A while back I was having lunch at a neurobiology conference. The conversation went in the way of discussing car accidents (I guess we needed to dumb it down for lunch), and I mentioned that I was hit by a drunk driver more than fifteen times, also mentioning the physical impairments I was left with. It was a dramatic story of me chasing her for forty minutes until ten cop cars finally caught up and tried to stop us both.
Initially she hit me at over 55 miles per hour while I was stopped at red light. When I got my bearings back, I realized that instead of seeing if I was OK, she was trying to back up her crumpled car so she could get away. Well, thanks to some high quantities of adrenaline and dopamine, I ignored the pain shooting down my back and quickly and could tell she was drunk. I believed that if someone did not stop her, she would likely kill someone. So I decided to help out. As she hit speeds of 80 miles per hour, I pursued her as carefully as I could (no, I really did), but each time I got close enough to see her license plate and tried to call 911, all I got was “still searching” on my phone, Ugh! She repeatedly nodded off at intersections and traffic lights, at which point I would pull my car in front of her and try to block her path, but like a drunk Tasmanian Devil, she would spring to life and slam on the accelerator.
You will have to see me in person to hear the rest of the story, but the point is that at the end of my story, the woman to whom I was telling this looked at me and asked, “Are you angry for what she did to you?” I was caught off guard; no one had ever asked me that before. I said, “Not at all. I feel like that was one of the moments I will look back on as when my life really mattered.” That driver had been arrested five times for drunk driving prior to that afternoon. After the accident, she went to prison for a year, got sober, and became a drug counselor. Now she sends me a thank-you card each year on “our anniversary,” thanking me for being her guardian angel.
Others at the table commented on my positive attitude. I smiled because until that moment, I had never seen myself as a positive person, persé I always considered myself a realist. It was then that I realized I had always viewed a positive attitude as a decision to forcibly put a positive spin on things. I’d thought it was a decision that took strength and fortitude and a giant fake smile that I always believed was more about being in denial. Conversely, for me in this story, there was no other choice, no pushing away a buried resentment; this was the only way to see it.
As I have now rewired my brain with the techniques that I teach eeryday, I see that same perception pervading all the areas of my life. Now it just takes pausing for a moment for me to see the reality of all the goodness around me, and there is no other choice but to smile and feel good about life.
People are writing me from all over the world these days, saying that after practicing the techniques in my book, their brain is now naturally leaning toward a positive perception. The sane can happen to you and It won’t take putting rose-colored glasses on—just clear ones.
If you don’t understand that evolution has wired you to eat sugary carbohydrates in order to self-soothe and calm you, then you will never be able to control your appetite. Find out how to spot the triggers before you have a Snickers bar in your mouth, because — you’re not really you, when you’re that kind of hungry!
Stop hating yourself — It was only a doughnut
So you walk past the snack room at the office and see a delicious piece of chocolate cake that a deviant co-worker brought in to share. At first you walk away, proudly reminding yourself of the steady diet path you have been on. However, only 45 minutes later you’re suddenly overcome with the urge to have a piece of that delicious…whatever. Why now? Did you change your mind or your diet goal? Did you decide to self-sabotage? This is the type of psychological gymnastics one does to find an answer, assuming it will help fight the urge. But as you search for clues it feels more and more like a no-win situation, and your frustration grows.
Neuroscience tells us these urges have little to do with craving food and controlling our appetite, and more to do with another type of craving, “comfort.” A wonderful feeling, comfort is the result of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain that rewards you with security, confidence and pleasure. Serotonin is our “well-being” drug. It evolved to tell us that our needs have been met — when we eat something we love, go on a shopping spree, feel adored by others, receive a compliment, or believe we are superior than others. You could say that Hollywood is the epitome of a serotonin junkie.
If any part of your body bothers you can assume that your belief is subtly affecting your mood. Most hate to admit this because it seems a bit shallow, but that is our reality. Evolution has hardwired it into our brain that to be desired ensures our survival, and to be desired means to have the right looks, money and sex appeal. Hence, our obsession with the rich and famous. By addressing any subtle beliefs about your looks under the scrutiny of facts, you can alleviate the cringe factor.
The Power of Our Physical Insecurity
Subtle beliefs such as “my hair looks so bad today,” “I look so much older being bald,” or “I wish my teeth weren’t so crooked” can leave us with an underlying insecurity. If you are over 45 and are beginning to feel that your body is really showing it, you might be hearing more of these thoughts than ever before. It is like a problem that you can’t put your finger on. For me, I have to remind myself to adjust my perspective to the facts. Another way to remedy these relentless thoughts is to allow nice compliments about your looks or body to really soak in. Don’t play it down or dismiss it. Remind yourself that people are not saying something nice to you out of pity, even though your stupid amygdala may be telling you that.
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If you have ever been frustrated with breaking your diet protocols with something unhealthy you will finally understand why after reading this.