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A History Lesson on Human Emotion, our Relationships and the Brain – Part Four

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The following article is an excerpt taken from “The Key to Self Mastery: How to Master your Personal and Professional Life Circumstances”

A History Lesson on Human Emotion, our Relationships and the Brain Part Four

The Controlled System has Relatively Little Power to Cause Behavior

In the first two articles in this series we described the historical development of our three brains, the physical (reptilian survival) brain, the emotional (limbic social) brain and the thinking (cortical solutions-oriented) brain.

In the last article, we detailed the two kinds of thinking systems we have in our brain.

The Controlled System “thinks” very logically whereas the more immediate, visceral and powerful Automatic System primarily and fundamentally reacts on our need for safety.

In this article we shall discuss how to understand these two systems and how to leverage and optimize each of them to our advantage.

It serves us well to remember that the very powerful automatic system was shaped by natural selection to trigger quick and reliable action, and it includes parts of the brain that make us feel pleasure and pain (such as the orbitofrontal cortex) and that trigger survival-related motivations (such as the hypothalamus).

The Automatic System has its Finger on the Dopamine Release Button

The controlled system, in contrast, is better seen as an advisor; an unsure, unsteady, novice rider to be sure trying to help the animal make better choices.

The rider’s weakness aside, he can still see farther into the future than the noble but brutish beast; the rider can also learn valuable information by talking to other riders or by reading maps.

But the rider cannot order the beast around against its will.

The point of course is that self mastery, the rider and his rather feeble attempts control the primeval impulses within, is millions of years behind and has a lot of catching up to do. Read More

A History Lesson on Human Emotion, our Relationships and the Brain – Part Three

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The following article is an excerpt taken from “The Key to Self Mastery: How to Master your Personal and Professional Life Circumstances”

A History Lesson about Human Emotion, our relationships and the Brain Part Three

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In part one of this four-part series of articles on how science tends to view human interaction, we gave a brief historical overview of how our brain and the emotions it generates developed so that we can know what to do about the rather strange and not always productive feelings that we experience from time to time.

In part two we described the development of our three brains and how the reptilian is the oldest, strongest most experienced and better, defending us at all cost, than the other two brains at what they do.

We also detailed how our three separate, truly amazing brains, from three very different stages of evolution, try work together.

To briefly review articles one and two, we have a physical brain (the reptilian brain), an emotional brain (the limbic system) and a thinking brain (the prefrontal cortex).

Although all three brains are chemically and anatomically distinct (neurosurgeons can separate them like sections of an orange) and have different purposes, they are densely wired together to get you through your day.

In this article we will elaborate on the “small rider on a large animal” analogy that I mentioned in the last article,.

I have found this analogy to be very helpful to understand what this – three brains in one – means to us in modern (business) life and what we can do about the rather difficult  situations that sometimes arise because of the intrinsic conflict in our three brains.

Our Brain: The Small Rider on a Large Animal Analogy

To understand the relationship of the three brains, the physical, the emotional and thinking brain to each other, think of the physical reaction we have to anxiety.

That’s the limbic brain kicking your reptilian adrenaline into action.

This feeling is like a rider on a large, powerful horse; we think we are in control but when that large animal gets spooked and lurches, we are thrown ever so easily from that large beast to the ground.

Some authors use the analogy of other beasts, for instance Jonathon Haidt uses the analogy of a rider on an elephant.

As indicated earlier, my preferred analogy is that we are mounted upon and trying to ride a powerful stallion, our reptilian brain, which like any wild, unbroken and untamed beast has lurking within it a violent and very mean streak.

And it certainly does not like to be told what to do, where to go or what to say. Read More

A History Lesson on Human Emotion, our Relationships and the Brain – Part Two

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The following article is an excerpt taken from “The Key to Self Mastery: How to Master your Personal and Professional Life Circumstances”

A History Lesson about Human Emotion, our Relationships and the Brain Part Two

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In part one of this four-part series on how science views human interaction and what we can do about that, we offered a brief historical overview of how our brain(s) and the emotions it generates developed, so that we can know what to do about the rather strange and not always productive feelings that we experience from time to time.

