Association Series Part 1: Association by God’s Design
- An important aspect of the TPM process is accomplished through a God-created mental process called association. Association is the mental process of connecting and relating one thing with another.
- For the most part, association is a smooth running operation that was designed by God to make it possible for us to navigate through life. It functions as designed whether we are accessing and associating truth or lies. It is the same exact process.
An important aspect of the TPM process is accomplished through a God-created mental process called association. Association is the mental process of connecting one thing with another. We use this mental process everyday and all day long to formulate our conclusions and interpretations about our current situations. We interpret the new experience by remembering that which we already know (memory) and then applying this prior knowledge to that which is currently happening. In a sense we understand what is going on in the present, because of what we have experienced before. The obvious flaw in the process is the fact that not all that we “learned” in past experience is necessarily the truth. If we are interpreting the present situation from lie-based belief, then we will have lie-based outcomes.
For the most part, association is a smooth running operation that was designed by God to make it possible for us to navigate through life. However, it was intended and designed to operate on the truth so that we might interpret life rightly. Nevertheless, it functions as designed whether we are accessing and associating truth or lies. It is the same exact process.
When we ‘associate’, our minds receive raw data (what is occurring in the present situation) through one of our five senses and then proceeds to search through all of the halls of past experience looking for something that is similar. This all takes place in a millisecond. When a match is made, our minds surmise that because what is remembered is what it was, then this new something —because it is similar— is the same as the former something. So then, association is connecting two or more things together —that may or not may not actually be related— as though they were the same or that one somehow explains or brings meaning to the other.
For example, if I see a dog running up toward me I might feel afraid and run away. Or I may feel joyful and kneel down and call for it to come to me. If my mind associates the dog running toward me with the bulldog that attacked me when I was a child, then I will assume that something bad is about to happen. However, if my mind associates me to the fond memories of my loving dog I enjoyed as a child, I may feel happy. My response is all dependent upon how what is happening is being interpreted as an out come of my association.
Association is how we mentally do much of all we do.
Simple things such as having a casual conversation over coffee with a friend requires we associate. One friend may tell the second friend about some particular life experience and immediately the second friend remembers something similar or associated.
One friend says, “I’m thinking of taking a trip up north to the lake house this summer.” Second friend respond with, “I love that place. I especially like the dock that is in the cove. Great fishing spot.” First friend responds with, “I hope they got the back road to the lake repaired, so I can get down to the dock. They are horrendous and filled with potholes.” Second friend says, “Remember last year when we went there and the road was so bumpy that it bounced us around in the car and threw your wife’s back out?” First friend answers with, “Yes, but don’t you remember how she got all upset and blamed you, when I was the one who took us there?” Second friend asks, “I heard that your wife is starting a new job.” First friend, “Yes, the boy starts college and we need the extra income.” Hey did you hear that they are thinking about raising the minimum wage to $15.00?”
How in the world did we get from fishing off the dock to the minimum wage law? Association. Without association we could not even carry on a simple conversation.
Association and The Second Question in the Emotion Box
- The second question in the EMOTION boxis based upon association.
“What comes to mind as you focus on what you are feeling?”
- This question is crafted to encourage the person to focus on what he is feeling so that association will naturally take place. It is not intended to send the person looking for a memory, since association does not require looking for anything.
- Association is automatic and natural unless intentionally hindered.
- If a memory does not readily surface all on its own as a person is focusing on what they are feeling, it is possible that he is using a SOLUTIONto stop the association from occurring.
The second question in the EMOTION Box is based upon association.
“What comes to mind as you focus on what you are feeling?” or alternatively, “As you focus upon what you are feeling, does anything come to your mind?”
This question is crafted to encourage the person to focus on what he is feeling so that association will naturally take place. This question is not intended to send the person looking for a memory, since association does not require looking for anything. Association is automatic and natural unless intentionally hindered. During a ministry session, the association connection is between what the person feels and where (memory) he may have felt this same way before. The common element in all of it is the core belief that is producing the related emotion.
If a memory does not readily surface all on its own as a person is focusing on what they are feeling, it is possible that he is using a SOLUTION to stop the association from occurring. Again, the purpose of the question IS NOT to have the person try to find a memory, but only to determine if association is operating or if it is being hindered.
