Will your brain help or hinder you as you navigate your way?

It was the lack of a map that caused the frustration.  Sure, we can pull up directions for a trip on a phone, but what if you’re driving a long distance and the charger doesn’t work? Now how do you navigate your way?

My daughter was scrambling to get the long list of directions written out for a 600 mile trip in case the phone went dead during the journey.  

Time’s a wasting!  Nothing’s going right! …. Dammit!  She was, shall we say, a bit snappy.

Ever had a moment like that?  We all have. 

When we’re frustrated – we can’t think straight, We are reactive because our brain has been highjacked.

Inner state is everything

Our inner state runs along a continuum from calm to terror and determines how our brain processes information. If we are calm, the neural pathways work smoothly and we function at our highest level.

As I shared in this post, our brains work in sequence. Information is processed first through the brainstem, then through a set of core regulatory networks (CRNs), or neural systems, before it ever reaches the cortex.

Dr. Perry explains, “All functioning of the brain depends on the state we’re in.  As we move from one internal state to another, there will be a shift in the parts of the brain that are in ‘control’ (dominant); when you are calm, for example, you are able to use the ‘smartest’ parts of your brain (the cortex) to reflect and create.  When you feel threatened, those cortical systems become less dominant, and more reactive parts of your brain begin to take over.”

When we are angry, fearful, or overcome with any strong emotion, our cognition is highjacked.  In fact, our functional IQ drops as much as 40 points!  

When we are in an emotionally aroused state, we make poor decisions. We react instead of respond. 

We can’t think clearly!

That’s why it is so difficult to use our imagination when we’re out of a job.  The insecurity and fear overrides creativity.  Our highest priority is finding something to live on, so we grab the first decent job that shows up.

And then eventually regret that decision.

The truth is, we also need something to live for.  To discover your uniqueness demands reflection, self-examination and creativity, all functions of the cortex.  It helps to have a seasoned guide through the process, and I can help you navigate your way.

Ultimately, though, it’s up to you.

What’s your inner state?

I love this illustration from my pastor.  You’re walking down the hall with a cup of coffee and someone bumps against you.  You spill your coffee.


Because what was in the cup was coffee. Had something else been in the cup when you were bumped, that is what would have spilled.

Life is full of bumps.  What spills out of us when we are bumped is a reflection of our inner state.  

We have a choice. We can be calm and respond thoughtfully, or we can be fearful and respond reactively.  Our inner state influences our decisions, and every decision we make fills our cup.

And here’s the deal: even under stress, when we bring calmness into our lives, we are more creative, we are more responsive to others, and we can more effectively navigate our way.

A calm brain is a thoughtful brain, one that’s capable of self-reflection. A calm brain is a creative brain.  

It’s the key to living a life of joy and contribution.

3 Replies to "Will your brain help or hinder you as you navigate your way?"

  • Marge Douville Fajardo
    July 1, 2021 (3:02 pm)

    LOVE your article, Debra! This is great! I’ve been noticing how JUDGEMENT spills out of me…. Judgement of myself, others, situations. I’m consciously trying to remember that curiosity is a better way to go when things don’t go my way! Love your example of what “spills out” is what’s inside. Hmmmm…. Something to think about!

    • Debra
      July 1, 2021 (4:31 pm)

      Yes! Curiosity is the better choice – when we can catch ourselves! This shift in perspective has been really useful for clients as well – what’s the impact? That’s what’s spilling out of our cup. Glad you enjoyed this post!

  • Marge Douville Fajardo
    July 1, 2021 (3:05 pm)

    Happy Half Birthday, Debra! Wish I could have been there! Love how you take charge of your own happiness! 😉

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