When I was growing up, I had one picture of my father. In the photo he was looking off in the distance and I couldn’t even see his face. But, it was the only one I had, so I cherished it. My brain created the “rest” of the picture for me and I was able to imagine what he looked like. It didn’t really matter if it was an accurate depiction of him or not, my brain needed to fill in the blanks for me in order to help me cope and feel connected to him.
Now, I’d like to flash forward 30+ years to another time my brain “filled in the blanks” for me without me even realizing it.
I was hiking with my daughter last summer and took a photo of her standing in the landscape looking off in the distance. I found myself drawn to her particular pose but something just didn’t seem right so I decided to play with it in photoshop.
As I edited the photo, I began adjusting the colors in the image to have that “old timey” feel.
It didn’t occur to me until later that it now resembled the one of my father!
I find it beyond interesting that my subconscious began changing the current picture, until it lined up with the old one from my memory. Which got me thinking… do I do this in life?
Dr. Karl Lehman would argue that it does- and quite often! (read more about this in his great book Outsmarting Yourself: Catching Your Past Invading the Present and What to Do About It)
Everyone has what he calls a “Verbal Logical Explainer” (VLE). “The VLE’s job is to come up with explanations that help us organize and make sense out of our experiences and the world around us.” (Lehman)
Or in my scenario, the VLE’s job is to RECOLOR the picture so that everything lines up with our existing beliefs.
If the VLE is only using current information, it will color everything based on what’s happening now. Sometimes it runs across issues that have “holes” and don’t make sense. This causes a problem because it tends to use OLD information to fill in those holes and color things based on the past.
A similar thing happens in your vision. There is a “hole” in your retina where there aren’t any receptors that respond to light. This effectively renders you blind to certain things at certain distances. You can actually see how your brain “fills in the holes” from the blank spot in your retina with this little experiment.
With your left eye, look at the numbers on the right side, starting with the number "1." You should be able to see the gap in the blue line in your peripheral vision. Keep your head still, and with your left eye, look at the other numbers. The blue line will appear complete between "4" and "7."
Your brain will take the information it has around it and “clone it in” to make a complete picture even though it is missing data.
Sometimes this happens as our VLE attempts to make sense of our relationships, circumstances, and feelings.
Sometimes when a “current event” in our life feels like the end of the world…. What we’re really upset about is unresolved pain from the past. Our VLE has grabbed ahold of that old data and attributed it to the “right here and now”. It triggers our brain to make a big deal out of it. It “recolors” the now with the past in an attempt to get it resolved once and for all. It will continue to do this until we can successfully resolve the original issue. It makes the blue line solid whether we want it to or not!
So, what can we do about this?
3 Steps to keeping your VLE in the present
1. Expose it
As you looked at that blue line above, you KNOW that it has a gap right? Instead of staying at that spot where it looks like a solid line, step back and pause long enough to let your full consciousness become aware that some of the “data” you’re using is inaccurate for today’s issue.
2. Neutralize it
Realizing that you’re actually triggered by an old unresolved issue isn’t cause for dismay. In fact, it’s cause for celebration. We get the chance now to go back and finish the processing! Our brain NEEDS to finish this. Our brain seeks closure for all things that hurt us or confuse us. Sometimes it will seek to “bring it forward” through this VLE recoloring for decades…. Now that we’ve exposed it, we can finally finish it.
The Immanuel Process gives us the opportunity to receive help from God. He can connect with us, be with us in our memories, and offer His help and comfort in that place. For those of us that already have an existing interactive and relational lifestyle with the God Who Is With Us, this can be done in the confines of your own personal quiet time. If you’re not at that place, this can also be a facilitated process through coaching! The Immanuel Process relies on the strength of positive connections with Immanuel prior to addressing negative places. If you’d like more information, check out www.immanuelapproach.com or contact me for private coaching.
3. Choosing to act based on truth
The final step is then to move forward in your CURRENT situation using only data and emotions from today! Once the old stuff is addressed and neutralized, we are free to look at the hole in that line and call it a hole in a line.