I’m in California visiting my sweet granddaughters. Two of them have birthdays this month so we are celebrating at Disney, a child’s favorite place to be.
Instead of answering a question this week I want to talk a little bit about how important it is that we learn to live from our CORE instead of our emotions. No one naturally lives out of CORE strength.
Yesterday while at Disney I found myself getting irritated at the long lines, frustrated with the time it took to get a simple ticket or to open a tamper proof package of Mickey Mouse lollipops I bought for the kids. In these minor moments, I did not practice CORE strength very well. Inside I felt irritable and judgmental.
It gave me so much compassion for you as you struggle to practice living from you CORE every day with not only minor irritants but major abuse, indifference, pornography and deceit.
Remember, CORE strength is something we must practice if we want to be emotionally healthy, spiritually mature and have good relationships with other people.
The Bible tells us to put off anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from our lips. We’re not to lie to each other. Instead we are to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We’re to bear with each other and forgive one another and over all just love (Colossians 3:8-15). These are not just words, but practices we embrace as we seek to know God and become more and more like him.
If CORE strength is a new concept for you, let me review the four points I teach in my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.
C – I am COMMITTED to honesty – no more pretending.
O – I will be OPEN to the Holy Spirit, and wise others to teach me new ways of thinking, feeling and responding.
R – I will be RESPONSIBLE for myself and RESPECTFUL towards others without dishonoring myself.
E – I will be EMPATHIC and compassionate towards others without ENABLING abusive behavior to continue.
Just like we need to strengthen our physical core (the area from your ribs to your hips including your spine and pelvic region) so that we maintain good posture and have the ability to keep our balance, we need to build and strengthen our internal CORE muscles. We don’t want to lose our balance or find our emotional spine curling inward when life’s hardships or difficult people tempt us to become just like them.
It is also important to note that when we live with people who are abusive, it’s almost impossible to not be personally affected and infected. Proverbs reminds us that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). When we live with an argumentative, judgmental, harsh or abusive person, it’s very likely that we will also start lobbing some verbal bombs of our own. Over time we may find ourselves turning into a person we don’t like very much. We’ve lost our balance and our internal posture is no longer attractive – especially to ourselves.
We are all imperfect, immature, and sinful individuals. People will let us down, irritate us, and don’t always do what we wished he or she would do or even what God says he or she should do, like be honest or faithful. When this happens, what happens to us inside? Naturally we react with negative emotions and thoughts of anger, irritation, fear, contempt, insecurity, disgust, hurt, sadness, or confusion. We will have negative emotions, but learning to live from CORE means that our emotions don’t have us.
Responding from our CORE instead of our negative emotions takes intentionality, hard work, and repeated practice (tweet that).
It means we are honest with what we feel, but responsible for how we process our emotions and express them towards others.
We don’t do it in a disrespectful way because that’s not who we are, or who we want to be. When we slip and act selfish, mean-spirited, or harsh or judgmental, we own it, apologize where needed, and self-correct like I had to do yesterday at Disney.
On this blog, we receive a variety of comments. I welcome people who think differently or challenge what I say or write things I may not understand.
When reading some people’s remarks (including mine) you too may feel some negative emotions and experience some judgmental thoughts. This is normal. We all do it. But before you react, take a moment to process why you are feeling and thinking this way. If you choose to respond in writing, I’d love for you practice expressing yourself from your CORE instead of just reacting out of your emotions.
Before you press send take a moment to reread your response. Ask yourself these questions. “How would I feel if someone said this to me? Is this the best way I know how to express what I am feeling? Is it coming from the person I want to be or out of my initial negative emotions?”
Remember, The Bible tells us “Life and death is in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) and “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). Many of you have been deeply wounded from the reckless words of people in your life, please let’s be careful not to wield the sword ourselves towards one another.
If you don’t know how to express yourself from your CORE, you may find it helpful to be a part of one of my coaching groups to learn healthier communication strategies. But below is a simple way you can practice.
Speak for yourself – for example, “I feel (name a feeling) when you say or do (specific action or word or behavior). Then ask for the specific change you’d like if needed.
Here are a few examples: I feel angry (or hurt) when you call me stupid or oversensitive. Please stop calling me names (CORE).
I get lost when your conversations or responses are so long. It’s much easier for me to follow when there are shorter responses. Could you please try to be more concise? (CORE).
I feel irritated when you judge other people on this blog as non-Christians or unloving, or ungodly. I don’t think that is helpful here. Please stop (CORE).
In each of these examples, you are being truthful about your own feelings or perspective and saying some hard things, but you are not doing it harshly by putting someone down or judging their motives or character.
Here’s an example of what is not CORE talk, but rather attack talk. “I feel you are insensitive and insecure and don’t know how to communicate.”
Instead of saying how you feel, you are actually judging (insensitive and insecure) and instead of describing a behavior you don’t like or would like to see changed, you are diagnosing someone’s problem. This only creates defensiveness in the other person and immediately halts constructive communication.
I love the virtuous women description in Proverbs 31:25 where it says, “strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future.”
Ladies I want that for me. I want that for you. Let’s develop good strength – CORE strength – that will help us respond with dignity when we are provoked, irritated, hurt, angry or disappointed.
Remember, we may not always live with an abusive person, but we always will live with ourselves. Let’s become the person God calls us to be.
Friends, how do you remember to practice CORE strength, especially when you are tired, or crabby or not in such a good space?