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Breaking Free to Thrive: Ben Bennett #107

Warwick Fairfax

March 8, 2022

Ben Bennett’s crucibles were a debilitating mix of negative self-image, mental health issues, addiction and trauma. He found freedom and healing by embracing psychological, neuroscientific and biblical principles to fulfill the deep longings of his heart that had long gone unmet. A speaker, counselor and author, he discusses the eye-opening, lifegiving insights in his latest book, FREE TO THRIVE, which journeys step by step through the seven key longings of every human soul.

To learn more about Ben Bennett, visit www.resolutionmovement.org

Highlights

  • Ben’s early life in a “leadership family”
  • His biggest crucible (6:51)
  • The “longings” Ben missed out on (9:25)
  • How important it is to like yourself (14:33)
  • The problem by the numbers (17:19)
  • The PTSD responses we all have (20:09)
  • The 7 longings (21:55)
  • Longing 1: Acceptance (22:41)
  • Longing 2: Appreciation 23:08)
  • Longing 3: Affection (28:04)
  • Longing 4: Access (31:49)
  • Longing 5: Attention (34:59)
  • Longing 6: Affirmation (36:37)
  • Longing 7: Assurance of Safety (40:53)
  • Why intellect is not enough to thrive through challenges (45:29)

Transcript

. They come in different guises and varying degrees, but they all have one thing in common, they can be moved beyond, hence the title of this podcast. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show. Our guest this week is Ben Bennett whose own crucibles were a debilitating mix of negative self-image, mental health issues, addiction, and trauma. He found freedom and healing by embracing psychological, neuroscientific and biblical principles to fulfill the deep longings of his heart that had long gone unmet. A speaker, counselor, and author, his latest book, Free to Thrive, journeys step-by-step through the seven key longings of every human soul, which he and Warwick discuss in detail in this episode.

Warwick F:

Well, Ben, thank you so much for being here. I’ve had a chance to kind of dip into some of your book that you co-wrote with Josh McDowell, Free to Thrive: How Your Hurt, Struggles, and Deepest Longings Can Lead to a Fulfilling Life. And we’ll get into the seven longings how, I guess from your perspective and our perspective God designed us to have these longings, but somehow our hurt, damage and issues can cause a break with achieving those seven longings in the way that God would intend. So, before we kind of get to the book, there’s always a reason behind why people write books. I’d love to hear a bit about your kind of backstory and just about your growing up, and just some of the challenges you had that eventually led to you writing this book, but what was life for you like growing up, Ben?

Ben B:

For me, I grew up in a, well, I would say leadership family, my dad was very involved in leadership in ministry. Growing up surrounded by that was kind of witnessing that leadership, and there’s a lot of good things, however, there’s also a lot of bad things. And for me, I grew up experiencing lots of my dad’s anger, lots of rejection, bullying from him, manipulation, threats whenever I didn’t behave perfectly. And so, early on, I was hurting, I was lonely. I was not even really just realizing that there was something wrong. I thought I was wrong. I was believing shame that I was doing bad, but also bad was being done to me, and so I was wrong. So, I grew up feeling oftentimes, just worthless inadequate, and by the age of eight, I had developed all these kind of mental health struggles, anxiety, depression, OCD.

Ben B:

I started having these traumatic out-of-body experiences in group settings, and it was just very horrific and scary in many ways. And of course, I learned that people weren’t safe, because the people who were supposed to be there, often weren’t. And so, despite all of those things, for me, what was probably my biggest survival mechanism… I’ve had friends ask, “How did you make it?” For me, it was at a very young age having this realization that there’s a God who is real, that he created me, that he loves me, that he wants a relationship with me, that I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t have to be, because as a Christian believing that Jesus was God, lived the life of perfect obedience to God, died on the cross, rose again, freely offered me forgiveness and a relationship with God.

Ben B:

And so, early on, that was just so important to me, knowing God as bad and hard as life was, I clung onto a hope and a future, and this promises that God was always with me and that ultimately, he was going to deliver me from it. And so, I would say that that was one of the biggest things of kept me moving forward, moving through it. Eventually got addicted to pornography, got addicted to food, was dealing with body image stuff, didn’t like the way I talked, didn’t like the way I looked, just didn’t like me, and was really struggling throughout my teenage years and into college. And ultimately, I had a rock-bottom experience at age 22, my crucible moment as you all would say, and my life was just out of control. I was 22, I was abusing alcohol, I had gained 100 pounds from my eating being out of control, hated myself, was hating other people, was so angry, riddled with these addictions, riddled with these mental health struggles, and I was on my way into full-time ministry.

