If you could learn an easy way to calm yourself and/or get the relational circuits in your brain back on when you’re upset, would you be interested? Stick with me here for a few minutes and I will share with you how to do that and how to help others do it, too.
As you may know, for almost 10 years, I’ve been studying how the emotional part of our brains work. I have applied it to parenting in my book, Handbook to Joy-Filled Parenting. Thanks to Dr. Jim Wilder and Dr. Karl Lehman, last week I learned a really simple way to help us all relate better. God designed our brains to be relational and to run on joy and appreciation. When our relational circuits go off, we feel irritable, impatient and intolerant. We just want to get away; we care only about results and our mind is locked on something negative. Needless to say, this can cause lots of conflict because we lose the relational aspect of our lives.
When the relational circuits are on and our brain is synchronized, we want to be with God and others. We feel joyful, connected, and glad to be with God and others. We are able to see, hear and understand people around us. Life is in harmony and we feel peaceful inside.
Which way would you like to live your life?
Because our brains are wired for relationship and function best in joy and appreciation, God has made a way to reset the brain when the RC’s go off. This is good news. Here’s how it works:
1) Think of something that you appreciate, that makes you want to say, “AHHH.” This can be something in nature, a baby’s smile, food, a person, your pet—anything that makes you feel warm and cozy. Dr. Wilder says it’s like the feeling that mothers and babies get when they are nursing. The cool thing is that it works even when it is not about something Spiritual. So you can do it with someone who does not even know God. When they experience the peace that it brings, they might want to know God.
2) Take a few seconds to think about this appreciation memory until you can feel it.
3) Give the memory a one-word name—such as “flowers, mailbox, sister, (or like one of mine below- ‘Pink Tree’).”
4) Tell someone close to you the name so they can help you go to that appreciation memory when you are upset and they can sense that you will be okay to have help. This works really well if you get some of these memories with another person and tell them to each other and the names you gave them.
This simple move to go to an appreciation moment can reset and calm our brains and bodies from lots of different upsets that happen in ordinary life. It can also help us hear God’s voice easier and help with Him healing painful memories from the past:
5) If you want to connect with Jesus to just hang out with Him, you can ask Him, “What do you want me to know about this appreciation memory?” Listen to what pops into your mind.
6) If you were upset about something right before the RC’s went off, you can ask Jesus, “What do you want me to know about ________________?” Wait for Him to answer and trust that what you hear is Him speaking to you. It will fit with His character and will bring peace.
7) If you want to talk to Jesus about anything from the past that has not been resolved, you can go to your appreciation memory and then ask Him, “What do you want me to know about ___________?”
Trust that He loves you and greatly desires to interact with you and that He is speaking to you. If it is not evil or condemning it is most likely Him. I have heard many stories about things He has shown or told people that are funny, joking, and very interesting. So don’t put Him in a box.
Today I thought of an example that might encourage us to be attentive to our RC’s going off and help us want to remember to turn to appreciation to get them back on. When you feel the need to go to the bathroom, do you remember the importance of listening to that feeling? I bet you do.
What if we paid that much attention to our relational circuits going off, or being off, and turned to an appreciation moment to get them back on before we hurt someone we love by being non-relational, saying things we will regret, or just plain ignoring them? It is simple—and it works. Go ahead and try it.
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable,, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8
In Part Two I will talk about how our past unresolved traumas can trigger us, turn off the RC’s and cause us to think that the person in front of us is the problem.