks to “willful abandonment, especially of one’s spouse without consent.” Although there is an aggressive component to this behavior (separating and moving out of a living space), often we see the passive demonstration of this behavior, marked by neglect and a lack of time, attention and energy to create and maintain a healthy relationship.
I am apt to hear one spouse comment to the other that because of addictive behavior, the “offender” left the relationship years ago, speaking to a subtle but painful form of desertion. Not only is there a lack of connection with the other, but usually there is a weak connection if not desertion of one’s values, mores and ethic regarding how they will live their life in a healthy manner.
16. Deviance: Deviance means “to turn aside, as from a route, way, course, and to depart or swerve, as from a procedure, course of action or acceptable norm.” Typically the opposite of harmony, unity and understanding, deviance by definition is also marked by a digression from a line of healthy thought or reasoning.
The result I tend to see is one partner wants a relationship marked by the presence and demonstration of healthier character “values” that (s)he has chosen to live by, while their mate seeks a lifestyle marked by practices and behaviors which tend to be a reflection of character “defects” often connected to maladaptive or addictive behavior. It is difficult to create a bridge of connection much less resolution in the relationship when the character values and the character defects are divergent, especially when deviance serves to obscure one’s vision, health and reality.
17. Disease: Simply means the continuance of maladaptive and or destructive behavior, that causes harm to self or other loved ones, marked by not engaging in a course of treatment in earnest to overcome the harmful behavior in question.
Diseases come in different forms and sizes (alcohol, drugs, spending, sex, gambling, food, work, etc.) but tend to nullify if not downright kill off parts of the host, which is you and possibly others in the system that you live in. As you could imagine, many diseases are preventable and treatable, and could render positive outcomes in your personal life and relationships if managed.
18. Disputes: Disputes means “to engage in argument or debate, to argue vehemently, wrangle or quarrel.” Disputes are not discussion nor dialogues. There is nothing wrong with the practice of those values, which tend to be marked by resolution in a relationship versus relationship derailment.
Disputes are different in that they often involve strife and quarrel, which tend to be injurious to the relationship. Interestingly, quarrel comes from the Greek word mache, from which we obtain our English word machete. When we dispute and engage in quarreling, we are not only engaging in behavior that temporarily breaks our relationship bond, but in our process we may be hacking at the soul and spirit of another person. Not a good thing. Remember the effects of the shark in the picture above.
19. Debacles: Debacles are behaviors that lead to disaster, calamity, catastrophe and possibly ruin. Most debacles that I see are preventable, but are usually implemented when boundaries are not adhered to, thereby creating an unnecessary (and unneeded) flow of unhealthy behavior that leaves others reeling in the wake of the unhealthy behavior. Debacles could be prevented when a person becomes emotionally self-aware, usually of their anger, and adheres to the “stop signs” that their mind, spirit and sometimes the other person brings to their attention.
20. Dullness: Dullness means “slow in motion or action, not brisk, sluggish, mentally slow and lacking brightness of mind.” Not meant to insult or malign anyone’s character, but I tend to see dullness when a person may not use the best of their ability, resources and energy to dive into understanding what is creating a problem, and subsequently, what solutions could be generated to resolve the current problem(s) at hand.
When wrongs are committed, others, typically partners, spouses and family members are waiting to see if you will engage in a process of self-discovery then problem resolution, marked by you coming to your own assistance and engaging in behavior that saves you from yourself. Unfortunately, dull behavior is usually the opposite of wise behavior, which is marked by a person demonstrating that they are becoming “skilled at living.”
The Empowering E’s (Part 3 of 3) are words that begin with the letter “E” and are behaviors that not only offset the harmful effects of the Killer D’s, but when practiced often enrich and enliven ourselves and our relationships. The Empowering E’s are:
The Empowering E’s
7. Emotional Restitution
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