Ben B:

And I was at this point where it’s like, “I want to talk about God and help people,” and yet there’s so many things in my life that I’ve not been set free from, and that I’m continuing to struggle with, and I believed the lie that that was just how it was going to be despite as a Christian seeing all throughout the Bible, Jesus talk about setting captives free and binding up our wounds and this healing we can experience. And so, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and realized, “I don’t want to live this way anymore. There’s got to be something more, there’s got to be real answers.” And I got connected with a fiery pastor who had been a pastor for 30 years. He was based in Portland, Oregon, so his congregation was full of people all over the spectrum, people dealing with cocaine addiction, people dealing with sex addiction, people coming out of prostitution, business leaders, just families, everything. And he had been for about 25 years, helping people heal, helping them work through trauma, helping them with their mental health struggles and helping them overcome addictions.

Ben B:

And his big thing was, “We need an integration of theology, psychology and neuroscience,” and there’s so much overlap between them. And he started mentoring me and leading me through recovery and spent four years doing that. And through all those solutions, I just found the life that I had always wanted, the life that I was truly looking for. And I encountered God in ways that I’d never encountered him before. I found healthy relationships with people, new experiences, fulfillment. I started loving myself and started truly being able to love other people, and it just changed everything. That was the beginning of the last 11 years, and I’ve been on that journey ever since and have had the privilege of entering into other people’s stories and leaders and parents, and people all over the world and coming alongside them.

Warwick F:

Yeah. I want to transition here to your book, but as we do, I think what I’m… You talk in the book about the seven longings, which we will describe and obviously, God has a plan for that, but then if we try and satisfy those the wrong way, as you say, it causes a lot of damage. So, it sounds like in your case, just to go back a moment, you mentioned you had a dad, anger issues, I think you’ve mentioned earlier, maybe you had some alcohol issues, so when you look back, what were the things that you didn’t have? What were the longings that were broken? You’ve got a bunch of them in your seven. What were some of the ones that you just felt like you didn’t have, because of how you grew up and the environment?

Ben B:

For me, there’s key longing heart desires that every human being has, psychological research, sociological research, the Bible shows this, it’s so fascinating. And one of the most foundational ones is acceptance to be known, welcomed, and loved as you are, no matter what, and this communicates I’m valuable, and it’s almost like the foundation of all these other longings and desires. And for me, as I shared a moment ago, early on, I didn’t experience that acceptance all the time or even most of the time. In fact, often what I experienced was rejection and believing… Because when we have these negative experiences, it always leads to something going on in our minds and in our thoughts, and we interpret our events in the things we have been through, either things that are true or things that are not true, things that are lies.

Ben B:

And so, I had these experiences of not experiencing acceptance and value that I was created to have. And so, rather than experience the truth of I’m valuable, I matter, I’ve got a hope and a future, I’ve got a purpose in this world, what I experienced was the opposite. I thought the lie was the truth, which was so… It wasn’t disorienting at the time, because what I knew was normal, but it was, “Yeah, I’m not valuable.” And then it’s almost like you look for and experience… It’s like everything else in life starts to get funneled through that. “Oh, I was away at college and studying really hard, and I didn’t get a perfect grade.” Okay. Well, I’m going to filter that through the lens of, “Yep, I’m not good enough. I’m not valuable.” Just so many different types of ways. So, that was probably the biggest one for me.

Warwick F:

So, I just want listeners to hear what you just said as we transition to the book is that Ben, it’s so important to deal with your stuff, and we’ll probably get into this certainly. Listeners know that I grew up in a large family media business in Australia, 150-year-old company, launched this $2.25 billion takeover in 1987, and ended up failing three years later, and the company went under. So, there was, yeah, the sense of I damaged a 150-year-old legacy, hurt, my dad had died just before the over, hurt, disappointed him, my parents caused ill feelings with others. So, yeah, that’s kind of have a sense of, “Look at me, I just break whatever, everything I do” with… And I’ve mentioned this on earlier podcasts, I never been physically abused, but had, I guess you could say emotional abuse from a close family member and that tends to, obviously damage your soul or am I going to have the nice person this day, or the not so nice? Or that tends to make you very uncertain about life.

