Our Brains Create More Conflict Than We Do

According to researchers of the brain, we all make most decisions based on emotions and passions. Surprising, right? It challenges the common notion that we are logical decision-makers, and that emotions (when uncontrolled) are part of the immature self.. As much as we may try to pretend otherwise, in our natural state, we really only use rational thinking when we have to justify our emotion-driven decisions.

The emotional side that makes our decisions has been charmingly called “the old brain.” The old brain doesn’t understand words (a product of reason), but it does understand threats, survival and reproduction.

This changes up the way we think of conflict. It’s no longer a perceived difference of rational opinions (Wikipedia); there is the new idea that conflicts are emotional, in and of themselves. Conflicts seem reason-driven because they are covered up by a cost-analysis rationalization that legitimizes the confrontation.

Here is how the human brain works:

  • The new brain thinks: it processes rational data.
  • The middle brain feels: It processes emotions and gut feelings.
  • The old brain decides: it takes into account the input from the other two brains, but it is the actual trigger of the decision. In other words, the old brain is the boss.

This idea is very practical, because day to day, we can ask ourselves: what primordial needs has my old brain today?

Do I feel insecure in my relationship or my job?
Do I feel threatened?
Is there some basic anxiety around my gut today?

After that, the path is clear: your job is to activate your middle and new brains and evaluate those panic triggers that the older brain is activating:

Is a sure thing that you will starve today?
Are there enemies at your door or is it a simple alarming noise?

In this way, we avoid making decisions ruled by the survival brain, the older one! Our decisions will be more rational and emotional if we evaluate and discard the messages from the older brain. The point is not necessarily to avoid all conflict the old brain alerts us to, but we can learn to separate defense mechanisms (being unnecessarily aggressive with a co-worker) from constructive conflict (a discussion about how to reprimand your children).

Dr. Nora

Dr. Nora

Dr. Nora is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc. Sign up for free, here on her blog, to be connected to her innovative conflict solutions, positive suggestions and life-changing coaching sessions, along with blog updates, news, and more! We can begin by you having a complimentary consultation with Dr. Nora. Visit her coaching site today to talk with Dr. Nora and receive a plan for action to change your life. She's ready to help!

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