Gap Energy is a Concept in the  Multilevel Emotion Regulation Theory (MERT) developed by Simone de Hoogh.

Every time we are aware that we are our ‘current self’, whilst envisioning our personality ideal ‘ideal self’  that we are not living up to, it creates a lot of negative feelings about ourselves.

If we were not aware of this personality ideal we would have no drive whatsoever to learn and grow and we would never read this page. We would be just content with the way we are, the way we behave and interact with others.

Dabrowski believed one had to have innately what he called ‘The third factor’ to be able to use the dynamisms for personal growth. In my experience and that of many of the families and individuals I worked with, this ability is something that can be activated, nourished and grown by applying MERT (Multilevel Emotion Regulation Theory) 

The Gap-Energy

We see these feelings, those Dynamisms as our Gap-energy.  This energy is a gift to us. We can use the energy either to pull ourselves down or lift ourselves up.  When we pull down, we drain our energy further by creating an unhelpful train of thought, feelings or actions that ingrain unhelpful neurological pathways even further.  When we grow, we use the energy for a tiny, tiny step towards our personality ideal, acknowledging that when we move up towards our personality ideal, our ideal personality will move up too. We will never get there, it is all about our journey.

The following picture shows an overview of the gap dynamics and energy.

Having the Gap is what makes us special.  All the negative feelings about self are the energy that makes us want to improve ourselves, our relationships, and maybe even the world.

Our Challenge

One of the main issues with awareness is that as we become more aware of our behaviour, thoughts, feelings, often triggered with overwhelming reflections on ourselves and others that are mostly negative, e.g. guilt, shame, anger, resentment, self-doubt, self-pity, inner conflict, sometimes even self-loathing etc.

Having these unhelpful thoughts about ourselves or others is often the start of a hugely elaborate, bleak scenario, that often has been visited many many times before, as described in Sandra’s story at the start of this blog piece.

Before we know it, we back off from growing awareness, to prevent us having uncomfortable feelings, and that stops our personal growth path.


Read on: 

Overwhelmed by guilt and shame while parenting? Congrats! (including the Awareness Mantra)

How to stop hurting when our Child is in Pain

Am I a Rubbish Mum? – The Unexpected Value of Self-Criticism

Top 3 Tips to Up your Baseline (Energy and Resilience Level)

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Emotion Regulation

Multilevel Emotion Regulation Theory (MERT) is a holistic theory developed by  Simone de Hoogh.  The theory explains how neurodiverse (young) individuals and parents of neurodiverse children can develop emotional regulation skills and direct their energy towards self-chosen goals, and contribute to society.    

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