The Three Brain Theory

Nancy B. Alston

So you want to know why you just abused that guy in the car in front of you within a split second without logic coming in to play? Perhaps you want to know why you are attracted to certain men/women and not others? Or even why your dog does the crazy things he does? It all comes down to the three brain theory, explaining why we humans are the most evolved species on this planet yet still sometimes act like lizards and why we still make irrational decisions when we’re in love, then think they are completely logical.

The three brain theory is a theory created in order to realize why we do the things we do, even though they often seem completely illogical at times. The premise of the theory is that human brains have not simply evolved to the next level from our animal ancestors, but instead simply built more evolved brains on top of each other. The first brain is the physical brain, this is essentially the fight or flight response found in everything from ants to lizards to humans, basically your most basic core survival mechanisms: surviving and replicating. The second brain is the emotional brain, it is found in most mammals and allows us to emotionally connect to things and do more than simply having fight or flight responses. The emotional brain is found in everything from cats and dogs to other larger brained mammals such as cows and horses. Of course these brains are common and illogical, most of us hardly even know how they work and how they make us to stupid illogical things from time to time. Now the third brain is the brain that only humans on this planet completely have (apes and our close ancestors have very small versions) and is what really separates us from the animals, it is 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 a lot of the time make our decisions for us rather than the logical brain, then simply through the process of backwards rationalization they make us feel as if we had made a logical decision.

These three brains conflict in our daily lives, and by default, without a lot of effort put in controlling yourself, the most primitive brain always wins. This is the reason why we often fly off the hook yelling at people when we feel threatened without even thinking about it. It is also why we often make silly decisions chasing the love of our life by doing things which don’t make any logical sense but make a hell of a lot of sense to the emotional brain. I often equate them as having 3 different people inside your head telling you different things all the time, however they tell you things in vastly different ways. The emotional brain reports information back to you through your gut feeling, whether you feel happy, sad, anxious etc, it is your emotional brain telling you it think something is good or bad with your current situation. Your physical brain reports back to you through fear mainly, its duty is to keep you protected from harm so whenever it senses danger it freezes us up or tells us to run away. The physical brain is also what controls our sexual impulses and desires, and is why we so often get completely distracted when we see an attractive member of the opposite sex, thats our mating instinct kicking in from our physical brain.

You’ll also encounter events where it doesn’t make any logical sense to be afraid however your emotional and physical brains make you scared anyway, generally these are events where thousands of years ago when your physical and emotional brains started being created it would make sense to be afraid, but these days we have safety measures to stop you from harm. Such things include going parachuting, working at a construction site up very high or approaching a girl in a club. In the past being up high off the ground meant you had to cling on for dear life or you were going to die, these days with all our safety equipment this isn’t the case but our physical brain doesn’t realize this and tries to keep you alive by any means possible (generally by making you cling on for dear life).

So how does this help us? We’ll now realizing that we have 3 brains that are essentially totally different people living inside our heads we can learn to tame these brains. Unfortunately most people go about this in the wrong way. They don’t realize there are 3 brains and when their physical or emotional brain tells them to do something, they completely shut off their logical brain and simply follow its orders, thinking they are following logic when they really aren’t. This is why you often observe others doing the strangest things (hurling abuse at the television anyone?) and if you ever question them on it they get really defensive, then later on in the day look back on what they did and sometimes see it in a new light and see where they went wrong and how stupid they looked (when their logical brain comes back online). So the key to managing your other 2 brains is to realize that your logical brain often does switch off when certain events happen and you must switch it back on (by thinking rationally and taking into account everything everyone is telling you without defenses) and think about the situation that just happened.

Once you have turned it back on you can also begin to train your other brains to respond differently, stop your other brains from taking over when a situation occurs and think about what your doing then try to change it to doing something else. Like when I visit my parents I notice how often they get angry when watching the football and someone drops the ball or does something stupid, while I laugh at exactly the same event. Its not that I don’t think its bad play, I’ve just come to realize that its only a game and not worth getting angry over and have over time trained my emotional brain to think in the same way.

Of course you can’t train your brain overnight, it will take time, simply whenever an event occurs, realize its your emotional or physical brain taking over and stop it in your tracks, then think rationally (is it really worth me getting angry over this) and take steps to replace those bad emotions with better ones. Over time your emotional and physical brains will start behaving themselves just like naughty children now being given strict guidelines, and they will allow you to live a much happier and more enjoyable life.

Leave a Reply

Next Post

Covid-19 Crisis Highlights Problems With Over Regulation

Most people who get a paycheck, who don’t own a small business simply do not understand the tremendous hardship that businesses have with over regulation. However, Americans are now getting a taste of what they’ve been missing and are now learning just how bad overreaching regulation can be. Most of […]

You May Like