Our minds are continually associating what is happening in the moment with what we hold in our memories. Association is how we understand every part of what is going on in our present situation. Millions of associations are being made each and everyday. Association is not something we have to think about. It functions like breathing, occurring continually whether we are conscious of it or not. Likewise, just as our breathing can be focused upon, and in some measure controlled or even stopped, this is also true with the process of association. We can choose not to remember if our motivation for doing so is strong enough. So when a person chooses to focus on what he is feeling during a ministry session, association will occur, unless the person chooses for it not to.
Think About Christmas
- In TPM when we focus on what we are presently feeling, our minds should associate this feeling with a life experience (now memory) in which we remember having felt the same emotion before.
- The common thread between the past and the present is not the emotion we feel but the belief we embraced as a result of that life experience, which we still currently believe.
- This core belief is not contained in memory, but we can use the memory to help us to understand how we came to believe what we currently believe and why we feel what we feel.
- Core belief is what I came to believe (and still believe) as an outcome of what happened (memory) and how I interpreted what happened.
- We may remember believing the lie at the time of the life experience, but our current belief (not past belief) is the source of our painful emotion.
- After we know the truth, we will still remember what we believed at the time of the event, but the lie will no longer feel true and our emotion will change to match the truth.
- The emotional pain we feel is not coming from the memory. The pain always comes from our current belief that we are using to interpret the memory
To demonstrate how association works, read the word “CHRISTMAS,” and see how quickly a “Christmas” memory comes to your mind. This association process could be compared to using a search word to locate something on the internet. If you type in the word “DOG,” the search engine will provide page after page of website information that relates to “DOG.” Mental association is similar to this.
The Common Thread
In TPM when we focus on what we are presently feeling, our minds should associate this feeling with a life experience (now memory) in which we remember having felt the same emotion before. One might assume that the common thread between the current situation and the earlier memory would be the emotion: Not so. The common thread between the past and the present is not the emotion we feel, but rather, the belief we embraced as a result of that life experience, which we have continued to believe to the present.
Core Belief is not contained in the memory.
This current belief is referred to as our core belief. Core belief is not contained in memory, but can be understood when we examine what we remember having happened. We can use the memory to help us to understand how we came to believe what we currently believe and why we feel what we feel. Memory is a record of what happened, but it is not a source of emotion nor does it hold the core belief. Core belief is what we came to believe as an outcome of what happened (memory) and how we interpreted what happened. Core belief is what we believe currently and is not in the memory.
We may remember our having believed the lie at the time of the life experience, but our current belief (not past belief) is the source of our painful emotion. What we remember believing in the memory is a memory of the belief. We remember believing a particular lie, but it is not the memory of the belief that causes us trouble. The emotional pain we feel is caused by what we currently believe to be true, not because of what we remember believing when we think about a particular memory.
For example: I might remember when I was a child my uncle holding me under water in the farm pond where we swam in the summer. I may have believed that I was going to die. If I thought about that memory I might feel a sense of panic. This panic is not coming from the memory of the belief that I was going to die while under the water. The emotion I may feel in the present is coming from what I believe now. What I believed at the time of the experience became a memory the instant that I believed it. However, this same belief came forward with me in time and is continually what I currently believe. Anytime that I am in what I perceive as a “threatening” situation I may feel panic because I believe I am about to die.
This lie-based belief might translate out in my life as a fear of water, being confined, or being out of control. My fear of water is not because I believed I was going to die when my uncle held me under water, but rather because I still believe I will die when ever I am in a similar circumstance. This is why neither the original memory nor the memory of the lies we initially believed is the problem.
The Memory Serves an Important Purpose
The memory helps us to identify how we came to believe what we still believe – our current core belief – and initial formation of it. After we know the truth, we will still remember what we believed at the time of the event, but the lie will no longer feel true and our emotion will change to match the truth. This is because the emotional pain was caused by the lie we still believed as opposed to the memory of believing it. This is why the belief causing us trouble is not contained in the memory.
Because I now know the truth when I think about my uncle holding me under water, I no longer feel any panic. I still remember believing that I was going to die and I remember that I felt terrified. Memory of the event and how I felt will always remain because it was and still is, just a memory. The panic I felt throughout my life in different situations was never coming from what I remembered believing, but what I continued to believe. This is the core-belief that was resolved with the truth.
The emotional pain we feel is not coming from the memory or even the event itself. The pain always comes from our current belief, established during the event we are remembering. The negative emotion we currently feel is flowing from the belief that we still believe. Focusing on the feeling that flows from our current belief connects us with the memory where we established it. The belief we are seeking to identify is not synonymous with the memory, but rather the memory helps us to understand what we presently believe, how we came to believe it and why we feel what we currently feel.