Overcoming Your Primitive Mind

Reading Time ⏱: 2 mins
Published 🕰: 1st Feb 2020

Hello monkey brain 🐒. Do you often make stupid decisions in the heat of the moment? Mmmm cake for breakfast? Yeah why not. Oh lunch time...cake? Sure. Oh look an incredibly attractive person who isn't my partner, shall we have sex? Woo hoo 🛏🍆🍑...oh no 😢.

Yeah we all do. It's our primitive monkey brain getting in the way. The caveman, kill your food and keep fucking part of you. And it can be a bit of a dick.

Nowadays our higher mind (the deep thinking, intellectual, hopefully clever part) is the part of the brain that we want to be making a lot of our decisions for us 💡. Sure the monkey brain is useful (and sometimes better) for instinctive situations like sports or times when you can just act on habit (washing, walking, driving etc). But our higher mind knows that going against the monkey brain in many other situations will lead to even more happiness in the long term 🙃.

The tricky bit is getting the higher mind to override that monkey brain. I find that the most effective way to start is to just be more aware of when the monkey brain is in control or having a detrimental effect on your decision making. When your higher mind becomes aware that your monkey brain is behind the steering wheel it's easier for it to take back control.

So here's a whole bunch of common situations and established biases where the monkey brain is often in control or having a negative effect and leading to undesirable ☹️ outcomes:

  • Getting angry and spurting out aggressive nonsense you don't mean or could have said in a more constructive way
  • Giving into excessive drinking/smoking or bad foods
  • Cheating on your partner(s)
  • Herd mentality - Believing something mainly because many others do as well (kinda like fitting in but on a subconscious level)
  • Confirmation bias - Seeking information that confirms what you already believe (the main kind of research people do around election time)
  • Overconfidence
  • Narrative fallacy - More likely to believe (and remember) something with a good story behind it, regardless of how true the idea is
  • Bias blind spot - Seeing oneself as less biased than others (spoiler you're probably not)

BONUS: check out a great list of different biases here.

Whenever you notice your monkey brain kicking in, take a moment, take a breath, and then get that higher mind back in control.

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