“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”~ Lao Tzu
I remember a time when I did not know the role the brain played in how I perceived the world and myself in it.
As far as I was concerned the problems and challenges were from the outside world and my responsibility was to ‘tough-my-way-through’ whatever I had to face and deal with in life and business. I found myself in a vicious cycle doing the same thing over and over again. I would fight and if that did not work, I slid into fainting, freezing.
The challenge I faced was that while I was busy doing all I could to survive, day in and day out, I was not able to do many other things that I really wanted.
Another unresourceful approach and a ‘modern’ way I observed in the work I have done with various clients, is to ignore and forget – this may seem painless but does not change our reactions to the issues and stress we perceive we have, the internal and external ones.
Getting busy with all the things we occupy ourselves with and go after, forgetting there is stress, not dealing with what we somehow know is draining us and hoping it will fix itself never works long term.
All we achieve with this approach is disassociating our awareness of stress. The fact is that whatever survival reaction we adopt never makes the threat go away.
I am sure you can relate to this.
The issue at hand is if we maintain these stress habits, it gradually crosses over into other areas of our lives.
Our reactions to the way we process the internal perceptions we have are never random. It is about survival, by all means possible, with as little pain and exertion of energy as possible.
The Brain in a ‘Stress State’
The brain functions are compromised and do not work efficiently in a stressed state as the different divisions which make up the brain compete for the limited mental energy while the brain slows down, shuts down ‘unwanted’ activities and preserves energy to focus on survival.
Our ability to navigate stress and thrive all the same depends highly on our understanding of how we create and maintain our stress reactions.
Running away from a dinosaur and using survival mechanisms to overcome the threat makes complete sense. But how helpful do you think the survival code and the alerted fight-flight-free mechanism are when the danger the brain perceives is asking for a promotion or raise, starting a new business, leaving a relationship that is toxic, getting a letter from the tax office, speaking in public or making tough decisions?
What do you do when what you are fighting, running from, or ignoring is coming from within?
This is where the subconscious, and how our success and well-being depend on our active habits, understanding of the brain and how it serves us come into play.
THE SUBCONSCIOUS – and some things you need to know about it
I appreciate these points I found about the subconscious:
- It runs most of what you do and pays close attention to what the genes are telling it.
- It must survive and reproduce.
- It always does the best it can to help you be better.
- It can only use what it has not what you wish you had.
- If you don’t tell it what you want in the way, it understands it will use what it has.
- It follows orders without questioning, verification and tries to make everything simple.
- It will act before you even know there is a problem.
Much of what we believe we are doing consciously is as you see above, only a little part of how we operate. As humans, we have to deal with conscious as well as subconscious activity.
The mental resources we spend on ‘surviving’ without ever or truly addressing the survival responses and habits we have in place are simply no more available to us for other things that matter. And in extreme cases, we do not even notice this or change things in our lives till it is too late.
Each one of us has a Nervous system (a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body.)
The Brain is a mixture of the Nervous System, Mind and Genetics all in one integrated package and its main responsibility is to keep us alive.
The subconscious is all about survival and to achieve this it has formed a ‘Survival Code’ from stored information and experience of threatening events to survive threats and danger (real and perceived).
We continue to use the information from our internal library in all situations without really knowing which ones are survival facts or only memories. The point is that they can both trigger our genetic-based reaction which we know as the Fight-Flight-Faint-(Freeze) response and the need to survive is an ongoing command from the genes which we can’t escape.
It is said what you focus energy on, and practice is what becomes a habit.
The more your mental resources are activated to survive, the more you strengthen these (neural) pathways and the more this genetic-based survival response becomes a habit. An unresourceful habit that leads to you losing the game of success because you won’t be able to pay 100% attention to what you actually want to be doing.
You can start to experience life with ease by rewriting your survival code as we know the brain does what it is told. The code needs to be rewritten in a brain-friendly way – so much that subconscious believes it as the way to go.
With insights from neuroscience, practising with brain-friendly strategies and tools, you can confidently transform your neurological reactions to stress and become attentional to the survival facts by which you run your life.
Neurologically we now know that the assumption we have that any fact is true and unchangeable is untrue. With what neuroplasticity teaches us about the brain capacity.
- We can unlearn and relearn facts; create new associations with our experiences; teach the subconscious to recognise and accept new facts as valid genetic processes to approach change with and live by.
- The brain learns by association, so you can learn resourceful habits that help you to identify real from the unreal, better deal with triggers and also choose what information to use in a ‘stress’ state without losing functions of your brain and having incomplete processing of vital information.
The Solution Comes from Within
Unresourceful stress reactions mean our survival code is activated and needs to be reset. Given that our subconscious is adaptable, you can add new information which enables you to have control over how you rewrite the facts in your survival kit and to reset your code in such a way that no unnecessary stress reactions occur in your life unless you are facing a real threat.
Learn, create better thought processes, and consistently build and maintain habits that free you up to do and be more.
You can choose to go beyond surviving, set yourself free of emotional hijacks and do this with the brain in mind.
Use it or lose it
This post was first mentioned in the Authoritti5.0 Magazine