Session 4: Rejuvenation Strategy #2
Phase 2 of Your Personally Tailored
Your paleomammalian midbrain sees the uncertainty as a cause of stress, what’s known as a “stressor”, which triggers anxiety, stress, and fear.
Your midbrain interprets uncertainty as a pain that it needs to avoid. Will I get ill? Will I live? Will I be able to feed my kids? Will I lose my job? Will I be able to pay the rent or mortgage?
It can create a worse-case-scenario of your life, which causes you to feel more vulnerable than you really are.
But what does your emotional midbrain want most of all? To SEEK PLEASURE and AVOID PAIN.
Therefore, the next thing you need to do in developing your BreakThrough SolutionTM is to develop a strategy to control your midbrain emotions.
Rejuvenation Strategy #2: Change the Context
To control your midbrain’s emotional reactions, you need to focus on the things that can reduce anxiety, stress and fear you may be experiencing.
This means changing the context of what’s triggering anxiety by invoking your higher reasoning centres and rejuvenating positive thoughts and emotions (i.e. pleasure).
You can change the context by inserting a ‘but’ after any stress-evoking thought or emotion.
There are many instances throughout your day where you can implement our next strategy, Rejuvenation Strategy #2: Change the Context, and transform our negative, destabilising emotions into more positive, stable emotions.
Most opportunities to “change the context” present internally as self-limiting thoughts, negative emotions, or self-sabotaging words we tell ourselves.
Here are some examples:
- I’m not good enough.
- I don’t deserve happiness.
- I’m so angry with you.
- I don’t have the money to do what I want.
When we say, think, feel, and believe these kinds of statements our emotional midbrain is fired up and threatening to take control.
However, you have the power to “change the context” each time you catch yourself saying, thinking, or feeling these thoughts by inserting ‘but‘ immediately after.
Here’s how you can do this:
- I’m not good enough BUT if I upskill and practice hard, I will be good enough.
- I don’t deserve happiness BUT I’m actually just like everyone else who does deserve happiness, and therefore so do I.
- I’m so angry with you BUT I know this too shall pass and soon my emotions will calm and when that happens we can have a mature discussion about it.
- I don’t have the money to do what I want BUT I know that if I put my mind to it and start saving a little each week toward it, I’ll be in a better position to afford what I want.
These are just some examples of many on how you can “change the context” from a negative, stress-evoking one to a more positive, stress-reducing one by simply adding ‘but’ to the negative thought or emotion.
Next is a real-life example of how this strategy helped me deal with the stress of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Rejuvenation Strategy #2 In Action
When the outbreak of coronavirus hit the world in early 2020, I, like many, became increasingly anxious about family, work, business, and health and found it harder to pick myself up and re-energise.
I was increasingly worried about what would happen if my family or I caught the virus. How bad would it be? Will they be okay? Will I die?
These thoughts crept into my thinking many, many times during the day. Watching the evening news and seeing what was happening in Italy, Spain, the UK, USA, and other parts of the world only heightened my sense of doom.
But I realised I couldn’t allow these negative thoughts and emotions to determine my experience and affect my relationships, so I decided to “change the context”.
Emotional Stressor #1: Will I get the coronavirus?
I went to work on my first fear, “Will my family or I catch the virus?”, and was able to change the context and reduce my anxiety levels in this manner. Here is how the flow of thoughts went and how I did it:
“As it stands, the transmission rates of COVID-19 are reasonably high. BUT if my family and I instigate sensible precautions (*see Reignition Strategy #1: Sensible Safety), we will significantly reduce the risk of getting infected and increase our chances of remaining COVID-free.
“If, however, we do become infected with coronavirus, then hopefully this will happen sometime in the future when medications and immunisations have become available to treat the virus and the health system has not been inundated.”
Emotional Stressor #2: Will I live if I get coronavirus?
I went to work on my second fear, “Will I live if I catch the virus?”, and this is how the flow of thoughts went and how I was able to “change the context”:
“Although anyone is susceptible, COVID-19 appears to have a greater fatality rate in those aged over 75, are smokers, or have an underlying chronic illness.
“Overall mortality rates are between 3-5% of those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, maybe even lower. In Italy, the fatality rate is almost 8%, and this is thought to be higher because of an overall higher proportion of aged people (23% of the population), high smoking rates, and high-density living, even in small towns.
“BUT, frightening as COVID-19 is, the epidemiological statistics mean that we are still more likely to survive and get through than not. As it stands, most infections are mild and even asymptomatic.”
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As with these examples, implementing Rejuvenation Strategy #2: Change the Context and will also help you to control your midbrain emotions by allowing your more rational, higher centres of the brain to engage and take charge, thus rejuvenating a more positive sense of wellbeing and motivating you to take positive action.
Rejuvenation Strategy #2: Task
What context can you change today to control your negative thoughts and emotions?
POINTS TO CONSIDER:
What do you need to do to achieve this?
How will you do this?
Who will help you?
When and Where will you do this?
Why is this necessary?
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