Warwick F:

So, the point of that is you’ve got to deal with your stuff. Had mentoring by older Christian guys, some counseling, other things, you’ve got to… I’m very blessed to be married to a wonderful girl, an American girl that I met in Australia, we’ve been married like 32 years. And her love is… Obviously, God’s love is unconditional which was certainly key to my coming back, but her unconditional love and my kids’ has been massive, but the point of this is to echo what we’re about to talk about, you’ve got to deal with your internal stuff. We all have it, and certainly, mine was pretty obvious, I was pretty damaged in the nineties, that’s for sure. But yeah, I think this is so important. People may be believers or not believers, but dealing with your stuff in these sort of seven longings is so critical, so.

Gary S:

You said something Ben, when you started to talk about your story that is still like at the frontal lobe of my brain.

Ben B:

Yes.

Gary S:

You said, and it was sort of a drive-by comment as you were telling the deeper story, and you said you didn’t like me, referring to yourself, you didn’t like yourself. When you talk about acceptance, to be included, loved, approved as you are no matter what, it communicates your value – you didn’t value yourself. And I think, what our listeners experience, and if you’re hearing this now, and this is how you feel, that is a good place to start, because so many people who go through crucibles of any stripe feel like, I mean Warwick described it just a little bit. “I’m a screw up. This didn’t work out.” And that not liking yourself is… I don’t know how, and maybe it’s possible, maybe it’s not, it feels like it’s not, is it possible really to sort of move on to some of these other longings if you don’t get by? Is that not the first hurdle you have to clear is coming to the point where you like yourself, even if you have to reach, and dig to find out why? You have to like yourself before you can move out of the other things, is that fair?

Ben B:

It’s almost like a longing that has to be built upon. I don’t know if it’s always the case where you have to experience that one first, but for example, one of the seven longings is the assurance of safety, to be protected and provided for financially, emotionally, physically. Growing up and even in life now, like financial security, safety, all of us are experiencing to some degree probably some fear or lack of safety with the pandemic we’ve been living in, and a lack of certainty there. And that one, I would say is not necessarily dependent on acceptance, but when all of the seven, we’re experiencing the seven longings and the affirmation of our feelings and love and people entering our world, which we call attention and acceptance and assurance of safety, something happens there.

Ben B:

And most of that is experienced in relationships with God, with other people, with ourselves and a kind of satisfaction and thriving starts to happen. But to your point, what we’ve found is that acceptance is like the most common one that goes unmet, and is to so many people the most important one to be met that they’re longing for and always looking for, regardless of location in the world, ethnicity, background, it’s just this deep foundational longing.

Warwick F:

Yeah. Such a good point. Before we actually get into the seven, one of the things you mentioned in the book, just for people to get a bit of a level set of some of the numbers you talk about like 70% of teens say they have anxiety or depression, a major problem. Those at 16 to 24 is 63 times more lonely than those over 75 years old. Was it 76% of men and women aged 18 to 24 seek out pornography, it’s a bit of a myth, it’s just a guy problem, and it’s probably more prevalent with guys, but just there’s a lot of… Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. There’s a lot of people who are hurting. It’s not just, “Oh, I’m fine. I grew up in a quasi happy family.” Well, that’s great. Every family has its challenge, it’s some more than others, but there’s a lot of hurting people out there. This is almost an epidemic, in a sense why you wrote the book, is that a fair comment?

Ben B:

Yes. Everybody hurts, the classic saying, everybody hurts. Sometimes it seasonal or sometimes it’s that happened years ago, or sometimes it’s not as intense as it once was. And so, we’ve got to shift our understanding of what it means to hurt, because it’s so easy to say, “Well, I never experienced abuse. So, who am I to have the right to say I’ve been hurt?” But what we’ve got to realize is that we live in a world that’s pretty messed up and we see messed up things and we experience messed up things, and we were never intended to experience hurt and critical words or bullying or job losses, or seeing our friends die or our loved ones die. All of these things impact us all uniquely.

Ben B:

Basically, the easiest way I’ve learned to help people identify if they’ve experienced hurt that is still impacting them is to say, “Was there a negative experience I faced that I’m reacting to through certain thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, emotions? Is there any kind of residual impact of that?” And that’s a way… And it could be even just thoughts like, “Oh, now I procrastinate a lot out of fear of failure, because it just feels like it takes so much energy.” Or, This is a good one. We all have those meetings where somebody’s like, “Hey, I would like to talk to you about something.” And our reaction is, “Oh, what did I do wrong?”

Gary S:

Oh, no, right. I’m in trouble. Right. Right. Right.

Ben B:

Yes.

Warwick F:

Yeah.

Ben B:

Which many psychologists will say is a PTSD response. Waiting for the other shoe to drop is a PTSD response. Because when we think about trauma, a lot of us may think about a war or some kind of sexual abuse or physical abuse, but what we’ve got to realize is that when we have negative experiences that are recurring that those things can also lead to these PTSD responses.

