Our human brain essentially comprises of two parts.
The Primal Brain consists of a complex set of structures that lie on both sides of the thalamus, just below the cerebrum. It consists of hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala and several other nearby areas. The job of this brain has always been to keep us safe. Thousands of years in the ancient world when the threats of starvation, battling tribes, extreme climatic conditions and saber-toothed tigers loomed, this part of brain functioned to mainly keep us ‘normal’ and keep us aware and alert against dangers so that we survive and procreate, propagating our species.
This is the part of the brain that is responsible for ‘the negativity bias’ that we humans have. It mainly wants to keep us safe, and that’s why it pays more attention to what’s negative in our environment and is less invested in knowing what’s positive, good and advantageous for us. Although, this biological mechanism served our ancestors greatly, in today’s world where we are relatively safe and secure, it’s more of a bane than a boon. It keeps us in a ‘hypervigilant’ mode even when there’s no threat around keeping us anxious, stressed and uptight. It’s the reason that no matter how many successes we garner or how many accomplishments we achieve, attain, we always focus on what’s missing in our life. Our eyes, mind and heart are always focused on the void instead of the abundance and the beautiful things that surround us. We lose our inner peace and tranquility even when we’re among the tiny percentage of blessed and humans who inhabit this planet. We end up getting involved in ‘comparison and competition’ that never serves us taking us in the downward spiral depleting our happiness and joy.
Now, let’s talk about the second part, the Advanced Brain. It is nothing but the prefrontal cortex. As time progressed and our brains evolved, this part of the brain developed as well. It plays an active role in various complex cognitive processes and is accountable for our advanced reasoning. As a direct result of its development, we began to learn quicker and our creativity, agility, performance and productivity skyrocketed. But this also began a never-ending conflict between our primal brain and our advanced brain. Our primal brain perceives any unfamiliar territory as threat, even if it may be essential for our personal growth and professional prowess. Whenever we try doing something new or take the less traveled path, our ancient brain raises an alarm. The amygdala gets charged, vagus nerve gets triggered and the fear hormone cortisol gets released. And due to this, we ending up acting against our advanced brain. This is the main reason why only a handful of us are exceptionally creative, insanely productive and absolute gems in our chosen fields. Whenever we leave our comfort zones, our primitive brain kicks into high gear and we enter the flight, fight or freeze mode.
There’s a constant battle going on between these two brains. The advanced brain wants us to become better, grow, cultivate mastery, and live more evolved lives, while the ancient, primitive one wants to keep us safe on the familiar ground and stop our evolution.
If we want to join the elite and extraordinary amongst us and jumpstart our creativity and productivity, then we need to muster the courage to push past the danger signals of our primal brain and act in accordance with our advanced brain. Only then, we’ll be able to unlock our true potential, become the legend that we’re meant to be, and be able to inspire the world.