Overcoming the Amygdala Part 42

Bouncing back after a prolonged period of stress in your life is not easy. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, been fired from a job, failed at something important, undergone a serious decline in health, or something else has occurred which you didn’t want to happen. Perhaps your attitude to life has changed as a result, and you are now much more insensitive (or much more sensitive) than you used to be, or often gloomy, or hyperactive, or confused, or over-focused — some unwanted change has occurred within your personality, it seems, and you can’t seem to recover your ‘mojo’ or respond to things as you used to.

All of us have some issues that we wish we could control to live the life we truly want. Anxiety and depression sap our energy so that even the idea of ‘control’ can seem exhausting.

But what weighs us down isn’t so much our thoughts as our emotions — the general, amorphous mass of feelings which often comes as baggage with our thoughts. Emotions are a huge part of our performance and productivity; they are the woof and warp of our lives.

Thirty years of research can tell us quite a bit about emotions. Psychologists and earlier thinkers used to think that thought was disrupted by emotion, but neuroscientist Richard Davidson performed several experiments and studies and revealed some startling findings about emotions:

1. Our ‘emotional brains’ often overlap with that our rational, thinking brains.

2. Everyone has a unique emotional profile like a unique fingerprint.

3. Our emotional style is laid down in our early years by the genes we inherited from our parents and experiences we have.

Does that mean we cannot change it?

No, apparently emotional circuitry isn’t fixed.

With some exercise and consistency, we can adjust our neural connections.

Davidson identified six emotional 'styles' which refer to an individual's consistent responses to life:

  • Resilience

  • Social Intuition

  • Self-Awareness