Happy Halloween Fear as Fun not Fight

In a few days, will you be opening your door to strangers dressed in ghastly costumes demanding trick or treats?

If we do not trust someone, however subliminally, we feel threatened by them and this invokes our fight, flight or freeze response. The limbic system (or emotional brain centre) evolved to deal with instinctive behaviours, such as eating, drinking, mating, defending ourselves and surviving. A part of the brain called the amygdala triggers this physiological response thinking only in stark survival-type choices:

Fight – will I win against this specific threat?

Flight – am I faster than it is?

Freeze- if I do not respond, will it stop seeing me as prey?

If we recognise this mechanism as it is triggered, we have the opportunity to make choices. This can take time to develop as foresight about instinctive behaviour.

It’s worth the effort – just think about the number of time’s you’ve said, I wish I had not behaved that way.

Hindsight can be painful and leave us with an unpleasant list of things to UNDO.

Posted on: October 25, 2012

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Nicky Hayes

Dr Nicky Hayes is a fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Chartered Psychologist, and an honorary life member of the Association for the Teaching of Psychology. Her books have sold over 250,000 copies.

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