Visuals to Stay Relational

Some visuals to help you learn and apply the key concepts from Escaping Enemy Mode by Dr. Jim Wilder and Ray Woolridge.

Enemy Mode and Relational Joy - Insight Anchors

I've recently been listening to podcasts about Enemy Mode, a term coined by Dr. Jim Wilder (Christian neuropsychologist) and Ray Woolridge (retired Army general).

As promised, I've put together some visual insight anchors, as well as an example case story about "Sarah," to help you assimilate the key concepts of "relational joy" and "enemy mode."

For the notes I took on these concepts, including the brain science cited, view the content guide here.

Now for the visuals.

In our human nature, our heart integrates what is reflective (O), reactive (), and active (△) in us.

Enemy mode is rooted in our implicit emotional memory and right brain relational circuits, i.e. what is reactive () and prone to conditioning in our nature. Essentially, a stuck brain-body state (☒) set up earlier in life disrupts the coordinated action of mind (O), body (), and will (△) in response to specific triggering situations, such as having a project deadline or having a conflict with someone in your parish.

Heart shape with X in it separating left from right, top from bottom, with circle part on left, triangle on right, square on bottom

Enemy Mode is marked by a lack of integration, where our mind (O) becomes narrowly focused on achieving functional outcomes, our will (△) succumbs to fight-or-flight reactions from below (☒) or chooses some lesser good like "winning" the situation at the expense of others.

We can tell we are in enemy mode when we notice a diminishment or disruption in the four harmonies, our four essential relationships (G.O. N.Y.! God, Others, Nature, Yourself). The different parts of our heart become divided, influenced by the X-factor (the symbol of the traditional concept of the privatio Boni).

Effect of Enemy Mode on the four relationships centered in the soul

The solution is to resolve the unresolved emotional memory associations (☒) underpinning the "enemy mode" reactions, thus restoring our ability to live from the center of our hearts, the graced soul (O), which is the source of restored harmony in our relationships. The right order of these relationships is best represented by the cross, with vertical and horizontal dimensions re-connected and restored. This is made possible by grace or charity. Prayer and the sacraments are huge here.

Restored relationships - rooted in the soul/center of the heart.

We can then recondition the reactive part of our nature () to support living from a heart where our "heart parts" are united and cooperative, soul led or self led. This requires intentional practice of staying grounded, centered in ourselves while seeking to enrich our relational connections with God and others daily. In short, we need to seal, or "anchor" in the relational joy mode of living with virtue (the V principle). The result is a heart that is anchored in grace and virtue.

Relational Joy is rooted in the anchor cross or virtue principle, which organizes our parts in right order, so that we can "see" (O), sense (), and respond (△) to others in their personhood, rather than as objects or obstacles. Our right brain relational circuits are all online and working in harmony () - supported rather than bound by unresolved attachment memories.


Imagine Sarah, a dedicated member of her parish community, who is deeply involved in organizing events and charity work. Her life is a constant juggle between her job, her family responsibilities, and her commitments to her faith community. One week, as the parish prepares for a major fundraising event, Sarah finds herself overwhelmed by the pressure of deadlines and the high expectations of her fellow parishioners.

Enemy Mode Activation: As stress builds, Sarah unknowingly slips into "enemy mode." She begins to exhibit a narrow focus on the looming deadlines, becoming defensive when others offer suggestions or assistance. This is not a new reaction for her. Because of unresolved memories from failing to meet school deadlines growing up, she reacts with emotional scripts learned from her father at that time of her life. Her father would blow off family time, snap at others, and refuse any help from others, the very behaviors Sarah finds herself doing now. Her anxiety level persists, further disrupting her ability to interact harmoniously with her parish community (Others), her personal sense of self worth (Self), her bodily health (Nature), and her spiritual life (God). The usual harmony of mind (O), body (☐), and will (△) is thrown off balance, influenced by the 'X-factor' of unresolved emotions and enemy mode.

Transformation Through Counseling and Virtue: Recognizing the imbalance in her life, and the extremeness in her defensive reactions with others, Sarah seeks out her counselor to explore the unresolved memories and emotional habits driving her "enemy mode." Together, they work through the memories and "wire in" a different approach to deadliness that allows Sarah to stay relational while also getting things done. Over time, through prayer, reception of the sacraments, and intentional practice of virtue—especially patience and humility—Sarah reconditions her reactive nature.

Practically, she uses a physical anchor - a small cross pendant she always wears. She holds it, breathes deeply, and recalls

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillippians 4: 6-7

She learns to remain grounded in moments of stress, focusing on enriching her relationships rather than seeing them as sources of tension. Her heart becomes anchored, not swayed by the waves of external pressures but instead driven by a soul-led life of grace and virtue.

Through this journey, Sarah experiences a profound transformation. She becomes a beacon of relational joy in her parish, inspiring others with her calm presence and resilience. Her heart is no longer divided by the "X-factor"; instead, it is a testament to the beauty of a life rooted in restored harmony and anchored in hope.

Let me know if this is helpful!


Dr. Marcel

Image link to bio for Marcel Lanahan, LMHC

Dr. Marcel Lanahan

Founder, Lead Clinician

Marcel is a Catholic therapist, husband, and father of five. He is dedicated to supporting fellow Catholics with guidance on their healing journeys.

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