Fast Brain / Slow Brain

It can be very challenging when we're experiencing difficult emotions. They can come on quickly and cause us discomfort. Often we're not even aware of where they came from or why we're experiencing them.

Brain science has shown we have a "fast" brain and a "slow" brain. Our fast brain immediately reacts. For example, you're having lunch, minding your own business and then one small, random comment from a stranger and "boom!" - unwanted neural pathways fire and suddenly you're feeling upset. It all happens before you know what hit you.

In contrast, our slow brain doesn't react. Instead, it considers things in a more deliberate manner. This is the part of the brain that we'd like to give a chance to engage more frequently before our fast brain reacts and takes us down a path to a low mood.

So the next time you're experiencing difficult emotions, try this little process:

  • Start by taking a couple slow, deep breaths. You're simply giving yourself a chance to not react or to react less. You're letting your slow brain get engaged.

  • Say to yourself, "Let's take a moment to explore what's really happening here."