Every thought or emotion that you experience causes a reaction in a specific area of your brain. Joy or sadness, love or jealousy, all have distinctive counterparts in the way your neurons fire; modern electronic imaging technology (like Functional MRIs) allow us to view the intricate dance in your brain’s energies that accompanies your every thought and feeling. If you were to watch the screen of a brain-imaging device such as a PET scan while you were experiencing substantial stress or anxiety, you would see specific areas receiving arousal signals that make the screen light up like a Christmas tree.
If your brain recognizes a similarity between a distressing situation from your past and what you are seeing or hearing in the moment, even though there is no current threat or danger, the same distress signals that you experienced in the earlier situation can become activated. Although it may seem unreasonable, the emotional response can be overwhelming. Perhaps your brother’s voice hits just the tone of your father’s voice right before he spanked you, and you are suddenly angry at your brother and fiercely defending actions that weren’t being criticized. Though people often are not aware of it, this basic sequence – where a current situation activates an outdated response – is at the root of many of their difficulties, from dysfunctional patterns in their relationships and self-defeating choices on the job to unnamed anxieties, unprovoked bouts of depression, irrational jealousy, fear, or anger.
Your brain’s main function is survival – to keep you safe. So, if you see, feel, smell, touch anything that triggers some upsetting incident from your past (usually from age 0 to 6) or any part of the incident, your brain immediately goes into a “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction, releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, to alert you that there is danger here. This can occur when you see a yellow school bus because, when you were bitten by a dog when you were 2 years old, there was a yellow school bus passing by. Or, let’s say you are standing in front of people in your company to lead a meeting, and your palms get sweaty and you have anxiety in your chest. Your brain is saving you because it’s reminded of the time your 2nd grade teacher embarrassed you during your show and tell presentation.
When you have reactions like these, often called an “amygdala hijack”, blood drains from your pre-frontal cortex, which is the logical thinking and problem-solving part of your brain, and you are totally on automatic with reactions from your past. Your sub-conscious mind is far more powerful and influential (about 95%) than your rational conscious mind. All of your memories are “hard-wired” in the form of neural connections that started being formed when you were young, and every time they get activated, the connection gets thicker and thicker.
The excellent news is that it has been discovered that our brains CAN be “rewired” by a phenomenon called “neural plasticity” and EFT is a method that can enable that to happen.