Have you ever wondered why you find yourself yelling at the TV talking heads when you disagree violently with whatever they are saying? Or why a newborn baby gets you to offer your finger for her to hold? Or why you find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about when you see two people arguing with each other?
Put simply, you have three brains able to control your voice, not just one. The oldest brain is known as the R-Complex (or reptile brain). The next oldest is the Limbic System, common to all mammals (the monkey brain), and the youngest is the cerebrum (the Angel brain).
The Lizard brain sees the world in black and white, good and bad, and expresses itself in raw emotions such as panic, fury, greed, lust, and satiation. Its primary concern is survival, which requires that it defend territory containing resources and mates from all others. Its signature word is “Aaaargh!!!”
The Monkey brain sees the world in Technicolor, with a spectrum of feelings ranging from anxiety to passion to affection to enjoyment to concern. Its primary concern is family, which requires that it know its family members and work with them (and sometimes against them) to gain the best of everything for its descendants. Its signature word is “Awwww!”
The Angel brain sees the world in shades of gray, with curiosity its primary emotion. Its primary concern is to process all incoming information from the senses and integrate that information into an ever-changing view of the world around it. Its signature word is “Hmmm.”
For those who, like me, grew up with Star Trek back in the day, the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy personify these brains quite well, with Dr. McCoy being the Lizard brain, Kirk being the Monkey brain, and Spock being the Angel brain.
Each of us has all three brains, and they all talk to each other inside. If you take the time to listen to those internal voices, you can begin to understand their needs and wants, and work to find ways, within reason, to meet those needs and wants.
In future posts, I’ll explore in more detail some of the implications of our internal triune nature.