Did you ever hear a child screaming bloody murder in a public place and the parents act as if they barely notice. It’s because they know they can’t reason with their child at that point, and such is the case for adults when under the control of their lizard brain. As a chemical fire storm transpires in our brain, all common sense is put on hold, we behave like that child; act out and think unreasonably.
The newest part of our brain the prefrontal cortex, ideally should enable us to over ride our lizard brain and be calm and reasonable in the face of problems and disappointments. However, that takes maturity and our brains aren’t even fully developed until we are about twenty-seven years old. By that time we are pretty adept at allowing our rage and frustration to over take us. This prefrontal cortex is our awareness system; it is where we decide, plan, and make responsible choices. I referred to it earlier as our “head office” This is what gives us the capacity to think out into the future, back into the past and then evaluate both to make sense of the present.
Right now the one who is in charge of your behavior/feeling center is your back office, not your newer reasonable thinking front office as you might hope. In my book I teach you how to switch the control over to the thinking part of your brain so you no longer have to feel like you are possessed because some idiot just flipped you off. (But I don hope that idiot is reading this so we can all behave better)
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When anger does overtake you, always remember that you are almost never upset for the reason you think you are. Only after you calm down will you see the truth, and it will almost always have its root in some kind of fear. I suggest to clients that when anger rises, they should stop and ask, “What am I afraid of right now?” Common fears are those of embarrassment, rejection, loss, and danger. Getting to that root will always put things in perspective.
When you get upset, your brain knows that you need something at that moment, so you may experience a hundred images in seconds, giving rise to anger, frustration, self-pity, and loneliness that support and validate your current belief about the situation. This can happen quickly especially when you are disappointed by someone close to you. The next time someone does something to upset you, see if you can spot how many “blaming” memories flood in to validate your outrage toward this person. You will have to be fast because the memories will be there in under a second yelling, “Pick me! Hey, over here! I can prove he did that on purpose. I can show you that she doesn’t really care.” Next thing you know, you become angrier at the person than the situation warrants, and when pressed for a reason, you will probably bark, “Because you always do this!” Your brain is programmed to ignore any information that would disprove your violated feelings. It does this to protect you.