The immature, undeveloped mind of a child is designed by nature to perceive the world as snapshots, as independent, easily understood opposing action choices: “yes or no,” “good or bad,” “right or wrong,” “O.K. or not O.K.” Two-category thinking was adaptive when survival required strict obedience to unequivocal directions. The instincts that were necessary for our ancestors to survive in a savage environment, and the control we require from our nurturers during our helpless stage of development, have become hard-wired for obedience. After untold repetitions, such dichotomous thinking becomes habit. The persistence of “either/or” thinking as we mature into adulthood distorts our perception of reality by focusing on differences and overlooking similarities. This two-category thinking that we all passively acquire promotes win or lose confrontation to establish dominance. In civilized society, the primitive, physical fight or flight instinct is mentally expressed as blaming and avoidance. These action paths too commonly cause us to become our own worst enemy. We make an important step to a newer way of personal responsibility thinking (ANWOT) as we expand our way of thinking from “either/or” to “both ... and” – by turning our “snapshots” into a “motion picture.”
The 26 letters of our alphabet and the eight notes of our musical scale become meaningful when joined into a continuous pattern. Likewise, the eight word-switches that turn on a specific action pathway take on greater meaning when orchestrated into a sequence. Your freed will power may compose the melody of your life experience if and as you assume personal responsibility to actively select and combine your mental action pathways. With eight MAPs, whose intensity may vary along a 0% to 100% spectrum, the combinations available are infinite.
Certain sequences are commonly repeated, as shown in the above examples. Once you can identify the outcomes of specific combinations, you empower yourself to repeat those patterns that lead to preferred outcomes. This enlightenment to the ongoing drama and action in your mental “movie” will really pay off. First, teach yourself to distinguish the positive from the negative mental action combinations. Then, consistently substitute the positive for the negative combinations. These simple steps will make you the wise master of your thinking, feelings, and actions.
Here is a very important related insight: the longer a MAP exists and the greater its frequency of use, the more that action becomes habitual and resistive to change. The six action patterns we all passively acquire from instinct and our nurturers have deep roots, established long before you can equip yourself with the two MAPs you must actively self-initiate to wisely manage today’s challenges,common sense problem-solving and self-endorsement. Your self-mastery organ, the cerebral cortex, is not fully physically mature until your late teens, and studies of adult development conclude most individuals remain mentally and emotionally dependent on their early influencers until their late twenties or early thirties. Many individuals never attain significant independence from the way of thinking initially programmed by fate and circumstance.