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2.2 Part A: Stepping Off the Golden Gate Bridge... A Quick Brain Science Refresher Course

In the next post we will talk about what snapped Ken Baldwin out of his Survival Brain and back into his Higher Brain functioning, but first a quick Brain Science refresher course.


If you'd like, you can also review posts 1.2, 1.3, and 1.6


Bottom Line: Regarding important issues we stress about, we don't see them as they are. We see them as the Survival Brain sees them. The true solution to these problems requires to first not be fooled by the Survival Brain and then access our Higher Brain functioning.

--- Brain Science Quick Refresher Course ---

A.) The Survival Brain is designed to deal with Immediate Physical Danger. It's really good at that.

B.) The Survival Brain can't tell the difference between immediate Physical Danger and a High-Stakes Test (or a harsh word from our partner, money issues, etc.) So, when the Survival Brain tags that High-Stakes Test (or our kids yelling at each other just before we need to leave the house, etc.) Instead of being helpful, it blocks access to the parts of the brain that help us think, see possibilities, and come up with good solutions.. and screams "This situation must change NOW! INSTANTLY! Your survival is at stake!"

C.) But since such situations are not an immediate physical danger, they won't pass quickly the way immediate physical danger does - (i.e. it will either kill us or we'll escape it in a few seconds or minutes - period.) But "Important Issues that are tagged by the Survival Brain" play out over hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. The fight, flight, freeze, submit, collapse reactions shoved on us by the Survival Brain get weirdly psychologized... and we start dealing with the Test (or money situation, etc.) with on-going high anxiety, little room to take in new helpful information , convinced that our well-being is at the mercy of this circumstance... And we have a sense of powerlessness, desperation, and frustration because fight, flight, freeze, etc. won't really work... and will actually turn others against us if we try to use them. - It's a mess, we feel awful. Coming up with anything helpful will feel hard. Getting others who are involved to help us will feel difficult or risky. Life will feel burdened for as long as we have this issue.

D.) To be clear.. With regard to anything important to us... whenever those issues or people start to get challenging... in a heartbeat we can be hijacked by the Survival Brain into intense negative feelings, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, etc. -- And the very change we too urgently seek becomes immensely difficult.

E.) Courtesy of the Survival Brain it is utterly normal to feel intense negative feelings as part of everyday. That most of us experience anxiety at a low, medium or even high level throughout everyday... well, we believe that's just the way life is. -- That we experience overwhelm and depression because of all this... Well, of course we do, because it's so clear life is that hard. It's so convincing. -- But it's not life that is causing these feelings, it's an out-of-control in-over-it's-head Survival Brain that is offering us such mistaken and dysfunctional reaction to things that are most important to us. The Survival Brain is offering us an analysis of what's going on re out important issue that is so quick and so powerful (esp. fueled by adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) In the process the Survival Brain actually shuts down access to our higher thinking.. and we generate urgent shoot-from-the-hip thoughts and feelings that make it all seem so overwhelming and difficult.

F.) Unfortunately, it is not a surprise that if we are stuck in that misery enough, we might consider ending it all.

G.) The mind-boggling news is that when we are in that pain, frustration, anxiety, and depression it's not that we're seeing and dealing with a challenging important situation (or person) the way it is .. instead we are seeing it as our Survival Brain sees it.

H.) The good news is that when we access our Higher Brain Functioning not only will we have access to better solutions.. we will see the situation quite differently altogether. We will also feel that we have access to more resources - partly because we literally have access to much more of our brain, especially the parts that host out highest thinking abilities.

  • So.. the big question is: So, if we've got all this mistaken reactive misery, how do we get some space around the Survival Brain's advertising campaigns and access our Higher Brain's clearer thinking and calmer feeling?

  • The next post will point to an experience that helps put the Survival Brain in it's appropriate place... and opens up space around our important issues

BTW: Since we are using the experience of jumpers who have survived as our "take-off" point... I suggest that maybe we could learn from the experience of others, rather than having the experience ourselves.

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