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Self-regulating in times of uncertainty and anxiety

Here’s the second in the series by Graeme Butchart, life coach and Developer of Great People

When life delivers up a period of uncertainty, complexity and anxiety our operating systems create the corresponding emotional responses – so fear, worry and doubt flood our immediate experience and this colours whatever we are engaged in that particular moment. We become worried and react from a place of fear and doubt and that negative feeling is advanced. This is a perfectly normal and natural reaction – the external world influencing the internal one. Just as when we encounter moments of good news, we experience feelings of happiness.

It is very important to acknowledge and own the uncomfortable negative feelings – just as it is to enjoy the positive ones.

This naturally occurring and intuitive system also gifts us with something else that is truly useful (providing we make use of it) – that is our pre-frontal cortex. It’s a small part of the brain that sits just behind our foreheads, above and between our eyes. This is where all our experiences are interpreted and rationalised. It is this tiny region of the brain/mind that enables us to make sense of our world.

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If and when we use our pre-frontal cortex, it engages our intellect/higher intelligence and as it takes us through the process of understanding what we are experiencing, it provides options – or choice.

This means that we can choose how we respond to what our experiences are causing us to feel. So, whilst we may feel anxiety – we can choose to be calm in our response.

We can act independently of our thoughts and feelings.

This is Self-Regulation at work. One of the components of emotional intelligence

Surprisingly, many people are unaware of why they feel the way they feel, or fail to see that they have the choice of regulating their feelings, consequently they are governed by their raw emotions – and unchecked they cause havoc in their lives.

With so much uncertainty and anxiety now more than ever, as individuals and communities, we need to engage our EI and work through the self-regulating process to create calm minds that make the right choices and do the right things. Not spread negative unchecked information. Rather reach out and see how we may be of service to others.

We have all seen or heard of recent examples of the panic and reactionary responses emanating from people who have not engaged their PFC’s. They fail to see how their fear only creates further fear – and it is then that the fear becomes the contagion.

So, use your PFC by being more deliberate in your reflective process, slow down, don’t hurry. Take a moment to cool your high performing operating system.

Remember too, that your PFC can be stimulated when engaged in acts of deep mindfulness, when you meditate or if you simply just pause take a big deep breath and ask yourself ‘where am I in this point of time?”

Also be mindful of the science that clarifies this – when you accurately identify and own the emotional state you experience – the PFC takes over – and the corresponding positive outcome will follow.

The Buddhists have a wonderful saying which goes like this… “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Where our minds focus that is what we experience – we with access to higher intellect, can make that choice – we can choose peace and calm over panic and fear. And we can share our understanding with others.

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