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Scary Health and Wellness - Part Four


It's week four of Scary Health and Wellness month! All month I've been talking about some scary health topics and this week is no exception. In case you missed the previous posts you can check them out here: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Before I dive into this week's topic I want to set it up a little bit.

Sooooo I'm a big neuroscience geek. Hard core. I love reading about how the brain works, the science behind the connection between body and brain, where certain aspects of our 'life' are housed in the brain, and why we do what we do. I. Geek. Out. I'm sure you've heard the statistic that we really only use 8% of our brain, and this fascinates me! It's because of this fascination with brain and habits that I learned what I'm sharing with you this week.

Habits

Most of what we do in our daily lives are habits - completely unconscious behavior. Think of your morning routine: could you do it differently? Yes. But will you? Probably not. Your morning routine, the order in which we get ready, is nothing more than a habit. A habit is created by doing a certain thing over and over again, and your brain creates a pattern. It basically says, "Ah, I see. This must be important because we keep doing it. Save." The funny thing about that habit though is that the brain saves it because it thinks it's important for your survival. My brain thinks I have to have a Diet Coke to survive.

Perceptions & Interpretation

In the same way that the brain creates physical habits it also creates emotional habits. A well known example: Fight or Flight. If your brain perceives a threat your sympathetic nervous system kicks on: your heart will begin to beat faster, your breathing quickens, muscles tense, and you begin to perspire. This response exists so we don't get eaten by a saber tooth tiger. Except the thing is: the saber tooth tiger doesn't have to be real. You just have to think it's real. Perceive that threat - interpret it as a threat. Regardless if it truly is or not. Your brain doesn't know the difference between what's real and what's imagined. Don't believe me? Ever had a bad dream? I bet you woke up in a state very similar to that 'eaten by a saber tooth tiger' thing. And it wasn't real. It all happened in your brain. In the same way, as I mentioned last week, telling yourself that you feel strong during a workout can be so powerful: your brain only knows what you tell it.

This is what leads me to this week's Scary Health & Wellness:

The latest research on memory shows that

50% of what we talk about in our past isn't even the truth.

"What?! Come on! I know what I experienced!" I can almost hear you saying that right now. But hear me out. Rather, listen to what Dr. Joe Dispenza has to say about it:

"Let’s face it, we’ve all had traumas, shocks, and betrayals in our life which have created strong emotional charges. It makes sense then that the stronger the emotional reaction you have to someone or something, the more you pay attention to the cause. When something with such a strong emotional quotient occurs in our life, the brain freezes the scene and takes a snapshot of the event. Now the picture becomes holographically embossed in our neural circuitry.

This is the normal process of how a long-term memory is created. Our problems begin when we continuously think and feel within the boundaries of that past experience’s circuitry and feel within the chemicals of that past emotion. When we think and feel for long enough within the confines of the event’s neurochemistry, it ultimately becomes our state of being. That’s because how we think and how we feel becomes our state of being.

So if you wake up in the morning and start to think about your problems, the moment you think about the memory of that problem, you’re thinking in the past. Since each memory has an emotion associated with it, the moment you feel that emotion, the body is now in the past. Because thoughts are the language of the brain and feelings are the language of the body, now your brain and body are completely in the past. As a result, when you feel unhappy, frustrated, sad, or deflated from the memories of your problems, your body doesn’t know the difference between the real-life event or the memory that is creating those emotions. Thus, if those negative emotions are driving your thoughts, and you can’t think greater than how you feel, you are thinking in the past. As your feelings become your means of thinking, you create more of your past.

This is when people may say to you, “Why haven’t you changed? Why are you so sad?” And you’ll say, “I’m this way because of this person or this event.” When you say such things, you become a victim of your life because you’re unconsciously stating a person, thing, or event is controlling how you think and feel. If your thoughts and feelings create your reality, you keep reaffirming and recreating the same reality." (www.drjoedispenza.net)

Ya'll know how an addict needs another hit and another to get the same high as the first time? Well, our brains act the same way. The chemicals released during that emotional experience gave you a high (even during the low times) and each time you relive or replay that experience you get those chemicals again, but sometimes that high isn't as great so the brain gets to work filling in some information to 'make sense' of it even more. As human beings our brains thrive on story. That's how we learn, that how we connect, it's central to life. So our brains crave story, and when pieces of the story are missing the brain fills it in by gathering 'proof'. I say 'proof' in quotes because, again, the brain doesn't know what's real or imagined. That's when our experience, our past, begins to change and how we end up talking and reliving a past that never really happened.

Example: Looking glass theory with an ex. Have you ever found yourself saying, "Well it wasn't that bad"....and you get back together and realize, "Oh yeah. This is how it actually was". Or perhaps you've found yourself in one of those moments where someone said you said something at a specific place and you weren't even there? Misremembering.

Perhaps you can see how this can be problematic. We all have perceptions and interpretations of each and every experience, and those interpretations and perceptions are the basis for the next round of experiences, and so on and so on. In the end, we have to be able to control our own thoughts and emotions. It is vital to creating a healthy life.

If you're interested in learning more about this I highly recommend the Netflix series called, "The Mind, Explained". Episode 1 is about memory. In this episode, they speak with people about their memories of September 11th three years after the event and again ten years after. What they find is that location and emotion are often true, but the rest not so much. The episode is 20 minutes long and definitely worth checking out.

There you have it! Part Four of Scary Health & Wellness. Next week I’m offering a way to help with all four of these issues presented this month. So stay tuned!

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