You know you shouldn’t – the three brains conflict

Humans are massively flawed by nature. We do things and act in ways that are wrong, in full knowledge of our bad decisions. We do things that we ‘shouldn’t’… and this has always intrigued me.
It can vary in terms of damage, but for example:

  • Eating an entire pack of biscuits and hating yourself whilst you do it.
  • Messaging an ex/married lover/flirting with someone you’re attracted to, even though you’re in a committed relationship.
  • Emailing a boss at 3am, telling them exactly what you think of them.
  • Pushing the button that should NEVER be pushed.. this usually means a friend or family member.
  • Curling up in bed with depression, even though being around people will help.
  • Running from or avoiding a situation that makes you feel frightened. (Very prevalent in people who have anxiety or panic disorder).

As I said, we’re flawed and complicated.

Animals, keep to the basics, they do what’s in their best interests on a daily basis in order to survive. We, in contrast, seem to partake in an amount of self-destruction.

Yet, what if I told you that this behaviour isn’t entirely our fault………? That to a certain extent, we’re ‘hardwired’ to do what we shouldn’t.

Dr Paul Mccleen writes about the ‘three brains,’ that grew on top of each other, as we (humans) evolved.

  • Mammalian (emotional and subconscious brain)
  • Lizard (the battery bit)
  • Human (the rational thinking part)

The ‘Mammalian,’ (I mean seriously who the f**k named it that)? Is the oldest and therefore the strongest. Whereas the ‘human,’ is the youngest and weakest.
Think of the Mammalian as primitive, its concerns are: Power, sex, love, approval, and survival.
Rational thinking doesn’t play a part.

A breakdown in communication

The three brains don’t exactly communicate with each other very well either. Hence when I had my first panic attack and following nervous breakdown, the conversation between my brains was probably something like:

Mammalian: F**k we’re in danger RUN!
Human: Huh? Where in a meeting, what are you talking about? There’s no danger here.
Mammalian: I SAID RUN!
Human: *complete obedience*

Afterward, when the dust had settled, my human/rational brain couldn’t make sense of what’d happened and my Mammalian couldn’t provide any additional insight. Thus, we all sat together on the floor, in the dark, drinking warm champagne, (all we had left over from Christmas and sounds more rock n roll than it actually was), trying to assess the damage…. whilst simultaneously not jump out of the window. (That’s where the champagne came in, it sedated me).
For a more in-depth account of this ‘fairytale’ night, be sure to check out my book ‘We’re All Made Here.

What’s my point?

Controlling your emotions is a VERY difficult task. They don’t call anger the ‘red mist’ for nothing! Just as fear is intolerable, and lust is addictive.

Way back before I even knew I had a mental health condition, I was an emotional masochist in terms of love. A full-blown addict. Yes, it was painful, but it was an all-encompassing pain that masked everything else. What’s the phrase? “It hurts… but it hurts so good.” I suppose it made me feel alive.

My point is simple…. Go and have an affair, eat all the cake and tell your boss to f**k off
The next time that you have bad mental health day and rather than being proactive, you behave ‘badly’ – e.g. curling up in the dark, drinking too much, or cancel on that social engagement last minute… DON’T beat yourself up. YOU’RE HUMAN and you’re allowed to make mistakes. We have bad days, I can’t sugar coat it anymore than that.
Instead think, “ok my emotional brain has taken the wheel and that’s alright, but tomorrow I’ll give my rational side a chance.” It’s not easy, like going against the tide, the rational side is harder to reach.. but it’s there, and it’s waiting for you like a lifeboat.

Be kind, but also be smart.


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