Evolutionary speaking, the oldest part of the brain responsible for our jerk-like emotional system (the Jerk), based in the limbic (emotional) region, where the amygdala reigns supreme.
This jerk-like emotional system was crucial for our survival thousands of years ago where we have no time to think logically while being attacked by a vicious hungry tiger, we just simply jump into action.
When this happens, the amygdala sounded the alarm in our brain.
The reaction results in filling our body with adrenaline and stress hormones which sparked an immediate reflex.
This reflex then commands our action, to fight or to flight?
Fortunately, in the current modern world, the dangers of the wilderness were no longer a big issue.
Life’s problems usually were more complicated and most of the time responding to the Jerk system do more harm than good, especially in decision making.
Throughout history, due to harm caused by the Jerk, over evolution we have also developed a rational system in the brain (the Thinker).
The system resides mostly in the prefrontal cortex.
How the Thinker works is simple; think, then react.
Most challenges we’re facing today require us to be the Thinker but when things were getting out of control, the Jerk tends to take over.
This event happens unconsciously and it is BIOLOGICAL.
Cortisol is the toxic chemical associated with stress. When we’re under pressure, it will start to build.
When cortisol has reached the critical point, even the smallest conflict can trigger the amygdala response, then the process (as demonstrated in The Jerk) occur.
The Jerk overpowers the Thinker‘s defenses, respond with ‘fight or flight’ instead of ‘think, then react’.
Scientists have termed the situation as ’emotional hijacking’.
Dueling for Supremacy
Psychologist cum neuroscientist, Richard Davidson had conducted a study to find out why some people were resilient while others were easily debilitated in stressful conditions.
Davidson place both groups in situations like solving difficult math problems in a short amount of time and simultaneously tracked their brain function using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).
Referring to the fMRI, it is shown that the rational and reflexive part dueling for supremacy.
Comparing the patterns, the prefrontal cortex won over the limbic system in resilient individuals and vice-versa.
This means that a person with resilient character is more of the Thinker rather than the Jerk.
Each second, 5 babies are born into this world, two new blogs created, 2.8 million emails sent, 34 trees are cut down in the rainforest and around 2 people will die.
In current fast-paced modern environment, the challenges we’re facing are huge.
Adversities like broken economic system, job loses, resource scarcity, rising prices… the levels of anxiety are growing too.
Sometimes, gradual changes come in putting forward things in a very predictable way. Sometimes, like now, changes can be sudden and disoriented.
“How do I cope?”
“How do I develop my resilience to thrive in these difficult times?”
“The waves are getting bigger, but what should I do?”
“How can I be the catalyst for change?
These questions are common questions one might ask on a personal level, but how can adapting a resilient character helping us in resolving these queries? How can we be psychologically prepared?
Let’s look back at the definition of psychological resilience.
Scientist/psychologist thinks that resilience has at least three different properties.
For example, resilient system could be able to withstand a shock, without losing its basic function.
Another property of resilience is the system might be able to adapt to changing circumstances.
And the third property, resilient system is able to transform to a different way of life when the current is no longer feasible.
Resilience is a character that can’t be passed through genes, it is a character than can be learned.
That’s the great news!