Widen the Window

Review :

This book is one of my all-time self-help favorites. It discusses the physiological similarities between stress and trauma and also makes the distinction that the difference is whether or not the person experiencing the stressful situation perceives a sense of agency (stress) or not (trauma). She also talks about the importance of the 'thinking brain' (conscious, analysis, verbal) and 'survival brain' (unconscious, perceiving, feeling) working together and the dangers of when they start working against each other (which she refers to as disregulation) when we are not as equipped to healthily handle stressful situations. She talked specifically about when the survival brain perceives a threat and the thinking brain (as a coping mechanism) minimizes/doesn't acknowledge that threat, then the survival brain feels the need to assert its sense of threat even more strongly since the thinking brain is ignoring it. Which is something that I do a lot.

The book spends the first 2/3rds on the scientific/research evidence for the above and the final 1/3rd covers practical things we can all do to 'widen the window' of experiences/contexts in which the survival and thinking brains are working together. I appreciated the practical nature of it all, although I don't feel fully empowered to implement all these things. On the author's website, it says they are starting an online course of Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT) is going to be available on Sounds True beginning in Oct 2020 which I plan to sign up for to experience the theory in practice.

All that being said, it took me 4 months to get through this book and I ended up re-reading much of it since it is very dense.


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