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Turning Those We Love Into Our Enemies

Caucasian couple arguing on sofa

As you are coming to understand our amygdala is the root of our over reactions toward setbacks, comments, and even a weird look from a stranger. Even having a simple disagreement with someone can switch the amygdala to the fight-or-flight position. You enter into a discussion in which you expect the person to agree with you. Then when the person doesn’t, cortisol releases, causing an immediate shutting down of reasonable thinking and processing. Cortisol interrupts the prefrontal cortex as it tells your brain, “Your life is in danger; this is no time to be thinking!” So you raise your voice, yell, and take on aggressive body posture. Your whole body is reacting as if the other person is a threat to your life. This is why arguments rarely prove fruitful and is why discussing topics such as religion and politics is so dangerous. Never forget that no one wants to hear what you think unless you agree with them. So save your breath and your energy.

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Why We Seek Out The Negative

Just as we are all different from one other, so are our cravings. The same situation can make two people react very differently. For example, playing the slots at a casino will give some people a hit of dopamine in anticipation of a win. For others it triggers cortisol/anxiety because they anticipate a loss.

Two siblings are dreading a big report soon due at school. At the mere thought of starting it, both feel anxious. But one will avoid it and procrastinate, putting off the anxiety. The other child, although anxious, knows that completing the project will alleviate her anxiety, and the thought of that triggers dopamine, so that child starts the project right away. If you are a parent it can help seeing much of your children’s behavior from this standpoint as it will aid you greatly in understanding them not to mention helping them to understand themselves.

For the past ten thousand years, the threat of danger had more impact on our survival than good experiences; therefore, our amygdala was primed to label most experiences as dangerous and has continued to do so right up until present day. We were built to last, not for lasting happiness, which is why we learn faster from pain than from pleasure. Each time something happens that we don’t like, cortisol magnifies the feeling, embedding it into our memory as a threat of some kind.

For example, your boss gives you a stellar review, but at the very end, he says, “The only thing I would like to see improved is_______.” Yet after your meeting, all your brain focuses on is the one thing he wants you to improve.

We all tend to do this, regardless of the feedback or the source of it. The brain digs out the negative comment; sometimes it may even dig through a positive one and think, “Hmm, but what was he really trying to say?” We tell ourselves that we do this because we just want to improve but that is contrived crap! The real reason we do it is that the brain interprets any slightly negative feedback from another person as us being at risk for being “kicked out of the tribe.”

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As Your Brain Changes So Does Your Perspective

Dieting is another example of how beliefs/perception can alter people’s experience and outcome. In the first few months, many individuals become frustrated that they can’t eat the way others do. They may believe they are being deprived or even punished, causing a lowering of the feel-good chemicals, dopamine, and serotonin. However, if they stick with it, and begin to lose the weight, they feel better about themselves. Then their brains release hits of dopamine and serotonin whenever they just think about their new eating habits. (Why people go off their diet is a subject for an entire book). The job of these neurochemicals is to make us feel good when we do things that benefit us. The issue is that sometimes we have to teach our brains WHAT IS GOOD for us!

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Nothing Stays The Same— Especially Your Brain!

We were taught in high school that if we drank alcohol, we would destroy brain cells that would never grow back. (Thank God that was wrong because it failed as a deterrent to our partying.) Now neuroscientists understand that every time we learn something new or even practice a skill repeatedly, the brain changes accordingly. Someone who has played piano or a stringed instrument will have a larger volume of area in brain dedicated to finger movement than the average person will have. This is neuroplasticity. On a grander scale, this process occurs in the brain of a blind person whose hearing develops way beyond what the normal range would be. The part of the brain that used to receive input from the eyes (called the occipital lobe)looks for another way to receive information, so it joins forces with the part of the brain used for hearing, increasing the amount of brainpower dedicated for hearing. Stroke victims can sometimes recover speech or movement because the undamaged portion of their brain begins learning the required action. However, the most magnificent illustration is that neurosurgeons have performed hundreds of hemispherectomies (removing half of a person’s brain) because of disorders that are uncontrollable in any other way. Unbelievably, the surgery has no apparent effect on personality or memory. Some of the patients are now in college doing very nicely; one such person became a champion bowler, and one is a chess champion of his state. I know what you are wondering now—and the answer is no, we can’t just have the sad part of the brain cut out. Thankfully, however, we won’t have to.

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DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU REALLY GET ANGRY?

anger-management-e1350559463885Wonder why you get angry so easy? The average person has between 32 and 48 thoughts per minute, according to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California and the National Science Foundation. That can add up to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day! However, what is scary is that several studies have also shown that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative, and 90 percent of those are similar to the ones you had the day before! 90%!  Now we all have genuine situations to deal with but at those times when your brain pushes the panic button and has you yelling over something small, I can assure you there is something else going on in your mind creating the firestorm, and probably something unrelated. At the early stage of getting upset, you generally have an inaccurate perception of what is angering you. Underlying thoughts and memories from the past often attach themselves to the things happening in the present, causing you to overreact. You may be ruminating on something upsetting that took place yesterday when you suddenly spill something and let out a stream of expletives. All the while, you are completely unaware of what really triggered your outburst.

In my new book I teach you how to separate an upsetting event from your ongoing undercurrent of worrisome thoughts. Only then will you be able to figure out what you are really feeling, and therefore how to feel better. Because that’s your brain, a never-ending stream of what ifs and worry about how life did or will go wrong. Welcome to the Worry-Go-RoundThe average person has between 32 and 48 thoughts per minute, according to the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California and the National Science Foundation. That can add up to a total of 70,000 thoughts per day! Several studies have also shown that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative, and 90 percent of which are similar to the ones you had the day before!

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#beliefs #stopstressing #behappy #happiness #happiness #anger #moodiness #amygdala #dopamine #serotonin #oxytocin #feelbetter #stopworrying #eckhartTolle #present #opinions #amygdala #emotions #perspectives # temper #rage, #outburst #fury #rage

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