Often in life, (at least in mine) I find myself in the midst of a conversation that started off nicely, turned a better corner and then BAM, something flies out of someone’s mouth that takes me out of my pre-frontal cortex.
What’s a Pre-frontal cortex you ask?
Well, it’s that part of the brain where language and executive function reside. When you are in your PFC, you are measured, you have the language you need at the ready, you can laugh at yourself and see things as not so personal, etc.
You do all of this and more, without even realizing all the smoothly excited dance moves you are making. It comes from a place of peace and groundedness.
When the PFC is hijacked, by an event such as physical abuse, or by mean spiritedness such as verbal or emotional abuse, the PFC goes offline. It’s like a total black out. You are left groping in the darkness without anything familiar to navigate your surroundings.
In this case it’s really very hard, almost super human, to reach for your best self.
You need some executive functioning to reach for your best self BUT the executive functions are no where to be found.
What to do?
I have seen myself make a bad situation worse, multiple times, by striking out as if my life depended on my response.
Almost as though I have my hands up and pleading for my life.
It feels that urgent….but it has never been that urgent.
I am fortunate that my life has never been threatened in real life, however, the life I have lived in my head sometimes feels like it is being threatened.
Those times, I now realize are the times when my PFC is offline.
I have been training myself to be quiet in those times.
I have been practicing silence in those times.
I offer my practice of silence to you and it needs to be followed up with introspection after the incident.
Introspection can take place with a coach, a therapist, a non-judgmental friend or with journaling.
Write down the incident as you remember using as much detail as you can.
Then also write down a measured response firmly standing in your PFC and replay the scene and SEE yourself delivering the measured response.
Notice if you feel like you want to have many responses, all of them from your best self.
Try this technique out in a few situations over the course of 30-45 days.
Then begin to notice if there are certain people who are likely to hijack you.
Take note of who they are.
The next time you are with them, begin to notice how they are with others.
Do they pounce on others they way you feel they pounce on you?
Study these people like a private detective.
Begin to speak their words even before they say it (silently in your head).
I know a person who is so very oppositional that if they hear the sky is clear they will immediately try to prove the sky to be cloudy. They LOVE to rile people up….it’s their sport of choice.
When I am in such a situation I have started to say, “Nope, not playing this game today.”
Then I leave the room.
The first few times I did that my heart felt like it was trying to escape my chest.
I was sweating like I was running a marathon in 100 degree heat.
It took a while for me to TRAIN myself to deal with this person in these situations.
I am very good at it now.
Know that new behaviors take practice. You have to be patient with yourself. You have to practice in your head and out in real life.
Practicing in your head is like rehearsing for a part in a play. Your part, your play and YOU are writing the new script.
You know the famous William Shakespeare quote “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
Play your part well. Write your own script.
Love & light,