Step 2: Reflect
When we reflect on our lives, we have the capacity to make conscious choices and decisions that lead to more health and happiness. On the other hand, when we do not reflect but instead react, we are at the whim of our external reality and feel helpless and the victim of our circumstances. This causes our sympathetic nervous system to switch on and prepare for the “threats” that we feel are upon us.
We all have different levels of tolerance for certain environments, people, stimulation and demands, and although we are sometimes reluctant to acknowledge it, many of us have choices available to us about how and where we want to live and who the friends, partners and colleagues that are the best match for our unique little nervous system (Apart from our children! Our nervous systems may take a hit there.)
As human beings, we have evolved to a point where there is a part of our brain designed exactly for the purpose of reflecting so that we can have an influence over our lives and futures. This part of our brain is called the prefrontal cortex—it is a highly intelligent part of the brain that sometimes we do not take full advantage of! Examples of reflective thoughts include:
- What does my nervous system tell me about what my optimal life conditions are? (eg. Work hours, amount of fresh air, exercise, caffeine, alcohol, social contact).
- What switches my parasympathetic nervous system on? (i.e. What relaxes me and tells my brain that I am safe?)
- What experiences do I want to have today, this week, month, year or lifetime?
- What habits are blocking me from achieving this in my life?
- What kind of friends do I want to surround myself with as I go through life?
- What kind of partner is going to bring out the best version of me?
- What behaviours and beliefs do I need to adjust if I am to become the version of me that can fulfil this kind of life?
These questions are all focused inwards, on things within our control (our behaviours and beliefs), rather than on the outside world. These types of reflections will lead to a sense of empowerment and motivation to change, as long as we feel supported to make these changes. If we do not use reflection and make adjustments, our nervous system will remain at the whim of the outside world, not our own desires.
Stay tuned for Step 3 next week!