“I’d like to give you a piece of my mind”

by | Jun 8, 2024

I’ve “given a piece of my mind” before, and it’s not pretty. When this happens my words are a cyclone of destruction, like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil ferociously ripping apart the landscape before him. He’s at least comical, but my destructive words are no joke. When I’m triggered, when a wound is touched, a false self spins in to rescue. Then my judgments and accusations and feelings erupt and cause relational damage. Hurt breeds hurt. In this posture, my heart is blocked from love and connection, the very thing I want.

Giving YOU a piece of my mind is not healthy communication, nor is it the way of Christ’s love. So why do I do it and how can I grow? This is why we employ the “Clearing Model” that I’ll speak to below.

“Giving you a piece of my mind” is the internal angry part triggered by a guy who cuts me off in traffic, or an offended part triggered by an imagination of the ill intent of my wife’s comment, or the aggravation from how he/she responded, acted, or failed to do so according to my expectations. There are many situations where you and I might like to “give someone a piece of our mind.” Why?

When I have done this, I feel momentarily justified as I express the hurt and emotion. And as I see relational damage and distance, I feel like the Tasmanian Devil wreaking havoc on my realm. Oddly, screaming at a guy from my car doesn’t help—and could end badly—and blaming my wife or others for my response and internal triggers is immature.

This is the blame game of Adam in Genesis 3—the problem is her or the other. When I explode or dump, I imagine the “other” is against me so I become defensive. My broken self feels the pain, and I respond from hurt, not health. As we say, “hurt people hurt people.” “They are wrong.” “YOU are the problem.” “My perspective is right” and, of course, I am then right to give you a piece of my mind because of what you did to me.

This pattern is the cause of many broken relationships, lost friendships, divided churches and damaged families. There is a better way, a way of love. The way Christ calls me to live at peace with others (Rom 12:3-18), forgiving as I’ve been forgiven (Matthew 6:14, Col 3:13); sharing grievances with an aim to reconciliation (Matt 18:15; 2Cor 5:18-21), and pressing into love with patience and without end (1Cor 14:4-8).

The “Communication Model” or “Clearing Model” we offer is designed to help us communicate in a healthy way. To become more aware of myself, what’s happening, outside and inside, and to move in love toward the other. The process is ABOUT ME! Sometimes that’s hard to get, because my judge is convinced the other is to blame (and potentially they have a role and responsibility, BUT, first, I must get clear on the log in my eye (Luke 6:42). My inclination is to make it about you—what your did, what you said, what you failed to do—you hurt me, you make me feel angry. The Blamer is sure it’s the other person. For me, this is the violence of the judge that will damage or destroy connection.

In the Communication Model we employ FIFOW:

  • Facts – what video footage would show of what happened;
  • Imaginations – the judgments I have or the story I’m telling myself about those facts;
  • Feelings – the emotions the situation stirs in me;
  • Ownership – my role in the situation and an honest awareness/view of myself as a broken man;
  • Wants – the desire I have in relationship with you, and the deeper holy longings that make this important to me.

For me, my WANTS are critical to this, because I rarely get triggered if it has nothing to do with something of core importance to me. Small things that may seem unimportant to the causal observer, yet trigger  imaginations and emotions in me, and these emotions are trying to tell me that something important is beneath my reaction. For example, when my wife makes a suggestion on my driving, or where to turn, simple as  that may sound, I can imagine I am not valued, trusted, or respected, and I can feel angry, emasculated, and small. Why is such a small thing stirring so much? Because I want to be a competent, trusted, valued man,  and my imaginations attribute the opposite to her offerings — and I own that is all about me.

I share this post because to me there is little more important than learning how to live “clear” within myself and toward others in this world. It is the spirit of self-awareness and living at peace with others as Jesus called us to. In my experience this requires courage and open, honest and vulnerable communication. It is an opportunity to be seen and heard and witnessed. It’s important and intimate as I am allowing someone to see my heart. It is risking being known, being wrong, and asking for what I need. Clearing is an invitation to deeper relationship with another broken person.