Warwick F:

I think another thing I think I want listeners to hear is one of the things that we say on Crucible Leadership and Beyond the Crucible is your worst day is your worst day. So, listeners have heard this story many times, one of our early guests was a Navy SEAL that was paralyzed in a parachuting training accident. And I said, “Look, what I went through losing 150-year-old family business is nothing compared to what you went through.” And he said, “You know what? Your worst day is your worst day. It’s not a competition to see who suffered the most.” We’ve had a guest on recently who lost two of his brothers to suicide. It’s like, well, I have not been through anything like that. How in the world do you recover from that? It’s the sense of guilt of “How could you do this to us? And I should have seen the signs.”

Warwick F:

You can imagine the spiral of negative thoughts. And so, you might say, “Well, gosh, I didn’t grow up like Ben. My parents were a little bit distant, but there wasn’t abuse, there wasn’t alcoholism. It was not bad.” But maybe I wasn’t affirmed as much and you can start feeling guilty, because I still have the issues, and I did went through just 25% of what Ben went through. Again, it’s not a competition, that’s also sort of a lie.

Warwick F:

So, let’s talk about these seven longings, and you’ve got some great things. In the book, you write, “The greatest fulfillment in life comes when these seven longings are met in our lives, and we get to be a part of meeting these needs for others.” And then obviously, this is from a faith perspective, “Jesus’ promise of abundance can be experienced now, not just in the next life for you and for those you love and the process can start today. As we describe the seven longings that lead to your unwanted behaviors when they’re unmet and to a life of wholeness when they’re met, our hope is not just to bring about understanding, but to lead you to experience life transforming power that happens when each longing is met. So, there’s a negative side of unwanted behaviors when it’s met in a bad way and then the life of wholeness.”

Warwick F:

So, let’s talk about the first one, we’ve got acceptance and you’re right, Everyone longs to be accepted, to be included, loved and approved as you are, no matter what. They almost build on each other, but you’ve talked about this a bit. This sense of acceptance is absolutely crucial. So, what’s the negative and the positive, finding it in the wrong way and from your perspective, what is the right way to find acceptance?

Ben B:

Yes. With acceptance, it’s all about knowing that our being matters. Not that our doing matters, that’s appreciation, but who I am regardless of what I do, separating the who from the do, which a lot of the times, I think when we think about, this would be the negative side, trying to pursue acceptance, it’s like, “Oh, I will do that to be accepted with those people. I’ll partake in that behavior.” Or, “I’ll… That conversation.” Or, “I’ll join in on.” The temptation could be, “Oh, people are making jokes about this or gossiping about this, and I’ll join in and I want to feel accepted.” And that’s a very real pressure, but that’s not true acceptance. That’s about being accepted for what you do as opposed to who you are.

Ben B:

So, real acceptance is getting around people, developing relationships with people who truly love you and who truly accept you, and affirm who you are, who you were created to be, which is things that can be separated from what we do like our personality. You may be a humorous person, a more kind person, those aren’t exclusive, but who you are. Are you funny? Are you kind? Are you fun to be around? Do you ask good questions? What is a core part of your personality and who you are? Do people delight in that and affirm that, and believe in you?

Warwick F:

Yeah. And maybe another way of putting it is do they accept you warts and all? You write and talk about, “Oh, if they really knew me,” like in your case, in your upbringing, pornography, other things, “If they really knew me, they would reject me. It would be like in the Bible, leper, unclean, leave.” And there’s wisdom, you don’t have to tell everybody… Obviously, you’re writing a book, so there’s a reason for this, but you don’t have to tell everybody every dumb thing or shameful thing that you’ve been through, but when you sense that there’s a few, wife, husband, parents, close friends, they know who you are, they know you’ve made mistakes, they know that you’re broken, because we’re all broken, but they love you anyway, that is incredibly healing. I’m not perfect, and they love me anyway.

Warwick F:

We all have our quirks, often quirks come out of brokenness being… We’re all compulsive, not everybody’s OCD, but we’re all compulsive to varying degrees in certain areas wanting it to be a certain way, and if it’s not that way, we get all anxious. Yeah, that sense of acceptance is crucial. So, let’s move to appreciation and you write that, “Appreciation is the longing to be thanked or encouraged for what you have done.” So, if acceptance is more the who, the loving me just because of who I am, appreciation sounds a bit more like maybe I’m artistic or good at athletics, whatever it is, my gifts and talent are appreciated rather than, “Yeah, that wasn’t good enough. Yeah, okay, you scored a couple of touchdowns, but you could just scored 10 more and…” Yeah, it really was. Yeah. I guess acceptance and appreciation overlap. But talk a bit about appreciation, because that’s sort of the next step beyond acceptance.

