Our Reptilian Brains

The human brain is brilliantly complex. Our species contains countless languages that allow us to communicate diversely among each other. We can think abstractly, feel a variety of emotions, and comprehend the rhythm in music along with millions of other amazing opportunities that our brains give us. But not everything is as it seems.

In certain situations, our brains switch into survival mode and a lot of our reactions are no longer because of deliberation and planning, but instead out of shear reaction.

This was the topic of conversation at work on Wednesday. My manager had been to a two day training about handling heated conversations and she was giving us a summary of what the training entailed. We talked about that switch from rational thinking to natural instincts that sometimes makes you say things that you don’t mean or react in ways you typically wouldn’t.

We also discussed perception and how much our perception of things affects how we interpret people’s words. When we are in the moment and emotionally charged, we can sometimes make assumptions about what people mean instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt and hearing them out.

When you are in a stressful situation, remember to take a step back, evaluate the situation removed from emotions, turn your reptilian brain off, take a deep breath, and communicate logically. It’s harder said than done, but being aware of when you might be misunderstanding or overreacting in a situation is the first step to better communication.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

 

Conflicted Feelings

Yesterday was an incredibly emotional day for me.

It all started with us house-hunting. We finally got to see the home in-person that we have been looking at online and we fell in love. We put an offer on it and eventually, after some discussion, we agreed on a price. It was a very exciting moment.

On our way home, my brother called. Our great-grandma (dad’s grandma) is actively dying from pneumonia. The doctor called and said she won’t last another two days with us on Earth. When I got home, my brother picked me up and we went to the nursing home. We met my dad (whom I have not seen in years) and great-grandfather in the parking lot and walked in together. It broke my heart to see how painful this was for my grandpa. She doesn’t remember him anymore and she only moved her arms to move his hand away. Dementia is a horrible disease. It not only hurts the patient, but the family too. They watch their loved one die long before their heart stops beating.

My dad’s father is at the same nursing home, so we went to visit him too. When we got there, a woman (I’m assuming another resident) was sitting in her wheelchair beside his bed and holding his hand. Oh, and he had the nerve to talk about my grandma (his wife) calling and talking with her. All while holding this woman’s hand. It was one of the most infuriating and uncomfortable moments of the week.

Then I had to rush home, change, and go to my Grandma Pat’s viewing. She looked beautiful – the funeral home did a great job. The floral arrangements were gorgeous. The slideshow of photos that I helped my mom with shown on a screen in the back of the room. The photo collages we put together the night before were displayed throughout the room. It was a good way to commemorate a great woman.

When the viewing was finished, my brother took my husband and I out to one of our favorite local Indian restaurants. It was nice to have time with two of my favorite people.

At this point, I felt sick and tired. My nose is running, I’m sneezing, my throat hurts – my whole body hurts, and I have started to cough. My brain feels like it’s in a fog. I think stress has affected my immune system and a virus took advantage of this opportunity.

Some days are more emotional than others. Some days will be great and others will be horrible. Honestly, some moments will be wonderful and others will be horrifying. It was such a conflicting day for me. It’s okay to be stressed out, but do what you can to take care of yourself. Don’t let one bad moment take over your whole day – don’t let one bad day take over your whole week. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with the things that are happening. They too shall pass. Be in the moment, but also allow yourself to take a step back and observe a situation. No matter how impossible it may seem, things will get better.

Live one moment at a time. Every day is a new opportunity to live your best life. Keep pushing yourself and keep moving forward. We all have our own struggles to get past, but we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Perfectly Imperfect

You would think that because I am an anxious person, I am great at dealing with other anxious people. On paper, I am. Through text, I am. In person, it’s often a train wreck. My anxiety builds off of their anxiety which builds from mine which…well, you get the point. Or we both have no idea what to say and its just awkward.

Speaking of building my emotions off of other people’s feelings, I have something really embarrassing to share. When I was younger, I thought that my over-sensitivity and anxiety was my “superpower”. I thought that deeply feeling the emotions of those around me was my Superwoman skill. I remember one instance in particular when we (my family and I) were driving by a group of people who were at a roadside memorial for someone who was recently killed in an automobile accident and I could feel their sorrow so deeply that it actually brought me to tears. I hadn’t experienced a loss in my life yet at that time, but somehow I felt their pain. I was amazed and scared at that point, but now I know that it was due to being a highly-emotional person. But what if it is also my superpower?

Empathy is one of my strengths and it is something that has guided me into a nursing career. What if we thought of some of our “flaws” (such as being overly sensitive and emotional) and twisted them into strengths (such as the ability to be empathetic)?

Why does being emotional always have to be a bad thing? Why does having anxiety always have to be a bad thing?

Having anxiety has saved my life at least once. In the fall after I graduated high school, I tried going to a university. The night before classes started, I went to an outdoor concert. I convinced the guy I was with at the time that we needed to start leaving two songs before the end of the concert. He fought me about it, but I said I needed to go and had a bad feeling about staying any longer. Long story short, we made it to the buses that drove us to the parking lot down the street. The buses never came back to get more people from the concert. Everyone else had to walk in the dark down the road and through the woods to the parking lot. Someone was hit by a car and died that night walking to the parking lot. I remember hearing the news a day later and how everyone who was left by the buses had to wait hours for the police and medics to clear the scene. That could have been me that night and if it weren’t for my anxiety and deciding to go with my gut, I would have been there when the tragedy occurred.

Maybe the things that set us apart aren’t all bad. Maybe those are the things that make us better at what we do and will protect us in certain situations. Sometimes you don’t have to understand why things are the way they are or why you are the way you are. Go with your instincts and try to put a positive spin on all things in your life. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it will make your life much more manageable.

You are perfectly imperfect.

Love Always,

Elizabeth