I was at a fantastic presentation last night by the amazing Cynthia Greenawalt. She talked about many fascinating topics, but one that really stopped me in my tracks was when she spoke about our Amygdalas. Our what?
Did you even know you had an Amygdala?
This was totally new to me. Check this out: our Amygdalas are located deep in our brains and, amongst other things, they perform a primary role in memory and decision-making. Here’s an example: we tie our shoes. We can have a conversation while we tie our shoes. There’s no need to think about how to tie our shoes because we’ve done it so many times. We tie our shoes as if we’re on autopilot.
How does an Amygdala work?
Or this: we walk the same path home everyday. We often don’t even have to think about the steps we take. Our Amygdalas remember the path and take us home. Here’s the kicker. If we see an alternate path, our Amgydala is immediately set into high gear. Is the path safe? We’ve never been down it before. What if it’s a wrong turn? We better turn back and go the way we know. Our Amygdalas will stop us from doing something we’ve never done before.
Cynthia told us of a personal example where she recognized her Amygdala was taking over. She had been asked to write the Forward for a book coming out. Cynthia is incredibly accomplished in many things. But one thing she’s never done is write a forward. Her immediate thoughts were: wait I need to spend time in the library researching this. Why would they ask me? I’ve never done this before! I don’t have time for this – it’ll take me forever!
Once Cynthia caught on to what her brain was doing she was able to reset and force herself to sit down, bang out a forward that thrilled the authors that same day. Can you relate to any of this? I was spellbound learning about the drive behind certain behaviors.
And here’s something important to remember. Amygdalas usually win. Amygdalas like comfort zones. When something unpredictable happens, our Amydala will highjack the opportunity. So now that you know you have an Amygdala, what it does, and how it works, remember this the next time an alternate path appears, or if you’re intrigued by an opportunity… don’t let your Amygdala win out – you can do it!