A woman I'm treating told me she has a lot of stress, has anxiety. For sure she does. For sure she does.
I told her we all have to learn to control anxiety. I said it was tied in with stress, and that stress made the hypothalamus send out a hormone that made the adrenals send out juice to make the brain learn. Taking a tip from Deric Bownds (and many others), I said that metaphorically the hypothalamus was a bit like a loyal alpha dog, lead sled dog, very big, very muscular, constantly and consistently protective. We want it to do its job but we have to learn how to not scare it with all our imaginings. That we should always check, then affirm, that "there is no bear in the vicinity".
I told her that the hypothalamus was part of a threat detector system older than humans. That it was an evolved system older than the human part of the brain. That our job as humans was to learn to tame it. That we could do that by:
- being kind to it
- giving it attention
- giving it treats (the way we would with any critter we needed to tame)
Like training any wild, abused, or neglected critter, taming the self's own instinctive protective parts is similar. It requires patience and positive reinforcement. If we don't gain control of the lead dog, it will pull our sled in all sorts of unwanted directions.
It requires treats for good behaviour.
What is the most important thing in the whole world to the internal regulation system? That part of the brain that is responsible for absolutely everything? life itself? Pretty simple actually. Oxygen. Deliberate deep breathing.
That's when we were interrupted by my patient's cell phone, and the conversation ended.
1. Deric Bownds Mindblog Biology of Mind