Have you ever done something stupid? Sorry for the rude tone of the question, none was intended, I assure you. Anyway, I KNOW that I have….
But, really, have you?
The point in my asking this rather pointed question is simple and it is this:
Right before the moment we do something stupid, there is another moment, the one I call The Moment BEFORE the Moment.
It’s the moment right before we do something stupid.
Before we reach for the bottle.
Before we cheat on our spouses (or on our taxes).
Before we eat the wrong food or too much food (again).
Before we abuse a controlled substance.
Before we ignore what our bodies are telling us.
Before we say something we will regret saying.
Before we react physically.
Before we spend inappropriately.
Before we skip something we know we shouldn’t skip.
Okay, you get the point.
Technology now allows us to image the parts of the brain which are in control of us in The Moment BEFORE the Moment.
Not surprisingly, these brain bits are not thought to be under our full conscious control or awareness.
And, further, my clinical experience has taught me and reinforced the fact that, for most of us, The Moment BEFORE the Moment is one in which there is not much conscious, deliberate thinking going on at all, which makes good sense, since we do so many stupid things in the very next moment.
It’s like a brain flat-wave; a brain wasteland. It’s beyond what the Zen masters call no-mind; it’s vapid-mind.
So does this mean that we’re really not responsible for our destructive, often regrettable, behaviors?
What it does mean is that we must learn to make ourselves vigilant about The Moment BEFORE the Moment. It is always there, lurking.
We each have the potential, at any hour of the day, on any day of the week, to do something stupid.
The trick is to begin to learn to recognize The Moment BEFORE the Moment it happens and to change direction quickly, unreservedly.
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand a Few Things First)