Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates

Related Resources

For The Havening Techniques®

Steps for Navigating Procrastination With Neuroplasticity with Dr. Kate Truitt

In this short video Dr. Kate will introduce you to an easy brain hack for reducing stress and enhancing agency in order to get things done. Come learn how to take control of your brain through the power of neuroplasticity. A healthy brain is mandatory for living your most successful life. Let’s beat burnout together and build your successful brain care program! It’s time to Live Your Excellence.

What is CPR for the Amygdala® and Self-Havening?

CPR for the Amygdala® is an easy to use tool for calming the mind and body in a moment of emotional hijack. Watch this short video featuring Dr. Kate Truiit and learn how to calm your brain through the engagement of the self-havening touch and brain exercises. This video involves a short demonstration that highlights the impact of the delta wave presence on brain functioning. A fast brain is a reactive brain; a slow brain is a calm brain. Let’s calm the mind and put you back in charge of your emotional state.

A Guided Meditation for Creating Possibilities with Neuroplasticity

Did you know our brain is capable of growing and changing across the course of your life? This concept is called neuroplasticity. We have the ability to actually train our brain into an empowered and resilient state. Join Dr. Kate in this guided meditation and experience the power of the Creating Possibilities Protocol and begin to design your world!

Neuroplasticity: The Power to Overcome and Create a Resilient Brain

By Dr. Kate Truitt

Have you been concerned about your anxiety level during the past few months, and how it affects how you are showing up in your personal and professional life? Does it seem at times like your brain is getting stuck because of it? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just stretch your brain out or work it off, like you would a bad cramp in your calf, and just keep moving forward?

Guess what? You can. That “muscle” up there in your head is just as stretchable and pliable as your calf or your hamstring or any other part of your body, and you can intentionally soothe it and make it work like new again. That opportunity you have to heal your brain and keep moving forward is made possible by something called neuroplasticity—the key to building a resilient brain. I want to show you how to seize that opportunity, but before I do, let me assure you that your anxiety is not an anomaly in these times.

In a new review of hundreds of recent studies on the effects of COVID-19, researchers found something that should not be surprising: The pandemic has significantly increased anxiety in people everywhere on the planet, leading to new mental health disorders in people, and exacerbating existing mental health conditions. Our current situation can bring on symptoms of anxiety, trauma, suicidal thoughts, and panic attacks. The researchers concluded that people need to be especially cognizant of their own mental states in these times (Salari, N., Hosseinian-Far, A., Jalali, R. et al., 2020).

While you may not be showing some of these more severe symptoms mentioned above, anxiety may be getting in your way, or causing you to get in your own way when it comes to living your best life and being your best self. I know it happens to me from time to time.

anxiety and dread can get in your way, but there are hacks for that

Have you noticed lately that anxiety or dread over certain work tasks is getting in the way of you completing them? Do you find yourself putting off the task by finding something preferable to do in that moment, like mowing the lawn or taking care of this week’s laundry? I know the distraction makes us feel better for a while, but the task is still there, unfinished, and eventually the anxiety or dread associated with it returns.

Fortunately, I know a few ways to fix that and get myself more centered, and I want to share them with you. We can do these little hacks because our system is made up of many different energetic brain-wave states at any given time. If we learn how to be in relation with those different states, we can purposefully heal and keep moving forward. The secret to our ability to do this is brought to us courtesy of neuroplasticity.

The Relationship of Neuroplasticity and Resilience

In the early 1900s, people believed that the brain was a black box and that our human behaviors were simply a manifestation of learned responses to our environment. In this framework all symptoms tied to trauma and other mental health considerations were simply “learned” and thus could be “unlearned.” Yikes! Gradually, understanding in the scientific community evolved into a realization that during our younger years our brain was malleable and developing. Young people were the lucky ones, but after that early period of development our brain became concrete and unchangeable. Once our brain was fully formed that’s who you we were for life. Yikes again! 

