Skill 5: Skillful Opposition
Sharon helped me (Joel) to “connect the dots”… She helped me see that my chin tremblings were a result of the coping mechanisms I created (e.g. getting out of dodge, not making waves, shutting down emotionally) to survive living with, Rod—my childhood Herod—and that I was, unknowingly, attempting to use those same strategies to endure Mark and Susan’s abusive work environment.
In the light of this connection, I became more aware of why I was responding the way I was—getting out of dodge, not making waves, shutting down. Those coping strategies helped me to physically survive an abusive environment as a child—a good thing—but, as an adult, those strategies were no longer appropriate or effective. In adulthood, there was nothing forcing me to stay, endure or “survive” in an abusive environment—“walking on eggshells”—afraid. God, my True Father, had not given me a “spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” and, as his beloved child (who was maturing as an adult), I could choose to develop and incorporate healthier and more courageous strategies into my life. To enter your better life, you will need to learn to do the same. Let’s do that now.
Connecting the dots…
Please return to the list of coping strategies that I had you title “Coping Strategies” during Session 4, Skill 2.
(If you didn’t identify any strategies during Session 4. You may want to revisit those questions, you may be able to identify something now that you didn’t see prior. For your convenience, I have included those questions in this session as well (click here).
Before we proceed, let’s invite Jesus to guide us through this exercise. I’ve included the following prayer as a guide.
Jesus, help me to connect the dots, make the connections, so that I can enter into all you have prepared for me. Show me the coping strategies that I may be using, even unknowingly. I give you access to all of me—my heart, soul, mind, will and body. Reveal to me any strategies or mechanisms that are no longer appropriate or effective for me now. Amen.
A few courageous questions...
What “Coping Strategies” did you identify in Session 4, Skill 2?
The strategies and/or mechanisms that you listed, helped you endure that traumatic time(s) in your past. When we encounter people (or situations) that are similar to those individuals (or circumstances) that wounded us, it’s not uncommon for us to unknowingly react in the same ways we did back then.
Do you see any connections with the strategies you used to endure the Herod(s) of your past (especially, the one(s) you wrote about in your episode of shattering) and any Herod(s) you’re presently navigating?
Does that strategy limit your life in any way? If so, how?
If you continue using that strategy, do you imagine that it would bring you closer to experiencing the better life Jesus described or keep you further from it?
Once you recognize an unhealthy, inappropriate or ineffective strategy you’ve been employing, you can replace them with healthier ones.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
(2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
And, as his beloved child (who is a maturing adult), you can choose to develop and incorporate more powerful, loving and sound strategies into your life. You don’t have to change them overnight. Changing them can start with a few small steps. Here’s a few ideas:
- When conflict arises, do you generally avoid it? If so, take a small risk, lean in and share your view point.
- If your tendency is to lean primarily on thoughts and logic, allow yourself a few minor moments of empathy (e.g Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is struggling. This could be an individual you know or even a character in a movie. Then imagine that the individual who’s struggling is your child. How might that change the way you feel toward that person?)
- If you tend to grow defensive in conflict, strongly stating your case, then allow yourself to step back sometimes, listen and hear the other side out before responding.
- If you avoid being the center of attention, put yourself out there more often.
- If you are always attempting to be the center of attention, then allow others a chance to have the spotlight.
Additionally, whether you didn’t discover a single coping strategy or you discovered a plethora of them, may I suggest that you consider seeking help in navigating your present Herods. Reaching out to a good Christian counselor or a Wholehearted Coach can save you so much time and heartache.