The latest news is that Chris has a herniated disk. It remains to be seen how this will play out. Let’s hold him in prayer as he walks through this pain filled time.
I wanted to share with you this week about quieting, brain skill #2. How well this skill is mastered is a predictor of an individual’s lifelong mental health. And remember, that ideally, these 19 skills are mastered by age 3 1/2!
With national and world events as they are, these are difficult times and the temptation is to fear. Fear is one of “The Big Six Negative Emotions” that we need to learn how to return to joy from. This skill of quieting will be essential in the days ahead.
Skill Two – Soothe Myself
Why is Quieting important? Simple Quiet – Quieting (shalom) after both joyful and upsetting emotions is the strongest predictor of life-long mental health.
Can you identify a time in your life when you were wrought with worry and dread? Intrusive thoughts robbed your peace. Maybe you felt misunderstood, even wrongly accused. Possibly you were concerned about paying the bills or worried about health issues. Your shallow breathing and tense body gripped you. You wondered if this riptide would ever end. When Skill Two is missing you do not effectively quiet your thoughts or body. You feel exhausted.
Another reason you need to learn this skill is that relationships require a rhythm of joy and rest. You rest then cycle back to joy. You build joy and return to rest. This moment by moment interaction leaves us satisfied. Short moments of rest provide strength and stamina for more joy. You see this in infants who reflexively look away from interactions once they reach a peak of joy. They quickly return for more face to face joy, and the dance continues.
When synchronized, energy levels mutually climb and drop. Your brain knows these patterns and the fun feels natural. The lack of rest makes you feel overwhelmed. Alternating joy with rest prevents relational casualties.
Just think about a time you enjoyed a tasty meal with a friend. Each bite is savored as you synchronize your breathing, eating, tasting, swallowing and speaking. Your senses are pleased. Much like the result of your good meal and fellowship, Skill Two is a primary commodity that keeps relationships balanced. Skill Two releases serotonin on an “as needed” basis to recharge your relational battery. Serotonin leaves you content and peaceful. As a sunrise leads to a sunset, Skill Two follows Skill One to soothe your body and calm your mind. Joy and quiet are cyclical, each compliments the other.
A third reason to learn and practice quieting is that memories, language, talent, muscles and skills that are not used will atrophy. When it comes to relational skills, every generation can only transmit what they learn and use. As skills drop out of family lines, generations spread undesirable traits such as abuse, pain, addictions and distortions. Regardless of intention and determination, you cannot give what you do not have. Skill Two diminishes when families and communities either do not allow or have not learned to rest. Without Skill Two you overwork, burn out, feel depressed, become lost in your devices, avoid states of quiet and push yourself until something gives. You pass this deformity on and call it normal.
Skill Two is difficult to identify because replacement patterns are socially acceptable. You replace quiet and rest with BEEPS in the form of busyness, work, sex, music, iPhones, television and sugar. Who you are may be based on the things you do, the items you buy, the cars you drive, the places you work or clothes you wear. Synthetically calming your emotions and ignoring rest signals create strain and deregulate the brain. BEEPS replace the natural ebb and flow families rely on.
The inability to down-regulate emotions to rest and up-regulate positive emotions to joy lead to the largest risk of developing a mental illness in a lifetime. Skill Two, when absent, leaves you vulnerable to depression, anxiety, addictions, ADD, ADHD and a myriad of behavioral and personality disorders. You recognize the need for Skill Two when you fear slowing down, resist rest and surrender to the urge to disconnect in non-relational ways.
Skill Two is best learned by spending time with people who rest. Like all of the nineteen skills, Skill Two is relationally transmitted. With practice you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that rest and quiet feels enjoyable, even restorative. Small steps of quieting create a positive link that extends into relationships. Rest is rewarding. Over time quieting begins to replace previously learned behaviors that replaced a genuine need for rest. Racing thoughts can be slowed. To-do lists can be written down instead of finished right now. Impulsive responses can be tamed. To varying degrees, yoga, silent retreats, the Sabbath and mindfulness exercises are some of the ways our culture embraces Skill Two.
Rest is a gift you give other people. As you demonstrate this skill you become expert at recognizing the need for rest. You allow others the freedom to rest. Breaking eye contact, low or high energy levels, overwhelm, loss of a relational mode, rising tension levels, even yawning can be signs that a breather is needed. With a bit of practice, quiet no longer threatens your busy lives, rather rest enriches productivity. Rest is one of the most productive skills you can practice.
Resources for Skill Two: How to learn to quiet
- Joy Starts Here: The Transformation Zone – the book
- JoyQ Assessment – online (free)
- 30 Days of Joy for Busy Married Couples – a book of joy growing exercises each requiring only 10-15 minutes
- Jesus In Mind: Talks on Kingdom Life – CDs
- THRIVE Skill Guides 52 weeks of training exercises
Training Opportunities: Where to learn
Joy Rekindled marriage retreat in Morton, IL from September 19th and 20th.
Joy Starts Here in Edmonton, AB Canada for October 3rd and 4th.
Thrive Training in Austin, TX from Feb 23 – 27th.
Annual Gathering on Sustained Relationship in Chicago, IL from April 9th – 11th.
Thrive Training in Grand Rapids, MI from July 27th – 31st.
More info on these events can be found here:
We always encourage you to begin study groups with the Joy Starts Here book which will lead to Connexus classes where you can begin to learn these skills. You can look in our past posts to see an explanation of Connexus classes.
Another excellent idea is to take the online Joy-Q assessment of joy levels to gauge your joy levels and to help jumpstart seed-planting in your communities.
May your joy be full,
Chris & Carol,
Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org
Twitter – @coursey_chris