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Becoming a H+E+R=O
“Mind The Gap,” is one of my favourite phrases in the UK’s transport system. It is a set of three words designed to keep you and me safe and to help us avoid danger. However, in neuroscience and positive psychology, it offers us a different kind of hope. Instead of safety, it opens the doorway to freedom and excellence.
Every neuron connects to other neurons by managing the gap between them. In the space between neurons, magic happens. When we learn to ‘Mind The Gap’ – to pause long enough to let new neural pathways ‘fire’ - we give ourselves time to transform our natural knee-jerk reactions into considered responses worthy of an esteemed sage!
My beloved Nan had cracked this. She said, “All you need to do, Dear, is count to ten!”
Hi, my name is ‘Lex McKee’ and I’m someone who unfashionably believes in Divine Health, Divine Wealth, and Divine Wellbeing.
This means that I believe that
· God wants you well and living in radiant health
· God wants you rich and living in abundant wealth, and
· God wants you to experience a profound inner peace – a sense of Divine Wellbeing that empowers you to pass through the waters of any trial unscathed, and to emerge even stronger.
Why is this ‘unfashionable’? Many Religious people believe that God uses adversity to teach humans a lesson. They are uncertain whether or not it is God’s perfect will for them to be sick or healthy, poor or rich, troubled or at peace, in lack or enjoying abundance.
This is because most humans cannot handle wealth, and when they are healthy and everything is rosy, they forget about God – they don’t need Him. In fact, the Western Church really doesn’t need God. If they get sick, they go to the Doctor. If they are poor, they borrow more, and if they are depressed, they go to BIG Pharma. Let’s remember that pharmaceutical companies are not interested in cures, they are interested in customers… for life!
So, what I believe is a threat to the status quo. To many, I am a heretic.
But I think you may be a heretic too. If you agree that a human father who gives his children cancer to teach them something belongs behind bars, you and I are on the same page. God is the God of Light, the God of Love, and even the God of Laughter. He doesn’t make His children poor to teach them anything either. And He explicitly blesses us with peace. Through Jesus, He says, “My peace I give to you,” and that this is a, “peace that passes understanding.” He offers us rest and comfort by taking His yoke upon us and learning from Him. This is preceded with an invitation, “Come to me ALL you who are weary and burdened, and I WILL give you peace.”
Today, I want to share how you can become a HERO and thus take control of your emotional responses and the outcomes they lead to. You see, the way we feel most often leads, via a knee-jerk reaction to the results we get. I don’t want to be a jerk, not even a knee-jerk. I also don’t want to be my own worst enemy.
Here’s what normally happens:
Event + Reaction = Outcome
Something happens, you feel a certain way about this, you react on autopilot, and you get a result! Let me let you into a little secret that you’ve already experienced – it’s rarely a good result!
HEROes are different.
You begin with Humility – acknowledging you don’t know everything and that you’re still learning, and that you don’t always have to be right, and that you’re a work in progress.
Then the Events come flooding in.
Humility + Event
At this point, you’d normally have a set of default reactions to draw upon so that you don’t have to think about it too much. This was a great system in the days when hesitation meant you were going to be lunch for a predator! You seriously literally didn’t have time to think (i.e., Respond), no, you needed to React to survive, to live!
In the West, nowadays, not many Sabre-Toothed Tigers prowl the streets.
We need a better pattern.
Here’s the HERO’s way…
Humility + Event + (press ‘pause’ and ‘Mind The Gap’) + (considered) Response = Outcome
Rollo May said, “Freedom is the ability to pause between the stimulus and the response.”
[More on Rollo May here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo_May ]
An ‘Event’ is anything outside your control. They are essentially ‘other’ – such as a snide comment that pushes your hot buttons, a setback, an unexpected bout of ill-health, a surprising change in circumstances such as a redundancy or bankruptcy. Life is full of ‘Events’ and you and I need to become Event Managers!
The Humble Hero has let go of the need to be correct all the time, to let go of the need to possess all the knowledge they require – to have all the answers, and to be the centre of the purpose of the Universe. In other words, the Humble Hero is open to continuous learning…
When they get hit by an adverse ‘Event’, they know the power of pressing pause so that they don’t just react on autopilot. They ‘Mind The Gap’, giving their creative brain the space it needs to generate options and alternatives for the way they will think, feel, and behave.
In the Gap, the alchemy happens where ‘reactions’ are transformed into ‘responses’.
A great example of this was the politically motivated bad behaviour of the Scribes and Pharisees (i.e., the Religious Leadership Team of the day) who wanted to get rid of Jesus.
Jesus was an embarrassment because He spoke without apology for God and the Truth, as One with Authority. The people loved this!
Trying to catch Jesus in His words, they asked Him whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not. This was a no-win scenario. If Jesus said, “Yes!” He would have been seen as a collaborator with the hated occupying forces – the Romans. If Jesus said, “No!” He would have marked Himself out as a revolutionary against Rome, and thus a political threat that could be ‘neutralised’.
Jesus pressed ‘pause’ and did what was necessary to ‘Mind The Gap’. To achieve this, He asked the audience to bring him a Roman coin. A few seconds passed giving Him the Gap. Showing the coin to the crowd, He said, “Whose image is this?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” He said, “Excellent…” and then He added the Response that goes so far beyond a knee-jerk Reaction. His Response was, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s…”
But then He added Divine Wisdom, “…and give to God what is God’s!”
[Oh, and the nasty chaps didn’t ask Him any more questions after that because they weren’t giving to God what was God’s.]
For us, this transformation from knee-jerk, autopilot Reaction into considered Response begins with interrupting the habituated reaction. It’s like when Jesus said, “If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn and give them the other one.” That’s bonkers! It breaks the pattern. It breaks the cycle of hatred.
Humans normally expect blow-for-blow. Normally, if you cause me grief, I will give you grief… and I might throw in a bit more just to teach you not to do it again – you jerk! What Jesus says interrupts the normal reaction and offers greater choice to transcend from being a mere man to becoming a co-labourer together with God… Just hold on there and think about that. Imagine God saying, “Hi, I’m God, and I’m recruiting. I’m looking for people to work with Me to produce abundance in the Earth. In fact, the normal system is set up to kill, and steal, and destroy… but I have come that you personally may ENJOY Life and enjoy it to the full.”
When we rehearse new ways of thinking (such as Jesus’ suggestion to go the extra mile), we now know that the brain changes its own structure - permanently. This is called Neuroplasticity.
If you are a coach or a mentor, you are a Neuroplastic Surgeon! (That is, IF your clients listen to you and then do what you suggest!)
Drive your own bus! Decide what to do in the moment – in the Gap between Stimulus and (habitual) Reaction. Choose to Respond instead of React.
Your response embraces three aspects of what makes ‘you’ ‘YOU’! These are your thoughts, your emotions, and your behaviours. I know many of us have tried to change our behaviours out of a sense of guilt or duty before transforming our own thoughts and thus our emotions. That never works long-term. Change your thoughts, then your emotions – the way you feel about those thoughts – and your behaviours will metamorphose into something powerfully different.
You can never guarantee the outcome but when you make intentional choices to respond rather than react like a dumb beast, you can shape the outcome, you can influence the outcome.
Consider this proverb: a soft answer turns aside wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.
THAT is the difference between Response (choosing to give a soft answer) and Reaction (tit for tat – a harsh word as a reaction to their harsh word).
I dare you to become a HERO… to choose to Respond rather than React like a mere human hooked on habit. Go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, bless those who curse you…
Then you might just become a Super Hero with your Super Power of “Responsibility – the Ability to Respond!”
Of course, it helps to count to ten… thanks Nan!