Sunday, April 30, 2006

CLUES - Why deadlines drive you crazy

Why do deadlines drive you crazy? In this issue of CLUES, you'll learn how to deal with deadlines more effectively.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reaction Management - What strategies can one put in place that makes them think about a situation before they have a negative reaction? (Lisa)

It all starts with being consciously aware of yourself. You have to take the time to analyse what your triggers are, what happens to you physically when you react without thinking and what situations you've experienced that have left you regretting your actions. I know you're reading my fortnightly newsletter on this, CLUES, and in the next few weeks, I'll be covering more on this topic.

In the meantime, take a moment and write down all the things that really irritate you. Now write down what happened when you reacted first and thought second. Did you notice anything happening to your body - were you getting tense, tummy in knots, shaking? Your body will often tell you (if you're alert to it) that you're getting worked up long before your thinking brain clicks in. Learn what your signals and your triggers are, and the moment you sense it happening, take a slow deep breath and count to five. However instead of counting to five, count to 'I'm fine.' ie 'one, two, three, four, I'm fine'. Do this a few times if you can. This should start to slow down the adrenaline flow, start sending 'stand down' messages to your amygdala and give your thinking brain time to click in. But you have to do a lot of thinking and preparation now to train your brain for what you really want it to do before The Almond Effect (R) kicks in.

There'll be an e-book of with more explanations and more than 50 strategies to develop Reaction Management on my website in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How does the brain react when I'm feeling angry or upset? Do I have any control over these responses? (Candy)

You could be feeling angry or upset because, through your senses (ears, eyes etc), your amygdala has perceived a threat. So your limbic system triggers the distribution of adrenaline and hormones to literally prepare your body to fight off the threat or flight, run like crazy away from it. Your heart starts thumping to get the blood to the large muscles in your legs, you might even go pale as the blood streams there too. You might feel sick or you might need to run to the loo - because your body has suspended digestive functions to concentrate on the fight or flight necessity. You may shake, become tense, get a headache - all symptoms of your body's preparation for fight or flight.

If it is a real life threatening situation, then you'll be pleased all this is happening, it's life saving. Often however it is not - it's just that the amygdala has reacted without waiting for the neo-cortex - thinking or rational part of the brain) to let it know what the real situation is. And then we can just 'go off' and do or say something we regret and this is The Almond Effect.

You can train yourself to control these through a number of ways. The first and most important one is to develop strong self-awareness, to be able to instantly realise when your body is showing signs of stress (adrenaline flow etc) or you find yourself reacting emotionally not rationally. Then you can immediately deploy the strategy that most works for you to calm yourself down.

I am about 3 weeks away from completing an e-book and a CD on a more detailed look at how to control The Almond Effect. Email me if you want more details.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Does The Almond Effect vary depending on the generation? Do Y's differ in effect from X's or baby boomers? (Iven)

Good question. Each generation's brains are essentially the same from a neuro-biological point of view. But the great mystery is why different brains react differently in the same situations? The amygdala sits within the limbic system in the brain. Memories and experiences are stored there. Can we say this is also the place that stores our values, our belief systems - possibly, but no-one knows for certain and there are heaps of theories. But these are what impact the various generations' reactions to the world.

The neuro-scientists can tell us that the neo-cortex in young people (teenagers) is still coming to full form whereas their amygdala is already functioning from a very early age. Maybe that's why they go off at things we don't think are that important - they don't have the ability to moderate their behaviour as well as adults.

And at the other extreme, baby boomers and seniors, have probably 'seen it all' and have taught themselves, either deliberately or by accident, to allow the thinking brain more time to click in when something stirs them up.

Underpinning our reactions are the neuro-patterns we have stored and that our amygdala identifies as a threat to life as we know it. Our experiences individually and in groups, at school, our social and work environments, the influence of the media, religion, world events and so on will all impact on what our amygdala perceives as life threatening. So yes I think there is a difference between generations, just as there are differences between individuals. It is a multi-layered response.

Why have you chosen an almond? (Ian)

The part of the brain that is always on the look out for life threatening situations is the amygdala. It is the part of the brain that acts when it perceives a threat without waiting for the neo-cortex, the thinking part of the brain, to identify whether it's a real threat or not. Problem is, the amygdala often gets it wrong. And amygdala is Greek for almond. It also has the shape of an almond, so we get The Almond Effect.

What is The Almond Effect(R) (Ian)

At its most basic, The Almond Effect is when your emotions drive you to speak or act without thinking about it first, you go off half-cocked and usually regret it!