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Control your Inner Lizard

Human Brain
Did you know that our brain represents only a small part of our body weight, on average only 2%? However, our brain is a giant computer in the literal sense of the word! It is the center of our nervous system, receiving information from our nervous system and transmitting it to our muscles. The structure of the brain is very confusing, most of us ordinary mortals even though the leading experts in their game still understand part of our brain power, engineering and all the compounds and fragmentary components. To help us understand the anatomy of our brain we need to look at evolution and the processes it created.

Three-brain theory
Triune brain theory was developed in the 1960s by Paul McLean and was based on the division of the three parts of the human brain that evolved by evolution:

The oldest part is the brain of reptiles, which are responsible for regulating basic but vital bodily functions such as breathing, heart rate, balance, body temperature, and so on. So is our reptile brain that tells us we are hungry or thirsty or cold! This part of the brain also is responsible for all our habits and memory process such as driving, cycling, playing tennis, piano or leaving our keys in the same place when we get home.

Limbic brain or the brain of mammals has grown in early mammals. This part of our brain is responsible for our emotions and the judgments we make, often unknowingly, that drive our behavior.

Finally, a third of the brain – the neocortex has been developed in the Primates (a group that includes all species commonly associated with lemurs, monkeys, and monkeys) and reached its peak in humans. It is the neocortex that enables us to develop human language, abstract thinking, thought, planning and comprehension.

Those three parts of the brain work together on a variety of connections that constantly influence each other. Over the years with further research into neuroscience, MacLean’s theory has been challenged and we now know that his way of doing things had a great plan. I think it was just the beginning and is still used to help us understand how the brain works and controls our behavior.

So, what does it all really mean?

Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel sad when nothing sad is happening? Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. That’s because our brains of mammals process smell, release odor-related memory and evoke emotions that were important to this particular person. The first one that interfered here was our mammal brain, which recognizes odors and memories, and then our neocortex associated with this feeling of sadness.

Have you ever been in a horrible situation when you felt anxious and depressed and your heart started beating faster? Perhaps you have been in a situation where you felt threatened by someone? In such cases, the brain of the mammary gland often generates stress and then activates your reptiles’ brain to tell your heart to beat faster. Your body behaves differently just for the sake of it.

A part of the brain’s neocortex can also affect the brains of mammals and trigger emotional response without the physical threat. You may have watched a horror movie. That’s your neocortex that transmits abstract, something that is not (film only!) In our emotional response (fear) that can also trigger a physical reaction, for example an increased heart rate.

But then we are talking about our brains here and nothing is easy! It may also work differently and for example, when our reptiles’ brains will tell us we are hungry and affect our neocortex. Have you ever noticed that when you are hungry, you get angry or easily upset or that your judgment is harsh? Now, you know why!

What really happens in times of distress?

Going back to our example of how we behave in the face of danger – our nervous system that works automatically and automatically, without realizing it. When we have a fun and comfortable walk in the woods and suddenly see a snake in front of us, our reptiles’ brains will react and switch to survival mode (fighting or flying) and activate the adrenaline in our body. This process is spontaneous and unconscious and helps us to survive.

Our brains of mammals sometimes interact and a part called the amygdala, emotionally passes information processing. It does it much faster than our sensible brain and puts us in a state of panic. That often leads to foolish or shameful conduct or to poor judgment. Sounds familiar?

It would be nice if that only happened in real life-threatening situations. However, this is not always the case. Our brains respond similarly to life-threatening situations, such as job interviews or presentations before a large crowd or before a driving test. In all such cases, our reptile brain takes over the reins and transcends the ability to think clearly and calmly.

How can we control the reptile inside?

Wim Hof, also known as ‘The Iceman’, is one of the world’s top athletes with 26 world records and an amazing ability to withstand extremely high temperatures. He says his success depended on the breathing technique he developed and helped him control his reptiles’ brain by controlling his nervous system as well as adrenaline production. Wim Hof’s breathing technique enables him to penetrate deeper parts of the brain that can only be achieved through prolonged meditation practice. He says in seven minutes of his respiratory system, he can create the right chemical conditions in the body to control part of your brain.

Wim Hof ​​and his techniques may not be easily accessible to everyone but focusing on deep breathing has been proven to help alleviate stress and reduce anxiety levels. It’s easy, it’s free and everyone can do it anytime and anywhere. Deep breathing is about slowly breathing into your stomach with the same amount of breathing and exhalation. Repeating it several times quickly helps us reduce stress in stressful situations as it controls the production of adrenaline. Making those breathing exercises your daily routine will make a huge difference in your well-being.

So what are some of the resources we can build on and use to help us escape the repercussions of reptiles? Doug Strycharzyck developed a 4C model to help us go back and review challenging situations appropriately and plan appropriate responses:

  • Challenge – think how challenging a particular situation is? Does it create an opportunity or a threat?
  • Commitment – honestly acknowledge how committed you are to meeting this challenge?
  • Control – check how much control you have over the challenge?
  • Self-confidence – think intelligently of different ways to deal with this challenge? Who can help you? What resources do you need?

Another way to build resilience and the ability to control your reptile inside, is to be careful. Contemplation is defined as ‘the quality of being present and fully engaged in whatever we do right now – without interruption or judgment, and recognizing our thoughts and feelings without being caught up in it’. Contemplation is not a way to deal with stress in every word but a tool to recognize how unpleasant feelings and emotions that arise because of a challenging situation, can be. In short, be aware and remember what situations can cause you stress. That, in turn, helps us make wise choices and helps us to cope with those situations, rather than getting into the precise survival mode.

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