Emotionally Healthy Relationships: Stop Mind Reading & Clarify Expectations (05.13.19)
Opening (5 minutes)
Commence your time together by reading the simple words below, and then taking three minutes of silence in the presence of the Lord.
Each week we gather to praise our God,
to give ourselves over to our God
and to ask our God for help
We believe when we gather, He is with us
We believe when we openly confess our hearts, we become more like Him
We believe in Christ we are our truest selves,
created to love and serve others for the sake of the world
Icebreaker (15-20 minutes)
Take a couple minutes to come up with any mix of three true or false statements about yourself.
Share these with your group and have them try to guess which statements are true and which are false.
Stop Mind Reading (15-20 minutes)
Have someone from the group read the following passage from Emotionally Healthy Relationships by Peter & Geri Scazzero and then discuss:
The ninth commandment reads: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Every time we make an assumption about someone who has hurt or disappointed us, without confirming it, we believe a lie about this person in our head. Because we have not checked it out with him or her, it is very possible that we are believing something untrue. It is also likely that we will pass that false assumption around to others.
When we leave reality for a mental creation of our own doing (hidden assumptions), we create a counterfeit world. When we do this, it can properly be said that we exclude God from our lives because God does not exist outside of reality and truth. In doing so we wreck relationships by creating endless confusion and conflict. The Bible has much to say about not taking on the role of judge to others (Matthew 7:1-5).
- Can you remember a time when a false assumption led you into a conflict with another person in your life? Or when someone made a false assumption about you?
- Have you had an experience where clarifying what another person was thinking has brought you into deeper relationship with that person?
- Share about either of these experiences with the group.
Key Principle: Never assume you know what a person is thinking or feeling.
Clarify Expectations (30-45 minutes)
Break into pairs and take turns as the Storyteller and the Listener. Take 3-5 minutes to think of a time during the last week that you were upset or disappointed with someone else: perhaps a coworker, friend, family member, or significant other.
Storyteller: Briefly explain to your partner what happened and why you were upset or disappointed.
Listener: Try to identify the underlying expectation the storyteller had that led to the conflict. Ask him or her if you understood it correctly. If not, continue asking clarifying questions until you can both agree upon the core expectation that was not met.
Together, discuss whether or not the expectation was:
Conscious – Was the storyteller aware he or she had this expectation?
Realistic – Was this expectation reasonable? Why or why not? What was the specific evidence that the other party can or will do this?
Spoken – Has the storyteller clearly articulated the expectation to the person they were in conflict with, or did he or she just assume that the other party should have known?
Agreed Upon – Had the other party agreed to the expectation?
Now switch roles and repeat this process.
Key Principle: An expectation is only valid when it is realistic and mutually agreed upon.
Return to your larger group and discuss together:
- What do we do if someone can’t meet our expectations?
- What do we do if we have an agreed upon expectation with someone and they don’t follow through?
- What do we do if God doesn’t meet our expectations?
- As a cruciform community, how can we learn to express our expectations and deal with unmet expectations in a more Christ-like way?
Closing (5 min)
Have someone close your time in prayer, inviting God into what we’re learning to help in someway to bring us into greater likeness of him.
Note for this next week:
As we prepare to live out this principle of emotionally healthy relationships, take note of any moments of frustration or disappointment over the next week. When these happen (and they likely will), ask the Lord to remind you of any expectations you may implicitly have of others & to show you ways you can clarify expectations with them. We will have space to share our experiences with this skill at the beginning of next week’s CG.