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The Brain, the Heart, and Emotional Control

May 21, 2017

Today, my thoughts are on THE HEART, or emotional control. I’ve never met a person who hasn’t been out of control at one time or another, and left people wondering, “What were you thinking?” The truth is, when we lose emotional control, we are NOT THINKING, we are FEELING!

Did you know that you have two minds, and that they need to work together? One is the thinking brain and the other is the feeling brain. Like a muscle, what you use the most gets the strongest. Both brains are partners and when congruent, life is great and in the flow. When operating alone, there are challenges. If you live primarily from your head, you can be perceived as insensitive and cold and may even miss the intuitive messages that come to you. If you are only in your heart, you might be perceived as illogical or irrational.

I often talk about “Amygdala Hijacks” in my workshops. It’s when something outside of us pushes our buttons and we find ourselves REACTING rather than rationally THINKING and FEELING in the moment. A person who is usually rational can do something totally uncharacteristic and irrational, while a person who is normally seen as loving and caring, can also come off cold and uncaring during a hijack.

An amygdala hijack is a biological and subconscious response to a stressor (person, place, situation, thing) and it happens in a split second. The amygdala takes control from the rational brain, and the brain redirects energy resources to the extremities so you can freeze, fight, or flee the stressor. The rational brain is now off-duty.

To understand this, remember that your mind and body remember EVERYTHING and creates a program from those remembered responses so you don’t have to think consciously when under stress and a split second response can mean the difference for your survival.

And that’s the gift and also the challenge of our two brains. What if we don’t want to react from the past? What if we don’t want to live in the past, and instead, want and need to change and create a new reality? What if the old program is no longer serving you well and causing more problems than it solves? The answer is that we have to become emotionally intelligent, mindful, and aware.

During a hijack, the first thing to do is breathe and get away from the stressor if possible, preferably in sunshine and nature, and give yourself time to regroup. Now is not the time for logic, because the logical brain is still on break! A favorite joyful song, brain entrainment music, a happy memory, PACE routine, yoga, or walking (or some other stress releasing exercise can get you back in control again.

So many mindfulness techniques out there allow us to slow down the mind and integrate the heart and mind together. And, when you add the soul, now you are really in control. So, breathe, focus on your breath and your higher spiritual aspirations, guidance, and goals, pray, meditate, observe, and be kind to yourself during your tests. After all you are still under construction.

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