When I was handed a little green book a few years ago, I didn’t for a moment expect it to rock the foundation of my beliefs or what I had built my life on.
I learned that since I had been hurt in relationship, it would take relationships in which to heal. That’s just how the brain works, come to find out. Emotional health takes relational healing, with Jesus and with others.
When I was handed a little green book a few years ago, I didn’t for a moment expect it to rock the foundation of my beliefs or what I had built my life on. It certainly didn’t look like a book that had monumental, ground breaking information in it from first glance. I read, “Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You” by Dr. Jim Wilder et al in my early 40’s and it changed, well, literally everything. It gave clarity, deep insight and language to aspects of myself that explained why I was drawn to toxic people and ongoing unhealthy relationships with them. It explained why I continued to make unwise decisions from fear, anger and shame, and why I just couldn’t break dysfunctional cycles and behavior by sheer willpower and years of counseling. I realized I had significant unhealed trauma that kept me in trigger and reactive mode and maturity gaps that supported cyclical patterns of self-sabotage and self betrayal. Ouch.
Through reading this book and learning more about how the brain develops (or should develop) from the time we are born, I began the journey of understanding where emotional gaps form and how the familiarity of dysfunctional patterns feels correct and right, and even comfortable. Dysfunction, triggers, unhealed trauma and wounds, as much as they hurt and had caused unbelievable pain, were actually comfortable to me and what my brain knew to be ‘normal’ despite what I knew and believed to be healthy. My brain had developed in a way that didn’t allow me to experience new, healthy patterns without discomfort, fear and sometimes even pain.
I had an untrained brain.
A brain that wasn’t trained in healthy relational skills that led to life giving relationships and peace in between my ears. I knew how to navigate dysfunction very, very well. It was normal to me and just what I knew. I was re-creating dysfunction in my life while in counseling and touting “I’m learning to set boundaries and make better decisions for myself!” Yet, so many of the same patterns kept emerging and the same kinds of leaks continued to sprout in the new areas of my life where I was trying to create emotional health. Yet, on my emotional health journey, I realized I was making healthy decisions from willpower and forcing healthy behavior and it felt awkward, uncomfortable and I wasn’t really any good at it to be honest. I may have made a few better decisions for myself, but I wasn’t transforming. Dysfunctional root systems weren’t getting plucked out and I was pretty much by myself in my quest to grow, heal and overcome. It was basically me and my counselor on this journey, and when I wasn’t in her office, it was me out in the world trying to do new, hard things on my own.
On this new emotional health journey, I learned about stages of emotional skills we are to learn by a certain age and what it looks like as an adult when we don’t learn them. That, combined with the sliver of brain science Dr. Jim Wilder was unpacking in this precious book, I was reading about how my brain hadn’t received at a young age what it needed to emotionally thrive as an adult and the reasons behind why I was living more from my hurt than from my heart. And it gave me relief. Relief because up to that point I thought it was me, I just couldn’t change, heal, or get better at making healthy decisions and that I was just not going to be able to have a good life, one that didn’t hurt so much on so many levels and wear me out to the point of despairing often.
But now, I had a roadmap. An emotional growth and healing roadmap that would help me navigate into new, unchartered territory of healing, self-respect, emotional skills and a better life that wasn’t so painful and exhausting! A path where my brain could actually change and grow in ways that would foster this new way of thinking and being. I had a roadmap of what it looked like to live from my heart versus living from my hurts.
At that point in my life, I had been in counseling off and on for over twenty years, I had read so many self-help books that the first section of a book store I went to was usually the self-help section to see if there was anything new and fresh I needed to know about. I had tried many techniques to repair the damage of a childhood rooted in extreme dysfunction and damaging abuse without transformation from the inside out.
But I was now learning that since I had been hurt in relationship, it would take relationships in which to heal and mature. That’s just how the brain works, come to find out. Emotional health takes relational healing, with Jesus and with others.
I began a journey to emotional health a few years ago through relationships and the healing and growth was exponential. It took a couple of ladies willing to meet each week, to share our stories and bond in vulnerability and openness to learn if all the brain science of relational joy worked to overcome maturity gaps and dysfunctional behavior. I plan to share more about that journey and what it looked like walked out in the weeks to come, but in short, we found that it did indeed work. Brain science is real. Despite what it may sound like, it’s not boring, it’s a critically essential and powerful tool that elevates one’s daily emotional operating system.
I am ceaselessly grateful for the impactful and pain shattering insight I learned from reading this timeless Kingdom treasure of a book that depicts how the brain literally changes for the better from relationships that bring joy and life to produce healing, maturity and identity. My life looks so different than it did years ago, and the peace in between my ears is priceless. I’m a dedicated fan of emotional health and the benefits, well, they’re miraculous.