Managing Amygdalae

Consider the following experiences and whether they elicit fear or excitement in you:

Riding a rollercoaster. Reading a thriller. Skydiving. Visiting a haunted house. First kiss.     
Watching a horror movie. Getting news. Falling in love. Public speaking.

  • What are the physiological sensations for each experience?
  • What leads us as individuals to interpret whether this is scary and dangerous or exciting and fun?
  • Can this be simultaneously terrifying for one person and great fun for another?
  • What does this mean for the way we conduct ourselves/show up in the world?
  • Is there room for interpretation with all experiences or just some?
  • How can we use this to manage ourselves better?

Many people claim that excitement and fear can present the same physiological responses in the body; the heart pounds, palms sweat, breathing changes, etc. Although some of the above scenarios may seem clearly in the realm of either fear or excitement, can you find exceptions? For example, falling in love may seem like pure pleasure, but aren’t there a great many who find it utterly intimidating? Could it be that excitement is nervousness with positive internal narratives and that fear is excitement when we have negative thoughts or interpretations? What tips us one way or the other?

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