Ben B:

Yeah. This one’s about knowing that what you do matters and knowing your doing matters and is about being thanked, being encouraged, being appreciated despite the quality of the performance. A lot of times, we want to give people positive feedback and encouragement if they crushed it, if they did such a good job, but then there’s a deficit when they tried and gave it their all, yet didn’t do so well. What this helps somebody believe is that they’re capable. Throughout the years, I’ve become more and more convinced that there’s not such a thing as a lazy person, but just a person who hasn’t been believed in and appreciated and encouraged, and given that kind of affirmation and feedback for their effort. I think it’s easy to think about how good it feels when we do something for our boss or serve somebody that we’re supervising and make time for them, and if they’re like, “Thank you so much.” That feels awesome hearing that thank you, but if you find yourself doing things and not hearing that, you’re like, “Am I even appreciated? Do you care what I’m doing?”

Warwick F:

Being appreciated for who you are, the effort that you are showing irrespective of the result, it’s, “I appreciate your heart and what you’re trying to do,” critical. We move to the next one, affection. And here, you say, “affection is longing to be cared for with gentle touch and emotional need.” And you’ve got some horrific stories in here about babies who were not touched and caressed, they can almost die without that. It’s critical when we were very young to have that and well obviously later. So, talk about why… Obviously, it has to be in appropriate relationships and all, but why affection, that gentle touch and that emotional engagement? Talk about what that is and why it’s so important.

Ben B:

I think that is evidenced by 2020. The fact that we’re physical beings and seeing that working remotely and Zoom and not giving high-fives and not hugs and things like that really took a toll on people. The social distancing which is really physical distancing, there are just so many statistics, for example, adults struggling with anxiety and depression skyrocketed from 11% to 41% during 2020. And I think a big part of it had to do with that physical distancing, not having the embodied presence of another human being. And there’s something in us as physical beings that needs the physical touch and encouragement and hugs, and sitting there with someone else, but then also the emotional engagement. One of the things I’ve realized is that loneliness is not a lack of friends, it’s a lack of meaningful connection.

Warwick F:

Mm-hmm.

Ben B:

And when we sit with somebody, and we’re talking about our hardships, our stress, the good things, the bad things, we feel known and understood, affirmed in that struggle. We don’t feel like I’m the only one, or it’s like people enter into those hard things and affirm it, but even the good things, it does something in our soul.

Gary S:

I often say to guests, and I said it to you, Ben, before we got on the recording, my role as co-host of the show is kind of like the color commentator in a sporting event, right? Warwick is the play-by-play guy. He’s going to ask all the questions, and I’m here to sort of draw on the screen on the replay to make sure listeners understand what they’re watching, hearing, seeing, and I just want to wrap to make sure that listeners understand, we’re going through these seven longings and their definitions, because each one of them, as you hear them, apply them, think of applying them to your crucibles. We’re talking about these in the context of crucible experiences, and lack of some of these things can lead to crucible experiences. Presence of these things can help you move beyond crucible experiences. So, I just want to make sure that the listener understands why we’re taking the time to unpack in such detail what it is Ben has written in his book, because it’s critical to help you understand your crucible, and to help you move beyond your crucible.

Warwick F:

Yeah. So, well said, Gary. Absolutely. Lack of acceptance, lack of appreciation, lack of affection, they can cause crucibles in your life and as we often say, and others say hurt people hurt people.

Gary S:

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Warwick F:

Statistically, those who have been abused have high proportion will abuse others. Those who have been maybe grown up in alcoholic homes, I would assume a not small percentage, maybe follow the same path. It’s hard to understand how you could follow the path to cause such pain, but that does tend to happen. So, yeah, you don’t deal with your stuff, you will hurt your friends and family, that is inevitable. Such an important point. So, we’ve got acceptance, appreciation, affection, access, I find a really interesting one. You say, “Access is the longing to have the consistent, emotional and physical presence of key figures.” I think you’re right, you can have people that are “around you,” but they’re not really present. They’re not engaging you. You don’t really… So, talk a bit about what access is.

