Personal Alarms

Until you’re faced with a moment of crisis, it’s difficult to know how you’ll react. Years of conditioned responses go unnoticed until they fail you. It may be a major public crisis such as an earthquake or it could be a personal event that throws you into a tailspin. Crisis rarely gives us time to think through our choices and evaluate the best scenario. What feels right or is a knee jerk reaction may have worked in the past, but today it could leave you feeling helpless. The question is, months later, have you recovered from the trauma?

  • Do you want to say NO! but find yourself saying yes because you’re exhausted?
  • Do you need to make a decision but get more confused when you think about your options?
  • Slow down. There isn’t always a need to anticipate the crisis that lurk behind the doors.

There was a study done with monkeys. Meet Julio, one of those monkeys. He loves blackberry juice.

slate.com-Power of Habit excerpt

Wolfram Schultz, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge was working on a study of craving. A monkey named Julio was wired with electrodes to track his brainwaves. He was wiggly and hated sitting still. Until. The computer screen beside him displayed squiggles and shapes. Julio knew exactly which ones to touch. Touch them in the right order and he’ll get blackberry juice. His brainwaves showed his delight. After doing this same action for a bit Julio’s brainwaves didn’t wait for the sequence to be pushed or the juice to drop down, they spiked in anticipation. He was excited to touch the screen because he knew he’d get his reward.

Our brains go through the same response when we anticipate either pain, loss or rewards. If you know your boss is going to yell at you, your body goes on alert. You prepare yourself by preparing your thoughts, maybe even decide if you’re going to take it today. Maybe you have your exit strategy in hand. And these things build up. Maybe he doesn’t yell every day. It’s possible he just picks at you daily. Or some days he compliments your work and then others he tears you down in a group meeting. In any of those scenarios, you’re prepared for a battle. Your alarm is now set to go off at the slightest negative vibration. Like the runner waiting for the starting cue, you’re ready. Yes I’ve been there. Did I mention that this stuff builds up?

If you’ve been through serious trauma, whether it was continual or sudden, you’re personal alarm system may be too sensitive, causing you to be too alert. It could also be shutdown to protect you from caring. Either way you may need some help finding a healthy balance. Counselling, yoga, meditation or even talking to someone you trust can help. Sometimes you don’t realize how much pain you’ve held until you have a breakdown.

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