The Rewired Brain by Dr. Ski Chilton is a book I often recommend to others. These are my personal notes from the book. These are not all direct quotes, but also paraphrases and added commentary from me. A * designates a note-worthy point. As always, reading the book for yourself is suggested.
System 1 vs System 2; fast brain vs slow brain; unconscious vs conscious brain
System 1 responses are primitive reactions, feelings, sensations, intuitions associated with animal like survival instincts.
System 1 is fast, automatic, and effortless.
We can’t decline or edit its messages.
System 1 floods our brain all the time.
It’s highly efficient at remembering past events and traumas.
Survival of the fittest
System 2 developed recently. Conscious thought and reasoning. Logical and deliberate. We’re aware of it and can control it.
System 2 has 5 main functions: houses the essence of who we are, reflects and weighs problems/issues, corrects system 1, recognizes morality and love, reflects God’s image
The more powerful an experience/habit/thought, the stronger a brain circuit will be. The more the circuit is used, the larger it will get.
Balance of 1 and 2 is critical.
When one is in overdrive the other under functions.
System 1 helps us rapidly respond to a crisis or danger, perform daily tasks, responsible for spontaneity creativity and intuition.
System 2 allows us to self reflect, look at the big picture simulate different outcomes, allows us to make selfless choices and connect with God.
* Unless we learn self reflection to monitor our pain, we will remain stuck in the same recurring situations, never considering that we might need to change.
* Self examination allows us to consider that our troubles might be of our own making.
Our minds and our bodies cannot endure constant feelings of fear anger pain regret and resentment that come into our lives without repercussions. Eventually we break.
Modern society makes it easy to dull our pain rather than address the problem. Compulsions, addictive tendencies, depression, and mood disorders can be dulled just enough to prevent our pain from reaching a level that awakens us to our need to change.
Learn to think and act differently.
Understand the source of your problem, fear, and pain and equip yourself with the tools that will help you move up and over the bar to your goals, far away from the downward slope.
Are there times when you know the right thing to do but do the opposite? Why do you think that is?
Exposure to trauma or abuse can have a lasting psychological impacts on a person as an adult.
System 1 responses are necessary for survival in an initial experience. However as time passes and we move from our traumatic childhood experiences to adulthood, the automatic reactions we endure no longer serve a useful purpose. System 1 dysfunctions only cause pain discomfort or obsessions that can make our lives miserable and unmanageable.
* A primary weakness of system 1 is that it is often not accurate. On auto pilot, it does not calculate the likelihood of potential outcomes and risks. It does not have the capacity to fact check information. It produces fears impulses judgments and reactions with no ability to assess actual risk. It lacks the capacity to validate that the perceived threat was really dangerous.
We overreact to thousands of perceived threats daily which leave us in a constant state of fear or suspicion.
Human violence is our primal instinct to control what we perceive puts us at risk in our own environment.
Understand when survival instincts are appropriate and helpful and when they are destructive.
* Self-awareness and self control, not the control of others, build the human capacity to connect cooperate and create harmonious relationships.
Fear and paranoia responses escalate isolate and disconnect us to the point that it’s difficult to enjoy or find purpose in life.
* Undifferentiated people are imprisoned by an overactive system 1 and do not even know it. They are convinced they are right in the world is wrong.
Things like unruly emotions, control issues, and unmanageable situations are not our prisons, they are our jailers.
We do not have access to most of what is happening in our brains.
99% of the nerve signals in our brains take place without our knowing or having access to them.
Chronic stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and addictions all alter the metabolism, function, and size of brain regions involved with system 2 thinking.
Overwhelmed by system 1’s chaos, system 2 under functions or shuts itself down and allows anarchy to reign.
How will we handle the damage from our most traumatic experiences?
How will we deal with the brain wiring and resulting dysfunctions that are a consequence of our experiences?
* Emotional dysfunction is a condition in which we feel an emotion or react in a way that is out of proportion to the current situation.
people who suffer from low self-esteem and question whether they are lovable may be dependent on others for constant attention and validation. (Others based self esteem)
Those who greatly fear the uncertainty of the future may be bent towards controlling their environment and others in it.
