Neuro-science

Name it. Greet it. Delete it.

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If you follow my Facebook page you know that I share a lot of neuroscience articles and articles that help you understand yourself better so you can make positive changes easier. One of the recent ones noted that in order to deal with negative emotions, it can be helpful to start by naming what you are feeling. This kicks off a neurological process that actually makes working through the negative emotion a bit easier.

Of course, we ...

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Complex Emotions

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When discussing embarrassment, according to the American Psychological Association’s Kristen Weir (APA, 2012),

“Embarrassment is what’s known as a self-conscious emotion. While basic emotions such as anger, surprise or fear tend to happen automatically, without much cognitive processing, the self-conscious emotions, including shame, guilt, and pride, are more complex. They require self-reflection and self-evaluation.”

For the purposes of this post, it is the self-reflection and self-evaluation part that defines the Complex Emotions. I should add that when we combine more ...

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Dyad & Compound Emotions

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Humans are very complex emotional beings. We are capable of far more than only the core/basic emotions. We can combine emotions that create entirely new internal experiences. We can process those emotions with a wide variety of thoughts, which feedback into the emotional experience, and can even alter it. And believe it or not, our emotions are stored in more places than just our brain! When we are stressed out, our back, neck, and shoulder muscles become tense. And ...

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Core Emotions

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There are a variety of models of emotional experience that identify different core, or basic emotions. I will give a broad overview of the model that most closely matches my basic approach to how we build our emotional experience: Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions. Plutchik went far beyond this overview by asserting postulates that govern our emotional experiences. I do not cover these, nor will I delve into the definitions of primary, secondary and tertiary.

Plutchik went far beyond this overview by ...

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The Emotional Experience Series

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Over the next several weeks, I will be publishing a series of posts about our emotional experience. Some of the information will be based on currently published research, some will be based on my understanding of the implications of that research and the directions we should pursue moving forward. Due to the vast nature of the subject matter, there is no way I can cover all of the information available on each topic, but I will give a broad overview. ...

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Where to turn when you can’t even see which way is up

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I’m not just talking about a Murphy’s Law day. I’m talking about when things feel so messed up in your life that even deciding where to start feels impossible and is just another to-do on your already insanely long to-do list. When the people you turn to just aren’t there, or you realize that you’ve already isolated yourself and there’s really nobody to turn to. It’s a terribly lonely place, but there is a way out.

I tell clients that ...

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Help! Teenage Depression!

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Most parents understand teenage angst, the sometimes obnoxious independence and defiance, even seemingly random outbursts of anger and frustration over minor annoyances (well, it’s minor to the adult . . . to a teen, it often feels like a major issue).

If we look at “problematic” issues in teenagers as a pile of dirt (I know, there are other metaphors . . . ), the first 6 feet of that pile is totally normal and nothing to worry about. If you ...

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Approach/Avoid; Inhibit/Excite

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These are some basic mechanisms that the brain works on: Approach or avoid, and inhibit or excite. And it is more complex than what it may seem. Activating something can slow things down, and inhibiting something can speed things up. We also have excitatory & inhibitory neurotransmitters that bind with excitatory & inhibitory neurons, which in turn make the post-synaptic neurons more or less likely to fire, thus creating some of the aforementioned approach/avoid dynamics of human behavior; it’s all ...

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Basics of the Mind

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The mind is a complex process involving urges, thoughts, and drives that lead to behaviors that are either encouraged or discouraged though either pleasant experience or unpleasant experience. To understand how this vastly oversimplified explanation leads us to be who we are, let’s look at some of the basic processes involved.

Every unconscious thought (UT’s) has a set of possible conscious thoughts (CT’s) that may bubble up. It follows that every conscious thought has a set of possible behaviors (Bx’s) that ...

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Meditation

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You’ve probably seen meditation in the news over the past few years. It is an empirically validated practice that changes your brain structure, chemistry, and functioning. And it’s not about an empty mind . . . it is actually a mindfulness practice.

It is possible to find moments of peace. And it is possible to train your brain to remain calm during stressful times. You can practice this calmness and mindfulness just as you would practice basketball, chess, music, etc. ...

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Brain Science

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Brain science (neuroscience) involves the physical structure of the brain, its biochemistry, and experiences that help shape it. A brain repeatedly subjected to trauma (physical or emotional/chemical) is more likely to suffer some difficulty. Some, but not all, of the major players of brain function are:

Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that transmit information from one neuron to another across a gap called a “synapse.” Common neurotransmitters are serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and glutamate. Well over 100 have been identified, and ...

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PTSd and Crisis

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When tragedy strikes, it is rarely expected or planned for. Usually,
it comes in the form of unexpected trauma ranging from natural disasters
such as tornadoes and hurricanes to the unfathomable tragedies of 9-11
terrorism. As human beings, we are equipped to handle these tragedies,
but we must understand that part of what tells us we need help is
intense, and often shocking, distress that follows. If not addressed,
these symptoms (often referred to as Critical Incident Stress or Post
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Adaptation

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Acknowledge, improvise, adapt, and overcome. The Marines’ slogan is “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.” I add”Acknowledge” because it is implied in improvisation; if you’re going to improvise, you must first recognize what it is you are improvising in response to. This is an exercise in mindfulness.

Standing up in the face of adversity is a skill set that can be learned. There can be so many distractions though; don’t ignore them. Manage them. Leverage them.

To acknowledge your circumstances does not mean ...

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Fear and Confusion as tools

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Fear and Confusion are amazing teachers. In the picture above, you can see that the eyes are opened wide, teeth are showing, and arms are extended to protect from a perceived threat. This is the classic “flinch response.”

We’ve been duped! We’ve been taught that fear and confusion are bad things to be avoided. I believe that all discomfort is just providing motivation to do something to return you back to a state of balance.

It is a survival instinct. It is ...

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Insomnia and Sleeplessness

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  • Trouble falling asleep? or staying asleep?
  • Do you wake up throughout the night?
  • Is your mind racing too fast to sleep?
  • Have your sleepless nights impacted you job? Family? Friendships?

Laying awake at night can be infuriating. It can keep you fuming about what happened today, and worrying about what may, or may not, happen tomorrow.

We’ve all been there . . . you get up in the morning, startled by the alarm; you had finally fallen asleep when it started screaming at you! Grumbling ...

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