The August 2011 newsletter from Six Seconds reports how Daniel Goleman describes what I call The Almond Effect. Great description.
He describes the neurological response to stress, or a threat, as a pure survival mechanism designed to guide us through “a short-term emergency” which has evolved into “an ongoing hazard for performance.” This ongoing hazard is the neurological spiral of stress that has us trapped.
Goleman explains that our “attention narrows to focus on the cause of the stress, not the task at hand; our memory reshuffles to promote thoughts most relevant to what’s stressing us and we fall back on over learned habits. The brain’s executive centers – our neural circuitry for paying attention, comprehension and learning – are hijacked by our circuitry for handling stress.”
Thus, we’re stuck until we become aware of our own stress spiral. Those with more emotional awareness and stronger skills in managing feelings are able to turn this cycle around more quickly.
From a neurological standpoint Goleman notes, “people who can manage their emotions well are able to recover more quickly from stress arousal.” Once we recognize that we’re on a destructive path, we can actively work to retrieve the brain’s executive centers from the stress spiral and begin to make better decisions.
As Goleman describes it, our “attention becomes nimble and focused again, our mind flexible, and our bodies relaxed. And a state of relaxed alertness is optimal for performance.” Thus our stressful situation becomes more manageable and the bigger picture is once again visible.
If you are a regular reader of these posts, you will know that using my STAR approach Stop – Think – Act – Rewire develops the skills to be able to manage stressful situations (The Almond Effect) not only while they are happening but also to better handle future triggers. STAR builds self-awareness and confidence and an ability to deal with what life throws at you. That seemed to me to be the best reason to develop it!