The topic was Relational Circuits.
These are things in our brain that can be on or off (or degrees of on and off). When they are on, there is no problem that is bigger than our relationships. When they are off, our brain does not work well, our relationships don’t work well and we are not creating belonging and Shalom around us. We lose our peace and problems seem bigger than they are.
This was a real Aha-moment for me, when Jim Wilder mentioned the correlation between problems and relationships. For example, when a father yells at his daughter, the problem has become bigger than his relationship to his daughter. At this moment he no longer cares if he hurts her but completely focuses on the problem and his need to express his emotions.
When we suspend our relational functions, we treat people like objects.
Expressing our feelings and emotions become deadly weapons. We lose objectivity and perspective. Our communication hurts others instead of creating Shalom. We become as dangerous to others as drunken drivers because our relational capacities are incapacitated.
Right away I remembered situations where problems had become bigger than the relationships and things did not go well. Just recently I had to talk with somebody about a problem. And as much as I tried I could not put myself in the other person’s situation in order to be less judgmental. I knew it was not OK, but I was unable to change it. Now I basically got the explanation of what happened in this situation. (Next time we will hear about what to do then.)
We receive a checklist of indicators for when our relational circuits are off.
Here are some examples that I found very telling:
- I just want to make a problem, a person or feeling stop or go away.
- I become aggressive in the way I interrogate, judge or fix others.
- I don’t want to listen to what others are saying.
- When others are talking, I already know what they are going to say.
All over the world people are drawn to those that consider relationships as more important than problems, who value relationships over problems. I certainly noticed that in different African cultures, relationship are so extremely valuable – because they are their “social safety net” – and that they would not allow anything, things or problems to disrupt these relationships. My rationalization was that we in the West have social security, health insurance, retirement insurance, etc. and are therefore less depending on our relationships, and don’t care as much how our behavior might damage our relationships.
But maybe there is more to it. Our ability to create belonging and whether our relational circuits are on most of the time, are related to our level of maturity. Maybe people in other parts of the world have a higher level of maturity.
Our relationship work better when our brain (relational circuits) is running, and not just our emotions and our mouth.
(Jim Wilder) 😉