Can you identify situations in your life when you responded in exaggerated or illogical ways that were destructive to you or others?
The system 1 emotion of fear typically is the most influential force that wires our brains and the biggest roadblock to rewiring and change.
Fear is paralyzing because it prevents our development, our maturity into well adapted people.
Fear has one basic job: to provide information in order to protect us.
* We must use system 2’s reasoning capacity to assess the accuracy of system 1 information.
Exaggerated fear is problematic because it creates unfounded paranoia, it paralyzes us and narrows our focus, blocking our capacity to change.
When fear takes over, all is lost because we cannot alter the system 1 emotional dysfunction‘s that have made our lives a nightmare.
Five basic fears: extinction, mutilation, loss of autonomy, separation, ego death
The greatest fear people struggle with is their lack of control over the future.
We are meant to live free and fearless.
* It takes courage to explore our fears and the system 1 dysfunction‘s that have made our lives unmanageable.
* Our constant worry about yesterday and our fear of tomorrow diminish and destroy our capacity to be present in the moment, to be joyful, to live free.
Do you believe fear affects your every day feelings and decisions? How?
Who do you become when you are overwhelmed with fear?
What is the most important area of your life in which fear is holding you back?
The flexibility of the brain makes us remarkable and complex.
Early childhood experiences play a critical role in building the architecture of our brains.
Our life experiences, family, social, and cultural environments, thoughts, and feelings determine which circuits get the most used and which do not.
Connections that are used most get stronger and much larger circuits are built around them.
In contrast, connections that are not used fadeaway through a process called pruning.
If your system one response of anger is out of control, the more you practice or engage in road rage, the stronger the neural circuits will be for that particular dysfunction.
On the other hand, the more you disengage or override the system one response, the more you destroy that particular circuit.
* We become the type of people our thoughts tell us to be.
The reality is that not everyone has the capacity to change.
– People who are completely driven by their survival of the fittest instincts cannot change. Their responses in most situations are firmly wired and completely predictable. They operate by competition, selfishness, self admiration, and control in any environment at any cost. They typically live by the motto the one who dies with the most toys wins and will fight anything or anyone who gets in their way. The narcissist.
– People who are resistant to self examination, reflection, and honesty also cannot change. Gradual slope people. They have been hurt and react to their environments in any instinctive or fear-based way. These responses consistently result in negative feelings and behaviors. The gradual slope people unconsciously repeat the same mistakes, the same unhealthy cycles, and the same toxic relationship patterns. They are stuck because they do not ever consider their own contributions to their situations. They do not believe they have a problem, much less admit that they are the problem. For these people everyone else is to blame.
– Third type of people who can change have made mistakes, hurt others, and experience great pain and devastation as a result of their unconscious responses to trauma, abuse, rejection, neglect and betrayal at some point in their lives. Unlike the others, they are keenly and painfully aware that many other strategies and approaches to life have not worked and they are determined to find new and better ways to find and express their true selves and transition away from their destructive responses in situations. They have lost in life but have not given up. They have a strong desire to learn new ways to live in order to create a better future.
You may not be able to immediately stop being controlling, fearful, sad, or angry, but the goal is to use roadways less and less and more quickly locate the exit ramps to new positive thoughts and behaviors.
Transformations of great magnitude require hope, courage, faith and a searching inventory of our behaviors.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting to change your brain wiring and weaken or destroy your system 1 dysfunctions overnight.
Take this process one step, one day, one hour, one minute at a time.
If you are committed you will see the process of change happen over time.
How often have you described someone as being unable to change?
Can you identify some of your patterns of negative thinking feelings and reactions that are constant and may very well be part of a brain circuit super Highway?
Humans have been given an incredible capacity to reason, think, and create that far surpasses that of any animal.
We are relational, and have the capacity to choose, and have free will.
* Freedom is so powerful because it contains both true love and true evil. Depending on our choices, it is the ultimate source of our union and joy as well as our separateness and pain.
