Many of life’s bad decisions come from stress. Think about Emily who is asked to read allowed in school. She’s very nervous and may stumble on certain words. Some children begin to laugh. Emily gets more nervous and messes up more. At home she reads fine, there is no stress. What’s happening is something that happens to all of us. Emily’s brain is acting exactly as it is designed to do from thousands of years of evolution. Her brain is beginning to shut down in preparation to “fight or flight.” Fear, stress, nervousness all can make the brain begin to prepare to fight its way out of a situation or run from it.
During times like this, the brain actually prepares those parts of the body it will need to fight or flight, by sending more blood to the vital organs such as the heart and lungs and to our muscles in the legs and arms. What this means is that the brain gets less blood and oxygen and begins to shut down the parts it does not need such as the “thinking” or cognitive areas of your brain. So, just as Emily needs her cognitive brain to help her, it begins to shut down. What happens next? Emily thinks to herself, “I’m no good at this. I guess I’m not made to be a good reader.” She makes a bad mental decision based on hindered mental thinking.
Now, imagine yourself in your boss’s office. He or she is yelling at you. Your brain begins to imagine all the possibilities…I will lose my job, I won’t be able to feed myself or my family, my family will leave me…you begin to feel stressed! And just like Emily, your ability to make good clear mental decisions is gone. Your ability to mentally tackle this situation is no longer available.
This fight or flight part of the brain was originally developed long, long ago, when sabre-tooth tigers roamed the earth and danger loomed around every corner. When a sabre-tooth tiger stepped into your path, you really only had two choices; fight for dinner or run to not become dinner. This “fight or flight” function remains completely intact, today. When you step out into the road and a speeding car is coming at you, your body simply reacts and you jump out of the way. There is no conscious thought process; the mind and body simply react.
Today there are very few times you will run into a sabre-tooth tiger. And the incident where a speeding car is coming at you is few and far between. There are really very few times when you are really physically in danger. However, your mind only knows danger or safe. So, when you perceive a situation as “dangerous” your body reacts as if a sabre-tooth tiger just walked up to you.
But there is good news. When stress is coming at you, you need a clear, focuses mind to deal with it. So, what can you do? Well, once you realize what stress is doing you can take steps to relax. Deep breathing, exercising, taking a few moments, or finding a quiet moment before you react may help you relax. You have to find your relaxation point. Now when your boss is yelling at you, this is probably not the time for a nice warm bath, if that is your way of relaxing. However, there are techniques any hypnotherapist can teach you to help you relax immediately.