In the new economy, survival instincts sometimes keep us stuck and slow us down. Our world is changing faster than our ability to adapt. Conscious people and conscious leaders use their executive brains to navigate the murky waters of uncertainty.
For centuries, scientists believed that the ability to climb trees was a trait extinct in today’s crocodiles and alligators. Despite centuries of biological study and thousands of scientific papers on the subject, everyone believed that alligators could not climb trees.
Fast forward to 2014, when a research team from the University of Tennessee went into the Everglades and found crocodiles and alligators in trees!
Why were scientists so unaware, so unconscious of the facts? Biases and fears probably ruled their minds. It makes a lot of sense that the way the human brain has evolved, we expect the world to be a pretty scary place and we use the reptilian part of our brain to protects us.
Our Three Brains
The three parts of the human brain are the reptilian brain, the emotional brain and the mammalian brain. Each was acquired at different stages in our evolution. All three brains are interconnected and influence thinking, emotions, and decisions.
The reptilian brain is the most primitive of the three and controls the body’s vital functions.
As your protector, it has been programmed over the years to detect danger. It is essentially your early warning system. The impulses created here are based in survival instinct, self-interest, and live only in the present moment.
The emotional brain came next. The structures of the emotional brain are hippocampus (memories), the amygdala (emotions), and the hypothalamus (hormones). This brain controls our feelings, both negative and positive.
Your neocortex is the most advanced part of your brain and is home to your mammalian, executive brain. It is the gateway to conscious. This brain area is involved in complex, cognitive thinking and the expression of your personality.
When The Alligator Attacks
Whether you are aware of it or not, your primitive reptilian brain is a powerful player in your daily life. It has the ability to shut down and override our emotional and executive brains, and it does it more than we know. Being more conscious about where your thoughts, feelings, and actions originate can make the difference between controlling your mind or your mind controlling you.
It’s easy to get hijacked by your reptilian brain. Imagine what happens in the workplace. Remember that panicked feeling after getting an impromptu call for a private meeting with the boss or your employee? The first thing that pops into your head might be, is my boss going to fire me or is my employee going to quit? This initial thought brings on a feeling of panic that comes straight from your reptilian brain, giving you the warning sign.
Conscious Tames the Gator
In his new book CONSCIOUS: The Power of Awareness in Business and LIfe. our CEO Bob Rosen shows us how to tame the gator in today’s fast and frenetic world of deadlines, accusations, rejections, and fierce competitors. We need a new way to stop the alligator from climbing into our executive brain. Being more conscious and aware of your irrational fears and letting them go will help you become aware of the real dangers in your life- bad health habits, risky business behavior, or toxic relationships.
Tips for Conscious Living
Understand the power of the reptilian brain inside you
- How do you experience the feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety?
- What do you notice about situations that trigger you?
- How do you respond when you are stressed or overwhelmed?
Act consciously to strengthen your capacity under stress
- What negative thoughts and habits are contributing to your fears?
- Use your enabling emotions (hope, empathy, faith, love) to empower you
- Reframe the story you are telling yourself about your situation