We are capable of deep love and relationship.
Our bodies are genetically programmed to age and die.
* Our one job on this planet is to love. If you start each day with the intention of loving, everything else in your life will take care of itself.
Love is the cure to our loneliness, despair, and hopelessness.
Paradoxical nature of giving.
Don’t be willing to give only if you get something in return. This is market approach to giving.
To love others and not because others will give back but because the universe and its Creator will return the selfless act in ways beyond our imagination.
Where or how do you find meeting in your life?
What gives you purpose?
It’s impossible to put the rest of your life in order until you establish consistent moral principles.
In order to grow as individuals, we need to calibrate our moral compass.
We must become people who long for truth and meaning, who seek to do the right thing no matter the cost.
God created a basic instinctual moral code for humans.
* Like our thoughts, our moral choices eventually become habits and automatic reactions.
* When we make immoral choices, we rewire our brains in a way that enhances our likelihood of repeating the same unprincipled actions in the future.
* How we act and respond according to our moral compass becomes our character, thereby locking in that moral memory.
We have wired our morality.
It has long been recognized that early exposure to severe forms of stress, abuse and neglect is a significant risk factor for the development of psychopathology, including anxiety PTSD depression bipolar and schizophrenia.
When we face morally challenging situations, we do one of three things: we respond in a manner consistent with God‘s moral laws, we unconsciously act against gods morality, or we choose to do the wrong thing and justify these decisions with excuses.
Many people minimize their capacity to act of their own individual responsibility.
Bystander effect: diffuses an individuals moral responsibility in a crowd.
* Unethical rationalization will become our predominant system 1 habit if we consistently validate our choices with excuses.
Self awareness about how our own feelings and behaviors follow our thoughts and excuses is critical to our moral development.
* Any excuse that you use as a reason to do wrong things or to lie wires your mind to the point where the untruths become a system 1 habit that blocks you from realizing the consequences of your immoral actions.
In time, your character will be based on your chronic distortions of truth.
* Without deep introspection, prayer, and support network, we remain limited by our own realities and can justify or make sense of any wrongful action.
Without truth, we unconsciously create a fabricated existence that will ultimately destroy our capacity to sense our moral knowledge and cause us to live in the absence of meaning and significance.
* We owe it to ourselves to be vulnerable and painfully honest, to quit defending and rationalizing our system 1 feelings and responses based on selfishness and fear rather than love.
We must learn to be accountable for our actions whether good or bad.
We must take responsibility for our choices and understand the role they play in our future.
What do you believe are your greatest morality Blindspot‘s?
What do you believe is your most used excuse for not doing the right thing?
What does this say about you?
Reframing loss, illness or grief is a journey from exile.
Consciously and unconsciously, we feel tremendous anger despair depression and resentment. Waves of emotion overwhelm our minds.
* Reframing is not about minimizing, fighting, or ignoring what we have been through, it is about returning from a destination where we felt displaced, disconnected or depressed.
Our minds get stuck in system 1, replaying the same memories from the past over and over.
* When we are imprisoned in emotional overdrive by denial, isolation, anger, and resentment playing If Only scenarios in our head, we cannot reframe our trauma and rewire our minds.
* Get honest with your situation, focus on yourself, lean into God, and from that place of transparency, begin to rebuild.
* Painful feelings associated with trauma and tragedy will not lessen or go away if you do not deal with them.
* We can stay stuck in the circumstances of our tragedy or make a conscious decision to shift our thinking to system 2 and create a new life.
Come to terms with what has happened and understand that life will never be the same.
When memories and expectations wired into our brains as superhighways are challenged by traumatic situations, we have to surrender those visions for new ones.
* We have to stop traveling on those same superhighways that are stuck in the past.
Reframing tragedy means changing the way you look at your accident or tragedy or illness or trauma.
* Surrender previous expectations of what life would be, letting go of your false sense of control and surrendering your will, it’s the only way you can be free.
Have you struggled with the loss of a dream or unmet expectations of life?
