“Relationships” Session 2:
Read Chapters 3 and 4 of Keep Your Love On before beginning this lesson.
Fight, Flight, or Freeze
People choose patterns of disconnection in relationship as a reaction to pain or the fear of pain. In order to avoid pain, people develop defense mechanisms, which include: fight, flight, or freeze. When a lack of relational security exists within a relationship, the amount of love expressed is significantly diminished.
1. In general, do you find yourself reacting to scary relational situations with distance, control, or punishment?
2. If so, which of these responses seems be your “go-to”? How do you think your upbringing has influenced your approach to conflict?
Fear and Love
Fear and love cannot coexist. They are from opposite Kingdoms. If you want to win the battle between fear and love in your relationships, you can start by making these two fundamental commitments: 1. I am responsible for myself and my own actions. I do not have the right to control others. 2. My highest priority in relationships is to establish and maintain connection, no matter what.
1. Think about the way you respond to difficulty in your relationships. Are most of your responses based out of fear or love?
2. Are you willing to make the commitment above to choose love over fear?
Unconditional Love and Acceptance
Any healthy relational connection must be built upon the foundation of unconditional love and acceptance.
Unconditional acceptance says, “You are free to be fully yourself in this relationship. It is not my job to control you.”
Unconditional love says, “No matter what you choose to do or say, I am fully committed to pursuing connection with you.”
The author describes a healthy relationship as a house that has seven pillars: love, honor, self-control, responsibility, truth, faith, and vision. These pillars are built upon unconditional acceptance and they hold up the roof of ultimate peace, hope, and joy in the relationship.
1. Which of these pillars is the strongest in your relationships? Which one needs the most strengthening?
2. Start with the foundation. Do you exhibit unconditional love and acceptance in your relationships, or do you have limits to your willingness to maintain connection?
3. Do those around you feel free to be themselves when they are with you? Ask your spouse or a close friend. You might be surprised by their response.