like they may slap us as it does when we perceive that someone may hurt our feelings, test our authority or make us feel stupid. As we age, we teach our brain to recognize more threats, to our ego as well as to our body. The brain reacts to a challenge to the ego in the same way that an animal responds to danger; the brain prepares us to flight or fight, directing the body to release adrenaline, surge the blood flow to the big muscle groups and direct attention to seek means of protection.
Although we might have a more advanced, logical brain than the reptiles, our thoughts are distorted by this defense mechanism. Every time it is agitated, the body looks for ways to rid itself of the stress caused by the reaction. Conflicting messages then cross paths and multiply in our cortical brain. Without consciously stopping the process and shifting our emotional state, it is nearly impossible to see present circumstances objectively.
In fact, the brain is constantly fabricating a portion of what we think is reality. In protection mode, we predict what is going to happen. We rationalize in order to understand. Since we are limited in what our senses can perceive, we fill in the gaps. Thus, we are prone to illusion based on speculation. We then swear we saw something that didn’t happen or heard someone say something they didn’t because the cues triggered our predictions.
While our brains are busy fabricating details, they are also occupied with filtering out what is perceived as noise. We miss input that the brain determines isn’t important enough to warrant attention. It is no wonder two people can argue endlessly about what they each swear happened before their eyes. They perceived very different events even though the picture was the same.
In addition to adrenaline, when the brain senses a threat, the stress hormone cortisol is released. This shuts the neurons down, which keeps the brain from being able to store new information and learn. We may be able to focus and act fast when driven by fear or anger. Yet we struggle with change and learning new ways to behave. In our defense, our brains react without thinking, fearfully or aggressively saying and doing “stupid stuff” to keep things status quo.Download Article 1K Club