Why You Can’t Just Let Go of Stress
…and what to do instead
Note: This is part 2 of Paula’s articles on Real Solutions for Stress. Read Part 1 here.
In my previous article, I explained why you cannot just “let go” of stress: stress is a body-wide response involving all of your internal organs. Like every condition that involves the body, stress requires a body-level intervention.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about a specific type of stress: a conditioned response from the past that makes people handle present situations in habitual way rooted in the past.
One of my clients, Sallie, grew up as the youngest of seven siblings when the food was scarce. She was conditioned to quickly grab as much as food she could before the supplies ran out. Sallie continued to have the same feeling of scarcity even though these days, she is not experiencing any shortage of food. She still habitually hoards food at dinner parties and receptions.
Another client, Eve, was not allowed to cross the street by herself when she was a kid, or join other kids as they were running around the neighborhood unsupervised. As a grownup, when a situation required Eve to act, she responded with her conditioned pattern of feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Alternatively, Eve became rebellious and antagonistic when anyone told her what to do.
When another client, Linda, was in the third grade, her teacher publicly made fun of her for having a wrong answer. In that moment, the 9-yrar old Linda swore to herself that she would never speak up – and she didn’t, even when she became a highly accomplished professional. Obviously, that put her at a serious disadvantage in her career.
Does any of that ring a bell?
Do you recognize any of your own conditioned responses?
Fortunately, for Linda, Eva and Sally, these responses are now in the past: they simply don’t have those habits anymore!
- Did they spend years in therapy?
- Did they use any of the mainstream solutions, like mindfulness or affirmations?
- Did they “just do it”?
They didn’t do any of those things.
Instead, they used their secret weapon.
The secret weapon has to do with how the brain works.
The conditioned responses we’ve been discussing are essentially habitual movement patterns.
Do you know that you have parts of your brain that store movement patterns?
These parts of your brain are called cerebellum and basal ganglia.
These movement centers are not under your conscious control. They are not even in your conscious awareness!
That’s why you cannot “just let go” of stress, or talk yourself out of it.
The good news is that these brain centers can be re-educated!
Using different targeted activities that engage the body in specific ways, you can change the movement patterns, and voila! The conditioned response will be gone.
Using the same approach, you can replace the old habits with new behaviors that serve our grown up situations.
When you know how to talk to your brain in its own language, you save yourself a lot of time, struggle and discomfort.
Just like Sallie, Eve and Linda, you no longer need to be run by your old conditioning. You can have many choices of how to respond to your stressful situations.
The secret weapon is to engage your body!
If you’d like to find out how to eliminate your own conditioned responses, you can contact me for your free consultation, at paula@BrainUpgrade.biz
The tomato behind The Three Tomatoes.
Cheryl Benton, aka the “head tomato” is founder and publisher of The Three Tomatoes, a digital lifestyle magazine for “women who aren’t kids”. Having lived and worked for many years in New York City, the land of size zero twenty-somethings, she was truly starting to feel like an invisible woman. She created The Three Tomatoes just for the fun of it as the antidote for invisibility and sent it to 60 friends. Today she has thousands of friends and is chief cheerleader for smart, savvy women who want to live their lives fully at every age and every stage. She is the author of the novel, "Can You See Us Now?" and co-author of a humorous books of quips, "Martini Wisdom." Because she's lived a long time, her full bio won't fit here. If you want the "blah, blah, blah", read more. www.thethreetomatoes.com/about-the-head-tomato