God’s Plan for Healthy Relating
We usually can sense when things are not right in our relationships. God created us with an innate need to live in authenticity, intimacy, vulnerability and trust with Him and with others. But when we encounter trauma and emotional challenges, our interactions become anything but healthy. We try to protect ourselves, like a person in a suit of armor readying for attack.
Unfortunately, the armor we put on to shield ourselves actually weighs us down and prevents us from responding to the world in a healthy way. In our attempt to protect our emotions, we view life and relationships through a lens of fear and apprehension.
But what if you could respond to daily relational challenges with confidence and resilience? What if your feelings served to offer you insight into how to best address every situation that arose in your life? What if you could see each obstacle clearly, could understand the issues at hand, and had a toolbox of powerful responses to communicate effectively?
I have good news. There IS a better way to respond to the challenges you face in life and experience more fulfilling relationships as God intended. We call that process Getting To The Core.
Getting To The Core is a model for dealing effectively with your inner emotions and subsequent behavior. As you learn to function from your Core Self – that part of us designed to assess circumstances with fluidity and spontaneity – you become able to respond appropriately and effectively to every situation.
It may sound intimidating, but Getting to the Core is nothing more than learning to be fully tuned in to your thoughts and feelings, and learning to make healthy choices from that awareness. And as a result, you gain the ability to relate more effectively to others.
Fight, Flight, Freeze or Flow
Rather than responding to stress with confidence and creativity, most of us rely on dysfunctional patterns of relating. Let’s look a bit closer at how many of us respond to stressful situations.
- Fight: When we function in our Protective Self we respond to the person by whom we feel hurt with aggression. We throw angry words at them and accuse them of intentionally hurting us. We shame, blame and argue with anyone threatening us.
- Flight: Instead of fighting, many choose to flee the situation, which is equally destructive. We run from the stressful circumstances in order to avoid conflict, telling ourselves that this is preferable to fighting—which is actually not likely to be the case. Issues are avoided, leaving elephants in the room which will cause even more problems down the road.
- Freeze: Finally, there are those of us who “go numb.” We retreat inwardly so that we can avoid a shaming lecture. We may create an inner dialogue that goes something like this: “I can’t wait until they quit yelling at me.”
Thankfully, there is another option: you can function in flow with everyone in your world. When you are in flow you are centered, submitted to the Holy Spirit, and you understand and are in control of your emotions. This gives you the ability to hear others without feeling threatened by what they say and do.
Core Self Functioning
In order for you to give up these three destructive patterns, you must learn a better way of relating. Before we learn that way, the way God created us to relate, let’s familiarize ourselves with the parts of our personality that will be instrumental in the change process.
- The Protective Self: This primitive part of our personality is best suited for war, not intimate relating. This part of our brain signals when we are experiencing extreme danger. Unfortunately, we often respond to everyday stressors as if they were “life and death” situations. Feeling threatened, we defend ourselves, often hooking the Protective Self of the other person. Or we become accusatory and threatening towards others. We build our case in order to overpower others, but then end up feeling threatened and threaten back.
- The Core Self: This part of our personality, empowered by the Holy Spirit, responds effectively to situations by utilizing such skills as calmness, clarity, compassion, creativity and concessions, leading to CONNECTION. From our Core Self, we can remind ourselves that we are safe, and we are able to accurately and effectively process demands made upon us. We can problem-solve, asserting ourselves in a healthy way so that we improve our chances of getting what we need. With practice we learn to notice the other person acting in a threatening or accusatory manner and choose not to join the fight. What we simply cannot get from others we can learn to get through ourselves and through God.
- The Most Vulnerable Self: Our Most Vulnerable Self is that part of us capable of relating in the most intimate way—“into me see,” leading to intimacy. We are transparent, humble and open with others. When our Most Vulnerable Self influences our Core Self, we are able to understand our feelings, process them, and make healthy decisions based upon them. We can think of E-motion as “energy in motion,” something valuable that informs us about what we need in any particular situation. We may choose to stay in the conversation with the other person or may choose to temporarily withdraw to tend to our feelings.
As we better understand these three aspects of our Self, we can move into a place of Cohesive Functioning. We can learn to sit with our feelings, responding effectively to today in a “real time” manner. We can begin to listen to our feelings, and understand what that e-motion, or “energy in motion” is telling us. We do not continue to overreact to situations, but rather we listen to others, listen to God, relate with ease and take good care of our Self.
Taking the Next Step
Are you ready to let go of fighting, flighting and freezing? Yes. Are you able to cultivate your Core Self so that you can cultivate your true and authentic Self, relating the way God intended? Absolutely, but it will take work, practice, more work and more practice. But, we can help you get there—and stay there!! If you’re ready to partner with us in this exciting journey, contact us at 206.219.0145 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about the next Getting To The Core Workshop near you. Or if you live outside of the Seattle area, contact us to schedule a one-on-one introduction to Core Self Functioning by phone or Skype. Blessings to you and Healthy Relating!