The more we learn about how our amazing brain works, the more we are able to use it to our advantage. Rather than dumbing it down through drugs, pills or drink – rather than putting life on hold through fear, or immobility, we can learn to use what we have in the most productive way. Each one of us can.
Clearly some people are more stressed by events than others are by the same event. When you consider those things that cause you to feel anxious you may find that most of these are not in the present but are what you think might happen in the future (and most often will not). Stress often occurs because of what we are imagining rather than what is happening in the real world.
The reasons we have emotions is to alert us to potential sources of threat or reward. If life is rosy and good we have mostly positive feelings. If we are feeling anxious and stressed then it is likely that we are interpreting something in our world in a negative way.
This gives us the opportunity to notice our emotions and wonder whether the way we are interpreting events is the only way. Could there be another interpretation? It also gives us the opportunity to ‘name’ the emotion we are feeling. Is it anger, jealousy, fear, frustration, or what? Current neuroscience shows that the act of naming a negative emotion has in itself the effect of reducing it.
Neuroscience also shows that there is significant benefit to inducing a state of mind in which alpha and theta waves are produced. This can be through mindfulness, meditation or self-hypnosis. In addition I successfully help people to achieve this state using an MP3 player sized device called an Alpha-Stim. Anxiety is reduced, resilience to negative thoughts or experiences is increased, sense of self is enhanced, the ability to focus and concentrate is increased. In my experience, the people I have taught to regularly practice self - hypnosis make tremendous changes in their lives.
People have gone from feeling self conscious and fearful in groups to feeling confident and at ease. People who have had a terror of flying or driving on a motorway are now enjoying exploring the world. People who used to freeze in exam situations have learnt how to calm those fears and increase their creativity and recall. People who have been overwhelmed by the responsibility of job or family have developed the confidence to cope. As President Obama said on his route to being elected. “Yes we can”.