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The Wisdom Of Your Heart – an interview with Marc Schelske

There comes a point when the emotional tools we have no longer get the job done. Working with at-risk teens we often see kids who survive trauma using coping mechanisms but as they get older, these same things that helped them survive start to turn against them. Kids in alcoholic homes many times learn ways to avoid chaos through lying, manipulation or escapism. These work for a while but become ingrained habbits that used even after the threat is gone. The self-protection now hurts rather than helps.

When I became a parent I needed new tools, not just to survive with less sleep but also to process increasingly emotional situations. Adding more kids into the family required me to become better at conflict management. All the while, I’ve grown in responsibility at work which requires more from me.

What I’ve seen personally and in the work we do at Project Patch is that emotional maturity is one of the most important and difficult tasks in life.  It also is one of the most undervalued and misunderstood.

I’ve known my guest for this episode of the podcast for many years. Marc Schelske and I worked together at summer camp, attended several years of college together and were colleagues when I pastored. Marc made a strong impression on me as someone who is very passionate about Jesus, music, and people.  I’d lost connection with Marc until about four years ago when we met for lunch. Marc shared some projects he was working on including a book. He kept working and on September 1, 2017 you can hold a book which captures this significant journey.

A bit of formal introduction, Marc is a writer, speaker, hobbyist theologian, recovering fundamentalist, tea drinker and motorcycle rider. He is a husband and dad to two kids. He is the teaching elder at Bridge City Community Church in Milwaukie (Portland) Oregon.

His book, “The Wisdom of Your Heart” is coming out September 1, 2017. He sent me a free pre-release copy and I was absolutely hooked from page one to the end. I’ve been on a personal journey about emotion and this book has taken me to a whole new level.

Listen now:

During this episode, we discuss the following topics:

Marc shares about how he ended up in a place in which his emotional tools were no longer sufficient for obstacles he was facing – 2:00

We talk about how we outgrow tools that once served us. The idea of how as more is demanded of us, without emotional maturity we end up in place of desperation and separation.  – 3:23

How we can be devoted, hard working, well intentioned yet still harm – 5:35

Marc shares some of the blocks that kept him from originally gaining emotional understanding. – 9:28

  • Fear that emotions could sway right thinking
  • Fear that emotions could sway commitments
  • Trauma – situations that are out of our control can cause us to become more controlling to prevent pain from happening
  • Emotions feel out of control
  • The message that the more spiritually mature you are, the more rational and reasonable you become
  • Emotions aren’t safe or trustworthy so we need to escape from them

Marc shares his thoughts on the rise of depression and anxiety as well as people pleasing and perfectionism – 16:33

March teaches on emotion of fear 19:56

March shares the need for us to teach kids about emotions – 19:56

Truthful conversations about emotions don’t happen because parents really want their kids to be happy and kids really want their parents to be pleased with them – 22:58

How Marc came to understand that emotions are a legitimate signal and response that we have in order to serve us- 25:18

  • Emotions give us a piece of important information
  • Emotions provide motivation to make a change

Marc explores emotions in the context of Christian teaching – 27:42

How Marc’s personal maturity in emotions has impacted how he parents 35:13

Overview of how Marc teaches about emotions with the key concept of push and pull – 42:23

Marc helps me understand tension around concept of intuition 46:22

Introduction of the tools in the book 51:39

Closing thoughts on how the heart of emotional growth is seen in our interaction with our kids – 56:29

Connect Further

Purchase book – Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, Christian Book Distributors, local books stores (Where fine books are sold!)

Learn more abou thte book and how to purchase at:  www.thewisdomeofyourheart.com

7 Videos on key themes of the book – Marc Allan Schelske facebook page

Pre-order before September 1 and you get some free resources – You have less than a day to order and click here.

Upcoming Events

Family Experience weekends – Mention that you are a listener of this podcast when you register to receive 10% your families fees.

  • September 14-17
  • October 19-22

Refresh Conference Chicago – a weekend devoted to supporting adoptive and foster parents. I’ll be there teaching on the impact of sibling relationships as well as a session on when to know when your child needs an out of home placement. Learn more at www.refreshchicago.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help, My daughter won’t make a decision

I recently received a question via email – Chuck@projectpatch.org – and as I was answering it, I though maybe there are other parents who are struggling with the same thing.

A bit of context – I had spent five days in Michigan teaching about Tech Safe Kids.  Day 1 was focused on Raising Life Ready Kids.  The main idea for that section is that our kids need to prepare while home for the most important life skills including meeting new people, negotiation, decisions making, time prioritization and planning.  The question I received is in this context.

Here is a summary of the question.   “My 9 year old daughter tends to get into “impossible solution” scenarios.  It’s been an issue for awhile and we’re not entirely shure how to overcome them.  She gets frustrated with a situation and then shuts down completely.  If we offer her solutions to help overcome the situation then she shoots holes in the suggestions, gets angry but is unwilling to solve things.   She’s quits trying to solve the program and plays the victim”

I answer the question as best I can on this episode of the podcast but I’ve also included my notes for those that prefer to read rather than listen.

The Big Picture

Be careful not to make this about you.  It will feel like a personal attack but she is actually reacting to something else and taking it out on you.  She is feeling week and wanting to feel better.  She is most likely feeling confused and scared and you happen to be the easiest target.  Many families have a person who is the scapegoat and easily blamed for problems.  For many families it is the mom.  Just because it’s normal doesn’t make it right or good.

We also are a generation of arm chair quarterbacks and coaches.  We question other peoples decisions and actions all the while insulated from the actual actions.  We say what we would have done, should have done . . . yet we haven’t moved or even dared to place ourselves in that vulnerable position.  A key for us as parents is to be careful not to model this sort of thing.  We need watch our words and attitudes about others who are making decision and seek empathy and compassion rather than judging other people.

