Seems like everyone I know, myself included, wants to control something- and for many of us, control everything. We all know that is impossible (it rains when I don’t want it to… ), but yet persist in trying. Is it all hopeless?
I was in an amazing conference this past week on Being A Leader which included work on neuroscience. I am also in an intensive study program on neuroscience and affecting change in the conversations we have utilizing neuroscience. It is fascinating and I want to share a few things I have discovered.
I had something happen where someone got verbally aggressive toward me (completely unprovoked). I had a physical reaction. I thought to myself “this is not about you” and “there is no real threat, we are in public and he is not going to hurt you”. I noticed as time went on, I was physically holding myself still so as to not ‘get hurt’ or ‘attacked’ again. I had to really work on talking to myself to do this. Then, it happened again and was more aggressive than before. I sat still and asked him to stop doing it- and he got more aggressive (louder, cussing at me, and physically leaning toward me). I got up, said ” I am done” and left while he continued his verbal tirade. Physically, I was shaking.
I left the room and sat down with someone I trust and talked it through. Here is what I discovered through my conversation and the work I am studying in neuroscience. My brain reacted to a threat and I was moving without thinking. (Thank you, brain!). Once I talked it through and got the level of threat my brain perceived was inconsistent with the real threat (words were the only REAL threat, there was no real physical danger), I could downregulate my brain’s response and physically be calm. That was triumphant, personally. The conversation was the key.
I talked with the author of Conversational Intelligence, Judith Glaser, and the group that I study with about this. I got our brains are reacting to threats, which then have a physical reaction. How we can control it is simply by having a conversation to get what is really happening. Conversations actually then impact the brain’s chemistry and alter our physical state. The key, as I mentioned, is the conversation with another person to get what is really happening.
The point is, you and I try to control things over which we have little to no control. The things we can impact only can be impacted when we talk it out with others. I do mean talk it out from being committed to get past it, and not from wanting to get someone to agree with us about how bad or wrong someone or something is. The kind of conversation where we just find someone to validate our viewpoint, makes no difference, really. What I am speaking about is the kind of conversation where you talk about what happened to purposefully get past something that happened and be curious to discover what happened. It is an amazing process that when you have that kind of conversation, you are actually impacting your brain chemistry, and can shift your state of mind. I did it, and I know you can, too.
Next time, something happens that gets you upset or unhappy and you want to control it, try out having a conversation with someone. See if you can discover what happened, really, and if you can learn to calm your brain and alter your reaction. Let me know how it goes!