We’ve all been there, a deer stuck in the headlights. Something startles or scares us so badly that we freeze, rooted in the path of the oncoming danger, unable to escape. At 13-years old I found myself rooted in a crosswalk while an oncoming car approached the intersection with no intention of stopping at the red light.
The next thing I remember is lying in a hospital bed several days later. I had been hit by a car while crossing a four-lane road. Miraculously, the only significant injury I sustained was a shattered arm. The friends who were with me said that I stopped and threw my arms up to block the car.
Too bad I didn’t get out of the way instead.
Neuroscientists tell us that in “fight or flight” situations our amygdala, aka “the lizard brain,” uses instinct to drive our behavior. The Lizard actually shuts down the rational part of our brains and shifts into autopilot to deal with the stress. Often instinct gets it wrong: moving out of the way of the car would have been much better than trying to ward it off with my arms.
[Stress makes you dumb. Break free from stress.]
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