Be A Peace Ninja

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Lesson One: What Fires Together Wires Together

Sheltering at home has us confined with our families, the people who know us best and know how to trigger our reactive buttons with ease. Coupled wit

h the fear that is driven by the Covid19 crisis, it is a time our

calm and peace are most needed. You don't have to be a Monk or a Mystic to develop to become a Peace Ninja. After coaching anger management clients for 15 years, I know this to be true. I would like to share some of the things we talk about in our coaching sessions that will help you remain calm amidst the challenges this virus brings. Let's start with the brain, in particular, our neurons and the neural pathways they form. Neurons are the cells of the nervous system that use electrical impulses and chemical signals to transmit information between different areas of the brain and between the brain and the rest of the nervous system. They are our information messengers. The diagram below is a sketch of how neurons communicating with each other.

The diagram below is a sketch of how neurons communicating each other.

Neurons are composed of:

· Nucleus: The brain or control center of the cell

· Dendrites: Bring electrical signals to the cell body

· Axon: Take information away from the cell body.

· Neurons contain some specialized structures (for example, synapses) and chemicals (for example, neurotransmitters).

· Neurons: Communicate with each other through an electrochemical process.

· Neural pathways, comprised of neurons connected by dendrites, are created in the brain based on our habits and behaviors.

Neural Networks

Our brain cells communicate with each other via a process called “neuronal firing.” This is what is meant by "what fires together wires together”. Our habits and behaviors create neural pathways (networks of neurons connected by dendrites). As we repeat behaviors over and over the number of dendrites increase, the connections between them become stronger and the messages transmitted over the network become faster, eventually, becoming automatic. Therefore the more you react in anger the stronger the network and the more automatic the reactions become.

By changing our behaviors we can begin to start to loosen negative networks and rebuild more positive ones. Taking a look at your anger. How do you deal with it? Do you look for harmless ways of venting it? Pounding out chicken cutlets, yelling in the bathroom, punching a pillow are some of the methods clients have shared with me. While venting may make us feel good in the moment, as a long term solution to building your peace habit it is counterproductive. These venting techniques are actually supporting and deepening the “anger” neural pathways.

The good news is we can rebuild new peaceful pathways by developing behaviors that are calming and peaceful. Take a moment now to think about what makes you feel peaceful? Think of a time, a place or an activity that makes you feel calm and peaceful. Take note of what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, and doing at that time. This exercise will help you develop a repertoire of healthy, positive ways to damper your anger reactions. Now before you pound that cutlet, try hugging your pet. Instead of punching a pillow, go ride a bike, shoot some hoops or just step out into nature. Rather than yelling in the bathroom try listening to music, reading a book or sipping a cup of tea or coffee. You get the idea.

JOAN WISE Relationship Coach
Resolve Conflict Restore Peace

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