hopequest blog

Pillow Fight Therapy

Growing up, I always heard, “Don’t go to bed angry.” The Bible even says we shouldn’t go to bed angry in Ephesians 4. It sounds like great advice, but honestly, sometimes I feel like my feelings choose me, and their timing isn’t always good. I am sure you can relate to this…when I am emotionally distressed, it is difficult for me to sleep. And furthermore, when I do feel angry, dealing with anger at bedtime isn’t always practical.
So let’s take an honest look at this and be fair about the observations:

  1. Sometimes you are going to go to bed angry or emotionally distressed.
  2. The Bible doesn’t give us a specific way on how not to feel angry before bed…it just says deal with it.
  3. Sometimes it is hard to identify the cause. Sometimes I just feel…angry.

I have to come to understand that it is more about the relationship in which anger exists, and not the emotion of anger itself. I can go to bed free from anger, but still remain emotionally detached or disconnected from those central human relationships.
Several years ago, I was in a marital counseling session as a participant (not the counselor), and was given this tool to use daily. It was something my wife and I actually had to schedule every day. I call it the “Heart Dump”. As corny as that name sounds, here is how it works…

We scheduled our time in the evening after dinner. My wife and I would sit across from each other and go through a series of questions. Each of us would go through the entire set of questions and listen to the replies without making comments (repeating their answer for clarification is permitted). We would use happy, sad, angry, anxious, excited, thankful, etc., with the following pattern (always ending with thankful):

  • What are you happy about?
  • What else could you be happy about?
  • Is there anything else you could be happy about?
  • After the answer “There is nothing else I could be happy about” is given, we moved on to the next emotion.

At the end of the “heart dump,” it was amazing how less burdensome we felt, how much more connection we experienced, and how many future arguments we avoided. Learning “I could be angry about the clothes not being washed after you’ve been home all day” really helped me dodge many unnecessary tense moments because of poor communication or unspoken expectations.
You still may go to bed angry sometimes, sometimes your feelings may just choose you. But using the “Heart Dump” on a daily basis is a fantastic tool to cleanse the heart and mind of those things that can take root and become a source of breakdown in relationships.

Perfect Family…No?

So, I assume you don’t feel your family is perfect. Me either, but as promised, I wanted to share a tool that can help you and your family work through those “less than perfect” times. Like any project (and sometimes I feel like my family is one), having the right tools can make the process experience feel a lot easier.  A lot of our dysfunction and craziness in our family relationships come when we feel blamed. When I feel blamed, I feel attacked and feel pressure to own something that may or may not be my fault. I don’t know about you, but I don’t respond well to that, and I end up being defensive or withdrawing and making the situation worse. After we learned this tool many years ago during a counseling session, we have been able to navigate a lot of circumstances that previously derailed our family.

So here it is….
When overwhelmed by the need to express often intense feelings or emotion to another person, we use…

I feel _____ about ______ because _______.
What does that look like in a short example?

Like this…
I FEEL frustrated ABOUT your work schedule BECAUSE we become disconnected and I really enjoy spending time with you.

Using I feel _____ about ______ because _______ allows us to accurately express our specific feeling, the central issue, and why it bothers us without making the other person the focal point. It also sounds better than “I’m tired of you being late from work. Your dinner is in the microwave”. Yikes!
What I love about this tool is that it invites the other person to be a part of the solution (even if they were part of the problem) without attacking, pointing fingers, and making rash emotional judgments based on our own hurt.
Using I feel _____ about ______ because _______ doesn’t always have to be in a negative situation! Actually, it is a fantastic tool to express great joy and excitement when engaging another person.

Like this….
I FEEL excited ABOUT our family vacation to Disney BECAUSE we will make great memories with our kids!
Whether it is a good moment, or a tense one, this tool can really be helpful in communicating within all your relationships. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Do you have a story where you used this? Share it with us on FB or send us an email at gant.garner@hopequestgroup.org.

The “Perfect Family”

Have you ever wished your family was like theirs? You know the one. They come into church smiling and seemingly all together. Pressed khaki’s, button down shirt, perfectly parted hair. Their kids come in holding hands and laughing. You are asking yourself, “How do they do it”?

Maybe you have flashbacks to earlier that morning to your kids fighting and your spouse not moving as fast you would like. They seem to be in their own little world and oblivious to the obvious need you have for help. Arguments ensue in the car, and you just remembered you left the baby’s diaper bag at home.

It is clear that you are going to be late…again. You pull in the parking lot…time for game face. It’s show time!

The pressure in our culture (especially church culture) to manage our appearances is huge!

We have come to believe this lie that if we don’t have it altogether (spiritually or otherwise), that it somehow reflects on God’s character and reputation.

Individuals and families crumble under this kind of unhealthy pressure, and it promotes environments of secrecy, dishonesty, and mask wearing.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to give you, our HopeQuest family, some quick and easy tools to enhance your friend and family relationships. These are going to be some of the simple skills families use at our Friends and Family seminars. They are simple, and can be used right away!

Do you have any “perfect family’ stories you’d like to share? Reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear your story. It helps to know when you aren’t alone!