Have you ever found yourself behaving in compulsive ways? Or perhaps you find that your feelings change without reason.
You may find yourself impulsively carrying out actions even when you’ve firmly decided not to. The cause of such overwhelming and contrary feelings very likely stems from your reptilian brain.
What is the reptilian brain?
Our reptilian brain forms one of three parts. It’s composed of the basal ganglia and the brain stem and is responsible for our primitive drives including the flight or fight response. It’s also involved in forming habits.
This primitive part of our brain has powerful survival drives is invaluable when it comes to protecting us from danger. Unfortunately, it can interpret modern problems as serious threats. This means that you may find yourself reacting very strongly to everyday stresses.
For example, for some, going on a diet can trigger the survival response which leads to compulsive eating. Or if we experience intense negative emotions, our reptilian brain may compel us to procrastinate to stop the feeling.
It is vital to manage and override the powerful effect of our ‘lizard brain’. Fortunately, another part of our brain, the neocortex, holds the key to managing our feelings and improving our lives.
It’s the rational part of the brain and we’re going to learn ways to engage it. With these helpful tips, we’ll be able to control our compulsive behavior and lead happier lives.
The reason why meditation works is that it helps manage the vagaries of compulsive feelings. Ultimately, meditating is an activity that creates mental discipline. It’s all about relaxing and embracing stillness while observing your thoughts and feelings.
Practicing meditation on a regular basis will ground you to the present moment. It will enable you to listen to your lizard brain without identifying with it. With time and practice, you’ll be able to observe thoughts of anxiety and compulsiveness without reacting to them. You’ll strengthen your mental muscles enough to stop acting on unhelpful thoughts.
When you experience survival responses in the form of anxiety or stress and then respond with compulsive actions, it can be hard to break away from such cycles.
This is because your reptilian brain uses your own voice and creates emotions that feel like you. You need to have the ability to separate yourself from unhelpful feelings.
One powerful way to do that is to use symbols. Follow these steps to understand how conscious symbolism will help you.
Start this process when you feel uncomfortable and consider using this practice even before unhealthy feelings take hold. Think of a significant behavior or issue in your life that makes you feel like you’re battling with your own self.
- Get comfortable and sit down. Close your eyes and deliberately relax
- Focus on your feelings. if you had to point your feelings in your body, then where would you point?
- Now that you have a location for your problem. Give it features. Find its color, shape, and weight. It can feel like a heavy dark ball or like a shape that is nebulous. It can vibrate or move like smoke
- Attach your feeling to this symbol or image and take deep breaths.
- As you breathe, put your feelings into that shape and see it as something apart from you
You need to practice these steps a few times. The clearer your visualization is, the more effective you’ll find this technique.
Move Through the Feeling
We’ve looked at ways to mentally tackle the feelings and thoughts that the reptilian brain brings up. It’s also a good idea to add some physical movement as a tool to help you process and manage your feelings.
The next time you feel overwhelmed and about to do something your rational side does not want to, just move your body.
You can do this by playing music and lightly dancing. If you feel ‘silly’ or reluctant, consider that to be part of your feelings that need to be processed. You can also do Yoga that needs you to breathe deeply.
Moving your body and staying in tune with your feelings will help you process your reptilian brain urges. Adding movement can distract you can prevent you from fully entering unhelpful thoughts and identifying them.
The key to making you manage your reptilian emotions is to keep trying until you weaken its thoughts. The suggestions here will work when you practice them regularly.
As you meditative, move, or use symbols, you’ll develop the emotional intelligence you need to override anything your lizard brain throws at you. You’ll soon develop mental resilience and the ability to deal with life in your best form.