I consider today’s stren not only the most important wisdom of the seven Mind-freeing, Life-changing World-saving word-switches; it is the most important of all word-switches. Recall that word-switches selectively replace established action patterns that are no longer effective or have become dangerous. Word-switches inspire us to apply current knowledge and common sense wisdom to create more effective solutions to today’s problems. The actual task is quite easy: Simply substitute “both … and” for our “either/or” two-category prevalent way of thinking. This stren explains why the “both...and” word-switch is the mature means of processing information. “Both...and” recognizes shared interests and goals, and promotes collaboration for mutual gain. It replaces the “either/or” thinking characteristic of immaturity that limits our perception to two opposing extremes. Either/or thinking is the root cause of bigotry, prejudice, and harmful confrontation. “Both...and” works together with the “I could” and “I allow” word-switches we require to assume responsibility for our own destiny.
All individuals first learn to process data into two either/or categories we call “dichotomous thinking.” Neither we nor our nurturers have a choice because during our prolonged immaturity we lack the knowledge and common sense wisdom to survive. We require decades to attain sufficient physical and mental maturity, sophisticated use of language, self-worth, and the wisdom required to free ourselves from our first masters, instinct and tradition. Others label the creative forces that first control us nature and nurture or fate and circumstance.
Instinct includes the survival of the fittest and fight or flight trial-and-error behaviors that were adaptive to the demands of the savage environments our early ancestors faced. Instinct is hardwired into our biology at birth. Tradition also consists of the behaviors that worked for our ancestors; but unlike instinct, we are hardwired with tradition after birth. Through repetition, our nurturer’s ways become habit. Habit passed forward from generation to generation becomes tradition. Instinct and tradition hardwire our thinking pathways before we are sufficiently mature to resist, before we can assume personal direction of our life’s experience. Our freedom organ is not fully physically mature until about the age of 18. Until we become competent in common sense interpretations, the way we think remains dominated by two-category either/or thinking. Limited in common sense wisdom for most of our first decades, we are servants to instinct and tradition.
We require protection and direction to progress to the stage of maturity when we can become our own person, what we call self-mastery. Instinct and tradition consist of the rules of living that have allowed us to remain among the 2-3% of species that have not become extinct. We benefit from the trial-and-error successes and mistakes of our ancestors. Those who survive gladly pass forward for our benefit the actions that have proven successful. The action pathways hardwired by instinct and tradition provide quick, relatively effortless, automatic proven responses to danger. They are the mindless behaviors that direct us to survive established dangers. These hardwired action pathways are powerful because they are programmed with emotion.
Let’s keep in mind the fatal shortcoming of the action patterns we passively acquire from the first masters of our thinking. Instinct and tradition direct us to effectively manage yesterday’s issues using yesterday’s level of knowledge, but yesterday’s solutions may no longer work for today’s problems. Our work-in-progress is to selectively replace action patterns that no longer work or have become dangerous with common sense solutions using today’s knowledge and wisdom.
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