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Intentional Moods


One way we can curb reptilian thinking in advance is with intention.

I woke up today in a very good mood. I was well rested, and felt on top of my game. The scene was set for a great day. This was not to be the case though. I got to work and sabotaged my serenity by, not only allowing myself to be distracted by petty annoyances; but almost relishing them. I would not release my grasp on them for anything. Around they spun in my brain like a rotisserie chicken.

I was roasting each and every irksome habit until they were golden brown. My co-worker’s tendency to lick her finger while sorting through stacks of paper, another’s seeming indifference to the needs of customers paired with the cell phone outgrowth on her ear, all were searing to a crisp in my brain. Whether these aggravations were valid or not is an entirely different issue. After the first hour, I was in a most wretched mood. And you can imagine how pleasant I was to be around this morning.

While I was still thinking somewhat cerebrally, albeit mostly with the primitive, hind regions of my brain. I was able to “catch” these aggravations and filter through them somewhat. Given the small amount of sense I was thinking with this morning, I was able to at least know that I was doing myself (and certainly everyone else) no favors by making these annoyances my primary focus.

“One of the functions of the thinking brain is to exercise veto power over the instinctive forces of the two lower brains. It sets limits on behavior; it provides self-control.” Healthy Congregations by Peter L Steinke

I have often, and have worked for people, who have rationalized a reptilian response in order to “teach the offender a lesson.” This is not only counter-productive, but it usually make the situation worse.

In times of high stress, in order to keep ourselves from a reptilian reaction, we must capture each and every thought. I am constantly learning and re-learning how to do this. Once I could direct my thoughts elsewhere (which did take work and a lot of re-focusing), I was thinking a lot clearer, performing my tasks a lot better, and was in a much much better mood.

It was very hard at first, I won’t lie. It took directed intention. I spent a lot of the day “faking it ’til I made it.” But I ended the day in a much better mood, and no reptilian incidents.

c. 2009

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