There’s a whole range of early experiences that create memories and neurological associations that develop into strong beliefs and convictions. On the more extreme end of this spectrum are those who suffer terrible abuse as a child, and if not properly treated early enough, such experiences can create repressed memories (a survival or coping mechanism) that can create a series of false beliefs about themselves and the world they live in, which in turn can create strongholds in the mind that direct their major career and relationship decisions for the rest of their lives. These subconscious forces can operate to one’s benefit when they are grounded in truth, or they can operate to one’s detriment if founded upon false beliefs.
On top of the false beliefs we harbor, and all of us harbor false beliefs to various degrees, we then have misunderstandings, confusion, and misguided opinions. Then all of us develop habits and preferences, good and bad. We develop patterns of behavior based on earlier experiences, good and bad.
When we have negative or devastating experiences early in life as immature children with undeveloped emotions and psychological responses, we are not typically capable of processing such experiences, so the survival instincts kick in by repressing the memory, or by interpreting it in such a way that we can survive. The complex neurological associations that are constructed in our minds connect experiences to emotions (feelings). Our memories are surprisingly good. Even if we can’t recall at the conscious level, our subconscious network remembers.
This is how we develop what I call “emotional switches” that can get flipped much later when we’re adults with an otherwise harmless phrase spoken by someone with a harsh word, or an angry facial expression, or the raising of a hand in anger. Without even understanding why, a person whose emotional switch is flipped by someone else will suddenly find themselves flooded by the related emotions, the very emotions that are still connected subconsciously to that early painful life experience. The person who innocently used an expression or gesticulated a certain way is confused by an irrational emotional response (anger, or sadness, or a vitriolic attack), and walks away shaking their head wondering what’s wrong with that person.
We see these emotional switches getting flipped all the time today with phrases that have been weaponized to divide people and cause dissension, phrases such as “illegal alien,” “global warming,” “racist,” “Merry Christmas,” “stewardess,” “peanut gallery,” “gypped,” “blacklist,” “off the reservation,” “master bedroom,” and hundreds of other phrases that are flipping people’s emotional switches. That triggers a rant or a long tirade accusing you of all kinds of crimes and immoral sins, none of which are true for 99% of us.
Why do people have emotional switches that launch them into irrational responses? Because they have false beliefs that developed into a stronghold of the mind, and over time that stronghold of lies is reinforced until it becomes an impenetrable fortress well armed to defend itself.
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