In my experience, clearings are hard and almost always result in deeper awareness and love. The exception is when they are weaponized and it is used as an opportunity to “give you a piece of my mind.” I’d much rather offer a piece of my heart and grow in understanding my own heart. That’s my work and clearing helps me do it.

In life we have choices, to live clean and clear or to harbor bitterness, to walk away from relationships, dismiss people, or do the hard work of pressing on in love. I am convinced pressing on in love is often harder,  takes time, and it is deeply transformative and rewarding.

 

Below are a few other thoughts around “Clearing.” If you’ve gotten this far and have any thoughts, I’d love to hear from you (rob@crossmg.org).

Additional thoughts on Clearing (from R-Group Manual on web/Staff Portal):

To pursue a Clearing:

You must be motivated by love for self and others. If you are looking to vent your anger or feeling vengeful toward the other (i.e. I’m hurt and want to hurt you), you are not yet in a place to “clear” with that person. It may be helpful to walk through this with another person first to be seen and heard, and receive feedback.

It may be helpful to begin with your “wants” or the “deeper longing” you have in relationship with this person. Clarity around your holy longing is often a helpful starting point.

A Clearing is:

  • An opportunity to look at what’s coming up in YOU.
  • An opportunity to consider the story YOU are telling yourself, based on what happened (the facts)
  • An opportunity to look at the trigger(s) that is activated within you with curiosity.
  • An opportunity to consider the parts of you that are activated and/or the young wounds that were touched by this situation.
  • About you:
    • YOU are not in control of the other person
    • YOU are not responsible to change the other person
    • YOU are responsible for your own actions and reactions
    • YOU are responsible for your growth and living in peace toward others, so much as it depends on you.

A clearing may not be necessary when:

You are not triggered or blocked, however, another’s actions/behavior needs to be addressed and not overlooked for the good of that person and the health of the container. (e.g.: a person is not doing what they have agreed to do, acting in an unsafe manner, or an inappropriate way in the moment, etc.) This may simply need to be noted and addressed directly with that person. Speak truth in love.

When this is the case, approach that person with compassion and curiosity. In curiosity, ask, “What is happening/needs to happen?”  “Are you ok?”  “Are you clear about your job and what needs to happen right now?” Compassion gives the other grace, and kindly pursues clarity and redirection as mutually beneficial.

I am triggered by a physical feature or unchangeable characteristic of someone (name/height/looks like Dad/Mom etc). Being triggered by one of these can become opportunities for personal curiosity and work and may not require a clearing with the individual, though it still may be profitable for you to be seen and known, and gain internal clarity.

A Clearing is NOT:

  • An opportunity to dump or blast a person with your grievances, or hurt the other person.
  • A clearing is NOT to be weaponized against the other person. A Facilitator must step in and redirect if weaponizing is occurring.
    For example:

    • “My judgment is you are an inconsiderate jerk.”
    • “My judgment is you don’t care about anybody but yourself.”

TO BE CLEAR:

Saying “I am clear”

  •  Does NOT mean the situation is fully resolved and we are completely reconciled.
  • Does mean, in this moment, I am clear about what is going on in me AND I have expressed everything I need to say in this moment.
  • There may still be work for me to do, and further conversations, and in this moment I’ve expressed my thoughts and heart.

Facilitator Responsibility in a CLEARING:

  •  Guide the participants in love
  •  Guide the participants in clarity (FIFOW) around facts, feeling, imaginations.
  • Step into the Clearing if a person is “weaponizing” the process. If this happens, remind them “this is about you”, not changing, dumping on, or hurting the other person.

Wants:

What I want is about ME and not about controlling or changing YOU.

For example, an unloving/unhelpful want is:
“I want you to stop being a jerk” or  “I want you not to do dumb stuff” or “I want you to make me happy.”

A loving want or deeper longing is:
“I want a relationship with you that is mutually respectful. “I want to understand you and work together in a positive way.” “I want to be loved and appreciated.” “I want to be safe.” or “I want you to respect my boundaries.”

A hard part may be when the other person cannot or will not give me what I want–remember I cannot control them–this is the space where I must lean into Christ and know He alone is the ultimate source of my holy longings.