Q: I listened to your podcast with Chazmith today. You spoke about the main point of rounds being to elevate the emotional state. But what about rewiring things that are cross wired? I mainly ask because no coach has ever emphasized the importance of triggering myself before a round or doing incremental training and I am curious if just doing rounds will successfully rewire the brain.
A: Good question. To clarify, what I meant in my talk is that the during the practice rounds or redirecting component of retraining (depending on which program you are doing), we are trying to achieve and embody a positive emotional state. The better we are at doing this, the more helpful it is in the rewiring process. What you're asking about is what we do before starting a round/redirecting. Yes, it is important to incrementally train, trigger yourself, or sense into a trigger that is already present before trying to redirect and elevate your emotional state.
For those who are a little fuzzy on what cross-wiring means, the notion is this: In a limbic system impairment, our brains have come to associate certain stimuli (whether that be places, things, smells, certain activities, etc.) as being threatening to us. When we encounter those things, the brain goes into a stress and protective response, which then leads to symptoms. The stimuli could be something that was directly involved in the limbic injury or it could be something that simply happened to be present at a stressful time, and because it was present the limbic system has now associated it with being a stressor. For example, we could have been eating a certain food when something stressful (and totally unrelated) happened, but because we were eating that food (or in that environment) the limbic system has now associated it as being a threat. As a result, we have reactions moving forward when we eat that thing (or go to that place). Regardless of whether the stimuli was involved directly or just happened to be present, our brain now registers it as a threat and has a stress response when we encounter it. Our goal through retraining is to change the pattern of association with the perceived threats. We do this by exposing ourselves in small ways to threat and then immediately redirect the brain through a round of practice or some other form of redirecting that results in an elevate emotional state. By repeating this process over and over, the brain begins to form a new pattern of association - it no longer sees the original stimuli as a threat but rather starts to associate it with feeling good. As a result, the stress response is no longer triggered when we encounter it, and we are able to move forward in our wellbeing.
It is not necessary to trigger oneself with all things that the brain perceives as threatening. As we work with some things and the limbic system starts to calm down and rewire, it can naturally and automatically change some patterns of associations. This likely occurs because some patterns are interconnected. That being said, if something is really triggering to you, or evokes a lot of fear or a stress response, it is a good idea to work with it directly as a trigger and to slowly increase your exposure while retraining around it.
Outside of rounds or redirecting, elevated emotional states in general are very good for reinforcing the healthy neuropathways and acting as a buffer against firing the old pathways. The more time we can spend throughout our days in an elevated emotional state, the better off we are, and the better we feel. It is a worthwhile goal to try and elevate your mood as much as possible throughout your days, and to use your emotional state as a baseline indicator of how your brain is firing in the moment. If you notice negative emotions, it is a sign that your brain is currently traveling down the old pathways and could use some redirection. The better we are at staying out of negative thoughts and emotions, the sooner the old pathways will start to prune away and it will become a lot easier and more natural to be in an elevated mood state. Eventually the elevate mood becomes our new baseline of functioning.
Until next time!
If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com