Feeling Creatures Who Think

Another powerful concept Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor provided in her TEDx Talk is the concept that we are feeling creatures who think. We are not thinking people who feel, yet this is what our society believes and values – which is at the heart of many of our issues.

brainHere is the science and biology behind it. Our limbic system is constantly asking, “Am I safe?” If things feel familiar to our limbic system then we feel calm and safe. The system then sends the message “I am safe” to our nervous system including our higher cortex, our thinking brain. When things are not familiar, then our limbic system panics and jumps into self-preservation. As this happens, the hypocampus shuts down our thinking brain. An example of this is test anxiety where the situation is unfamiliar so the limbic system panics and shuts down our ability to think clearly.

What does this mean for you?

Although our biology works unconsciously, we can consciously choose to turn on our higher mind and think past the limbic’s fear. Using mindfulness to calm our minds and knowing that emotions wash over us in 90 seconds, we can stop, breathe, and then choose to think different – ensuring we don’t make poor, muddle choices in our haze of emotions.

Knowing how our brain and emotions work also helps us see our society in a different way. Our society, based on thinking and doing, discounts individuals, their feelings, and their worth. By shifting our focus to our feeling and intrinsic value, we can create a society based on human value. We can learn to:

  • Care about humanity as a whole, not our personal gain.
  • Focus on people instead of profits.
  • Increase equality, not reinforce stifling authority and us versus them.
  • Use our similarities to find understanding, versus attacking others for differences.
  • Become compassionate instead of competitive.
  • Forgive, not judge and attack.

The third lesson of this science is the stress relief it provides. When we stop striving, competing, doing, and longing after money, we can then focus more on what brings us joy – connection with others, creating a community, respecting the equal rights of all, finding understanding through acceptance, being compassionate, and using forgiveness to release our self-created prisons of hate. Moving our focus from our left “doing” brain to our left “feeling” brain, we become more peaceful, joyful, and stress free.

Are you ready to embrace being a feeling creature who thinks? How will it change how you approach your day?

Melissa Heisler, Stress Reduction Expert

Compassionate Objectivity

Jeff Weiner’s Post

Recently Jeff Weiner CEO at LinkedIn wrote a powerful essay about managing compassionately.   In his article, he outlines three parts of managing compassionately.  The first is to understand compassion is not empathy, but compassion is seeing and understanding another’s pain objectively allowing you to act or provide relief.  The second aspect given is that although some of us are born with a tendency for compassion, it is possible for all of us to learn and expand our own compassion quotient.  The final ingredient of managing compassionately according to Jeff is the need to have both compassion and wisdom. 

Understanding the other, or using compassion not empathy, is a common tool I use with many of my business and personal clients.  In many difficult or tense situations, there is a tendency to make it all about me.  It becomes about what this person is doing or not doing to me.  It is about how another’s actions are affecting me.  It is about my personal stories and judgments created about the other person’s motivations.  It becomes about my expectations of how others should act.  In these situations, I like to twist the old breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me,” to “It’s not me, it’s you.”

Whenever you are in a situation where you are beginning to take things personally or have strong thoughts about how another should be acting, stop.  Take a deep breath.  Release your beliefs about how people should act, release your personal values and preferences, and release your expectations of how the situation so go.  Be sure to also release any thought that this is being done to you.  Very few people actually intend to harm others.  If harm is felt, first of all it is because we accept the harm.  We choose to view it as an attack and to experience it that way.  No one can do anything to you; you have to let them harm you.  Second, the person who hurts others may be unaware of how they are affecting others (which is a great time to help them become aware in a compassionate caring manner) or they may be aware but their own fears or worries make them feel obligated to act like they are acting.  Once we can step out of our own emotions, expectations, and stories, we can then see the issue from a truly objective manner.  From this objectivity, solutions can be found.  Without compassionate objectivity, we become caught in the unending loop of attack-pain-fear-attack.

When we can step out of our point of view, our emotions, and our expectations to see a situation from another’s point of view it is powerful.   We now have a clearer idea of intent.  We have an idea about what the other person is looking for or fearing might happen.  We have the objective understanding of another’s pain and issues.  And we now have the ability to work through the true issue, not the story we are making up about the issue.  We become empowered by seeing and addressing the true issue and not our imagined scenario.  The next time there is an issue at home or work try using compassionate objectivity and notice the difference in your experience and the results.