In part two, we will further describe the development of our three brains and how the reptilian is the oldest, strongest most experienced and best at what it does.

We will also discuss what this having a dominant reptilian brain, means to us in modern (business) life and what we can do about it.

To review article one, we actually have three separate, truly amazing brains, from three very different stages of evolution, all working together.

In simple terms you have a physical brain (the reptilian brain), an emotional brain (the limbic system) and a thinking brain (the prefrontal cortex).

Although all three brains are chemically and anatomically distinct (neurosurgeons can separate them like sections of an orange) and have different purposes, they are densely wired together to get you through your day.

Our Brain: The Small Rider on a Large Animal Analogy

To understand the relationship of the three brains, the physical, the emotional and thinking brain to each other, think of the physical reaction we have to anxiety.

That’s the limbic brain kicking your reptilian adrenaline into action, like a rider on a large, powerful horse; some authors use the analogy of other beasts, for instance Jonathon Haidt uses the analogy of a rider on an elephant. Read More

A History Lesson on Human Emotion, our Relationships and the Brain – Part One

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The following article is an excerpt taken from “The Key to Self Mastery: How to Master your Personal and Professional Life Circumstances”

Module One: A History Lesson about Human Emotion and the Brain Part One

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If you have read any of my books or have been to any of my seminars, you have likely heard me say that “emotion changes what people do; logic changes what people think” or “we do not choose our feelings; our feelings change us”.

In other words, if we do not take into account that people are primarily emotional and self-interested then we will widely miss the mark in our interactions with them.

In the next next four articles, I will try to validate that point of view, people are largely driven more by emotion than reason, based on what science tells us about our brain.

In these posts I will try to give you a brief historical overview of how our brain(s) and the emotions it generates developed so that we can know what to do about the rather strange and the somewhat counterproductive feelings that we experience from time to time.

We have Three Brains, not One

We actually have three separate, truly amazing brains, from three very different stages of evolution, all working together.

In simple terms we have a physical brain (the reptilian brain), an emotional brain (the limbic system) and a thinking brain (the prefrontal neo cortex).

Although all three brains are chemically and anatomically distinct (neurosurgeons can separate them like sections of an orange) and have different purposes, they are densely wired together to get you through your day.

Of course these two more recent brains, the limbic brain and the prefrontal neo-cortex have further divisions, both left and right. 

 

1.  The Physical Reptilian Brain

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The primitive, physical, reptilian brain was the first to develop.

It is our extraordinary, automatically runs-your-body-perfectly brain

Nature hardwired our reptilian ancestors for their own individual survival.

Apart from a drive to have sex, reptiles have no parental instinct.

 Most of them cheerfully eat their young, which is why they’re programmed to lay eggs and get out of town before they hatch. Read More

We do not Have Free Will, Only Free Won’t

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The following excerpt is taken from “The Key to Self Mastery: How to Master your Personal and Professional Life Circumstances”

We Don’t Have “Free Will” Only “Free Won’t”

“A human being is a deciding being. Between stimulus and response there is a space.

In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor E. Frankl

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In my book “Self Mastery” after citing and detailing the five steps to self mastery I provide 19 strategies we can use to develop a deeper capacity for Self mastery.

We Don’t Have “Free Will” Only “Free Won’t” is strategy number three.

To what extent can we exert free will or are we at the deterministic mercy of environment or heredity.

For obvious reasons, having a good (the right) answer) to this question is crucial for any leader.

Subjectively, we have the experience of sitting at a desk and then, without any sense of being “made” to do so, voluntarily “deciding” to take a sip of tea.

This feels like free will. However, many of our behaviors, such as shopping selections, can be predicted so well that there is a science of product placement.

Neuroscientists Libet, Gleason, Wright, and Pearl (1983) came up with good news and bad news regarding free will.

