If only we still faced tigers in the woods every day! Our bodies evolved to handle physical threats like that, not the mental, psychological and emotional threats we now face constantly.
Your body’s chemicals are not at war with each other, but it certainly feels that way at times! Each of us produces more than 50 hormones, which collectively control how we behave, what we feel and how we respond to the world. The sympathetic nervous system produces fight-or-flight hormones whenever we perceive a threat, taking over from the parasympathetic nervous system, whose hormones keep us calm and serene.
But ANY change can be perceived as a threat, whether it is positive or negative, because it jolts us out of our nice, safe groove of everyday life. And we all have a habit of taking minor annoyances and turning them into threats without meaning to….
A big credit-card bill shows up. “Oh no! I’ll never be able to pay it! I’ll go bankrupt!” The boss makes a negative comment on something we did. “I’m going to be fired!” We get stuck at a long red light. “I can’t stand this!!”
But we CAN stand it, we are NOT going to be fired because of one negative comment, and we will NOT go bankrupt because of a month of overspending. And we know this–rationally. But our immediate reactions ratchet up the threat level, and our bodies therefore perceive us as perpetually surrounded by tigers. So we live in a flood of stress hormones, which weaken our immune system, make us vulnerable to disease, and leave us perpetually feeling angst, discomfort and low-grade depression.
We do this to ourselves. That means we can undo it. The key is realizing that we create our own version of reality by how we react. We respond not to the event but to our perception of it….Continue reading at InspireMeToday.com.
Dr. Mark Estren is a psychologist and author specializing in helping people understand modern medicine and how to manage their own healthcare effectively.