The Inner Mammal Method
Here's how to make peace with your emotional brain:
- I accept the brain I've inherited.
- My brain evolved to promote survival, not to make me happy.
- My happy chemicals are designed to do a job, not to flow all the time for no reason.
- Happy chemicals pave neural pathways that turn them on faster in similar future situations, which is why I can feel good in the short run about things that are bad for me in the long run.
- I can build new neural pathways by feeding my brain new experiences.
- A lot of repetition is needed to build a new pathway after adolescence because myelin drops.
- I can design a new experience and repeat it until a new pathway builds. The electricity in my brain will have a new place to flow.
- I can stimulate my dopamine by taking steps toward a goal. I will build a pathway that expects the joy of approaching a reward.
- I can stimulate my oxytocin by trusting and receiving trust. I will build a pathway that expects to give and receive trust.
- I can stimulate my serotonin by taking pride in my skills. I will build a pathway that feels confident in my survival skills.
- Each drip of happy chemical is soon metabolized so you always have to do more to get more.
- Each step toward an unmet need stimulates happy chemicals so continual small steps are the way to feel good.
- Our brain saves the happy chemicals for unmet needs. It takes what you have for granted and only rewards you for new and improved ways to meet a need.
- Each happy chemical has its down side, which complicates the quest.
- Dopamine dips once a reward is expected so the joy of the first experience is never repeated.
- Oxytocin rewards you for finding safety in numbers, and the animal fear of social isolation can motivate social alliances that you later regret.
- Serotonin rewards you for gaining the one-up position, which is why you care about social dominance despite your conscious intentions.
- Obstacles to these rewards are survival threats from the mammal brain’s perspective. It responds with cortisol, which creates a full-body feeling of urgent threat.
- Cortisol builds neural pathways that help you avoid similar threats in the future. It alerts your brain to scan for threat signals, and more cortisol is released when you find them.
- I have power over my brain. That power is lost when I blame my responses on external forces. I can celebrate my power instead.
A full explanation and step-by-step instructions are in my book,