SmaDnao 06-4-45




Dr. Gary Smalley

Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, 216 pp.  ISBN 0-8423-5530-8


Smalley has a widely known public ministry in the area of relationships.  He is cofounder of the Smalley Relationship Center and author of more than forty books.  This book clarifies some aspects of relationships and promotes a number of effective methods for restoring them.  But we have to get beyond our own selfishness and blindness, and honestly, vigorously work at it.   Excellent one-page summaries are included at the end of each chapter.


“Life is relationships; the rest is just details.”  “Everything in life that truly matters can be boiled down to relationships.” (3)


“Mommy won’t be coming home tonight.  She’s never coming home again.”  “More than two thousand children every day hear what Jeremy heard.  In ten years, that can translate into negatively affecting more than 7 million relationships.  This has to stop!”  (18)


“Understanding our relational DNA unlocks the miracles and mysteries of how our relationships work.”  (18)


“When God questioned them, Adam pointed the finger at Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent.  Neither was willing to take responsibility.”  “And as a result we have been struggling with shattered relationships ever since.” (20)


“The relationships DNA code is made up of three simple yet profound strands:

1.     You are made for relationships.

2.     You are made with the capacity to choose.

3.     You are made to take responsibility for yourself.”  (20)



“Even when they are hard, difficult, or just plain frustrating, you need relationships.  It’s the way you are wired.  You have a longing to belong to someone….” (21) “You are made for three kinds of relationships—with others, with yourself, and with God.” (22)  These three are intricately interrelated.


The basic relationship truth: “It’s never just about the other person.” (23)


“Usually the pain that another person causes you is coming out of a fear or insecurity you have about yourself.” (24)


“It is unhealthy to be too focused on your relationship to yourself; it can lead to…narcissism.  However, it is just as unhealthy to belittle, dismiss, or ignore yourself.”  (25)


“Put yourself in the picture.  When you master this skill—seeing a picture image of both the other person and yourself in the same frame—you suddenly have a perspective on yourself with others.  You can see the consequence of your own actions and the effect they have on the feelings of your friends and family.” (26)


“Your most important relationship is with God, the source of all life.”
 (27)  “If you ignore this relationship, if it becomes out of balance, then all of your other relationships will also be out of kilter.” (28)  “When you have a healthy relationship with God, you are in the best position to see yourself as he sees you, which will result in a healthier relationship with yourself.” 


“All three DNA relationships are interrelated.  When one is out of balance, the other two suffer.  When you do something to strengthen one, the other two become stronger too.” (32)



“You can’t always choose your relationships—you didn’t choose your parents or your siblings or your children—but you can choose how you will act in those relationships.” (33)


“The external problem is rarely the real problem.” (40)  [“The issue is not the issue.” dlm paraphrase]


“The destructive dance that every couple was involved in stemmed from fear.  Every husband and wife was acting out of a core fear.” “Every person on the planet wrestles with some core fear.”  (41) [I’m afraid I do too. dlm]


“Most women have a core fear related to disconnection—they fear not being heard, not being valued, somehow losing the love of another.  Most men, on the other hand, have a core fear of helplessness or feeling controlled—they fear failure or getting stepped on.” (42)


“What is your core fear?  Do you already know what it is?  Most people don’t.”  42


The Steps in the Fear Dance (45)

I hurt. I want. I fear. I react. You hurt. You want. You fear. You react. I hurt.


“Don’t expect the other person to be your solution.” (47)


“When you feel your wants won’t be fulfilled, you experience fear:

We Can’t Live Without…                  So We Fear…

Acceptance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   Rejection

Grace  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Judgment

[big long list in each column…                               ] (49)


“It’s not merely your core fear that disrupts and injures your relationships.  It’s how you choose to react when someone pushes your fear button.” (50)


The most common ways we react when we fear our wants will not be met.

REACTION                                       EXPLANATION

Withdrawal . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . .. .    You avoid others or alienate yourself…

Escalation . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . .    Your emotions spiral out of control…

[big long list in each column                                   ] (51)


“The Fear Dance…works perfectly to get you right to where you don’t want to be.  And it does it every time, without fail.” (56)


“Once both people identify their core fears, a solution often suggests itself.” (58)


You can choose your reaction, and your reaction is based on your thoughts.  But from all of your thoughts will come your actions and your emotions, either negative or positive.” (65)


“Whenever you focus your attention on what the other person is doing, you take away your own power.  You make yourself weak.”  “How much better to have some say in the matter!  When you focus on yourself rather than on the other person, you vastly increase your odds of being able to enjoy some impact and influence over the relationship problem that bothers you.” (67)


“Personal responsibility requires you to take a hard look at your own side of the equation.” (68)


