The Pause: Smile
What is it? Have you ever done something in the heat of the moment that you later regretted? Perhaps you've 'lost it' or blown up at child and later thought "Hmmm, I'm not sure what happened - if felt like I lost my mind." That's the amygdala hijack. You did lose your brain. The pause is a moment of temporary disengagement to disrupt unconscious reactivity happening in your brain. When we are in reactivity it is almost impossible to be open and receptive to our children or to your own rational thought. This morning, I didn't blow up but I was having a really hard time focusing on what my child was trying to tell me even though I was actively intereseted. It was only when I realized that the fear being generated by the election had triggered my amygdala that I understood my thinking brain was out the window. Receptivity and openness is a thinking brain skill. When you smile, your body can't help but have a bit of 'feel-good'. Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress (Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258). Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. Just a moment of this might be all you need. How to Use It? I am going to assume that most of us are in some reactivity on this Election Day 2020. The tension will only build so when you want to be there for your kids, the smile can help you disrupt the automatic process going on. Smiling can be a way generate a tiny opening of awareness and to fight off the election-based amygdala activity and get yourself back to enjoying your child.
Your Script in Action
GOT A MINUTE? If you feel your heart racing or your chest tightening when you're trying to do something with your child today, smile. That's it. And for the rest of it, let's just get through today! And vote.