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The Three Brain Theory
So you want to know why you abuse that guy in the car in front of you within a second without logic coming into play? Maybe you want to know why you are attracted to some men/women and not others? Or even why your dog does the crazy things it does? It all comes down to the three-brain theory, explaining why we humans are the most evolved species on this planet, yet sometimes act like lizards, and why we still make irrational decisions when we’re in love, then think they’re completely logical.
The three brain theory is a theory designed to understand why we do the things we do, even though they often seem completely illogical at times. The premise of the theory is that the human brain did not simply evolve to the next level from our animal ancestors, but simply built more evolved brains on top of each other. The first brain is the physical brain, this is basically the fight or flight response found in everything from ants to lizards to humans, basically your primary survival mechanisms: survival and replication. The second brain is the emotional brain, it is found in most mammals and allows us to emotionally connect with things and do more than just have the fight or flight response. Emotional brains are found in everything from cats and dogs to other mammals with larger brains like cows and horses. Of course these brains are common and illogical, most of us hardly know how they work and how they make us do stupid illogical things from time to time. Now the third brain is the brain that only humans on this planet have in full (apes and our close ancestors have very small versions) and it’s what really separates us from the animals, it’s the logical brain. The logical brain is the most understood brain as it is often thought of as the most important and does most of our thinking. However, what most people don’t know is that the other 2 brains are actually more powerful and many times make our decisions for us rather than the logical brain, then simply through the backward rationalization process they make us feel as if we had made a logical decision.
These three brains clash in our daily lives, and by default, without much effort to control itself, the more primitive brain always wins. This is why we often fly off the hook yelling at people when we feel threatened without even thinking about it. This is also why we often make stupid decisions chasing the love of our life by doing things that don’t make any logical sense but make a lot of sense to the emotional brain. I often equate them to 3 different people inside your head telling you different things all the time, yet they tell you things in completely different ways. The emotional brain reports information to you through your gut feeling, whether you feel happy, sad, anxious etc, it is your emotional brain that tells you that you think something is good or bad about your current situation. Your physical brain reports to you primarily through fear, its job is to keep you safe from harm, so whenever it senses danger, it freezes us or tells us to run away. The physical brain is also what controls our sexual impulses and desires, and that is why we are so often completely distracted when we see an attractive member of the opposite sex, this is our mating instinct coming from our physical brain.
You will also encounter events where it makes no logical sense to be afraid, yet your emotional and physical brain causes you to fear anyway, generally these are events that thousands of years ago, when your physical and emotional brain began to form, would have you feel afraid, but these days we have safeguards to stop you from harm. Such things include skydiving, working on a construction site very high, or approaching a girl at a club. In the past, being high off the ground meant you had to hold on for dear life or die, these days with all our safety equipment that’s not the case, but our physical brain doesn’t understand this and tries to ‘keeps you alive by any means possible (generally making you hang on for dear life).
So how does this help us? Now we will understand that we have 3 brains that are basically completely different people living inside our head, we can learn to tame these brains. Unfortunately, most people do it the wrong way. They don’t realize that they are 3 brains and when their physical or emotional brain tells them to do something, they completely shut down their logical brain and just follow its orders, thinking they are following logic when they really aren’t. That’s why you often observe others doing the weirdest things (attacking someone on television?) and if you ever question them on it, they get really defensive, then later in the day you look back at what they’ve done and sometimes see it in a new light and see where they went wrong and how stupid they looked (when their logical brain goes online). So the key to managing your other 2 brains is to understand that your logical brain often turns off when certain events occur and you need to turn it back on (thinking rationally and taking into account everything everyone tells you without defense) and think about the situation that just happened.
Once you’ve got it back, you can start training your other brain to respond differently too, stop your other brain from taking over when a situation occurs and think about what you’re doing, then try to change it to do something else. Like when I visit my parents, I notice how often they get angry when they watch football and someone drops the ball or does something stupid, while I laugh at the same event. It’s not that I don’t think it plays badly, it’s just that I’ve realized it’s just a game and not worth getting mad at, and over time I’ve trained my emotional brain to think the same way.
Of course you can’t train your brain overnight, it will take time, just whenever an event happens, realize that your emotional or physical brain is taking over and stop it in its tracks, then think rationally (is it really worth it this makes me angry) and take steps to replace those bad emotions with better ones. Over time, your emotional and physical brain will begin to behave like the naughty children who are now given strict instructions, and they will allow you to live a much happier and more enjoyable life.
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