Where do the feelings and impulses to act on them come from? Whether we believe it or not, feelings are important and communicate to us and others what is going on inside. They can be help us to deepen our experience of life. We do not have to let them control us or negatively impact our relationships. Although the business world does not always encourage the expression of feelings, you can use yours to guide you at the work place. Some feelings can be the result of perceiving a threat:
- Frustration, anger, and rage, which some of us experience as a desire to argue, scream, yell, or even inflict physical violence on property or another person.
- Anxiety and nervousness, which some face as a desire to run away and hide or avoid and stonewall.
- There are also some of us, who are so overwhelmed by conflicts or struggles, that they do not function well, going into a panic with racing heart rate and thoughts or become numb or freeze up to the point of even losing track of time or worse.
It may help that those who struggle with these emotions and impulses to know that they may be experiencing various situations as threats to their emotional or physical wellbeing. Threats may include an argument with your significant other, a disapproving look from a supervisor, or another driver cutting in front too closely.
To get the feel for what a threat feels, let us use our imagination:
Imagine hiking a trail in the foothills of Colorado when you suddenly hear some rustling 50 feet away. You orient to the sound by looking around and see a mountain lion standing there. In a fraction of a second, your pituitary gland sends a message to your adrenal glands, which sit above your kidneys. Very quickly, your body reacts, by sending blood away from your belly and the meal you may have consumed recently to your brain and muscles; sending blood away from your skin to your muscles so that you do not bleed easily but can use your muscles to strike or run; causing your eyes to dilate so you can see better but have some tunnel vision to focus on the threat. Information goes to your cortex from your amygdala so you can assess whether to fight, flee. If you have a weapon, you may consider using it. However, what if you miss? Most people think that they would not get a second chance with the animal so close. Therefore, most people back away slowly and my put their hands up in the air because they appear taller to a mountain lion. Now, if you are backed up against a rock wall, you may have to try to defend yourself. Some of us, who may feel there is no chance, may freeze so that they do not experience the torture of being attacked.
Therefore, with most potential threats, people’s brains decide whether there is a danger. If we decide there is a risk, it also can quickly decide to fight (anger), flee (anxiety), or freeze (numbness). Part of the issue with these feelings and impulses may be that we interpret situations as more threatening than they really are or that we respond in ways that are too strong for the situation.
Max Stager is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in assisting couples so they can go from having communication problems, like criticism, stony silence, arguments, and contempt, to experiencing warmth, love, and respect. Contact Max today to get started on nurturing your relationship today.