Increasing Effective Communication Skills - The New Frontier Series
From The Caring Heart with Dr. Joyce from Spokane Washington

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”   (John 7:38)

“Some of us are troubled, wondering why the Holy Spirit doesn’t fill us.   The problem is that we have plenty coming in, but we are not giving out to others. If you will give the blessing you have received, planning your life around greater service and being a blessing to those around you, then you will quickly find that the Holy Spirit is with you.  He will bestow blessings to you for service, giving to you all He can trust you to give away to others.”  (Will Huff, in Cowman, L. B. p. 361}.  

Growing to be all that we can be takes a lifetime.  Effective communication and successful relationship building take much practice, experience, and wisdom, depending upon the situation.  On the other hand, marvelous one-to-one harmony can be seen between a puppy and a human toddler (which is maybe why Christ said we must become as a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven).  Achieving and maintaining the innocence of childhood makes us vulnerable because our minds and feelings are thereby “open” to be realized and experienced by others.  Others can know us as us.  Exposure of our real selves is crucial for life-enhancing relationship building.  We can’t be life giving to others behind a phony façade or a blank wall!  We do not need to rattle on about our personal lives or concerns either, but what we do talk about needs to be authentic.  We need to be so continuously aware of the other person’s responsiveness so that we can “fit in with” what he or she is saying, and harmonize in an ongoing manner.  We need to share our interests, but we also need to spend sincere time and focus on the other person’s interests.  We need to let people know we respect them and that they have great value. 

I have noticed that, to engage meaningfully with someone else, we need to have something in common with the person.  “The weather” is often a good conversation-opening topic because everyone experiences the weather.  If a common interest can be found and commented upon between two people, the interaction can be lively and fun for both.  I have found that, when no real commonality is found and talked about enthusiastically, the interaction dies off and does not go anywhere.  To try to keep “pushing” a relationship where real commonality just does not exist, may be courting failure and harmful to both.  Such interactions may be better left on a very informal basis, and each participant should be left free to relate to those they have more in common with. A lot of good judgment is needed in wise, successful relating, not only between humans, but in human-animal relating also.  We need to be really considerately thoughtful. 

When authentic mental, emotional, and lifestyle commonality does exist between two people, or between an animal and a human, wonderful things can happen.  We all come equipped with a marvelous hormone called oxytocin – “the cuddle hormone.”  The secretion of oxytocin right after birth is what causes a new mom to become overwhelmingly attached to her baby.  When people connect in interaction, and especially when they share confidences and touch even briefly, oxytocin is released.  Because of the activation of this potent hormone, warmth is felt, stress is dampened down, and trust starts appearing between the individuals.  Their resultant relaxed state prompts them to put aside their self-interests and to focus on the interests of others.  After many satisfying, repeated interactions, a very healthy, stable relationship of warmth, confidence, trust, and love is created.  Knowledgeable others maintain that oxytocin is what enables us to be fully human, warmly attached, and other-concerned and centered.  Amazing!

Intimate contact is a basic human need. Many people not only need regular human interactions, but they need to be close to their animals, too.  Right now I am in a room with all my three dogs in here, too.  I always want them with me, and they want to be with me, too.  I miss my two horses.  Where are they?  Just out in back.

Regrettably, I sure can’t have them in the house with us!   Daily contact with a tight group of friends and/or family does incredible good in building kind, well-balanced, rational people.  Wasn’t it James in the Bible who admonished us to “be of right mind?”  Some cultures do practice very frequent social relating, as the established way to live their lives, generation after generation.  The very young, the very old, and the infirm are well taken care of, and great value is shown to all!!   Marvelous!  Many of we Americans would do well to learn a lot from such cultures. 

Moreover, the repeated secretion of oxytocin substantially promotes health and longevity.  People with the most integrated, involved social lives have been found to have the best prognosis for surviving heart attacks, strokes, HIV, Aids, or cancer, They have less tendency to contract health problems in the first place.  Daily face-to-face contact fortifies our immune system, calibrates our hormones, and regulates epigenesis, which has to do with the way our genes are expressed in our behavior and in our level of resilience.  It is quite well known how cuddling with our doggies and kitties lowers our blood pressure. 

When we love one another – and our animals – the way Jesus wants us to love one another, the “miracle hormone” oxytocin is secreted time after time, promoting feelings of warmth, trust, security and satisfaction.  My hypothesis here is that there is probably a high cause-and-effect relationship between the lack, or paucity, of oxytocin release, due to the lack of healthy interactions and security, and drug addiction, with all the horrors and destructiveness that brings.  Individuals starved for oxytocin good feelings, try to find those feelings through some drug or another.  (What I’m talking about here is serious stuff, folks!)  Most children who have experienced severely inadequate and abusive upbringings end up being very harmful to themselves and others, including, of course, innocent animal victims. 

As creator, Jesus knows what He put in us.  We are spiritual, mental, emotional, social, AND physical beings.  He firmly told us to LOVE GOD AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  THESE ADMONISHMENTS ARE NOT SOME WHIM.  JESUS KNOWS THINGS WILL NOT GO WELL IF WE DON’T!!  In former articles in this series, I have discussed how loving, nurturing, relating, done by persons of Godly integrity, builds better brains, fosters empathy and compassion, lessens hostility and terrible harm, protects human and animal well-being, and brings joy and happiness.  Are there many folks “out there” who can “catch the vision” of the incredible importance of this pivotal area of living life?  How many really care?  We need everyone to understand what is needed, and why, and commit themselves to consistent action!!

I recently read the story of David, a full-time pastor in Fresno California.  He went through a brief, hellish, agonizing spiritual experience in which faces kept floating by him, none of which would acknowledge his presence or individuality in any way.  It was terrifying. He realized God had given him a snapshot view of what Hell is really like.  He was removed from any form of familiarity or comfort, or contact.  As a result of that experience, he became a pastor who had great empathy to those who feel lonely.  “Because of the snapshot I was shown, I know that the search for connection to each other drives people far more than theology,” he said.  “We want to belong and be seen for who we really are.  In Heaven we will feel complete acceptance, and we will know each other fully and be known.  But not in Hell.  There will be no comfort there, not even in the company of those who share your fate.”  (Garlow and Wall, p. 249-250)

The meaningfulness of our lives comes through connection – to God, to one another, to our animals, to the earth, and even to ourselves.  “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  (Proverbs 29:18)


Cowman, L. B.  Streams In The Desert.  Zondervan Publishing House (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1997). 

Garlow, James L. and Wall, Keith.  Encountering Heaven and the Afterlife: True Stories From People Who Have Glimpsed The World Beyond. Bethany House Publishers.  (Minneapolis, Minn. 2010). 

Copyright The Caring Heart Dr. Joyce 2016. 

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