Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 4

1. Introduction

This newsletter is the fourth and last in my series on “brain lock”.

Hopefully you have found this series to be insightful and thought provoking. I would love to hear from you regarding what I have written



Whatever you experience, it depends on your frame of reference.

Photo by: Ruben Alexander

2. Unlocking “Brain Lock”- Part 4

Engage your challenges a little bit at a time

We have many, many emotional reactions in our lives prior to thinking, If a man pulls out a gun while you are waiting in line at the bakery, chances are your pulse immediately quickens and you might even begin to sweat. Once you realize the gun is only a toy and the man hands it to his son to play with, you will likely soon calm down again.

Because we have a visceral response to emotionally charged events or relationships prior to thinking, we often wind up reacting in a way that defies logic, even when we desperately want to be logical.

No matter how many times we might tell someone, “There is no need to be afraid.”, if they sense danger they will respond with fear. Such responses quickly get passed to long-term memory and thus we will tend to easily reproduce the same fearful reaction to dangerous situations in the future. In other words, good or bad, right or wrong, many of our emotional responses are learned over time.

So what to do?

In my coaching practice I have my clients pay attention to the physiological responses they have when feeling challenged, more so than having them talk about their challenges. I do so for two reasons.

1) The physiological reactions that lead to emotional responses are activated outside of our conscious awareness.

We don’t really know “how” we create the feelings we have, and thus talking about our feelings, our emotions, often won’t get us the results we desire. Indeed the more we talk about a particular feeling (let’s use “stress” as an example), the more we will activate the physiological responses that lead to feeling stressed. The more we talk about a perceived problem, the further away we get from uncovering the solution we desire.

2) Logic does not play an important role in the development of undesired emotional states. In order to change our emotions we usually have to go beyond logic, and reach or touch a more primal elementary aspect of our experience, our self.

During my coaching sessions I teach my clients how to breathe in a slow expansive manner and adjust their posture so that they feel fully alive and resourceful. Once they are feeling resourceful I introduce a topic they have been struggling with. Rather than asking them to describe their struggle in detail, I ask them to just mention their struggle, and then place it aside while they refocus their attention on their breath and posture. Next, I ask my client to tell me about something in life that pleases them. Once the client has returned to feeling calm and resourceful I ask them to again mention their struggle, and then again refocus on their breath, posture, and a pleasing experience. Soon, they learn to think about their struggle while at the same time maintaining a sense of feeling calm and resourceful. In the process, they learn how to rewire their brain and do away with past compulsive behavior caused by “brain lock”.

Rather than having my client talk about their “stress, Stress, STRESS!”, I lead them to experience calmness, a little stress, calmness, a bit more stress, and eventually a feeling of calm resourcefulness, as their stress reactions slowly dissolve. Fairly soon, what was once experienced as an insurmountable set of circumstances, comes to be experienced as a challenge they feel capable of overcoming.

This really is a graceful, life affirming way to engage one’s challenges!

All the best to you going forward!


3 thoughts on “Unlocking “Brain Lock” – Part 4

  1. David

    your method is great for doc to patient help but i think like trying to get one to tickle oneself it might produce a challenge one doing it to one self. Just my opinion so anyone reading i am not stating a fact. My take has on solving is drawn from knowledge of how a bird catcher catches prey. Lets take the gun in shop situation. If the said person in the line had a history with guns they would have half the fear and logical solutions would start to present themselves. Hence most times not all knowledge helps allay fear.
    Eg: i was scared of heights. What i did was first acknowledge that i was [shameful ] next i remembered events that proved i was. Next i saw the dander those event put me in and realize that i was helpless and am helpless to my loved ones if they were in similar situation. I then started building piles to jump off of and to jump from one pile to the other. The landing was soft of-course. I later went 25 feet up and thinking of when i got stuck in the past jump off to rescue myself . i now work after that on top of high building even on the edge carrying weight . the rear of pain from falling remains and that is good so i have respect for heights but the fear of heights is gone.

    1. Charlie Badenhop Post author

      Hi David,
      Yes, there are many challenges we face that are “easier” or perhaps better addressed with the help of someone else.

      I think the important point of this article is tracing back to the physical responses we have, which lead to the label of “fear” or “anger” etc.
      To come to understand exactly what takes place with our physiology, and then little by little finding out what parts of our physiological response we can consciously alter. And then step by step we might be able to “unwind” our non-generative response.


Let us know your thoughts...