Jackie Kellso

Posts Tagged ‘pre-frontal cortex’

Why are You so Negative? I’ll Tell You Why, and it’s Not Your Fault.

In brain, brain-based, brain-based coach, brain-based coaching, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, cortisol, dealing with a difficult coworker, disagreements, emotional baggage, emotional brain, executive brain, fight, fight or flight, limbic system, manage stress at work, managing conflict, managing emotions at work, negativity, negativity at work, neural pathways, neuroscience, Norman Vincent Peale, office politics, passive-aggressive, pre-frontal cortex, problem-solve, profesional boundaries, professional behavior, Professional Reputation, self-defensiveness, self-improvement, stress and worry, stress hormones, work-related problems, work-related stress on October 2, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Do you find yourself focusing on how disorganized your manager is, or how your colleague can’t run a meeting, or how your team can’t come up with the right idea, or how disgusted you are by your CEO’s poor communication skills?

Well, if you are criticizing just about everyone and everything, guess what?  You have lost perspective, objectivity and healthy, personal boundaries.  In fact, you are unwittingly creating your own hell and it’s keeping your brain from its executive powers to think, problem-solve and be most effective.

In this state, some of us will bully, become passive-aggressive, withdraw, gossip, cry, or beat the hell out of ourselves and eat five chocolate bars to get a kick of serotonin. You get the idea.  When we are unable to cope, we start moving into old-fashioned self-defense. There’s no resolution in this state, only more frustration and pain.

Being in a constant hypercritical mode doesn’t take that much these days, with so much pressure on us to deliver.  But, there’s usually another factor — unclaimed emotional baggage that we’ve carried into the present day.  Here’s why:  our brains will respond with whatever we give them.  As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Dwelling on negative thoughts is like fertilizing weeds.”  The chronic re-injury to the brain from negative thinking literally changes our brains.

These weeds are neural pathways that have been constructed around negative thinking.  Think of highways and how they connect to one another to move traffic along. In the brain, these are called synapses. When fired-up they will stimulate the release of stress hormones, which set the stage for unwanted reactions of the mind and body. In fact, over time we can see how the stress takes a toll on our health: migraines, depression, chronic fatigue, etc. This is why being negative is not your fault; your brain has been bred for it. The good news is, we can get help from our executive (or thinking) brains.

The key is to recognize the symptoms. Are you waking up and going to sleep (if you’re sleeping, that is) with anger, rage, vitriol, depression, etc? If this is the case, even if you’re not openly complaining, your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and attitude are most certainly giving you away.  You’re not hiding from anyone.  So, you’re also negatively impacting your reputation.

Look, this isn’t the moment now to start berating yourself.  It’s the time to take charge of your brain.  The pre-frontal cortex is the thinking brain and can be used to manage the limbic or emotional brain that is controlling your moods. So to get on top of this, it’s important to feed your brain thoughts like, I can’t control other people or outside things so I’m going to accept what is. In other words, I’m going to let it go, surrender, and move on. We have the power to clear out our thoughts about what went wrong during the day and leave room to start with a fresh outlook the next day.  This is the beginning of re-wiring the brain and creating new neural pathways.  The brain has enormous plasticity!

So, take the current work situation and use it wisely.  How is it reinforcing your negative thinking?  Who is triggering you into a self-defensive posture? By examining our current relationships and challenges, we have the opportunity to use our executive brains to keep our histories where they belong — in the past. (This is why I decided to become certified in brain-based coaching; the brain is fascinating, our current experiences are usable, and with focus, we can emerge enlightened.)

Lastly, sleep matters.  The brain cleanses what it has taken in during the day, while we sleep. So, to manage the hamster wheel of obsessive thinking and  make room for a new day, with a fresh start, we need ample sleep.  If not possible nightly, a daily 20 minute nap can do wonders too!

In the end, please don’t blame yourself (or others) for how you feel but do take responsibility for what you do. Go home tonight, leave the challenges of the day behind you, and enjoy your well-deserved rest.  Your brain will love you for it!

