|In order to understand how you can benefit from your emotional system, you first have to understand how it works.Your emotional brain, the amygdala and the limbic system of which it’s a key part, is an ancient part of your brain. So old that primitive mammals have their own version of this system.
But as mammals became more complex, an area of the brain called the neocortex developed around the limbic system. The neocortex and particularly the prefrontal cortex in humans, performs an astonishing array of functions, from deciding which brand of toothpaste to buy, to planning a meeting as for thinking or studying for a test.
If you have ever freaked out and said or done something rash in the”heat of the moment” that you later regretted, you were probably the victim of an amygdala hijack.
Under normal circumstances the prefrontal cortex acts a mediator, taking impulses form the amygdala and deciding whether or not to act on them.
But when you are under a lot of stress (public speaking, annoying colleagues, misbehaving children, traumatic events, …) a short circuit might occur. Your thinking brain (prefrontal cortex) will get bypassed. The signals are sent straight to your amygdala, which results in an over emotional response (out of proportion to the event). Afterwords we realize the inappropriateness of our response and feel bad, guilty or ashamed.