Goal: To develop Cognitive Healthy Adult Mode behaviors due to your connection with a loving God
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” Ephesians 1:17 – 18 (TNIV).
As a human being, we’re gifted with a brain from our Higher Power that helps us to know then think critically about challenging issues of life, then to creatively develop positive solutions to those life issues that beg for a thoughtful and informed resolution.
Our brain is a super computer that helps us to “think outside the box” and make good decisions based on the integration of information we learned decades ago to constructively deal with triggered emotions and feelings we identified or recognized a few moments ago.
Our brain helps us to appreciate the beauty of a sunrise, cherish time spent with a newborn, comfort a grieving friend or work with others to accomplish complex goals in our role as a teammate. Our brain creates insightful, informed, loving, enjoyable and practical experiences for us and is simply and simultaneously profound and amazing!
I think one of the best gifts from God is the ability to use my brain to make decisions and choices, especially when choices are made to see myself and others in a new light, filtered through the prism of love! Using your brain to educate yourself to learn about then to live a life that reflects healthy forms of self and other love wisely and consistently is one of greatest ways to honor your Higher Power for this incredible gift of and to humanity! Allow me to share three healthy adult mode characteristics about this bio-psycho-social-and spiritual computer and processor that we possess!
Healthy Adult Mode Characteristic #1 – Enlightenment: Enlightenment (Greek word Photizo) means “to give light to, enlighten, shine light upon, to illuminate, make one see or understand, to bring to light to make known.” Why is this important? Well, as a Psychotherapist, when people invite me to work with them to look at issues, problems, or challenges in their life or relationships that need attention and possibly resolution, then it’s important that I not only see and understand how their past and present has impacted them, but also how the development and application of identified virtues, values, insights and strategies could assist them to create the goal-oriented (and practical) outcomes that work for them.
My job (and this goes for my personal life as well) is to use the best of my abilities (cognitive, intellectual, etc.) to facilitate an enlightened experience where thinking, knowledge, insight, understanding, perception, recognition and wisdom, and other relevant processes are integrated into our time together so that the person(s) I’m with will develop or utilize the best of their abilities to create enlightened experiences and outcomes for their self or their situation with which they’re seeking assistance. No pun intended but I’d suggest to you I think this one of the most important objectives that a loving Higher Power ultimately had in mind for your benefit, and for the benefit of the neighbors in your life: to think then act to create wise, thoughtful, therapeutic, enlightened and of course loving experiences and outcomes for you and those close to you.
So I have a question for you: How are you using your brain, your mind and your energy to create enlightened, thoughtful, therapeutic and loving experiences that result in your ability to know and love yourself and to know and love others, especially to create outcomes marked by fruitful and purposeful living?
If you’re not accomplishing these suggested objectives and if you’re open to feedback, let me encourage you to educate yourself on what could help you!
Dr. Siegel would have you realize that engaging in the daily practice and strategy to “S. I. F. T.” your mind (identifying and making sense of your Sensations, Images or pictures in your mind, Feelings and Thoughts) along with practicing other suggested strategies creates the “Awakened Mind.”
To Dr. Siegel, the Awakened Mind is a mind that’s Aware, and being aware affords you with the opportunity to make deliberate, mindful, enlightened and intentional thoughts and decisions for your well-being and that of others. A mind that’s aware also knows how we get in our own way, and thwart if not downright sabotage our efforts to develop and maintain enlightened and productive frames of mind, which is crucial especially when it comes down to the choices and decisions we need to make!
For me, an awakened mind means I’m actively (but not obsessively) sifting my mind, monitoring my own thoughts and feelings, taking my psychological “temperature readings,” and making necessary behavioral adjustments to ensure my behaviors keep me centered in the River of Integration. Staying centered means I try to view and interact with the world via the practice of my Agape-oriented values, which helps me to make sense of my actions, my goals, my past, my present, my responsibilities and what I’d like to impart in my encounters with others.
