Getting along in relationships is not always easy. Just think back to the last time you got hurt or upset with someone you care about. Maybe it was earlier today, or sometime yesterday. Often when we are hurt, our emotions shout ‘say what you are feeling’, and ‘share how wrong the person is for doing what they did,’ or ‘blame others, run, hide, protect yourself.’
Oh the momentary satisfaction of telling someone exactly how you feel via a 3-minute angry rampage, a 3-line ugly text, or a 3-hour long sulk. Reacting out of our hurt and anger might feel good in the moment, but it often gives way to the remorse, “I shouldn’t have done that.” Sometimes followed by the disappointment, “I don’t like the part of myself that reacts in that way.”
The way we react silently shapes who we are, our character. We often forget this. If we react with impatience, defensiveness, criticism, resentment and anger, we are becoming a more impatient, defensive, critical, resentful and angry person.
If we focus on what others are doing to hurt us, how right we are, how unfair life is, and how we have to protest or protect ourselves, we will store up in our hearts, grudges, resentment, negativity, and the right to be angry. The negative way we react strengthens neural pathways confirming our negative beliefs about others, life and even ourselves.
The roller coaster ride of reacting negatively in the moment doesn’t grow character, and doesn’t help us become the person we really want to be.
It is often hard to slow down and discover what we are really feeling and then find the courage to react in a way that is honoring and kind. But when we are able to, we find we are better able to share what we truly want understood. And our hearts soften, we start believing in others and discovering we are able to give and get the love we need.
Yes, if everyone else matured, our relationships would improve. But if we matured, we become a better person. And of course, that would improve our relationships. It is our character that is most valuable. It takes courage to do things differently, to react with wisdom and kindness.
In our upcoming blogs we will go through the steps of the Safe Haven Model that will help you find the wisdom in the moment so you can react in a wiser way. I invite you to join us each week, read along, comment, ask questions, learn and be encouraged.
Our 2 to 4 day marriage intensives help you get back on track and stay on track. If you have attended a Safe Haven Marriage Intensive, email us for information about our new follow-up opportunities. And to help couples start on the right track early we have introduced our pre-marital intensives for engaged couples. See our website for more details.
Come see the difference a Safe Haven Intensive or one of our webinars could make in your life. Remember, we have introduced Safe Haven Workplace – Emotional Intelligence (getting along well) at work.
Doing this journey of life together,
Sharon May, Ph.D.
Safe Haven Relationship Center
Making it Real in your Life and Community:
As a couple, family, community, or with a few co-workers, read the following and share your thoughts. Why is this concept of keeping character in mind when we react important? When is it most difficult for you? How would it impact those around you if you kept this concept in mind?
Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” In other words, careful how you argue as you are hurting not only someone else, but your own character.
Colossians 3:9 “(so don’t react the way you have been as) you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self…”
“Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.” Psalm 26:2-3 NIV
This Psalm is known as a prayer for character. It is asking God to open our eyes so we can really see what we don’t see about ourselves. Being vulnerable so we are seen, really seen, is humbling, sometimes scary. But we are willing to see our shortcomings because we want to grow and mature. This Psalm reminds us that we can trust God with our vulnerable side, because of His love and faithfulness for us.