For thousands of years, our amygdala functioned very well at keeping us alive in the wild by sending waves of these stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and epinephrine through our bodies as soon as we saw a lion in the bushes or a dangerous snake. It did that so we would do one thing… run like hell. Not worry, evaluate, or analyze it.
Back then, people’s lives were in constant jeopardy, either from physical harm or from becoming a social outcast. Ten thousand years ago, if a woman’s mate seemed unhappy with her, the woman’s alarm bells would scream because if the man left, her family would have no food or protection and her offspring would die. The same happened when people were shunned by the other members of their tribe, causing them to become outcasts. That was a death sentence within hours. So it was not only the lion in the bushes but also the treatment they received from their inner social circle that meant life or death.
Now here you are today with a brain that is still interpreting any problem as a life-threatening situation! Your superior annoyed with you, a fight with your spouse, car trouble making you late for a meeting, or your in-laws coming for a two-week stay—all of these are often interpreted as life threatening as far as this little amygdala is concerned. It focuses on what will kill you—not on what keeps you happy—and therefore, so do you.
Excerpt from “Why We Are Wired to Worry and How Neuroscience Will Help You Fix It Stop Stressing, Reduce Anxiety, Feel Happy Finally!”
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