I’ve also realized that an awakened mind is seldomly achieved by oneself! What this means is we are complex people who need counselors and coaches to enlighten and help us to figure out the complexity that accompanies our cognitions, in order to create corrective, curative, healthy and purposeful change, and to fulfill our “calling” to create strong and secure attachments with others. Let me close this post by looking at how our brain thrives in the presence of “steady-state” behaviors marked by healthy and earned secure attachments for ourselves and with others.
Healthy Adult Mode Characteristic #3 – Purposeful (Steady State): Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Bryson in their book The Power of Showing Up: How parental presence shapes who our kids become and how their brains get wired reminds us that Healthy Adult mode behaviors that produce secure attachments or connections with our children (and with Adults!) occurs when four staples are kept in mind and are part of our encounters with others.
The four staples are Safety, Seen, Soothed and Security. Creating optimal connections (not to mention good Interpersonal Neurobiology!) occurs when your environments and conversations are seasoned with these four ingredients. Let’s take a closer look at how the presence and practice of these four ingredients could be helpful to you.
First, being and feeling Safe means you’ll significantly reduce triggering episodes and trauma reactions (Fight, Flight, Freeze, Feign, etc.) because your brain isn’t interpreting a threat, which tends to cascade into self-protective defensiveness or narrow-minded and unproductive survival mode reactions.
On the other hand, a safe environment increases the possibility of an Adult-Adult conversation punctuated by creativity and positive outcomes like response flexibility, respect for one another and the ability to repair relationship ruptures because the best of your brain energy is utilized effectively (think building bridges that promote relationship connection versus building walls that isolate, frustrate and maim).
Being and feeling Seen means you’re using tools to engage in the intimacy building behaviors of reflection, introspection, insight, curiosity and empathy, which are necessary skills that increase your ability to know yourself, make yourself known to others, and to know others. When you’re able to identify and articulate your thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, virtues, values, goals and other information about yourself, and, to inquire about the same with others, then you’re mastering crucial Healthy Adult behavior that builds understanding and cohesiveness with others!
Being and feeling Soothed means you’re engaging in the ability to “come to your own assistance” as the Healthy Adult part of you is able to recognize then deliver to the “Vulnerable Child” part of you compassion, kindness, patience, love, safety, understanding or any valuable behavior that creates internal calm, peace, relief and care to the self and the soul. When you’re able to create and provide this skilled and Healthy Adult behavior to yourself, then intuitively, think about “taking it one step further” to recognize then deliver to your neighbor this same level of care as well.
Finally, being and feeling Secure (Security) are outcomes from the actions demonstrated by the previous three “S’s,” which helps you to feel protected and free from doubt, anxiety, risk, danger, attacks, sabotage or peril, largely because your brain has been focused on the “best defense is a good offense” principle.
When you’re focused on using your brain energy to develop positive and constructive experiences and outcomes for yourself and with others, then security, purpose, peace of mind and a steady mental state are possibilities versus any of the dreadful and damaging opposites! Do you think you could get used to living in this enlightened manner? Let me encourage you to use your brain energy to think and create these purposeful ways of being!
Suggested Activity: Visit and read the hyperlinks in this post, especially the Wheel of Awareness, the Interpersonal Neurobiology, the River of Integration (Psychology and Theology) and the 68 – 72 Degree Target Chart (Psychology and Theology) to educate yourself about new ways of thinking which could assist you in your effort(s) to create enlightened and purposeful thinking and outcomes for your self and in your relationships. Be gentle with yourself, knowing you have many, many more “micro-seasons” ahead of you to grow these characteristics in your life!
Skill to develop: The ability to use your brain/mind energy to create enlightened experiences and outcomes for yourself and others.
Next: Cognitive #11: Your Cognitive Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors (Part 2 – Loving Yourself) or Table of Contents.
Thanks for reading this excerpt from Cultivating Love: Wisdom for Life. As time permits, please visit the other blogs written by Dr. Ken McGill: Daily Bread for Life and “3–2–5–4–24″ for additional information that could be helpful.