Use your THINKING brain (think inside the box)…..

by Rod Smith

Helpful METAPHOR….

(I am deeply influenced by Rabbi Friedman, Peter Steinke, and Murray Bowen – who have each written on these matters and written most profoundly so – Peter’s book “How your church family works” was my primary influence in revolutionizing how I see and understand my own brain. I give Peter full credit for any resemblance you may see to his work. While it is neither copied nor “lifted”, one cannot read something and love something so much without it reverberating in one’s work.)

Getting to BOX 3 ASAP will save you a lot of hardship

Think of your (human) brain as three living boxes, placed one inside the other, residing inside your skull. Mammals get the “inside” two boxes – reptiles, poor things, get only one.

The smallest box, the stem, doesn’t think. It works. Protects. It’s humorless. It’s not the “feeler” or “thinker.” It’s got no room for such nonsense. Every time you want to EXPLODE, when you get anxious, feel like hiding, or hitting, your stem is trying to dominate! The greater your anxiety, the more your inner-reptile will want to break out.

The stem, your primal, instinctual, reptilian center, serves to protect you and keep your vital organs running. It will throw you under a table if there’s an explosion and put you into attack mode if you (or someone you love) is threatened. Turtles, snakes, polar bears, and dogs have stems – doing as much for them as yours does for you. Your stem is not creative; it doesn’t have the brains to be.

You might have to invite a friend, on occasion, to step out of his or her stem. But be careful, stem-bound men and women are humorless! And, they bite.

If you want to punch someone who disagrees with you, or run away from all “stupid” people – you are probably stem-bound. You’ve allowed your stem (your Reacting) to dominate. I’d suggest you shift gears (shift boxes) before hurt someone or lose your job. When you find you are overly reactive you have to tell your stem “to get back in your box! Do your job. Stop trying to think.”

Box 2 is the Limbic Box and it is much larger than the stem and feels it is much more important. It is not. It is different. This is the “feelings” or “emotion center.” Give yourself enough time in this box and you will hear country music blaring from all sides and you’ll see “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books everywhere.

Linger in the limbic and you will feel overwhelmed. It is an essential place to visit but you don’t want to live here. This is a place reserved for mammals and humans. No matter how much you love your pet alligator, it simply doesn’t have fun. It doesn’t have the brains for fun. Your dog does. That is why fun with your dog is really a mutual (but not equal) experience. Throwing a ball in the yard might be fun for you but it is the pinnacle of joy – every time – for your dog.

Ever felt really sorry for yourself? Like absolutely no one cares, especially after ALL you’ve done? Do you find yourself singing “I’m-so-lonesome” songs and “I-feel-so left out” songs? You have been spending far too much time in your feeling or I-Need-Empathy Box. This is a warm and welcoming place but it is not built for thinking. Move on to the Think Tank (Box 3) where you can get some useful work done.

Box 3 is your Neo-Cortex and it is larger than the stem and the limbic. This is the creative, distinctly human dimension of your brain. It governs (or tries to govern) the stem and the limbic. It is your “Think Tank.” It’s the Art Studio, the Creative Center. Here you’ll find Einstein posters, wild lists, cartoons, and drawings reminding you of all the possibilities you have seen for your life plastering the walls. It is from here you engage in creative discussions (“I think therefore I am”) about marvelous possibilities.

This is communication central, the clearinghouse of ideas large and small, this is the funny farm, the place you get your funniest thoughts and ideas. This is where humor, spirituality, appreciation of the finer things in life, and prayer, begin and thrive.

No matter how much you love your pet mammal he just cannot share your spiritual space with you. He doesn’t have the brains for it. The developed neo-cortex is reserved for humans only. Visit this, your “seize the day” room as much as possible and try to have all your “thoughts” about your reactions, feelings, and actions walk around this room for examination before you make a move.

Time spent in Box 3 is (usually) good for you. It’s your humor center, your envisioning center – it’s a platform of endless possibilities and the place from which you greatness will really emerge.

All three “brain boxes” can be “visited” in an instant: I enter a shop and search for an item. I cannot find what I need or anyone to help me and I am in a hurry. My Stem (the fuse box) wants me “blow a fuse” and walk out never to return! Limbic, which feels abandoned, kicks in. I tell myself, “After all my loyalty. After shopping here for 20 years, you’d think someone would recognize me, and care.” Then Cortex pipes up and says: “Ah! You are bright, resourceful and every one is busy. You can find anything you need on your own. Seize this great opportunity!”

Rod E. Smith
(317) 694 8669

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