Have you ever wondered why you think what you think, feel what you feel and do what you do? The answer to this question is stored in the reptile brain. This is because this oldest part of the human brain is largely responsible for your subconscious system. It determines no less than 95% of the decisions you make every day.
What is the reptilian brain?
The human brain contains tens of billions of neurons that are interconnected. In this endlessly complex system, scientists distinguish between three parts of the brain, each of which appeared at a different point in evolution:
1). The reptilian brain (also known as the brainstem)
The reptilian brain is the oldest and most instinctive part of the brain. It regulates primary instincts such as reproduction, survival, stress and fear and is an important part of your subconscious system.
2). The limbic system (also known as the mammalian brain)
The limbic system is responsible for processing feelings and emotions. Together with the reptilian brain, it is part of your subconscious system.
3). The neocortex (also known as the human brain)
The neocortex is mainly developed in humans and is responsible for intelligent functions such as logic, reason and creativity. This part of the brain is equivalent to our conscious system.
The subconscious and conscious system
The subconscious system not only uses much less energy, it also works a million times faster than the conscious system. On the other hand, the subconscious system is not intelligent and therefore cannot make intelligent decisions.
However, this does not mean that we use our conscious and intelligent brain system for every important decision. Neuroscience has now proven that choices made by the reptilian brain and limbic system are often leading. Then our neocortex makes up a reason to justify why we do what we do.
Think, for example, of a boy throwing a ball and a girl automatically turning her head away and only then realising that the ball could have hit her face. This is an action of the reptilian brain that controls the automatic subconscious system.
Therefore, even if you think you are making an intelligent and informed decision, chances are that in reality your reptilian brain is pulling the strings.
Change unconscious processes in the reptile brain
Our subconscious and conscious systems work together. The better the balance between the reptilian brain, the limbic system and the neocortex, the better the cooperation can be. So you can consciously come up with a solution to a problem while driving your car to that one appointment.
Your subconscious and conscious brain also work together when learning new things. During your first driving lesson, your conscious system is busy with 100 things at the same time. You have to pay attention to the road, indicate direction, accelerate, switch gears and brake. In the beginning, performing all these tasks is extremely tiring, but over time it becomes a habit. Your subconscious brain system then takes over and the performance is on autopilot. So there are many examples of how the subconscious brain is programmed by the conscious one.
Fear and stress from the reptilian brain
It is therefore by no means a given that the reptilian brain is in control. The conscious brain can also intervene in automatic processes. It can stop an instinctive reaction and make a different decision based on intelligence.
A prerequisite for this is that you are aware of your subconscious processes. The reptilian brain is driven by basic evolutionary needs and therefore wants to reward itself as much as possible, ward off danger and stay in its own comfort zone.
As soon as these basic needs come under pressure, the reptilian brain can cause feelings of anxiety, restlessness and stress. This can make it difficult, for example, not to snack, not to dare to undertake new things or to remain stuck in a fixed mindset.
Training and reprogramming your reptilian brain
Fortunately, with attention, knowledge and awareness, you can change ingrained patterns in the reptile brain. Just like learning to drive a car, it is not always easy in the beginning, but after a while it gets better and better. At a certain point, you replace old habits with new ones and you have changed the programming that controls you.
One of the most effective ways I have found is journaling. I have developed the Brain Balance journal so that you can consciously work on your own goals. Writing these down and planning them out encourages daily action and provides more insight into the way in which subconscious processes in the reptilian brain sometimes sabotage your own actions.
Whether you want to deal with stress and anxiety better or improve your mindset and concentration, everything starts with overriding the learned processes in your reptile brain. This journal is the ideal tool for this!