Emptying Your Stress Reservoir
There are a lot of ways to improve our ability to calm down and feel less stressed. But it’s also important to slow or halt the accumulation of stress. For this, we need to explore the negativity bias that affects so many of us.
Barbara Frederickson, esteemed professor psychology at the University of North Carolina, has shown that negative experiences can haver five times the psychological impact as positive experiences.
“The negativity bias (also known as the negativity effect) refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things. In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person’s behavior and cognition than something equally emotional but negative. The negativity bias has been investigated within many different domains, including the formation of impressions and general evaluations; attention, learning, and memory; and decision-making and risk considerations”.
There’s no doubt in my mind about the reality of this bias. Over my career I have seen it operate more times than I care to remember and the results are always as debilitating as you would expect.
There are ways of releasing stress and calming the primitive brain. They aren’t complicated and are easy to learn. Three deep breaths is one, breathing in calmness, breathing out stress and anxiety. Deep breathing sends the Amygdala a fundamental message that things are OK and it calms down.
But it doesn’t break the negativity effect and the loop shown above.
That’s why we work at a deeper level and induce a liminal state by the use of focused concentration, imagery and suggestion which also calms the primitive brain and in addition encourages a voluntary, positive re-framing of the problem and the emergence of possible solutions to take place utilizing the formidable capabilities of the higher brain.
Liminal Coaching helps you to stay out of this and other horrible loops.
It can also help to encourage a number of other improvements you might decide you would like to see in how you negotiate a wide variety of situations and scenarios.
Rebecca, San Francisco, USA:
“Mike helped me shift a difficult life transition into an empowering, transformative experience. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, but I felt I needed a little extra support with this one.
“Mike not only supported me in my self-declared goals but ensured that my ambitions left room for compassion and loving kindness to self. For me, the actual process felt subtle and yet the shift was palpable and concrete.
“Most poignantly, the shift became habitual so that beyond our sessions, I was able to support my own growth and sustain it after we finished. While I feel that I have the tools I need to be the person I want to be in the face of my current challenge, I also see value in working with Mike again in the future and have no hesitation in recommending him.”
In Liminal Coaching, we often use the following simplified model of the brain to help explain three key areas of the brain: the conscious mind, the unconscious mind and the instinctive mind.
The conscious mind is a linear processor. This is the part of you that pays attention, reads books, orders coffee and decides what to do. The unconscious mind is a multi-dimensional processor. It works in the background most of the time, doing many things simultaneously. The instinctive mind is concerned with survival. It is constantly scanning your environment for potential threats. It assesses all situations and information based on a binary, “threat/no threat” basis.
Liminal Coaching is largely about learning how to increase the communication and teamwork between these parts. It is about gaining the tools and ability to also get your instinctive mind “under control.”
The instinctive mind is obsessive and generally responds to situations it deems threatening with aggression, anxiety or depression. This is known as the fight-or-flight response, and it floods the brain with a cocktail of hormones designed to divert energy from the brain and prime the body with increased strength and speed, so you can either respond with violence or run away. Even more pertinent to this conversation, when people are in the grip of fear, anxiety or depression, or chronic stress, they are unable to make realistic assessment of situations. This is because the instinctive mind triggers a chain reaction within your body that is designed to take the pre-frontal cortex “offline.” Creative thinking and innovation, and indeed, all higher-level brain functions, are stifled.
Once this limbic response has been triggered, it can take hours, or even a day, to get back to normal. This is one of the main reason we can’t just “think our way out of stressful situations.” Unless we can learn to control the fight or flight response.
The sensitivity of the instinctive mind to stress circumstances is directly proportional to the amount of accumulated stress we are carrying. This may also accumulate over a long period of time. We work with you to progressively drain the accumulated stress during sessions and provide you with simple, easy tools to enable you to manage anxiety and your reactions to circumstances.
Learn more about how your brain works.
Jason Mesut, London:
“Mike helped me through some stressful times with my work. I was suffering from taking too much on [and dealing] with some difficult client and team situations. I was looking for more perspective, but also for the ability to dial up my creativity despite the stress so I could do great work for my clients. Mike’s coaching helped me get clarity, perspective and tap into the thinking I needed to deliver great solutions for my clients.”
About Liminal Coaching Sessions
Our sessions reduce stress, focus all aspects of your higher brain and build the tools for creating more effective teams and collaboration across your teams and organisation.
In the first half of every session:
The focus is on what’s been good about your week: what you have enjoyed, what has given you moments of pure unadulterated pleasure.
We do this for a very important reason. When you focus on remembering things which had been genuinely pleasurable the blood supply to the amygdala, the core of the primitive brain, is reduced. This in turn reduces levels of cortisol and enables the higher brain to function more efficiently.
We also give you a tool that you can use to assist in charting a course through the Forest of decisions and the Mountains of demands. You can use it at any time but it is particularly powerful when put in the context of a coaching session which has the objective of enabling you to relax and allowing your own innate sense of what is right and appropriate as the next step to emerge.
In the second half of every session:
We lead you on a guided visualization exercise where you sink down into a deeper state and we can work with your deeper resources and powerful subconscious to find and reinforce the calmness and clarity that become your path out of the forest and give you a new relationship with your instinctive mind.
We never tell you what to do, but open the door to where you know.
Liminal Coaching goes around the nit picking of the pre-frontal cortex and calms the primitive brain in order to address limitations, fears, doubt and anxiety where they live. All using proven techniques in a unique combination based on indications from the latest scientific research.
All our coaches have had full professional careers that have involved extensive mentoring and coaching and a lifelong interest in the brain, the mind and human development
Each session is a conversation and a one on one video conference at a time and place that is convenient for you.
Geoff, Washington, USA:
“Mike’s coaching is helping me develop a life-skill that will benefit me for decades (may I live that long!). He listens carefully, adapts his support to my specific needs, is always wonderful to meet with, and has techniques that work to both relax and motivate me. I was skeptical that it would work over Skype (I’m in the US), but it has been flawless. Very strongly recommended.”
About Mike Parker
Mike Parker has over 30 years of experience in global systems and over 10 years helping clients to innovate, overcome challenges and improve performance across a wide range of business domains.
He is as comfortable at the director level in a global consulting company as he is sitting in the chair across from you and helping you overcome your blocks and anxieties.
Mike’s interests are deep and broad, ranging across psychology, anthropology, philosophy, math, business, music and economic systems. All of this is supplemented by culture studies and a life devoted to Systems Thinking. Mike has an MBA in innovation, finance and strategy and has supplemented this with further post-graduate studies in Systems Thinking and Governance. He is a qualified Solutions Focused Therapist and a Research Fellow at the Schumacher Institute.
You have choices. Always.
You can book your first, free consultation using the form below.
And you can call or email me using the addresses at the bottom of this page.