Today we still accept that the brains of children are more flexible, and excitingly we also know that changes happen in our brains throughout our lives. They can be caused by learning, psychological stress, injury, and even good, old-fashioned practice—giving us opportunities to grow, overcome challenges, and learn new skills.

Did you know that resilience is a skill? Because of that, the possibilities of building resilience in our brains come alive through harnessing the power of neuroplasticity!

Noted neuroscientist Dr. Louis Cozolino, who coined the term “neurofluency,” which we instill in our patients, provides this definition of neuroplasticity in his book, Why Therapy Works:

“Neuroplasticity is a general term that refers to any changes among, between, and within neurons as a result of learning or the natural processes of healthy development. It is the ability of the nervous system to change in response to experience and to encode that experience into its structure” (Cozolino, 2016).

Functionally speaking, the power of neuroplasticity can range from just a few of the approximately hundred billion neurons in our brain making some connections to a better place, all the way to a major remapping of our brain. And that power extends beyond your brain to your entire nervous system—your mind-body connection. Practically speaking, the opportunity of neuroplasticity can be seen in something as simple as learning to use a new smartphone, all the way to the deliberate process of rising up from years of post-traumatic stress and physical brain damage (which is what neuroplasticity helped me do). So, let’s use a real-world example of that power that is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

An Example of Neuroplasticity in Daily Pandemic Life

Anxiety and stress don’t always show up in our lives as nervousness or as a full-blown freak-out. They are often more subtle than that. Stress and anxiety can even be good for us, because they are part of the functioning of our survival brain, which helps keep us alive. That is, until it takes over too much of our thinking brain and gets in the way of optimal functioning.

An example of anxiety and stress manifesting itself in these times is when we find ourselves daunted by those day-to-day tasks we have in front of us.  Your brain can feel hazy and fatigued in the face of it, preventing you from moving into action. Do you ever feel stuck or like you want to shut down when faced with something on your long list of to-dos?

If yes, guess what? You’re human. In times of deep stress and/or when you’re navigating burnout, moving into action can be even more difficult. If you notice that you recoil from the thought of a looming task, that is a sign that your brain is being emotionally activated by the thought. The key is to turn things in a new direction.

The opportunity in neuroplasticity is that it allows our brains to reorganize themselves by forming new neural connections—and getting rid of old ones throughout our lives. Neuroplasticity is the mechanism by which we can intentionally build a resilient brain.

Rick Hanson, one of the greatest minds in neuroplasticity and brain resilience, articulated my most-often quoted definition of resilience in his book, Resilient: “Resilience is the capacity to recover from adversity and pursue our goals despite challenges,” But wait, there is more… The second part of that definition explains what resilience does: “It helps us survive the worst day of our life and thrive every day of our life” (Hanson, 2018).

Our brain is constantly evolving and trying to find ways to survive, and it’s not static. To live our best lives we need to not only survive, but also thrive. As an emotional trauma survivor myself, I can tell you there is an important distinction between those two terms.

Surviving is facing the challenges that life is putting upon you—moving through them and not succumbing to them (which is a good thing), but thriving goes much further. Thriving is facing the challenges that life puts upon you, and learning and growing through them, while also seeking new challenges—ones that matter to you and that you want to experience. Our brain is capable of changing itself, especially when we are intentional in being in a relationship with our brain and our body.

Moving to Your Window of Tolerance

Being in intentional relationship with our mind and body is a crucial part of resilience. That means, like the researchers at the beginning suggested, that you should be cognizant of the mental and emotional states you are navigating throughout the day. Other research shows we experience from 35 to 50 emotions per day, and those states can have the ability to send us into two states we don’t want to stay in for too long: hyperarousal or hypoarousal.

We want to shoot for our window of tolerance, where we can access both emotion and reason at the same time. The window of tolerance is our ideal state, between hyperarousal and hypoarousal. Hyperarousal can include being agitated, anxious, overreactive, having unclear thoughts, and feeling emotionally distressed. On the other side of our optimal window is hypoarousal, where we are numb, foggy, depressed, fatigued and unmotivated, like we can get when we are faced with that dreaded piece of our to-do list. Hypoarousal may seem like a non-response, but both hyperarousal and hypoarousal are reactive states.

