The human soul’s mosaic nature

By Dave Henning / August 28, 2018

“Every major school of psychology has acknowledged the mosaic nature of the human soul.”- Bessel van der Kolk                                                          

“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”- Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller continue Chapter 3 of Boundaries for Your Soul as they discuss two protectors of the soul, managers and firefighters.

1.  Managers.  First, managers strive to maintain your emotional safety.  Thus, they prevent your more vulnerable parts from experiencing harm.  In addition, they work vigilantly to keep your life smooth and predictable.  Also, they drive you to perform, produce, protect, and please.  And, managers believe it’s impractical for emotional pain to bog you down.

Activities managers pursue to protect you include:  (1) needless worry about situations out of your control; (2) people- pleasing; (3) criticizing yourself and others without a valid reason; and (4) pursuing perfection and refusing to accept human limitations

2.  Firefighters.  When you hurt, firefighters strive to keep your suffering to a minimum.  As their name suggests, firefighters try to extinguish your pain – after it occurs.  At their best, they help you effectively manage life’s hardships.  However, if you fail to keep firefighters within proper boundary lines, at their worst they can lead you down the path of reckless self-indulgence.

Finally, your soul contains more vulnerable parts, which the authors call exiles.

3.  Exiles.  Exiles consist of feelings and insecurities we’d rather the world not see.  Therefore, we try to banish those parts or send them into hiding.  Thus, managers and firefighters attempt to protect exiles.

Yet, your protectors posses limited strategies.  Furthermore, they equate weak with inferior.  As a result, author Andy Crouch notes in his book Strong and Weak that, in order to flourish, we must embrace both:

  • authority and vulnerability
  • capacity and frailty

Today’s question: How would you describe the mosaic nature of your soul?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Lead your soul’s unruly parts with curiosity, compassion”

About the author

Dave Henning

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