Reactive Or Reflective?
Aug 28, 2010 Learning Methodology 3692 Views
There are three well-documented parts of the brain: (1) reptilian; (2) mid-brain; and (3) forebrain. They are like the layers of an onion, with the reptilian brain being at the center.
The reptilian brain is ALWAYS functioning behind the scenes without conscious thought. It keeps our heart beating, and our lungs breathing. The MID-BRAIN controls our animalistic reaction to things. It allows us to have such emotions as fear, anger, love, passion. It drives our fight-or-flight reaction.
The FOREBRAIN is what allows us to step outside of ourselves and look inward. It is allows us to see ourselves thinking. It allows you to hover outside of yourself and observe yourself reading this page, and be consciously aware that you are reading this page; and be aware that you are aware. It allows us to ask the question "why?" It allows us to analyze a situation after it has happened and draw lessons from it. It allows us to recognize patterns in order to predict the future.
At any given point in the day, your life is being dominated by either the mid-brain or the forebrain. Only one of these two brains can control at ONE time. When your mid-brain is in control, you are in REACTIVE mode. You don't think. You just react to external stimulus. It's what happens when someone cuts you off in traffic and you flip them off.
When your forebrain is in control, you are in REFLECTIVE mode. You think before you act. You contemplate the various possible outcomes of your actions. It allows you to mirror back to yourself the likely consequences of your words and actions BEFORE you act and evaluate the pros and cons of each possible action.
WHEN THE MID-BRAIN IS IN CONTROL
Some people spend most of their adult lives being controlled by their mid-brain. They spend their whole lives reacting to things that happen in the world around them. As a result, they have to wait for external feedback before they know whether their words and actions were a good idea or a bad idea. They are always one step behind the curve. Always trying to figure out what just happened and why. Always trying to catch up. They don't know the effect of their words or actions until after it's too late. Their words, actions, feelings and beliefs are dictated by what is happening in the world around them. Everything they say and do that is bad is someone else's fault. They feel perpetually misunderstood.
WHEN THE FOREBRAIN IS IN CONTROL
Some people spend most of their adult lives being controlled by their forebrain. They are constantly looking inward and making conscious, deliberate choices about what they believe, what they say and what they do - no matter what is going on in the world around them. They can mirror back to themselves the likely outcome of their words and actions BEFORE they act and adjust accordingly. They are always one step ahead of the curve. They can predict and prevent the negative consequences of their actions BEFORE they happen.
WHEN SOMETHING IS NOT QUITE RIGHT
Some people, even AFTER their words and actions have yielded negative results, cannot connect the negative results to their own behavior. Therefore, they keep repeating the same patterns of behavior over and over and wonder why things always seem to go wrong. Do you know anyone like this? They wonder why people always seem to be mad at them. In their minds, they are always the victim because all they can remember is the other person's action, not their own. They don't realize that the other's person's negative action was really a result of their own words and conduct. Other people are perpetually at fault for mistreating them. They don't have the ability to self-reflect or self-correct.
QUESTION: Are these tendencies "hard-wired" that we are destined to live with, or can a reactive person eventually become a reflective one? If so, how?