Welcome everyone, to Heritage Counseling Center’s Blog! I hope it finds you well. Farah Harris is the author of this week’s article. Farah understands that most people don’t act out of random impulses, but each and every action has some sort of reason behind it. She asks that you would join her in taking a deeper look at these behaviors. Here is what she has to say:

We often complain about another person’s behavior. As a counselor, I listen to parents grumble about their children, couples finding fault in one another, and individuals criticizing their friends or co-workers. After listening to their disapprovals, disdain and disappointments, my question to them always is “And what is the heart issue?”
You see, people don’t do things just because. There is always a reason why someone bullies, shuts down, talks back, or boasts. Their aggressiveness, passive-aggressiveness, or passivity is never autonomous but related to some underlying heart issue.

When I ask clients to name what they think is going on in the other person’s heart, they usually get stuck re-explaining the persons “bad” behavior or labeling their behavior; they find it difficult to actually connect an emotion to the other person’s actions.

In Matthew 12:34 it says that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Unfortunately, sometimes what is spoken gets lost in translation. Due to our brokenness and finite knowledge, we cannot always discern what is really taking place in the heart of others. This is why in Matthew 7:1, we are called not to judge so that we in turn will not be judged. This verse isn’t encouraging us to let sin go uncorrected, or excuse unrighteous behavior; rather, we cannot judge the persons heart or true intentions because only God knows the heart of man. However, this doesn’t mean we are helpless and stand by idly while we pray that God works on this person’s heart. No. What we are called to do is follow the second greatest commandment, which is to love your neighbor as yourself. And loving your neighbor is to come alongside them and actually ask and seek to understand what is really going on inside.

We tend to focus so heavily on the behavior and how it affects us. We resort to using behavior modification tools, rewarding, shaming, avoiding, or punishing. Very rarely do we actually seek to find out what the true heart issue is: Unresolved Anger? Sadness? Fear? These usually are the top three emotions that are troubling the person and until you get to the root cause, you will never fully understand the tree of behavior that you are seeing.

My encouragement for you to realize is that what you are witnessing are symptoms and the person is not the problem. Love is patient and kind. Your child that is acting up, your spouse who closes off, or a friend that is uncaring may need your patient and kind love. It is unfortunate that our cries for understanding are misrepresented by our behavior. For that reason we all should seek to understand because at the end of the day, all we truly want is to be fully seen and heard.

*Please note that the above article is not encouraging anyone to condone abusive behavior, for healthy and firm boundaries need to be set when dealing with abusive people.

by: Farah Harris, LPC