Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 5: Fact vs. Fiction

Scripture to reflect upon for Relationship Revival Week 5: Proverbs 29:11
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

Years ago I used to watch Dr. Phil faithfully! That famous phrase he uses is still a perfect reminder that most things we do in life don’t bring us happiness: “How’s that working for you?”

One thing that sticks out more than anything he ever spoke about was this idea that our feelings aren’t always truth. Most of us already know that but have no clue how to let that settle into our spirit and everyday living.

So many of us react to our “feelings,” that we end up causing more problems in an already bad situation. This happens a lot in relationships, and not just in our marriages, but with our children, friends, parents, or even co-workers. When we have a conflict in our lives that need to be resolved, we go about it all wrong. We tend to act (in)appropriately to our feelings.

Our feelings have no real cause for reality. Our feelings have a way of ballooning out of control until it pops! When we sit and stew on something, we suddenly start coming up with all these images and ideas about the situation that more than likely are only a figment of our overactive imagination. We start coming up with all these ridiculous notions of why so-and-so did this-or-that, and all of a sudden we’ve made so-and-so out to be an evil villain from one of those daytime soap operas. We watch way too much TV.

We believe we have the other person all figured out and know their motives. Next thing you know we’re acting on that…not reality. Most of the time, people don’t even realize they may have offended or hurt you. So to start overanalyzing someone and accusing them of being from the dark side is a bit self-defeating, and it will usually end up making you look a tad silly, and no one likes looking like a fool.

What I’m saying does not nullify our feelings at all. The problem is our approach. When we come at our partner with words like, “You did…” or “You make me feel…” we are in a lot of trouble. This instantly puts the blame on the other person, and whether or not that’s the case, we should always resist pointing fingers at one another.

This one phrase Dr. Phil suggested has helped me in so many potential arguments over the years: “This is how I feel. It may not be fact, but it’s how I feel…” How many times have you caught yourself saying, “He does this on purpose…” or “He does this because he knows it upsets me…”? I highly doubt our partner is doing anything on purpose to deliberately upset or hurt us. If they are, then you need more help than my piddly blog, but don’t automatically assume they are. This is what always gets us into deep, troubled waters—way over our head, out of control, no hope in sight.

These simple words can help you express how you feel without making them a fact in your mind, and without making it an attack on your partner.

ACTION PLAN: When your partner has done something that has upset you and you need to discuss it with them, instead of pointing your finger, using blame words, or making accusations, tell them how the situation makes you feel. Explain to them that what you feel doesn’t make it true, but nonetheless, it’s how you feel. This can’t be done by yelling or screaming or fists in the air. This has to be done calmly, otherwise your words and actions won’t agree and your partner will feel like they are in Crazytown.

GO FURTHER: Once you get the hang of explaining how you feel in this healthy manner, try stopping those obsessive, soap opera thoughts before they even begin! We have to look at our problems logically. To automatically assume someone is purely evil and only does things to set you off is 98% ludicrous. That’s not saying that some people aren’t doing things to upset you on purpose, because there are a few people out there who are like that, but they are a very small minority. But if you are in a Godly relationship, you can be sure that they are not maliciously out to hurt you, so stop allowing those deceiving thoughts to even enter your mind anymore. Those are lies of the enemy, so stop him dead in his tracks before he even begins to fill your head with vicious lies to accuse your loved ones.

Start analyzing how you mindfully react to situations that upset you. Journal what thoughts immediately come into your head so you can be aware of them and start learning how to keep them at bay. Negative thoughts will only cause more damage. It does no one any good to act upon those ideas or thoughts. Change your mind, change your thinking, and change your approach.

FACT: What you feel isn’t fact. It’s merely what you feel.

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