Understanding H.A.L.T.

With the daily struggle to be more Christlike making us feel like losers we often take a very negative view of ourselves. It is especially difficult for people who live or work together in close proximity, for example, spouses. We profess our Christianity with our mouth but live it out in an embarrassing charade with the other side of our mouths betraying us.

Years ago as I struggled with this ambiguity I asked a spiritual director how could this be? How could I at times be capable of great good and sweet words and at other times be capable of just the opposite. His laughter didn’t help my feelings at lot until he told me he experienced the same thing.

Then he shared a concept that set me free from my feelings of inadequacy. He told me of the acronym, H.A.L.T. He said it stands for Hungry, or Angry, or Lonely, or Tired. At those times we are most likely to be unable to behave in a Christlike way and instead revert to behavior learned in our formative years, when it was “all about us”.  He said that’s where the “Hardwired Feelings” lived.

Our formative years are when we grow the hardwired feelings and are often very different from those of other people. It is hard to overcome the feelings of those formative years when we are exposed to HALT conditions, and that is true even of people we consider filled with the Holy Spirit.

So, what do we do? The only option is to be aware of the HALT conditions and be on guard, making a special effort to avoid the negative feelings that can emerge during those times. Share the concept with those around whom we live closely. Agree to speak gently when things get out of control and work hard to show love for the other even at the worst of times. Jesus calls us to love one another in our sinfulness as He did when He hung on the cross for us.

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