Jun 5, 2008

What makes us do what we do?

We are driven by our emotions. Whether consciously or subconsciously our emotions enable us to react to situations. Something gives us a happy feeling and we smile and are open to the situation. On the other hand when we encounter something that angers us or makes us fearful we react very differently. Our emotions are controlled by the limbic system in the brain.

Imagine taking a walk and suddenly you see a long snake-like object in the brush. Your eyes send a signal to a part of the brain (the frontal lobe) that recognizes that what you are seeing might be a snake (or not) and sends a signal to a part that analyzes the situation (the Amygdala) resulting in an emotion. The Amygdala sends the information to the Hypothalamus where the emotion is changed into a reaction. You first feel fear, "Yikes, a snake!" (the emotion) and then you need to get ready to fight it, or get away as quickly as you can (the reaction = fight or flight). This whole process takes place in just a split second.

During our day we experience this process in various degrees many times when interacting with others. Our brain is constantly assessing if we are safe or if we should react in some way. The more negative emotions we experience, the more stressful our job. The more positive feelings (emotions) we experience the better we feel about our work and job and the better we can be at it.

We are not always aware of what we feel consciously because there is so much more happening around us at all times. In addition we don't always have the emotion that corresponds to the situation. For example, some people are more fearful than others, and can therefore feel a different level of the emotion.

By being aware of our emotions we can consider how a situation will affect our personal well-being and then we can appraise how we can best cope with this situation.

This applies to snakes in the wild as well as snakes in the workplace.

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