By Kris Kile
Over the next several blogs, we are going to dive into a fascinating topic: Taming The Brain.
Today, we take a peek at the Epic Battle that is continually happening in our brain, and its ramifications.
At its core, the brain is a “survival machine.” Its first purpose is to help us survive physically. This includes its ability to trigger an automatic “fight, flight, or freeze” response when we are faced with a situation that puts us in harm’s way.
That is a good thing. If you are being chased by a bear in the woods, or crossing a street and suddenly recognize a car is coming towards you that can run you over, instantaneous response without having to think about it can save your life.
Your brain’s emotional center (sometimes referred to as your limbic system) shuts down your thinking brain (sometimes referred to as your prefrontal cortex). Your body is flooded with powerful hormones like adrenaline, and you act instantly. This can save your life in that kind of situation.
However, the brain can apply the same threat assessments and conclusions to other events that happen in our lives (real or imagined) which are not life threatening. Any time our basic human desire to be right, to be in control, to be comfortable and safe, and to look good are (in our view) threatened, we often can automatically and unconsciously perceive that as a threat.
This can lead to the same fight, flight or freeze response to some degree. Our emotional brain takes over or becomes dominant, and our thinking brain can shut down or be diminished in its ability to function, thus robbing us of rational thought in those situations.
This is why we sometimes do and say hurtful or unwise things under duress or when we are emotionally flooded that we would never say or do if we were thinking it through.
The good news is that it is possible to tame your brain
and train it through increasing the balance between
your emotional brain and thinking brain.
You can actually increase the cooperation and collaboration between these two parts of your brain, such that they more often work in harmony with each other rather than be at odds.
Whenever you are being defensive, reactive, resistant, or are emotionally flooded, your emotional brain is winning and your thinking brain is losing. When you are emotionally disconnected or not in touch with your emotional state, often that represents your thinking brain dominating and your emotional brain being ignored.
The goal is to have both your thinking brain and your emotional brain “online,” operating and working together.
When they are not, it can contribute to increased stress, overwhelmedness, anxiety, worry, fear, burnout, and fatigue. When they work together, we have increased peace, calmness, energy, and clarity.
We will explore ways to advance balance and integration between your emotional brain and thinking brain in future blog posts. But, the first step towards this possibility is simply recognizing what is in play with your brain, and realizing that you can have an influence in taming it to be more collaborative.
You can help your brain win its epic battle between the emotional and thinking brain.