Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Notes from Two Lectures/Thoughts on Resiliance, Shame & Becoming a Person

I sat in on my husband's class today and took the following notes from his class with Professor Dan Zink. I also wove in some notes from another lecture I attended two days ago, given by Dr. Curt Thompson. Here they are:

"Be Becoming a Person"
Ephesians 1:1-15; 3:14-20. 
To be a person means to be open-hearted; resilient. Resilience has not been studied much. Some fascinating research; Hawaiian study. Emmy Werner studied people for 40 years.
Resilience: more than bouncing back. (no back to bounce back to!) Sense of a person being real and risk having people know them though they are a mess is a sign they are resilient. In counseling, the goal is to help the client be resilient; to not have them close down despite their circumstances. 
"...eyes of your heart enlightened...strengthen your inner being." (see verses from above portions) We are image-bearers, which means we have agency, which means we have capacity. We must be encouraged to relate to life open-heartedly in the face of what life throws at us. Resiliency DOES NOT equal "tough." 
Dan Allender's book "Wounded Heart." He talks about the aftermath of sexual abuse (or any other big or little trauma/nurturing absence we have experienced), and how we end up with relational strategies (styles of relating to other people). He categorizes three responses: "good," "tough," or "party girl/[lguy.]" Tough girls are not strong if there is much vulnerability. They think they are tough as they keep you at a distance so that no one knows who they are. The isolation in reality makes them weak. Party girls give up. They have the attitude of "eat, drink, and be merry." The good girls believe deeply that something is wrong with them so they work really, really hard. They work hard so that they can become worthy enough for people to love them. These styles of relating are all defensive.
How and when are we to be vulnerable? It takes committed connection.  It is assessing whether or not a "...relationship has an expiration date on it far enough out that it's worth taking a risk to be vulnerable." 
Edward Teyber: "Interpersonal Process in Therapy" addresses this issue.
Dr Curt Thompson ("Anatomy of the Soul") talks about the importance of being in tune with the 8 senses. So there are the typical 5 (taste, smell, see, hear, and touch), and then the sixth is the sense of what is going on inside our bodies, the seventh is the capacity of being aware that we are sensing these things, and the eighth is the capacity to sense the same thing in other people. Pay attention so we can do the eighth one well. It is important to learn this yourself before you can do it with others. Focus on yourself so that you can focus on others. If we don't pay attention to what our body is saying we will miss what God is saying to us. I Corinthians. 6:19.  When working with others simple questions are best. "What are you feeling towards me?" It helps people pay attention to their own hearts. Ultimately you will get to shame. Another good question: "How do you perceive yourself?"
Two types of secrets: mouth secrets and heart secrets. Better to have secrets of the mouth, more than secrets of the heart (Reference Patrick Rothfuss' book "The Wiseman's Fear," pg. 448) . "They [heart secrets] are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become...Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them." (pg. 489). The person with heart secrets is near, but not "with" you. [Professor Zink now pauses to take notice of the atmosphere change in the room. It is heavier]
Shame's primary purpose is to isolate us. We must be willing to go those places in the heart and share these in safe community.
We cannot change unless we present our whole bodies to God (Rom. 12:1,2). It's not just the mind. Our emotions are included in this. 
Ways to change:
1) Aerobic exercise: stimulates biochemistry which leads to neural growth and aids in depression.
2) Good sleep/rest: sabbath was made FOR man). Cut screen time an hour before bed. Are we living hurried or restful lives?
3) Appetite & diet: cut portions by half or a third and chew more slowly. 
4) Mindfulness. Pay attention to the present moment.
5) Meaningful Novelty: explore creativity.
6) Cultivate deeply connected intimate relationships: change is impossible apart from community
All change takes HARD WORK. Perseverance changes the brain.
How do we help people wrestle with their shame?
The best answers are less rational and more wholehearted. 
What is the relationship between forgiveness and resilience? We mess up in the church by starting with forgiveness. First, we must start with the process of grief, particularly anger. We need to be ambassadors of anger. We must get realistic about loss. We can get stuck by shutting the anger down. There are definitely wrong ways of expressing anger, but there are good ways of being angry at losses and abuses. Not to stay in the anger, but to be realistic about what happened. After the grieving process, we can now talk about why the abuser, for example, might have been the way he or she was without covering up what they've done. It takes courage to face this. Grief and forgiveness together is a letting go process. Forgiveness: letting go of making people pay. Reconciliation and forgiveness are not the same thing. This is not a quantitative process. It may take days or it may reoccur and you will have to work through it again. Grief: the process of letting go of hope (Have to be careful here to define this. Hope here means: "it doesn't really matter.").        

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