The Freedom of the UpSpiral

 

Brain Barbed

What is your personal “sense” of freedom?

How free are you?

We celebrate freedom on a number of specific holidays, but these days we can also hear the groan of tragedy.

It can make it seem less like celebrating and less like fireworks, especially for those who are most affected.

What do you do with the gigantic tragedies caused by climate change, natural disasters, or the uneasy feelings of the actions of a government that affect a part of the world so intertwined with our own?

Tragedy seems to rob freedom. The truth us that it brings it.

One of the things that tragedy brings is the knowledge that learning the “why” this or that happened, focusing on asking “why,” doesn’t solve a thing, especially not in tragedy.

The “why” doesn’t bring anyone or anything back. We may be comforted with the knowledge that lessons will be learned, but the real tragedy still confronts.

What is necessary is a very special kind of freedom.

Focus on the “why,” explanations and rationalizations, and reasons go out the window in the face of a more basic question.

What will I become? What will I do? How is it that we do not despair?

How is it that we have any kind of courage in the face of disaster that can happen in a few minutes or seconds?

How is it that we move on when we are blinded by grief or fear on any level of loss?

What we find is that the anxiety that used to fill us over what might happen is replaced by the fact that we can and we do have the strength to step up. It’s just in us.

IT IS IN US!

When the chips are down, all of the time we spent worrying looks entirely futile because we are in the midst of the tragedy doing what we have to do with the strength to do it.

It was absolutely useless to worry and waste time with anxiety.

Headache

Think about it. If we could take all of the energy we spend worrying in anticipation and fearing the future, and just harness it in our present, knowing and believing that we would have the strength to face the tragedy, what difference would that make in the now?

We are most moved and brought to tears by the everyday people who do heroic things. And this is the truth. That same heroism and courage is within everyone.

We all have it when the chips are down.

What we need to learn is to play these chips of strengths, courage, and resilience, a few at a time, and allow them to teach us what they have to teach us.

Each day we can see anxiety and worry for the shadow of a lie that it is.

And so not only on “freedom holidays,” but every day of our lives, we are as free as we know this to be true about ourselves.

The capacity for celebration is a sign of our ability to make the truth about our own strength and resilience more and more pervasive in our own knowing about ourselves.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Jodi Ana

    l love this article! It resonates so strongly with me. There have been recurring challenges throughout my life, that I used to ask the question, “why?”. One day, I just… “woke up” from that practice and surrendered into what was happening, just as it was. I realized that it’s on the mind that wants to know “why”… and that there is a larger part of me that knows the answer to “why” really doesn’t matter at all. Asking “why” can be the mind’s way of procreating itself. The moment I surrender into what ever it is that I a resisting (tragedy or not), is the moment I am set free and everything opens up!! It is an experience that is so unforgettable.. and soon, I came to immediately recognize when I was in that feeling of “why” and the surrender started to become an immediate response. Particularly WHEN I keep my focus on my strengths and I am in a positive state of mind, it comes very, very easily.

    Once I’ve got that freedom, I can start asking the right questions. Instead of Why? I look for the sliver lining in the situation – the “What?”. What can I take from this situation to make my life or the world a better place? In my own life experiences, I have come to feel like – at least for me – that is the ultimate answer to “why?”. That we are all connected and One with each other… and everything is in divine order and happens for a reason… and if there is some tragic thing that has happened in my life, I can dwell on the fact that I was a victim, and let that victim-mentality (negative state of mind) circle ’round and ’round in my mind… OR.. I can CHOOSE to be a victor, where I see the divinity in what has happened, or at least figure out how I can use the situation for the Greater Good or the evolution of my own soul.

    Staying in a positive state of mind is a choice. Every day. Every moment. Every situation. Every time we get bad news. We can choose to dive into victimhood and become stagnant, or raise up into victory and choose life. I choose life!! When we practice positivity, it opens us up to be able to ‘step outside’ of our victimhood and see the ‘tragedy’ through a completely different lens. Haleleujah! I spent so many years in such deep suffering because I nobody taught me how to understand myself psychically and be an overcomer. I learned by trial and error and by communing with divine and my own Inner Wisdom, all of which were catalyzed by what most would call a series of tragedies (but, in essence, were a series of absolute blessings – even though most felt like total crap at the time and I didn’t ‘get it’ until later in life).

