Have you ever felt like there is an internal battle going on inside? It might just be confusion. Neuroscience is discovering that our brain has some default mode settings.
You may choose to agree or disagree with this statement, but scientific research is showing that despite the activation of the chemical mix in our brains that light up when we are engaged with an experience or thought or both.
What is interesting to note is that despite the differences, shame, guilt, ego, all activate the same neural network including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdale, Insula, and the nucleus accumbens.
While this may be above what you wanted to know, it is important to understand that powerful emotions trigger in these regions. The only exception is within the region of nucleus accumbens.
This area is particularly involved with guilt and shame. So, this is all interesting because what it tells us is that some emotions we actually “like” as they trigger the same areas of maladaptive thoughts. No wonder they are difficult to be rid of.
Here’s the interesting thought about all this is we have a tendency to worry. Worry in some strange way actually makes the brain feel a little better; at least you are choosing to create a more positive brain because you are reading about how to get yourself into a more positive state.
Although this information might appear counter intuitive, it’s just creating an understanding that will help you to make a choice the next time you feel emotional overwhelm.
You see, it is a choice because you can choose to activate the same regions by simply choosing the correct path. Here’s how neuroscientists suggest you begin.
Yes, I hear you, another boring topic about gratitude. Nothing is further as I back this idea up with neuroscience. It’s really awesome! I have written countless articles about the brain and the biological systems.
I constantly search through research because I am a Master Neuro Linguistic Practitioner that believes we have intense power to manage most things in life without the use of drugs.
Unless of course you are under the care of traditional medicine and the drug is truly needed to optimize your health both physically and mentally. For this purpose, I will make my point by directing attention towards a drug that is well known.
Wellbutrin. What does it do? It is an antidepressant that is used to boost* the neurotransmitter dopamine. Here is the kicker…So does gratitude.
Prozac. Boosts* serotonin…Gratitude, yes it does the same thing! Now you might be thinking that I am picking on medications that people feel they need to get through the day.
I believe that is best left to your physician, psychiatrist, or others that feel this is truly what you need. I am simply making a strong point to address just how powerful our brain really is by using what is natural and contained within the brain itself.
We all have these parts of the brain, and the chemical mix that excites within the brain. I know, life gives us some really mean trips sometimes and it’s hard to find gratitude when everything looks so bleak at the moment.
It’s ok. You are here, and the option is to try. Being grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that remembering to apply gratitude to your thoughts actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral cortex.
This suggests that as emotional intelligence increases*, the neurons become more efficient, so practicing it may start to bring back the happiness factor to your brain.
Now you’re interested, right? So, what happens when bad feelings take over and you really feel low and don’t know where to go to deal with it and climb out the other side of it? Well, suppressing those thoughts can backfire or even make negative emotions worse. Don’t bail on me. There is hope here.
You are feeling low. Ok, identify it and give it a name! Sad, Anxious, Angry, Mean etc. That was too simple? Your brain disagrees.
Putting your feelings into words an MRI study had participants view pictures of people with emotional facial expressions.
Each participant’s amygdale lit up to the emotions from the pictures. When they were asked to label the emotion the prefrontal cortex (logic) reduced* the amygdale activity. What does this mean? It defused the emotional impact they were feeling.
In my office at Phenix NLP, I often use a meditation that sorts out feelings as if you were sitting on a bank near a stream of water.
Peaceful, but when a negative thought was visualized as floating down the stream, I asked the client to fish it out, label it and place it on the bank they were sitting on.
The same procedure for grateful, peaceful and positive thoughts. By choosing later to allow the negative fish to swim away, great things happened to them both in the brain and body.
A sense of restorative peace arrives. The ability to manage both becomes easier with practice.
While suppressing negative emotions seldom works, finding a different way to think about them is giving the neuro network something else to arrive at when the feelings of defeat, anxiety, and general lowness arrives.
Labeling makes a big difference. To reduce* negative arousal, it would be safe to say is powerful if we name it and then make the decision for it to not to have the ability to hold us hostage any longer.
Knowing we have the ability to throw it away and not wallow in it is powerful and creates a shorter time for negativities to manifest.
Understanding that there is scientific research that helps us to understand we do indeed have the power to create new “go to” neurological destination in our brain by choosing to create a new place of arrival within the neural network.
When we begin to will tell our brain that it is ok to think differently about how we use and handle the situation more mindfully instead.
Deciding can be hard, this I know. Your brain has a tendency to protect and serve, so it may fight you when you try to change what has worked for you until now.
Just decide that today, “I will make a better decision.” Don’t sweat it if it isn’t perfect. It will take some practice, but then practice will assist in overcoming overwhelm.
You are in control of your success and achievements. There is no have to or should here. Learning to decide to choose instead creative, adaptable, more manageable choices.
Better choices that will reduce* the pain from negativities, and replace it with a happier outcome.
Give someone a hug today, smile, and accept the challenges by considering to allow them to simply move through you, creating in it’s path a more positive choice by choosing not to wallow, for it does not serve you, instead turn to practicing gratefulness. Feel better, naturally.
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In-Post Image: shutterstock.com & shamashalidina.com