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Category: Stress and Trauma

In Defense of Echo Chambers

In Defense of Echo Chambers

Okay, before you get your stress response hormones pumping too much, I’m not here to say that echo chambers are always a fabulous thing. As anyone who has followed this page ought to know by now, even if we do hang out in spaces where we find people who think like us, I think we definitely need to sally forth to interact with those who think differently. And when the beliefs are toxic, to resist such behaviors. In fact, I’m…

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The Word Made Flesh: The Mysteries of Nonverbal Communication

The Word Made Flesh: The Mysteries of Nonverbal Communication

‘Tis still the season, at least for those celebrating the Christmas season from a religious angle, to think through the ways in which words are made flesh. In honor of that, but in a way that would still hopefully be helpful year-round and for a wider audience, I thought it was high time to talk about the place nonverbal communication occupies in the way we communicate. So yes, let’s dive into the mysteries of the place flesh, and tone, and…

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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 “White Fragility”

The Complexities of “White Fragility”

Hello! I think I’ve recovered enough from the powerful and vulnerable and imperfectly perfect experience that was the first Evolving Faith conference to write this now. (If you’re new to this page, you might not know that I was there as a sponsor, which was in itself a totally vulnerable leap of faith for this little fledgling Assertive Spirituality project that’s currently just me, and a labor of love to offer the expertise I have to those who are willing…

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Breaking the Cycle of Weakness-Shaming: Political Disgusts (Part 4)

Breaking the Cycle of Weakness-Shaming: Political Disgusts (Part 4)

This article is the latest in my series on political disgusts (see part 1, part 2, and part 3 here). I don’t tell a lot of my story this time. But you’ll see that it is connected—I grew up among those who had a deep disgust for Nazis (which meant we always laughed when Harrison Ford would say things in the Indiana Jones movies like “Nazis. I hate these guys”). In this article I’ll talk about how, after much reflection,…

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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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Conflict Advice, Spirituality, and the Need for Nuance

Conflict Advice, Spirituality, and the Need for Nuance

Okay, so on the heels of last week’s Online Listening Café about Listening Across Spiritualities Even When We Disagree, it seemed too, too perfect when I learned one of my favorite podcasts, The Bible for Normal People, took on the subject of “How to Talk to People You Disagree With” in the very same week. As a scholar of stress, trauma, and conflict communication, though, I’ll admit I was sad and disturbed after listening to the conflict advice given in…

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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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Toward Healthier Communication Climates; Or, Why We Need to Speak Up

Toward Healthier Communication Climates; Or, Why We Need to Speak Up

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a culture of what I called Christian (Midwest Middle Class White People) Nice, which had some great things about it, but also some toxic side effects. Most notably, I left my childhood with a strong aversion to calling out negative behaviors. I was a little better at speaking up against unhealthy narratives, but still felt awkward and inept at doing so. In this article I’m going to introduce two communication theory concepts…

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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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How “Christian Nice” Can Literally Make Us Sick

How “Christian Nice” Can Literally Make Us Sick

Now that we’ve dived into a few nuances of the toxic sides of “Christian nice” (see the bottom of this page for the earlier posts), it’s time for us to discuss why the gangrene metaphor I used in that post isn’t so metaphorical. Which is all to say that it’s time to discuss how suppressing our stress and emotions and disagreements literally makes us sick. My Experience and Some Disclaimers Before I dive into the details, let me say I’ve…

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Christian Folk, Please Stop Enabling Human Rights Violations!

Christian Folk, Please Stop Enabling Human Rights Violations!

Note: This post is an example of me enacting Assertive Spirituality. It is doing so about the recent zero tolerance US immigration policies. If you’re new to this site and want to know what Assertive Spirituality is, check out my part 1 and part 2 of the site’s definition posts. If you want to know what’s going on at the US border, please google major news outlets that fact-check their work and admit to errors when they accidentally commit them….

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The Toxic Spirituality of “Christian (Midwest Middle Class White People) Nice” (Part 1)

The Toxic Spirituality of “Christian (Midwest Middle Class White People) Nice” (Part 1)

Okay, so as I think I’ve said before, I grew up as a pastor’s kid (in church slang, a PK) in the Midwest. I’m not saying my life was the plot of Footloose or anything, but it was a cultural climate that was VERY white, very tribal-Christian, very “Christian-Midwest nice.” It was also pretty patriarchal. And honestly, I think the particular brands of conflict avoidance I’m about to discuss enabled that and other unhealthy societal structures quite a lot. Let…

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The Truths about Stress, Trauma, and Gun Violence

The Truths about Stress, Trauma, and Gun Violence

Note: I originally wrote a shorter version of this article this in February in response to the Parkland school shooting and posted it on Facebook. The arguments about gun violence in the United States still stand, regrettably, so I’m reposting it here. I especially wanted to post this on Memorial Day, since this year more American children died in school shootings than military personnel in active combat zones. This is a major human rights issue we need to keep speaking…

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