For the past week, I've been connecting the model of five Brain States from Wired for Joy with my own models. It's occurred to me that we move productively between brain states, as well as go directly to Joy/Brain State One. As I pondered that possibility, here's the framework I developed:
When we're in Brain State 2, we're feeling good. Our thinking and feeling processes are balanced. We're getting our needs met, in part because our feelings provide reliable guidance and self motivation. Our relating with others proves to be mutually beneficial, validating and encouraging. There are times when these experiences might suddenly disappear. Thinking might become excessive and leave us feeling bored, exhausted and stressed. Our needs may stop getting met or even recognized as valid needs. Our feelings might become unreliable, anxious and urgent. Our relating may become one-sided, taxing and discouraging.
When such losses occur, one option is to use the Feelings Check Tool to restore Brain State 1. We could also upgrade our thinking down in Brain State 3 to get back everything we were experiencing in Brain State 2. It's likely that we relying on flawed reasoning in Brain State 3 which needs upgrading. We could restore the balance between our thinking and feeling by:
- complicating what we think is the one right answer with two ways to go about it, two situations that call for it or two premises for considering if it's right
- realizing the thing we're dwelling on is also a process with a life of its own which is moving toward an unpredictable future by involving many other factors
- taking the facts that upset us into the realm of varied perceptions and attributions, subjective frames of reference and stories to be told about the facts
- considering what's missing in our one sided explanation, how to integrate the opposite approach or how to do both instead of only one or the other
When we're in Brain State 3, we're "a little stressed". We're trying to live up to some ideals and to realize some goals. We're keeping up appearances and seeking others' approval. We're thinking our emotions will get us into trouble if we flip our lid, follow those urges or take out our frustrations on others. To maintain the necessary self control, we indulge in rigid thinking and adversarial tactics to keep others in line. These experiences might suddenly disappear if we became ambushed by unexpected setbacks, embarrassments or confrontations. We may get a hot button pushed which leaves us feeling betrayed and exposed as a pretentious fake. We may sabotage our own ambitions with lurking inhibitions, blockages and fixations. We may become possessed by embarrassing and unproductive moods. We may indulge in regrettable outbursts, proclamations or revelations.
When any of these changes come over us, we can use the Emotional Housecleaning Tool to get back to Brain State 1. We could also upgrade our self concept, goals and projects by:
- exploring the scenario of meeting with widespread disapproval and discovering what we value in ourselves regardless of others' opinions
- considering the possibility of a blatant failure at living up to imposed expectations in order to uncover deeper, more respectful expectations we harbor for ourselves
- writing out the passionate rejection, condemnation or indictment of others to get it out of our system before burning up the paper it's written on
- taking a break to do something worthless, unimpressive or even disgraceful to dismantle our own perfectionistic hidden agendas
With this framework in mind, we have more choices of where to go from an undesired Brain State. There's work we can do that leaves us in better shape for future enjoyments. We become less of a burden to ourselves and others while restoring what we experience as beneficial in Brain States 2 & 3.