Topic 5 – How the brain reacts

Living in a state of high stress is like being caught in a state of hyperarousal for long periods of time.  This can feel like we are walking up a hill with no end in sight. The longer we keep walking up this hill, the more our brains and bodies get used to being in a hyper aroused state, and the harder it becomes to manage every day events in calm and measured ways.The more we respond aggressively to events, the more normal it feels.

The brain adapts to what is replayed over and over. It creates a habit. So if aggressive anger is your dominant reaction, this is what the brain learns is normal. Alternatively if your foremost response to angry feelings is to be calm and thoughtful, this is what the brain learns is normal. And so the pattern goes.

During episodes of anger we activate that part of our brain known as our emotional brain. It is known as the Limbic system and is responsible for emotions and emotional behaviour. One of the main concerns of our emotional brain is self-preservation. It’s always alert; constantly asking a very important questions ‘Is it safe?’

Our emotional brain gets its information from our thinking brains the part of our brains responsible for making decisions, thinking, observing, logic and reasoning.  If our emotional brains perceive danger or threat, it will override the more calm and rational thinking brain and take charge.

The way around this ongoing pattern of aggression and anger is to be aware of your fight/flight response and use your thinking brain instead.