When I got you to think of Christmas, ( go back and read if you need to ) I triggered your memory in different ways.
Using sound: the annoying jingle!
Imagery: large jolly man in red suit
We could also use smell.
If I could use scratch and sniff you would have got the aroma of cinnamon, turkey, oranges and spices.
If you think of a turkey just freshly out of the oven, steam rising and nicely browned and glistening, and that first slice into it, and you can see how moist and tender it is, and the smell increases.
I bet you now have too much saliva in your mouth! Do you?
If you do, you are also experiencing how I can change your physiology by getting you to think in certain ways. You will of course, be pulling from your own memory, and not mine, but the result is the same.
Your brain can do all of this, even though it is not real, just from how the memory has been stored in your brain.
Before explaining memory in more detail and it’s role in anxiety, I need to talk to you first about your negativity bias
As a human being, it is in your make up to be wired for the bad. It’s a ‘left over’ gift from how we evolved as humans. At one part in time, it was very functional, but not so useful now.
In a nutshell, it can cause you to over estimate a threat, to over estimate danger.
As our species evolved, you can think of those evolving to survive, as having brains that were a bit more alert to danger than those who did not thrive. The survivors
- over estimated possible danger
- under estimated what resources, such as food, were available to them
It is easy to see how this would have been very advantageous, if you were alert to every possible danger, and more desperate to secure food, than your more relaxed neighbour.
In a world were you had to hunt or be hunted. A world without our modern day comforts of house alarms, central heating and convenience foods, being on the lookout for danger, being always prepared for danger and ready to fight for food, increased your chances for survival.
People who were more tuned into the possible dangers – the possible negatives, survived. Paying more attention to the negatives increased your survival. Those who survived passed this on to their children and hence, the birth of the negativity bias which is still evident in us today.
The problem with it today, is that it can result in some ‘mistakes’ in how you quickly interpret events.
The video showed a quick and dirty snapshot of what your brain can do. Always on the lookout for possible danger, if you see something out of the corner of your eye, your brain does a quick search to see if it matches anything stored in your memory that may harm you.
It does this before rational thought is engaged. You are prepared to fight. You get a rush of stress before your thinking brain has had time to catch up and realise it is just a kitten. You experienced fast, automatic reactions just like the quick associations you made when I steered you toward thinking about Christmas.
To start this course, for one week, I want you to practice slowing things down.
Have a watch of the video. It will mention mindfulness, but don’t worry about that too much at the moment. I shall cover mindfulness in depth later. (yep, we shall be looking at your brain on meditation!)
Some people respond better to music to help them slow things down. If you fall into this category, I have you covered. My partner (a classically trained musician) and I have been working together for the past year looking at the impact of music on your emotions.
The following mp3 has been specifically engineered to help with relaxation and is free for you to download now.
[memberful_download_link download=’821-classical-relaxation’]Download file[/memberful_download_link]
Next: How Your Brain Learns