Spiritual #12: Your Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors (Part 3 — Loving Your Neighbor)
Goal: To develop Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode behaviors that demonstrate you’re Loving Your Neighbor
In Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors, Part 1 of 3, we looked at the 19 core components of Agape Love, how they serve as a foundation for Healthy Adult Mode behavior, and how God would like to pour these into our spirit freely and abundantly for our benefit. Our engagement in the Healthy Adult mode behavior of studying and becoming knowledgeable and familiar with these core components of Agape Love helps us to know and understand that our Higher Power is a “Loving God” and desires for us to grow in knowledge and application of these core virtues, values and principles.
In Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behavior, Part 2 of 3, we looked at how the daily practical application of these 19 core components of Agape Love helps you to create and experience healthy forms of self-love. When you engage in this Healthy Adult Mode behavior over days, weeks, months and years in your life, it not only grows self-efficacy, but it also produces wisdom, which by definition is “becoming skilled at living,” where your primary focus of self-love helps you to experience the many benefits that accompany self-care. We call this Healthy Adult Mode behavior “Loving Yourself.”
So, in this post, Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode behavior Part 3 of 3, I encourage you to demonstrate what you’ve learned about knowing how to love yourself in your actions with others, so that the Healthy Adult behavior you produce closely resembles behavior what we call “loving your Neighbor as yourself.” Demonstrating the behavior called Loving your neighbor, who at any given time is the person in close proximity to you (the Greek word Plesion) will hopefully come easier to you because you’re simply practicing the beneficial and healthy virtues and values your give to yourself in your actions with others around you. In closing this post, let’s look at three Healthy Adult Characteristics which are key to accomplishing this task.
Healthy Adult Characteristic #1 – INTUITION: Intuition, per Dr. Dan Siegal, is also one of the nine middle prefrontal cortex functions, which he defines as “non-logical knowing that emerges from neural networks in the heart and intestines, which send messages upward, through your insula, to regions of the middle prefrontal cortex.” When you think of your neural networks, picture your nervous system, and primarily with intuition, think of this as your gut and your heart functioning as a “teacher” who sends to the “student” (your brain) additional and vital information to assist you in gaining knowledge about something you may need to know about for your own safety, or for the safety of others.
So with Intuition, instead of paying an outside source to teach you (tuition), the “teacher” is your body and the “student” is your mind, soul and spirit, and the “college course” is how is your body helping your mind, soul and spirit to discern what loving response, evidenced by the demonstration of healthy adult behavior, the person closest to you needs, at any given time, to effect the healthiest of all outcomes, which upon completion, also reflects wisdom (that is, that you’re becoming skilled at living)?
Feels like a tall order but again, I simply remind you if you’re living by and practicing the healthy adult mode behavior discussed earlier and in the two previous posts (Part 1 of 3 and Part 2 of 3), then Intuition may come easier than you think because your body is just adding the “exclamation point” to the healthy adult mode behavior that needs to be applied in this particular situation, where the focus is on helping your neighbor by demonstrating Agape-oriented actions with them for their benefit.
This is what the Good Samaritan story teaches us; no one needed to tell him what to do when he came upon a man who was hurt. He felt pity (a heart touched by mercy), and he creatively used his resources in the crisis moment to alleviate pain, get the person to safety, took care of him and promised to render additional but reasonable assistance as needed to aid in the healing of the injured person.
So I have a question for you: When someone in close proximity to you is hurt, and you observe they’re in pain or distress, what is your body (gut and heart) teaching your mind, where together, your heart and mind size up the situation appropriately, where your actions results in a loving and wise response and your neighbor not only feels the love of God (from your heart), but your actions also serve as a catalyst for their overall healing? This is Intuition in action working toward the best of all outcomes with your neighbor!
Healthy Adult Mode Characteristic #2 – A-C-T-I-V-E Model:
You can read about the A-C-T-I-V-E Model in Choosing Change #9, but here’s a thumbnail sketch of the model:
A: Be AWARE of how schemas from your past experiences could be currently sabotaging your efforts.
C: CHALLENGE, CHANGE and replace unwanted Schemas with adaptive and Healthy Adult mode behaviors that work!
T: TERMINATE any destructive Ego Defenses or Cognitive Distortions your Maladaptive Schemas want to use for “protection,” but they really keep you stuck in child-like ways of operating.
I: INVESTIGATE what Adult Values and Virtues make sense to you and are reasonable to develop and incorporate into your daily life (especially ones that serve to counterbalance your Maladaptive Schemas and Maladaptive Schema modes).
V: VALIDATE yourself by consistently living according to your Values, Virtues and ideals that are sensible, reasonable and functional for yourself and others.
E: EVALUATE your choices and behaviors to determine if your actions are helping you to achieve the outcomes you want for yourself (and others!).
The A-C-T-I-V-E Model is useful for two important reasons. First, when you apply the first three letters (“A – C – T”) of the A-C-T-I-V-E Model, I encourage you to be cognizant about how you get in your own way and interrupt your ability to successfully engage in goal-oriented behavior that reflects you’re loving your neighbor.
This simply means you’re aware of how your Maladaptive Schemas (Entitlement, Emotional Deprivation, Negativity, etc.) and Maladaptive Schema Modes (Angry Defiant, Perfectionistic Controller, Demanding or Critical Parent, etc.), Ego Defenses(Attacking, Regression, Rationalization, etc.) or Cognitive Distortions (Always, Being Right, Blaming, Jumping to Conclusions, etc.) frustrates, impedes if not downright sabotages your thinking, decision making and actions.
Not being aware of these internal processes almost guarantees you’ll get lost in the same old familiar places of inflicting hurt upon others versus delivering love, help or healing they may need from you! That’s why it’s so important to focus on the second important reason!
The second important reason encourages you to focus on the positive and loving behaviors, as guided by manifestation of positive virtues and values embedded in the guidance found in the last three letters (“I – V – E”) of the A-C-T-I-V-E Model.
The “I” encourages you to Investigate what the person and/or situation is needing, then per your value system, engage in productive processes to deliver behavior that’s appropriate to the situation and brings about resolution. The “V” encourages you to Validate yourself by living according to the Values and Virtues that are sensible, reasonable and functional for you, and if they’re beneficial for you then they’ll also be helpful to others, as the situation dictates. The “E” encourages you to Evaluate your choices and behaviors to determine if your actions are helping you to achieve the outcomes you (and the other person) want and are working toward.
Do you remember Table 1, the “Loving Yourself” table from Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode behaviors, Part 2 of 3? I’m including it here as a point of reference to Table 2: the “Loving Your Neighbor” table below it, as an example of how the behaviors you engage in to Love Yourself could be directed toward others in your effort to Love Your Neighbor.
Healthy Adult Mode Characteristic #3 – BUILD UP:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” – Ephesians 4:29 (TNIV)
The practice of this Healthy Adult Characteristic is simple, but it yields profound outcomes. Building Up (the Greek words Arkitekton and Oikodomeo) means by the practice of the 19 core components of Agape Love (and other virtues and values), I get to be the Lead Architect or Builder who simply engages in the strategic activity of building a home on the rock by building up others in the house (or my neighbors in close proximity to me).
So, in closing this post, I have a question for you: How are you applying the principles discussed in Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors Part 1 of 3, Part 2 of 3 and in this post, Part 3 of 3, so that your actions demonstrate and reflect wise and loving behaviors that build mutually edifying outcomes in your life and in the life of your neighbors? What “blueprints and building materials” are you using to achieve your goal of building up the “dream home” where others feel the love of God consistently in your actions?
Suggested Activity: Create your “Healthy Adult Mode Characteristic List” patterned after Table 2 above (or create both Tables after you’ve read “Your Spiritual Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors (Part 2 of 3).” View it daily and give yourself and your neighbor these loving behaviors regularly to experience fruitfulness and maturity in your actions.
Skill to develop: The ability to demonstrate healthy and reasonable behaviors that reflect you’re loving your neighbor as yourself.
Next: Cognitive #10: Your Cognitive Healthy Adult Mode Behaviors (Part 1 – A Loving God) 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.