Ben B:

When I think of access and the people I’ve worked with, we’re talking about the negative side. One guy, an example, here, I’ll just get real specific, one guy I’ve worked with struggled for years and he was a ministry leader with, “I just feel like a burden. I feel annoying to people,” et cetera, et cetera. And we’re like, “This is surprising to us, not in a shaming way, but we’re surprised because you’re awesome and you show up and you’re so loving, and you’re the last person we would think that is annoying.” And for him, it all went back to early as a kid, he would often wake up early, four years old, so excited to see his dad and his dad wasn’t accessible. Physically, he was, he was there, but he would run downstairs, his dad was drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.

Ben B:

And his dad would say things like, “Go away, you’re being annoying.” And it was like, “Don’t disturb dad in the morning. He’s not accessible.” And that belief, that negative experience that hurts which led to this view of himself that was playing out in all of these ways in his life, in his relationships, in his leadership, in his view of himself, and conversely, when you have experiences of accessible people. I think about my life, my dad was gone a lot traveling for ministry and work, oftentimes not accessible, but then emotionally, just kind of closed off, little disengaged, that translated to similar thoughts to the guy I just shared, but what healed it and changed it all was having these new mentors in my life that were older and who became like these spiritual fathers and mentors to me that were always accessible and helped me believe that I was important. And then of course, God always being accessible, I can talk to him at all times, and he cares about my thoughts and opinions, and just these new experiences, ultimately, relationships can cause us to hurt the most and to heal the most.

Warwick F:

Well said. So, the next one is attention and you write, “Attention is the longing to be known and understood with someone entering your world.” And you say, “By this, we mean someone taking time to recognize and participate in what’s important to you, such as your opinions, dream, desires, interest.” So, talk about what this one is, attention.

Ben B:

This one really gets into what makes someone tick. Why they do what they do? Why they care about certain things, their hobbies, their interests. One example, one of my friends Daniel has lived this out so well with his kids, and here’s a very specific example. A couple of years ago, they had saw one of the new Jurassic Park movies and were so into dinosaurs and T-Rexs and acting like dinosaurs, and he was ordering them dinosaurs and things like that. So, what did he do? He secretly ordered this T-Rex costume and dressed up like a T-Rex, and they pull up on the bus. He’s dressed up as a T-Rex chasing after them, and it was just like this ultimate experience of, “My dad knows me. He cares about my thoughts and my opinions.” It’s so cool to see them continue, they’re all growing up, and they’re confident in what they care about and their opinions and thoughts and beliefs, even if that doesn’t happen for us growing up, it can happen now in the future.

Warwick F:

Finding people that care about what you care about. So, my kids are two boys and a girl, I’ve got two boys that are very into sports. So, whether it’s Washington Football Team or I guess, the Washington Commanders as they’re now called, they’re big soccer fans, Manchester United, I will sit and watch if I can, not because the world’s going to end if they win or lose, but it’s being part of what your kids enjoy, and that’s obviously critical. So, as we get down to the last two, affirmation, this is one of my highest values. It talks about affirmation of feelings and other needs we all share as human beings is a longing to have our feelings affirmed, validated, or confirmed by others. This has got to be one. They’re all important, but this is a big one, right? Feeling affirmed, so talk about this.

Ben B:

Yes. A passage of scripture that I’ve love from the Bible is, “Mourn with those who mourn and celebrate with those who celebrate.” As human beings, we like to celebrate with people we’re not jealous of. It’s very hard when somebody gets the thing we want, whether it’s the promotion or the new car or the relationship, or the vacation or whatever, the child, it’s hard for us to celebrate with those who celebrate, but there’s not supposed to be any ifs, ands, or buts about it. And it’s hard to mourn with those who mourn, especially when we don’t understand, especially when we disagree with people.

Ben B:

I think we saw that all throughout 2020, and these dumpster fires happening on social media of people not mourning with people who mourn and just turning into fighting and all of that, but that’s one of the things I love about Jesus is he tells us to mourn with those who mourn, and he mourned with those who mourned. And it means sitting with people. It means when people come to us with a problem, or we go to somebody with a problem, not trying to fix it, not trying to change it, affirming the experience, even if we don’t agree with it.

Warwick F:

And that’s so critical what you’re saying. Certainly, guys do that a lot. Your wife either comes and tells you, “Boy, I had a hard day.” Or, “This relationship at work or with the kids.” And so, you go into, “Well, did you do this or that?” Or, “You shouldn’t enable.” Or, “How did you let the kids get away with this?” And often, you go into fix it mode rather than, “Boy, I’m so sorry, that just sounds awful. Wow. That has got to be tough.”

Ben B:

Yes.

