Your brain has evolved for survival! It notices every source of danger and stores it (or freezes it) so that you can quickly recognize danger without having to stop and think about it. It is automatic.
Automatic was wonderful when our human race evolved in the jungle and a fraction of a second could literally keep our ancestors from being eaten. The ones with the best programming survived and eventually produced you and me who live in a world with far different challenges. Part of the stress and anxiety you experience is your automatic brain responding to what it thinks is an emergency when your rational mind knows it is just a minor annoyance.
Many books describe this phenomenon. My favorite explanation is in the first chapter of Daniel Goleman’s classic book, Emotional Intelligence. He calls it “brain hijacking.” I sometimes think of it as an autopilot.
Setting your autopilot is a way to make certain you hold on to protective decisions you have made over the course of your life. Holding on is always easier than letting go. We all hold on by leaving bits of our energy with memories of painful experiences to keep them from intruding into our everyday lives. Those were the experiences we did not have the resources to manage at the time they happened.
You Try to Protect Yourself by Holding On
It takes some of your energy to hold on or freeze your negative experiences, and that energy gets stuck in place and isn’t available for you to use to handle whatever is in front of you right now. So, paradoxically, something you did to protect yourself in the past causes a problem in your present life.
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