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The line of traffic was as long as the eye could see. Cars were slowly inching along, and impatient drivers were in a hurry to get nowhere fast. About the time I was regretting drinking that Venti iced coffee my son began sobbing from the backseat. He told us his head hurt.

“Buddy, you are dehydrated,” we said. “Drink more water.” My wife turned toward the backseat to check on him. I looked for an exit, to no avail. All I could see were bumpers and lines of cars. My wife and I were growing concerned.

While doing the math to figure out how long it would take to reach the next exit, my son began heaving and throwing up. Real bad. All over. Everywhere. In the new car. This experience was intense!

I found a spot on the highway to pull over so we could assist my distressed son. Jen jumped into action, cleaning, comforting and consoling. While the situation was alarming, I was profoundly thankful for Jen’s intervention. She knew just what to do while I did my best to watch for other drivers while we remained parked on the side of the busy highway.

Isn’t it nice when someone knows what to do when things go wrong? This example brings us to a vital brain skill that helps us apply correct solutions for pain and problems, so we know what is needed when.

Skill 18 is Intervene Where The Brain Is Stuck. This invaluable skill allows us to identify the level of pain people are experiencing, then intervene with strategic solutions. When the brain’s emotional control center stops processing information and emotions, a corresponding pain ensues, and this pain can be identified and resolved under the correct conditions. Skill 18 determines whether someone will be a source of comfort or, like Job’s friends, a source of distress when trying to help someone who is upset. Relationally, we turn sparks into forest fires when we use the wrong solutions to resolve pain. [1]

Let’s look at a brief overview of the five levels of pain with the corresponding solutions:

Level 5 pain is when I feel confused. More information brings relief.

Level 4 pain is when I feel inadequate. An example brings relief.

Level 3 pain is when I feel emotionally maxed out. Attunement (Validation and Comfort) with return to joy brings relief.

Level 2 pain is when I feel disconnected. Quieting brings relief.

Level 1 pain is when I feel alone. The one I love brings relief.

During THRIVE Training we spend an entire week practicing solutions for pain in Track Three: Sharing Identity. You may notice information brings relief at one level while the other four levels require additional relational resources. A little self-awareness goes a long way toward using Skill 18. I encourage you to start noticing when you lose your peace, then see if you can identify what you need from your community as well as from Immanuel to restore relational/emotional homeostasis. In this way, you will train your brain to learn that pain no longer has the final word in your life and relationships!

Learn More!

[1] Transforming Fellowship, Page 228.

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