The Human Brain

Personally, I find that anything in life is easier to manage if I understand, even just a little bit, how the human brain works. My car is an example of this. I do not need to know the entire workings of its engine, the parts, and all of the mechanics, however, just knowing its high-level design empowers me to follow a proper maintenance routine so that it continues to run as smoothly as possible.

The brain

The same desire to understand pertains to the human brain for me. I found the more I know about how the brain works and why we humans are the way we are, the less anxious I feel about feeling anxious.

The desire to know more about the human brain has allowed us to realise that we are all wired perfectly, and it is like this intentionally to ensure the best chance of our survival. After years of personally dealing with anxiety, knowing that I can rely on and trust my brain and its inherent design was a breakthrough. It opened up the possibility that I could work with my brain to overcome my anxiousness. I no longer saw my brain as my enemy but as my ally.

Amygdala

The amygdala is the oldest part of our brain and consists of cells near the base of the brain. It’s designed to scan for problems, and when it finds a problem (or perceives it has found a problem) it floods our bodies with adrenaline and stress hormones sending us into the flight-or-fight mode. The amygdala is where our strong emotions like fear and pleasure get processed. One can see how our ancient ancestors relied heavily on this part of the brain to keep them safe. It signaled to tell them if something needs to be feared or if they can relax and rest.

This fight-or-flight response system continued to evolve in humans over the millennia. Those that had the most sensitive systems were the ones that lived on and reproduced. These are the ancestors from which we all come from, the highly triggered, most evolved fight or flight humans. Their automatic response system to physical danger allowed them to react quickly, increasing their success rate.

Frontal Lobes

The two large frontal brain areas are known as the frontal lobes. This is the newest part of the human brain, and they allow us to think rationally, reason, make decisions, and plan. The frontal lobes allow us to process and think about our emotions, give them meaning, and discern a logical response. Unlike the amygdala, which is automatic and reactive, the frontal lobes are controlled consciously by us.

Knowing that each of these two parts of the brain is uniquely and perfectly designed, we can begin to look at our experiences with anxiousness, fear, stress, and even panic differently. We can reflect and see that we are not harmed or broken, even if we thought so. We can now see that we are designed perfectly, and that the issue is not with our design, so much as it is with the triggering of our fight-or-flight system.

Perceived Threats

Today, unlike what it was like for early humans, there are far fewer physical threats. There are, however, more psychological threats caused by the pressures and stressors of modern life. These psychological threats can seem real to our safety and survival as the threats that man faced five million years ago with the woolly mammoth. The problem we have today is that our stressors are often a result of illogical and irrational fears. These are fed by our own deep, unhealthy way of thinking and perceptions of the world, in which we live. These perceptions are more often than not debilitating to our belief in our powerfulness. This depletes our sense of options and possibilities, and is dangerous to our health whether physical, psychological, financial, or spiritual.

For our ancestors, their fight-or-flight systems kept them safe from the woolly mammoth and let them live another day. Today, we do not have to fight for our daily food, shelter, and physical survival. Instead, we need to navigate a world of instant messaging and 24/7 exposure to terror-filled media. These conditions are triggering such deep psychological fears, that our fight-or-flight systems are lighting up like never before, and anxiousness is on the rise.

Unlike our ancestors that lived in a jungle filled with hungry predators, we can choose how to perceive our reality. Importantly,  we also have a choice as to how we react to our emotions. Discoveries in the area of neuroscience over the last two decades have proven that our beliefs and perceptions are malleable. As a result, we are in more control of our state of being than we ever realized. We can change our environment whereas our ancient ancestors could not.

Want to know more?

If you are ready to stop your fight-or-flight reaction to the world and want to realize a different way to relate to your emotions, book a complimentary consultation. I would love to talk to you about how life Can Be Different.

Having Christmas during COVID

Nothing could have been farther from our imagination back in January than the idea that all of us would all be experiencing Christmas this year under the strain of a global pandemic. COVID and its implications have come as a shock and a source of stress to everyone. I can’t think of anyone that hasn’t had their life impacted in some way. Whether it is parents who are now homeschoolers or children who have become online learners, or business owners who have reinvented themselves, or elderly citizens who have learned to manage their lives with less social contact from family and friends.

Avoid Being a Bah Humbug – Accept ‘What Is’

Here we sit only a few short weeks away from “the most wonderful time of the year” most of us are thinking about how, given the pandemic constraints, we can make the most out of this year’s celebration. Recognizing and accepting that this year will be nothing like the celebrations of the past is so vitally necessary to avoid getting stuck in emotions like sadness, frustration, and even anger.

The first step towards ending suffering for ourselves is to accept ‘what is’ fully and completely. By accepting the reality of the global pandemic impacting Christmas plans while not labeling the situation as bad or wrong is the only way through the season with minimal mental anguish. Chances are you don’t like what is happening, and you may even find it to be painful. Focusing on the situation’s drawbacks will not change anything, and it will only alter your natural good-nature, fun-loving constitution, and pull you into feeling bah humbug.

When you fight with ‘what is, the ‘what was’ and ‘what may be’, you create for yourself the atmosphere of suffering while at the same time you strip away the opportunity to enjoy the present moment. It is a double hit of negativity and loss; loss because there is struggle and loss because the chance for peace, joy, and goodwill at the moment has slipped away.

Make Alternative Christmas Plan

Accepting ‘what is’ this year at Christmas means that alternative plans may need to be made; these plans represent a new way to enjoy the season and to connect with others. Here are some tips to help you adjust to this year’s Christmas.

When Should We Celebrate Christmas

Decided when you want your Christmas to start and when you want it to finish. Your start and end to this year may not line up with the traditional 24th and 25th given the constraints of COVID. You may need to declare this year’s Christmas to fall on different days.

