Why you Need to Trick your Brain

Years ago, my honour's thesis at Concordia University in Montréal was on Event-Related Slow Potentials of the Brain. The findings of the studies we conducted were compelling.

ERSP wave

In that pre fMRI era, we did surface EEG recordings of three “diagnosed” groups and compared results with a “normal” control group. The experimental paradigm was as follows: subjects listed for a “warning’ tone (P1) that signaled that another tone (P2) was about to occur. On the second tone, the job was to push a button and – task done. Without exception, an expectancy wave arose in the brain while it was anticipating the second tone. 

The EEG recordings showed that the waves of the undiagnosed or "normal" group returned to baseline within 200ms, often less. Their brain was able to let go of the task and await the next. Not so in the diagnosed groups; all three groups showed a delay to return to baseline (P3), with the group with the most severe diagnoses showing the greatest delay.

Healthy brains release attachment to irrelevant stimuli better than unhealthy ones.

fMRI studies have repeated the findings; healthy brains release attachment to irrelevant stimuli better than unhealthy ones. If your brain latches on to past events, it is because: 

a. the event(s) do not make sense, so your brain gets into an endless loop of trying to figure them out. You never will, because they doesn’t make sense. The person or thing you’re attached to is not healthy, or way outside of understanding, you got dragged in, and you got trapped. This is the basis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

b.  it is causing too much pain. Your survival instincts are forcing you to stick around until you figure it out. If you drop it, it might attack you at a later time and devour you.

I've written and spoke at length about letting go, not just because of the early brain research, but because latching on captures people and holds them hostage to the past. This makes it impossible for companies or careers to move ahead. It’s expensive, it’s rampant and it’s untreated. 

What to Do

Yank yourself out of your lower reptilian survival brain into your cortex where you can handle this. That means consciously letting go. Do this as if your brain and mental health depended on it, because they do.

Work these three steps:

1. Ask yourself: "Do I have any control over this? Can I say or do anything to make it better/ solve it?" Yes, do it. No, go to 2.

let it go

2.  Move to a higher place. Don’t be stuck at the level that created this attachment. You’re better than that. When the resentment/obsessive thought/regret comes up, repeat a mantra or just say STOP and distract yourself.  It’s hard to repeat the word ‘stop’ and continue to obsess. You are re-training your brain.

3. Read numbers 1-5 on your card. Add your own.

Order packs of cards at lapp.com/books