How to deal with stressful situations properly
It is absolutely necessary to be able to influence others both at work and in private life, as well as to be able to convey your point of view. But why do our arguments sometimes seem inconclusive and our behavior met with rejection? This is due to the functionality of our brain. One of the reasons that prevent you from forming a relationship with other people may seem a bit strange to you. You must realize that you are part animal. This means that we humans act more instinctively than rationally in stressful situations.
Human brain is made up of three separate brain regions.
Nature has spent hundreds of thousands of years perfecting our brains. However, it has not replaced the old brain regions, but rather expanded them further and further. As a result, people today have three different regions in the brain, each with their own specific job to do. One brain focuses on making a decision to “run away or fight”, the second brain is responsible for emotions and the third, human brain, is responsible for rational reasoning.
Most often, this system turns out to be very effective, because each of its parts works perfectly. Problems can arise when these three brain regions interfere with each other’s work, which can happen especially in stressful situations. At such moments, the emotional sensor, the amygdala, is activated in the brain, causing a so-called amygdala takeover. In such situations, the brain seems to divide and its three parts start to act independently. At that moment you become a human, a mammal and a reptile at the same time. But that’s not the real problem.
As the excitement builds, the reptilian brain that dates back 245 million years and is trained to “fight or run” begins to control you more and more.
This means you no longer you are able to assess the situation correctly. The amygdala forces you to respond in ancient and automatic ways. You can no longer concentrate, emotions run rampant and you can only behave primitively from that moment on.
This quickly leads to the formation of a vicious circle, the less rational you act, the more excited the amygdala becomes. Very quickly, the other two brain regions are kept out of the process. In other words, you are no longer able to think rationally like a human. Instead, you just feel cornered and try to either escape the situation or attack the people who put you in the situation in some way.
Of course, things are very different in the modern world than in prehistoric times, when the brain developed these instincts.
However, your nervous system cares very little. It doesn’t know the difference between a tyrannosaurus and a boss tyrant. While the amygdala isn’t forcing you to run out of the room screaming and screaming or banging your boss on the head with a stick, it will still make you instinctively choose one of two strategies, both of which would unfortunately be wrong. The first is wanting to get away from the situation, it’s the strategy of avoidance and inaction, a complete lack of influence. You become completely inactive and listless when it would make much more sense to take action. You surrender, you avoid having to make a decision or a choice, you avoid taking a risk.
The second strategy is related to combat.
By following it, you try to pressure, persuade, persuade or force the opponent to act according to your interests. However, you will not be able to influence anyone with this, so you should try to avoid this practice at all costs. By focusing fully on your fears, stress, and anger, the amygdala becomes more and more stimulated.
However, if you focus on other people’s feelings, you can let off steam and start interacting.
Mark’s story shows how communication is built in a difficult situation can be. Although Mark appears often on TV and radio, he is quite shy by nature. A few years ago he was so shy that he usually only stayed a few hours at each party and then asked his wife to go home. That wasn’t exactly helpful, of course, and his wife didn’t like it either.
One evening Mark decided to do something different, he wanted to speak to at least three guests and try to make that communication pleasant. Mark had no idea where this experiment would lead. During the course of the evening, however, he was able to have an interesting conversation with five party guests. Three of them had turned out to be very nice people to talk to. They indicated that they found the conversation very interesting and would like to continue the acquaintance. When Mark finally left the party, he wondered why this evening turned out so differently than usual. Then realized that this time, instead of staying in his usual system of nervousness and tension, he focused on the other person’s information, and thus became a good listener and interesting conversational partner for the other person.
After realizing this, he felt a sense of peace and security and gradually shed his shyness.