Why do we get angry? – Reblog

waiting is the hard part pointless overthinking
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

Today I came across an interesting theory about why we’re getting angry most of the times. In his book The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights, Daniel Goleman talks about the fact that we have two ”bosses” in our head which controls the way we see things and we make decisions. There is the good boss located in our prefrontal cortex which controls our attention, our reasoning, our flexibility in giving answers and our decision making. We also have a bad boss which is our amygdala that is responsible with our emotions of suffering, fear, anger, impulsivity and so on.

   “Amygdala is the brain’s radar for threatening. Our brain is designed as an instrument for survival. Amygdala has a privileged position in our brain’s schematics. If it detects a threat, it can take immediately control over our whole brain’s activity, especially over our prefrontal cortex; this is called a hijack”. – Daniel Goleman

As you see, whenever we think we detect a threat, our brain will get concentrated on that and the negative emotions will kick in and every decision we make is seen through that negative filter. During this hijack we can’t learn new things, we’ll be concentrating only at the threat, we can’t be innovative and we’ll remember things related to that threat.

Our brain is ready to react in case a threat is been perceived, but we are perceiving threats more that we should. Actually, there are very few real threats we encounter in our lives, but we perceive threats all day long. As an example, if we see a random person looking “strange” at us, we might perceive that as a threat (I know, threat is a strong word, but whatever we think it goes against anything related to us can be seen as something negative) and it will trigger the hijack and we’ll be invaded with negative thoughts and feelings.

The solution? We should stop perceiving random things as being threatening and here is how  Daniel Goleman proposes we can do it:

   “The steps for ending or for interrupting a hijack start with monitoring what happens into your mind and your brain and with observing: “I’m exaggerating” or “I’m very upset right now” or “I’m starting to get angry”.[..] It’s easier to stop the hijacking at the beginning.”

The author also states that we need to want to calm down so this can work. Using empathy and having dialogs with ourselves can also work. There must be other reasons out there for one’s behavior.

As I said, it’s an interesting theory, but bottom line it all comes to monitoring and changing our perspective about looking at things. This might be the key to everything?

7 thoughts on “Why do we get angry? – Reblog

Add yours

  1. Interesting. If we sensed negativity in us, it’s best to put s stop quickly. Having said that, it’s easier to monitor and control at younger age. As one is growing older, it’s harder to do so. That’s why older people are harder to adapt to surroundings and being convinced once they sensed ‘threat’ perception on something.

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  2. I was skeptical when I first saw the premise of the post, BUT it makes sense at least to a degree. Look at all the things in society today that have a bad effect on the prefrontal cortex; drugs legal and otherwise, booze, etc…

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  3. I use this “theory” loosely with my daughter, explaining to her “our caveman brain vs. princess brain” and who she is letting drive the bus. I think being aware of how we are responding to things that happen during the course of the day can really empower us.

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