Comfort and Relief – Part 3

Comfort and Relief

Each of the injured love styles is a learned method for coping with stress.

Avoiders attempt to soothe themselves by moving away from the irritation and problem solving.

Pleasers find relief by staying close and seeking reassurance.

The Vacillator is comforted by angrily pursuing and wearing down the person causing the irritation.

The Controller settles agitation by angrily dominating the behaviors of others.

And the Victim obtains relief by utter compliance to the whims and wishes of others.

While defense mechanisms served to protect the person when they were a child, they do not serve us well as adults but rather sabotage the very closeness and intimacy we desire.

So how can we find a more excellent way to find comfort, relief and soothing for our lives that will also bring the bonding and intimacy that our soul longs for?

The answer is “The Comfort Circle.”

Over the next four weeks we are going to learn what it is as well as how to apply it to:

  • Ourselves for self-soothing (internal).
  • In our prayers as we seek comfort from God (vertical).
  • and with others who give us relief by listening and providing comfort (horizontal)..

A well-balanced life encompasses all three of these aspects.

While all of us experience trials that lead to distress, few of us know what comfort and relief feels like.

In addition, we have internal conflicts that wage war within our souls and if that were not enough, we have relational conflict in which we hurt and damage one another.

The weaker our childhood training was, the poorer we are at handling all of the stresses which life brings.

As I said last week, ‘these underdeveloped coping skills sabotage the very closeness and intimacy we desire.

What we did not learn as children, we must now learn as adults.  If we do not we will be quick to run to busyness, additions and adrenaline to settle ourselves down.

So, how can we apply the “Comfort Circle” that we speak of in our book How We Love for the purposes ofself-soothing to provide internal relief?

Let us take a lesson from Nehemiah, who was one of the rebuilders of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity in approximately 535 BC.  Neh. 5:6-7 says, “When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.  I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials.”

Step 1:  Become self-aware and acknowledge to yourself what emotions are strong within you now.  You can look at our “soul words” list in our book.  In Nehemiah’s case, he was angry and could clearly express that to himself.

Step 2:  He then engaged within his own mind and pondered the situation.  In another translation, it says that he “consulted with himself.” This is just like talking to another person, in that we have an internal dialogue and talk it over what is upsetting us.

Step 3:  By slowing down in such a manner, we then find ourselves listening to ourselves and validating the reality of the emotions within ourselves.  “Yes, I’m really hurt and angry right now, and what that person said or did was hurtful.”
The inner dialogue continues, “Was it intentional? What’s going on inside of them right now?”  As we slow the process down and add logic and analysis, we keep our left-brain “powered up” so that the emotional side of ourselves does not dominate and lead us down a destructive path.  Remind yourself that God unconditionally loves you and so do many close people in your lives.  Tell yourself that you are not alone in this and that you will receive comfort later.

Step 4: Resolution comes as we ask ourselves, “What do I need that will help me deal with this better?” Then, explore options for self-soothing.  I have found it helpful to do slow rhythmic breathing, asking God to help you in this place of pain as well as some walking or exercise. In addition, by writing things in a journal, you place these thoughts on paper, which then allows your brain to see them in black and white.  Then read your journal entries aloud and evaluate your thoughts in an audible manner.  This helps your brain process in a different manner, which will help your mind see things more fully.

What Nehemiah did was to create a “gap” between the infraction and the reaction.  Within this gap, in which he ‘‘consulted with himself” he undoubtedly did many of the steps listed above.  This self soothing exercise  generated a composure which then allowed him to enter into dialogue and conflict with the nobles in a controlled manner which is always more productive than when we just “fly off the handle.”

Next week, we will learn how to make the comfort circle be a part of our prayer life so that we can learn toseek comfort from God (vertical).

Thanks for being willing to grow together with us.

Love and blessings,

Milan & Kay