Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates

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For Moving Forward

Introducing CPR for the Amygdala and Self-Havening - Tools for Immediate Anxiety & Stress Relief

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 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. You can also go to our full CPR for the Amygdala Playlist by clicking here.

An Exercise for Reconnecting with the Positive in Anxious Moments

Dr. Kate Truitt begins by explaining that one of the most difficult things to manage with anxiety is when our brain cycles into thinking the world is against us. It can lead us to desperation and loneliness, and ultimately hopelessness.

She then describes a simple hack that invites the brain to reconnect with the fact that good things happen for many reasons. To start, we look back and find one really good experience, and then we invite ourself to step back and identify 3-5 experiences that happened to create that moment. After we write those down, we identify 3-5 more things that have happened since then.

Our brain loves the negative, so it’s critical that we connect back to positive moments intentionally. Once we’ve written down our experiences, Dr. Kate suggests applying havening touch and reading through the list aloud. This allows our brain to connect and remember in detail each of those experiences. It can also help to tune into the senses we might have felt during those experiences.

Dr. Kate reminds us that somewhere along the way, good things happened. And there were good things that happened that lead to that thing, which lead to additional positive things!

A Therapy Tool Using Neuroplasticity & Journaling to Release Negativity

Dr. Kate Truitt illustrates to us that Amy the amygdala likes to chew on concerns and considerations, especially since her number one job is to work hard to keep us alive. Amy has two primary impacts on the way our brain is functioning: stress-based and thrive state.

Next, Dr. Kate goes on to explain that when we are in a ruminating loop, this is Amy trying to answer one of three questions. Are you safe? Are you lovable? Can you be successful? CPR for the Amygdala and breath work can help our brain and body regulate, soother, and calm down, stopping the ruminating loop. This break can create space for us to get curious about what’s happening beneath the ruminating thoughts.

She suggests that we utilize the Left and Right Handed Journaling Exercise. In this exercise, our dominant hand is emulating our thinking brain, and our non-dominant hand is going to be expressing fears and worries. Dr. Kate recommends beginning by asking Amy what’s going on, and then switching hands to answer that question.

Guided Meditation for Reconnecting with Positive Moments

In this video, Dr. Kate Truitt walks us through a guided meditation for reconnecting with the positive experiences even when things are tough. As always, she invites us to welcome in havening touch to deepen the experience and enhance neuroplasticity.

To begin, Dr. Kate asks us to float back and find a positive moment, big or small. Once we’ve found that, invite it to become the center of our awareness. What were we seeing at the time? Feeling? Tasting? Touching? Smelling? As we breathe in and out, we allow the energy from this experience to spread within us.

Next, she asks us to float back to the moments prior to this experience we chose and identify three different experiences that made this moment possible. They can be choices, experiences, people, or even luck that lead us there.

By connecting with these past positive experiences, we can reconnect to that energy from those moments. If that energy had a color, what color would it be? What name would we give it? Through guided breathwork, that energy expands throughout us.

Transforming Negativity Bias into Positive Empowerment

By Dr. Kate Truitt

Did you know that your brain is hard-wired to look for negative, difficult, or painful things? This is called a “negativity bias,” which means that in your data-processing system, anything negative gets priority attention. This is part of salience or salient events, which are attentional mechanisms that help us learn and survive.

Most of your present is defined by your past

So, the brain will prioritize difficult information, because over the course of our evolution, that is the kind of data that kept us safe and alive. The problem is that at this point in our evolution we now have a prefrontal cortex, our so-called “thinking brain,” which spends a lot of time engaged in higher functions, such as thinking about thinking, so it is constantly engaged in internal conversations with itself. That means that at any given time the prefrontal cortex is only giving minimal consideration—only about 10% of its attention—to what is going on in the world around us in the here and now. The other 90% of the meaning of this present moment is being defined by our past—a process that is often controlled by Amy—my name for the amygdalae of our brains.

The number one job of your brain is to keep you alive, and that is why your brain is constantly on the lookout for difficult, painful stimuli just in case there is something out there with the potential to hurt you. If your brain has encoded difficult, stressful, or traumatic experiences then it will tag more experiences in the present as being a threat. This higher level of salience—a stronger filter for that type of information—can lead us into anxiety, depression, PTSD, low mood, stress, burnout, and much more.

When you find yourself ruminating on difficult thoughts, feelings, emotions, and painful conversations, that’s your brain telling you that whatever is happening is important and you need to pay attention to it. So, how do you help your brain let that stuff from the past go and heal that filter, so your system knows that right here, right now, it doesn’t need to be tagging this present data with painful stimuli and inappropriate salience?

Helping your system calm itself with a little love

As with any situation where inappropriate or no-longer-relevant stimuli from the past is intruding on your present, resulting in less-than-preferable reactions or coping mechanisms, I recommend doing a little CPR for the Amygdala®. When you use it in this way, your goal is to deepen the relationship between your brain and our body, specifically focusing on a part of your brain called the insula, which manages that mind-body connection. It is a hub of information about how our brain and body are communicating during any given moment.

So, if we are supposed to be hard-wired to identify sensory data in the world around us, but our brain is interfering in that process, we need to strengthen the relationship between how our brain and body are interpreting the sensory world around us. One of the best ways to do that is to schedule little moments throughout your day to do an internal check-in.

This is a moment where you take a moment to look inward and say, “Hey brain, hey body, how are we doing right now?” You are trying to determine whether there is anything around you that feels “off.” Is there something that feels a little scary, or nerve-wracking, of even full-on terrifying? Your brain is good at readjusting our salience for threat data and living in a threat state, so you need to help it out of there.

Our goals during these states of heightened activity should be to help our system calm itself by tuning in with intention and giving our brain a little bit of love with CPR for the Amygdala—applying the havening touch and clearing from our brain anything that it might be chewing on, ruminating on, or intensely focusing on. If you are not familiar with CPR for the Amygdala, there are links to an introductory video and even our full CPR for the Amygdala playlist in the first item of the sidebar to this article.  You will also find three helpful videos specifically for dealing with issues surrounding negativity bias, including rumination.

Turning the volume down on previously encoded negative experiences

Moving into intentional relationship with your brain and body and linking them together so that they can actually experience the sensory world around you is a wonderful way to turn the volume down on previously encoded negative experiences and clear out that filter. Also, if you have time, do the Creating Possibilities exercise to help build a new salience filter. By Creating Possibilities, you are asking “What do I want my brain to link into in any moment of difficulty?”

Through Creating Possibilities, you can help to build those neural freeways for your chosen energetic state through repetition. It can be that easy, but when it comes to dealing with hard stuff, Amy is going to tend toward the flip side, linking into that stress-induced structural plasticity. She will literally change your brain toward the negativity bias if you don’t help her out and say: “Everything is O.K. We’re going to the beach; there’s no tiger here.”

These are the neural freeways that get in our way and start to define who we are in the world and our brain tries to make sense of it: I’m weak. I’m sick. They can cause us to hide out from the world or lash out at it. Through the power of neuroplasticity, we get to visit the other side, wherein lie the possibilities of building the freeways we want to be traveling on: I am resilient, I am strong, I am well.

Rather than being afraid, we can build courage and bravery. Rather than feeling weak, our brain can build strength. Our brains are highly pliable because of the gift of neuroplasticity. we just have to help them heal, and then rebuild.