Recently I watched a child react to a simple request to share an idea with those who love him most. His mind shut down at the terror of sharing a simple thought. He was afraid that they would be judgmental. Then I was listening to a tape on children who develop anxiety disorders which said that the condition is deepened when the family lets them avoid triggers and get out of responsible behavior if they “freak out”. I then set to pondering and understanding that we all go through these steps.
There are none that FREAKETH-NOT! It is simply a matter of you and I identifying our own powerful tool for punishing anyone who dares to try and help us grow. I might react to feedback by shutting down completely. I freak out when God asks me to confront others, by procrastination or by ‘fixing’ the problem rather than confront the person who caused it and should be fixing it. Others blow a gasket and explode to make confronters back off. Others punish the confronter by saying, “you’re right, I’ll just go kill myself right now!” etc. So how do you freak out at feedback?
STEPS OF PROBLEM:’
- I become aware that I am a sinner as evidenced by responses to life that are sinful
- I go to God the father and ask him to forgive me and adopt me on the basis of Jesus finished work on the cross.
- Now I am forgiven and his child, but I still have the old response patterns and the Holy Spirit begins to help me notice and reprogram my habit responses to triggers.
- This makes me uncomfortable, so I seek to avoid the people and situations the Holy Spirit arranges in his attempt to help me grow.
- He uses life and others to confront me and I drive them off by FREAKING OUT.
- They back off and I go back to pretending that I am fine, “Isn’t it all under the blood old things have passed away and everything has become new so I shouldn’t have to change,right?”
- Scripture becomes useless, for ALL scripture reproves.
- Relationships become superficial or just nonexistent since all real relationships need to say,” Hey you are stepping on my toes, ouch!”
- My witness vanishes because the other sees my flaws and my denial and my freaking out resistance to feedback. They then conclude that god and religion are pointless as, after all, they are better than I am. ( The only witness that works is, “I am the chief of sinners and am forgiven by grace and not works and God is working on me but has a ways to go, so he could surely love and forgive and help you grow also.)
- I see my own flaws in others and tend to over criticize them in order to divert attention from myself.
Parents of anxious children are culpable in worsening the problem by arraigning their lives to avoid pushing the child to grow in order to prevent their freakouts. God will not back off just because I freak out. He will continue to seek ways to get my attention and help me grow.
Again, freakout means making choices that punish the caring confronter and push them to back off and give up. Examples I have watched in myself and others: Blow up at the beginning of a contact to establish “I am the fault finder not you” and then quickly back off with the implied threat that “I can always go back to freaking out if you confront me”. Asking questions in a judgmental tone, adopting a hard expression when someone wants to discuss a situation, making sure you do even less if confronted for not doing enough and if confronted on this say ” well you told me I wasn’t doing it well”. Yelling and attacking the one who cares enough to voice concern, then promptly forgetting or minimizing what you did, going silent for a long time, walking out on them, quitting, badmouthing them to others, agreeing with the feedback then promptly forgetting and changing nothing, doing things as asked in such a way that they wish you hadn’t done it at all. Staring blankly while being confronted then going off and getting busy with cleaning, hobbies or other COP-OUT SKILLS. ( A cop-out skill is anything that makes us feel better without dealing with the problem).
We freak-outer think that our technique has worked because everything quiets down, people leave us alone. This is not the same as everything being OK. Since this is a cause and effect world, we will still reap the pain of not accepting feedback, what we sow we reap. Anything else would make God a fool and he will not be made a fool of. Then we wonder why our lives are going so badly and desperately seek someone to blame. Ultimately that someone is God. One of the saddest verses is God gave them their request and sent leanness into their soul. Psalm 106:15
What’s healthy? First examine myself honestly. Then admit that I can only see a bit of how messed up I am. Work and pray and ponder at letting scripture reprove me. Then ask others for feedback and consider and apply and reward negative feedback. When someone loves enough to confront, don’t say “thanks” and even apply the feedback but then punish the person by avoiding them; don’t explain and defend and counter attack; don’t agree and go off and dump on yourself; don’t pretend to listen and then change nothing. Do draw towards those who care enough to confront; do share how you have applied the advice; do ask for further ideas.
When confronted say: “Thank you for coming to me directly; Are you saying ———?; I am trying to grow and have a blind spot there; do you have any suggestions on how to grow; I will let you know how I am doing and have tried the following ways to do better already; could you hold me accountable?”
I think that you can clearly see that such a response would cause the world to sit up and see our Holy Spirit-driven good works and conclude there must be a God and give him his glory due.