I am attending a NCT antenatal course at the moment and we are covering some interesting topics. One that resonated with me was an interpretation on the power of being. The consequences are so similar in different situations that you can derive from the concept of planning vs being in most areas of life.
I am a self confessed planner. Constantly driven to always be preparing and planning for the future and striving to get there quicker. I’m often accused of missing out on life whilst planning for a better one. I’m also often very unhappy when others aren’t and my fuse can get very very short. Are they related?
Let’s take a look at two of the hormones and chemicals that produce some of the most fundamental feelings we have as humans.
The ‘love’ hormone. It makes us feel happy, calm, euphoric and all the good things we like. We get this when we are secure, happy, at ease, enjoying ourselves etc etc
The ‘fight or flight’ hormone. We get this hormone when under stress whether due to anxiety, taking a risk, extreme exercise/activity and being scared amongst others.
During labour is the best way I can describe how each affects the other. Adrenaline produced from fear and stress during labour slows down the labour by reducing the levels of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is essential for progressing labour.
There are studies that suggest that oxytocin is a good driver for creative thinking by switching from the cognitive to the divergent. This has been suggested to allow us to process and react to complex situations and survive and prosper through innovation.
In my line of work, I’ve spent many an hour describing the benefits of innovation and incremental experimentation over planning a full solution with static results regardless of any change in circumstance. Otherwise known as setting up to fail.
How do we feel when a plan goes wrong? Bad. We failed. We don’t have a backup and it can be hard to swallow the lessons to learn. Negativity is high which causes a low in oxytocin and an increase in adrenaline. It lowers the hormone that we need to creatively handle the oncoming complex situation of a failed plan.
How do we feel when an experiment doesn’t work? Informed. We know that this was a possibility which is why we tested an approach first in order to adapt to unforeseen events/circumstances and the focus is on learning. Whilst we analyse positives and negatives, the lack of inappropriate adrenaline response to change allows us to creatively solve our problems.
The lack of sureness, positivity and ‘love’ from that oxytocin puts us in a cycle of stress that keeps reducing that positivity.
So what next? What’s the first experiment?
I am a strong believer in vision. Vision is something that grounds us, gives us inspiration, drives ambition and gives us something to strive for. I’ve realised that so many times in dealing with my depression that adrenaline was key to stay afloat. However, once the fight wasn’t necessary, the adrenaline didn’t go because the short term planning was continuing and becoming longer believing it was vision. Against all my beliefs.
My first experiment is to carry out the first experiment towards my vision: experimentation! This week, I’m on my first week of maternity and I have no plans. I’m going to make no plans and see where my creativity and creative responses take me. I will be measuring how present I am, the length of my ‘fuse’ and happiness index.
Let’s see what we learn…