Words of Wisdom, Email Newsletter
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Take the next 42 or so breaths slowly and reflect deeply on your life. I hope these words help you grow in you the most valuable treasure in life: wisdom. Wisdom grows imperceptibly but flourishes like a mighty oak, standing the test of time
WoW 106: On being hurt in a relationship
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When you see something wrong in your relationship it is often first experienced through pain. You may feel misunderstood, disrespected, abandoned, ignored, unseen, offended, confused, surprised, angry, scared, or ashamed.
When you feel something is wrong, pause.
Take a breath and connect to what you are feeling.
Unspeakable damage comes from our unwillingness to sit and feel.
This business of getting present and feeling is courageous work, but a necessary step in the path to mature living.
Simply slowing down to identify and feel your feelings is gold. We can try to avoid our feelings, we can be consumed by them, or we can feel and deal with them. You may feel something for a few seconds, or a few minutes, but feelings fluctuate. Feelings are not constant, but it is valuable to sit and be aware of your feelings for many reasons. Significantly, they are a map to your thoughts. If you aren't aware you feel something, you can have difficulty identifying why you feel that way.
The meaning you make of your environment determines your reality. How you perceive something your partner does influences how you feel about it. A common cycle is to perceive a threat, feel the danger, and respond with defensiveness or shutting down to protect yourself. Pastor Rustin and I covered this in some detail in this 2 hour talk on spiritual strongholds and how they disrupt relationships.
Being connected to your feelings is only part of awareness.
A deeper part of awareness is noticing and nurturing what God is saying to you. In the future, I will say more about silence and solitude and prayer, but the best way to the deepest forms of awareness is to simply go deeper into a daily practice of prayer.
Separating out your feelings from your thoughts is critical to awareness. You may feel something, but this is not the same as thinking something. You may feel ignored, but that does not mean "My partner ignored me."
Separate out your partner's intent from your feelings. Don't assume the worst about your partner's intentions.
Your partner may not have intended to ignore you, disregard, or disrespect you. Seek to assume the best about other's intentions. Then, if proven otherwise, give grace, and remember the dark moments you have intended wrong.
One thing my clients will tell you is that I often ask them some version of the question: What is the opportunity here? We can come to see conflict as an opportunity to connect, grow, and love. It's up to you in how you look at it.
"Another learning I would like to mention briefly is one of which I am not proud but which seems to be a fact. When I am not prized and appreciated, I not only feel very much diminished, but my behavior is actually affected by my feelings. When I am prized, I blossom and expand, I am an interesting individual. In a hostile or unappreciative group, I am just not much of anything. People wonder, with very good reason, how did he ever get a reputation? I wish I had the strength to be more similar in both kinds of groups, but actually the person I am in a warm and interested group is different from the person I am in a hostile or cold group. Thus, prizing or loving and being prized or loved is experienced as very growth enhancing. A person who is loved appreciatively, not possessively, blooms and develops his own unique self. The person who loves nonpossessively is himself enriched. This, at least, has been my experience."
Carl Rogers, A way of Being
Here are a list of questions to help you get more clarity in your thinking when you feel hurt in a relationship. Ask yourself:
What is needed?
How can I give generous assumptions?
What do I feel?
What meaning am I making?
What am I speculating about?
What is true?
What would serve our healing?
How can I be gentle?
What is a courageous next step I could take?
God, what do you have for me here?
How can I serve?
Is there something I want to request?
(Use these questions as a journal prompt and prayers this week)
Even conflict is an opportunity for connection. Your feelings, no matter what you feel, are an opportunity to connect with your self, identify what you need, move closer to God, and serve others.
Did someone send this to you? Do you want to cultivate more of the good, true, courageous, and beautiful in your life?
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