If our want to control your reactions, you need to control your thoughts.” (68)  “Our emotions are good sources of information about how we are thinking.  We cannot control our emotions directly, but we can influence how we are feeling by changing our thoughts.  Change our thoughts first, and the desired feelings will follow.” (69)


“Take Responsibility for Your Buttons.”  “…start thinking, Okay.  When I reacted that way, I wonder where that was coming from?” (70)


“Give up or give to God all your expectations that people, places, and things will bring you lasting happiness and fulfillment.” (76)


“The big part of tapping into the Power of One involves forgiveness, both giving it and asking for it.  It’s not easy to do, but adults who want their relationships to flourish must become good at it.” (81)


“If you are like me, you long for relationships in which you feel completely safe.  You want to feel free to open up and reveal who you really are and know that the other person will still love, accept, and value you—no matter what.”  “It’s hard for people to get close to us if we’re standing on the other side of a thick wall or a false mask.” (90)


“Walls are always built by people who feel threatened.” (91)


“Respect the wall.”  “First, the person needs to know that you understand the wall is there for a reason and that you accept its presence.” “And when you create a safe environment in your relationship, when the other person no longer needs to protect himself or herself from you, the wall will eventually come down.” (94)


“Judgment closes people up and shuts them down.”  “Much better things tend to happen when we suspend judgment…and replace it with a genuine interest in the other person.” (98)


“When you are trustworthy with others, you dedicate yourself to treating them as the valuable and vulnerable people that they are.” (103)  “Being and staying trustworthy is an ongoing responsibility and choice.  But when other people see us as trustworthy, they feel safe with us.” (105)


“When people feel safe in our presence, they naturally open up.  And when they open up, connection naturally occurs.” (108)


“Good self-care is vital for satisfying interpersonal connections.”  “…get regularly connected to God….  As God’s love recharges you daily, you in turn can relay that love to others.”  “If you get so busy caring for others that you forget to connect regularly to the power and wisdom of heaven, what happens?  You soon become a dead battery, of no use to anyone.” (113)


“Jesus assumes that we want the best for ourselves; that’s how he created us.  He instructs us to pursue the best interests of others with the same energy that we pursue our own best interests.”  “When you love God with every part of your being, he fills you up to overflowing with his amazing love.  Out of that overflow, you give to others.  This is the balanced life, the only kind of life worth living.” (114)


“Listen to your emotions.”  “Ask yourself, ‘What am I feeling?’”  “As you do this, remind yourself that you’re after information.  Don’t judge your emotions; just see them as information.  What is your body trying to tell you?”  “Once I identify the feelings, I ask myself, ‘So, what am I needing right now?  What do I need from others? What do I need from myself?’” (116)


“Okay, God, is this truth?  If it is truth, I want to act on it.  But if it is not the truth, I need to move on to something more productive.” (117)


Good self-care has three main components: receiving from others, attending to your own legitimate needs, and giving to others. (124)  “There’s no way that you can really take care of yourself without truly giving and serving others.” (125)


Reference: Deadly Emotions, Dr. Don Colbert.  Diseases can be caused by emotional stress.  “In general, stress results from unmet expectations.  Stress is the gap between what we expect ourselves and others to do and what actually happens.” (126)


“I make these four steps part of my prayer every morning before I get out of bed.” (127-28)

1.     Reduce all my earthly expectations to as close to zero as I can get.

2.     Receive everything that happens to me as filtered by God.

3.     Every upsetting experience is an opportunity to worship.

4.     I rest in God, listen quietly, and ask him what he’s telling me to do.


“True communication usually does not occur until each person understands the feelings that underlie the spoken words.”  Look for the emotional nugget.  (133)


“A lot of us (especially men) struggle with this skill.” “We want to solve a problem and complete a task, not deal with emotions.  We want only to figure out how to ‘fix it.’” (134)


“When people feel understood emotionally, they feel cared for.” (135)  “Effective communication makes room for people to actually feel what the other is feeling.” (138)


When we stop trying to solve the problem or resolve the issue and begin to work at understanding each other’s emotional state, relationships can move forward.  (141-42) 


“Effective communication is a complex business.” (144)


“Starting anywhere other than attending to the emotions will get you derailed most of the time.” (149)


“Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.” (p. 156 quoting Zig Ziglar)


“You tend to relax when winning becomes finding and implementing a solution that both people can feel good about.” (159)


No guarantees.  “You can do everything I’ve outlined in this book and still not get the relationships that you want.” (174)


“To the extent that you define the problem or the goal in terms of the other person, you remain paralyzed.  You will have no power to change anything.” (175)


“The only person you can change is yourself.” (176)



A.     How to Have a Relationship with God

B.     Identify Your Core Fear

C.    Relationship Resources


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