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Today I’m going to talk about how we think, how our brains evolved over millions of years, and how it relates to your ability to control your spending habits and decision making in most areas of your life. Deep down inside we’re all just Lizards and most all of us allow our Lizard instincts to control our actions. We do have the ability to control this inner Lizard once you understand it, hell you may even decide to name it Rudy or Timberfake. Below, you will quickly learn how our brain is really made up of three very different but interconnected brains. The way in which these three brains interact with each other underlies our behavior. Once you are able to recognize which brain is doing your thinking, you can take control of the situation and make better choices.
As mentioned, our brain is made up of three different brains; Our Reptilian Brain (our Lizard Brain as I like to call it), our Mammalian brain, and our Human brain.
Innermost in our brain is what is called the reptilian brain, its oldest and most primitive part. The reptilian brain appears to be largely unchanged by evolution and we share it with all other animals which have a backbone.(1)
Our reptilian or lizard brain is only concerned with making us satisfied now; it tells us when to eat, it doesn’t care what we eat, its mission is to make sure we are fed. It tells us we need to mate and reproduce; it doesn’t tell us to be smart about which person we sleep with because they may have sexually transmitted diseases. This brain tells us we want a cigarette for the nicotine, it doesn’t tell us it could kill us. This brain tells you to get drunk because it will feel good now, it doesn’t tell you that in 12 hours you’ll be hung over and miserable at work and that if you keep doing it you could develop liver problems. This brain is short sighted and only cares about pleasing us now, without considering repercussions of the future.
Next to evolve from the reptilian brain was the mammalian brain. (2)
Our mammalian brain basically evolved to correct some of the deficiencies of our reptilian or lizard brain and body. We gained the ability to remember past events and began developing emotions to further ensure our survival. We also began developing more complex organs and so this brain helped ensure those processes like food digestion worked instinctively.
Our human brain evolved to help us with decision making, because our older brains were inefficient in making good decisions that would ensure our survival for long periods of time. Basically, the reptile and mammal brains were good at taking care of us from day to day, but they didn’t make the greatest of decisions for the long term. Our continued survival as a human species depended on us to be able to make better decisions for the long run. With our human brain we are now able to determine what foods are best to eat and which ones we should avoid because of the long term impact. It helps us decide if the decision we are about to make could harm us in the future.
We have a battle of our brains going on, our Reptile and Mammal brains think mostly about the now, where our human brain fights for our long term survival. When you go shopping at the grocery store, and you shop based upon what you want and you buy crap like chips and beer, your reptile brain is the one doing the decision making. It’s only concerned with what will make you happy now, it doesn’t give a shit other than achieving a short term pleasure. It doesn’t care about your hangover tomorrow or the fact you won’t have money to take a vacation or buy a house.
Your human brain can take over and control your Lizard brain. When you realize who is doing the thinking you can take control of your life. You must use your human brain though, and that means educating yourself and becoming aware of who and what is in control of your actions. Moreover, you must decide right now with your human brain to start becoming consciously aware of your spending.
One great method to defeat your reptile brain from doing the decision making is to delay all Lizard like purchases. By this I mean, when you are going to buy something based upon fulfilling an immediate want or perceived need, stop and ask yourself who really wants, my Lizard or me. Make your Lizard wait, tell your lizard if it’s that important you will make an additional trip after you get home to go get whatever the Lizard wants. By the time you get back home, you will realize you are in control of the Lizard. It’s time for you to take the control back in your life.
(1),(2): “How the Human Brain Developed and How the Human Mind Works,” Manfred Davidmann