A few decades ago, I walked along the beach with a date, and the man shared with me his policies about feelings. He feared that if he ever allowed himself to feel, his feelings would overwhelm him, and he would not survive the emotional onslaught. He said that he had made the personal decision to turn off his emotions.
Now, these decades later, I understand his decision. If nobody ever taught us how to process our gnarly, negative emotions when we are stressed, feeling our feelings would be extremely dangerous. Numbness, overthinking, and other emotional escapes would be preferable.
There is a body of science that explains this. Stress-fueled emotions are "allostatic." They don't deliver what emotions are designed to deliver, which is awareness of our deepest needs. Instead, they just make us miserable. What's more, they don't tell us what we need, just what we want – such as ice cream, video binges, drug and alcohol abuse, self-judgment, isolation, and verbal attacks. That's why these stressed-out emotions are so dangerous!
However, with a few tools – brain-savvy emotional tools – we can melt away those stuck emotions most of the time. Sometimes medications are needed, but nothing (no medication, procedure, or device) can lead us to states of well-being the way that a few simple, emotional tools can – and often, in amazingly short order.
The benefits of having exceptional emotional skills
The BBH Movement is about equipping all people with these essential life tools, principally because they are the portal to all that is good in life, from intimacy and integrity to spirituality and freedom. Emotional effectiveness is more predictive of longevity and well-being than diet, exercise, and sleep because without it the brain becomes stuck in chronic stress, the cause of up to 90 percent of health problems.
Learning these simple tools – so simple I first taught them to children – enables us to access our natural powers of:
- Being positive – Turning hostility into joy (the same goes for depression, shame, worry, and numbness)
- Understanding yourself – Complaining about something that bothers you, processing the emotions, and finding the root cause of the problem (the unconscious expectation that makes you suffer)
- Rapidly reducing stress – Switching from a high-stress state with negative emotions to a low-stress state with positive emotions in four minutes or less (with practice)
- Changing the root cause of problems – Instead of blaming yourself for repeating unhealthy patterns, blaming the circuit and then rewiring it
- Stopping intergenerational transmission – Rather than passing along unhealthy patterns from your parent to your children, rewiring them and passing along healthy patterns
- Making habit change easier – Instead of forcing yourself to change your behavior and draining your energy in doing it, rewiring the circuit that drives it, making behavior change easier
- Training the brain for higher purpose – Training your brain to move through stress and come out the other side with clarity, knowing the higher-order reason you do what you do
The tools are the same for all ages
BBH and the EBT tools are brain-based. So people at all stages of life (from children to great-grandparents) use the same tools. The difference between staying in a stressed, "allostatic" state and using the brain's natural pathways to get from stress to joy (homeostatic state) is the difference between a harsh, dry, unhealthy life and a rich, rewarding (albeit still difficult) life of well-being.
It's that important to equip yourself with these fundamental tools. You do not have to suffer. Instead, you can use your natural pathways to move through the unavoidable pain of life and find peace and power from within. YOU can do that! They are JUST tools!
One of my favorite examples is from my own mother when she was in her mid-80s. It's funny how women as they get older become bolder, and that's just what happened for my mother. She was nearly blind, quite deaf, and could not breathe well, but she was adamant that she wanted to get off sleeping pills, so she used the EBT tools. She kept an EBT card that she wrote out herself – showing how to use one of the tools – and kept it next to the phone in the kitchen. (See a copy of it above.)
We activate natural, healing chemicals
The good news is that before she passed away, she got off sleeping pills, and I believe to this day that she felt proud of herself for using the natural pathways in her brain to get from stress to joy.
To Mackey, using her natural brain pathways to their greatest effect seemed worth doing! I agree, and so do a growing number of people worldwide, which is why The Brain Based Health Movement is growing. I invite you to join in!