Have you ever flown off the handle by a seemingly non- event?
Have you ever been accused of overreacting?
There is a clear neurobiological reason for this. Below is an explanation from Caulfield Natural Health Clinic’s Counsellor, Inbal Sofer

So, this is how our brain works…
Our brains are like a filing cabinet with many drawers in it.
Each drawer stores the collection of all the memories of a particular emotional experience. This means our drawers are categorised by emotional experiences such as feeling adored, rejected, admired, patronised and so on.

When we experience emotions, we file them accordingly; this can result in overreaction.  As we open a specific drawer, all the memories of the same emotional experience flood us. If we are unaware of this process, we may find ourselves reacting to all the accumulated memories of that emotional experience rather than to what is happening in the present moment. We find ourselves completely overreacting, and often facing a baffled partner, colleague or child, who just can’t understand what just happened.

A stereotypical example of this may be a husband coming home from work, taking off his shoes and leaving them in the middle of the living room, which sends his partner into explosive rage. In this example, the partner may have accumulated experiences of being taken for granted and not being appreciated for her hard work, to which the shoes in the living room are a reminder.

One of the things we do in therapy is to familiarise ourselves with the content of our filing cabinet. We learn to identify our emotional triggers and manage them better, so we can achieve better control and outcomes in our lives.  If we learn to respond to the present situation rather than to the accumulated experience, we will most likely prevent escalation, be clearer to the people around us and get our needs met.

 


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