RR06 – “We don’t think; we feel, we act.”

RR06 - "We don't think; we feel, we act."Today’s “Relationship Reading” is another quote from page 30 of the “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” by Sue Johnson.

In this section of the book, Dr. Johnson is discussing “primal panic” set off by attachment distress. “We don’t think; we feel, we act.” – is the outcome when the brain’s amygdala takes over if an attachment figure is all of a sudden unavailable or unresponsive.

This resonated with me because:

  • It helps to explain why people who clearly love each other can unexpectedly show “anger, sadness, hurt, and above all, fear” in their relationship. Ever seen that? It’s likely not about logic. It’s about triggered emotion.
  • It helps to explain what triggers my tendency towards defensiveness. It’s something I continue to work on.
  • It’s a clear call to “tuning in” to what is behind the words and actions of those we are deeply connected to.

Have your ever gone “off the rails” in a relationship, doing things you later regretted? Is it possible that your actions could be explained by the powerful effects of “primal panic.” What do you think you could have done differently to wind down the “primal panic” before it became a problem?