Updated: Jun 9
We often talk about the need to create positive associations with things that are challenging. Creating a positive association can be a very powerful tool in calming the limbic system and letting the brain know that something is safe. Our brain will often create an unconscious negative association to things or people that have been triggering in the past. This association then runs under the surface all the time and can keep the brain in a reactive pattern to that person or thing.
It can also be incredibly hard for some of us to create a positive association to everything. One thing I have heard many times over the past 5 years of coaching is: “my limbic system can sense BS from a mile away and gets even more stirred up when I try to create a positive association with _______.” And that is valid, so now what?
We can step into what lies between the extreme negative association the brain is wanting
to keep and the extreme positive association that isn’t a good fit in this situation. In the middle of these two is being neutral. Neutrality can be a powerful tool to add to your toolkit when trying to be 100% positive about something or someone isn’t a good fit. By stepping into neutrality, we allow the emotional charge that keeps the brain stuck in a vigilant and reactive pattern to gradually fall away. It takes time of course, and just like any other rewiring tool, we have to repeatedly practice stepping into this new neutral association.
Neutrality allows for the reality that there are hard or difficult people and things that we all deal with. It gives us the space and grace to be honest and say “I don’t love this” and “I also don’t have to react to it”. Being neutral towards something or someone tells our brain that this is not something that needs to be focused on and it does not need to protect us from it or them.
Pause for a moment and look around the room you are in right now. There are likely many objects in the room that you are rather neutral towards and tend to just disappear into the background. You likely don’t notice them on a day-to-day basis, and that’s lovely example of neutrality doing its thing. So if going really positive with an association is setting off the BS meter in your brain, try and step into neutrality instead.
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