Another car suddenly swerves in front of your path on the highway. Your blood pressure rises and you feel anger and animosity towards that ‘idiot’ driver! You start shouting abuse and making hand-gestures in the hope that they will repent for their evil ways.
Time to Zoom-Out. You Zoom-Out by considering that you know nothing of the person and they may have good reasons for their driving that is not evident. You acknowledge that living as part of a wider society is going to occasionally involve other people behaving in a way that you do not like. You accept the erratic driving and feel compassion for the driver instead of anger.
Ah, our old friend the Amygdala or “Lizard Brain” as it is affectionately referred to. This ‘ancient’ part of the brain forms part of the limbic system and is responsible for emotional reactions and our flight, fight or freeze responses.
Fortunately, we also have a more modern part of our brain, our mammalian brain. We are not all ‘lizard’! We are endowed with a prefrontal cortex, situated directly beneath our boney foreheads. This part of the human brain is responsible for amongst other things: “personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behaviour”. Sound useful? Well considering our place in the food chain and general dominance of the planet, it sounds like it might hold some power.
With conscious effort of will, and practice, we can choose to override the Lizard Brain using our higher-order rational mind. Putting our prefrontal cortex to good use. In short, we can Zoom-Out.
Psychology Today article – Psychology Today article
Seth Godin – Quieting the Lizard Brain
Wikipedia – Amygdala
Wikipedia – Prefrontal Cortex
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