You know those emotional reactions that seem to spiral out of control – those stuck patterns you’d love to get over but just don’t seem to be able to – whether it be anxious spinning, second guessing, anger, etc.
Those automatic, reactive patterns are happening from the old, primitive brain – the subcortical areas. They’re out of reach of our rational, conscious mind, the prefrontal cortex, where we can make reasoned choices.
But there is hope. It is possible to change this reactivity. Our brain can be ‘rewired’. (I’ll tell you how in a bit).
Here is some interesting information – You’re probably aware that when we sense a physical threat from our environment, we react by going into fight, flight or freeze, just like animals do. What you may not know, is that when we humans are feeling emotionally threatened or disturbed, (for example, if we’re upset with ourselves or someone else), we go into an internal fight, flight or freeze. Here’s what it looks like:
Fight – self-criticism, self-blame, shame
All this happens through no fault of our own. It’s largely programmed by what is called our “conditioning” – things we had no choice over, like: our genetics, our upbringing, the out of our control events in our life, even what’s happening in our environment in the present moment.
So, what can we do about it?
1. First, step back and name what’s going on – even say to yourself that you are in a struggle and that many things are out of your control.
Reading this, I imagine you might be thinking, “Well that sounds good but it’s easier said than done!”
So how can make this easier on ourselves? How can we rewire our brain and change this reactivity?