S7E4: Curt Thompson and the Anatomy of the Soul

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Summary

What can neuroscience teach us about faith and our experience with God? How can we manage stress at work in pursuit of wholeness and integration? Joanna and Dustin talk with Dr. Curt Thompson, a psychiatrist, speaker, and the author of Anatomy of the Soul, about being known, searching for hope, and seeking God in the midst of grief.

Highlights

On the role of emotions:

“We live in a world that has become…so dominantly occupied and preoccupied with the function of the left brain, that we simply don’t pay enough attention to what is happening in the right brain.”

On the nature of our stories:

“Our stories are always collaboratively told. I never tell my story by myself. I think I tell my story by myself, and it is true that I am the final agent for my story, but I am always writing my story with collaborative co writers. It’s not a matter of ‘will I have them or won’t I have them?’ I have to have them because human beings depend upon the presence of other people telling stories along with us in order for us to survive, let alone to flourish.”

On the collaboration of our stories:

If I’m going to bear the image of God, it means to tell the story of my own spiritual experience…with somebody else. So when I’m having all these sensations, images, feelings, thoughts about God, my story is not just going to be told with Him, it’s going to be told with you. My understanding of my spirituality is only ever in the context of asking the question: ‘Who are the other people in my life who are going to help me tell my story more truly on the way to creating goodness and beauty in the outposts that we occupy?'”

On sharing our stories and being known at work:

“It’s going to be important for people to have opportunities in places for them–even in hard places–to answer the question: ‘What’s this like for you? How are you? Where are you? What do you want now?’ For people to continually talk about their grief, for people to continually talk about their longing. This is what lament is all about.”

On looking for goodness and grief:

“When I pay attention to looking for goodness and beauty, but also when I pay attention looking for sadness and grief, I’m looking for them because I want to be able to tell my story more truly. In a lot of respects, what we’re doing is in engaging in a long standing lament. We name what we long for, we name what we want, we name what our grief is and we know that God lives with us in the middle in between these two things. We are reminding each other that we are people of hope.”

Resources

Read more from Dr. Thompson in Anatomy of the Soul,* The Soul of Shame,* and his personal blog.

Listen to Curt’s previous podcast.

Take our free course, Leaving Shame Behind.

Download the episode transcript.

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*–Purchase with purpose. Amazon donates to Denver Institute when you shop at smile.amazon.com.

Join us on Thursday, Sept. 17, for "The Politics of Neighborly Love."

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