Now that we have discussed the reptilian brain, it is time to become more familiar with the emotional brain.

As you probably remember, the reptilian brain does not have the ability to learn. Therefore, it will continue to do the same thing over and over again, no matter what the previous experience might have been.

That is why the next step in evolution became the emotional brain. This brain has the ability to learn, balancing

PET scan of a normal human brain

Image via Wikipedia

the reptilian brain, and it uses signals of pleasure and pain to control our behavior.

It is very important to understand that it is the emotions that we are feeling, and not the thoughts that we are thinking that control most of our behavior.

Unfortunately, the power of the emotional brain is very familiar to us addicts. It is our emotional brain that causes us to do things that we don’t want to do that we will later regret.

For example, for a very long time, I struggled to avoid certain pornographic websites. Yet after a week or two of staying away, I would find myself giving in, and going back to looking.

This was happening for two reasons.

1. A pre-programmed response from my reptilian brain causing me to look for sex.

2. The emotional connection between the website and intense pleasure that I had established in the past.

Reason number 2 is the one that makes all of the difference. Reptilian brain does not learn, and it will always maintain its desire for sex.

The emotional brain, however, is what caused me to associate a website, a bunch of pixels on a screen, with a possibility of intense pleasure.

That is why even though I would tell myself that I did not want to go onto that site, all of the sudden it would feel that it was not such a bad idea.

© by Norton Photographer

Before I knew it, I would spend hours viewing pornography until I reach a level of stimulation significant enough to satisfy my reptilian brain.

Only then would the reptilian and emotional brain return full control of my body back to my thinking brain, allowing me to analyze what had just happened. And as a result of it, I would feel guilt and regret, knowing that I just did something that I did not want to do.

It is important to understand that our reptilian and emotional brains have the ability to override our thinking brain, leaving us as mere observers.

That is why we should be very careful not to make any decisions while we are feeling any intense emotions, both positive and negative, since they can greatly affect our judgment.

Most of the people don’t have a habit of monitoring their emotions. That is why I challenge you to pay closer attention to what you are feeling for the rest of the day. Some of the basic emotions to watch out for are anger, anxiety, excitement, happiness, love, and sadness.

In the next chapter, we are going to take a look at some of the simple things that we can do to help us strengthen our thinking brain, and help us live a more conscious life.

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