They found that the brain generates a signal, a “readiness potential,” to pick up our teacup about five-tenths of a second before we actually pick up the cup.

 

We Are Not Conscious of this Signal until About Three-Tenths of a Second Later

The bad news is that if we define free will as the ability to consciously generate readiness potentials, we don’t have it.

Some of those thoughts have to do with “voluntary” actions.

We do not voluntarily think these up, as we do not even become aware of them until three-tenths of a second after they register on instruments in the lab. Read More

The Five Stages of a Marriage

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This excerpt is taken from “How to Have a Great Marriage: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage”

The Marital Process: Five Stages

Like the changing seasons of the year, there are five stages to a happy marriage.

They are very natural and happen to almost everyone.

Being aware of these five stages, assessing which one your marriage might be in and then how to move on to the next stage is very important for any couple to know.

I liken them to the four seasons of the year.

So, here they are; the five stages of a marriage.

Stage One: Summer: “You are my passion”

CropperCapture[667]You fall head over heels in love with each other.

You are completely in sync.

When little annoying things pop up you dismiss them.

Your brain literally changes.

For 18 months your brain secrets a hormone that blinds you to what the other person is really like and makes all the red flags look like green flags.

This stage ends when you get married and your joy gives way to the earth shattering realization that marriage isn’t everything you expected it to be. Read More

How to End Things – Part Three

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 The following article is taken from “The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning

The Five Steps to end the Right Thing in The Right Way at the Right Time (Overview)

In this three-part article article, we are giving an the five steps people go through to make a significant change in their life.

These changes or endings  in this process might cover something dramatic such as quitting smoking, losing weight or ending a relationship or a a leader firing someone.

In part one, we gave an overview of the the five steps to ending the right thing in the right way at the right time.

We also focused on step number two and introduced the notion of life, like nature itself, is made up of seasons and what that analogy might mean to those of us who feel we might need to change or end something in our life.

In part two we elaborated on how these seasons work in our personal and professional lives.

In this article we will see how this notion in step two, life has seasons, can proffer us the optimal mindset we need to end a difficult situation or relationship that needs to be ended.

We will also prescribe what, given the situation or season in which we currently find ourselves, we can do to to move or accelerate ourselves through the current season to where we need to be.

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Step One:

Preclude Problems Proactively by Pruning the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Things from Your Life, Continuously

Step Two:

See Endings as a Normal Part of Business and Life Instead of as a Problem

Step Three:

Identify the Internal Maps That Keep You From Executing Necessary Endings.

Step Four:

Understand, leverage and apply the notion of hopelessness effectively to your situation to motivate and effect the changes you need to make.

Step Five:

Strategy and Implementation: How to Put an End to Things

Closure Is Easier to embrace and Execute When You Believe Something Normal Is Happening.

You do not have to approach a situation as if you are failing, because you are not.

That lesson learned helps CEOs make tough decisions such as bringing in a seasoned manager and aligning their business with the natural order that they see unfolding before them.

It makes the necessary letting go of a long love affair with a product line or a brand possible.

How to Understand and Make Change Elegantly and Facilitatively: A Prescription

Apply the following to a current unresolved or previously difficult situation that you have encountered or experienced. The key is to believe in life cycles and seasons. In so doing:

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1. See that it is Winter and Act Accordingly

The long harvest that you have enjoyed for so many years is coming to an end.

  • Tell yourself “It is time to get out while the assets and revenues that are left still have some value.”
  • Accept the tasks of winter, the passing of your old business model.
  • Now get to a new field, one that has a harvest in its future.
  • And when you do move, act in accordance with the new seasons.
  • Now accept that it is spring and begin to “retool.”
  • Study your new field and get your license (or whatever qualifies you).
  • Clean the farm; get rid of everything from the old business that slows you down, including overhead and debt.
  • Truly make room for the new.