Have you come to terms with what your life looks like right now?
What have you learned about yourself after experiencing a loss or devastating situation?
If the healthy development of a child is not carried out properly, it can lead to numerous system 1 dysfunctions.
Receiving unconditional love creates a solid sense of confidence, security, and well-being.
Unconditional love is one of the deepest needs of the human spirit.
The System 1 instinct to provide for and protect a child must be subjugated to the parents system 2 understanding of the importance of boundaries, discipline, and responsibility.
The foundation of conditional acceptance is the capacity to honestly appraise a child’s behavior.
Excuses for a child not only blind a parent but also hurt children in the long run.
Not being held accountable and responsible for their actions prevents children from becoming independent responsible and capable humans.
Children who are parented in this way cannot develop into autonomous people.
They may be intelligent but lack qualities such as discipline courage and strength that are necessary to successfully navigate life.
As they become adults, many become helpless and dependent on others.
Five to one magic ratio: balance difficult conversations with positive interactions.
Parents who do not set strong boundaries and discipline guidelines fail their children.
* Guilt is typically produced by the system 1 fear of not being a good enough parent.
This fear with rationalization is a major enemy to raising healthy children.
Guilt may be a parents most selfish system 1 emotion.
Helicopter parenting: hovering over our children and relieving them of autonomy and responsibility will hinder them from having a life of purpose and joy.
It’s not our job to make life easier for our kids.
Conflict between parents on how to raise their children can cause incredible tension.
The human brain does not reach full maturity until the mid-20s.
* If you fuse your emotions with theirs, you will live in a world of constant chaos and anxiety. It’s much easier to be a caring and objective coach from the sidelines than a co-participant in a teenagers craziness.
* If your system 2 self can reduce your exaggerated system 1 fears and instincts associated with child raising, you will be able to give your children the best possible gifts during this time, emotional stability and joy.
Honestly assess your current parenting style.
Compare your parental strategies to the character you see being formed in your child.
What are some positives?
What are some challenges that need to be revisited?
When we enter into relationships of any kind, we bring with us an array of both instinctive and default system 1 responses that stemmed from previous relationships and past experiences.
At first glance, it seems a miracle that any relationship lasts. And to a large degree, it is impossible for any to flourish when both parties are overwhelmed by system 1 in overdrive.
If you struggle with intense loneliness, anxiety, or obsessive thoughts, you are likely to have unhealthy or toxic relationships to avoid being by yourself.
Undifferentiated people are driven by system 1 fears, worries, feelings of isolation, and self-doubt.
You must self reflect.
* Three primary components that determine an individuals level of differentiation in the context of relationships: how well you know and express your true self, how well you understand and manage system 1 emotional dysfunction, and how well you love.
The key to maintaining healthy and meaningful relationships is being able to remain yourself, a distinct separate individual with your unique strengths as you connect with another.
This cannot occur if the two are in a constant battle for control of the relationship.
Both parties must be differentiated.
When healthy independence does not exist, two people fuse together to become a weaker less effective union and can develop the trappings of codependence, a common emotional dysfunction in relationships.
Transference: unconsciously transferring feelings from past relationships onto new relationships.
This comes from a primitive system 1, which is designed to protect us from potential threats and can explain why we continue to repeat certain relationship patterns.
Because memories are unconsciously triggered, we tend to automatically relate to people based on our past experiences.
We assume others will have similar traits, even though they have no association or link to our past.
Transference sets us up for a self fulfilling prophecy in which everyone fits into a past pattern that naturally becomes the mold for the future. In this way, we unknowingly create past derived outcomes in the present and the future.
Parent child attachment styles become so deeply internalized that we bring them into our most significant relationships.
According to the art of loving, there are five types of love: brotherly love, motherly love, self love, love of God, erotic love.
A particularly confusing issue in marriages is the comparison of motherly love and erotic love.
Measuring a love for a child compared to a love for a spouse is not useful or appropriate. Even though the term love can be ascribed to different relationships there is a difference.
