Seth Godin calls it quieting the lizard brain.
Every time you feel overwhelmed (stressed out, unable to move forward, paralyzed, fearful, buttons getting pressed, resistant, recalcitrant, stuck in a rut…) you can bet that a switch just went off in the ancient part of your brain triggering a thing called the fight or flight response.
This mechanism, called the Amygdala, is our built-in secret service agent. It springs into action the moment it senses danger (read: you step out of your comfort zone, you’re in over your head, you’ve taken on more than you can chew, you’re in real danger).
It’s a good thing to have when a lion is charging at you, or your kid is about to step into traffic, or a car swerves into your lane. Not exactly useful or welcome when you’re clearing out an attic full of sentimental attachments, watching your only child go off to college, preparing to talk to a roomful of expectant students.
So how do you disconnect the thing so that the alarm bells aren’t going off at all hours? You can’t. It’s hard-wired.
But you can make friends with it by…
- being aware of how you feel [especially before you shut down or your circuits get fried]
- feeling the feelings that come up without taking them personally
- reducing your area of focus to one thing or activity
- choosing a task that is easier to manage or gentler on your system
- thinking of resistance as a form of stuck energy that can get unstuck – with awareness and spacious detachment
- adopting a daily practice of self-care that feels good and nourishes you instead
My motto: Go slow to go fast. It’s Chapter 7 of my book.