Dr. Bill Crawford did a four hour talk split into two sections. The first half was about handling your own stress. The second half was about dealing with high stress individuals or difficult people. I really enjoyed his presentation and I think I'll really be able to utilize a lot of the tools he gave us.
He started out talking to us about how the brain reacts when something that could be seen as stressful comes up. It has one of two options, either send it to the brainstem or the neocortex. When it sends it to the brainstem we encounter reactions such as anxiety, inability to sleep, worry, frustration, anger, depression and being overwhelmed. He told us that he wanted to teach us how to send those signals to the neocortex instead so the brain could handle it rationally and in a way that resulted in reactions such as peace, confidence and happiness.
There's no way I can do justice to his presentation in this post but the basics of what he told us to do was that when we realize our situation could result in stress or we are already stressed, we needed to stop and do one of two things. One option was to do what he abbreviated as BRAIN: Breathe, Relax, Ask, Imagine, Notice. Breathe and Relax were pretty self explanatory. Ask had to do with the series of neocortex questions he gave us.
- Was this thought or emotion, or action chosen on purpose?
- It is working for me?
- Is it making a statement I want to make about who I am?
- Would I teach this to someone I love?
The other option he gave was PIE. Perceptions/Beliefs, Interpretations, Expectations. Many times things aren't as bad as it seems at the time or our perceptions of certain things can skew our view or cause misunderstandings. Taking a step back and viewing the situation in this way can sometimes make things seem clearer.
A lot of what Dr. Crawford talked about had to do with mindset and making a choice. A choice to be happy and live stress free. The part of the brain, the brainstem, that handles feelings related to stress is a very reactionary part of the brain. It doesn't stop and think. It just reacts. Stopping to think or choosing a different outcome in a stressful situation forces the brain to use the neocortex. The brain and imagination are very powerful and simply choosing to react differently to a situation can change everything. Waking up in the morning and deciding it's going to be a good day can actually make the day better because your outlook is better. If you look in the mirror and don't like what you see then choosing to see the things you like or just ignoring your inner critic and saying aloud you are pretty can start to make you believe it.
Another thing that Dr. Crawford talked about was how to eat whatever you want. His tip was to only eat when you were hungry. Not when you were bored, depressed or simply wanted food. Because it takes 20 minutes after you consume enough food for the brain to tell you that you're full he suggested an alternative. He suggested when you are no longer hungry to stop eating. So hunger helps you determine when to eat and when to stop eating. He also was a huge supporter of dessert after every meal. But there was a catch. After every bite of whatever your dessert was he said to gauge the taste on a scale of 1-10. When the taste gets down to about a six he said to stop eating. If it no longer tastes amazing then what's the point in eating something that isn't that good for you anyway?
Here's some of the notes I took that really stood out to me.
- I need to take 100% responsibility for what defines me in every situation
- Negative situations don't define/control us
- Don't give others the authority to define who we are
- When our purpose becomes avoidance out life becomes a void
- Never tie another person's state of mind to your peace of mind