When we are having a good day, our thinking brain (the pre-frontal cortex) is in control and we don’t get flooded with cortisol – the hormone that is produced when our instinctive brain (the amygdala) saves us from danger. The power of fear is life saving in the right moment. It is also extremely harmful when it washes over us regularly through our day as we engage with the world through our computers/devices.
In her Vistage talk called from Blindspots to Breakthroughs, Rebecca Heiss spoke to my groups about how to reduce your blindspots and increase your awareness to live a healthier and more peaceful life. Dr. Heiss’s presentation is a careful layering of facts and examples that allowed us to reach our own conclusions. She comes from the viewpoint substantiated by science that our fear response is subconsciously driving us to the point that it is damaging our health. Awareness of how this is affecting us could save our lives.
In thinking about all the stories Dr. Heiss wove to provoke a greater awareness for ourselves about our own assumptions and responses, I realize that we have to catch ourselves in our own mental games if we are going to create new patterns for ourselves. Our subconscious brain will fill in with automatic responses if we don’t provoke discomfort for ourselves. In order to do that, we have to get outside our regular patterns, like taking the same route, talking to the same people, following the “accepted” way of doing things. It is the power of fear that in today’s world looks like we won’t be included or accepted that keeps us from trying new things. While that might have led to death in the cave age it won’t have much effect today.
According to Dr. Heiss, the more you practice using your pre-frontal cortex to challenge your patterns, the more it grows and the more frequently you will respond from there instead of the amygdala, the fear response center. What is one thing you could do from the list of top 5 take-aways to reduce the power of fear in your life?
The top 5 take-aways were:
1. Breathe- create a meditation practice
2. Reconcile by asking what you stand for and what you stand against
3. Expand the diversity of input you get
4. Ask more questions about your assumptions and those of others
5. Know yourself
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