When the mind is calm, working memory functions at its best. But when there is an emergency, the brain shifts into its self-protective mode, stealing resources from working memory and shunting them to other brain sites in order to keep the senses hyperalert – a mental stance tailored for survival.
During an emergency, the brain falls back on simple, highly familiar routines and responses and puts aside complex thought, creative insights, and long term planning. The focus is the urgent present – or the crisis of the day.
While the circuitry for emergencies evolved millions of years ago, we experience its operation today in the form of troubling worries, surges of anxiety, panic, frustration and irritation, anger and rage.
from the book Working with Emotional Intelligence by: Daniel Goleman