How & Why We Get Angry: Disclaimer….

Lion Yawning

Disclaimer: Do not attempt to fight a lion or any other wild animal as a result of reading this blog. Thank you.

Since the dawn of time, sitting at the top of the spine like a Sentinel scanning the airwaves and synapses of the developed brain stands the amygdala. This part of our brain has remained unaffected by the developments in human activities across the millennia and is the reason why we are so successful as a species. The purpose of the amygdala is to detect the small, yet significant changes to our vital signs that our thoughts and emotions generate when we are under threat.

Imagine for a moment, that we are back at the dawn of the age of man. We have learned to walk upright and to work as a team to get food rather than working alone. Into our cave walks a lion.

This is the very situation that our amygdala was designed to deal with! Within milliseconds of the threat being perceived it clicks into action, sending signals to our adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline into our bloodstream to feed our muscles because we have a threat to our life, where we either fight or run. This is known as “Fight or Flight Syndrome”.

Imagine fighting a hungry lion by saying “ oh what a nice cat you are!” and generally being cute and cuddly towards the beast. You probably won’t get too far with this as a strategy! If we decide to fight, then we will need to get very angry in order to summon up the required energy to overcome the threat. When this happens, our brains literally flood and no conscious thought occurs because the synapses of the brain are being used to send signals down the superhighways of the spine to our muscles. Every action will be a result of years of programming the brain and your body are in automatic mode regarding all your behaviour at this point.

Fast-forward to today’s world of work where there are no lions, unless you work in a circus. Your amygdala doesn’t know the difference between the perceived threat when we have been made angry by an event at work and a lion strolling into our cave. The response from our amygdala is exactly the same.

When we are angry, the brain floods and no conscious thoughts occur and we are at the mercy of whatever our brains decide we should do from experience. The behaviour we can see from people whose brains are flooding include:

Hitting out at the nearest person or object


Slamming a fist on the table

Pacing up and down

Wild arm movements

Roaring sounds

Aristotle said it best:

“To be angry is easy. To be angry at the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, in the right way, this is not easy”.

Beware of Flooding, unless there is a lion in your office.

Have your best week ever

Mervyn Murray

Mob: +44 (0) 7739 177 678


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