Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies by authors Allison Cook and Kimberly Miller, offers a counterintuitive approach to handle conflicting emotions.
The book presents a holistic framework that “integrates concepts from the Internal Family Systems therapy model with popular boundaries principals viewed from a Christian lens.”
“We believe the best way to care for the troubled parts of your soul is to invite the Holy Spirit to lead them.”
I loved this idea but struggled at first with some of the language used in the book. It took some careful reading for me to grasp the reasoning behind the methods used. Once I had some time to process them, I began to see how they could help turn my negative emotions into allies.
For example, part 2 of the book helps you take a “You-Turn” in order to gain clarity about your own thoughts and feelings so you can respond intentionally instead of becoming overwhelmed. The second step of the You-Turn is to “befriend the parts of your soul that you don’t like.”
This is the part of the method they say will feel counterintuitive. And they’re right. My thoughts are inclined to battle against my fears, worries and insecurities, not befriend them. I want to pray spiritual warfare prayers that will cast my uncomfortable, conflicting feelings as far away as possible.
But instead, this book was asking me to extend grace to “perceived enemies within” in order to gain compassion for myself and discover wholeness.
The 5 Steps are:
- Focus on an overwhelming part of yourself.
- Befriend this part you don’t like.
- Invite Jesus to draw near.
- Unburden this weary part.
- Integrate it into your internal team of rivals.
The authors explain how they are not asking that we befriend sin but encourage us to embrace the part of us that’s sinning and that needs help changing, much as you would help a child learn right from wrong.
“Ignoring unruly parts of yourself, such as anger or fear—trying to make these frustrating feelings just go away—causes them to escalate like kids throwing a tantrum. On the other hand, if you befriend them and ask them to give you a little space, they’ll relax. The goal is not to eradicate parts of your soul carrying anger, fear, sadness, envy, or shame, but to lead them with curiosity and compassion. These parts of you can grow to trust the guidance of your Spirit-led self (your spirit led self is you when you are being led by God).”
I have to admit, talking to different parts of myself feels a bit schizophrenic and strange—like when the book suggests thinking of the diverse parts of our soul as family members that are learning to relate to each other well. But I’m pretty sure the intent of the imagery and language throughout the book is to help unravel the conflicting emotions we struggle with in order to understand ourselves and others better. And in order to do that, we need to differentiate from various aspects of ourselves by gaining comfortable distance (not being too close or too far from a troubled part of our soul) so we can learn how to let the Holy Spirit guide each part of us.
“If you lead painful emotions with perspective, guided by the Holy Spirit, you’ll discover that every part of you has tremendous potential for good.”
Learning to do this effectively probably takes some practice and time.
You know you’re leading from your Spirit-led self when you can look at your feelings with curiosity, creativity, and courage and cultivate the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23).
This is an intriguing read and one that you will want to keep nearby so you can learn to practice the steps of Spirit-led living.At any moment you can choose to walk with the Spirit or go your own way.#boundariesforthesoul Click To Tweet
I received a free copy of this book from BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review.
My small group is reading the book, When Sinners Say I Do, which I’m thinking, based on what you’ve shared, comes at marriage from a similar vantage point, Valerie. It sounds, however, like this book does so with more of a clinical and psychological approach. I’m intrigued and will have to check it out! I do believe dealing with our sin and sinful tendencies is the best way to break down barriers in marriage. Thanks for this! I’ll be sharing!
Thanks, Beth! When Sinners Say I Do, sounds like an interesting read too. Thank you for sharing.