  • Audrey Sloofman

    I love your commentary Jodi. I agree, “why” is such a useless question to ask. Asking “why” in many years of therapy, was actually helpful at times. It helped me understand some of my negative, unconscious behaviors and be able to unhook myself and choose healthier behaviors. But, too often in life I found myself being sucked down into a swirling pool of self-pity, helplessness, and victimhood. I have come to believe that I have always invented the answer to that question. How could we ever REALLY know the reason things happen in the world? It is such a complex and dynamic place. I can come up with theories and insights, but there is rarely a clear and simply reason why most things happen. The most productive thing to do in the face of tragedy is to be open and present to the chaos it presents. As you mentioned, Jodi, to be present in the moment, looking not to judge or even to understand too quickly, has become the most useful reaction to any tragedy. It is okay to feel the feelings, to attend to the physiological reaction and notice the invented explanations for them, the “why”. But knowing nothing is static and that I will learn and grow and evolve and move on, and the tragedy will fade helps me access clearer insight and make better choices with less emotional energy spent in the long run.

  • Dr. gloria wright

    Worry and fear are futile. I think they are basically habits that have become unconscious. The first step is to become conscious of them. The next step is to remember we have a choice. Keeping limitations on our mind can even create the possibility of negativity in that we feed it. Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us, “What we practice becomes stronger.”
    This is so true about our thoughts and emotions. They create roadways. The more traveled negativity is, the deeper the ruts. Same is true with positivity. The more we engage in positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs, the easier they are to access.
    It is natural to have fearful and disappointing reactions to tragedy in our lives. But it doesn’t have to be natural to stay there. In a recent encounter that was extremely upsetting I had to dig deep to understand that one part of my reaction was my perception. When people we love pull away from us, we may not see the positive part of it. But how good are they for us if they see us in a negative light?
    Rosenthal’s Pygmalion study shows us the impact that other’s expectations have on us. But we have a choice about whether or not we believe those negative perceptions. We also have a choice about how we see ourselves and what we expect of ourselves. There may be an ounce of truth in the negative expectations. I find that people who call us selfish or insensitive are being selfish and insensitive with their projections.
    According to Bryon Katie, whatever we see in others is a projection. It will serve us better to focus on our strengths. It will serve us better not only to focus on gratitude, love, joy, peace and hope, but to focus on those positive states and to ACT and BE grateful, loving, joyful, peaceful and hopeful!

  • Dr. gloria wright

    Worry and fear are futile. I think they are basically habits that have become unconscious. The first step is to become conscious of them. The next step is to remember we have a choice. Keeping limitations on our mind can even create the possibility of negativity in that we feed it. Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us, “What we practice becomes stronger.”
    This is so true about our thoughts and emotions. They create roadways. The more traveled negativity is, the deeper the ruts. Same is true with positivity. The more we engage in positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs, the easier they are to access.
    It is natural to have fearful and disappointing reactions to tragedy in our lives. But it doesn’t have to be natural to stay there. In a recent encounter that was extremely upsetting I had to dig deep to understand that one part of my reaction was my perception. When people we love pull away from us, we may not see the positive part of it. But how good are they for us if they see us in a negative light?
    Rosenthal’s Pygmalion study shows us the impact that other’s expectations have on us. But we have a choice about whether or not we believe those negative perceptions. We also have a choice about how we see ourselves and what we expect of ourselves. There may be an ounce of truth in the negative expectations. I find that people who call us selfish or insensitive are being selfish and insensitive with their projections.
    According to Bryon Katie, whatever we see in others is a projection. It will serve us better to focus on our strengths. It will serve us better not only to focus on gratitude, love, joy, peace and hope, but to focus on those positive states and to ACT and BE grateful, loving, joyful, peaceful and hopeful!

  • Dr. gloria wright

    Worry and fear are futile. I think they are basically habits that have become unconscious. The first step is to become conscious of them. The next step is to remember we have a choice. Keeping limitations on our mind can even create the possibility of negativity in that we feed it. Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us, “What we practice becomes stronger.”
    This is so true about our thoughts and emotions. They create roadways. The more traveled negativity is, the deeper the ruts. Same is true with positivity. The more we engage in positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs, the easier they are to access.
    It is natural to have fearful and disappointing reactions to tragedy in our lives. But it doesn’t have to be natural to stay there. In a recent encounter that was extremely upsetting I had to dig deep to understand that one part of my reaction was my perception. When people we love pull away from us, we may not see the positive part of it. But how good are they for us if they see us in a negative light?
    Rosenthal’s Pygmalion study shows us the impact that other’s expectations have on us. But we have a choice about whether or not we believe those negative perceptions. We also have a choice about how we see ourselves and what we expect of ourselves. There may be an ounce of truth in the negative expectations. I find that people who call us selfish or insensitive are being selfish and insensitive with their projections.
    According to Bryon Katie, whatever we see in others is a projection. It will serve us better to focus on our strengths. It will serve us better not only to focus on gratitude, love, joy, peace and hope, but to focus on those positive states and to ACT and BE grateful, loving, joyful, peaceful and hopeful!

