Why Your Actions Are Not Your Own
To change our unconscious actions we have to notice our behaviours.
Has this ever happened to you? You had a long day working. It was stressful. A bunch of things went wrong. You get home late at night, over-hungry. You don’t feel like cooking dinner — you’re too tired. You open the fridge and there’s a piece of chocolate cake, cookies, chips, or whatever junk food you love staring back at you. You know they’re bad for you. You know you don’t want to eat them.
Looking at those “bad choices” you think,
“No, I don’t want to have that. I want to be good. I know that if I eat dessert so late at night I’m gonna have a crappy sleep. I’m gonna wake up with a headache in the morning.”
But then another part of you says,
“What a fucking shitty day! I deserve to feel better. I want to chill out so I’m just gonna eat that dessert. I don’t care if it’s 9pm at night.”
You give in and you eat it. Afterwards you feel like crap, even ashamed with yourself. It’s happened to me and it happens to everyone.
Is it because your willpower sucks? Or that you have no motivation? Are you weak-willed? What’s wrong with you?
There’s nothing wrong with you!
BUT… there’s absolutely everything right with what happened during that process. Here’s why…
We Have Three Brains
Our brains have evolved to respond to our environment. We have the reptilian brain, also called the amygdala. There’s the mammalian or limbic brain — which is responsible for emotional, behavioural, and social responses. Finally we have the youngest part of the brain (along the evolutionary continuum), the prefrontal cortex.
The Reptilian Brain
The reptilian brain is about survival of the physical body. It’s constantly assessing if there’s anything threatening us.