(An excerpt from Cultivating Love: When Secrets Surface by Dr Ken McGill)
It’s hot, concentrated and has been under pressure. It’s earthy and may be bitter, sour, strong or sweet. If handled incorrectly, or misplaced, it could burn, but if managed well and accurately placed, this could be one of the best gifts you give to another human being — the sharing of content that is in your heart. The picture above should bear the caption “bull’s-eye” in that it depicts Accurately Placed Passion: An intensely heated (per your internal thermostat) liquid, flowing from deep inside of you (your emotions, passion, suffering), into a container (thermos) that allows you to “skillfully” share your strong emotion with another person.
Remember, Empathic, Sympathetic and Compassionate responses are skills that are developed based on what you do with your emotions. The “Ad Dictim” (the Enemy or The Addiction) wants both of you to engage in rage-oriented behavior by hurling your hurt, resentment, suffering and pain toward each other, burning them and your opportunity to be understood and healed in the process. On the other hand, healthy behavior and/or your recovery reminds you to be self-aware of what is going on inside of you and to develop the skill of self-containment, and skills that are associated with healthy self-disclosure (You may wish to read “Additional thoughts on Emotional Self-Awareness” in a previous post for more insight into changing your communication process).
Developing these three important skills will help you to share your internal reality with others (in real time) so that they get it, they are with you and they have a better understanding of your hurt or resentment and possibly, how to help you to heal from the pain buried within you (Ephesians 4:26–27). By doing this, you are accurately placing your Passion while also demonstrating that you are becoming a Safe person, that is, one who takes full responsibility for owning and managing your feelings and your behavior toward others. Managing your feelings and behavior is critical and I wish to shed light on two specific reasons regarding why this is so important.
First, you are focusing and sharing your passion (emotions, desire) in the right direction — with each other. To responsibly “confess” about what is in your heart in this manner is a reflection of love and maturity and is an indicator that you are sharing and keeping your life inside the right ring (the cup) versus stuffing (suppressing) your emotion, or, acting it out haphazardly or addictively (violently expressing your emotion). This manner of sharing is communicating your “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15–16) and helps you to know others and to be known by others, which are staple ingredients in the process of cultivating Intimacy.
Second, the Apostle John mentions in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” One of the things I get from this verse is when you talk about what is ailing you, you tend to feel better. The deeper the hurt (especially from traumatization) the more critical the need to release the pent up emotion connected to the traumatic experience(s). The Greek word used to identify this cleansing process connected to confession or talking is “Katharos” and in Psychology we call this process Catharsis, a process upon which modern psychoanalysis is based (Freud and Breuer, 1885). Opening yourself up and giving yourself permission to express your deep hurt, pain, guilt, shame, devastation, mistrust and other emotions connected with infidelity or any behavior that has harmed your marriage with a spouse who desires to accurately place his/her passion therapeutically, provides you with an opportunity to be cleansed and ultimately, to be healed from the traumatization that you have experienced.
As you read through and practice the “75 Do’s that Cultivate Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion,” you probably identified some practical ways for you to cultivate and demonstrate Sympathy, Empathy and Compassion, as you endeavor to deliver care, attention, help, service and ministry to one another so that you both could experience healing. As you implement behavior to cultivate empathy, I wish to remind you that in addition to Jesus understanding the depth of your suffering experience, know that the your Higher Power is with(in) You (Mark 1:40–42), to provide aid, comfort, help, consolation, encouragement and most importantly, empowerment, to assist you to cultivate patience, safety and other edifying fruit that will be vital for your journey (Galatians 5:22–23). Your Higher Power also wants to teach and guide you to know specific Truths, that when practiced, will help to heal the soil of the heart (John 16:8–15). If you are willing (and I hope that you are), one of the most important characteristics for God to cultivate in you is Makrothymeo, or Patience, which is beautifully captured in the picture above — your ability to hand off your strong emotion that you wish and need to reveal to your spouse, in a manner in which he or she could receive it, “taste it” and acknowledge to you “now I see what you have passionately wanted me to see…now I get it.”
If you are the recipient of the heated emotion in the cup, don’t be intimidated by the pain and suffering arising from the bottom of the cup. Unless you get to the heart of the matter, you will never really know and appreciate the depth of the hurt, offense, pain, or wound. But when you appropriately and consistently place your passion and desire to gain knowledge by descending into the heart, you see as God sees, and you give yourself the opportunity to engage in the intentional and necessary activity of participating in the healing of others (Matthew 9:36; I Peter 3:8–18).