Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Chapter 4

>> Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unrelated Note: New England falls are the best!

First of all, I apologize that this is two days late! Life has been crazy and after a great church sermon on Sunday, I decided to prioritize actually slowing down and spending some time with the Lord over blogging. So it's taken me a couple of days to get this one up.

The more I read, the more I believe, this is the best Christian book I have ever read. This chapter brushed on several different aspects of how we must get to know ourselves before we can truly know and be in relationship with God. We must be aware of own uniqueness and cherish that God made each of us who we are for a reason. Everyone was created with different emotions, different personalities, different backgrounds, and different struggles. It is easy to become engrossed with jealousy in a society like ours that puts so much value on material goods and a comfortable life style. The "American Dream" tells us that we deserve these things, that we have some how earned these things and this lifestyle. And when we see other's with more than us we say "that's not fair." But who's rules are we living by? Who says what's fair? Basically it comes down to one thing, am I living for man and the things of this world or am I living for God and his promise of something better?

The author introduces us to Murray Bowen in Chapter 4. Bowen is credited with coining the word "differentiation", which is a person's capacity to "define his or her own life's goals and values apart from the pressures of those around them." There are four categories.

Can't distinguish between fact and feeling
Emotionally needy and highly reactive to others
Much of life and energy spent in winning the approval of others
Little energy for goal-directed activities
Can't say, "I think...I believe..."
Little emotional separation from their families
Dependent marital relationships
Do very poorly in transitions, crisis, and life adjustments
Unable to see where they end and others begin

Some ability to distinguish between fact and feeling
Most of self is a "false self" and reflected from others
When anxiety is low, they function relatively well
Quick to imitate others and change themselves to gain acceptance from others
Often talk one set of principles/ beliefs, yet do another
Self-esteem soars with compliments or is crushed by criticism
Become anxious (i.e., highly reacting and "freaking out") when a relationship systems falls apart or becomes unbalanced
Often make poor decisions due to their inability to think clearly under stress
Seek power, honor, knowledge, and love from others to clothe their false selves

Aware of the thinking and feeling functions that work as a team
Reasonable level of "true self"
Can follow life goals that are determined from within
Can state beliefs calmly without putting others down
Marriage is a functioning partnership where intimacy can be enjoyed without losing the self
Can allow children to progress through developmental phases into adult autonomy
Function well- alone or with others
Able to cope with crisis without falling apart
Stay in relational connection with others without insisting they see the world the same way

75-100 (few people function this way)
Is principal oriented and goal directed- secure in who they are, unaffected by criticism or praise
Is able to leave family of origin and become and inner-directed, separate adult
Sure of their beliefs but not dogmatic or closed in their thinking
Can hear and evaluate beliefs of others, discarding old beliefs in favor of new ones
Can listen without reacting and communicate without antagonizing others
Can respect others without having to change them
Aware of dependence on others and responsibility for others
Free to enjoy life and play
Able to maintain a non-anxious presence in the midst of stress and pressure
Able to take responsibility for their own destiny and life

I can pretty  much highlight most of the statements in the first and second category for myself. Kind of scary, but amazingly revealing. Can a human being ever be 100% unaffected by criticism or praise? What do you think?


Design Esquire October 26, 2010 at 10:56 AM  

I'm really enjoying your posts on this. I know we all have (a lot) of room for improvement, but don't be too hard on yourself. You've had so many life changing events happen in the last year, and you've done incredibly well. (That's my two cents, even though you didn't ask for it!)

Amy @ Varnish October 26, 2010 at 11:04 AM  

Okay, so I need to read this book. Halfway through my current study so I think this is next. Great post!

Lola Storm October 27, 2010 at 1:21 AM  

Thought-provoking post! Can we ever be 100% unaffected by others' criticism/praise? I don't think so. Do we want to be? I don't think so. As part of Jesus' body, we reflect Him. We share in the mind of Christ. I think the praise/criticism of the Church should affect us, should move us, should alter our course. Yes?
Thanks so much for your posts, Stephanie. They're always great. I'm adding this book to my Xmas list. :)

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