This isn’t the part of you that wants to share your feelings. This isn’t the part of you that wants to talk, or articulate, or navel gaze, or pontificate on the benefits of home brewed beer.
It is about survival. It is about safety. It is about fight or flight.
Survival. Food. Water. Shelter. Sleep. Comfort.
Even if there is no danger literally in the room with us, we can still let the Reptile Brain run the show.
The unfortunate truth is that any manner of traumatic event can push people into Reptile Brain territory. Because it is the oldest part of our brains, the part that got us through living in the long ago past with nothing but bigger and scarier predators more than happy to eat every last one of us, we can have a hard time realigning ourselves to a not-traumatic and danger-filled present.
It is explains why every member of the armed services who has experienced intense combat has difficulty returning to suburban life.
It explains why some might be prone to hoarding or “retail therapy” forms of shopping. The more stuff we have, then the safer and more comfortable we feel.
It explains why someone who just got downsized, or laid off, or lost their house, or otherwise fell victim to the Great Recession of 2009, is having a hard time feeling connected to his or her family.
It’s the part of the brain of Bruce Wayne where The Batman was born.
The Reptile Brain is selfish, monosyllabic, cold, angry, amoral, and it doesn’t ever not want to be control.
So, welcome to the party!
Remember what I said about mindfulness last week? Good. The Reptile Brain likes to think it is the only way we can get out of whatever crisis we happen to be in.
Thankfully, the Reptile Brain can be kind of stupid and is very much wrong about that.
The kinds of trouble you and I can get ourselves into these days is very different than from our cave dwelling ancestors, and those troubles can be resolved with lovely things like: communication, imagination, feelings, logic, articulated and cohesive arguments, charm and flattery—to say the least.
What keeps the Reptile Brain’s hold over us despite our logical and thoughtful ways is our own dark and unwanted feelings. Fear mostly.
Exploring the reality of those fears and then reintegrating that chapter of your life with the rest of your not traumatic experiences is a goal that individual therapy can help you attain.
It is not easy work. The Reptile Brain has survived for a long, long time in humans. But the cost of walking around everyday in nothing but survival mode is too high for most of us.
Until the Zombie Apocalypse arrives that is.