How Your Survival Brain Shifts to Success

Summary: All leaders must learn to manage stress through self-awareness. Here’s what you need to know.

Did you know you can see and hear signs of stress?

The part you can see you express through your body. Think about hands clenched in a fist or lips pulled together in a frown.

In addition, the tone of your voice is a significant indicator of stress. Even if you say “Everything is fine,” it can come across as “Will this damn day ever end.”

Self-awareness and stress management are a package deal.

For instance, can you remember a time when you were blazing new trails? Moments with tons of energy and excitement? Those days when creativity oozed from every pore?

However, one day, in the blink of an eye, you changed.

As a result, you took an extended break from a vibrant, magnetic visionary to a micromanaging, distrustful, controlling, angry, perfectionist monster.

Most importantly, if this isn’t you, I bet you know someone who did the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde turnaround. It could be your employer, business partner, or love partner.

As a result, you shake your head and ask, “What the heck happened?”

Self-awareness needs tender love and care…always!

The big question is: How does someone shift from great to gruesome? In the same vein, can the curse be reversed?

Look, there are multiple negative characteristics in all of us. And much of the time, we can keep them under control. That’s when we behave in mature, responsible, and positive ways.

Then something happens and our old survival brain takes over.

Instead of calm, you become frenzied. Rather than staying curious, you become indifferent. Sadly, you forget how to be courageous; you become cowardly.

Similarly, you lose focus and react in outdated ways that may have worked between toddler to teen years. However, not anymore.

To be self-aware you need to control your survival brain

And once you start down the lane of negative emotions, self-sabotage is the rule of the day. 

There is now lots of finger-pointing and blaming others. You start to say things you will regret later. The survival brain seems to loop around itself, and negativity breeds negativity.

When you become unhappy and see the rain without any rainbows, here’s what happens: cortisol becomes king. Elevated levels of this stress hormone interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function, heightened blood pressure, and many other nasty things for your health.

New ways to think about stress and self-awareness, thanks to Hans Selye.

In 1936, Austrian biochemist Hans Selye began to dissect stress and what it does to our bodies and minds. He defined two types of stress: eustress, which is the good kind that keeps us focused and ready for challenges, and distress, which is the wrong kind that makes us turn gruesome.

Both types of stress release cortisol, and you become ready for action. You can “carpe diem” and seize the day on the one hand. That’s the true leader in you. Take charge and find the solution and calm your thumping heart. Cortisol levels will return to normal.

Then there is the distress; that’s when the negativity and free-floating anxiety point you to self- sabotage.

Master the 4 levels of stress and be applauded for your self-awareness

The way out is available, so pay attention.

You need to be mindful and take charge of your thoughts. Positive Intelligence (PQ) and Pattern Awareness (PA) create the magic combination.

Here’s a simple brain exercise to get you back into the groove from good to great and away from gruesome.

It all starts with a brain exercise using one important word.

First, it’s up to you to take charge. You command your brain to shift attention. Write the word shift on your computer. Put the word on your bathroom mirror and your refrigerator.


That’s your power word. When you command your mind to stop its negative chatter and direct your attention elsewhere, you are on your way to a healthier body and better emotions.

To sum up, think about how you have planted your feet on the ground, or think about the delicious orange you were getting ready to eat. No matter what, shift your attention to the count of 10.

In short, research shows that every time you make the shift and do a mental repetition, you are strengthening the muscles of your positive intelligence brain.

Self-awareness leads to transformational leadership and higher success.

In conclusion, every time you observe the pattern you want to change, it has less of a stronghold on you. Take the Stress Quiz and find out what stress does to you personally.

Make this 10-second shift process part of your daily regime, and you will be able to tackle even the most annoying situations more agreeably.

Here’s to your success,


PS. My new book Invisible Stress (It’s NOT What YOU Think!) is available on amazon. Want a free copy of the introduction and a discount on Stress Busters online program? Please click here. You’ll be glad you did.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options