Here is something Ancsestery.com does not tell you—
You are the descendants of the most worried, hyper alert, defensive people that ever evolved. How do I know?? Because you reading this. 10 thousand years ago if you weren’t, your chance of survival was almost zero. Back then the average life span was maybe 25 years. Our lives were in constant danger so all that mattered was making sure you lived to see another sunrise. Aside from all of the physical dangers of animal predators, you had to be very careful of other humans. If you came into contact with a stranger, back then they didn’t show up to say, “Hey what’s up homie wanna go clubbin? NO– They showed up to club you and take your food. For women if your partner was pissed at you that could mean he would leave and you and your offspring would die. So you would go into overdrive to please him.
If the tribe decided they were sick and tired of looking at your hair standing straight up every morning, you could be lunch by noon. So caring about what others thought was an imperative to our survival. To force that instinct into the background is not as healthy as to admit that the need is there and to then over ride it with daily reminders that you won’t die if other people think you dress funny.
You have to accept these instincts before you can over come them.
When beginning a mindless activity, pause and notice what your body feels like. If it is brimming with intensity, notice that just by taking a moment to focus on it, your body and mind will slow back down. If you continue to pause intermittently to take note of your body’s energies, you might be amazed at how fast the energy returns to a state of tension even after just one minute. If you are angry, you may feel empowered by this kind of energy. You may feel it will help you to finish your task more efficiently. It doesn’t, however, because the energy is there without a focused mind to make the most of it. Being still and breathing deeply will cause a physiological alteration that can bring a calm to almost any moment.
RULE: Be mindful when you are doing something mindless.
It is simply a matter of what you really want in life, how happy you want to be, and the commitment you want to make. As with sticking with the gym or a diet, you have to give it time to transcend into a lifestyle. This rule does not bend: joy can be experienced only in the present, not in the future or past. So if joy is what you really want in life, why go looking in places where it will never be found. Joy is a bit different than happiness or calm it is almost divine but it evolves from moments of calm and happiness.
Does this sound familiar?
Your head hits the pillow and you begin having a heated one-sided discussion with that coworker, child, or spouse, and although this is happening only in your head, you get as angry and upset as if it were happening in real life, with all the same harmful chemicals in play. (My personal favorite is rehashing a situation from childhood or with someone who isn’t even in my life anymore.) Talk about insane behavior! Over and over in your head, you will make your point, chasing some sort of elusive validation like a dog chasing his tail. Before you know it, you’re tossing and turning and can’t sleep.
For others, fears of your loved ones being in danger take over. If you are a parent you know this all too well and mothers are especially good at it. As we toss and turn witnessing this horror movie of our own making, we search for any reliable gut feeling or sense that we are correct in our fears. As if knowing something bad was coming would allow us to prevent it anyway.
Oh sure were their dangers at some point, yes but never affiliated with a particular night of tossing and turning. So after all the stress one day can hand you, you climb into bed exhausted and your brain hops back on the Worry-Go-Round.
Bosses often make the big mistake of allowing employees to feel that their jobs are not secure, assuming this insecurity will motivate them to work harder. When in fact, it makes them much less productive because they live in fear and crisis mode.
When uncertainty has you rattled, you may engage in any of the following behaviors to increase some brain chemicals, but the benefits are short-lived. If you complain to other coworkers about how bad your company or boss is, those who agree with you will make you feel safer and more connected because of serotonin and oxytocin. If you put the government or world leaders down, predicting doom and gloom, you make the world feel predictable, releasing some serotonin. Even making false predictions about the future will make you feel superior. If you like to get fired up and debate or argue about life events, you will release dopamine.
Misery doesn’t just love company; it needs it! It allows us to crawl on our knees, bleeding and bruised, side by side, and feel that it’s us against them…whoever “them” is at the time. Next time you are waiting in line in a public place, see how long it takes for someone to make eye contact with you and roll their eyes, as if to say, “Do you believe this?”Eventually someone else might either speak up with sarcasm or make some kind of disgruntled noise, and then for a moment or two you will all feel better.
Before disappointment strikes, you must be vigilant in reminding yourself that setting your hopes on one particular event or occurrence is dangerous, unnecessary, and misleading. No event will make you happy forever! Everything is transient and passes. The most subtle ones are those we expect in the course of our day, such as getting to work on time, having no traffic, having the computer work, or having the bus be on time. All are setups for disappointment.
Now, of course, you don’t want to expect bad things to happen, but you can’t forget that life is unpredictable. If you have personal expectations, it will feel like a personal attack when things don’t go your way, and you will fly into anger. Let me make this simple—Don’t cling to outcomes. Before I leave the house, I remind myself that regardless of what my to-do list says, anything is possible today. Beginning your day with expectations is like shoving a ticking time bomb into your pocket. It is only a matter of time before it blows.
Do the following reactions sound familiar? “Nice blinker, idiot!” “This stupid computer!” “Crap, it’s only three o’clock.” “Why is everyone driving like an ass?” “OMG, the Internet is so slow today!”
