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Why You Need To Outsmart Your Amygdalae

Posted on Apr 8, 2013 by in Blog | 0 comments

At the Atlanta Botanical Garden

 

Inside your brain, you have two amygdalae.

These two, tiny football shaped glands are part of your fight, flee or freeze nervous system.

When non-threatening information gets filtered through your amygdalae, you decide, “OK, I am safe, I can think rationally about this stuff,” and the signals get directed to your frontal lobes, where you can think logically and rationally.

On the other hand, when stressful information gets sent to your amygdalae, something bad happens. Either you freeze up, flee or start fighting.

When you want to make lasting change in your life, it is crucial for you to outsmart your own amygdalae.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say that you say to yourself:

“Self, let’s get real. Let’s start exercising every day, cut out all alcohol, sugar, tobacco and junk food. Let’s go to bed on time, start an organic, whole food diet and deal with all that emotional stress we have been hanging on to for so long. And for God’s sake, no more chocolate, ever!”

Might this be a good idea?

Yes.

Would this actually work?
Probably not.

Why not?

When you hit your amygdalae head on with major change – even if it’s probably a good idea, you threaten the primitive part of your brain that feels comfortable with your old bad, lazy self.

So many people’s good intentions are over by noon because they try to make too much change too quickly without enough personal resources to be effective.

Haven’t you ever started a diet that started at breakfast and was over by 3 o’clock in the afternoon?

That would be because you did not understand your amygdalae.

Knowing that the primitive part of your brain wants to stay safe with the great chaos of the known, how do you outsmart this part of yourself?
What is truly healing is to make your changes so small and easy that you bypass the amygdalae.

Instead of saying, “I am going to go on a 10-day detox. No sugar. No alcohol. Only juices,” and white-knuckling it until you hit the speed bump of the stress of every day life, why not say, “I am going to get a juicer. One day a week, on the weekend, I am going to try some fresh homemade juice.”

Trying your juice in this nonaggressive way, you might discover how easy it is to make, how delicious the juice tastes and how you can get organize to pull this off on a consistent basis.

Instead of saying, “I am going to join the bootcamp and get up at 5 a.m,” why not say, “I am going to get plenty of sleep and try an exercise that actually gives me energy, like a qi gong class.” Instead of overwhelming yourself with changes that are too extreme, why not tiptoe by the fight or flight part of your brain by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. If I could make my life 2 percent less stressful, what would be different?
  2. What would I need to do to weigh 2 percent less?
  3. If I could take 2 percent of the junk food out of my diet, what would I give up?
  4. If I exercised 2 percent more than I am currently doing, what would I do?
  5. If I wanted to be just 2 percent healthier overall in my life, what would I do different?

One of the reason I like kinesiology so much is that I can use muscle testing to determine just how much change your mind/body/soul can handle at any given moment AND specifically which specific small changes will make the biggest difference.

Two percent is a good number because it is so miniscule you would hardly be able to tell the difference.

Maybe you would park your car in the next lot over so that you have a two minute longer walk to your job. Or you would throw out the first bite of food on your plate. Or you would buy just one bag of chips every week instead of two.

If you have been trying to make major change in your life and finding the entire process too overwhelming or difficult, lighten up on yourself and realize that you have probably been battling your own amygdalae.

If you make changes very small and very easy, more than likely you will end up being able to make big change over the long run.

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