Dec 13, 2020
Tonight as a family we watched “Christmas with The Chosen.”
The Chosen is a wonderful series about the disciples Christ chooses to follow Him when His ministry begins. I’ve watched the entire first Season, some episodes twice. But it was in this Christmas special that I noticed the repeated use of this line:
“Get Used to Different.”
Christ says it to Peter at the end of Episode 7 when Peter strongly opposes Christ choosing Matthew, a tax collector, as one of His disciples. “This is different” Peter says.
Peter thinks he knows all there is to know about Matthew. He has a past with him. He doesn’t like him.
Get Used to Different, Christ teaches Peter. Although this line isn’t actual scripture, it is representative of the the way Christ taught; simply.
I see many ways we can incorporate this teaching in our lives. If we can get used to different, we can face so many things that otherwise would be uncomfortable to us. Remember, we don’t want to run from the discomfort, we want to GET USED TO IT; allow it, welcome it. Only then does the discomfort, the DIFFERENT, stop scaring us, paralyzing us.
Lest you think I’m advising you to become numb and put yourself in precarious situations, I’ll give you some examples.
You had to move your father into a nursing home. You promised to visit often and take him home for Sunday dinners and go for drives in the canyon. A couple short weeks later COVID restrictions put the care center on lockdown and not only could you not bring him home for Sunday dinner, you couldn’t even go inside to visit him. Very uncomfortable. Very Different.
You once had a close relationship with your daughter, you spoke on the phone several times a week. Then one day there was a misunderstanding between you and she hasn’t spoken to you in months. Tears flow often when you think of what happened. The discomfort is heavy. Very Different.
You notice your mother behaving strangely. The woman who was once so organized and loved to plan ahead, is forgetting basic things like paying her bills and how to drive to your house. She can’t seem to stay focused in your conversations with her and you’re afraid of what it may mean: Alzheimers. That would be much, much too different.
There is a physiological reason for the discomfort we feel when something goes differently than we thought it would, or differently than it usually does. It starts in our brain; specifically our lower brain.
Our lower brain is motivated by 3 things: 1) Avoiding Pain, 2) Seeking Pleasure and 3) Conserving Energy. These 3 are often called the “Motivational Triad”. Our brain NEVER stops searching for ways to achieve these.
Get Used to Different goes against our motivational triad. The unknown and unpredictable are scary things for the lower brain who likes things they way they are “supposed” to be in order to conserve energy.
There is a solution though; using our higher brain. This takes practice and like I said, does not mean you won’t stop feeling uncomfortable. But you will know how to manage it better.
The higher brain, or prefrontal cortex, is what helps us plan for the future, set and achieve goals, and enables us to focus. It also helps with impulse control by predicting possible consequences of our actions.
Our impulses will tell us that something has gone terribly wrong and that we should freak out and feel very terrible.
But our higher brain can remind us to take a deep breath. Nothing has gone wrong, it is normal to feel scared when we face the unknown. It would be strange if we didn’t feel sad in the above examples. Our minds and bodies are working exactly as they were made to.
We cannot make a decision without our prefrontal cortex. But sometimes we decide on what the lower brain tells us before we engage our higher brain. Doing that consistently would look like flying into a panic and consoling ourselves by sitting on the couch all day watching Netflix and eating ice cream. Not exactly going to achieve much that way, are we?
But you could plan ahead for a couch-surfing-Netflix-watching-Ice Cream-binging evening. And if you’d like a recommendation, Here’s the link to the Christmas with The Chosen special – https://youtu.be/T5ftnTK9-3w. You can also choose to forgo the panic and decide on an emotion that would make it easier to function. I can help in that area, see my P.S.
P.S. We usually live from our lower brain without even realizing it. It’s like getting a new phone and sticking with the default settings because we don’t know what’s available instead. We can adjust those settings to what works better for us individually. This is my work as your Life Coach. And I offer a FREE Discovery Call to help you decide if coaching would be helpful to your situation. Schedule your session here today https://meredithgcoaching.as.me/