To be mature and self-regulate our emotions the way God intended, we need to be able to return to joy from all six kinds of painful emotions.
In order to do this we must build strong brain pathways by repeated use. The ability to create new neural pathways at an older age is know as Brain Plasticity
To learn to return to joy I need to have a healthy relationship with someone:
Who already knows how to return to joy from the emotion I am feeling.
Who is glad to be with me
Has more joy than I do pain, and can stay relational with me in spite of my distress
Must synchronize with me while I am in the pain
Do you have a relationship with someone like this that can do this for you? Can you be that for someone else?
What keeps us stuck in our pain?
1. It is our Right Hemisphere that reacts to non-verbal signals and sets us off!
Our pain is that deep felt emotion that seems like it just comes upon us. It is the result of something triggering our right hemisphere to react this way. It could be a certain look, body posture, tone of voice, sensation in our body. It could come in a form of an emotion, craving, someone else’s “mirror neurons” signaling us.
When this emotional pain comes we focus on eliminating, avoiding or medicating the pain. Relationship with God is mostly about eliminate, hide or avoid pain. This leads to our wanting to ESCAPE our emotions instead of regulating them. Escaping our emotions is a negative form of regulation. Rather than a healthy returning to joy we turn to other negative ways to escape the emotional pain. We have made an acronym using escapes.
ESCAPES Excitement, Substance, Comfort, Avoidance, People, Emotionalism, Sex
We use all of these to escape the pain.
The Good News is that there is HOPE!
Instead of trying to ESCAPE through an over emphasis, almost addiction to excitement, substance, comfort, avoidance, people, emotions or sex, we need to come to God, admit our need, share our story with trusted friends, bond with each other and return to joy from painful emotions again and again until it becomes second nature and creates the new neural pathways we need.
2. We believe Our False Assumptions and Rationalizations About Our Pain and Behavior
When our Left Hemisphere hears something or gets a signal from the Right Hemisphere, it “creates” a reason why. It assumes that something is wrong. Depending on how we have reacted in the past chances are our interpretation of what is going on is going to be due to something wrong with us. We are flawed. We are damaged goods. We are in danger. This left hemisphere “jumping to false conclusions” causes us to begin to “REACT” to the situation. It experiences the screaming of the right brain pain and wants to react. It will rationalize all kinds of negative ways to eliminate the pain. Unfortunately these are not God’s ways of seeking help. Usually we will react to OLD HABITS with well worn brain pathways of destruction.
If it hurts it is bad and must not be from God
If it is less painful, it is good and must be of God
If I follow God and it is painful – it can’t be God’s will or God/others don’t care about me
If I follow God and it is NOT painful – It must be God’s will, I must be right and God and others must care
Good News is we can change the way we react to emotional pain
1. Choose to believe the truth and not lies
2. Choose to surrender to God and let the Holy Spirit change us from the inside out
3. Choose to get the kind of support we need to “return to joy” – synchronize with someone who knows how to return to joy from the negative emotion you are struggling with
4. Create new “brain pathways” by:
Sensing that others care and that they are not giving up on you.
Visualize new behaviors and meditate on God loving us and accepting us
WE KNOW FROM NEW RESEARCH ON BRAIN PLASTICITY that we can create NEW neural pathways
Here is one way. We can begin to retrain our mind with meditation on God’s Love For Us
Relax and take three deep slow breaths.
Close your eyes and visualize a peaceful place
Stay there and sense the peace. Feel your body relax
Invite Jesus to come to the place and be with you
Sense His peaceful presence
Just be with Jesus and sense the peace.
Hear the words of God saying,
“I love you.” “I am so happy I created you.” “I have a great future for you.”
Next Session 5