Traumatic events stick with us for a long time because of how the brain works: for every experience we have, the brain codes all the details to store the information for later. —Rose Caiola
Mental exercises help build new brain cells and strengthen the connections between them, which is why here at Rewire Me we find it beneficial to challenge the brain with new activities every week. This week’s mental workout is about learning to alleviate anxiety during stressful situations. Sometimes you need to focus in on the situation at hand in order to pull yourself out of it.
What To Do
Close your eyes and allow the stressful image to come into the present moment. Welcome it as best you can. Imagine you can step back out of the picture and see yourself in it. If the picture is in color, drain the color out until it’s in black and white. Push the picture as far from you as it will go. Shrink the picture down by 50%. Imagine you’re looking at the picture through the lens of a camera. Slide the lens until the picture is blurry. Imagine there’s a dimmer in your head. Turn it down as far as it will go until there is as little light as possible.
Consider the shape of the picture; change it to any other shape of your choice. Shrink the picture down by 50% more. Notice where the picture is located in space (front, behind, left, right); rotate it 180 degrees. Shrink the picture as far down as possible. Imagine you can destroy this speck in any way that feels right to you—burn it, step on it, throw it into space. When the speck is gone, take a deep breath, release it, and open your eyes. Take a look around the room. Notice any differences in your mind or body.
Why To Do It
It’s possible to actually rewire your brain to change how you interpret stressful situations, through a process called Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP allows us to alter our mental picture of an upsetting event, and in doing so, cut the neural pathways that bring up negative emotions and forge new neural pathways with more positive associations. When you change the picture, you change the reaction that follows.