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What is Intelligent Enemy Mode and How Do I Know if I’m in It?

As I watched the webinar, This is Your Brain in Enemy Mode, a sentence that Jim Wilder spoke struck me- “Caution, when our mind is getting into enemy mode itself it’s very hard to determine if other person is in it.”

I felt led to ask someone who knows me from our Hesed growing group, “May I please have an example of where you have seen me get stuck in “intelligent” enemy mode, a place where you or seen others feel like you/they want to get close to me but also wanted to get away? This is humbling but important to learn.” To clarify, you know enemy mode is activated when you want to get close to someone but at the same time want to get away.

Here is the response that I received and I wanted to share with you as I know how awful it feels to be in enemy mode-

“What would you say are the moments when you have not been sure whether someone was or was going to be an enemy? This "tracking my enemies" function is where you cannot tell if it is your enemy mode, theirs or both. I suspect that there are a few of these with your husband. What makes it even harder is that enemy mode in one person is really effective at triggering enemy mode in someone else (sort of a self fulfilling prophesy.)....So, rather than me tell you about times, have Jesus show you times and you can tell me about them if you like.”

Here is my part, “What are the times I fall into enemy mode Jesus? What even is intelligent enemy mode?” Intelligent enemy mode, roughly defined, is when I am not in hot rage/anger (this is stupid enemy mode) but instead in cold anger, calculating how to get a win, how to shame you so I don’t get shamed. I am not glad to be with you, instead winning is more important than you and relationship.

“Jesus, remind me of some times when I fall into intelligent enemy mode? Remind me times when my hot anger isn’t driving me, but instead I use my intellect to get the win? I know this is something that I have done in my marriage, that is 100% true. Please help me see my blind spots here.”

And I sensed Jesus saying...“Lori all those times that you are not glad to be with your husband, when you want to be with him and you don’t; you are very clear on how he should fix himself and when necessary, you get others to back and support you in that ‘fix-it’, when you, outsmart his defense with verbal logical explanations so you overwhelm and flood him. You remember those times, yes?”

I responded, “But Lord, I felt like he was not glad to be with me too, that he did and didn’t want to be with me, that he can’t hear me or understand me and I don’t feel enjoyed. What about those times?”

“Lori, is this about you and Me and how I want to help you learn to love your enemies or is this about who wins, you or your husband?” “Okay I hear you,” I responded.

And then also, the words came to mind again, from my friend’s email, “This "tracking my enemies" function is where you cannot tell if it is your enemy mode, theirs or both.” I have spent my life tracking my enemies and all it has brought me is fear, loneliness, shame, sadness, hopeless despair, disgust, not peace, rest and joy. Yet a dear friend continues to remind me, “Lori we were created to be joy chasers not fear trackers.” Well, tracking my enemies is clearly not joy chasing.

“Lord, how do I get out of enemy mode? How do I get rid of this malfunction that happens in my brain?”

“Oh Lori, that is easy! We can share mutual mind together...this is one place that I am really committed to helping you. I want to help you notice when you are not acting like yourself and when you are in enemy mode.”

“Lord, so I don’t have to figure this out all alone? You are going to help me?”

“Always, Lori, always. Let’s keep talking, as I have promised you-

“Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before Me with overflowing gratitude. Tell Me every detail of your life, then My wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you (through relationship with me).” Philippians 4:6-7 The Passion Translation

This I can say is true, when you ask the Lord, will you help me notice and learn how to come out of enemy mode, He is faithful. Want to join me? It is much better noticing and coming out of enemy mode than tracking my enemies.

It is important to note that it is sometimes easier to see intelligent enemy mode from the outside. When people come into my office I often notice:

You want to “fix” or make your partner change some behavior using “logic” or overwhelming emotion to convince partner and/or me.

Partners needs/wants are dismissed using a logical case that is non relational.

Our time together is not about getting closer or being relational, it is to get smarter so you can win more arguments at home or have someone on your side.

Information received in counseling is taken and used as a weapon against partner.

Use of religious language to support your point of view, God told you or this is what the Bible says.

If emotions or pain are not handled the way you think they should be or if real change is happening for a partner, you might go straight to enemy mode. All you’ve said you have wanted, is to see your partner change and then she/he does. You cancel the next counseling appointment, without 24 hour notice, become upset with a 24 hour cancellation policy and use it as an excuse to terminate counseling.

Intelligent enemy mode is tricky and we need help to come out of intelligent enemy mode together. We, as a community, need to understand it so we can help others and others can help us. Once again, we need each other as our brains are familiar with logical explanations but are not familiar with checking, is my brain even in a relational mode? Michel Hendricks and Jim Wilder’s book, The Other Half of Church defines relational mode and will give you more understanding.

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