  • Mary Garvey Horst

    I am bolstered by the reminder that “heroism and courage is within everyone.” So true it is! Repeatedly, when a tragedy does occur, there are countless individuals and groups of people who show up in the moment, moments, or days afterward to exhibit courage, valor, and heroism. The news commentaries tend to replay the tragic event as a rewinding thread for public viewing, yet all the while there are countless acts of heroism that are being lived out by a multitude of caring, selfless human beings. To be fair, there are news stories that do arise that highlight the unsung heroes. Additionally, I am moved by the idea in this blog post that each of us contains both heroism and courage within and we are encouraged to “just harness it in our present moment.” Less about worry/anxiety and more about strength-based action.

  • James

    The freedom of the UpSpiral is an exceptionally important
    message because it outlines what the Applied Neuroscience Institute underscores
    is at the root of everything that’s right with each of us – positive and
    hopeful thoughts; gratitude, love, joy, and peace; and ultimately a life lived
    out of strength, optimism, and resiliency instead of a life lived out of
    struggle and “trying”.

    One of the main challenges that we face in living an
    abundant life are the neuropathways in our brain that connect our thoughts,
    feelings, and responses that lead to a life of scarcity; however, at a deeper
    level, our thoughts and feelings are all impacted by what’s called our
    neuroception.

    Neurception is different than perception in that what we
    perceive is information that we can think about, it is information that is
    known to the perceiver. The idea of neuroception is that there is an underlying
    “hum” of safety or threat and from this deeper vantage point an individual has
    a lens through which they look at all of the events of life, this deeper place
    is one that is not known by an individual.

    It’s here where we want to work clients or team members –
    helping them put on a lens of safety that causes them to think, feel, and
    respond in ways that are helpful to building a team, to achieving success, and
    to raising the UpSpiral of an entire team. This has enormous implications for
    C-suite executives, VPs, Directors, and Managers because each of these individuals
    must realize that in order to optimize the collective brainpower of the team an
    underlying hum of safety needs to be created both internally each team member
    and externally in the team environment.

    What results can individuals and teams expect as a result of
    finding freedom in the UpSpiral? More money invested in projects instead of HR
    issues. More time to brainstorm solutions, rather than focus on problems. And
    more satisfied customers and employees that lead to greater profits.

    I believe that this is the tip of the iceberg of freedom!

  • jeris hollander

    Anxiety and worry plague so many of us for reasons ranging from trivial to tragic. Recognizing our anxieties brings more conscious awareness and understanding of our neuroception of threat, which is beneficial in knowing when to shift our attention and focus to that which encourages positive emotion and the perception of safety. However, when we are stuck in rumination over what “could” happen, we are only imprisoning ourselves to our anxieties and wasting psychic energy. Perpetually asking “why” reinforces the cycle of over-thinking, worry, and rumination, further validating the lens through which our neuroception of threat is being interpreted.

    When we build a solid foundation of inner strength, resilience, and hope it enables us to access the tools to act courageously in the face of tragedy, arming us with the faith the strength to overcome is within us. Worrying about what may happen or why something has happened does not provide us with strength, rather it instills us with fear. To truly understand that it is possible to experience freedom in the aftermath of a tragic event, we must first build the strength within ourselves that begets the discovery of this freedom.

  • Sandra Lintz

    The “benefit of the doubt” tool opens the door to a lot of freedom.
    When we interpret the words or actions of others we make a lot of assumptions and many are false assumptions that trap us in negativity. We might assume someone is intentionally leaving us out, is rude, is calculating, is negligent, uncaring, unfeeling, or unintelligent. We wonder and fret. Our anxiety grows. How often do we assume the positive? And why don’t we? Why don’t we rather assume more positively and give the others in our lives the benefit of the doubt? After we assume and start fretting or have anxiety, this taints any interaction we may have with a person and this can domino and get ugly (whether it be on a large scale or a small scale). Let’s just be honest. We don’t know. We don’t know so why do we assume negative things? Let’s assume positive things because it is better for us and better all around. We’ll not be infected with the anxiety and suspicions and our mirror neurons will reflect that. We can move forward in peace and love and joy instead of anxiety. Let’s see what happens if we take it further and give the world around us the benefit of the doubt and give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. Why not? Why assume the negative when the benefits of the UpSpiral and positivity are so vast. There’s a lot of freedom here. I love the benefit of the doubt.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute