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In our April blog we focused on How to Be Free from Insecurity. How’s that going for you? Keep it up. Today we turn our attention to 3 stories we tell ourselves that result in negative emotions and misunderstandings. 

When was the last time you misunderstood someone? You attributed false motives to their behavior which resulted in strong negative emotions? 

“Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit rather in humility consider the needs of others better than your own.” Philippians 2:3

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He showed compassionate mercy three different times: to the thief on the cross who was desiring to be remembered, to his mother by giving John the directive to take her in as his own mom and to the onlookers when He said: “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Each of these compassionate responses occurred amid acute pain and turmoil. Amazing right? He could have easily been hijacked by strong emotions, yet His response was compassion and mercy.

Jesus refused to take the bait of offense. We take offense when we attribute a story which includes false motives as to why people do what they do. For example, you are driving down the highway and someone is going slowly in the fast lane. This is an objective situation, void of any emotional response until you start to tell a story: “Look at this guy he is totally oblivious, he has no clue I’m right behind him…or maybe he does and he’s going slowly on purpose just to tick me off.” As you create your story your negative emotions begin to hijack your mood. In Matthew 24:10-12 Jesus said, “Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another.”

In the program Crucial Conversations, 3 stories are taught (Victim, Villain and Helpless) that lead to two reactive responses to situations in life: violence or silence. When we react with Violence, we will use ugly talk and defensive behavior including gossip, slander, negative words that cut another human being down. When we react with Silence, we will stonewall or “ghost” someone. Perhaps you can relate to some of these behaviors?

The 3 stories create disconnect and misunderstandings not to mention an emotional hijacking which leads to ineffective communication and connection. When we are spun, we blame, shame, and justify. These all flow from self-focus. Most interactions are objective until we begin to tell these stories, opening the door for negative emotions. Jesus modeled beautifully for us on the cross merciful compassion. Ask for this grace and for protection against Satan’s attempt to divide you and discourage you. 

The 3 Stories:

  • Victim: You are intentionally doing something against me.
  • Villain: If I’m victim, then you are the villain
  • Helpless: AND there is nothing I can do about it, I am helpless. It never ends, there is nothing I can do.

When we become aware of the story that evokes the negative emotions and pushes us into silence or violence, we can then re-write it with the help of the Holy Spirit. Most of the time we get upset and muck around in misunderstandings, which is the result of a story we are telling ourselves around the event. The event or circumstance is objective until we make it personal and tell a story which often involves attributing false motives to other people’s behaviors which are not true. Jesus sees us for who we desire to be, not for how our behavior shows up. He is constantly teaching us lessons all day to guide us into the freedom of His love and forgiveness. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, stand firm and do not allow yourself to be burdened by the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Story telling keeps us in emotional bondage.

Let the word of God dwell in you richly and the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15-16) so that you are equipped to respond to people around you with compassionate mercy.

Take Action:

Apply the Emotional Intelligence in Christ Method: EIC

  • E: Encounter: Be aware of the motives you are attributing to the person in the conversation (encounter) you are having that is creating a story in your mind: Spring Clean the Story out of your head with the help of the Holy Spirit.
  • I: Identify the story: what story are you telling yourself that is creating negative emotions?
  • C: Course Correct: with the help of the Holy Spirit. “Holy Spirit help me to show merciful compassion to this person, to ask a well posed question for clarity so that I don’t make up a story and respect this person as one of your children.” 

Emotional Intelligence in Christ (EIC) Thought: How much of your ineffective communication, fueled by negative emotions, flows from the story you have written in your mind that you are now reacting to? 

Be quick to hear and slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

Get our Great Leaders Study Guides to aid in Spring cleaning your mind. 

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