Our brains. Some laugh. And it is so important we understand them as when we do, we can make decisions about how to use them. This gives us choice and opportunity.
The brain and body is the result of many millions of years of evolution. This evolution happens by keeping important bits and changing others so that we can survive. This is great news; our brain is designed to help us survive. But the problem for us humans is that our brains can give us a hell of a time along the way. We have old parts of the brain and new parts of the brain and these parts cause great conflict with each other.
There are three different parts that combine to make our brain – they all want us to do different things and that’s what gets us in a real muddle.
The oldest part of the brain at over 500 million year old is the reptile brain. Think crocodiles and lizards. What do reptiles do? They hunt, guard territory and reproduce.
The middle brain is the mammal brain, 120 million years old. Think dolphin, dog and monkey. Mammals care, show affection, play, are social and communicate.
Our newest brain (well, over 2 million years old new) is our thinking brain, the frontal cortex. This part lets us adapt to situations, gives us self-awareness and the ability to think about what others think.
So we have a human brain and an animal brain and each has different feelings, emotions and motives. This is where things get tricky. If a crocodile (old brain) is feeling hungry he eats. Job done. If humans feel hungry, they can analyse this. To the ends of the earth and back. Is it real hunger? Maybe I am thirsty? And what will I eat? Have I eaten too many carbs, should I be a bit more Atkins inclined? Then we do eat and oh my god, we feel awful. Do I now look fat? The guilt and shame.
The point is we get caught up in the different parts of the brain. The difficulty arises when the human part thinks and over thinks and imagines awful things that haven’t even happened. Oh, and worries, and feels guilty and ashamed. For what are really normal desires coming from a very tricky brain.
We now know that whilst we are pretty poorly designed, we are all the same. We are all vulnerable to the same things happening in each of us. This then connects us and helps us realise that actually, we aren’t so different after all.