I listened to a glorious interview the other day from one of my favorite scientific podcasters Dr. Andrew Huberman who was interviewing Dr. Alia Crum. The interview is here. It was glorious because they are both extremely well educated professors at Stanford University that at least appear to be approachable and human, and she gave the simplest (for me) to grasp guidance I've ever heard for understanding and gently steering my own behavior. She repeated what I've heard before and already understand- that if we have a reaction to (aka if we are triggered by) something, that indicates we have a story. For example, if something upsets us, then we can rest assured that we feel strongly about the subject matter. But her gift to the audience was that our strong reactions revealing the story in our heads about something, indicate that we have a set belief about it. Either about the subject matter, or about the characters/players involved, or about the time frame. Something!! Dr. Crum instructed Dr. Huberman and the audience to ask the question "what do I believe about X?" This does not sound like rocket science, because it's better, it's human-science.
This is amazing! If we can get triggered, and then have the wherewithal to identify what the belief is that detonated the bomb that went off inside our heads, then we have the power to decide consciously how to proceed. In all of the times I've immediately practiced this upon being triggered (sometimes, I need more time!), I've been able to see that my underlying powder keg belief is immature or insane or disempowering. Why is that? It's because most of our belief system groundwork is created in childhood- when we are smaller, more vulnerable, more afraid, less informed; a belief system based on these feelings- makes sense to keep us alive when we are children.
But here we are, adults, still with childlike operating systems! Dr. Crum offered such a simple tip to understand ourselves and help ourselves rewire our beliefs. So here's the routine: 1) A triggering occurrence happens. 2) Identify that we are upset. 3) Further identify what specifically we are feeling (mad, guilty, outraged, ashamed...etc). 4) Identify the core belief under our reaction. 5) Decide if the belief still serves us or if a different belief would serve us better. 6) Practice seeing the world and reacting to the world with our new belief system in place. Viola!
Adult Neuroplasticity...it's a beautiful thing. Thank you to the genius, generosity and curiosity of Drs. Alia Crum and Andrew Huberman.
PS I'm off to go practice now :o)
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- Tags: Coping Mechanisms