BRAIN REBOOT - Chapter 1
Chapter one is about how you can manipulate the way your brain automatically and immediately triggers an emotional response. You will learn how to trigger the DMN (Default Mode Network), that is an antidote to emotional stress.
Extract from my book:
The key points in my story are about motivation and remotivation. Both were derived from a fearfulness from my own incompetence. I couldn’t get any worse so the only way was up. The motivation was a desire for the opposite of what I was fearful of: to feel secure, to be physically able again, to beat my brother at chess, to have a professional identity, and independence.
The points of motivation all had a single emotional basis, and the feelings this fear generated translated into forward action. I found a few activities that helped me. Simple focused activities targeted at improving physical strength and flexibility and giving me a locus of control. My brain had been tricked into a new emotional state. My actions were self-determined, and fear released its hold on my brain. I was then rewarded by floods of feel-good hormones. In recovering from my coma, I found that action led to a feeling of well-being.
Data collected from my own research led me to a consulting role with a biotech start-up in New York. It was ideal to see if my brain could “show-up” and do a full day’s hard work. It did. I slept more than usual but I felt inspired. In fact, this is the period where I wrote the initial proposal for my applied doctoral research in neuroscience. Many moons later and after defending the thesis I moved into a university context to teach and finish my further research.
I eventually defended the thesis with a Swiss university that had found relevance in my work. Post defense, they offered me the position of professor, allowing me to spend time teaching, supervising doctoral students, and consulting to business on the application of neuroscience around performance and organizational development. It was an unreal dream come true! It felt surreal. Ten years before I was in a coma. With high levels of motivation, it is possible to change behavior in a sustainable way. My previous self would have been proud, but instead I felt humbled and grateful. When you see actors at the Oscars saying, “it’s an honor being nominated,” it sounds cheesy, but at this point I understood humility in a whole new way. It was not as simple as that however. My new behaviors needed to happen very frequently for my brain to get used to the new neurological boost in activity.
To feel satisfied the brain needs reward hormones. With reliable new behaviors, we can feel more in control, confident of the ability to perceive the effect of this emotion, and choose our responses. I was happy in my work. Such a relief to feel useful again. I applied these insights to my coaching process, adapting them into a model of leadership to create behavior-based change. There is no greater privilege or humbling honor to coach another’s brain and behavior. Facilitating awareness of their triggers, to bear witness, to be their Sherpa, and lend a hand that allows them to adapt to finding better behaviors is truly a gift.
Today my clients, who suffer symptoms of distress, diabetes, hypertension, and insomnia due to their demanding workloads, have become aware of how their brain is triggered, realizing their lives need not be defined by their stressful situation. It is much easier to suffer than to be a responsible survivor who leads a behavior change out of distress and adversity, physically or professionally. The epiphany is apparent when people realize that their lives don’t need to be defined by the damaging events of the past. Sure, I recovered from serious brain damage, but my real blessing comes from the honor coaching another person into finding their path to lead themselves into a state of grace. Be it physical or professional stress, the brain processes it all the same. All behavior is first triggered by the context or environment that you find yourself in.