Presents
Upshift, Downshift,
About Shift
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
www.arlenetaylor.org
Brain References
Brain Phenomenon
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
The term downshifting is a label for a
natural brain phenomenon
It describes the brain’s
response to a perceived
lack of safety
It is designed for bona fide
threats in the short term only
Metaphoric Term
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Compare brain downshifting to
a vehicle’s automatic transmission
that shifts up/down automatically
as needed in response to the
environmental conditions it encounters
Brain downshifting occurs automatically
in response to the degree
of threat perceived by the
brain (from 3rd to 2nd or 1st)
Description
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
In situations that involve trauma, crisis,
fear, or any type of threat the brain tends
to direct its attention and energy
automatically toward lower brain areas
attempting to access functions it hopes
will promote safety
The person experiences a sense of anxiety
or perceives a lack of safety rather than
the excitement of a challenge
Brain Layers or Gears
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
McLean’s Triune Brain
is a model for understanding
downshifting more easily . . .
Each brain layer contains
distinct functions – although all systems
interact continually
The brain can shift up and down through
these brain layers or gears . . .
Reptilian Layer – 1st Gear
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Brain stem, Cerebellum (subconscious)
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Processes the present only
Perceives positives easily
Houses stress responses (fight-flight,
tend-befriend, conserve-withdraw) and
dominates when threat is perceived
Provides awareness of your
outer sensory environment
Reptilian 1st Gear, Cont’d
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
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Realizations Inc
Is egocentric and loosely
resembles the “id”— I am here
and it’s all about me!
Doesn’t use language but perceives the
internal mental pictures language creates
Houses the Reticular Activating System
that influences the EAI continuum
Usually the last portion of the brain to die
Mammalian Layer – 2nd Gear
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Limbic System Structures (subconscious)
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Perceives present and past
Perceives positives easily
Processes information 80,000 times
faster than the thinking brain layer
Transfers information from short to long
term memory; assembles associations
for memory recall (search engine)
Mammalian 2nd Gear, Cont’d
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
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Realizations Inc
Loosely resembles the “ego” — I am
here … but so are you
 Processes the sense of smell
 Directs immune system function
 Generates emotional impulses
 Provides the foundation for relationships
with its tools of emotion
Neo-Cortex Layer – 3rd Gear
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Cerebrum (eight lobes and consciousness)
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Registers awareness of
present, past, and future
Perceives positives and negatives
Decodes all sensory data except for smell
Limitless potential for processing concepts
Uses all forms of language with complex
analysis
Neo-Cortex 3rd Gear, Cont’d
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
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Realizations Inc
Loosely resembles the “superego” – can
think of the good of others and do self-care
Pre-frontal cortex contributes executive
aspects ( e.g., abstract thought, metaphor,
planning, goal-setting, paying attention,
conscience, willpower, morality)
Can process 125 bits of
information and 40 bits of
speech per second
“Give Up” to “Get”
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
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Realizations Inc
Fail to recall (e.g., people tend to recall
less than 15% of what was told to them
during a crisis)
Decrease in cognitive learning
Develop or activate phobias
Accelerate the aging process
Alter immune system
Consequences, Cont’d
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
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Realizations Inc
Experience a reduced ability to
take cues into consideration
Less able to engage in complex
mental tasks (e.g., decreased creativity)
Fail to see interconnectedness or generate
solutions for problems
Reactivate old learned beliefs and patterns of
behaviors or relapse into addictive behaviors
regardless of available information
Consequences To Learning
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Downshifted people can do some
things well -- simple skills or rote
memorization -- because the brain
perseverates under threat, and
repetition provides a sense of
safety when the brain feels unsafe
Repetition is compatible with many
traditional parenting and teaching rewardpunishment-based systems and practices
Valid Fear
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Alerts you to potential/real danger
 Identify the worst thing that could happen
 Evaluate possibility versus probability
 Can you do anything about the situation?
 If yes, take appropriate action
 If no, practice the Serenity Prayer …
Imagined Fear
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Usually involves negative thinking
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Sabotages problem-solving
Is unlikely to improve the odds
Typically represents learned behavior
To change the way you feel, you
must change the way you think!
#1 Upshifting
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Identify behaviors you’ve exhibited
when situations did not go well
and when you were likely downshifted
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sighing, defending, stonewalling,
arguing, crying, yelling, avoiding,
pouting, whining, overreacting,
overcomplying, fighting, isolating,
overconforming, withdrawing (often
related to fear—real or imagined)…
#2 Upshifting
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Identify factors that have triggered your
downshifting in the past so you can be
better prepared in the future
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Trauma or crisis…
Illness, fatigue, over-work…
What someone said to or about you…
Perceived negative experience…
#3 Upshifting
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Identify patterns of behavior related to
your downshifting
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When and/or where?
Appropriate to the situation or not?
Become a “victim” or an “offender?”
Length of time downshifted?
What tends to upshift you?
Your Strategies
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Upshift using a pre-planned strategy
 Think of something humorous
and choose to laugh
 Engage in positive self-talk
 Identify something to appreciate (it is
physiologically impossible to be fearful
and appreciative at the same time)
 Exercise (especially cross-lateral)
Strategies, Cont’d
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
 Visualize yourself in a safe place
 Contract with yourself to
“deal with it later in the day”
 Engage in a task over
which you have some control
 Sing, meditate, pray, recite a mantra
 Access your support system
Caveats
Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Realizations Inc
Develop strategies to prevent unnecessary
downshifting, identify when your brain is
downshifted, and get upshifted quickly
If communication is not going well with
another brain, think “downshifting”
You cannot upshift another brain (even if
your behavior triggered the downshifting) –
you may be able to help the other brain feel
safer so it can upshift on its own
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Description Arlene R. Taylor PhD Realizations Inc In situations that