Most (if not all) of our problems have to do with the way we react to things. When we are triggered, we say things we don’t mean, give our kids punishments they don’t deserve and feel overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks. Afterwards, we feel regret and beat ourselves up for not handling things differently. To get out of this cycle, we need to understand how the brain works and why we act the way we do.
How the Brain Works
When you’re calm and relaxed all the blood will be at the top of your brain. This is where rational thinking occurs and when you are capable of making good decisions.
The amygdala is at the bottom of the brain and is the fear center of the body. When the amygdala is triggered by a stressful event, the body responds by sending blood from the top of the brain to the bottom of the brain. This is similar to when you sprain your ankle and it swells. Blood heals and when there is a part of the body that needs help, the body sends blood to heal it.
The problem with blood leaving the top of the brain is that when the blood is gone, rational thinking is gone. This is what I call the The Flood Zone and where all of the problems arise.
Kids in The Flood Zone they say things like “I hate you!” “I wish I was never born” “You don’t love me!” Parents are in The Flood Zone say things like “I’m taking away your iPad for a year!” and “You just lost your birthday party!”
Here is a excerpt from a talk I gave about The Flood Zone to give you a better idea of how it works:
If you find yourself in The Flood Zone, you can reset your brain before you say (or do) things you will later regret. The first step is to recognize you’re in The Flood Zone and be willing to walk away from the situation. 15 minutes is what most people need to reset and allow the blood to get back to the top of the brain.
How to Reset the Brain
The easiest and fastest way to reset the brain is by changing the five senses: what you see, hear, taste, smell and touch. The best way to do this is to go outside, smell the air, feel it on your skin or take a shower. Once the brain is reset, you should feel your shoulders loosen up, your mind begin to clear and your body start to relax. Once this happens, you are in the clear to address the conversation you need to have, the consequence you need to give your child or the apology you need to deliver in order to move on.
The key is to recognize you (and your kids) are in The Flood Zone and to cease conversing about the issue during this period of time. Take a break, reset and then think about how you want to address the situation. It’s amazing what rational thinking does to conversations! Try it out.