A shared belief in modern life is that if you feel bad that is bad. In the BBH world, in which we can switch off stress-inducing wires and activate joy-inducing wires by using specific techniques, that belief is incorrect.
What is the correct belief, one that enables us to fulfill our purpose in life and live a wide and wonderful life? Based on the neuroscience of updating fear memories, stress episodes in daily life offer "moments of opportunity" to reconsolidate old wires.
Stress can be good for us
The new BBH approach is to notice that we feel bad. It's to take feeling bad seriously, knowing that the bad feeling is caused by a wire and that we can rewire it. We can use that power so that an old circuit encoded by adverse childhood events, later trauma, or the stress overload of modern life can change. We can update that circuit so that it stops triggering us as often – or not at all!
With a little practice and a few good tools (EBT techniques of self-directed positive emotional plasticity), we can change our view of stress. It's during those stressed-out moments that the wires unlock their synaptic connections and we can use our own brain to change them.
Feeling pretty horrible is evolutionary biology's call to action. It's our brain's way of saying, "Sister or brother, you have an outdated or quite faulty wire to process. If you heed this call to action that sense of peril and even fear of annihilation that comes with a full-blown stress response will not only transform you and alleviate that pain, but it will take you up and over to an experience of joy that only comes to those who process their emotions."
After the 5 comes the 1
In EBT speak, this experience is often described as: "after the 5 comes the 1." After a Brain State 5 moment of stress overload, come a fabulous moment at Brain State 1, with elevated emotions like love, compassion, gratitude, hope, forgiveness, awe and joy flowing. If we use the tools, specifically, the Cycle Tool, with precision, in a matter of minutes that bad feeling can vanish. The flooding of stress chemicals stops and the surge of joy chemicals replaces it. In neurophysiology, that is caused by the allostatic circuit shutting off and the homeostatic circuit opening up. We use the tools to control our own biochemistry!
The outcome of reconsolidation (the updating the old, unwanted circuit) can bring more than immediate stress relief. It can give us more freedom from re-triggering that wire. That rewiring does not erase the memory, but diminishes or clears away its "stress juice." The activation caused by that circuit decreases, which is terrific, as with less stress activation, the neocortex (specifically, the prefrontal cortex) stays online and we can self-regulate. The conscious control of our lives remains and more often than not, we are in the driver's seat.
Day by day we train our brain for resilience
In my own life right now, there's a lot going on, which is probably not unlike your life. With the increasing speed of change in the world, which our hunter-gatherer brain doesn't like, the change in people around us and in our own specific set of circumstances, just being alive and dealing with that is a pretty formidable task. Two days ago, I spent the day in Palo Alto, CA with my older son and his fiance who will be married in three weeks. I did all the things that parents dream of doing, or at least, I always dreamed of doing, from helping my new daughter-in-law-to-be pick our a bridal veil to sitting in their student housing unit, a studio, and sipping water as they chatted about their goals and what they are planning for their lives separately and together.
However, behind the scene of the apparent is the real, and the real is our wiring. Our ultimate relationship is with our wiring, as fiddling with it and updating it determines our effectiveness in the world, as well as our health and well-being. As I left their apartment, I found myself triggered at a full-blown, body-on-fire stress response. How perfect! Some rusty old wire was calling to me. In EBT, you learn how to use the technique for rewiring differently given the nature of the wire, and given this big time activation, I knew what to do.
The pure joy of clearing a circuit!
It was a mega wire ("5 Circuit") and to make a longer story shorter, I kept cycling about it off and on, until my body gave me the message that I had cleared that wire. I had processed that errant circuit enough so that it stopped blocking my emotional evolution. When happened to my emotions in that moment of clearing? I felt pure joy. I felt secure, grounded and in love with my life and with life itself in a way that I did not feel prior to the eruption of that wire, and processing it with the tools.
That is why feeling bad can be very, very good. However, having these BBH tools in our back pocket, ready to pull out anytime and anywhere makes all the difference. Imagine if BBH spreads and more people do their needed "on-the-spot" clearing of trauma wires. What a joyful world it would be!