Every decision we make sets in motion a cycle of events, and the result is what we call our life. ~Emilia Lahti, Why We Fear
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Meaning of Life
The full quote:
Each and every little decision we make sets in motion an entire cycle of events, and the result of those events is what we call our life.
It matters what we think about things because our thoughts manifest themselves through our actions, and in that way they shape the course of our lives.
Similarly, our fears are not an insignificant matter. At worst they can persuade us to become mere bystanders in our own lives. The good news is that through rather simple exercises we can become aware of our fears as well as other emotions that prime our behavior. All you need is an honest attitude, time for reflection and preferably a pen and some paper to note down your thought process. Inspired by Hyppönen’s book Why We Fear, I set out to examine my own past.
We are the grand sum of our choices. By facing what scares us the most, as Hyppönen points out, we can develop our character and become stronger and more versatile.
Captain Amygdala and the Fight for Our Attention
The popular acronym ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’ seems to describe the relationship between our brain and fear in a modern world context pretty aptly (in most parts of the world, that is). For most readers of this blog, there are no saber-toothed tigers lurking in the bushes, and in normal conditions we don’t have to constantly fear for our survival.
However, our brain is still the same trigger-happy chunk of fear neurons controlled by Captain Amygdala that it was 60–70 thousand years ago (the amygdala is the tireless emotional processor located on the temporal lobe of the brain. Watch a short video here).
However, most of the threat-triggering cues that the modern individual registers are rather mundane in terms of being actual threats to survival: social situations, imagining potential futures, calculating risks and navigating the social structures of our daily lives.
The problem is that, despite being an amazing triumph of evolution, the neuron bundles wobbling between our ears have not quite evolved to intuitively grasp the difference between a menacing angler fish and an ominous look from a boss during a morning meeting (in some cases, however, these two may be indistinguishable from one another).
We subconsciously scan our environment for potential threats, and our amygdala lights up from the smallest cues. A ‘brainverbial’ hell breaks loose when the alarms go off and we are left dealing with sensations of anxiety, uncertainty, unsettledness and fear.