There are many human experiences that we collectively share in our lifetime that can lead us to a painful, yet pivotal moment when we have simply had enough.
Enough overwhelm, stress, and confusion that is so disruptive to our happiness that it becomes overly apparent that something needs to change.
Your subconscious mind is one million times more powerful than your conscious mind, and yet your conscious mind has the power to control every thought, action, and emotion you experience.
Your subconscious is constantly observing, computing and locking in information from your surroundings and experiences to learn how to do your everyday, repetitive behaviors like brushing your teeth, walking, and driving your vehicle without ever needing to directly engage your conscious mind.
But as it is locking in these patterns, it does not have the capability to judge whether they are serving your happiness or causing you an immense amount of internal pain, even though it can directly influence your emotional response to these patterns.
Overarching destructive patterns like addiction, co-dependent relationships, and habitual stress are filled with many smaller patterns that are tedious and complicated to break down introspectively to find the root cause or belief.
And when our conscious mind becomes very aware of these painful and destructive patterns, we typically have the same agonizing response in the form of questions like;
“Why can’t I stop?”
“Why does this always happen to me?”
“How could I have been so stupid?”
These questions are stimulated by the complex ingredients of fear, intended to be rhetorical, and dive us deeper into a whole of anxiety, self-pity and self-loathing.
And the same question remains that inevitably needs to be answered.
What needs to change?
Well, it starts with rephrasing your ‘why’ and ‘how’ fear-based questions in a way that creates clarity for you to take confident action.
Now before I reveal this simple rephrase, let’s dive into the science behind why it can be the catalyst to reprogram your subconscious mind with new behaviors that are more aligned with your conscious desire for happiness and fulfillment.
Your Sympathetic Nervous System is On Overload
Your sympathetic nervous system, also commonly referred to as ‘fight or flight’, is your neurological response that is activated to protect you from life-threatening danger.
As primitive humans, initially our subconscious mind designed this protective stress response with the intention to be infrequently used. But in today’s world, the word ‘stress’ is the adjective of choice for seemingly everything.
The high pressure demands on your work performance, difficulty to maintain a meaningful connection with your romantic partner, the food you ingest daily, all potential causes of habitual stress in your life.
Stress Activates The HPA Access
When you feel stressed out, you activate the HPA Access in your brain.
The ‘H’ stands for Hypothalamus, which is responsible for interpreting whether what you are experiencing is something to move towards and grow from, or to contract in and protect you.
The ‘P’ stands for the Pituitary Gland which is responsible for delivering the information interpreted by the Hypothalamus to the body.
And the ‘A’ stands for the Adrenal gland which perceives outside threats and in response sends stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline throughout the body.
When this happens, your body shuts down all other bodily functions that are not needed to ‘save your life’ including your digestion, immune system and conscious thinking.
Blood is withdrawn from your gut and preferentially sent to your arms and legs for the potential of a fast physical ‘escape’ from the danger. Your blood vessels also restrict in the forebrain where consciousness is housed for higher level, complex thinking to be preferentially sent to the hindbrain to heighten your reflexes.
Again, this was intended for a short period of time, but when you choose to operate in a state of stress more frequently, so does your fight or flight.
And if your goal is to perform at your highest level in your work, relationships, and life in general, this stress induced state is less than ideal.
In short, stress makes you less intelligent, and more reactive.
The Role of The Prefrontal Cortex
The Prefrontal Cortex of your brain, also commonly referred to as the CEO, is where conscious and complex thinking occurs. This region of the brain is involved in creating complex, orderly cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and determining your social behavior.
When fear and stress activate your limbic system located in your hindbrain, which is mainly responsible for your memories and emotional responses, it is the job of the Prefrontal Cortex to decide how to consciously act.
When you choose to believe the presented fear from the Limbic System to be your reality and activate the HPA access, those aforementioned ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions can be a common response.
The Question You Have Been Waiting For
So what can you do instead? It’s simple, just rephrase your question to ‘What would it take?’
What would it take to stop this unwanted and unintended behavior?
What would it take to create a different outcome more aligned with my conscious intentions?
What would it take to make a smarter choice next time?
Remember, the Prefrontal Cortex is responsible for creating complex, ordering behavior including creating tasks lists.
‘What would it take’ is organized and designed to be the catalyst to do just that.
Instantly bring your clarity to tackle presented challenges and direction to pivot your actions for a different outcome that is more aligned with what you want.