According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, about 18% of Americans are currently suffering from some kind of mental problem, be it worrying, anxiety or stress. All these mental issues are highly dangerous and may lead to the development of more sinister ailments.
Were you aware of the fact that we actually have two brains? Well, cognitively, not physically. There’s the thinking and non-thinking brain, each of them with their own unique characteristics. Our brains are wired to worry first and think second, and according to one scientist, the connections that run from the emotional to the cognitive system are stronger than vice-versa. This system is known as the limbic system, and is actually a set of structures that provoke emotional responses. The limbic system is the oldest system in the brain, and consists of the amygdala and hippocampus.
The youngest part of the brain is actually the prefrontal cortex, and it is in charge of our thinking. This might explain why we sometimes make dumb decisions – it’s actually because the PFC is still evolving. The worrying brain often overrules the thinking part of the brain, but luckily, there is a way to override it. We live in a fast-paced society that overwhelms us, and the constant stimulations put our brain in a fight-or-flight response far too often, which leads to bad decisions.
How to override the limbic system
If you could just see inside your brain, you’ll see how some connections light up from the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex – it’s actually your emotional brain telling your thinking brain what to do. However, by learning how to override it, you’ll reap incredible awards. It’s very simple actually – just take pen and paper and write down 3 benefits which you’ll get if emotions didn’t control your life. If you can’t think of anything, let us help:
- Save money
- Stress less
- Be more productive
There. Write this down and keep the list close to you – you’ll need it when the going gets tough.
Learn to stop worrying
Worrying is absolutely detrimental for our mental health, which is why we need to reverse the default pathway of the brain (limbic system to cortex). Once you learn how to do it, you’ll control the worrying part of the brain and start thinking with a clear head.
Here are a few tips on how to stop worrying by Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne from the University of Massachusetts:
Start from your irrational beliefs
Due to our illogical beliefs, we often see threats where we actually shouldn’t. These beliefs are strongly rooted to the “must’s” in our life, so once you get rid of them, the worries should go away.
Talk your way through your feelings
Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves a process in which the patients substitute the negative thoughts with positive or neutral thinking. This should help you think more clearly when in a thigh spot.
Set feelings aside when making big decisions
If you want to make the best decision for yourself, you need to block out the emotions. We are emotional beings swayed by emotional arguments, but the sooner you separate logic from emotion, the better your choices will be.
Get support from people who want to help
Support means a lot when going through a difficult period, which is why the “sponsors” are so important for AA and similar programs. The other person can serve as your cortex when you’re not thinking clearly or if you’re addicted to something that affects your limbic system.
Once you learn how to control yourself, you will overcome all your fears. By gaining more and more strength through good decisions, you’ll be able to control your impulses and become a better person because of it.