What Traditions Make Sense This Year

Decide what traditions and celebrations you want to preserve and which ones you want to postpone or do away with altogether. You may choose to keep baking with your family, and so you can make an effort to do it via video conferencing. You may, however, be willing to do away with decorating the tree together and can opt to do that alone.

How Do I Maintain My Wellbeing

Don’t forget about your wellbeing during this time of the year and since everything is different, look at how you supported your mental state during the year and ensure that you maintain those habits during the festive season.

Remember, you can make meaningful and purposeful adjustments so that you feel that you are in control of how your experience Christmas. Deciding to accept and work within the boundaries that must be adhered to due to the pandemic can still leave us some space upon which to play and experience the holidays.

If you are interested in discovering how you can change your inner perspective and your self-dialogue sign up for a complimentary consultation on my website. My patented coaching methodology, Rewire Your Mind® is designed to move anyone from stressing to progressing in only 12 weeks.

I would like to wish everyone and their family and friends a joyous, safe, and peaceful holiday season.

To Your Magnificence,

Karen Spencer

IT CAN BE DIFFERENT

Awareness Equals Choice

Distraction

In my last blog I talked about how distractions such as Netflix, social media, online shopping, alcohol and so forth turn us away from the brilliant array of awareness that have come forward for us during this pandemic. Awareness with regards to how we interact with ourselves, each other, other living species and our planet in general. Having awareness with regards to our civil liberties and their fragility at this time. Awareness concerning the impacts on sustainability with globalization and relentless year-over-year growth demands.

Getting caught in all of the overt media messaging that is typically highly polarized and fear-driven can cause even the strongest willed amongst us to want to tap out and focus on anything that takes them in a different direction. However, by temporarily turning away from these distractions and allowing ourselves time to imagine how we want to respond to our new reality and how we can contribute to an evolution of consciousness, we can reverse the natural instinct to hide and instead encourage and feed the feelings of expansion and optimism.

Opening Up Choice Requires Awareness

The other benefit of having these new awareness and perspectives is that it opens up choice.  When we see that there are many ways to consider and construct our reality right here and now, we also see that there is always a choice in how we both think and behave today. Ordinarily, we are so distracted from our own internal state of being that we don’t see these choices. If we don’t see them, we certainly cannot act upon them. We end up running on autopilot, doing the same things day after day, avoiding the opportunity to drive a new reality for ourselves and others.

Stepping into making conscious choices starts with being willing to take a hard look at tough societal topics and not running away from them or muting them out with distraction. The willingness to have full awareness of the issues and their impacts on others opens up an array of alternatives as to how each of us can behave, think and feel going forward. Ironically, it is the assumption that one does not have a choice that leads to feelings of anxiousness. This is also the familiar feeling of being trapped with no options. Over a long period of time, this state can result in a life of apathy, indifference and repetition.

New World Reality

Choice gives us freedom. We are where we are individually and collectively because of our past decisions and choices. Together, and as solitary beings, we have choice as to how we are going to grow from the 2020 pandemic. This growth rests firmly on the shoulders of how much we are open to new perspectives and awareness. The acceptance of the responsibility to make new choices is what will drive us towards our new enlightened society. It is a great leap forward towards the dream of a new world and it rests on making new choices.

Let’s Connect

If you are interested in how my trademarked coaching program can move from fear to courage, request a complimentary consultation today. Alternatively, tune into my bi-weekly webinars by registering on my website and learn how you can reset your emotions easily and effortlessly even during this global pandemic.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

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Balancing Life’s Priorities

Over the years, I have come to realize that multi-tasking and taking on too many duties is a direct contributor to symptoms like increased heartbeat, fatigue, headaches, difficulty with concentration, nausea and sweating.  Many times, I mistakenly attributed these physical symptoms with anxiety when in fact they were symptoms of simply not prioritizing my life. I foolishly thought that because my life was running in all directions and I was feeling frazzled that there must be something wrong with me and most likely it was anxiety.

The Busier We Get, The Quicker We Lose Sight of Our Priorities

In actuality, as I became more and more trapped in the endless cycle of work, errands and other responsibilities, I lost sight of the things that were important to me: maintaining a good emotional state and a good quality of life.  I was so consumed with meeting everyone else’s needs and wishes that I did not give myself the time to check-in to make sure I was putting my energy on what was foremost for me.  Days, weeks, months and even years would pass by. All without me ensuring that I was focused on what was genuinely important to me.  This behaviour led to sleepless nights because I could not shut off my brain. Then during the day I felt debilitated by all that was still ahead of me to do.

Today, how do I stop myself from falling into this trap of feeling those out-of-control feelings? 

I surround myself predominately with people that support me, my priorities and my values.  I make sure I have relationships that inspire me and energize me rather than only demand energy from me and hold me back.

Also, and very importantly, I frequently evaluate where I spend my time. I do this in order to discover how I can find more time for my priorities.  I track where I am spending time in the areas of work, exercise, meals, time with loved ones, time spent on hobbies, sleep, meditation – everything and anything.  Then I step back. I look at how I can change the way I am spending my time to focus on my priorities.

Take Stock of Your Relationships

In addition, I take stock of my relationships.  Who do I want to make more time for? And who do I need to let go of to be able to thrive?  I have also become okay with not everyone supporting my core values and priorities.  I have found that when I think about my relationships, some people drain my energy and harm my sense of well-being. And when I realize that my priorities have shifted, I re-evaluate who I spend most of my time with.

By holding myself accountable for my priorities and making small changes to focus on what’s really important, I feel more confident, joyful and less anxious every day.   I also remember the old adage, we are only busy with the things that we say yes to.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen