If you don’t use it, you lose it.

We have an innate ability to adapt to new conditions. This ability enables us to deal with changes and become better at dealing with those changes.

But just like anything else, if we don’t use it, we lose it. If we are too busy focusing on finding the “secret” to coping and succeeding and not allow our ability to adapt to perform to its potential, we run the risk of disabling this very powerful ability.

I am in awe of this thing which we refer to as a human being; I am in awe of us. The foundation of this being is a sensory mechanism that allows us to be aware of ourselves, our surrounding and each other. This sensory being is expressed by our creative being. We are all creative and the most creative ability of ours is adaptation. You wouldn’t be able to read this, take in the information, formulate your reactions, responses, and be physically comfortable wherever you are doing all of this if you haven’t been adapting all this time.

How does all this happen?

Our “primitive brain” is wired to interpret what we smell, hear, see, touch (and more!) in terms of safety and danger. We then asses the level of danger and choose our actions accordingly. We can stay where we are and continue to do what we were doing in a calm and relaxed way, or respond to a perceived threat by taking action; fight, flight or freeze. One key factor to any choice we make, and more importantly the outcome of that choice, is our perception of control. Whether we have a sense of control, or are “out of” control is the measuring stick of our survival.

How we adapt to different situations, environments and relationships is greatly influenced by our early life experiences. Over the years, we collect and store these experiences. We construct and form memories, we form meanings.

What do we do with all of this?

Once we are aware of how our experiences have shaped and formed our interpretations of situations and events, we can filter out what is not currently relevant and focus on what is necessary to do at this time. What are our senses communicating to us now? How can we use our past experiences to help us better cope with today without projecting us into the fear of tomorrow?

“The Gestalt point of view of how we look at how past experience impacts on the present situation, is to understand that the core of the model is the notion that the manner in which a stimulus is perceived depends not only on its own physical characteristics but also on those of surrounding stimuli and of stimuli previously experienced by the observer. In other words, the perceiver is said to be perceptually adapted to past sensory stimuli; his adaptation level forms a kind of zero point against which any new stimulus is perceived.” – Britannica (Emphasis mine.)

To use a metaphor:

Our all-terrain vehicle does not run on “automatic”; we are constantly in the process of shifting gears. We are adapting by creatively adjusting, modifying and responding to all the changes along our travels.

As the driver, be aware of the vehicle’s capacity, and enjoy the ride.