Normalizing Adaptation Defense

Recently, Carol and I discussed “adaptation” after hearing a report on National Public Radio (NPR) concerning elderly people with dementia. I asked her, “Would I recognize that I had dementia if I had it? What if I’m living in a dementia right now? How would I know?” I certainly have plenty of delusions that might or could fit the diagnosis.

As we talked further, I asked if I might normalize my experience, regardless of its reasonableness. That is, would I use a strategy to either adjust my values or the threat level to lessen my stress? For example, I value my family and they are under threat. To mitigate the stress I feel, I will tend toward either lowering the value I assign to my family, “They don’t mean THAT much…” (so I can run away…); or, raising the level of threat necessary to invoke my action, “It’s not THAT bad…” (so I can just ignore the threat). Either way, I lower my stress level.

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Defending My Interpretations

My interpretations link with other interpretations to help me feel consistent, validated and safe.

When I experience suffering, I link to previous interpretations of suffering that have defended my story and which validate my current reality of suffering.

No matter how I struggle to change my yet unregulated responses to experience, as long as I believe my core program is consistent, that suffering is “real.” I will continue to interpret my experiences as suffering. It’s a positive feedback loop that sustains and strengthens my resolve to defend the reality of suffering over time.

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Mindful Adaptation

Mindful adaptation is a human characteristic involving application of cognitive imagination and attention to learning in order to adapt to a situation or condition.

Evolution by natural selection and adaptation dictates the results of my actions: what I do determines what I get. I have NO cognitive say in this process – it is a universal law.

I can, however, use my cognitive ability to imagine and direct my thoughts, to learn, and to adapt my thinking to a situation. This is mindful adaptation and has an effect on the relationship between cause and effect.

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