A real faith matter— “Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we don’t have to live out of our old, fearful, sinful, past nature, but in Christ we are becomers, free to forgive others and ourselves, and to walk in love, and be salt and light in a hurting world. In other words, live on the Plus Side, free to replace stress with acceptance and gratitude, and live beautifully.” I.e., think very well.
Did you know you can do something—a lot, in fact!—to help your brain be at its best? Jesus and the Scriptures tell us to renew our minds, change how we think (E.g., Luke 12: 31; Romans 12: 1&2; 2 Cor. 10: 6). (Of course alcohol, drugs, and other addictions have the opposite effect.) Neurologists confirm that our brains are not fixed, but can change. It’s called neuroplasticity.
Last week I mentioned some principles, based on neurobiological studies—studies of the brain—which can help us turn off complaining and turn on acceptance and thankfulness, and so help our brains function well. In this column I want to explain more about the “Outcome Thinking” (or ACCEPTANCE protocol.) Recall that the other steps were to 1, Notice your tension, and where in your body you feel it. Notice also what color you see in the picture. 2. Look at what will happen if you continue not to accept, but to complain. 3. Look: Look at oneself accepting (not approving)______________________, instead, and the results of that. There are three major ways of doing this, but these can be used together.
- Imagine yourself stepping back, in your spirit or imagination, some 15-20 feet, and then look at yourself there in front of the person or situation that is troubling you. You breathe deeply, nod your head up and down, count to ten, and put blue or green into the picture. That is a sign that blood is going to the Right Hemisphere. I have a friend who used to get upset at extended family gatherings, where there was tension between people, until after my coaching he went to a gathering deliberately with a green sweater on. The whole time there, he stayed at peace. You also pretend for a while that you are O.K., even though the situation isn’t O.K.
- You picture yourself engaged in a favorite hobby, sport or other recreation. Get into that zone of creativity and enjoyment. Then from that position, glance at the person or situation that is troubling you. Glance, and then come back to your pleasant zone, glance at the negativity, then come back, go back and forth, until the tension is gone. Again, you are rewiring the brain, connecting the two hemispheres across the corpus collosum, the cells bridging the gap between them. I know a teacher who was so upset at what another teacher falsely accused her of that she almost quit teaching, until she simply pictured herself cooking her favorite meal, and then looked at the other teacher saying those nasty things; back and forth she went between the two scenes until the tension was all gone. The two teachers then became friends.
- You picture yourself at a peaceful beach, lying on the sand, enjoying the surf, the sounds of seagulls and children playing, the smells, the breeze. (Or it could be by a cool stream in a mountain meadow.) Then you see walking towards you someone you don’t like, maybe someone you might call an enemy. Your old response is to let the angry feelings come up, but this time you stay in that pleasant zone, look at him or her come closer, wave, but then in your mind you stay there, enjoying the beach. He or she walk closer and closer, but you stay in that pleasant zone. Finally you get up one elbow, and wave to them, or even stand up and greet them, perhaps give them a handshake or hug, (if you want to follow Jesus, who said, “Love your enemy…”)
- In addition, and even most importantly: You utilize your spiritual resources, for instance, prayer. (Jesus did not just say “Love your enemy”, he said “Pray for him.” The first step in forgiveness.) This, even by itself, can help you reduce defensiveness and be the bigger person in conflict situations. By the way, an effective variation of this is to pray and ask Jesus, through his Spirit, come in and put His finger on any buried traumatic memories, and then do whatever He wills, to heal them, and help you forgive.
4. Notice: Compare the results on the feeling level, of having acceptance turned on, with the original feeling state you had. When the two pictures are run side by side, the mind automatically chooses the more beautiful, and intelligent, one. Then ask yourself, “Which way do I want to live? In the next ten times when I think about this situation, how many times can I go with the new picture?” (If some other “bad” thought or memory comes up, repeat the process until it also is healed in this way.) (BTW, if you or your group would like some coaching in this, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or at FB Messenger—Pete Kuiper.)