SNAP It! A Quick Spiritual Reorientation

by | May 23, 2024 | Christine Hall's Blog, Front Page Featured, Seeds eNewsletter

ILAUGHED THE FIRST TIME SOMEONE CLAIMED, “I SNAPPED IT!”  It’s fun to imagine a quick flick of the fingers as a spiritual practice. Actually, the letters in SNAP stand for Stop, Notice, Ask, and Pivot*. When we’re stirred up, overwhelmed, freaked out, or acting compulsively, it’s a handy spiritual tool to grab from your inner toolbox.

The letters refer to steps we can take to interrupt unhelpful mental-emotional patterns:

SNAP Info Graphic

All this can happen inside you in a moment or two. No actual finger-snapping required. No one needs to know but you and the Spirit.

One of the best things about this little practice is that it has us questioning our own habits of doing, thinking and feeling. How is that a spiritual thing, you ask? To put it bluntly, what we think, feel and do are sometimes not aligned with the Holy.

My friend who “SNAPped it” was first thrilled to recognize he was not responding well to a situation. He paused, noticed an unhealthy inner message, and decided not to believe it. He turned aside and chose another response more aligned with his core values and sense of the Spirit’s leading. He was intentional, courageous, and faithful!


Power in the Pause

The world around us—our jobs, family dynamics, and our hectic lives—all press for quick, confident action. The trouble is, when we’re stressed, we’re more likely to react rather than respond. Compassion for others and ourselves tends to decline or disappear. We think, feel, and act compulsively, unconsciously, to try to regain some sense of control. It doesn’t really work.

Give yourself some credit if you know you have personality patterns you’d rather not repeat, but can’t seem to help yourself. There’s power in pausing with a practice like SNAP. If you can get yourself to wait a beat in the midst of a fraught moment, it can make a difference. The old wisdom says, “Count to ten.” SNAP doesn’t even have to take that long.


Messages You Live By

When we’re unaware of our thinking, feeling, or activity, we’re much more likely to act out of unrecognized needs and fears. That’s how our personality or ego works. To hear and respond better to Divine guidance means shifting some of our inner patterns.

If you’re willing, you can begin by noticing the messages you live by. Some people hear them as voices in their heads. Others sense urges or inner pressure to do or not do something. The messages narrate your personal shoulds and shouldn’ts. They may be critical, but they can also sound like a pep talk to get you to avoid something or a hypnotist to encourage numbing out. These messages often generate shame, frustration, or anxiety, rather than compassion or a healthy sense of direction.

The truth is probably more like you in your best moments—more free, less defensive, more curious. You’ll know you’re acting from that centered, wiser You, when you don’t require so much security, outer approval, or control of what’s going on. If you’re still not clear, turn to the Spirit in humility: “Please show me the truth you want me to see.”


Pivot to What?

Our personality patterns are deeply ingrained. We can be nearly blind to another way. So, it helps to have some options in mind to “Pivot” with SNAP. Consider these possibilities:

  • If your emotions are hyper-charged, wonder what you could do differently instead. Take a breather to calm down, process with someone outside the situation.
  • If what you’re doing is excessive, tend underlying emotions of fear, vulnerability, or loss.
  • If your thinking is spinning in circles, take time out to journal for 20 minutes without stopping. Literally “see” what you’re thinking.
  • If people are backing off from you, you can back up. Don’t push your perspective. Listen instead.
  • If you notice yourself withdrawing or going silent, recognize what you want or need and say it out loud.


A Story—Mother’s Day SNAP

Mother’s Day is generally a mixed bag for me. My emotions churn for many reasons, and I’m usually not at my best. This year, my adult daughter had moved to a nearby city and I missed her. In the week before the holiday, my husband and I planned a brunch at home with my own mother. Not hearing from our daughter by Thursday evening, I sent a note inviting her to join us: “…it would mean a lot to me.…”

Here’s where SNAP comes in: Looking at my text 10 minutes later, I could tell that my daughter had received and read it. But she had not responded. My stomach went molten. Ouch! The stories in my head began to spiral: She doesn’t care about me. I’m not important to her. I felt hurt, hopeless, and stricken with loss. Yup, that was WAY out of proportion to the moment, and part of me knew it.

I SNAPped in a good way. I paused the inner narrative and noticed what was happening. I asked myself, “Is the story I’m telling myself true?” Part of me was believing it, viscerally. But was it true, really? I actually had no way to know at that point. I was building a wild conjecture based on little input from her end. So I acknowledged to myself that it might NOT be true and I might need to wait a bit to find out. I told myself I didn’t need to think or feel more about it until I knew more.

My PIVOT included getting up off the couch to go to bed. On the way, I told my husband what I was thinking. I said out loud that it was painful but probably false, so I was not giving it additional inner airtime until I’d rested. He agreed. Nice affirmation! I turned to the Spirit in trust and much more peace.

The real story has a great ending. Just so you know, my daughter is much more wonderful than the picture I’ve painted. That evening, I was brushing my teeth when the phone rang. She called to cheerfully talk through her weekend visit. Her voice was warm and lively. She was entirely willing to join us in celebration that day. My wild inner fears and scenarios evaporated like a puff of steam in the breeze.

It was a dramatic turn around. That doesn’t happen every time I pivot with SNAP, but this experience is a great reminder: Don’t believe everything you think! I’m learning the limits of my own inner life and sensibilities. I’m discerning what is of the Holy One and what …isn’t. I’m reassured that resources are available to help shift the crazy-making patterns: people, spiritual tools, and a companioning God. Alleluia!


* My exploration of SNAP is based on Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile’s book, The Road Back to You Study Guide: Five Sessions for Individuals or Groups. IVP Books, an Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2016.