Foolproofing Your Life: How to Deal Effectively with the Impossible People in Your Life

Foolproofing Your Life: How to Deal Effectively with the Impossible People in Your Life

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by Jan Silvious

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The world is filled with difficult people. It is impossible to avoid them. (You may have one, in particular, in your life right now.) In dealing with such people, we often try a number of coping strategies. Unfortunately, our best attempts at making peace often fail. This is because the difficult people in our lives are often what the Bible calls "fools." And dealing


The world is filled with difficult people. It is impossible to avoid them. (You may have one, in particular, in your life right now.) In dealing with such people, we often try a number of coping strategies. Unfortunately, our best attempts at making peace often fail. This is because the difficult people in our lives are often what the Bible calls "fools." And dealing with fools requires a special kind of biblical wisdom.

You've tried everything–from confrontation to passivity. You've found out what doesn't work; now discover what does. Gain the tools you need to get along with others and conduct your relationships in a manner that honors God–and preserves your sanity!–in Foolproofing Your Life: Wisdom for Untangling Your Most Difficult Relationships. Learn how new insights from the book of Proverbs can help you respond to those relationships that seem hard to untangle.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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The Crown Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt



Know that wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find it, then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
PROVERBS 2 4 : 1 4 , NASB

We have no words for speaking of wisdom to the stupid.
He who understands the wise is wise already.

Nine-tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in time.

The wise man is also the just, the pious, the upright,
the man who walks in the way of truth.


Raising Your Relational IQ

Sally looked wistfully at the other women in the room. She had come to the Christmas party at church reluctantly, hoping to find some peace and joy for her soul. But in the midst of her friends’ amiable banter, all she could hear were the words of her husband, Don. They were words that had cut her to the quick: “You are so dull and stupid. I don’t know why I ever married you.”

Don was on one of his tears. Just last month he seemed to be doing better, trying harder and treating his wife better, but then things began to tense up. There had been a minor disagreement over a Christmas present, and from that point on, Don had seemed to become angrier and angrier. The man who just a few days before had vowed his love for her now was cursing her and raging at her. This man she loved but feared was almost destroying her.

It was so hard to put it all together. Her pensive look would have given her away if anyone had looked at her closely. Although she was among women who loved her and wanted to include her, she was on an island in her mind, trying to figure out why she felt so crazy.

Maybe you are like Sally. You understand what it means to be caught in the undertow of a relationship that seems to pull you down. Each time there is a lull in the tension, you tell yourself, This time, everything is going to be all right. Yet in a few hours or a few days, you are thrust into confusion again. Often you are blamed for whatever negative circumstances occur, and yet for the life of you you can’t figure out why.

Sarah is a woman who was forced to look reality square in the face. “My mother can be so much fun and a real friend in tough situations, if she wants to be. She is generous with my kids, and we look forward to her monthly visits.”

Sarah tried to love her mother, Mary, but Mary had another side to her that baffled Sarah and everyone else. “I guess you could say she has a major blind spot,” Sarah explained. “Everything will be going along fine, and then something happens to upset Mother. We never know what it will be; we just find out that she’s upset. Her anger flares, and she has what my dad always called ‘one of her three-day mad spells.’

“She’s had these so many times throughout my life that I have felt there was no hope. I’ve figured that’s just the way she is and I just have to live with her spells that throw us all off balance. What bothers me now, however, is that I’ve seen her do the same thing to my children. She tells them, ‘If you don’t want to come stay with Granny, it’s okay,’ but then she punishes them for not coming. She withdraws, and no one hears from her until she eventually calls. Then everything is fine again— for a while.”

Sarah’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled a particularly painful incident with her mother. “My daughter had a very rare form of cancer three years ago, when she was eight. Since my mother lives only an hour from us, she volunteered to stay at the house with my son while my husband and I were at the hospital. The afternoon after Mother arrived, she called the hospital room, demanding to know where I ‘hid’ the mop. She wanted to clean my ‘filthy’ kitchen floor. Since we were talking to the oncologist about the treatment plan for my daughter, I told Mother I would have to call her back. She insisted that I tell her right then where I put the mop! Sensing by my end of the conversation that she was pushing me, my husband took the phone and said, ‘Mary, we will call you back later. The doctor is here, and we can’t talk.’ Then he just hung up the phone.

“When we got home that evening, Mother wasn’t speaking. She never asked about her granddaughter but only made an announcement: ‘I am leaving.’ I was too exhausted from the whole ordeal with my daughter to argue with her, so I just went to the bedroom and closed the door. I heard Mother say one last loud sentence to my husband before the front door slammed. ‘Obviously,’ she said, ‘my presence isn’t needed.’ I didn’t have the energy to stop her, and honestly, I didn’t want to try. We had been through episodes like this before. I always found a way to smooth things over, to pack it all away and never mention it again until finally things would return to normal…if you can call that kind of relationship normal.

“About three days later, Mother called and asked about my little girl as if she hadn’t even been at our house. I was angry with her, but as usual, I told her what she wanted to hear, and I never brought up the incident again. There have been other incidents since then, and they’re really starting to wear me out. My dad tried to reason with her for years about her ‘mad spells,’ but he might as well have been talking to the wall. She refuses to even admit she has them much less be willing to change. She thinks she is just fine, and if people have a problem with her, well, it’s just too bad. They are wrong, and if she’s really mad, she calls them ‘stupid’!

