Get ready for a wee lesson in how your brain works and how to not have the mental problem solving faculties of a dog (no disrespect intended at dogs for us dog lovers ;-)).
The Brain 101
I am going to be over simplistic here. For those that want a deeper dive on how best to use their brains check out The Guidebook to Optimum Health. 😉
The three basic parts of the brain and their functions are:
- Reptilian (lower) brain. Oldest party of the brain. Controls body movement, and autonomic functions in the body – digestion, breathing, etc.
- Limbic / Mammalian (mid) brain. More evolved than reptilian. Responsible for emotions and memory. Will ‘reactively’ initiate the stress or relaxation response.
- Neocortex (upper) brain. Most evolved. Higher mental faculties. Can create an image from nothing (creative). Home of willpower and what we consider ‘thinking’.
We love the sausage dog, but…
As much as I love our sausage dog (aka: Apple), I am not leaving the sausage dog in charge of planning my next vacation, or how to take my business to the next level, or how to deal with challenging people or situations.
I am building a case here. So would you agree that as lovable as most animals are on the planet, they are not best placed to handle the complicated stuff?
I am tipping you said, ‘yes’. 😉
Here is the thing. When we flick the switch and go totally emotional and stay in that reactive state, we are showing up with the mental powers of the sausage dog. We can only REACT. We can’t problem solve, see different perspectives, get in the shoes of the other person, create a new way of dealing with a unique situation, or logically step your way through a complex challenge.
Note: The emotions I am talking about for this article are the ‘negative’ ones. The ones that fire the stress response. The ‘positive’ emotions on the other hand, fully support our creativity and greatness and awesomeness and powerfulness.
Caveat: In life threatening situations we want the immediate reactive response of millions of years of evolution stored in the lower and mid brain to take charge. For most of us, life threatening situations happen only a handful of times in our lives. 99% of the time, our life is not threatened. The threat is usually to our psyche or ego.
So point two – the emotional brain (in a negative state) is not the best solution creator.
Flicking the switch
I think you have figured it out by now that the way to creative and empowered solutions and results and success and all the good stuff in life is by using our higher mental faculties.
Good in theory. But there is a little issue with the switch. It cannot turn to the higher brain when we are in a reactive and emotional state (which has activated the stress response). So in order to take the safety cover off the switch, we first need to dial down our emotions.
Step 1: You get fired up, go reactive, and revert to a smart dog
Step 2: Wind down your emotions (and stress response)
Step 3: Flick the switch to your higher mind
Step 4: Become your awesome, smart, creative, powerful and genius self
This is why it is SO important to learn strategies for winding down the stress response. That is why last week I listed a number of ways to Process Emotions. To see them again, click here.
The most effective strategy I have found for the majority of cases is to take 2-3 deep long breathes before you RESPOND wisely to a given situation. This calms the mind and cools the nervous system.
A final word
You are incredibly capable…when you tap into the full power of your brain (and mind).
To become less reactive: SLOW DOWN. Breathe deeply. Stay in the present moment to truly assess the situation. Then from a higher perspective (the observing mind) see the situation for what it is. Continue to breathe. Then decide what to do, drawing on the infinitely capable mind of yours.
Amazing solutions and results will unfold.(Well much better ones than the ones the sausage dog would have offered ;-))
As always please pass on this newsletter to others. If you find it useful for you, there are bound to be others that feel the same. And it makes my writing and sharing all the more enjoyable. 😉
And please ask any questions you have. Plus I love hearing feedback from you on what resonated for you. Also do me and others a huge favour and pass them on. Knowledge used in the right way is definitely a way to access our incredible power. All the very best and take care.