Warwick F:

Maybe you ask a question or two of coaching, if you want to at the end, but rather than getting to fix it mode, just listen and by your words, show that you understand. And a lot of us, certainly guys, we just don’t do that. We get into fix it mode, which is not the way our wives or significant others want to be cared for like ever, pretty much. They want you to just listen and affirm their feelings.

Ben B:

Yes and this is one of the most crucial things we can do to be a safe person, for people to trust us. If we want people to trust us and to come to us with their problems or the things that maybe they aren’t going to share with anybody else, or have been holding onto… There’s that phrase, secrets that will take to our grave-

Warwick F:

Mm-hmm.

Ben B:

… that weighs us down and creates some much guilt and pain. And 11 years ago, when I got into therapy and recovery and all of this stuff, I committed to a life without secrets. And let me tell you what, as hard as it was to share my deepest, darkest secrets, the stuff I thought I’d never tell anyone, all kinds of stuff, and to be met with the affirmation of the pain from people, to be still loved and accepted for who I was and people not change their view of me, that was just so powerful.

Warwick F:

And it leads into the last one, assurance of safety, because when you have, obviously, you’ve got to be physically safe and financially safe and all, but when you can share your feelings and your secrets, as you put it with whether it’s a counselor or some close friends, loved ones and they love you anyway, it makes in a sense, the ultimate safe space, right? You feel, “They love me anyway, and yet they know my insecurities and my challenges.” And that is sort of like a flood of grace, a flood of refreshing water that soothes the pain, that helps to burn out the flaming embers, right? When you feel that love and acceptance, that is the ultimate safe space in a sense, when you feel that, when you are known, even despite the fact that they know how broken you are.

Ben B:

Yes. And so, often anxiety and stress comes as a result of the lack of assurance, of safety and fear, and fearing what’s going to happen and all of those kind of things. I think of one of the things Josh McDowell, and I have seen just with many leaders we’ve known who have fallen morally or burnt out, one of the key things is there’s a sense of external and internal pressure. And I’ve heard the phrase, “I felt like it all depended on me,” so many times. External pressure of the expectations of others, of the deadlines, of the raising the money, of the finances and then internal pressure of, “Well, I’m the only one who can do this. It all depends on me. I’ve got to do all of these things.” That right there is not a safe environment that’s going on within somebody’s soul. There’s no assurance of safety there.

Ben B:

And so, bringing other people into that and sharing what’s going on and having people support you in that, and trusting that actually, when it comes down to it, there’s a lot of things outside of our control and trying to control it is what leads to so much stress and anxiety and pressure. This is wild, 90% of diseases, doctors say are caused by stress. And stress comes from that internal and external pressure and that lack of assurance of safety and all of this stuff that we put on ourselves or that other people put on us. And when we can have this assurance of that a lot is not in our control, as a Christian, I believe God is in control, and he loves each one of us and has a plan for us, and he protects us and provides for us, and shifts a much more… When we release control and realize how much control we don’t have, and that people are there for us and want to help us, and that we matter, it really helps us feel a lot more safe and less full of worry.

Gary S:

Having reached the number seven in the list of seven, if we were indeed on a flight, we’d say that ended the inflight entertainment, right? The captain has begun the dissent, turned on the fasten seatbelt sign, and it’s getting closer to the time that we have to land the plane, but there’s a couple of things I want to do before I then turn it back over to Warwick. One, I want you to be able, Ben to let listeners know how they can get ahold of you, how they can learn about the Resolution Movement, they can find out more about that and engage some of the things. And then when you’re done with that, there’s a question I want to ask you to tie some of this together. So, tell our listeners how they can find you, and then I’ll hit you with a question.

Ben B:

Yes, resolutionmovement.org. You can find links there to all of our social media things helping people overcome hurts and struggles and thrive. We’ve got video series, videos, podcasts up there, free email series. And then me personally, I love talking to people on social media, direct messages, all of that, I’m on there a lot, I’m @benvbennett, BenV, V as in Virginia, Bennett, I’m on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all of those places.

Gary S:

TikTok, are you on TikTok?

Ben B:

Resolution Movement, we are on TikTok, yes.

Gary S:

All right. Well, that’s relevance right there. Here’s the question I want to hit you with, because at the beginning from your bio, I read this fascinating fact that what the Resolution Movement does is you offer freedom, healing in life of thriving through biblical, psychological and neuroscientific principles, then when you and I talked before we pressed record, you had said something to me and I wrote it down to make sure I got it right, you said, “As we’re going through dealing with the struggles of our lives,” dealing with the crucibles of our lives, as we’re walking through these seven longings and how to apply them to our lives, you said, “If we only use intellect, not experiential past, our experiential life to fight these struggles, it’s like fighting a fire with a squirt gun.” Can you, in a nutshell, connect this idea of how biblical, psychological and neuroscientific principles all come together to help us, help you, help people move beyond their crucibles?