Happy thinking,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Illusion of Taking Control

In business relationships, character, communicating, connection, control, control freaks, coping with pressure at work, corporate life, dealing with a difficult coworker, dealing with a male boss, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, empathic listening, fight or flight, human relations, illusion of control, insecure bosses, interpersonal skills, letting go, managing conflict, mindfulness, negativity at work, personality, spiritual growth on June 21, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Dear Control Freaks,

Here are a few examples that define the term “Control Freak”:

1. You have to be in charge of what’s happening or you lose control of your composure.  It could be as small as how chairs are lined up in a room, to scaring the driver in front of you by riding his tail in the fast lane, to push him over to the middle lane.

2. You must reign in other people or you lose control of your temper.  Don’t like someone’s expression or the fact that he’s not as enthusiastic about your project as you are? Well, how dare he!

3. Everyone should buy into your idea or you fear you will lose control of the outcome.  People are giving you feedback you don’t like or disagree with you so you disregard them and don’t see them as team-players.

4. You don’t like what’s happening and have either a FIGHT or FLIGHT response.  You argue or your bust out. You’ve completely lost control.

5. A lack of certainty of what’s happening makes you lose track of your thinking.  You can’t adequately plan the next steps. You feel overwhelmed to not get on top of things.  This is happening because stress hormone has taken over and wipes the pre-frontal cortex (thinking part of the brain) of rational thought.

6. You are miserable when you aren’t in the driver’s seat.  Literally.  Don’t like the way your husband drives?  He doesn’t signal early enough before turning?  So what do you do? You assign yourself as the family driver.

I say these things with deep empathy. I was a control freak with many aspects of the aforementioned as my symptoms.  The work it takes to LET GO and begin realizing that control is an illusion; that the only thing we ever have control over is our own behavior, is a painful but freeing shift to being mindful.

Sure, parents can control their children:  what they eat, when they go to bed, how much they study or play, but one cannot control a child’s spirit, or a child’s feelings. One cannot control a domestic cat’s nature:  you love it and care for it and provide it with scratching posts and toys, and it will still shred the hell out of your sofa.

Just yesterday, I attended a Spiritual Conference at Teacher’s College and one of the workshops I attended was called, Council Practice: Community, Art of Connection and Empathic Listening.  I had hoped to learn some new ways of facilitating improved listening and people skills through this workshop.  The school defined council as: “…a practice of open heartfelt expression and attentive empathic listening.”

So, I’m sitting in a circle with about 30 other people and within 5 minutes I realized that although with very good intentions on the parts of the facilitators, that this was nothing I would have designed and I was completely turned off by the exposure requested of the participants to play in this arena. The spirituality of this felt contrived to me, and the immediate assumption of this group as a ‘community’ of like-minded individuals didn’t work for me.  There were four rounds of everyone responding to a single question; some were barely audible, some overly emotional and some having no sense of when to stop talking. I sat there wanting to take control  – to break up the room into 3 small groups, to set the rules of play about being audible and concise and to create a better opportunity to get feedback and debrief each step, to ensure value was being transferred.

As an empathic listener by trade, I still only have so much patience.  Being asked to hear 29 other people speak four times = listening to 116 people’s stories, all in 90 minutes, with the idea of being open-hearted to all, was a bit much of an ask of me.  I wanted to yell or flee.  So when the question posed of us was, “What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever given to someone?”, I said, “The gift I’m giving is to me right now. I am sitting here fully awake to the fact that I have no say in the way this workshop is being run, and the reminder that I have no control. I’m glad to use this experience to become better at letting go.” And I meant it.

The “freak” in us just limits our ability to dance with the flow of reality.  By learning that we don’t have to love what’s happening and don’t have to change it is quite freeing.  We can move from having an illusion of needing to exert power to building skills in patience, and allowing ourselves to experience the teachings that life has in store for us.

Mindfully yours,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.