That is what letting go looks like. Read More

How to End Things – Part Two

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 The following article is taken from “The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning

The Five Steps to end the Right Thing in The Right Way at the Right Time (Overview)

In this three-part article article, we are analyzing the five steps people go through to make a significant change in their life.

These changes or endings  in this process might cover something dramatic such as quitting smoking, losing weight or ending a relationship or a a leader firing someone.

In part one, we gave an overview of the the five steps to ending the right thing in the right way at the right time.

We also focused on step number two and introduced the notion of life, like nature itself, is made up of seasons and what that analogy might mean to those of us who feel we might need to change or end something in our life.

 

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Step One:

Preclude Problems Proactively by Pruning the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Things from Your Life, Continuously

Step Two:

See Endings as a Normal Part of Business and Life Instead of as a Problem

Step Three:

Identify the Internal Maps That Keep You From Executing Necessary Endings.

Step Four:

Understand, leverage and apply the notion of hopelessness effectively to your situation
to motivate and effect the changes you need to make.

Step Five:

Strategy and Implementation: How to Put an End to Things

In this article we will continue to explore Step Number Two.

Step Two: See Endings as a Normal Part of Business and Life Instead of as a Problem

The problem for many of us is that we do not accept or we willfully ignore these seasons.

Let’s look at why we do this and what to do about it.

The Problem: We Do Not Accept or We Willfully Ignore These Seasons

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A classic example of this pattern is the entrepreneur who begins a business through “sowing seeds” into a market: making calls, meeting people, and investing seed money, starting-starting-starting.

That is the first season, spring and he loves it.

It is who he is and what he does.

The business takes root, but then summer comes. Read More

How to End Things – Part One

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 The following article is taken from “The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning

The Five Steps to end the Right Thing in The Right Way at the Right Time (Overview)

In this article, we will look at the five steps people go through to make a significant change in their life.

These changes or endings  in this process might cover something dramatic such as quitting smoking, losing weight or ending a relationship or a a leader firing someone.

So here they are; the five steps to ending the right thing in the right way at the right time.

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Step One:

Preclude Problems Proactively by Pruning the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Things from Your Life, Continuously

Step Two:

See Endings as a Normal Part of Business and Life Instead of as a Problem

Step Three:

Identify the Internal Maps That Keep You From Executing Necessary Endings.

Step Four:

Understand, leverage and apply the notion of hopelessness effectively to your situation
to motivate and effect the changes you need to make.

Step Five:

Strategy and Implementation: How to Put an End to Things

In this and the following two articles we will explore Step Number Two.

Step Two: See Endings as a Normal Part of Business and Life Instead of as a Problem

The Good Cannot Begin Until the Bad Ends

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Although understanding the need to prune things is very important, the truth is that still things change and come to an end.

This we know.

But of equal importance is knowing that the good thing cannot begin until the bad thing ends.

That this is normal; it is how life happens. Read More

The Five Stages to Personal Change and Self Mastery

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This article is an except taken from “The Key to Self Mastery”

The Five Stages of Change: Detailed Explication

Stage One: The “Denying Stage”

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In this article we will look at the five rather predictable stages we go through when we make a change in our lives of any kind.

These changes might include quitting smoking, losing weight or ending a relationship.

In the first stage, it isn’t that we can’t see the solution.

It is that we can’t see the problem

We deny having a problem.

Most deniers don’t want to change themselves, just the people or circumstances around them.

They usually try to change because of pressures from others.

They may change, but only as long as there is great and constant external pressure.  Once the pressure is relieved, they quickly return to their old ways.

According to the Surgeon General’s report on smoking, there are ten million smokers who refuse to believe that smoking leads to premature death.

How many troubled drinkers deny that they have a drinking problem?

Deniers place the responsibility for their problems on factors such as genetic makeup, addiction, family, society, or destiny, all of which they see as being out of their control.

They feel demoralized, that the situation is hopeless.

However, demoralization is a natural feeling and if you take yourself systematically through the stages of change, you can change. Read More