Our brains are amazing super computers and most of us only use a tiny amount of it’s capacity. Unfortunately, our brain is also very limited in it’s ability to process the millions of bits of information coming at it relentlessly. As a result we develop neural pathways to help funnel the information and create “boxes” in which to put things called bias.
Our brain is designed to form opinions of people in a blink of a second and once we have decided what box that person should go in, we collect information to confirm that belief. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing, its purpose is to keep us safe but it is also the cause of all the hatred and in the world. Once we have formed an opinion, such as guns are good, it is virtually impossible to undo this opinion. There are millions of other types of bias including my favourite “the IKEA Bias” which means you are less likely to throw out a piece of furniture you made yourself – even if it is broken! I reckon this is why in business we get attached to policies and programs we write ourselves.
Then there are the times when the human brain is so overwhelmed or unable to cope that it overloads and we revert to the primal fight or flight response.
So why am I telling you all this??
Sooooo many reasons, but it comes back to several conversations I have had recently about what I do. Apparently people really struggle with the notion that I can have two diverse businesses – one supporting the staff who work with students with special needs and the other working with women in midlife become the best they can be. Apparently I am hard to put in a box and this is a problem!
It all makes perfect sense to me. I am fascinated by how our brain works especially how the primal brain, the limbic system, still rules us. It doesn’t matter how clever or sophisticated we are, we can still be hijacked by our amygdala. In my work with schools this translates to helping staff understand the psychology behind challenging behaviour. Our basic neurobiology means we approach activities, objects and sensory feelings that are appealing, and we avoid those that are not. There are only two reasons for any behaviour – to get something or to get away from something.
Surprisingly, there is little neuroscience (or special needs for that matter) in the average teaching degree. My workshops assist staff understand how anxiety is the brain attempting to keep us safe and how anxiety can impact learning. I also show how trauma can damage the brain and make some processing extremely difficult.
In schools I tend to focus on dysfunction and in Positively Beaming I focus on optimum human functioning – two ends of the same continua. How can I assist women to bypass the brains attempts to sap our confidence and derail us?
Understanding ourselves and what makes us tick is key to my work and I particularly love to work with midlife women who are keen to (re)discover their best self or to successfully navigate work/life challenges. We are clever, we are successful, we are multi-talented and complex human beings. Yet underneath it all we are under the spell of our limbic system – a hairs-breath trigger away from anxiety or a crisis of confidence, a mess of difficult emotions and a soup of strange hormones.
If you are still looking for a box to put me in – you can put me in one labelled “cheerleader”. My businesses are not about dysfunction, they are both about being a cheerleader – for kids, for teachers, for teams and for women.