The limbic system

Emotions impact our thinking more than our thinking impacts our emotions.

Think about that for a moment. (Ha ha) think about the last time you were really scared, or really angry… what happened to your “thinking” brain? And then reverse it, and remember the last time you tried to persuade yourself you were NOT angry, or worried – how you tried to reason away the emotions you were feeling … how effective was that ?

Our brain is a very complex structure, that has evolved over time. We share some of the most primitive structures in the base of the brain (the brain stem) with reptiles … as you might expect, on the evolutionary scale, the most basic parts of the brain control the most basic functions – temperature regulation, heartbeat, breathing etc. Next up, in a basic sort of way is the cerebellum that manages movement and other homeostatic functions. Then we have the  mid brain,and part of this mid brain, (higher up the evolutionary tree than the cerebellum, but not as high as the frontal cortex)- is the limbic system which is where emotions are regulated, what modulates motivation, drive, love and other emotions. Humans have an enormous frontal cortex,  that most animals don’t, and this recent evolutionary addition enables us to “THINK”….

It makes sense that the majority of information passing though neural pathways is ‘upwards’ rather than down, and in simple terms this is why the more primitive emotional brain has a greater impact on the thinking part of brain than vice versa.

Our limbic system, which is where we experience and process emotion, actually sends more inputs to the thinking part of our brain, i.e. the cortex, than the opposite.

So, to refer to my earlier post (last week) with respect to managing / attaining emotional sobriety. It seems to me as though part of this is about learning to put one’s thinking brain, (that we are gifted with, that is a much later addition in terms of evolutionary development) ahead of one’s emotions. Of standing outside the emotional response to situations and instead analysing them with your thinking brain. acting how THOUGHTS not emotions dictate.

I think Im getting there, but it does sometimes feel like two steps forward , and one step back

 


2 comments

  1. I think you have done incredibly well. You are my inspiration youve helped me on my way to sobriety. Happy New Year Lily lets he this is a better one than last year.

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