“Don’t blame me, I’m only keeping you safe”
Your brain’s primary function is to think – but this can be skewed – emotions and feelings drive the more primitive part and it’s 5 times as quick as the more logical, thinking part of brain.
It also works in conjunction with your body and so, if your body gives it a clue, it will react. Sometimes good, sometimes not helpful at all
What can you do?
This wonderful brain of ours, it keeps us safe, it works stuff out, it tells us if we need to eat, drink, love and all without us having to do anything.
There are lots of main functions of the brain and, fundamentally, it wants to keep us safe. It makes sure we don’t eat food that is off, or hold a white hot coal, it helps us judge speed and distance and learns that some signs mean danger.
It also works so closely with other bodily areas that they feed each other, thanks to things like the vagas nerve, your gut’s neurons send messages to the brain and vice versa. The result: autopilot for so many functions, thoughts, behaviours and emotions.
Here’s the rub – sometimes we should be wary. The paradox of the brain that it is both the most complex organ in existence and also is pretty ‘basic’ in its desire to keep us safe. An oncoming vehicle approaching at speed, a perceived betrayal by a friend and speaking in public are all generalised down to life threatening events. All of them can be reacted to in very similar ways – racing heart, blood rushing to muscles, indigestion. The brain is purely preparing your limbs and internal workings to indeed fight, fly or freeze.
Once we have practised this generalised reaction in childhood and really embedded it in our brain and muscle memory, we reach adulthood as really quite expert at keeping safe – so much so that habits of ‘stinking thinking’ or avoidance of certain situations turns into ‘I’m just not a person who likes public speaking / can stand spiders / forgives people easily’.
We’ve created a great short cut which keeps us both safe and efficient as this way of being certainly saves time.
However, if you are anything like me, some of those reactions are worth taking a fresh look at. Am I really not a person who likes speaking in public, do I still have to be scared of spiders and what is difficult about forgiving people?
What’s one of your labels that you’ve always had? …………………………………..(answer here)
Now answer this:
Are these behaviours helping me? Yes/No (delete as appropriate)
If the answer is Yes, brilliant. You’ve checked and you want to preserve that label. If the answer is No…………..perhaps we can take a second look at its purpose in your life. Who knows, you could always do an experiment with a little tweak or a big change and just see what happens.