Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thought Attacks That Cause Heart Attacks (and drive performance into the ground)

Mark Twain once said, "I've been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened." I call this "Thought Attacks." Thoughts attacks are fearful thoughts that, when believed, escalate into negative emotions that produce perceptions of threats. It is the reactive mind that repeatedly mistakes a stick for a snake. Dr. Robert Sapolsky -- the famous stress researcher at Stanford and author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers -- states: "We humans are smart enough to generate all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads. We can experience wildly strong emotions, provoking our bodies into an accompanying uproar, all linked to mere thought."

Thought attacks are the origin of the anxious, stress-provoking attitude called Type-A that leads to heart attacks. It also generates the stream of stress hormones that debilitate higher brain function. This makes it impossible to sustain peak performance or generate the resonance and empathy for meaningful relationships.

Tools That Keep You At The Top Of Your Game

In my book Mystic Cool, three of the ten tools I provide (described below) serve to quiet thought attacks by promoting the power of non-negative thinking. These exercises are simple, on-the-spot intercessions that add nothing to our to-do list. They work by increasing awareness, which is half the battle in transcending stress and unhappiness. Practice even one of these exercises over two weeks and positive change is inevitable. You will start to recover the emotional calm, mental clarity, and physical energy that sustains you at the top of your game.

At first, it may feel distressing to face the stream of negativity the unconscious mind is capable of generating. But as you make the content conscious you begin to recognize toxic thoughts for what they are: stressful delusions. After a while, you will begin to laugh at the very thoughts that used to punish you. Eventually, you will stop thinking this way because your logical mind will no longer find any value in it, meaning that you've freed yourself from the critic within. Below is a description of each process. Click on each link for a set of instructions for the exercise.

TOOL #1. Transcending the Background Negativity: This process involves becoming aware, as much as possible, of the negative feelings and thoughts your mind generates. Each time you are aware of a negative thought or feeling, you tell yourself "this stressful thought or this pessimistic feeling is in me, not in reality." You remind yourself that you have the power to let it go -- by not believing it.

TOOL #2. The Clear Button: Most stress reactions begin with fearful or toxic thinking. If we collapse the thought pattern before it proliferates, we can thwart most stress reactions. A psycho-kinetic exercise called "The Clear Button" is a proven way to do that. It resets the brain.

TOOL #3. Refuting the Critical Voice: We can transcend the judging, critical mind to achieve a more optimistic self-view. In a series of simple steps, we can effectively refute the typically negative, generally overstated, and tacitly unfair judgments the critical voice flings at us.

Click-on here for all three exercises.

Click on to return to Mystic Cool website

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