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Saturday, January 1, 2011

How to Lessen the Power of Anxiety and Fearful Feelings

I would like to answer this comment directly>
Ginger has left a new comment on your post "You Are What you Do. You are what you Think. Forge...": Here is the comment:

I love this essay and think it's really powerful and important. I especially connect with the "forget how you feel" message, and realize how easy & useless it can be to sink into the quagmire of feelings.

Recently though, I stumbled onto a realization. If I "name" my feelings, their power lessens.

For example, one day last week I was feeling extremely anxious and afraid. I thought to myself, "I am afraid. I am anxious." I then moved on...I did not linger on those feelings, analyze them, or try to explain or rid myself of them.

I actually felt my heart rate come down. I felt calmer & better able to function.

Could it be that the act of naming the feelings accessed the thinking part of my brain (neocortex?) allowing me to in a sense, pull away & get some distance from the feeling?

I've done this a few times now & it worked well each time. It's really fascinating to me.

Here is my response:

Dear Ginger,

You are right to think that naming your feelings lessens them. That is because naming your feelings, and studying them objectively is rational neocortex activity. Any neocortical activity beefs up neural activity in the neocortex, the rational thinking part of your brain, and lessens neural activity in the subcortex, the emotional part of your brain.

Subjective self focus on feelings is not the same thing as objectively naming them and analyzing them. In objectively studying feelings you are distancing yourself from your feelings by separating yourself out of your feelings and becoming the observer of your pain rather than merely suffering your pain. A. B. Curtiss

1 comment:

Ginger said...

I hear what you are saying. It's good to know (& to try to remember) that "Any neocortical activity beefs up neural activity in the neocortex..." Thanks!