“When we block our awareness of feelings, they continue to affect us anyway. Research has shown repeatedly that even without conscious awareness, neural input from the internal world of the body and emotion influences our reasoning and our decision making. Even facial expressions we’re not aware of, even changes in heart rhythm we may not notice, directly affect how we feel and so how we perceive the world. In other words, you can run but you can’t hide.”
excerpt from Mindsight by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
If what Dr. Siegel suggests is true then this holds implications for how we interact with young people in our ministries. For example, a 14 year old girl in your youth group asks to talk to you privately. She reveals that she is a victim of sexual abuse and to cope with it she cuts herself. How we respond to her, including our tone, facial expressions, and body posture will all communicate something to her.
What are we communicating to our young people beyond our words?
How does this help or hinder their ability to trust us?
How can we grow in our own emotional management?