Monday, 1 August 2016

Seeing People and Not Their Reactions

Esmond and I signed up for a counseling course this year under the Satir model of counseling. 

The special thing about this model is that instead of dealing with people's reactions or behaviour, we learn to see what is underneath the behaviour (the symptoms) and deal with their sense of self, yearnings, expectations, perceptions, feelings (the cause).

What I really appreciate from the course so far is learning how to accept my feelings instead of resisting them. 

Most people know I'm a crybaby. I cry at every movie; I cry when someone else cries. 

Most people also know that I'm a stickler for protocol and procedure. There are certain things we should do; there are certain things we shouldn't do. Almost everything is a matter of can or cannot, should or should not. 

That includes feelings. 

I should not feel angry. 

I should not feel upset. 

A child should do this, a parent should do that, a student should think this, a teacher should think that.

Vulcanism, yet completely un-Vulcan, in that I thought I should not feel certain things, yet I could not stop feeling them.

I have been re-watching the Star Trek movies. Hee!

It was frustrating to feel sad or hurt, because those emotions often turned into anger or guilt, when I felt trapped by my own rules. 

This course taught me that there is a difference between accepting my feelings, and responding negatively to them. 

I can accept without liking. 

I can accept without responding negatively. 

I can accept, and thereafter move on.

Applying what I learned to people around me, I saw first-hand the difference it made when I told people to accept what they were feeling and stay with it, than when I had hurried to calm them with a box of tissue or what I thought were logical or comforting words.

Shortly after we signed up for the counseling course, our church began a church-wide course called Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course by Steve Goss and Neil Anderson. The course shows us how a lot of Christians are living in bondage or not living the victorious Christian lives the Bible promised. 

The premise of the course is "the truth will set you free".

(a) Christ has already set us free by His work on the cross and His resurrection. 

(b) By His work on the cross, Christ gave us the gift of complete and utter acceptance (we are completely accepted as God's children), significance (we were created to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do) and security (nothing can separate us from His love).

(c) However, humans being humans, we forgot. 

(d) Or we didn't understand. 

(e) Or we didn't know the truth.

(f) Therefore, we continue to behave in unhealthy ways in our quest to gain acceptance, significance and security from other people or things, or even God.

(g) Feelings are important. Because without laying everything on the table and being vulnerable, we cannot truly forgive, and we cannot truly deal with an issue that has been affecting us.

(h) We can't control our feelings, but we can control the thoughts that lead to those feelings. We choose to land our thoughts or ditch them. 

(i) Forgiveness is a choice we make, not an emotion. Likewise, getting out of a life of sin is a choice we make, because Christ has given us everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).

(j) By the grace of God which He has already freely given us, will we make the choice to be free?

For the first time, I learned to truly forgive. 

Because I could pray, "Father, I choose to forgive (name of person) for (name the act) which made me feel (state feelings). I pray that You will bless (name of person)."

Not, "Father, help me forgive", or "Father, I want to forgive", but "Father, I choose to forgive."

I have also had the privilege of putting my counseling training (although halfway only la) to good use. 

Picture taken from here.
Although this song is about marriage teehee.

I guess the most liberating and eye-opening thing for me this year is that I learned to strike a balance between condoning someone's behaviour by sympathizing with them, and accepting someone's behaviour as a fact without having to like that behaviour.

I can accept that people behave a certain way without having to say they should or should not, can or cannot behave that way. Because I cannot change people, but I am in complete control of how I respond to them.

It's amazing how many people's perception and expectations, and thus behaviour stem from a broken point in their early years.

Knowing this, seeing this, understanding this... how can I not love them with the love of Christ?

How Christ must have loved all those who hated Him - this God who sees the hearts and minds of man!

No comments: