Why do we react irrationally sometimes?
Someone might say something which triggers an emotional reaction and you completely overreact, then later wonder why.

It’s all down to triggers. What are triggers?
Well, lets take a step back and talk about pattern matching first. Pattern Matching is one of the reasons we are so successful as a species, it’s the ability to instantly assess something we haven’t come across before and decide on a response or course of action.

It’s like playing a very complex game of ‘snap’ in our head constantly and the cards in our pack are added to constantly as we grow up and learn.

The pack of snap cards includes information from all our senses, hearing, smell, sight, touch and is stored in the hippocampus (memory centre) in our limbic system or primitive brain, which is also the emotional centre of our brain.

For example:

You come out of your house and there is something in the street – it’s moving in your direction, has 4 legs, it’s bigger than you, it has fur and big teeth and is drooling, it smells unpleasant and is making a noise. You’ve never seen anything like it before – but what do you do?

I would probably run away. I’m pretty sure I’ve got snap cards in my head that add up to dangerous. (It might have decided that at 4 legs and bigger than me stage!) But my imagination would have filled in the gaps and decided that something I had seen in the past which matched some of the criteria was dangerous, therefore this is going to be dangerous too. It might not be, but I’m not going to hang around to find out because it’s an unpleasant or dangerous match.