Reacting appropriately when your emotions are running high, and you’re feeling stress, pressure, or fear is a challenge for nearly everyone. There are sound biological reasons for this, and in this article, Inner Matrix Systems explores how we can train ourselves to respond to anything in a way that produces the outcome we want.
Because we are hardwired for survival, we must develop a habit of not reacting to our emotions until we’ve had a chance to calmly reflect on what outcome we’d like to create. This process is challenging, and it takes practice because we are battling the natural reaction of our nervous system. This well-developed system of physiological actions and reactions has kept our ancestors alive for thousands of years. It’s not easy to conscientiously take control when our biology wants to be in charge.
When we find ourselves in a stressful or frustrating situation, our fight or flight response will relate to the situation as it would a threat. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between a poor performance review at work and being under attack from an enemy. It simply flips to “fight or flight” and tries to survive.
When your partner criticizes you for a minor infraction of the established household culture, let’s say the correct way to fold fitted sheets, for example, your brain stem in the back of your head connected to your spinal cord lights up. It reacts just like it would if a sabretooth tiger was rushing at you. Your limbic system, which is your emotional brain, becomes very active, but your prefrontal cortex, where you have the ability for critical and creative thinking, shuts down.
You are now in fight or flight mode, reacting with fear-based emotions, and unable to reach your brain’s center for critical thinking – or the place in your brain where you know how to make good choices.
This natural reaction creates a precarious situation because, in this state, you are likely to say or do things that you would never say or do if all parts of your brain were humming along like they usually do. Nearly everyone can think of many situations where they reacted in a way that later when calmly reflecting on the event, seemed unreasonable. It was unreasonable because they were temporarily unable to reason.
Neurologist, psychologist, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, once described this concept perfectly. He said, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
When confronted with fear, anger, or perceived danger – albeit only a wadded-up sheet – the space described by Dr. Frankl is extraordinarily small. That is why it is vital to train your mind to create a new response; a response that is more measured and increases the space between stimulus and response so you can choose a proper reaction.
About Inner Matrix Systems
Inner Matrix Systems, based in Denver, is a personal mastery training system for high achievers. For more than twenty years, IMS has delivered a proprietary methodology that rewires, trains, and aligns the nervous system, emotions, and thought strategies to create real-life results. CEO, Joey Klein, and IMS have worked with more than 80,000 individuals from around the world through both live and online training programs, as well as one-on-one coaching. Clients have included: Boeing, IBM, Dell, Google, Panda Express, Coca Cola and The World Health Organization. Joey is the author of The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results (June 2021).