“I cannot believe he did that,” would have possibly been the first thought to cross our minds as we watched the unfolding of events at the Oscars this week.
As we try to wrap our heads around what happened, it might help to know that when we are under immense stress, we either ‘get a grip’ or ‘flip the lid’. Effective communication between our upper and mid brain helps us regulate our emotions efficiently, as our upper ‘smart’ brain provides guidance. ‘Flipping the lid’ occurs when our mid brain (the seat of our emotions) takes over and becomes rather disconnected from the more rational upper brain. Logic no longer influences our emotions, and we might act in ways that shock not only others, but also ourselves even where there is no real danger.
Reviewing what Will Smith did has caused me to wonder about situations when we may experience intense emotions.
He recently went through an emotionally intense fitness journey, wrote a book about the trauma he endured with an abusive father and how he contemplated suicide as a child, and also played the role of a fiercely protective father in his latest movie. He has had a year or more of cumulative emotional stress and the latest incident was possibly an inevitable trigger. Violence can never be condoned in any form, even if it is to protect one’s family, and this might help us be aware of how we humans tend to react when under pressure.
To avoid acting in ways that we may regret involves fostering an ability to be aware of our impulse to react. Simply slowing down during stressful times gives our upper brain an opportunity to reconnect and guide the decisions we make. This will hone our capacity to choose the best response, even when under psychological and emotional distress. So the next time you need to choose, slow down and ask yourself, “What am I being guided by and will the choice I make move me towards the life that I want for myself?”
If you would like further help with this, please speak to a psychologist.