Laurel Mellin, the founder of EBT outlines 5 different brain states. (The following is just a summary; for more detail please see our EBT page or pick up Laurel’s book Wired for Joy.)
Brain State 1: My brain is balanced. I am in the present moment, feeling happy, satisfied and rewarded. My thoughts are focused and clear and I am creative and able to problem solve. It is easy for me to make healthy choices from this state.
Brain State 2: I am still feeling balanced although not quite as rewarded or satisfied as Brain State 1. My thoughts are concrete and I am productive. My feelings are mostly positive and I still make healthy choices most of the time.
Brain State 3: My brain is on the verge of a stress response. My thoughts are more rigid, my feelings more negative or I may find I don’t have any feelings (I feel numb or checked out). My cravings are starting to surface and it is hard to talk myself into making the healthy choices. The 4 year old is starting to take charge!
Brain State 4: My brain is definitely stressed. My feelings are more reactive which means instead of feeling angry, I am feeling hostile or I am numb.
Brain State 5: My brain is in a full blown stress response or I am totally shut down (in survival mode). My behaviors are not healthy and my thoughts are rigid and repetitive – I am stuck in a rut! Lizzie (my reptilian brain) is in charge and my cravings are on automatic pilot.
During a normal day we shift between all five brain states. The problem is when we spend too much time at 4 or 5 because we can get stuck there.
Take a moment during your day and see if you can identify when you are at 1,2,3,4, or 5. What brain state do you feel you are in most?