Here are some basic steps to help implement the information and tools that you have been acquiring. Remember, knowledge without application will only lead to intellectualization. Application means risk because of the need for transparency and vulnerability, but that is where change begins!
Acknowledge it—What is going on? Is it an argument? Did someone step over the boundary line? Are you experiencing shame, guilt or depression over past mistakes or painful situations? Do you feel an inability to control, or a fear about your future? Be honest with yourself and admit that you are angry or afraid. Transparency must start with you if you want to help yourself. You are simply admitting that something is going on inside of you that hurts and needs to be dealt with. Anger, guilt and fear are some of the manifestations of your feelings—they are some of the ways in which your mind and body expresses themselves. Also, when you are honest with yourself, you are less likely to suppress the powerful, negative aspects of those feelings.
Define it—What feelings are you experiencing? Anger, depression, guilt and fear serve as the red flags to signal that other feelings and emotions are being processed inside of you; and often on a level that makes them difficult to recognize. You need to recognize the cues from these and other subjective expressions and take a personal survey. Are you feeling frustrated, embarrassed, ashamed, disappointed, afraid, disrespected, devalued, lonely, betrayed, etc. Once you are able to accurately define what you are experiencing, you will be better prepared to see what the triggers were and what some of the other issues are that this situation might be connected to.
Own it—The feelings are yours and yours alone, and those feelings are a normal response to how you perceive the painful situation. You are a unique person in how you perceive your life events. Each perception is based on your past experiences, and how you saw your role and the role of other people play out in those different events. Also, your feelings are not what define you, you define them. By owning your feelings, you are not owning the event; but you will be better able to deal with the problem at hand in a responsible way. Owning your feelings also helps to prevent denying, rationalizing, exaggerating or justifying the event. The opposite of owning could easily be blaming, which may add fuel to the fire of poor communication and misunderstanding.
Take responsibility for it—You may not be able to choose how you feel, but you do need to be responsible in how you choose to respond to the feelings. Through this process, you are placing your emotional affect after your thinking. In doing so, you are assuring a healthier response to the feelings rather than a defensive reaction.
Allow God into it—This is another place where you make a choice. Will you deal with this situation using only your limited resources in the flesh, or will you allow God’s unlimited spiritual resources to help you to transcend the experience? You need to choose: flesh or spirit? Finite or infinite? Temporal or sovereign? limited or unlimited? This is often a three-part step that requires you to:
- Repent—Is it a sin that you have been harboring? Or maybe bitterness or anger that controls you? Maybe you have been defining yourself by a lie like “I’m no good” or “I’m worthless…” “stupid…” “valueless…” etc. Maybe you continue to define yourself by your past pain or defeat or overwhelming fear of the future. In Christ Jesus you are a victor, not a victim. Ask God to forgive you for allowing something other than Him to control your life.
- Rebuke—Make the affirmative, conscious decision that you no longer want that sin, pain or lie to define your life. Instead, claim the truth of God’s promises for your life. Let your mind dwell upon these things.
- Release—Choose to allow God to take the authority and control over the sin, pain, lie that burdens your life. God transforms every situation by his sovereign grace to bring healing and maturity (growth). As you learn to yield to God’s grace, He transforms you. You experience the freedom that God wants for you to have. Consider what might be preventing you from taking this step. Have you been defining yourself by your pain for so long that change seems impossible? Is it your pride—of demanding to see justice done? Trust in the God of all comforts Who challenges us to “cast all of our cares upon Him, because He cares for us.” Choose to be free!
Choose to leave it—Stop defining yourself by your pain or your past and start defining yourself by your God. Leaving it behind does not mean forgetting what happened, it means yielding what you cannot change to the One who will give you the strength to heal and the grace to grow unencumbered from the burden you are choosing not to carry. Do you need to forgive? Do you need to redefine your relationships? Are you willing to look at your pain and consider the resources that are available to you objectively? Do you have the courage to look at your situation from another angle (how does the other person see this situation? How would an objective observer see it?)? Remember, those conflictual situations where you were hurt are often misunderstandings that can be resolved through healthy communication. Furthermore, those times when the other person is not receptive to healing and chooses to live with unresolved issues reflects his or her character, not yours; so why carry the burden of their stuff?
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