“I love my mother, and I want to be a good daughter. I don’t want to be mean or act unchristian, but I just can’t stand to walk on eggshells anymore. And I don’t want my children to have to either. Something’s got to change…but I’m afraid it will never be Mother.”

Sarah is describing the kind of complex, crazy-making relationship many of us experience sometime in our lives. Her mother, as generous and fun as she can sometimes be, has more than a blind spot. She has a dangerous character flaw that ensures that anyone who gets close to her will eventually be ensnared by her manipulation. Mary exhibits the behavior of one whom the Bible identifies as a fool. The reality is, relating to her will always involve emotional chaos.

Meet the Author

Jan Silvious is the co-host (with Kay Arthur) of Precept Ministries’ national radio program, “Precept Live with Kay and Jan.” She is also a counselor and popular keynote speaker at church and women’s events. Jan has authored several books, including The Five-Minute Devotional and Please Don’t Say You Need Me: Biblical Answers for Co-Dependency. She is a frequent guest host on Moody Broadcasting Network’s national programs, “Mid-Day Connection” and “Open Line.” A graduate of Radford University in Radford, Virginia, Jan today lives in TN with her husband and has three grown sons.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Foolproofing Your Life 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Richele More than 1 year ago
Normally, I never sit down to read what I consider "self-help" or "relationship" books. I have found most are full of things you either already know or a bunch of fluff advice that never works in the real world. So, when I was sent Fool Proofing Your Life by Water Brook Multnomah Publishing, I wondered, "did I really sign up for this book?" and "how will I get through it?". I reluctantly sat down and opened this book to find that Jan Silvious wrote an amazing book! I remarked to my husband that I could have written this would have lacked the courage...the author knew my struggle. I was left wondering how she knew what was going on in my life so well. Honestly, I was so engaged in this book that I forgot about all around me and absorbed every word. I wondered how I would sit down and write a review as my heart wanted to write more of a thank you letter. I did not think I could impress on others enough how insightful, amazing, and crucial this book is to your life. It will give you a freedom you have not yet known from fools in your life and insight into why we all play the fool at times. Each chapter is filled with things that you would swear come from your own head and heart. Reading this book was like talking to a friend who truly understands you. Jan Silvious goes yet one step further by ending each chapter with a study to do on your own. It begins with a section called "Think About It" where you are asked questions to further reflect on the chapter. Then you read "Go to God About It", where she masterfully applies the lesson to God's true Word. Finally you read "Consult the Bible About It", where you are given verses to reflect and meditate on about the lesson in the chapter. This ensures that you are not simply reading a book but changing the way you think in a way that conforms to God's Word. I promise you that after reading this book and applying the lessons you will want to write a thank you letter to the author. This is a book to give as a gift...but you must not share your copy, as you will want to keep the lessons and biblical applications handy to keep yourself on the right track. This book will make you want to run out and buy a copy for all those you know. (book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An extremely important perspective for those dogged to "just get over it" and forgive when they are mistreated by family and/or friends.
Greg Horwitz More than 1 year ago
This book was so liberating. After 30 years of marraige I discovered I wasnt alone and didnt have to lose my mind and soul. Thank you for writing this book.
MelodieFleming More than 1 year ago
As a minister's wife, I regularly coach people who live in difficult relationships. This is the best book I've ever read on this topic. Practical, biblical, but doesn't preach.
Renee90 More than 1 year ago
Fool~Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvious addresses the issues of how to deal effectively with difficult people in your life. I found this book to be written in an honest, up front and caring way. The chapters are designed with Bible study reviews based on Proverbs and study questions that help you delve into self evaluation. While I didn't agree with all the principles that Ms. Silvious presented, I did find the book well written and motivational. This was book was provided to me for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fang gets points for both nice and hot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very informative, helpful, not just about others but about oneself as well.
jd4nd More than 1 year ago
I brought this book to a lunch meeting so I could read it while waiting for a friend to arrive. My friend arrived early, saw the book and assumed I was attempting to distance myself from him, thinking he is one of the fools in my life. After reassuring him that I was just given the book a few days ago, he took the book to read during an upcoming vacation. He loved the book, felt it spoke to him and has read it several times. He recommended it to several others and was gracious enough to let one of them hold on to the book for a while. Needless to say, I will be ordering one for myself, and this time no borrowing will be allowed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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BrookeB More than 1 year ago
Originially, I bought this book (two of them) to help a friend deal with her inlaws and I thought it might be useful for a better way to deal with my ex-spouse. What I realized is that there are MANY fools that I have been coping with ineffectively and this book has helped to tap into my intuitive reasoning resources rather than relying on my defense mechanisms. When I understood that the change in dealing with the fool has to come from me, it made the prospect of running into a fool that much easier to fathom an appropriate outcome rather than the nightmare that I am used to. It is easy to read, it is practical for any situaltion where fools cause stress in your life, and helps the person reading to become less of a fool themselves!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago