The Four Components of Good Self-Esteem Or Positive Identity

People who struggle with low self-esteem normally exhibit many relational and emotional problems. The desire for a good self-esteem is great and is actually found in relationship with something bigger than ourselves. One of the wonderful benefits of living in relationship with God by faith is that He gives us a positive identity. We know … Continue reading “The Four Components of Good Self-Esteem Or Positive Identity”

People who struggle with low self-esteem normally exhibit many relational and emotional problems. The desire for a good self-esteem is great and is actually found in relationship with something bigger than ourselves. One of the wonderful benefits of living in relationship with God by faith is that He gives us a positive identity. We know who we are and we know it is good! This positive identity is another term for what psychologists call positive self-esteem. It is actually a more accurate term because self-esteem is about how I feel about myself, positive identity is about who I really am! Positive identity has four major components:

1) Virtue. This is the sense that we have spiritual value and worth. Our value is inherent in the fact that we are created in the image of God. It is not derived from the good things I do for God. God created Adam and Eve and then called them good. What had they done to deserve that affirmation? Nothing. Their goodness was a part of the way God made them, their true self. Knowing our true value is a vital part of a positive identity.

2) Community. This is the sense that we belong and are a part of something
bigger than ourselves, that we have something to offer. God created us out of community (“let us create man..”) and for community (“it is not good for man to be alone”). An infant is “we” with its mother before he or she become an “I”. Knowing that you belong to a caring community is a vital part of a positive identity.

3) Power. This is the sense that we have choices and the ability to choose. We have already established that God created us with a choice and with the power to make that choice. Limits to our power by God-given boundaries help keep our power from destroying our virtue. Knowing that we have the power to make good choices is a vital part of a positive identity.

4) Gender. This is the sense that we are masculine or feminine and comfortable with our sexuality. God specifically created mankind as “male and female”. The difference between the genders is a part of the design. The unique ways that God created men and women allow them to complement each other as they move together toward intimacy. Knowing our gender and being comfortable with our masculinity or femininity is a vital part of a positive identity.

Since all four of these qualities are part of the true self that God created us to be, it stands to reason that any movement away from these qualities is a good indication that we have taken a detour from life. In fact, anytime that we move away from life, our positive identity suffers because we are trying to find life in something other than God, and since God gives us our positive identity, we lose sight of it as we wander from Him. Therefore, these components of positive identity become a good criterion for judging whether we are living in this intimate relationship with God called life.

This is a good time for us to pause and ask a few probing questions. Do I understand my true value as a person or do I tend to base my value on performance or behavior? Do I fully enter in to community and feel a part of something bigger than myself or do I tend to isolate from others and “perform” at public functions? Do I carefully use my power to make good choices or do I tend to play the victim, as if I have no power to make positive choices? Do I feel the need to use my power to control those around me? Am I comfortable with my masculinity or femininity, or do I tend to act as though I have something to prove in that area? Life and positive identity go hand in hand. This is the way we can regularly take inventory of our life.

Our tendency, though, is to judge the quality of our life by other criteria. Am I happy? Am I getting what I want? Am I achieving all of my goals? These criteria actually grow out of a view of God as a resource to make my life work the way I think it should rather than viewing God as life itself!

5 Sure Ways of Enriching Your Communication Skills

There’s more to communicating than just talking. Communication skills go a long way in making life easier not just at your work or business place, but also with your family, friends and anyone else that you might relate with for that matter. When someone is said to possess excellent communication skills, he or she is said to have the ability and skill to convey a message clearly and with minimal ambiguity. Is this you? Or you are like millions of other people who face communication barriers and would like to transcend them and be an exceptional communicator? Let us examine a few things that can get you started in the right direction.

1. Knowledge.

If you want to be a good communicator, you have to be trained to do so. In most cases communicating effectively does not come naturally. Many schools do teach communication skills from a very early stage but most of us completely forget these lessons when we graduate. For one to become an effective communicator, one has to recall and practice what they learnt.

2. Communication involves listening also.

Many of us equate communication with eloquent speech. This is definitely true but there is more to communicating than just talking. Listening is a critical component of communicating. This is because in our introduction where we tackled what communicating is, we stated that communicating is sending clear and unambigious message. This can only be done when we are clear on what the other party is stating hence, we have to be listening actively. The term active listening has become a key component of effective communication skills.

3. Patience

Many people do not exercise this aspect of communicating. Not everyone communicates the way we do and cultural and ethnic considerations come into play in the way that people talk and send messages. If we are not patient with the other party we are communicating with, we may miss key components of their message causing us to give a wrong response.

4. Exercising eye contact

In today’s world, many of us get away with this because communication is now done electronically via email and chat. This however should be part of effective communicating whenever we are speaking with someone who is physically in front of us. Avoiding someone’s gaze or looking away when talking may signal to some a lack of confidence or that the communicator is being untruthful.

5. Facial expressions and body language

When speaking to someone face to face, we have to be careful because a huge percentage of communicating lies in the unspoken. Facial expressions can give off a lot of information and so can our body language. For instance, sneering, lack of eye contact, failure to smile, wincing, grinding of teeth and so forth can signal to the other party that we are either being untruthful, are being contemptuous or are disinterested in what we are saying. This goes for such postures are slouching, drooping hands, sliding backwards in the chair or yawning.

Major Reconstruction – Sooner Or Later, a Challenge For All Community Associations

Every association will face a major reconstruction project several times in the life of the development. This may occur because of clearly anticipated problems, such as re-roofing or re-painting, but it also will occur because of completely unanticipated (and unreserved-for) problems such as dry rot repair, soil subsidence, and leaks in windows, siding, and foundations. The Davis-Stirling Act only requires a reserve for those components that visual inspections into accessible areas reveal have a useful life of 30 years or less.

But what about components in areas that are not accessible? What about areas under staircases that sponsor dry rot due to long-term intrusion of water? Framing components under siding that have allowed water to enter slowly for years without any way to get it out except evaporation? Deteriorating concrete walkways or driveways due to the invasion of roots or soil subsidence due to unconsolidated fill? Or, balcony railings rotting off at their interior supports? Three people in Antioch were severely injured last week when such a railing collapsed. None of these building components would be included in the typical reserve or maintenance budget.

So now you have a collapsed balcony or maybe a lot of rotted siding and no funds to repair any of it. What to do? This scenario has occurred to many associations which have encountered unexpected repairs that were not funded by the usual reserve fund.

Finding the Right Expert

The first thing to do is retain the services of someone who can advise the association on the proper means of repair. General contractor, architect, engineer, or construction manager? Which expert will you need? A lot depends on the complexity and extent of the problem. If, for example, you have a failed balcony support beam-say something that has rotted due to years of water intrusion-just replacing the failed beam may not be enough. You don’t want it to happen again.

The first thing would be to retain someone who is a pro with waterproofing. Would you choose a building consultant or an architect? Architects are more expensive, but for a very complex waterproofing issue you want someone who has enough skill and understanding to re-design the system to make it water tight.

On the other hand, if the basic design is sound, but the materials have failed to do their job, a materials consultant who specializes in waterproof membranes may be the right choice. In our practice, we would start with the architect or an engineer because this particular balcony railing example involved a life-safety issue and because a re-design and/or strength calculations may be necessary.

If their opinion is that the problem is relatively simple to solve such that a re-design of the waterproofing system or a re-calculation of the strength of the system isn’t required, and the project simply requires a re-build of the original design, then a building consultant or a general contractor might provide the specifications.

On the other hand, if the basic structure has proven inadequate for other reasons, such as deflection over time, or failed joists or columns, a structural engineer might be necessary to do the proper calculations and provide a re-design of the structural components. A few hours of an architect’s time will usually be enough to determine the level of expertise required for the project, so if in doubt, hire an architect first.

Bidding the Job

Once the problem has been analyzed and the plans and specifications for repair have been drawn, the bidding process can start. Normally a list of preferred bidders is prepared. This preference usually comes from past experience or specialty. For political, as well as economic, reasons several bids should be obtained. Even if the board or management favors a particular contractor-perhaps because of a successful project performed earlier-it is advisable to obtain at least three bids to demonstrate due diligence in the bidding process.

When the bids are opened it is up to the board, with management’s recommendations, to choose the right contractor. Price may not be everything. Past performance, specialty, and availability may have important roles to play. All of those factors should be considered before the final choice is made.

Drafting the Contract

Your attorney can assist in reviewing and negotiating the contract. There are a lot of considerations, and good contract drafting is a topic all of its own. But some of the considerations are:
(1) is this a cost-plus or a lump sum contract?
(2) Does the owner furnish all plans and specifications (and except responsibility for them) or is there an element of “design-build” in the contract?
(3) Are there unconscionable provisions-a provision buried in fine print, or a disclaimer of all express or implied warranties? Courts will often not enforce such provisions.
(4) What are the payment provisions? Will there be progress payments or a lump sum at the end of the job? Will the owner hold back (retain) a portion of the payment to be sure that all mechanics liens are cleared?
(5) What if the project is delayed? Should there be penalties for that? What about incentives for bringing in the job sooner?
(6) How are we to deal with changes?
(7) Who bears the responsibility for misleading drawings or specifications (see 2 above.)?
(8) What insurance will the contractor be required to carry? (8) What warranties or indemnity will the contractor be required to provide?
(9) What licenses must the contractor have?
(10) Will the owner have the right to stop work and under what circumstances?

We could go on, but you get the idea. There are many questions that must be asked and which can only be answered in the context of the particular job. Your attorney working with your architect or engineer can fashion a contract that is appropriate for the job.

Funding the Project

How will the association pay for all of this, especially if it is a job that no one expected to have to do? Generally speaking there are only a few options. If the job is contemplated and funded in the reserve fund, then no problem. But what about all of those unexpected reconstruction projects?

The association can borrow the money-either from a bank or from itself. Or it can go to the members for a special assessment to pay for it. But if the association is hit with a large, unexpected job, then borrowing may be the only option unless the members are willing to approve a special assessment. If the assessment is no more than 5% of the existing budget or requires only a 20% increase in the monthly assessment, the board can simply impose it; otherwise it will have to go to a vote of the members, not usually an easy thing to win. But a big job can quickly outdistance those statutory maximums and if the member vote does not support a special assessment, recourse to a bank may be the only option. The association’s attorney can assist with the necessary review of proposed assessments or bank loan documents.

If all goes well and the job is completed on time and on budget, terrific! But if the contractor defaults, either because he does not complete the job or is proceeding so slowly that it will not be completed on time, or because work has been rejected by the inspectors, it may be time to consider termination of the contract. But before that happens, consult with the association’s attorney to be sure that the contract provisions are followed so that the association will not itself be in breach.

A big, unexpected construction job is probably one of the most disrupting events in an association’s life. Some associations never recover. This can be avoided with early inspections of all building components, whether visible or not, so that failure can be anticipated in enough time to adequately reserve for the costs. Like cancer, early detection offers the best chance for a cure.