Posts

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.

Newmarket Chamber Women in Business Luncheon

It was an honour to be chosen to be a co- panelist at this year’s Newmarket Chamber Women in Business Luncheon, along with Erin Cerenzia from Magna Neighbourhood Network and Jennifer Walker from Carruthers Financial. Both women had inspirational messages about corporate social responsibility and personal financial management. I led a discussion on living with anxiety and gave some insights and learnings from my own personal life experiences.

Living with Anxiety

Some of the key points outlined in my talk were:

  • Anxiety is our natural response to a perceived direct threat to our wellbeing. Whenever we sense a threat to our wellbeing our natural flight or fight response kicks in. This triggers our sympathetic nervous system and releases a cascade of hormones into our body such as adrenaline and epinephrine. These hormones cause a change in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and eyesight.
  • Anxiety becomes a problem when our flight or fight response is triggered by cues that are not threatening at all – either physically or otherwise. This is called an imagined threat as opposed to a real threat. This is known a maladaptive anxiety.
  • Maladaptive anxiety sets off “what if”, worse-case scenario thinking.
  • Maladaptive anxiety can also trigger a core negative belief(s) that is based in our unconscious thinking about ourselves.
  • This maladaptive anxiety is causing the same body response as adaptive anxiety that is caused by a real threat.
  • One of the key differences between maladaptive and adaptive anxiety is that unlike adaptive anxiety, maladaptive is not founded in reality or truth. It is chronic and never ending.
  • The key to reducing the experience of maladaptive anxiety and experiencing relief from the feeling of it in our body is to address the core negative beliefs that are deep in our unconscious thinking.
  • Addressing these negative core beliefs can be done through a number of approaches, one of them being through the recognized somatic treatment offered by NLP.

Let’s Connect

If you are interested in knowing how my coaching can help you manage your emotional state so that you are experiencing more joy and less fear, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

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

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy