The way we respond to and share our perceptions of different things, deeply affects the way we relate, and ultimately allows our neocortex to take control of or reptilian brains and allow us to become intimate.
God made humans as the epitome of his creation, with mental capacities to love and be loved at a level that no other existing creature can experience. Part of this experience is our ability to mind map our own minds, and the minds of those around us. We do this all the time, but maximising the implications of this process is a beautiful thing.
Just as we considered our responses to the snake (above). The way we feel and think about it strongly affects the way we relate to it, ourselves and others. It also affects the way others will be able to respond to us. Neuroscientists tell us that this wonderful interaction of thoughts develops our neocortex, making us most human, and most like God, out creator. Another name for this process is: intimacy.
We are called to be imitators of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1-2); to walk in the same ways he walked (1 John 2:6), and to keep his commandments (John 14:15). This process intimately includes us knowing who we are; how we respond to God, ourselves, people and situations; so that we can be authentic, intimate beings. Jesus was very aware of God and himself, and knew how to respond wisely. This ability caused intimacy between Him and all those with whom He interacted. Let’s be believers that choose the same.
So often I find myself, and see many people in relationships, living superficially because they are oblivious of the beautiful process of mind mapping and becoming intimate. Simply put, mind mapping includes:
- Being aware of my thoughts on something;
- Allowing someone else to express what they perceive my thoughts to be;
- Being willing to listen to a description of my thoughts from the other person without taking offence,
- Being willing to choose a constructive way of communicating how they have described my thoughts,
- Doing the same for the other person.
When we are able to engage in this process meaningfully, mind-mapping is healthy and fulfilling and creates intimacy. It can sound a bit complicated, but, as I said earlier, we’re all already doing it, but our lack of self-awareness, and the offence we pick up in this process is the problem, and destroys intimacy.
To describe these struggles from a different perspective. When we choose our frustrations and offence over intimacy, we are allowing our reptilian brain to win. The reptilian brain is deep within the brain and is therefore the first part of the brain to develop. It controls our instinctual, survival mechanisms like the need to eat, protect oneself from danger by either fighting or fleeing, and also the need to reproduce (http://interaction-design.org/.literature/article/our-three-brains-the-reptilian-brain [24/1/19]). The neocortex, the most human part of our brain, is the last to develop. It is highly organized and processes motor, emotional and associative information (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/neocortex, 24/1/19). The neocortex develops the individual’s ability to eventually respond rationally rather than reacting irrationally to things.
Most addictive behaviours and sexually unhealthy behaviours are the result of the neocortex being disengaged, and allowing our basic instincts to rule. It’s not helpful to berate and hate ourselves for this, but we need to choose healthy interactions to allow our neocortex to rule.
So, I want to strongly encourage us to engage this process of mind mapping, so that we can create intimacy and cause our relationships to thrive. While sometimes this process can trigger strong emotions, let’s choose to grow past them (which also means acknowledge them), so that we can start enjoying life at a new level. Here’s something you can do with a close friend:
- Look at the picture of the snake together, and become aware of your thoughts and emotions.
- Allow your partner to express what they
believe your thoughts or emotions would be concerning the picture.
- Respond (not react) to their perception in a meaningful way.
- Do the same process for your partner.
Obviously, a snake, is not a very real issue of life for many. Some other topics you might choose to grow in would be following this strategy concerning:
- Your parents
- Your workplaces
- Your finances
- (For married couples) Your sex life.
If you would like to receive further counsel, or join others in a journey to a healthy, Godly, sexual lifestyle, please see the options available to you on our website: wonderfullymade.org.za