These reactions are as helpful as throwing your shoe at the clouds because it is raining on your day off! You are personalizing all of these random events. Such reactions also cut you off from seeing just how amazing life is around you. Stay present to these ridiculous, hidden beliefs that will do their best to wreck your day before it starts. When you walk out the door, remind yourself that although you intend to do this or that, anything can happen. Doing this disarms your amygdala, which is always on the lookout for things not going according to your plan. So take your plan (expectation) off the table. Your amygdala is different from that of the next person; whatever you believe should or shouldn’t happen is what it will try to protect, so only you can take down the beliefs/expectations that trigger it to begin with.
Yesterday I left off explaining what a mood is now I will explain where they can can from. When you find you are in “mood” you may be able to rattle off a list of problems as to why, but it is actually the thoughts/beliefs about those problems that lead your mood down the dark tunnel. Unaware, you might suddenly snap at someone who asks a benign question or fly into a rage when the driver in front of you can’t make up their mind. But the real reason you get angry may be that you were still thinking about the argument you had with your spouse that morning.
Yesterday I found myself battling a mood. I tried to blow it off and move on but I should know better by now. I needed to do some investigating. What was stirring the pot for me was I had received my credit card bill. A whopper of over $1600! What did I buy? ….AIR apparently because I could see no luxury item, no fun new toy, no new clothes, as I looked around my house and I guess air was going at a premium last month! UHG! I had no plans of this. But it was life stuff the kind of things that nickel and dime you into poverty. By not addressing this on a conscious level from the “front office” I was stuck in the “back office” being chewed out for not paying more attention, and not knowing where I would pull those funds from to pay the bill. Once I wrote down my pan the berating stopped and I was ready to move forward.
The amygdala is evaluating all thoughts and situations throughout the day, triggering both big and small warnings. We have learned throughout the years to dismiss the small warnings by simply pushing them away, like I was trying to do not taking the time to shine the light of reality on them. So over the course of a day, these small ones gang up on us leaving us in a really crappy mood by the time dinner rolls around. Everything from feeling ignored in a meeting to having someone talk to you abruptly or having your boss give you less than his usual big smile can have your amygdala sounding the sirens.
The muddy waters of emotions
Emotional moments are always a thought away. Like I have been saying, real or imagined, any thought can cause an emotional upheaval and during that time, your thoughts do not represent an accurate picture of the truth, the past or future. There are two ways an emotion is triggered. A thought may trigger an emotion, and the emotion makes us believe the thought was a fact. The second way is without words or thoughts; your limbic system (emotional area of your brain) evaluates a situation that does not seem favorable to you. In either case, the stress hormone cortisol is released, you feel bad, and then you try to find reasons that validate your emotion. We feel better when we know why something happens, even if we have to conjure up some plausible reason, and those reasons, are always are determined by our perspective. Feeling bad is your “check reality light.” It means a thought is being allowed to stand as a fact. You can’t allow that without confirming its reality first.
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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Not only is our brain obsessed with finding negativity around us but it has varied ways of dealing with it as well. Like when a bad storm in predicted. It is obvious how people suddenly seem more connected, looking to talk to complete strangers about the latest update. Very seldom will you see people disinterested, although you may hear someone play the whole event down as they take shots at the weathermen. There is no denying that people seem buzzed. We are driven to this place of excitement due to our dopamine levels surging to help us better prepare. We may refer to it as feeling pumped up. This is the drive behind running to the store and stock piling water, bread, milk and snow shovels as if the ones we have at home some how won’t be enough. When we get home we get a wonderful blast of serotonin which tells us we are safe and secure. We know it makes little sense but we are like little druggies chasing those feel good brain chemicals.
If you have experienced this you may have wondered if you have been a sociopath in hiding all this time, secretly enjoying the thrill of possible danger. Have you ever prepared for a 6 foot blizzard only to wake up and see only 6 inches? Even if you hate snow there is a weird sense of let down. Well you aren’t crazy or a statist it is because your dopamine levels dropped back because there was nothing to prepare you for and that feels crummy. The other reason is we human beings find solace in feeling like we know our future. Good or bad, it gives our life a sense of predictability, making us feel somewhat more secure and stable, and that releases serotonin. The next time a storm if predicted know that even if people are complaining that deep inside we are all filled with excitement and buzz although we try to hide it.
FOR ANYONE WHO HAS BOUGHT MY BOOK Why We Are Wired to Worry and How Neuroscience Will Help You Fix It THIS WEEK OR DOES SO BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY AT MIDNIGHT I WILL SEND YOU A CODE TO GIVE YOU THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION AS WELL FOR FREE. JUST PRIVATE MESSAGE ME A PICTURE OF YOUR RECEIPT ADN I WILL SEND YOU THE CODE. MAYBE THERE IS SOMEONE WHO YOU KNOW REALLY NEEDS TO HEAR IT! Limited to the first 15 responders
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