by Gail Z. Martin
I’ve told the story about the two warring wolves inside each of us—the light one that is brave and true and the dark one that is dangerous. The wolf that wins is the wolf we feed.
I tackled my own “wolf problem” when it came to feeling angry. Now I’ve already shared my reaction to the over-hyped, over-dramatized TV news. But once I realized how much the doom-and-gloom drumbeat of the news affected my mood, I went looking for other culprits in order to take back my wolf.
A friend of mine who is a psychologist told me that the oldest part of the brain is focused on survival. It’s programmed to fight, reproduce and grab all the resources for itself, because that’s how wild animals survive. Interestingly enough, this old part of the brain is what lights up when we’re angry. And even more interesting, when we’re angry, the body redirects blood from the more advanced parts of the brain (that control logic, reasoning and decision-making) to fuel the fight-or-flight old brain.
Do you realize what that means? When we’re angry, we’re using our lizard brain, not the new improved frontal lobe reasoning brain. In other words—and this is important—anger turns off the ability to think.
Now consider how angry our society has become. Road rage. Politicians who barely avoid fist fights and call each other names. Flamers and trolls on the Internet who post nasty comments. School bullying that makes kids commit suicide. Talk radio. Anger turns off the ability to think.
What would happen if you pulled the plug on the anger-makers? Skip the morning drive talk radio show that leaves you with an upset stomach and a bad mood. Stop reading the Letters to the Editor and the comments on news blogs. Look for a non-partisan source for news that tries its best to provide the facts and let you decide. Take time to breathe.
Anger turns off the ability to think—and it also drowns out your intuition. When you’re angry, there are too many survival chemicals flooding your system for you to hear the soft whisper of intuition and opportunity.
Make just one change this week to pull the plug on the anger-makers and let me know how it changes your life and awakens your intuition.