Keeping calm in times of chaos is a LEARNED behavior. Learning to keep calm in times of chaos requires the establishment of building a resilient brain and mind. We can't expect to remain calm in chaotic times if we haven't built the mental pathways to do so. We will react instinctively and primitively dictated by the lower/primitive brain thus robbing us of skill, control and ability that requires higher brain functioning.
Take for example fire drills...
When we practice how to calmly exit our offices, classrooms, etc. in an orderly fashion and utilize the routes to get out of the building we are establishing pathways in our brains that will allow us to behave this way when an actual fire ensues. Since the learning took place under non-crisis conditions we can still remain relatively calm and think creatively to figure a way out even if the building changes, the fire is more extreme or the pathway is blocked. This is because the mental pathways created during practice wired throughout the brain widely and generally allowing us to access more ways to integrate information and find solutions.
Contrastingly, the fear and overarousal that accompanies chaos/crisis interrupts the learning process. The brain can still learn during times of chaos. It's a survival mechanism so that we quickly learn how to avoid or survive that particular situation. But the learning that is done with chaotic, highly stressful or overly aroused mental states of mind and emotions are limiting. Thus, the pathways that are established in the chaotic brain are more specific (fixed mindset) to that one situation.
REMEMBER THIS: We learn fast but not well in a “chaos/crisis” mode.
It's like someone who grows up in the inner city under highly stressful/risky street life conditions who learns to survive in that particular environment (i.e. Mike Tyson). All of his solutions or conflict resolutions skills will be limited for that environment. But if you put them in other crisis situations they won't have the cognitive maps to be as spontaneous or think of other ways to deal with other less threatening situations because their brains are wired to survive in the streets (ie fight, flight, fright). Thus, they will use the same tool or hammer for every situation that incites fear or threat. This phenomenon has been researched in behavioral psychology in rats and humans.
4 ways to train the brain to be calm under chaos:
1. Practice without pressure, when not overly aroused or overly stressed.
2. Respond with an assertive/aggressive attitude versus a defensive attitude. Respond to the challenge of the situation rather than to the threat (lower brain) in order to keep the positive goal in mind. We must train to operate at the 30,000 feet level of the brain.
3. Evaluate chaos in its right perspective. Is my reaction appropriate? Is this a mountain or a molehill?
4. Mindfulness and meditation give the prefrontal cortex more control to influence the emotional brain response.
So training our brains to be calm when there's not chaos allows us to establish the mental pathways to be calm under pressure and chaos. Our brains work better when we intentionally wire our brains to do so.
Know someone who needs the message? Please share!
Shonté Jovan Taylor
~The Neuroscientist & Success Trainer/Catalyst
[Part 2 of 2] Missed Part 1? Read it here>> http://bit.ly/calmchaospt1