Have you ever had a moment when you were entirely consumed by your emotions, unable to think rationally about a problem you were having?
When our emotions reach a certain intensity, they can flood our system entirely, making it difficult for the frontal lobe to do its job of regulating emotions and behaviours.
Conversely, we can also become so consumed by our thoughts that we end up feeling disconnected from our emotions.
Have you ever found yourself faced with a challenge, only to find that your mind is whirring with thoughts about all of the things that need to be done, or analyzing all of the potential consequences of the situation? When we find ourselves relying too heavily on the part of the brain responsible for rational thought, it can be difficult to tap into our emotions which can help to guide our intuition about a situation.
When we are in a state where we can mindfully take into account both our thoughts and feelings, we are in an Integrated Brain State. This is a state where neither our thoughts nor our feelings entirely dictate our decisions. In an Integrated Brain State, we are in a receptive state. This means that we are consciously aware of what we are feeling and what thoughts we are having about the situation at hand.
If you have ever been in a situation where you have been irate because your boss or colleague got mad at you, or perhaps made a work decision based in fear, you were likely not in an Integrated Brain State at the time. And let’s face it – we are human and we all have moments like this where we react instinctively.
Being in an Integrated Brain State allows us to make calm, informed, conscious decisions, rather than react instinctively.
Let’s explore different aspects of the Integrated Brain State:
- thoughts and feelings are balanced and integrated;
- can remain in a calm state, regardless of the variety of emotions experienced;
- receptive state where we make mindful, conscious decisions;
- attentive, focused, concentrate;
- present in the moment.
Impact on work:
- able to remain focused in various settings without being unduly distracted or overwhelmed;
- able to prioritize tasks and focus on one task at a time;
- not overwhelmed by large projects or many outstanding tasks;
- able to keep challenges in perspective;
- can adapt flexibly to change.
Impact on communication:
- able to truly listen to other people’s concerns and perspective;
- in touch with how you are impacted emotionally by others’ words;
- aware of when you are slipping into a reactive state and can use strategies to return to an Integrated Brain State;
- able to approach problems using a collaborative approach;
- can engage in challenging discussions calmly and respectfully;
- able to be vulnerable with others (ask for help, admit error, etc.).
- body feels calm and relaxed;
- calm heart rate;
- slowed breathing pattern;
- decreased muscle tension;
- increased energy.
Now, if you are reading these lists and worrying that you do not do all of these things all of the time, you can take comfort in knowing that no one stays in an Integrated Brain State throughout the day.
In future posts, I will be exploring how, at times, we all slip out of an Integrated Brain State and into a High and/or a Low State. If you want to be sure to not miss out on learning more about the Integrated Brain State, I invite you to register for my newsletter.
For tips on how to increase the amount of time you spend in an Integrated Brain State each day, you can check out these previous posts:
In the meantime, I challenge you to start developing your own awareness of when you are (and are not) in an Integrated Brain State. Use the above lists to guide your observations as you go through your day. Note in which situations it is easier for you to remain in an Integrated Brain State and in which situations this is more challenging.
The more we develop a conscious awareness of whether or not we are in an Integrated Brain State, the easier it becomes to ultimately bring ourselves back to this calm, receptive state. Consequently, we become able to make more conscious decisions that take into account both our thoughts and feelings related to a situation, instead of reacting impulsively.
Who wouldn’t want to work on being less reactive to situations so as to lead a more stress-free life?