The brain, a product of evolution, has three distinctive and integrated parts as shown here. The Reptile brain, that which we share with the reptiles, correlates with the survival instinct. Translated into human behavior, it is revealed in the automatic, predictable, out of awareness patterns of behavior we exhibit. It also includes all the automatic physiological systems in the human body. For the sunflower, it would be a turn towards the sun, for the human it would include the everyday routines (most obviously important when they are disrupted), immediate responses to threat/anxiety or the predictable patterned responses to your mother or father or sibling. Humans vary in how they assess the level of threat in the environment …that has consequences for self and others. The Limbic brain is the seat of a more feeling responsiveness to the environment. And the Neocortex allows the human to be different from all other animals in that we have the capacity to think, reason, be creative and have language. In other words, it’s the executive control center. Most of us can go through a day without accessing this most recently developed part of the brain and instead the Reptile brain dominates. It’s very difficult to know the difference between thinking independently from the environment, what others think and expect…to know when you are making your own decisions and when you are under the influence of a relationship…keeping harmony or rocking the boat.
So, how do you know which brain is in control? How do you know when you are being subjective or objective. To just think about it, raises awareness…there’s no black and white answer but over time, an individual can develop markers and knowledge about which part of their brain is dominating. But watch how difficult it is to keep asking the question!