In these times of great uncertainty, our brain’s built-in warning system (the amygdala) can hijack our thinking with a powerful flood of emotions that lead us down a spiraling path of fear and anxiety. The more we allow those fearful thoughts to come into our conscious mind, the speed of the downward spiral accelerates, and we find ourselves constantly worrying and, potentially, losing hope.
This is a very normal reaction to our concern about the unknown, but it also disables the executive function of our brain that is needed for good decision making. So, how do we stop the hijack? (1) We need to create what we call The Pattern Interrupt. In other words, when you feel the worrisome thoughts starting to take hold, you need to stop the pattern with an interrupt that moves you in another direction. In times like this, (2) the best Pattern Interrupt is to substitute those fearful thoughts with thoughts about what you are grateful for right now. (3) Just take a minute and look around you; what do you see that brings you joy, makes you smile, warms your heart? What little things made a difference in your day, that made it better? Was it a thoughtful word or gesture by someone? Whatever it is or was, give it a moment to slosh around in your mind. Feel the warmth of the moment of dopamine flowing into your brain!
The uncertainty has not gone away, but your brain is now countering the hijack emotions and giving you space and time to make better, more considerate decisions. This is not only a powerful personal tool, but you can make it a great management tool by encouraging your teams to do it as well. Keep interrupting those patterns that aren’t helping you advance and have a better day!