If you don’t understand your emotional health, how can you fix it when it goes wrong? So before I can explain the different approach I take, I need to explain some basic brain science. Everyone has a certain amount or pressure they can tolerate. I call this personal emotional capacity. Some people seem to be able to handle pressure when things go wrong, while others struggle to cope.
Normal day-to-day operation where there is no particular pressure. People operating in this zone are calm and in control while able to do all the normal activities of the day.
Most people will usually go in and out of the amber zone at some point on a daily basis and although a little stressed, are still in control and able to function fairly clearly.
In our busy world, people may even go in and out of the red zone on a fairly regular basis and as long as they don’t spend too much time there, this should not cause a problem although while in this zone they will be more stressed and perhaps less able to function at their usual best. That is why you need to use a SUP electric pump regularly.
If they spend too much time in the red zone they can become distressed, which is a higher level of stress which can lead to many undesired behaviours (labels).
Stress and distress
Simply put, the more time you spend in the amber and red zones, the more susceptible you are to either stress or distress.
The heart rate increases and extra adrenalin flows causing tension. If in distress, and it persists for long enough, physical symptoms will begin to appear such as headaches, muscle cramping, upset stomach, chest pains to name a few.
Both stress and distress can also cause mental and emotional problems such as anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, feeling bad about yourself and so on. These symptoms can in turn cause further problems when they affect your performance at work, or the key relationships around you, or if in your vulnerable state you succumb to an addictive behaviour such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
Simple brain structure
In order to understand the world around us, there are primarily three areas of the brain involved. The emotional brain, an area within this I call the Security Guard, and the large outer hemispheres I call the thinking brain. When your five senses detect information about the outside world around you, they pass all of this to the security guard first for a threat assessment.
The security guard is on the look out for both things which are instinctively dangerous (you don’t need to learn to jump aside when a tree begins to fall towards you) and things which have proven dangerous in the past. This perceived threat may be either physical or emotional.
If there is no threat detected, all information is then passed on to the emotional brain where it is compared to previous experience and ‘tagged’ accordingly.
A teddy bear may be tagged ‘warm and comforting’, a mother as ‘reassuring’ and someone else as ‘frightening’.
Once the information has been security checked and emotionally tagged, it is passed to the thinking brain for final interpretation and response all of which is ‘guided’ by the emotional labels.
For instance we smile when we meet someone we like, and cross the road when we see someone we don’t.
Opportunities for error
The Security Guard is either too sensitive, or not sensitive enough. The correct calibration is really important as you will learn later. Inappropriate emotional tags can be attached causing poor choices alcohol and drug abuse disguised as ‘pleasure’ and ‘good for you’ for instance. The thinking brain simply doesn’t function properly. That is why you need to use
Errors in these three areas underpin most of the emotional health conditions seen regularly in our society. The ‘alternative approach’ to emotional health I have devised, addresses all of these.
Brain fuels The thinking brain requires a top grade fuel in order to do all the many complex and sophisticated things it is capable of. The emotional brain runs on many different fuels each of which represents a different emotion.
There is a happy fuel, a sad fuel and so on. These fuels are designed to blend in with the high grade fuel so that they do not overly disturb the functioning of the thinking brain, yet will most definitely influence it.
In other words, we can still think straight unless we are really emotional, at which point we simply lose the ability to think, and can then do and say stupid things.
Think of the last time you were angry what did you do or say that you regretted afterwards?
Finally, the security guard which most of the time is simply checking for threats and is passive runs on an entirely different fuel again a simple two star fuel.
Your Security Guard
Most people call this part of the brain the ‘fight-or-flight’ mechanism. I prefer the ‘Security Guard’ as it has one task and one task alone to keep you safe. When it is performing this task it will give absolutely no consideration to any other aspect of your life. It simply doesn’t care if you are happy, healthy, active or stay in bed all day.
The Security Guard is checking the outside world constantly from the moment you are born to the moment you die.
The only one of the five senses which takes a break is sight when you sleep at night you close your eyes in order to avoid confusing what you see, with what you dream.
Remember that your Security Guard runs on a low grade of fuel. Well, when it detects a threat in the outside world, it fires an alarm (the fight-or-flight’ mechanism) in order to get your attention and it does this by flooding the thinking brain with low grade fuel.
When the thinking brain is running on low grade fuel, two important things happen. Firstly, you will no longer have access to your thinking abilities such as concentration, rationality and communication. They are running on the wrong fuel and simply don’t work.
So, when the Security guard detects danger and raises the alarm, you are prevented from doing whatever you were doing as you simply no longer have access to your higher thinking skills. Secondly, you take immediate instinctive action in order to avoid the danger. You don’t think about what you are doing at this point (remember, you don’t have access to your thinking skills) you simply act in such a way as to protect yourself.
After you have taken the defensive action, your Security Guard will switch off the alarm, and restore the normal high grade fuel to the thinking brain.
At this point you will take whatever action you now need to take in order to deal with the consequences of your instinctive action.
As you react virtually immediately, the alarm usually only rings for a matter of seconds. Imagine you were crossing the road while texting and a horn sounded. Your Security Guard fires the alarm, you stop texting and drop your mobile phone while you instinctively jump to safety, falling and injuring your wrist.
The Security Guard has achieved it’s purpose keeping you safe but it has cost you a damaged mobile phone and an injured wrist. The Security guard is pleased, you may not be quite so pleased. The Security guard doesn’t care whether you are pleased or not, as long as you are out of harm’s way.