‘The Biology of anxiety casts us out of the zone for excellence’ Daniel Goleman. This is from a book called social intelligence, and although I read it many years ago, I didn’t really read it, as in much of the information did not GO in, you ever have that, that your mind reads, without reading, that it just wonders off and before you know it you have turned seven pages before you come BACK to the book?
Well, lucky for us that our unconscious mind takes in way more of information than our conscious mind anyway, and as soon as we want to be aware of this hidden information, we can be. So, my ‘kind of reading’ of this book about 10 years ago, much of it I did not understand because of my level of understanding, and my ability to concentrate for lengthy periods of time. However, this book still got in my brain, and bizzarely, I then started reading more about the subjects within it, I would find the same information over and over again in different ways, until it finally became familiar enough for me to know it. This book, may or may not have been a seed, but it was definitely a source of repetitive information, that I finally one day consumed.
The other reason I may not fully ‘get’ a book, is because I am dyslexic and a bit weird, all of my books at the moment and have been for a long time are about research or self development, therefor a bit more facty or teachy than a story, so I pick them up and flick open to any page I desire, I like to think I am being given the page I need to read at that time, which will help me explain something to a student or client, or give me inspiration for a nice post, or even help me out with any of my own life challenges.
So, I picked up today the book ‘ Social Intelligence’ and began reading about how our amygdala runs the show when we are stressed, which is a message I am passionate about giving to people because we often do not understand the effects of stress, we believe that being stressed IS THE EFFECT of something, that it is the END RESULT, that STRESSED is the worst that can happen. That STRESSED is the thing, then the thing is over.
When it is not, at all. Stress makes you ill, temporarily and chronically, it ages you and stops you from filling your potential because you cannot think from your frontal cortex, all thinking comes from what Goleman calls the low road, your hippocampus, and your body is all about quick action, fight, flight or freeze in horror, it is not about solving problems, being creative it understanding the situation better, because these things take longer than running away, and we do not have time for that in survival situation, we are in reflexive mode.
This also highlights to me, that I had not noticed this book easily explain the concept I preach to all.
‘The Biology of anxiety casts us out of the zone for excellence’
I have an inkling as to why it may be, and it may have something to do, with not just my attention span or lower academic ability at that time, or even my drifting off into the world of nowhere land, or it may have been all of these things, and for one simple reason, because…I was stressed.
I bought that book in my second year of university, my partner was having a mental health problems due to drug misuse and I was holding down two work roles as well as a university degree and things where very difficult, I remember handing in an assignment in absolute tears, because we had, had a really tough week the day before the assignment was due, and I was trying to make sure I got the work into the office before the deadline as well as hide drugs from my partner, try to get him help and support and hold down work, and look after my little boy without anyone noticing, the day I put the assignment in, I just sat in the library crying for about an hour.
Needless to say my relationship did not last to the year, because my partner was not willing or able to make the changes he needed to be a responsible parent and partner. Money was prioritised for his needs and I had no option but to move on because I wanted to live life, not just survive it. I will not fully blame him, for years we where together and I had an awful depression and was on anti-depressants so possibly not the best company, but I was always ‘aware’ of my surroundings and able to function and care take the family, but not to the extent that I did when we left, my son got a much happier mum, when the stress was removed, and although I promote great loyalty and compassion and care for others and was in that relationship for nine years, I do not promote it, if it becomes dysfunctional, and you are giving away your air to watch someone else breathe, as you struggle and gasp for breath.
The reason I bring this up is simply, the quote in which I discussed, when you are only SURVIVING you will never be THRIVING. It is an impossibility.
STRESS is NOT the end result, it is the BEGINNING factor which starts shaping your brain into low road thinking, when we start hardwired roads in our brain, they become bigger, thicker and like motorways, and those happier, more joyful roads, become like little country roads which are rarely used because they take longer to get through. So we keep using that motorway because it gets from A to B faster, only it using ‘low thinking’ pathways, you cannot access your creativity and beauty, and miraculous mind, because they are all on the roads we stopped travelling.
If you want to open up those roads and break into some new motorways and hard wire yourself to high roads and use your prefrontal cortex, then start prioritising your need to breathe, then get excited about breathing it, exercise, read, learn, explore something arty because it helps you make those new pathways, go for beautiful walks, LITERALLY DRIVE through country roads and fill your brain with beauty. Start igniting those HIGH ROADS and the low roads will be there for when they are necessary.
For when immediate action is needed, for when we have to run away from the tiger chasing us down. If there is no tiger, then we do not need low thinking. However today’s tigers are bad relationships, bills, debts, shitty jobs, worries about our children, schools and so on.
I tell myself when a bill hits the landing floor, ‘this shit isn’t a tiger, it is just a bill, it is a fake tiger, my ass is fine’
Don’t be Stressed, be Excellent instead.