Ben B:

Yes. Here’s an example that I’ve never given before, but we’ll see how it goes.

Gary S:

All right. Breaking news, we’ve got breaking news on Beyond the Crucible. Excellent.

Ben B:

If you think about how it was trying to learn how to write back in first grade or whatever with your hand and learning the movements and shapes of the letters, and how to spell and how long that took, and how now you do it almost without thinking about it, writing. What is happening there is in your brain, you are creating these fixed neurological pathways, kind of like muscle memory. The same thing happens when we have negative experiences in life, and the thoughts we tell ourselves, the beliefs, the worldview, the styles of relating, the unhealthy behaviors, stress, anxiety, things that are developed create these fixed pathways in our brain, kind of like muscle memory. So, the challenge we face is unlearning that, it’s almost like unlearning how to write with your dominant hand and relearning how to write with your non-dominant, and that can happen.

Ben B:

Neuroplasticity shows that the neurons that fire apart wire apart, new pathways developed the neurons that fire together wire together. The Bible mentions the mind, think, believe over 580 times, huge emphasis on our brains. This is how God has created us to heal. Everything learned can be unlearned, but so often we try to fix it with our intellectual brain, our prefrontal cortex high reasoning, “Okay, I’m going to get over this hurt. I’m going to stop doing that.” It’s like saying, “I’m going to learn how to write without ever having the experience of using your hand in learning how to write.” What we need to do is have new experiences in relationship and practice, because the stronger part of our brain, the amygdala, the fight-or-flight part of our brain where our core beliefs, our experiences are stored is there, and there’s more neurological pathways running from there to the prefrontal cortex, the higher reasoning portion than the other way around.

Ben B:

So, that’s why it’s like trying to fight fire, the most powerful part of the brain with a squirt gun. So, what we need is both and the integration there. So, what that looks like is I may have had this unmet longing, and I have those experiences, negative experiences that are stored, and I have those lives, but what I now need is to step forward, get in safe relationships, find those longings met in healthy ways, love, acceptance, affirmation of feelings, and to meet that in the lives of other people. And that is actually physically changing my brain, and the more and more I do that, it actually becomes a new default pattern. So, what happened in my life over the years with anxiety and addictions and all of those kind of things, I realized, to put this together that yes, I had this pain, this trauma, these lies, these default ways of responding that had been hardwired in my brain.

Ben B:

I got around couple of safe people, committed to a life without secrets for years, texting one another, reaching out to one another, “Oh, I’m sensing the rejection coming on.” Or, “I just got cut off in traffic, and I felt rejected by somebody. Oh, I’m angry as a result of that, I’m not feeling safe.” Connecting to somebody in that moment, experiencing the fulfillment of that longing, reaching out to God, sitting with God, experiencing his love. What did that do? Well, over time, those new pathways became the new default way of responding. So, rather than spiraling out of control and going all the way down to the shadow side as some of us may call it, or these unhealthy behaviors, I started reaching out and finding what I was truly looking for each and every day.

Ben B:

And now, that’s the default way of responding, not all the time, but when I experience an unmet longing… It’s met longings that lead to healing and thriving. So, those unmet longings lead to these unhealthy patterns, these lies, unhealthy patterns. Met longings, the seven longings going met lead to healing and thriving, our minds being renewed, rewired, and what we’re truly longing for.

Warwick F:

That is so well said. That is a great summary. Thank you so much.

Gary S:

It doesn’t happen often. Ben, but Warwick is still contemplating what you said to the point that he’s not asking you a follow up question, which is not the way the show usually ends, it’s usually a final question, but seriously, that shows the depth and the import that you’re speaking about. So, thank you for that. And thank you listener for spending this time with us. And please remember, we get it, you hopefully heard it throughout this conversation, both from Warwick and from Ben, we understand how painful your crucibles can be. We unpacked here why they’re so painful in so many cases, but they do not have to be the end of your story.

Gary S:

Your crucibles are not the end of your story. If you learn the lessons of them, if you get those longings met, not just intellectually, but experientially, those crucibles and the information that you take from them can be the beginning of a new story, and it can be the most rewarding story of your life, because where it leads when all is said and done, as you walk out that journey where it leads beyond your crucible is to a life of significant.