There also is a tendency with kids to “Horabalize” things.  Yes, that is a made up word but the idea is valid.  We tend to obsess about all the reasons something won’t work out.  We have found a lot of teens are helped when they realize they are horablizing rather than solving problems.

Getting back to your daughters emotions.  She is feeling week, insecure and inadequate in making a decision which is leading her to disengage quit trying.  The more she thinks about the decision the worse she feels.  At the same time, she feels powerful when tearing down ideas and making others look dumb or foolish.  This combination simultaneously hurts her and her relationships.

What I like seeing in this question is that mom is doing the right thing but allowing her daughter to struggle with decision making.  It would be easier to avoid all this chaos but not allowing her to make decisions but that would result in dependence rather than independence.

What our kids need

Decision making is not an innate skill . . . that means none of us are born with it. We have to learn it.  Kids who never are thought to make decision tend to become easily overwhelmed, impulsive, selfish or turn to victim thinking.

I wrote a blog called, “Decisive without being impulsive” based on book by Chip and Dan Heath called Decisive.  They list four aspects that influence poor decisions making

  • Too quick – not stopping to think
  • Not enough options
  • Too focused on self- rather than how it impacts other people
  • Focused on now, rather than later

I’ll share more later on skills to learn but I’m convinced that if we are left on our own, we will make poor decisions and get into habits which harm us and our relationships.

Another element that I’m concerned about from reading the question is that I see some hints that your daughter may be struggling with perfectionism – the enemy of decisions and action.  Perfectionism is defined regularly as the need to be perfect or appear that way.  Many research projects support hat perfectionism leads to procrastination and avoiding challenges.

At our Family Experience we also lead families through understanding their temperaments using the Ministry Insights Personality Profile.  This is similar to the DISC profile but we’ve found much more accessible and complete.  There are four main types and each of these make decisions in different ways.  They also need different information for making a decisions.

  • Lion – Very vast decision maker – relies on gut.  Can’t explain or defend decision to others that clearly but they are ready to act.
  • Otter – Very fast decision maker, optimistic big picture.  Convinced others will join them and they are ready to talk others into it.
  • Golden Retriever – Slow decision maker, takes into account social and emotional factors.  Always wanting to know everyone will be happy.
  • Beaver – Slow decision maker, takes into account facts and data.  Always wanting to be correct and needing more information.

Personality is important to consider because our kids may need more or less time than we do.  They also may be seeking different inputs than we naturally value as parents.  Forcing a beaver or golden retriever into a quick decision will be frustrating to you both.  Forcing your lion or otter child to consider facts may be frustrating as well.

What Is Our Role As Parents?

We need our kids, not matter their temperament to learn how to make decisions and be accountable for them.  There is a process for learning which in it’s most basic form is caught, taught and practiced.  The difficulty with learning how to make a decision is that most of the action can’t be observed since it is going on in our brains.  As parents we need to go out of our way to bring them along on our mind journey as we make decisions.  We have to be verbal and explain things as well as ask a lot of questions.  

Our kids also need help with the decision interfering challenges like perfectionism, laziness, entitlement and people pleasing.  Here are some resources that I’ve found helpful.

Two Fronts of the Battle

One front focuses on reducing the shutting down when she is making a decisions.

First, don’t reward the shut down.  Life should get harder rather than easier when she checks out.

Practice the constant improvement cycle in your family.  For Project Patch we focus on planning, trying, measuring, improving and then doing it again.  This process places a high value on action and willingness to evaluate.  This process requires vulnerability but the result is action and great results.

Focus on respecting and highlighting people who try hard things.  My family uses the phrase, “Our family tries difficult things!”  This simple phrase focuses on effort over results and that we don’t take the easy route but focus on a bigger picture.

We also focus on giving respect and highlight people who fail and try again.

Finally remember that we teach the “X” process of launching kids.  This requires a constant focus on teaching/discipline as well as coaching and mentoring. The goal is to increase ownership and accountability.

The other front in this battle has to do with making good decisions.  Chip and Dan Heath teach the word, WRAP as a way to consider making better decisions.

  • Widen Your Options
  • Reality test your assumptions
  • Attain distance before deciding
  • Prepare to be wrong

This is going to require vigilance and many conversations.  It will be uncomfortable but the process is worth it.

Jenn – I hope my thoughts have been helpful for you and your daughter and for others too who are listening.

If you have a question that you’d like to have me answer just send it to chuck@projectpatch.org

Life After Lust – A Conversation with Forest Benedict

I love my job. I get the chance to talk to people and hear their stories. Forest Benedict has a story. His includes many painful moments and some destructive detours.  Yet. . . what I love about his story is that he has broken free from a world of isolation, shame and brokenness. He is passionate about life outside of pornography and helping others discover the freedom, belonging and purpose he enjoys.  Read More

What’s Going On With My Kid?

As parents we ask some important question.  A good one is, “Where are my keys?”  We also ask obvious questions like, “Who drank all the milk and put the carton back in the fridge?”  One that I hear from parents is, “What’s going on with my kid?”  We worry because we see changes that we can’t figure out.  We want to know what’s going on inside but most of the time we get grunts and maybe an exaggerated sigh.  There are signs that things aren’t going well: falling grades, concerning smells, absence of friends, withdrawal, sarcasm, avoidant behaviors, dressing differently.

We swing between being worried they are going crazy and searching for a gang to join to the next minute thinking it’s just immaturity, a phase or normal behavior for “kids nowadays.” Read More