Understanding the Brain and How it Effects Us Emotionally
The brain consists of a primitive, old brain (the chimp) and the Intellectual brain (human brain). The two brains have functions that can conflict with each other and effect us very differently. The two brains don't always work well together, leaving us to feel stressed, anxious, angry or depressed with our lives, so it is important that we understand the two systems so we can be more in control to manage our emotions.
The old chimp brain was there first and has been instrumental in our evolutionary process. It is responsible for our fight/flight/freeze area for the brain and helps us get out of dangerous situations - if the chimp perceives danger it will step in to help. The old, primitive chimp brain is hard wired to drive us to find food, to have sex and is also responsible for our emotions such as anger, anxiety, weeping, depression, fear responses. It also regulates chemical responses in the mind and body and it is also where we store our memory and behavioural responses, sometimes inappropriate behaviour. This part of our brain will always come up with the worst possible scenario, it has to for your survival and if your chimp brain thinks there is a danger you will be encouraged to stay on red alert. This is where the anxious, angry depressed area of the brain comes from.
The human brain is part of a vast intellectual resource which is the new brain which evolved after the old chimp brain. This part of the brain we do not share with other animals as this involves our conscious part which enables us to think logically, drive our cars and use our computers. This part of the brain is very positive and will always come up with a proper assessment of the situation.
The Chimp Model explains how the mind can be seen as three teams, each with their own agenda and way of working. The Human (you), is mainly based in the frontal lobe, is associated with logical thinking and works with facts and truth.
The Chimp, mainly based in the limbic system, is an independent emotional thinking machine and works with feelings and impressions, and acts without your permission! The Human and Chimp are two separate thinking machines that independently interpret our experiences. Either of them can take control, but they can work together.
There is also the Computer, spread throughout the brain, which is a storage area for programmed thoughts and behaviours.
The Human and the Chimp can both put information into the Computer and the key is to store helpful information on the Computer.
In this model, everyone has an inner Chimp. It thinks independently from you and it is not good or bad, it is just a Chimp.
Although you are not responsible for the nature of your Chimp you are responsible for managing it. You can tell if your Chimp is hijacking you if you:
- Have unwelcome thoughts and feelings
- Struggle to live life the way you want to
- Sabotage your own happiness and success
- Act impulsively and regret it later
- Procrastinate or can’t stick to resolutions
If you suffer from unhelpful feelings of anxiety or catastrophic thinking, your Chimp is in control. Learning to recognise the difference between yourself and your chimp is an important part of working with your mind. Whenever you have feelings, emotions or thoughts that you don’t want then your emotional circuits (the Chimp) are hijacking you.
Your Human may try to take back control from the Chimp but the Chimp is much quicker and stronger than you and you may not succeed. For example, if you suffer from a panic attack brought on by claustrophobia you, your Human, may logically know that the situation isn’t dangerous but you cannot control your reaction. Recognising that it is your Chimp reacting not you is the first step to managing anxiety. It will also stop from you criticising yourself.
When stress hits, in whatever form, the Chimp will always react first. It isn’t possible to stop this and in some instances it could actually save your life. So the first reaction you will get will always be a Chimp one. This is normal and healthy – although it is not always helpful.
Under stress the Chimp will go into Fight, Flight or Freeze mode, depending on what it thinks is best. You need to recognise how your Chimp reacts to stress, as everyone is different. The key is to develop a way to stop the Chimp from taking over.
One way to manage anxiety:
- Recognise the Chimp is reacting
- Slow down your thinking (to allow the Human to get involved)
- Get a perspective
- Have a plan
How Can I Tell If I Have Anxiety?
Anxiety as a symptom can take many forms and recognising stress or anxiety is not as obvious as it might seem. Sometimes, for example, it may present as anger or irritability; on the other end of the scale it may present as tiredness or constant worrying.
Hypnotherapy helps you overcome anxiety and stress with the workings of the mind and the hypnosis to help alter the subconscious thought process which is the chimp brain.