Sharks and My Fight-Or-Flight Adrenaline Rush

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Walking out of the theater, I was still feeling the adrenaline rush I received while watching the new and well done Shark movie 47 Meters Down-Uncaged. Twisting and jumping in my seat every time the great white shark suddenly appeared, the movie had accomplished its intended purpose, to provide some sudden thrills.

I have not moved around in my sit this much since Jaws was released in 1975. I remember squirming in my seat, my palms sweaty, and my heart pounding every time the music queued to let us know the shark was nearby. I can still picture the guy two rows in front of me who was just starting to sit down when the shark first appeared. This resulted in him to throwing his popcorn in the air landing on the people around him. Probably feeling a bit embarrassed, he had to turn around and head back to the concession stand to get a popcorn refill.

Anyone who is a horror movie junkie goes to horror movies for one reason; to have the vicarious thrill of being scared with the accompanying release of adrenaline. This same thing happens when you are riding roller coasters at Magic Mountain in California. I found out that juvenile delinquents I counseled had a similar experience when they tried to outrun the police, sometimes not very successfully.

The feeling that is created by the sudden scare or the thrill of a roller coaster is created by the release of adrenaline. This process is known as fight-or-flight. It is a basic survival instinct that animals have when they feel they are in danger. Humans also respond have the same experience [bg1] when they feel threatened. Animals, when threatened, have to either run for their lives or fight. The fight-or-flight response is created by the release of adrenaline into our bodies.

If a zebra senses a tiger is nearby looking for dinner, fight-or-flight automatically turns on. Once the danger has passed and the zebra feels safe, the adrenaline turns off, and the zebra now returns to a state of calm like nothing has happened. This is the way fight-or-flight is intended to work. It was why my adrenaline rush was over 10 minutes after the movie was over, and I was driving out of the parking lot of the movie theater. It is also why some people rush from one roller coaster ride to the next looking for that next boost of adrenaline.   

Fight-or-flight was created to turn on when the zebra needs to survive, and it turns off when the animal feels safe. Fight-or-flight, which is called the acute stress response, works in the same way in you and me. The difference between animals and humans is that it is also responsible for our emotional reactions. Unlike fight-or-flight, our emotions do not automatically turn off. You are responsible for your emotions and have to learn how to turn them off.

Think about the last time you were angry with someone. How long did you feel your anger, hours, days, maybe weeks? The last time you felt stress at work, did you have trouble sleeping that night? And how many nights did you lose sleep? When you are impatient, how long are you impatient for? Fight or flight automatically turns off when the danger is over, but emotions can continue long after what caused them has passed.

Negative emotions that are being continually turned on can quickly ruin your day, your week, and on and on. You get my point. Think of a time when stress, anger, or any number of negative emotions turned a positive experience you were having into a negative one or created a chill in a relationship when you were supposed to be having fun. Think of what could have been avoided if you had the knowledge, which gives you the ability to shut down your negative emotional reactions and the adrenaline that created them before you behave foolishly.

Are you aware of the negative consequences that result when you lose control of your emotions? If you are aware, are you ready to make changes and learn how to control your emotional reactions? I guarantee you – it will change your life!

To learn some tips on how to control your emotions, change bad behavior and improve your life, purchase my book Take Control of Your Life” now or contact me today to schedule a free introductory personal life coaching assessment. As an expert in emotional intelligence, I deliver keynotes, small group presentations and seminars for companies and organizations striving for effective communication, leadership and team performance.