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Category: Internal conflict

Giving Up Self-Abnegation for Good (Devil Terms part 6)

Giving Up Self-Abnegation for Good (Devil Terms part 6)

This article is the latest in a series of articles on the weird things that happen when we make things into “god terms” or “devil terms” (the earlier pieces can be found in part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5). In this article I talk about the weirdly unhealthy things that can happen when self is seen as a devil term and self-abnegation as a “god term.” I’m also going to talk about my journey to…

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“Ashes to Ashes” and Death as a Devil Term (Devil Terms Part 4)

“Ashes to Ashes” and Death as a Devil Term (Devil Terms Part 4)

As I started writing this, it was Ash Wednesday, the day when many Christians and Christian churches soberly gather to remember their mortality. As I finish it a couple of weeks later, it’s still very much Lent—and feeling more intensely that way after last Friday’s mosque shooting in New Zealand, perpetrated by a white supremacist. In light of all this, I felt it was high time to continue this series reflecting on god and devil terms by talking about healthy…

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Stress and Conflict; Or, Why We All are So on Edge

Stress and Conflict; Or, Why We All are So on Edge

I’ve been seeing the symptoms of the stress of this particular political moment for a long time. Lately I’ve seen a lot of “friendly fire” recently breaking out in online groups trying to make the world a better place. In this article, I’ll discuss what living through this kind of stress has been feeling like for me lately in light of the research on stress, trauma and conflict communication. In the process, hopefully I’ll be able to articulate more of…

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The Complexities of Love and Limits

The Complexities of Love and Limits

So yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions of shame and ego, individualism vs. collectivism, love and hate, sensitivity and insensitivity, strength and limits. (You know, small insubstantial issues :)). These issues impact every sphere of life at every level—and they lie at the heart of so much humanity, including questions of spirituality. In this week’s article I tackle a few aspects of these problems by talking about the challenges, dissonances, and paradoxes of emotional labor, task labor,…

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Logic, the Bible, and Political Disgusts of the “Unmasculine” (Part 3)

Logic, the Bible, and Political Disgusts of the “Unmasculine” (Part 3)

I’ll be honest: this week I was pretty overwhelmed with the world. And so this week’s article is one I’d drafted awhile ago, but adapted to fit into the sequencing of the series I’d been doing on political disgusts (see part 1 and part 2 through these links if you’re behind). Specifically, I’ll be looking at how the logical concept of hasty generalizations can help us sort out what religious moral preoccupations might be coming from the Bible as a whole…

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On Feeling All the Feels This Week

On Feeling All the Feels This Week

I’ve started this week’s article at least several hundred times, and discarded all the ideas until this one came out. The week’s events here in the US have been so overwhelming for everyone, especially all non-bullies (the specific instance right now is the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, but it could be anything else, really, at a different time and place). Because of everything, there’s a lot of pressure inside me to say the right thing, feel the right thing,…

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Competing (Dis)Tastes: “Christian Nice,” Moralities, and Political Disgust, Part 2

Competing (Dis)Tastes: “Christian Nice,” Moralities, and Political Disgust, Part 2

Alright, I’m back (some may say by popular demand? Huh. Maybe, maybe not :)). In the first part of this series, I laid the groundwork for discussing the various, often conflicting “distastes” and “disgusts” with politics in my youth–“political moralities,” as it were. I did so by talking about the neurobiology of morality. I also talked about a few of the implications of this insight for understanding the political divisions between groups such as the “Religious Right” and “The Christian…

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The Relational Consequences of Sacred Talk

The Relational Consequences of Sacred Talk

I’ve been getting my mind in gear to teach my general education communication classes that start in just over a week. And so when I read a recent Christianity Today review that’s in my wheelhouse—I’m a communication scholar, after all, and it’s a review by a communication scholar (Tim Muehlhoff) of a recent book about sacred language by Jonathan Merritt—my mind turned to an important distinction that pops up in Chapter 1 of the interpersonal communication textbook I teach. Content…

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“Christian Nice,” Morality, and Political Disgust (Part 1)

“Christian Nice,” Morality, and Political Disgust (Part 1)

It’s been one of those weeks for me. The kind in which a confluence of a lot of conversations pops together with concepts you’ve been absorbing for a long time, and bam! One of those blinding insights. So blinding you can’t unsee it even when you close your eyes. It all started when someone I grew up with—someone who’s admitted to being bad at conflict—was assertively courageous enough to say to me last week that they liked my blog but…

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On Facing Difficult Conversations from a Trauma Background

On Facing Difficult Conversations from a Trauma Background

If you’ve been following the Assertive Spirituality Facebook feed closely, you know I had one of those difficult conversations this week. Without sharing personal details about the encounter, I asked for support there. Because no matter how skilled you are and knowledgeable you are about conflict, these things are hard. That is especially true when there is a trauma background involved in the conversation—and there was on both sides of this particular encounter. This week’s long-and-raw but hopefully worth it…

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On Finding and (Re)building Meaning in the Midst of Outrage Fatigue

On Finding and (Re)building Meaning in the Midst of Outrage Fatigue

Not surprisingly, I had quite a case of Outrage Fatigue/Compassion Fatigue around the time I wrote my initial post on the subject. I think it’s important to acknowledge that, because it’s key to note that no one’s immune from such things, no matter how much you study and teach stress, trauma, and conflict communication, or how often you practice all the stress management tips and tricks in the world. (That said, the current post is long, but will offer you…

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Outrage Fatigue and the Sources of Political Conflict; Or, Why We’re All So Freaking Tired

Outrage Fatigue and the Sources of Political Conflict; Or, Why We’re All So Freaking Tired

As I write this article, I’m tired. (Some call this condition outrage fatigue or compassion fatigue.) I’m tired because it’s been a long week. It’s been a long year. It’s been an extremely long (American) presidency. (Oh, and I know this is a long article. Stick with me—I think you’ll find it worth it, and encouraging, to stay to the end.) It’s felt long, and we’re all tired, because that’s what happens when abusers abuse. It’s what happens with domestic abusers. With…

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On Celebrating Assertiveness Wins in the Face of Evil

On Celebrating Assertiveness Wins in the Face of Evil

I won’t lie, friends: it’s been a tough week to be grading final exams. Don’t get me wrong: I dearly love seeing the wins during these interpersonal and small group communication and leadership take-home finals. There’s usually nothing as cool as hearing about the ways the concepts my students are learning about conflict styles and stress and shame and civility are already impacting lives. There’s usually nothing so fabulous as hearing the super-smart and shy students talk about how much…

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On the Emotional Labor of Assertiveness (in Grading)

On the Emotional Labor of Assertiveness (in Grading)

Greetings! I still have 14 final papers to grade before tomorrow for my interpersonal communication class, but since it’s #TeacherAppreciationWeek, I wanted to take a short break to talk about the emotional labor involved in assertive grading. Especially for us recovering avoider-accommodators, but also I think for recovering aggressors as well, it’s not easy to tell students their work doesn’t meet the standards I’ve laid out. It’s just not. I say this having taken many steps over the years to…

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