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Tag: stress and trauma

When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Emotions

When “Christian Nice” Gets Mean about Emotions

If you haven’t been keeping up with my schedule, by the time you read this, I’ll be largely done with speaking about “Stress, Trauma, and Conflict Communication” at the Wild Goose Festival, which is a progressive Christian social justice-themed festival in the Bible Belt in the Southern US. As I’ve described before, I grew up in my own mini-Bible belts in the Midwest. But the Southern US Bible Belt is its own special cultural flavor of Bible Belt. This piece…

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“Leftists” and Socialists, Oh My! The Politics of “Devil Terms”

“Leftists” and Socialists, Oh My! The Politics of “Devil Terms”

In the US State of the Union speech, the current head of the administration used the word “socialism” in an incredibly loaded way that was designed to evoke and invoke fear responses. This article reflects on this kind of usage of “devil terms” like “leftist” and “socialism” from a communication perspective, helping us to look at these words as justly as possible. The Wizard of Oz and Fear of Predators I grew up in the era when The Wizard of…

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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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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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On the Complexities of Counting the Costs

On the Complexities of Counting the Costs

Okay, so as anyone who’s, well, read the name of this site knows, I’m all about people speaking up as assertively as possible, including about spirituality and politics. But I wanted to spend a little time before the holidays talking about counting the costs of speaking up to family, particularly over the holidays. (I hope this advice will also be helpful throughout the year.) I felt driven to write this article after I heard lots of strong voices at the…

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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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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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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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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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In Pursuit of True Civility; or, On Standing Up for the Common Good

In Pursuit of True Civility; or, On Standing Up for the Common Good

There’s been a lot of flap about civility in the news lately, and I’ve seen it mirrored on my news feeds posted by friends, family, and acquaintances. “If we’re to ask for civility for the little guy, then we also need to give it to government employees,” they say. Or “You may not respect the man, but at least respect the office.” As someone who’s been teaching about civility for years, and who’s also been away on a trip until…

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Christian Folk, Let’s Stand Up Against Abuse!

Christian Folk, Let’s Stand Up Against Abuse!

We’ve spent a few weeks discussing the toxic patterns that can be enabled by conflict-avoiding “Christian nice” spiritualities and the ways they can make us sick. It’s high time we discuss what healthier spiritual responses to conflict look like. In this post, I’ll outline what I see as an excellent constructive way to approach conflict in abuse situations by jumping off an excellent reflection by Abbot Tryphon, the leader of the All-Merciful Saviour Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church on…

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