Another obstacle to loving well is the belief that love should be reciprocated. How often have you thought that giving love, doing or sacrificing for another, means giving something up and expecting something in return?
We consciously or unconsciously believe that giving will ultimately dry up our well. Our sacrifices, our doing, our loving will cause us to be spent. This model of love is not sustainable because we expect a return on our investment.
True love involves a different economy. When we give without expectation of anything in return, God gives love and abundance back to us in different ways.
When we engage system 2 and temper over active system 1 impulses and reactions, we understand how to set and keep boundaries and remain our authentic selves.
We know how to love and give in a way that will leave our cup running over, not running on empty.
Codependence presents in a variety of ways: over protective and jealous partner, dominator, he refuses to let the dominated do anything or go anywhere without permission, an enabler who constantly gives to an enabled person, a taker who doesn’t respect the givers boundaries and constantly gives more work to do without adequate compensation.
* The need to control another is a system 1 primitive instinct that manifests itself as domination and manipulation of another person to maintain power over one’s own environment and relationships.
Codependents are reactionaries. They overreact. They under react. But rarely do they act. They react to the problems, pains, lives, and behaviors of others. They react to their own problems, pains, and behaviors.
Differentiated individuals will approach their relationship with true love and kindness, not in a codependent manner. This means being sensitive to the others needs, setting healthy boundaries, and cultivating the union with their Strengths.
When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
One of the biggest expectations people have is that their partners will change.
Do you have any codependency issues?
How does it affect your relationships and you as a person?
List three roadblocks that prevent you from being differentiated in relationships.
See differentiation index.
The first step in rebuilding a marriage is tearing away some of the scar tissue that has built up over the years. It can be painful but it’s worth it.
At their best, sex and intimacy blend the best parts of system 1 and system 2 emotions and behaviors in a mystical manner that powerfully transitions our intimate relationships from mundane to extraordinary.
Falling in love typically involves three system 1 drives. It begins with lust, the craving and yearning for sexual gratification, and then progresses to romance, a strong drive for the new partner. As the relationship progresses, attachment develops, the union between people in a monogamous relationship that includes having children.
Undifferentiated individuals expect romantic love, sex, and passion to last forever without effort.
They are disappointing when these things Wayne.
For these people, the solution is obvious: end the relationship and find a new partner to fall in love with. Sadly the short-lived cycle is doomed to repeat.
Three misconceptions that serves as blocks for many: great sex should come without much effort, women are less interested in sex than men, and sex is reserved for the young.
A females libido can be diminished because of past experiences, and religious or cultural influences sending mixed messages .
The greatest most effective sex organ is the human mind.
A differentiated self is a confident self.
Talk to your partner about intimate issues.
Love as well as sexual development cannot exist without vulnerability.
Love cannot stand in its full power without the possibility of pain or rejection.
While the absence of self expression and openness will guarantee a safe ride, it will likely be an unfeeling and boring one.
Begin stoking the fires of intimacy by gaining a better understanding of who your partner is.
Couples can move bit by bit through a whole spectrum of sexual activities. This takes time and patience.
You will reach impasses.
Maintain a strong alliance.
When gridlock occurs, maintain a stable and flexible self.
Don’t let setbacks discourage you.
Respectfully work through the issues together.
Stay calm and self soothe your own hurts and desires instead of lashing out at your partner.
Don’t ever react and at the same time don’t punish your partner by running away or create a distance that damages the relationship.
* Keep in mind that when conflict is handled with grace, without anger and wisely, it can strengthen relationships and rewire our minds more rapidly than any other activity.
Handling stress well induces genetic changes that alter how our brain genes are expressed, and this in turn alters brain wiring that beautifully coordinates both systems’ thoughts feelings habits sensations behaviors and emotions.
Can you be vulnerable with your partner and express your sexual desires?
How would you like to see your intimacy and sex life improve?
What are some steps you can take on your own and with your partner to make it happen?
Who we are is more important than what we do.
It’s about what drives us, what motivates us, what fuels us to wake up each day with joy meaning and purpose.
