Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is Your On-Line Social Network Providing Support or Increasing Your Fear?

What is the typical reaction we see in a worsening economy with rising unemployment? The answer is fear. Biologically, fear triggers stress. The greater part of the stress we experience is caused by psychological fear. Stress represents the way fearful thoughts generate negative emotions, producing a constant sense of threat that at times sends our body into an uproar. As stress amplifies, it debilitates brain function, leading to fatigue, poor decision-making, overwhelm, declining self-confidence, and emotional upsets that can damage relationships. Obviously, this is not the package that is likely to succeed in this bad economy.

There are proven approaches that can help people master their fear and transcend stress. But these days, most people are not spending money on that. Instead, many people are turning to Social Networking to vent, bond and find emotional support for their fears and frustrations. While it is widely recognized that interpersonal connection is a powerful antidote to stress, it is also true that social networking can backfire, when most of what is shared is gloom and doom. Other people’s anxiety can raise our own level of fear and pessimism. When the brain’s fear center is excited, it can run wild with anxiety that increases our stress level exponentially. Spending time with highly fearful people can trigger our own tendency to think negatively and lose confidence.

When engaging in social networking, if you find your feelings of stress and anxiety are increasing, exit immediately. Neurologically, we can’t afford the luxury of negative, stressful thinking, especially in these times. My advice is to redirect yourself to another group, blog or forum where the dialogue is based on “non-negative thinking” and the experience strengthens your peace of mind. Neurologically, the more we break negative thought patterns by no longer believing the gloom and doom these thoughts forecast, the more we light up networks of neural circuits that make us powerful.

Science has established that the mental zone that heightens brain power is a dynamically peaceful attitude. A dynamically peaceful attitude literally strengthens the higher order brain function that makes us brilliant problem solvers. A brain unencumbered by stress naturally generates the creative intelligence that not only sees the solution inside the problem but creates the solution that works. We call this capacity “peak performance.” A brain chronically under stress, on the other hand, is incapable of sustaining peak performance.

Find a social network filled with people whose attitude is dynamically peaceful and positive. It will help you fully engage the part of your brain you need most. And remember: stress is psychological fear; peace is neurological power. There is no greater gain in brain function and brain chemistry than the psychological shift from fear to peace. Making this shift is simpler than you might think. The reward is the capacity to excel at life.

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