Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. [Psa 139:23-24 NIV]
And you, …, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. [1Ch 28:9 NIV]
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. [Pro 20:5 NIV]
Hello! How are your thoughts today? Are you getting faster at your ABC’s? DE’s? I commend you for your hard work!
So far I have shared 2 tools that, with use, will help you grow stronger and more resilient, in order to face, march through, and come out of challenges. Tool #1: Using your ABC’s – can help you to slow down and examine your thoughts, drawing them out. These thoughts lead to our feelings, which we ultimately want to improve. This is how we can actively, purposefully apply 2 Corinthians 10:5.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. [2Co 10:5 NIV]
We also apply this Scripture when we use Tool #2: Recognize faulty thinking. This recognition allows us to record our D’s and E’s (disputation and effective beliefs), transforming our thoughts, aligning them with truth. By aligning our thoughts with truth, we experience increased positive emotions.
Let our homework continue to be the prayerful implementation of these two tools. It takes time and effort to begin to master this process. Invite the Holy Spirit to work with you.
Allow me, instead, to walk with you on a parallel pathway today.
Today: Positive emotion – What do I mean by that and how does it relate to these resiliency tools?
And later, we will add the iceberg to your tool box. Will it fit?
When I talk about positive emotion, I do not mean Pollyanna or rose-colored glasses. The “positive” in positive psychology is more like a mathematical equation. If “0” is the center on the number line, what we call “normal”, then dysfunction is on the left side, the negative number side of the line. Traditional counseling is about getting a person back to “0”, normal. Right?
I want to work with you to have “extra”… bonus points… a savings account… however you can understand it – a positive number – more than zero. Strong and fortified! And that is what my practice is all about. That is what positive psychology is all about. That is what growing in resilience is all about. That is what Scripture alludes to when it talks about that cup overflowing. God, through Christ, implores us to live abundantly. That is His desire for us.
I believe an abundant life is one of resilience, in which we face life with strength and courage – and strengthen and encourage others! Which leads me to slow down and point out, along this parallel path of positive emotion, the qualities of resilience.
The individual, scientifically-tested and testable, qualities of resilience are emotional regulation, impulse control, empathy, realistic optimism, causal analysis, self-efficacy, and reaching out. As we grow in resilience, we are growing in these areas. This is backed by research.
Employing these tools I am sharing can strengthen every area of resilience. Strengthening every area of resilience increases our stash of positive emotions. As we grow more resilient, we feel more confident about our own ability to face our individual future, whatever it may hold. Is this not help for feelings of depression and anxiousness?
We can learn to regulate our emotions, to control our impulses away from faulty thinking and towards realistic thought, experience empathy for self and others, carry an optimism that is realistic – not fake or forced, grow in our ability to analyze cause so that we can be efficient in how we handle situations, and to use these qualities to find our place in the body and with courage and understanding, reach out and connect to it.
How is this related to positive emotion?
(Take a breath.) If we are increasingly able to notice our thoughts, quickly evaluate them for validity and interrupt them if they are not, change our thoughts to be more accurate, thereby changing faulty emotions into productive and genuine feelings, and act on those, … we have displayed emotional regulation, impulse control, realistic optimism, causal analysis, and self-efficacy.
There are few things more rewarding than a job well done. Our confidence is increased. +1. Then, recognizing our own wonky thoughts, we can understand in a new way that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God… we all fall victim to faulty thinking. This opens the doorway to empathy for others +1 and empowers us to reach out with kindness and love to connect with others, seeing them as fellow travelers on this road we call life. +1. We are now at a +3 – confident and compassionate and connected. These qualities, ever increasing, will help us to face our next adversity stronger than we were and armed with a readily-employable tool chest.
Most importantly, to me anyway, is my role model: Christ Jesus. Let’s first look at His life and see if we notice the qualities of resilience in Him. If we do, then we have ground to stand on when we work on strengthening our own resilience.
Continue to take a situation each day (good or bad) and apply your ABC’s. Examine and note faulty thoughts. Write D’s and E’s. Taking the time to put in writing the application of your 2 tools will increase your speed and accuracy in real time. Do you notice it getting easier? Quicker? How does this feel?
If you find this frustrating, I again advise finding a coach who is trained in this area to help you master this process. It will last your lifetime, so it is well worth the investment.
Read one Gospel story each day and write down the qualities of resilience you see displayed.
1. Begin by getting in a comfortable position. Relax and take 3 deep breaths, breathing out and away all intruding thoughts.
2. Pray, asking God for the grace to grow in recognizing qualities of resilience through the life of Christ. Ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how these qualities strengthened Him and helped Him to face increasingly difficult situations with dignity and respect for self and others. Ask for deeper understanding for your own life.
3. Read one story from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.
- As you read, imagine you are there in the story. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel on your skin? Be there.
- Jot down the qualities you notice.
- emotional regulation,
- impulse control,
- realistic optimism,
- causal analysis, (accurate understanding of the cause)
- self-efficacy, and
- reaching out
4. End your time with a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank Him for being there with you; thank Him for His Word which we are blessed to read for ourselves in a language we can understand, and for Him sending His Son to demonstrate living life well; for our ability to imagine, to understand, to grow. Thank Him for one specific thing from the last 24 hours, and tell Him honestly why it meant something to you. (Thank you, God, for ___ because ___.) Walk away with this remembrance in your mind… Let that gratefulness linger as you go about your day (or fall asleep at night). (This is another tool for your tool chest – Gratitude. We will explore this more broadly at a later date.)
My goal in this side path is for you to take time to go a bit deeper in understanding the components of resiliency and
-how they contribute to flourishing in your own life, as well as
-begin to recognize that these are not new ideas – Jesus Himself demonstrated resilience in His own life and ministry. This realization is important to our own commitment to grow in resiliency. It is our foundation.
Next we will discuss this iceberg… but for today, to gaze upon it and wonder is enough.
Please begin working on this imaginative reading & examination exercise.