Dr. Dan Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. Dan Siegel’s hand model of the brain explains how we can use the frontal cortex (neocortex/logical part) in our brains to train ourselves, with practice, to moderate the fight/flight/freeze/appease reaction which is our impulsive, knee-jerk reaction to threat. Evolution over thousands of years has hard-wired us humans to respond in predictable, yet unskillful ways when we’re afraid or angry.
Fear or anger are the two key signs that the instinctive, emotional part of our brain is about to hijack the logical, thinking part of our brain. This hijacking causes us to respond in ways that we later regret.
With planning, repetition and practice, we can develop new and more helpful ways of responding to stress and danger. This is particularly important in our close relationships. With regular use of simple techniques, we can learn to distract, self-soothe, and emotionally regulate ourselves. Using these skills can help us gain time to choose a new response, or if we have already reacted with fear or anger, to quickly repair any behaviours which have caused harm to others.
We all need to learn how to expand our Window of Tolerance so as to better handle life and relationship stresses. Learn more by clicking on the above link which explains the Window of Tolerance.
Here are some other links for Dan Siegel:
Window of Tolerance video – 4 minutes