Have you ever wondered, what makes us gravitate towards downward spiral after making some progress on our journey? Why does that relapse happen?
The most important thing that I have learned about my brain is that there are 2 main systems in our brain. The executive system, located right behind our forehead, and the limbic system, located in the central base of the brain.
The limbic system, responsible for survival, will store peak moments that offered pleasure. Under stressful situations, it will search for a high pleasure memory and bring it up to the conscious, executive system which has a conscience and a moral code. The limbic system does not carry the capacity for conscience. So, whenever we don’t live in harmony or in balance, it triggers an alert mode for the executive brain which makes our mind over think and consequently we tend to go a downward spiral and become prone to relapse.
The limbic brain is the first to react to stressful situations by suggesting a way out of the pain. It is quick to react and brings the suggestion to the executive system to carry out the suggestion.The memory of a high pleasure moment is always stored in the limbic system. Under stress, the limbic will bring up those moments of high pleasures (Mainly old memories of pleasure from alcohol, family moments, accomplishments, appreciations or any addictive thought patterns, etc) as a suggestion for the executive system to carry out. If the executive system carries out the limbic system suggestion, the body gets a high dopamine reward. But the executive brain, realizing the consequences of those downward spiral things (If we are aware of ourselves and the things going on between ears.), can reason that this is a bad idea that can lead to a pattern of losing sleep, social anxiety, inefficient work, and ultimately forming a repetitive pattern where the limbic system again goes back to emergency mode.
The executive system does not own an intrusive, pleasure thought and in turn feels ashamed by it, since the thought came from the limbic system which is a part of the brain that is responsible for survival and is not equipped with the conscience. This is important because false guilt over the origin of a thought can lead toward greater shame.
The executive function has an amazing ability to stop the thought. Using verbal commands like “NO, NOT AN OPTION” or “ABSOLUTELY NOT” as an internal verbal command, the executive function system addresses the limbic system and shuts down the limbic system’s demand. Let me give you an analogy, think about it – a child asking for a huge piece of cake and a barking dog are similar in that they are both running on limbic system drives. Both will retreat when the executive system is engaged to say “NO”. To the child, “NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT.” To the dog,”NO!!” The child may cry, but the demand stops. The dog will run and bark from far away. This example suggests that your limbic brain will stop pushing an urge to those downward spiral things again in the same way that the child and the dog stopped – but only if you see the limbic brain as being separate from the executive brain.
If you keep the limbic brain out of emergency mode, it will not engage in high pleasure suggestions. This is where self-care is important which I have learned the hard way after many years of failures. But I am very thankful to my Inner guidance and for always leading me on the right path even after many failures! 🙂
Sleeping, eating well, and exercise keep the limbic system out of emergency mode. Also, gives healthy dopamine amount. Fill your life with good activities and you will have healthy dopamine levels. No fun in life means that the limbic system is deprived and will kick into emergency mode.
Prayer and silence are the keys.
a. Silence: Be aware of what is going on between your ears. The 2 systems are tricky, but with regular silence, you can sense what’s happening.
b. Prayer is the foundation of everything. God’s grace gives the power to balance the brain, but if we don’t connect throughout the day, we’re spinning our wheels on everything.
On a closing note – choose LOVE in everything you do. 🙂 ?
CREDIT: Ideology and Concept by Abhishek Rathore