Do you seek out pleasure or pain?Jan 27, 2022
When our body is in a state of fight, flight, or freeze, our attention is on any kind of threat. Whether it's a real threat or a perceived threat, our body still responds in the same way - by activating the nervous system. This is useful if the threat is right in front of us, however staying in this heightened state can lead to burnout.
This is when finding ways to soothe the nervous system is the key to feeling good in the body, one of the four pillars of being empowered in the body. Here are some tips for soothing yourself.
1. Two quick breaths in, one breath out. Repeat three times.
This is one of the fastest methods I've come across to soothe the nervous system and interrupt adrenaline being pumped to the brain. In the book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Joseph Grenny et al, the authors explain the effect adrenaline has on the brain - when we want to be on our best behaviour for an important conversation, we end up on our worst behaviour. Finding a way to soothe ourselves before, during, or after a conversation where the stakes are high, will help immensely.
2. Scan your body for pleasure vs pain
So many of our brains are trained to scan for the negative - fears, threats, pain, worries, and stressors. These habitual neural pathways become stronger or more 'excited' the more we use them. It takes something to unlearn this habit and to train your brain to seek out pleasure. The good news is that your brain is not hardwired as once believed, it is malleable and can change. Try closing your eyes and scanning your body in your mind's eye. Do you find all the niggles, the pains, the places in the body that don't feel good? Scan your body again, this time seeking out pleasure. What feels good in your body? Focus there.
3. Practice being here now
In the present moment, a lot of the time, nothing bad is happening. We can soothe ourselves by looking around and noticing the good things in life. What is actually happening at this moment? Right now, I'm sitting at my desk, the breeze is drifting in through the door, and I'm writing this blog. Nothing bad is actually happening right now. Reminding ourselves of this in those moments can be a very soothing thing.
4. Find the pleasure in everyday life
Eating a strawberry. How do you do it? Do you throw it into your mouth while talking to someone on the phone and grabbing your keys before walking out the door? Can you take a moment, sit down and savour every last flavour and juicy part of that strawberry? This practice alone will change your life.
5. Look for the positive aspects
If there's something on your mind that is bothering you, see if you can make a list of positive aspects about it. Write down twenty positive aspects. Can't think of twenty? Write down ten. Can't think of ten? Write down five. Making this list doesn't mean you're being complicit with how things are. You can still take action to change the situation. But first, try this out as an experiment. It may help the brain see a new action you couldn't see to take before as you soothe your nervous system.
Start to notice your habitual ways of thinking - are you always tracking the negative? Or do you seek out the pleasure of life? Take whatever empowers you - and throw the rest away.
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