So how do we get to that Window of Tolerance?

These are opportunities to take a moment to help our brain calm down. Getting to our optimal state doesn’t mean we need to be calm all of the time or even try to strive for that. Not all of those 35 to 50 emotions we experience every day are associated with calm, and having gradients of emotional experiences is important in a balanced life, while assuring our survival brain that it is still performing its most important job—keeping us alive.

These are also very real human experiences. If we start to notice that we’re shutting down or burned out, or being short or reactive with the people in our lives, that is human and we need to do a self-assessment.  That’s an opportunity. When we get pushed out of our window of tolerance we want to be mindful of it so that we can be our best version of ourselves. We want to live with self-awareness and self-compassion and be aware that we will sometimes get knocked out of our window of tolerance. We want to be intentionally focusing on bringing ourselves back. If it happens and we don’t do anything about it, once we are outside of our window of tolerance, it can take 12 to 36 hours to organically settle back into our optimal state, and during this time we are exceptionally more vulnerable to additional reactivity. Also, if we are still outside our window when another stressful experience happens, we will get pushed even farther out and it takes even longer to be brought back in.

Excitingly, when we use methods at Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates such as Havening and CPR for the Amygdala, and teach them to our patients, we harness the power of the brain’s ability to not only heal itself but also develop new states and traits through neuroplasticity. CPR for the Amygdala provides an effective hack for bringing us back into the window of tolerance very quickly, mitigating the stress-hangover effect.  Through shifting into a state of motivated engagement, we’re welcoming a brain-wave state of interest and curiosity, and then we can apply that to tasks that we are dreading or not interested in.

In the first video linked to this article, titled, “Steps for Navigating Procrastination Neuroplasticity,” I introduce you to an easy brain hack for reducing stress and enhancing agency in order to get things done, taking control of your brain through the power of neuroplasticity. Another great hack focuses on a smile.

In my seminars and training sessions I often start with a smile meditation I created, and you can do this as well. First relax, breathe in, breathe out, and then imagine a smile you have encountered sometime in the past week. Pause and take a gentle, soothing breath.

Deep breath in, counting 1-2-3-4

Hold 1-2

Gentle exhale 1-2-3-4-5-6


And Repeat.

Now, close your eyes and let your mind wander back to a smile you noticed recently. It can be from a friend, a passing stranger, or even from a pet. Welcome the smile to center of your attention. Notice its shape or color. Do you feel an energy or a warmth from it? Invite the smile into your mind and body, inhaling the color or energy of the smile. Invite it to expand. Do you feel like you want to smile back as you’re staying intentionally in its presence?

Do you notice any difference in your emotional state from doing this activity?

The neuroplasticity exercise demonstrates that we can create new neural connections in our brains with intention in new directions, choosing to re-engage with a positive experience. Always look around to find the small smiles that await you everywhere. It will help you build the resilient brain you brain you want to have.

You don’t need pills or electrodes to create a brain-hack like this. All you need is yourself, and the intention to do it. As Dr. Cozolino writes: “Change depends upon the activation of neuroplastic processes. For any change to occur, our brains have to undergo structural changes that will be reflected in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors” (Cozolino, 2016).

Rick Hanson expands on that thought with the possibilities of neuroplasticity: “Changing your mind for the better means changing your brain for the better. The brain is continually remodeling itself as you learn from your experiences. When you repeatedly stimulate a ‘circuit’ in your brain, you strengthen it. You learn to be calmer or more compassionate the same way you learn anything else: through repeated practice” (Hanson, 2018).



Cozolino, L. (2016). Why therapy works: Using our minds to change our brains. (1st ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Hanson, R. (2018). Resilient: How to grow an unshakable core of calm, strength and happiness. New York, NY: Harmony Books.

Salari, N., Hosseinian-Far, A., Jalali, R. et al. (2020). Prevalence of stress, anxiety, depression among the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Global Health 16, 57. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00589-w