THE STRUGGLE OF BEHAVIORS
BETWEEN THE HIGHER AND LOWER BRAINS
IGNORE THIS CHART FOR NOW, COME BACK TO IT AFTER READING
A = Positive force for behaviors; X = Reduces positive force or opposes it
To improve A's force relative to X's force:
A X ODDS FOR A
Repeat A ↑ ↓ ↑
A decide when high low ↑
Strengthen A ↑ same ↑
Weaken X ↓ ↑
SABOTAGE OF WHAT I WANT?
We (the BIG ME) want to live a greater, better, happier life. But our 'little me" seems to sabotage us. [That is not actually true. Humans tend to explain how certain things act by attributing 'agency' (or intent) to something which is just a machine, with no real choice. It certainly does not decide "well, today, I will sabotage the other part of me (BIG ME).
It does "seem" however that there are two sides, fighting each other. There, or course, aren't "sides", as in deliberately being against the other, though they are sometimes at cross purposes. One side is deliberate, the other is already determined, but very, very consistent since it has an established way of doing things.
So, where it counts, we want to do things when we have the advantage. Who we are is a higher brain that intelligent and creative and what we experience life through, in a different manner than an animal. So the "we" I am talking about is the actual YOU, not the part that you have called the lower brain, your System One or "little me". (See Who I Am, to be clear.)
If you are refreshed and feel powerful, notice how much easier it is to say "well, not now, I (BIG ME) won't eat the ice cream" and, of course, you (BIG ME) don't get much opposition from the other side because it (little me) is not particularly out of balance (homeostasis). When that other side isn't desperate or on an important mission to offset threats, it won't be anywhere near as powerful in the ice cream vs. weight debate.
If you are at the grocery store and you're not hungry or tired, you can easily remember that it is a good strategy not to buy ice cream at all, not even to tempt "yourself" (here you are using the lower brains as a "yourself"). And later, when you're tired and it seems you need energy or some stimulation, you look for something sweet to eat and there is nothing there. And usually it seems too much of a hassle to go out to the store to get some, though occassionally you'll do that.
But, if the ice cream is there, who is likely to win is little me, in its powerful program to consume as much sugar as possible because in the jungle it may be a long time before we get the opportunity again. That how we evolved, so the machine is set for that. And you (BIG ME) will have to exert a powerful force to offset that force [a determine, desperate 'little me').
INCREASE, DECREASE, STACK THE ODDS
So, now, if there are two opposite sides and we (BIG ME) want to win, we have to:
1. Increase our force to overcome the force of the other.
2. Use our basic force at the time the opposition has little force in gear.
3. Lower the force of the opposition (rub its tummy or...)
4. Do all 3, to stack the odds in your (BIG ME) favor.
So, when we are intending to overcome a System One "little me" habit, we need to do whatever will increase the odds into our favor.
Interestingly enough when we initially start to do the new behavior, we fail, and soon give up. We fail to see that we simply need to expect that may happen and to just renew our effort. Each time we do the new thing we start to form a neuronal pathway that gets bigger and more powerful the more we repeat. And each time we don't use the old neuronal pathway, we lessen its power. That's what happens, though we can't see it happening because of its gradualness. So, repetition, by itself, helps accomplish 1 and 3 at the same time, though slowly.
How can we increase our (BIG ME) force?
Increase the clarity of the payoff.
Write all the payoffs out in detail, read them daily
Visualize what the payoffs will look like
Identify more payoffs or identify that the payoff is really, really big, and underline it and remind ourselves of it
so that it will be big in our minds at the time needed.
Increase the clarity of the avoided harm (which, of course, is also a net benefit ultimately).
Increase our own energy and strength (be rested and strong from taking care of ourselves)
Perhaps, but trickier, we learn how to be more willful. You can train to be more self-determinate, just as a champion athlete does with his self-discipline so that he overcomes inertia and rapidly progresses.
Pride in doing it.
I as a bigger person
Bring the rewards closer, give more along the way
Get a partner to be accountable to or to do it with
Decrease the force of little me?
Use BIG ME to make sure I am rested and feeling good, so that little me won't have the impetus to try to correct the situation, since there seems no tiredness or low energy to fight against in order to get the system back and functioning well (which it automatically will attempt to do with sugar).
Talk to little me and say "there, there, everything is fine, I am fine without doing that, all is well.
Breathe slowly and deeply and/or pause (with a sigh or some long deep breath - and it lessens.
DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKE OF UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF THE OTHER SIDE!
You can't win if you come to battle with rifles when the other side has cannons.
We somehow don't realize the power, despite repeating evidence that is suggestive, of the primitive reactions of the little me primitive brain and how powerful they are, since they, as far as they know, are trying to save you rear end - and there is nothing more important in our evolution than survival. (Actually the tendency toward having more and more people be more and more capable of surviving gets past down by those people who survive more; the other ones that don't survive long enough to pass their genes along, go extinct.)
If you are really, really upset, the reason is that the primitive brain thinks there is some big survival threat.
You can deduce this by the fact that we evolved to be superstrong when needed to fight off a threat, which also means that when we are superstrong it is because we think there is a strong threat. (If there is an effect and it is strong, we can work backwards along the causal chain to see what the cause must have been.)
You must know of and understand this process or you will not be able to change your behavior and choose your life, because you might otherwise just assume that things just happen to you, at which time you'll tend toward helplessness and powerlessness since "out there" is the determinant to your fate. Yikes! But this thinking is the basis for all victim roles and victim thinking. But nobody is truly a victim per se, though they can choose that role.
So, if you are aware of this cause and this effect, you can plan your battle with it, using strategies to weaken it, catch it when it isn't oppositional, and/or strengthen our side.
I WILL GUARANTEE YOU'LL WIN
If you persist, you will win. You've got to be willing, in the tougher battles to be knocked down, but always get back up and go at it.
And to do that you must reread the benefits daily and pledge to give it your best for the day.
But you (BIG ME) will win. You will get what you really want.