Reset your mindset with clarity, confidence and creativity
To deal with the negative reactions triggered by COVID-19 and all of today’s challenging situations, we must be clear about the neuroscience behind the what, the why, and the how.
- What is really happening when we find ourselves feeling stressed, anxious, and frustrated?
- Why is this happening?
- How can we have more influence over these thoughts and emotions going forward?
My presentations help people access their best qualities and characteristics by understanding how the brain processes information. I call this philosophy Life from the Top of the Mind because it is all about being able to access the clear, confident, creative part of the brain (the neocortex, or upper 80% of the brain) regardless of the situation. Today, this degree of influence is especially challenging because we are all dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
The daily news, along with the measures we need to take to defeat this virus can easily trigger feelings of stress, frustration, anxiety, and depression. So let’s look at the area of life over which we have the most influence (how our brain processes information) to learn more about the what, the why, and the how.
The cycle of stress
The what speaks to the tendency to find ourselves having thoughts and emotions that only make a challenging situation worse. In other words, when external stimuli, such as the news and the fact that our lives have been disrupted, trigger negative emotions like stress and anxiety, this often tends to make the original trigger seem more threatening. Unfortunately, this triggers another, often more intense round of negative thoughts and emotions, and we can find ourselves trapped in an ever-escalating cycle.
Understanding the why can provide a path forward and a way for us to break the cycle. This is where neuroscience and the Life from the Top of the Mind philosophy can be helpful. In other words, if we can understand that our negative thoughts and emotions are actually the result of our middle brain (the limbic system) interpreting a situation as dangerous and throwing us into the part of the brain that is designed to deal with danger (the lower brain, or brainstem), then this clarity can be helpful in knowing what to do.
Redirect the negative data
Of course, many might say, “But this IS a dangerous situation! I mean…people are dying!” and certainly this is true. However, it’s not a situation where we need to react without thinking. In fact, we need to have access to our best clarity, confidence, and creativity to deal with the current reality. This is where really understanding the true why can be helpful. In other words, given that what we need today is the ability to access our clearest thoughts and most purposeful behaviors in order to be safe, then seeing our negative thoughts and emotions as simply data being sent to the wrong part of the brain can be one step in keeping us from getting caught in the cycle of stress and frustration.
The BRAIN model
The how speaks to a behavioral model I developed that is designed to allow individuals to shift from the reactive brain to the purposeful brain and actually change the chemical make-up of the body from the stress chemicals (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol) to the upper brain chemicals (serotonin and endorphins).
To help you remember this, I made the model spell BRAIN:
- Breathe deeply
- Relax on the exhale
- Ask specific questions that generate a list of who we are when coming from the upper 80% of the brain
- Imagine being this way
- Notice the change, or notice how we feel differently at the end of this model than we did at the beginning
I feel it is important to teach organizations and individuals how to stay in this clear, confident, creative part of the brain and deal with today’s challenges (and those to come) with clarity, confidence, and creativity. This is one more reason why CEOs around the country and around the world have turned to Vistage to provide them the information and peer support necessary to be successful in today’s world.