Your perception of your self is largely based on a narrative you create with all the clues around and inside you.
To find the real narrative, the one deep within you that represents who you really are, how you really feel, and what truly brings meaning to your life is the trick.
A simple act of writing about your life, including your honest thoughts and challenging experiences, is a pathway to healing, self development, and overall well-being.
Begin to piece together when and why system 1 emotional dysfunctions started and how these toxic patterns over time squashed what they most desired for your life.
1- Surrender and begin to write.
Writing your story can provide great insight about you as a person.
Write down the story of your life.
Focus on your most significant events and relationships.
What has brought the most joy and meaning?
What has caused great pain?
What are your greatest accomplishments and your biggest mistakes?
Reflect on your most important relationships and how they have affected your life positively and negatively.
Consider your present and your future.
What’s going on now?
Are you headed in a positive direction or do you feel stuck?
Is your life up to this point a reflection of the passions and goals you had when you were younger?
What do you want to accomplish with the rest of your life?
What do you believe is your biggest obstacle to making that happen?
2- Then sit with a trusted friend, family member, counselor and share your story with them.
Add any new insights gained from the second opinion to your original narrative.
Part of discovering who you are is to unlock your first principles and determine the true passions that give your life meaning.
Discover what you’re passionate about and how you can come combine that with your Strengths to live in a way that gives your life meaning.
3- Revisit your story.
Read through the experiences.
Think about what drives you and gives you purpose and motivates you.
When do you feel most alive, most in tune with your true self?
If you accept that loving others is what gives life meaning, how have you loved the world so far?
Find common themes that will uncover your passions.
Write them down.
4- Then consider your strengths.
What comes naturally to you?
What activities give you energy?
List what you believe to be your three greatest strengths.
Talk to someone to determine what they are if needed.
Write them down.
5- Write down how you believe you can most effectively combine your strengths with your passions.
Take your time.
When we suffer from system one emotions and behaviors in overdrive, it’s likely we will be attracted to others who suffer with similar issues.
Recognize that your feelings toward each other were simply system one emotions, echoes from previous experiences that were being redirected towards one another.
- When you can name, can admit to, and are ready and committed to remedy your system emotional dysfunctions, you are at the foot of the hill of change.
1- Revisit the story you wrote.
* The incapacity to live out your passions and meaning is likely due to past events and relationships that have led to magnified fears, issues and other dysfunction‘s.
Pray. Ask God to help reveal negative patterns and behaviors that are detrimental to your well-being.
Name your emotional dysfunction‘s.
Have you hit an emotional rock-bottom or are you heading toward one?
Are you simply existing?
Are you going down a road that will likely end with regrets?
Are you willing to do something about it?
2- Share these things with the same trusted person and ask for their feedback.
Change is not an event, it is a process.
Surrender is shown as the jackhammer operator breaking up the extra lanes of system 1.
At first change is very difficult.
Use your system 2 reasoning to use new roads through daily practices.
You cannot will yourself to stop damaging habits and tendencies that arise in your unconscious.
Control is your enemy.
* Control cannot coexist with surrender, on the contrary it is a saboteur.
Transformation requires a conscious system 2 decision and unbending commitment for your life to be different and better.
Admit that the way you have lived has not worked for you.
Choose your system 2.
Surrender your emotional dysfunctions.
Just because you pray the prayer of surrender does not mean you won’t be tempted to retake control.
Continue surrendering your emotional dysfunctions every day.
* You’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again if you do not surrender your emotional strongholds, particularly the need for control and overwhelming fear.
In Hebrew, the word surrender means to bow the knee.
The goal of surrendering can be peace and freedom, being able to manage feelings of fear anxiety guilt and shame.
Pray all the time.
Take responsibility for your part.
* When we admit we are wrong and become accountable for our actions, we open the door to healing.
It’s another way of telling the universe we are ready to embrace change.
Spend time in solitude to self reflect.
Learn to self soothe.
Don’t get caught up in distraction.
Rewiring our minds takes months and years.
