When I write my series on perfectionism, remind me to tell you how it's taken me this long to post this blog because I couldn't find the cartoon clip I wanted. Ugh. Read on.
Your amygdala is responsible for emotional memory, and is located in the neighborhood in your brain where there is no thinking, only reacting. No words, just feelings. Anything you see, hear, feel, smell, taste or touch goes through here first, and your amygdala compares it to al the fear memories you have and asks "IS THIS GOING TO EAT ME OR NOT?" And by the way, your brain generalizes. So memories that were uncomfortable or embarassing or otherwise unpleasant get lumped in with genuine life threats, just in case. Your brain figures it's a better idea to over-react to a rustle in the bushes that turns out to be a bunny than to under-react to a rustle in the bushes that turns out to be a wolf.