Here’s what happens in our brain when we are afraid. We are no longer regulated and we are not processing in our thinking brain. We are just reacting, like horses when they get afraid and run away before they stop to see what the potential danger is.
Here’s the problem. Trauma creates neuropathways in our brain that run immediately back into that state even when it isn’t necessary. When anxiety and trauma happen over and over again, we cut deep neuropathways in our brain that becomes our default setting, even when there is nothing dangerous happening. Then this starts to feel normal and we no longer are able to make rational decisions. Be clear. We now have a society absolutely riddled with traumatized brains. This makes it very difficult to navigate safely with each other. We drive cars. We have lots of guns. We have drugs, both legal and illegal. And even those that seem to be thinking rationally, are often just “thinking” along a neuropathway that isn’t filled with truths, just reactions. Then we point fingers and vilify the people who are struggling to make good decisions.
Think of it this way. Think of the scariest event you’ve ever experienced, whether that is something like a car accident or whether you were in a war or whether you had a dangerous adult in your house growing up. Remember how scared you were, the inability to remember the details, the fog, the tunnel vision, the pounding heart. We have people in this state driving cars, carrying weapons, and making decisions in this state of mind every day, and they are the same people we are relying upon to make decisions for us as a whole.
It might be time to think again.
Holly Jedlicka, MSW, LISW-S