Have you ever stopped to think about the words you use and their impact on your emotions, relationships and even your finances? Let’s start with beliefs. If I think that I have to work hard to get ahead, I am going to keep my nose to the ground and plow ahead, or maybe I’ll feel defeated and not have a lot of motivation. Either way, the statement will drive my energy and thus lead me to a certain lifestyle.
What happens if we change our words? Well, if it was so easy, more people would do it and that doesn’t seem to happen. Why not?
It actually has to do with our brain and our hard-wired habits. Think about a habit. It takes 18 to 254 days to form a new habit and 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. Most of us do not invest that much time into creating new behaviors or habits. Plus, when the pleasure part of our brain is rewarding us, we don’t really want to change.
What happens when you feel overwhelmed and heading to burnout? What happens when the words “I have to work hard to get ahead” are replaying in your brain and you don’t see a way out of it? Luckily, there are new therapies and approaches to work with our whole brain/body connection to get to the stuck, unaware thoughts and feelings – even to generational patterns around money.
One approach is called Brainspotting. It is based on getting to the parts of the brain that talking alone won’t get to. It is in these tucked away, out-of-awareness parts of our brain that change can happen and have a rippling effect in our lives. Once these parts are reorganized, our lives can flourish.
When we keep thinking the same thing over and over, we are wiring the neuro networks in our brain to fire the same pattern. It’s like driving down the same road over and over, forgetting last time you got lost this way, so you repeat the error. You set in a negative habit.
We need new routes/ways to build new neuro pathways. The best way is to work with our entire system. The part of our brain known as the neocortex engages our thinking brain and it has a part that connects directly to our regulatory system. This is the system that helps us ebb and flow with our emotions, thoughts and actions. When we are flooded with a thought such as I have to work hard to get ahead and live life from that thought, we are overusing our bodies. We also have tunnel vision. Our visual field narrows, and it’s hard to see the bigger picture in a calm, relaxed way, so we miss things. We also don’t reconsider our words and thought patterns.
Logic says why not use an approach to heal that incorporates our visual field and our thoughts? Brainspotting does just that. It connects a thought, an emotion, a body sensation with our eyes in a focused-mindfulness way to support our brains/bodies to heal. Our innate capacity to heal helps make it all work. We can observe what arises in a way that we do not get too overwhelmed.
Let’s break this down and try something.
We take in 80% of all impressions through our eyes. The eyes are like a portal which passes information to our brains where we process. It connects to our memory, sensations and past experiences. For example, if we all look at this picture. We will each see it differently and interpret what it is based on our personal frame of reference.
It has been found that gazing at a spot in our visual field can calm our nervous system. The Trataka meditation is based on this. They focus on a candle and have studied the effects on the brain. Research is discovering that through our eyes, we can detect various mental-health issues. Tratka has discovered through the eyes we can calm the mind. Brainspotting has found through the eyes we can get to deep seated material to unravel stuck beliefs and release held body pains for a calmer, more fulfilling life.
Regarding tunnel vision. When we are caught in fear, our eyes narrow away from peripheral vision and we do not receive/process signals from our peripheral field. We lose sight of what is around us. This often happens when we are overstressed, anxious or in a traumatic situation. When our vision is narrow, our hearing also gets narrowed and we will not be as accurate in interpreting the present situation. This can lead to job error, poor financial choices, relationship disruption, and many other hardships. It’s another reason why working with our eyes to shift old beliefs and patterns is so important.
Now consider your body. When you are in fear, stress or upsetting situations, your muscles will get a signal to protect yourself. The signal comes from your brain and your brain interpreted that based on what your eyes were focusing on. Conclusion: They are all connected.
Let’s put it all together
Think about our example or follow along with something from your belief system: I have to work hard to get ahead. When I think about that, my body is tense, and my shoulders are hunched over. I feel the tension quite strong in my upper back between my shoulders. On a scale of 0-10, 0 being no tension and 10 a lot, it is a 7. In a Brainspotting session I would look around to see where I am looking that is a 7 or stronger. For this example, I closed my eyes, felt the tension in my shoulders and opened my eyes feeling that tension the strongest looking to the right between the center and extreme right. As I write this, it is looking at the window shade.
If I wanted to explore this more with focused mindfulness, I would keep my eyes there. I may or may not be doing this with bilateral sound music. The music can help the tunnel hearing and support the integration between my right and left brain. More on that in our next blog.
As I am writing this and focusing, I am discovering this was a strong belief my mother and grandmother had. The women in my family were the hard workers. We could not rely on the men to take care of us. My brain now switches to how much I long for that and set my life up seeking that, and it never worked. But I worked hard in my relationship trying to make something happen. I worked hard trying to get ahead and didn’t. But now I see all the people that helped me along the way and it is not fully true. My deep brain and my neocortex are now talking and rewiring this old belief. I am feeling my shoulders more relaxed. To save your time, I will say this process of feeling and making connections went on for about 5 minutes until I heard myself talking to my mother and grandmother expressing gratitude for their work ethic but told them I feel more faith and support so I can work hard but also in balance. I feel a strong drive to switch it.
This session will lead to new decisions in scheduling and asking for help.