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  • Writer's pictureDayna Sharp, LCSW

Don't Flip Your Lid!

You may have guessed it, "flipping your lid" is another term for losing emotional control of oneself. It's about becoming angry/aggressive, anxious/panicky, or for kids, having a meltdown. Learning about Neuroscience can help us NOT to flip our lids, or at least to recognize when we have flipped our lids and bring ourselves back to balance.

As you can see from the video, children can learn about the Neuroscience behind emotions and behavior, and it can really help them feel more in control of themselves. Remember, losing control of one's emotions doesn't feel good--it doesn't feel safe! Giving kids the tools to feel more in control of one self can be psychologically life saving!

In a previous blog, I outlined the geography of the brain, and Dan Siegel's triunal brain hand model. The wrist represents the brainstem--our involuntary reflexes like breathing and sleeping, our thumb represents the amygdala--responsible for big emotions, memory and safety oversight/alarm, and the fingers illustrate the prefrontal cortex, or the rational part of our brains.

When we flip our lids, the fingers flip up, representing the temporary unavailability of our thinking brain and the dominance of our emotional brain. When our emotional brain dominates, everything that is in our mind in a typically organized fashion can become chaotic and "dump" out in the form of intense emotions and behaviors.

In order to prevent the flip, or stop the dump, we can remember what is happening in our brains and respond by activating our brainstem by taking deep breaths. This puts a brake on our sympathetic nervous system, placing a halt to the stress hormones that build up the flip. Engaging our brainstems through deep breathing can bring our prefrontal cortex, our thinking, organizing, planning part of the brain back on line.

The "flip your lid" model can be helpful for adults to learn, as well as kids. Understanding what is happening in your brain and body can help you to feel more in control, which we all need to feel safe. It can also help you recognize when you're at risk for flipping your lid, and offers concrete ways to bring yourself back to balance. Creating Space Counseling and Wellness can help your family to learn and practice these skills, allowing for more harmony in your relationships and in your home.

Call today to schedule an appointment. 856-281-1664


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