Life Going Up the Hill

Another interesting occurrence in your mind when cancer strikes the home is the challenge to your mental state. A noted expert on brain function, Arlene Taylor calls this change “downshifting”.

To put it simply the brain has three basic levels, the lower, mid and upper. In the lower region the brain can only process in the present tense. Not much if any rational thinking goes on here. It’s fight or flight, knee jerk reactions that occur here. All the autonomic things like, heartbeat, digestion and things you don’t have to think about are generated here.

In the mid section of the brain is where you can begin to process the past in with the present. Some rational thinking begins to take place here as you relate past experiences with the present. Your mind can think, “Oh I’ve been in a similar situation before so I’ll do or feel what I did last time” with no regard for future outcome. Thinking about the future is impossible here.

The upper region of the brain is where full rational thought occurs. Planning for the future and considering the outcomes takes place here. This is where your creative thoughts are generated.

When you experience a threat to your life such as cancer, your brain immediately downshifts to the lower regions. Like a car that is cruising along on flat ground and comes upon a steep hill. In order to keep going you have to downshift. Everything slows down, and gets harder.

The truth is, when you face cancer in the family not only does your life exit the freeway but it begins a slow uphill climb where thoughts about the future are harder to consider. Without the ability to see the future one might feel like Job in his crisis when he said, “What is my end that I should prolong my life?” (Job 6:11)

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