The articles we write are intended to communicate the Rewire way of thinking. Our hope is that we bring a blend of applicable science to your everyday work and life. As such, we always try to connect outside, real-world research to every article. Today, however, I am going to take a brief departure from that and simply offer a personal story about the power of a mind that is being rewired.
Last night, at precisely 11:34 PM, my wife and I showed up for an international flight from New York exactly nine minutes after the flight departed. We had run almost two miles from one side of JFK to the other, only to miss our plane. We were stranded with no one to speak to. We were exhausted, sweaty and frustrated to say the very least. It was no one’s “fault” really; just an Air Traffic Control problem that caused our in-bound flight to be nearly three hours late.
Now, I realize that this is a first-world problem. I am not asking for sympathy. What I do want to emphasize is what we did in that moment. Imagine yourself spending four hours in a state of quasi-anxiety because forces beyond your control are making it a real possibility that you will miss an important flight. Imagine yourself in an airport at midnight, awake for the past 20 hours, with nowhere to go and no one to speak to. Then imagine that no one accepts responsibility for your dilemma and you are out the money and the time unless you can re-book a flight.
How would you react in a situation like that?
How would you treat other people around you? When you finally do speak to someone on the phone, what is your demeanor and tone? How do you talk to a person on the phone who is telling you that virtually every hotel is booked for the night in all of Manhattan and NY City? Remember, you are tired, frustrated, flabbergasted and generally feeling violated in countless ways. Talk about a massive loss of control (the 4th characteristic of the lizard brain)! This is enough to push the lizard brain into overdrive!
Had I not spent the better part of the last 5 years applying the very curriculum that we offer here at Rewire, I would have snapped like a twig on a dead tree. I would have lost my cool with virtually everyone around me. I may have even made some decisions that I would later have regretted. And while I do not give myself a score of 10 last night in terms of how I responded, I can honestly give myself a solid 8. Prior to doing the work we bring to others, I would have been a 2 and the relational, psychological and financial carnage all around me would have been substantial.
What do you do when you feel out of control? Do you take the time to breathe? Do you practice metacognition in a way that allows you to make good decisions in the midst of chaos? Can you see yourself reacting in a way that may not be exactly in line with your core convictions and then have the wherewithal to pause long enough and stay composed?
It’s not just when we’re traveling; the lack of control that we feel in our everyday lives can hijack us. We can go down because of an ill-worded or poorly timed e-mail. We can go south because of a comment or something someone does or says that we cannot control.
Learning to still your lizard brain in these moments is crucial for our growth and I am living proof that it is possible.
I may never get to that “10-out-of-10” response and you may not either, but we can make strides. And when we do, we simply become better versions of ourselves.
Still your Lizard!!!!
-- Photo Credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz on Unsplash