Every entrepreneur has experienced this.
You have standards. You have mindset. You’re a professional.
Then, you have those experiences where too many things seem to go wrong all at once…
Exactly when you think you can’t take anything more, you have an ungrateful client, a needy family member, a drag of a business partner, an employee who quits on you… then you get the government tax department haggling you for something, making your life a nightmare.
You lose your grip.
You try to be calm and collected, but you just can’t focus on anything anymore.
With your most sensitive buttons pushed for the tenth time, you lose it.
You’re flipping the lid when you can no longer process and respond to your situation logically. Instead, you have a massively exaggerated emotional reaction.
Sometimes, you can even be “losing it” without showing it. You seem calm and controlled on the outside as a trained professional adult, but internally… it’s a tsunami of a racing emotions that you can no longer function.
If you’re even two feet deep into entrepreneurship, you start to become keenly aware of how all human behaviors, no matter how logical we try to be, are always ruled by emotions.
Being overwhelmed with work, and lacking focus, efficiency, and productivity, are caused by your internal state.
Forget getting anything done. When you’re flipping the lid, you can’t even make a fried egg without completely wrecking it, or triggering the smoke alarm.
You have a toddler-like racing, exaggerated emotions, tantrum, drowning in your own misery, somehow unable to get out of it.
Why is it that when you get into this stage, you can’t seem to help yourself out of it easily?
For some of you, it may take hours, half a day, even a few days, to recover.
How would you like to get out of this state much faster, so you can become your most productive, efficient, and focused self again.
Flipping the Lid
This uncontrollable emotional state is what child psychiatrist Daniel Siegel calls “flipping the lid.”
Why is a condition coined by a child psychiatrist relevant to you?
Because how the adult human brain works doesn’t change much from the child’s brain. Understanding this will help you learn to manage your emotions better.
When you understand how your brain works, you can get yourself out of this state of misery much faster.
That means you can learn to flip your brain back to being calm, productive, and effective in record time.
Self-regulation is the key to success for all humans of all ages.
Here are some key insights to mastering your emotions, and mastering yourself.
Flipping Your Lid: What It Means
All humans have an “upstairs brain” and a “downstairs brain.”
If you think of a house, think about how it is built. It’s built bottom up.
The downstairs brain is like the foundation and the basement of the house. This is also the oldest, most primitive part of the human brain. Its core mission is your survival. This is the part our brain that deals with all automatic bodily functions, habits, and emotions.
The upstairs brain is the logical, reasoning brain. In human evolution, this is the newest part of our brain. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for logic, reasoning, and executive decision making.
What most people don’t know is that the upstairs brain don’t fully develop until age 25.
Your downstairs brain, your oldest part of your brain from chronological and evolutionary perspective, is your chief in command.
This means that in reality, logic and will (your upstairs brain), holds very little control and power.
As an adult, you normally think mostly with your upstairs brain. But when emotions build up, or when you’re tired, hungry, or over the edge, the function flips, and your downstairs brain takes over your upstairs brain.
Your downstairs brain is always looking to meet some important need for survival purposes. When it flips, it’s an alarm system letting you know that you have a very important unmet need that’s urgent.
That’s why when you get to this stage, “you can’t think.”
You can only feel.
And because the feelings you feel are emergency-like negative feelings…
Flipping Your Lid: How to Calm Your Brain to Its Most Effective and Productive State
Never respond to any email, write messages, or practice any form of communication when you’re in this emotional state.
You will likely terribly regret it later.
Remember that nothing is a true emergency, although, you may feel that it is.
Until you are ready to respond to a situation calmly, and become focused, efficient, and productive again, nothing you do in this stage will be productive.
Follow these steps:
- Acknowledge your feelings: The downstairs brain is not logical, and therefore, the biggest mistake that most people make is to try to talk themselves out of this state. It just makes it worse. Instead of figuring out why you feel this, or why you should or shouldn’t be having this experience, just acknowledge what you feel. Anger? Sadness? Shame? Guilt? Disappointment? Overwhelm? Whatever that feeling is, just acknowledge what it is without judgment. If it helps you, write out your feelings.
- Acknowledge and meet your needs: You need to soothe your emotions, rather than try to talk yourself out of it. Remove yourself from the bustle of work and meetings, and give yourself a comfortable, quiet environment with little stimulus, to first calm yourself. A soothing self-hug, or even lying in a cozy bed, will help. If a certain type of music, meditation, or a nature walk helps you, by all means do it.
- Bring back the executive brain: Remove yourself from the trigger, and do an activity that will help you think logically. Make sure that you’re not looking at something really complicated and challenging, work, or going back to try to solve the problem that triggered you. Not yet. Instead, do a jigsaw puzzle, a colour-by-number sheet, or an IQ Buster wooden puzzle, which will gently coax your brain to shift back into logical, calm, original state.
When you’re calm, you’ll be more clear, focused, and productive than ever, and difficult solutions will come to you easily!