Deciding about uncertain danger

Our brains work superbly when we're in clear cut danger. We instantly get the urge to take flight or put up a fight. We become "all eyes and ears" to not get fooled by appearances. We quickly make up our minds about those things which are posing some danger to us.

Our brains also function wonderfully when we're not in any danger. We take advantage of the safety to explore opportunities, create new experiences, relate to others with empathy and reflect on what is happening to us. We avoid fixating our minds on a particular in order to remain open, inquisitive and adventurous.

Our brains get into trouble when it's not clear whether we're really in danger or not. Deciding about danger does not come easily to us. We're torn between two very different ways to sort out the situation. Each approach has some advantages. We will use our brains more effectively when we take this inner conflict into account.

Our right brains are fascinated by uncertain danger. It's possible the thing we're facing is not dangerous at all. It might be an opportunity to grow, change, learn or create something new. It might show us something we don't already know or even consider as an option. It might seem strange to us to get our attention, then relate to us with more understanding than we expected. It might challenge our preconceptions in order to come to a new outlook on ourselves and our situation. It can even offer an element of danger we find alluring.

Our left brains are opposed to uncertain danger. There's no two ways to take the situation: either we win or we lose, handle it or not, take control or get controlled. We cannot give it time or play along with it to see what comes of it. Most every option will put us in more danger as far as the left brain can determine.

Our limbic system gets entangled in deciding about danger when we're favoring the left brain approach to the uncertainty. We recall previous dangers like it's happening again right now. We already know the feeling and see the same story unfolding again. It seems we're immersed in a nightmare with no possible escape. We're like a cornered animal get forced to accept it's fate as prey to an over-powering predator. Fight or flight are not options. It's time to freeze in our tracks like a deer in headlights. We experience an anxiety attack that appears to override both the left and right hemispheres. Our right brain imagines the worst that can happen. Our left brain thinks of catastrophizing, demonizing and awfulizing the situation.

When we use our brains effectively for deciding about danger, we no longer go there. We control our urge to over-react and jump to erroneous conclusions with the limbic system taking over. We give our right brain a chance to perform its proper function. We chill out and ponder the situation to see what comes to mind about it. We assume we don't know what to make of it or how respond to it until we gain some insights. We give ourselves time to reflect on it and consider different alternatives. We act like we're not in any danger until our right brain comes to that conclusion. We exhibit composure, confidence, courage and character amidst this adversity. Our decision about the danger will then be wise and insightful. We've used our brains well.

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