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The brain and grace

Perfectionism, fear, doubt, shame...these blockades to grace have something in common: the worries associated with each are highly unlikely to ever become a reality.

A Cornell University study (Leahy, 2005) found that 85% of what humans worry about never happens. And out of the 15% that did happen, 79% of participants reported handling the difficulty better than anticipated or that worthwhile learning occurred. Basically, 97% of what we worry about is baseless and yet it causes real stress, tension and strain on our minds and bodies.

A study from the Journal of Neuroscience (Planck, 2013) found humans are innately self-focused, however a part of the brain recognizes and compensates for a lack of empathy. This specific part of your brain, which is responsible for acting with grace and compassion is called the the right supramarginal gyrus. The supramarginal gyrus is a part of the cerebral cortex and is approximately located at the junction of the parietal, temporal and frontal lobe.

When this part of the brain is not working or when pressured to make quick decisions the ability to empathize significantly decreases. This part of the brain helps us discern our emotional state from others, essentially using ourselves as a barometer, often projecting our own emotional state onto others. While the cognitive sciences have studied this phenomenon, we are just beginning to learn more about the impact at an emotional level.

How might you "catch and release" your worries or negative emotions? Understanding they are normal and exist, yet you can choose to let them go, since they are most assuredly unfounded.
How might you allow for more time in certain moments to build an empathetic perspective and act with grace?

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