Sometimes learning and training additional skills just doesn’t help to get better on certain tasks.

For instance, if you are afraid of an upcoming exam or presentation you will feel anxiety and nervousness that may reduce your ability to be brilliant.

Or imagine if you are afraid of spiders and there is a spider on your desk, you can say to yourself with your conscious mind “No, this is such a small animal, it will not do any harm to me, don’t be so afraid” as much as you want. It will not change your anxiety and that feeling of fear that you perceive in your body.

 

So, why is that?

Our brain is more than 60’000 years old and it functions perfectly for us to be able to survive in an environment where we face many different challenges. Now you know, that for a long time in history, we (humans) were not sitting on desks staring on a computer screen – no, we were living very close to the nature, more exposed to ultimate dangers and impacts. So, for a long time in human evolution, we suddenly could have found ourselves standing in front of a tiger. In this case, we had to act immediately and either fight the tiger or run away as fast as possible to save our life. In order to do either of both as fast as possible we react immediately and spontaneous.

 

What is happening in our brain?

All information coming through our senses into the brain are first processed in the limbic system and quickly analyzed if any danger is coming up. If the current situation is associated with danger in the memory of the limbic system, then the amygdale, a tiny region in the brain flashes and we react immediately with emotion and action. Only about 0.5 seconds later, the limbic system gives the information on to the cortex, which is the area that contains our conscious awareness.

 

How is this affecting us?

Because the limbic system reacts first, immediately and spontaneously, our conscious mind knows about 1 second later what’s happening. So, we find ourselves already in anger or fear just on the jump to act, when we start to analyze the situation with our consciousness. But then, even we could be able to analyze the situation in our conscious mind realistically and correct, we are overwhelmed with this emotional wave.  This might lead our decision on what to do next into a totally different direction than what our conscious mind is telling us.

 

So, are emotions something bad then?

It is a simple question of dosage. If we encounter situations that are overwhelming us and giving us very strong emotions, then we cannot make good decisions anymore and we may react in a way that is disadvantageous for ourselves.

Quite often, our brain is able to process these emotion during the time we sleep – just like if our brain would be cleaning up some pieces and putting them into the right drawers. If everything in this process during the time of rest goes ok and the emotions were not very huge, we usually wake up in the morning feeling good and balanced again.

 

But if the emotions were too big and the brain was not able to clean up all that was left over, then we carry these emotions with us and they become emotional blockages.