This week we are looking at the default mode network that keeps bad memories on hand and is ready to save you from the saber-toothed tigers and a nasty neighbor. Sensations are associated with these painful memories (i.e., events, attitudes, or ways of being from your past). Your judgmental, fear-based thinking mind has attached disempowering meaning to these sensations, and these are the competing commitments that hold you back from making the changes you know will improve your life.These disempowering emotions prowl around your subconscious are waiting to pounce comprise your Background of Obviousness (BOO). Often an internal stimulus, such as a feeling of danger, which can be real or perceived (in the case of a dark but familiar hallway), will trigger a cognitive flag of potential harm and the emotion of fear. Other times, an external stimulus, such as the sight of someone with a menacing look, will trigger the thought of potential harm, followed by the emotion of fear. A red baseball cap could trigger a frightening memory, and fear will surface as a result.
Every emotion we experience has a trigger. You smell an apple pie cooking and think of your grandma. Most of you are thinking, Awe. But what if your grandma was the worst? What if she was terrifyingly mean and had bad breath to boot? The smell of apple pie might make you nauseated or give you the creeps. You’re stressed at work, and someone tells you to “chillax.” This is the term your S.O. uses when they think you’re being emotional. Now you’re pissed—and not just because you find the word “chillax” ridiculous. These varying examples demonstrate that your body-mind system works as an integrated whole. You can’t avoid emotions. They will always be there to either trip you up or support your efforts. You may have learned to suppress them, deny them, project them, or disconnect from them, but they are still there and an integral part of you.
Okay, so let’s review this chain of events: What we know so far is that our brain’s cognizing capacity recognizes a stimulus, and our thinking mind immediately pegs some meaning to it. Then we experience our thinking mind’s “interpretation” of these sensations as emotions in our body. The stimulus can be caused by an external trigger (menacing look) or come from internally stored BOO (the apple pie/scary grandma association). Emotions triggered by your BOO are powerful and disruptive forces that thwart forward goal or growth progress. The good news is we have already learned how to interdict these thoughts, which are caused by internal or external stimuli, by interrupting the closed fear loop with positive self-talk, thereby turning it into a transformational courage loop. This is one way we can create new neural pathways over time and up our emotional development. Got it? Yes, I’ve got it, too, but I’ve worked up a sweat just thinking about all these steps.
Here’s my question: Do you want to spend your life constantly telling your mind to “STOP!” every time it’s triggered? You do not. Here’s an alternate idea: How about we stop the stimulus at the source so it never evolves into negative, self-defeating commentary that we must then manage? It’s possible, and I will share how in next week’s blog.