I love change; whether it’s moving to another country, managing a challenging project, or learning a foreign language; but, when I was made redundant, I abandoned all sense of reason and froze.
Many experts have written about the amygdala and how it is responsible for emotions and survival instincts, and triggers our ‘fight, flight or freeze mechanism’. No matter how much individuals love change; myself included; they may react differently to change which is imposed upon them, than to change which they have planned.
To put this into context, we use the ventral striatum and the amygdala for judgment and decision making, calculating the reward or degree of threat of a situation. The prefrontal cortex, contains the historical context of a situation and regulates the response of the amygdala and ventral striatum, depending on the context of a situation.
Individuals often ‘freeze’ and find it difficult to make decisions, when they are faced with a situation for which they have no point of reference, so they may have no idea of how to react.
Having come through imposed change unscathed, and having coached many others through the same situation, I understand why my clients often fear change. They fear a distant memory of what has yet to come. So, whether an individual chooses ‘fight, flight, or freeze’, the emotions experienced during change can be traumatic and cannot be ignored.
Fortunately, our brains plasticity means that we have the ability to rewrite how we choose to remember past memories, which helps us to unlearn bad habits, discard our limiting beliefs and, focus on realising positive future outcomes.