Even though evolution has given us many more capabilities to help us survive, our sensitivity to threat, and our reflex response to react, are at the core of our brain function and our being. The fact that we might have become hyper alert to threat – and sometimes not even know it – is not our fault, but it may have become our problem.
Most, if not all, of our recurring problems arise from an over-active threat brain which forms part of our emotion regulation system that, at the Dialogue Space, we call the Trimotive brain.
The purpose of human emotion is to motivate action in order to achieve the basic goals of survival, accumulation and relationship. Threat brain, our oldest emotion-motivation system, enables us to recognise and respond to danger. Drive brain motivates us to seek out pleasurable and rewarding experiences. Safe brain motivates us to rest, recover and form relationships with others. Ideally, we need all three emotion systems working together in a balanced way and regulating each other.
Unfortunately, many of us get caught in unhelpful habits which are sustained because our emotion-motivation systems are ‘dis-integrated’ and out of balance. Usually the cause of dis-integration is an over-active threat brain. Many of our personal and social problems can be attributed to this over-activity: high blood pressure, anxiety, loneliness, addiction and shame are a few of the consequences we can trace back to the innate and learned responses of our threat brain.
To overcome these problems we need to recognise when we are in a state of ‘dis-integration’ and we need to learn what to do in order to restore equilibrium. This is when we are most likely to experience and act from our full potential.