Guard Your Heart, Adoptees!

Don’t you hate having someone point his or her long, bony finger at you and tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing? In my opinion, this is nothing short of playing God.

It has helped me immensely to learn about the psychological dynamic of projection. My layman’s understanding of it is that if someone says something judgmental about me, they’re really saying that is how they feel about themselves. Try that next time someone throws a judgmental thought at you. It diffuses your reaction so that you can respond responsibly and not emotionally.

safe people1.

It is my belief that we are all of equal worth and are on a horizontal playing field. One of the most effective ways I can spot people who judge are those who give unsolicited advice or counsel. Yes, they may be well-intentioned and even knowledgeable. However, unsolicited counsel is nothing more than a glorified put-down.

Augsburger created a diagram about relationships that I have made myself accountable to for years, and it has literally changed my life. It has helped me sidestep the judgers as well as keep my own attitudes and behavior on track. Notice as you review the diagram that “talking with” is the correct way of relating to others.

 Talking down







Equal Mutual

Give and talking with hearing and

take being heard






Talking up

Once we’ve weeded out judgmental, self-appointed counselors from our lives, we can put out feelers by observing the reactions of others to our words and feelings. Safe people desire to build up, to reassure us that they care enough about us to invest something of themselves in our lives through words and actions.


Here are some attitudes and actions of people who build up:

 They accept us as we are—they don’t try to “fix” us.

They recognize our potential.

They believe in us and tell us so.

They encourage us to “aim high.”

They assure us that they will always be there for us.

They seek to neutralize our fears.

They make us laugh.

They tell the truth when we need to hear it, and they admit their

own mistakes readily.

They give us the freedom to screw up and make mistakes…to be human.

In my book, these basic characteristics are “givens” in finding safe

people. Being in their presence is like being in the hollow of a tree —

we are safe from the storms of life and safe to tell it like it is.

As we apply what we’ve learned in this chapter to our lives, we will gradually gain the ability to identity safe people and then develop relationships with them.


To begin searching for safe people, put out feelers, and take a risk.

(Excerpt from 20 Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make, Copyright, 2015.


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