Brain Change International Monthly Digest – March 2012

March 2012

Neuroscientist Richard Davidson discovered that people normally have one of six emotional styles that affect how they think, feel, and live each day. These styles include: resilience, outlook, social intuition, self- awareness, sensitivity to context, and attention.

Resilience is the ability to recover from a stressor. If you have trouble getting over a setback such as a canceled flight, bad traffic that makes you late to an appointment, or an upset with a partner, then you might fall in the “slow to recover” part of the resilient continuum.

Outlook has to do with how cheery a person is and whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. People at the negative end of the continuum have difficulty experiencing pleasure for any length of time whereas more optimistic people look forward to the next 10 years as being better than the present.

The social intuition style has to do with how attuned people are to social cues. Those who score high on social intuition notice people’s eyes and their expressions as well as minute behaviors that communicate mental states.

Self- awareness is another style and reflects how attuned people are to their own thoughts and feelings. Heightened self-awareness plays a positive role in empathy and lends the insight that upsets with another may have nothing to do with that person. People who lack much self-awareness don’t spend much time reflecting on their own emotional states.

Another identified style is sensitivity to context. Every group has unwritten rules that highly sensitive people pick up. These may have to do with what topics can be discussed, who can give information about certain topics, what things are funny, and how much of the group time you can take at one time.

The rules are also different with different people. You can say certain things to your spouse that you cannot say to a policeman, for example.

The kind of attention style is the last emotional style to be identified. Whether a person can focus or is easily distracted and cannot seem to get anything done reflects this style. The easily distracted person might walk out of a room in the middle of a sentence while the very focused individual can separate out sounds in the room and focus on one conversation at a time.

The personal emotional style will lead toward certain chronic states that a person experiences. Over time, these become patterned and thematic and reflect potential problems through a lifetime. The good news is that these styles can be transformed.

“Plasticity is an intrinsic property of the human brain,”
says neuroscientist Pascual-Leone. He went on to claim in 2005, “The potential of the adult brain to ‘reprogram’ itself might be much greater than has previously been assumed.”

Meditation is one way to change emotional styles. As a person focuses on the inhalation and exhalation and observes thoughts come and go, the “serious” quality of personal thoughts decreases. The tendency to notice the chatter without believing all thoughts to be true teaches the brain to calm the internal noise. And then, the possibility of experiencing a quiet mind occurs and the realization that we create stories about our lives that are just that—stories that may not be true at all.


April 27-28 Bill and I will bring to Houston for the first time: Brain Change Therapy: New Strategies for Anxiety, Trauma, and Depression. We have taught this course in over 30 U.S. cities and have completely updated it with the latest neuroscience research as it applies to cutting edge psychotherapy. Please join us for information and personal experiences that will transform your therapy and your personal life to get the best and quickest results.

August 12-17 we will be in Esalen offering an immersive 5-day experience in forgiveness and healing. This is open to everyone; lay person and clinician alike. Join us in an amazing setting that is so conducive to deep healing those areas that still trouble you no matter the therapy you have done. Transformation is possible.

We are committed to your life and relationship success. Please care for yourself in these challenging times.


Carol and Bill

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