The National Institute of Mental Health claims that more than 18% of American adults suffer from anxiety disorders, characterized by excessive tension or worry that causes other physical symptoms.
Did you know that we have ‘two’ brains?
Cognitively we have two brains: the “thinking” brain and the “non-thinking” brain.
Our brains are wired to worry first and think second.
Joseph LeDoux, a brain scientist claims that connections from the cognitive system to the emotional systems are weaker than connections from the emotional systems to the cognitive systems.
Dr. LeDoux is talking about the limbic system that includes hippocampus and amygdala, and is the oldest within the brain. It is a set of structures deep within the breath that evokes the emotional response.
The prefrontal cortex (PFC), the thinking part of our brain is the newest. Because of this we sometimes make dumb decisions though we’re intelligent creatures.
The worrying brain will overrule the thinking brain every time if we don’t know to override it.
And make no mistake, it is essential to know how to overrule the worrying brain.
Because of the fast-paced, 24/7, “always on” society designed for us, we’re overwhelmed by stimulation. Stimulation, regardless if it’s positive or negative, activates the brain’s fight-or-flight (FoF) response.
Overstimulation plus overwhelm equals bad decisions. Remember this formula: (Os + Ow = Bd).
Overriding the limbic system
If we would be able to see inside of our brain when our eyes meet some object of our delight (clothes, shoes, a beautiful woman, a handsome man), you would see a massive amount of electrical activity firing from the limbic system to your cortex.
Your emotional brain is telling your thinking brain what to do.
Well, there are some good and some bad news. The good news is that you can override the tendency of your limbic system to let emotions control your life. The bad news is that it takes effort and time!
Be consistent and you will obtain amazing results.
Take out a piece of paper and pen and write three benefits you can thank of if emotions didn’t control your life. Take 2-3 minutes and make sure not to move until you’ve written down these benefits.
I wrote mine as well:
- Be less stressed
- Save more money
- Be more productive
It is very important to keep the list somewhere you can see it. When things get tough, this will serve as a great motivator.
How to stop worrying so much
Our main goal is to reverse the default pathway of your brain from the limbic system to the cortex. In other words, we are trying to get your brain’s cortex telling the limbic system what to do.
These 5 steps will help to override your limbic system. They require delving into your thoughts. Write your thoughts on paper so you can remember the five steps and provide context to fleeting thoughts. So, check them out:
1. Examine your irrational beliefs
Some illogical beliefs can lead us to see a threat in cases where no threat exists. To retreat your worries, make sure to find a more realistic balance between your ideal and your actual self.
2. Learn how to talk your way through your feelings
Substitute your negative way of thinking with more neutral or positive thoughts. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, clients learn to counter their illogical thoughts with more clear-headed evaluation.
3. Set your feelings aside when you make important decisions
Most people easily get swayed by emotional arguments. It is very important to separate logic from emotion in order to make fair and reasoned choices!
4. Get support from someone who can help you
It is known that our emotions react quickly to certain experiences and we can’t rein in those feelings. Because of this, sponsors ware extremely important for programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
The other person serves as your “cortex” because you are under the influence of an addition that is controlling your limbic system.
5. Build confidence in your self-control
People can effectively control their problematic behaviors once they build confidence in their self-control. Make sure to gain strength from good decisions, conquer your worries and control your impulses.
With time, you will find that those impulses do not have domination over you anymore!