How to Use Your Brain to Relieve Stress and Anxiety by Martin Rossman [Text Only]

But one way or another it’s all over in about twenty or thirty minutes. So there is none in this like odd years of stress that go on if you’re a good warrior where you wake up in the morning and the first thing in your mind is Oh, my God, what’s going to happen with this and we’re going to be able to do this – so on and so forth and of course the really good warriors are not only during the daytime but you are up at night too because you can’t sleep. And so that takes your resilience away and it becomes a real negative vicious cycle.

So to review, worry is a type of repetitive circular thinking; anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling or fear of dread; stress is a physical response that prepares you to meet challenges. And so it’s interesting to look at — this is a sort of a somewhat dated model of the brain. It’s called the triune brain, but it’s good enough for government work. We can work with this model. There is what’s called the cortical brain or the neocortex, the big gray matter wrinkled big brain that we’re so proud of that allows us to speak and add, and calculate and reason and so and so forth and imagine and do all these things that again as far as we know no other creature on earth does. And that is really the most adaptive thing that’s helped us survive and dominate.

Lower down limbic system, midbrain, the basic brain, we call it the reptilian brain, that’s the brain we share with lizards and reptiles, amphibians. That’s the oldest part of the brain. That part of the brain basically concerns with survival, it basically sorts things into two or three categories. Can I eat this? Can it eat me? That’s basically what it’s concerned with. It sorts down all the information that you receive into those three things and it acts like that. It acts reflexively and instantaneously just like if you come across a lizard on the path, you make a move towards it, it’s gone like that. It doesn’t go inside, it doesn’t do a Woody Allen thing, well should I move, should I not move or would it be better for me – is it dangerous, is it not dangerous, how dangerous is it? It doesn’t do any and it’s just gone. There is any indication that there’s a threat it sets off this stress response and it’s gone.

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The thing is this developed evolutionarily from the bottom up. This part of the brain developed first and then as animals developed, the limbic system pretty much developed in mammals and other in warm furry creatures who characteristically have social relationships and for mammals, for most mammals, not all mammals, social relationships like prides of lions and packs of wolves and families of people and things like that have adapted value. We do better when we’re connected to groups. We have more strength, that we have more problem-solving ability. We have emotional support. We are social creatures and our social positions mean a lot to us and all that emotional processing happens mostly in this limbic system and then on top of it the big smart intellectual brain, every layer added new possibilities and new complexity to our ability to understand our world and to navigate our world.

And part of the problem when we look at this whole issue is that the new guy is very entranced with himself. The thinking brain thinks that nothing was important before you came along and I say he kind of deliberately, could be she too, but it’s not that there aren’t tremendously bright and intellectual women but it’s kind of thinking analysis, logic, that kind of thinking on a yin yang scale we typically characterized as a kind of masculine thinking not that it doesn’t belong to women to where’s the feeling, the intuitive tends to be a more kind of receptive softer, has its own logic but it’s not the same as the logic of mathematics and science.

So this brain is very good at especially part of the brain, the part that’s suited for verbal and mathematical skills which typically is in the left hemisphere of the brain, and there’s some variation but that typically is in the left brain, which is called the dominant hemisphere – speech capability, mathematical capability and so on. Whereas in the right side of the brain in the same area lie areas of the brain that have to do with the body image, with emotional recognition of facial expressions, and tone of voice and those kinds of skills. So they each have their place. I mean logical skills have to do with building buildings like this, in building MRIs and doing the kind of incredible science that goes on in the university setting like UCSF and looking through electron microscopes and doing chemical analyses and these are tremendous feats. Don’t misunderstand me.

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They’re completely useless in a relationship. It doesn’t matter how many Noble prizes you have, you may not be able to maintain a marriage. Would be if that’s the only kind of intelligence you have and then you may not be able to maintain good relationships with people, whereas somebody who emotionally and in terms of social networking and understanding and compassion and empathy, we have a different kind of intelligence as well as an intellectual kind of intelligent.

So my point is that these are different kinds of intelligences that are useful in different situations. What has happened since the advent of the age of reason and the advent of discovering the immense power of our intellectual capabilities I think has been a devaluing and ignoring of the earlier kind of intelligence that has to do with our relations with each other and with other living things and with our environment and I think that a lot of the crisis we are seeing now is we’re trying to come back to that and on those relationships while still maintaining our ability to be technically creative and help solve those problems that way.

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