Out of your head and into your body

4. October 2022

A workshop on finding inner peace and strength in outer chaos

Have you noticed this too? Often, we are our own worst enemy!

Often, we convince ourselves that we are no good this and that can’t be done.

We all have occasional, self-critical voices in our heads. Except that they are not occasional. They are often unconscious and more frequent than we realize.

Our mind is rarely quiet, we almost always talk to ourselves in our minds, and what we say is often self-destructive and unrealistic. In fact, we spend many of our waking hours either obsessing over the past or worrying about the future. Where do these voices come from? And why do we have them? Imagine if we had a greater influence on the stories we tell ourselves.

The “voices” (thoughts) are there for a reason, but that reason is outdated by hundreds of thousands of years. Early humans lived in a constant state of threat from their environment, and they had to be fully aware of the dangers their world presented to them every day. If they lowered their guard, they probably wouldn’t survive the day.

The primitive part of the brain, the reptile brain (cerebellum), and the emotional brain (the limbic system), which regulate basic functions such as breathing, heart rate, emotions, and memory, helped early humans survive threats. In particular the part in the emotional brain called the amygdala made sure to send stress hormones out into the body when a dangerous situation occurred. This resulted in a fight/flight/freeze reaction, and it prepared people to survive the danger.

Brilliant! But while it was perfectly suited to help early humans survive, it doesn’t help us that much today, as we’re rarely in physical danger.

However, no one has ever told the amygdala this, so it still works as it did 100,000s of years ago. And in the absence of life-threatening dangers, the amygdala now tells us that relatively harmless events like a “looming” deadline or the growing volume of emails in our inbox are life-threatening.

Over a long period of time, the almost constant anxiety that the human system exposed itself to led to what we today call negativity bias. A state that makes us seek out and predict the negative and destructive at the expense of the positive and possibilities.

We unconsciously allow this bias to affect our mood and behavior. A single negative experience can ruin an entire day that was otherwise filled with positive events.

The negative “voices” in our heads erode our resilience to the challenges of the modern age, they erode our optimism and our creativity.

So, what do we do about it? Yes, you can, among other things, experience my workshop “Out of your head and into your body”, where we actively and curiously work with this challenge.

A powerful technique for dealing with the inner critic comes from drawing attention out of the head and into the body. That ability gives our long-tried thinking, feeling, reaction system a well-deserved break, and a positive consequence of that strategy is that we become better at detecting the automatic negative thoughts as they appear.

Many people automatically think about the worst that can happen when stressful situations arise and discovering this when it happens is an important first step in creating resilience to contemporary challenges. It is important to cultivate the ability to become aware of the negative, intrusive thoughts, and the influence they have on behavior and mood – yes, and for our personal effectiveness.

Most people are shocked when they hear that a third of our thoughts focus on things and events that we do NOT want to happen in our lives, rather than focusing on what we actually want.

To detect these negative thoughts, simply pause when you find that you are REACTING fearfully to “dangerous” events that occur suddenly. Emails, a sudden challenge in the office, a deadline that is pressing.

When these “dangers” suddenly push your balance, slow down, take a deep breath, feel your body on the chair or your feet on the floor, and notice what you’re saying to yourself in your mind. Is it a danger that exists in reality, or is it just a danger you think COULD happen in the future? Often it isn’t our problems that are problematic but our THOUGHTS about them.

Something else you can also do is actively challenge these thoughts and replace them with more positive and useful beliefs. I call this the STOP! SWAP, THOUGHT game. Mindfulness In Action – observe what is happening, accept that it is happening, and then decide to change what is happening. You can read about this in my book Sentenced to Blindness – Now What?

Ask yourself “What is the evidence for this belief? Does it help me? Is this correct? What are alternative explanations?”. Most often, the answers to these questions will lead you towards more sensible and useful beliefs, leading to greater optimism and productive behavior.

Instead of convincing yourself that the problem you’re facing right now is unsolvable or unmanageable, you might want to reformulate it to be an OPPORTUNITY to learn something about yourself and make yourself more resilient to problems in the future.

The idea of this strategy is not to close your eyes to everyday problems and wish them away. No – the point is rather to become better at using our formidable thinking brain more constructively. Use its ability to create powerful ideas and images that are consistent with your dreams and visions, instead of using your power of thought on horror scenarios that slow you down and darken your life. Using your thinking brain to calm the sensory brain with the highly tensed amygdala that regulates our emotional relationship with what we experience and controls our fear center, mood, and reactions.

The key is to pay attention to the inner voice and challenge what it says. This helps increase our resilience and achieve our dreams and goals. That’s what helps me deal with my challenge of impending blindness.

I have developed the workshop “Out of your head and into your body”, which provides tangible ideas, knowledge and tools to become a much more resilient version of yourself.

If you want to know more then contact me here.
I give all workshops and lectures in Danish or English depending on your wishes.

I give all workshops and lectures in Danish or English depending on your wishes.

See you.

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