When you fall back on your old patterns or behaviors, know that you have not failed. Look at the setbacks as opportunities to pause and recognize your mistake and do things better the next time.
* Learn how to engage life with love as it comes and not how you orchestrate it.
Forgiveness is a powerful force.
To our system 1 animal nature, it is illogical irrational and makes no sense.
System 1 is a danger warning system that insists we always remember and whenever possible take action to illuminate a threat and anyone associated with it.
Perhaps this is why forgiveness is truly an impetus of transformation that brings light from darkness, freedom from the atrocities of our past, and endless potential for peace in each moment and the future.
Be honest with yourself.
Take responsibility for your actions and surrender your will to God.
While this is an important process in rewiring your mind, the next step is forgiveness, forgiving others that have caused you pain and yourself.
Forgiveness is essential for a healthy soul mind and body.
Through the act of forgiving people, you can expect lower anxiety, lower anger, lower depression, and a greater sense of self-esteem and hopefulness and healthier relationships because you’re not bringing those wounds into your relationships with others.
It’s either easier to forgive a person for missing the mark than for committing an evil act. Assume they’ve missed the mark.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim, letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.
Forgiveness about abusive situations will necessitate boundaries.
Even under horrific circumstances, forgiveness should not be viewed as a liability but as a self loving and powerful pathway to freedom.
* When we can recognize our imperfections and pay attention to the destructive nature of some of our own thoughts and immoral actions, forgiving others becomes doable.
* It is critical to acknowledge this principle because rather than admit to our flaws, mistakes, or character failures, our natural tendency is to initially address these shortcomings with excuses and rationalizations that protect our own integrity. This prevents us from seeing our feelings for what they really are.
Ironically we often do just the opposite with those who hurt us, inflating their feelings.
* Underestimating our possible responsibility in an area of intense conflict or tension increases the chance that we overestimate the role of another. So we can become and remain the victim.
* Hate along with pride jealousy anger and resentment resentment is the driving force behind unforgiveness. It is only by truly and courageously loving that we are able to forgive.
Our system 1 survival instincts clearly convey to attack or run from anyone who is a threat. Jesus calls us to love our enemies and this teaching goes against everything that is wired into the primitive portions of our brains. This requires a profoundly differentiated self and extensive rewiring.
Our inability to forgive ourselves affects others even for generations to come.
Shame sounds and feels different than guilt.
God has forgiven and forgotten our mistakes.
Can you pinpoint certain characteristics that might result from not fully forgiving past hurts? Things like anger or negativity?
Write down the names of all who have caused you pain that you have difficulty forgiving.
Write down the offenses committed against you and how you feel about them.
Write down what has held you back from forgiving them and why it’s important to forgive.
Now reflect meditate and pray to God for help to forgive these people. This doesn’t mean you absolve their guilt or minimize the offense. You’re simply opening the door to your heart to freedom
it may also be helpful to share this exercise with a trusted friend or person whom you feel safe.
think about events that have caused you harm or others harm that you have done.
If you’ve taken responsibility for your actions but continue to experience guilt and shame, write down how these overpowering emotions have affected your life and your relationships.
Ask God to forgive you for your mistakes that have hurt yourself and others.
Forgiveness is a choice.
If you have not yet done so, apologize to yourself and others and make amends with those you’ve hurt wherever possible.
Saying I’m sorry is a very important part of the journey.
Forgiveness holds the capacity to powerfully transform ourselves and release freedom in our lives.
We are freed from the chains of our hangups, our hurts, our insecurities, our guilt, and our shame.
We are free to love.
We are free to enjoy life.
Freedom has exacted and continues to exact an incredibly heavy price on humanity. But to God, it is worth it.
Love and freedom are the most defining concepts of human existence.
Freedom cradles the potential to choose love.
Kristi Schwegman is a psychotherapist specializing in helping couples develop healthy relationships, whether dating, engaged, or married. She also draws from her Christian-based approach to lead individuals in becoming aware of the limiting beliefs that can get them stuck.
We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!