Triune brain

In the 1960’s American physician and neuroscientist, Dr. Paul MacLean developed the model of the triune brain. The three sections of the brain described by Dr. MacLean are the reptilian or lizard brain, the limbic brain and the neo-cortex.

Your lizard brain wants to be safe, eat, have sex and sleep. The limbic brain records memories of behaviors and it is responsible for most of our emotions. Problem solving, reason and creativity are functions of the neo-cortex.

The challenge is to have your three brains working in harmony. That’s what the Greatest Expression of You process is all about.

Lizard brain

Your lizard brain is also known as the reptilian brain. It responds to thoughts as if they are really happening.

Your lizard brain keeps you safe when you stand to close to the curb as the bus passes by or when you get too close to the edge of a cliff. It is the brain that allowed ancient people to out run the tiger and makes it possible for the little old lady to lift the car off of the child.

If you think fear, doom and gloom, your reptilian brain goes to fight and flight. If you consciously think a thought of peace and joy, your reptilian brain will let go and relax.

Your lizard brain cares too much about what other people think, is quick to anger and is easily scarred. It keeps you from trying new things and from doing new things that you want to do. The actions and emotions that are produced by the reptilian brain do so automatically, without you having to think about it. This reptilian brain developed about 100 million years ago and fights for your survival. Taming your lizard brain can get you out of fear and flight and to a place of peaceful, relaxed joy.

Limbic brain

The limbic brain wraps around your reptilian brain. It is responsible for our compare and contrast mechanisms, which lead to value judgements. It controls much of your behavior even though it does this rather unconsciously.

The main components of your limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The hippocampus is the center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system. It is the amygdala that processes your emotions. It is the reason you are fearful of things outside your control. The hypothalamus coordinates both the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary, controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic systems, and involved in sleep and emotional activity.


The newest part of the brain is the neo-cortex which developed in higher order mammals (monkeys, dolphins and humans) about 40,000 years ago. This is the home of your higher-self and when consciously activated, it administers the rest of your brain. Your neo-cortex can observe and regulate the responses of your reptilian and limbic brains. It is the seat of compassion. They key, of course is, “when consciously activated“!


Today, many people are living in a constant state of survival resulting from fear, anger, and/or stress. When you are in survival mode, your lizard brain is in control. Politicians and marketers know how to activate your reptilian response to get you to act without thinking. Since the early days of selling cars, sexy bodies have been laying on the hoods. Politicians create fear to get our vote.

When your lizard brain is yelling “RUN!” you cannot reason or process emotions. In Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, author Seth Godin writes: “The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny. The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe. The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta and has no trouble getting angry. The lizard brain cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival…The lizard brain is not merely a concept. It’s real, and it’s living on the top of your spine, fighting for your survival. But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing. The lizard brain is the reason you’re afraid, the reason you don’t do all the art you can, the reason you don’t ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance.

Taming your lizard brain

You want your lizard brain to serve you well. It should get you to jump out of the way of an oncoming bus and outrun the tiger. That is its job – your survival. But, when it keeps you asking your love to marry you or holds you back from applying for that new job all because of your imagined fear, it’s not serving you well.

Taming your lizard brain is done with purposeful thought, emotions and actions. It is done with mindfulness. You can even jump start this taming with Aikido breathing (deep breaths in through your nose all the way to about three fingers below your navel and midway between your front and back).

The Greatest Expression of You process is all about being mindful. Your lizard brain will follow your thoughts. If you are stressed and fearful, it will want you to run. When you redirect your thoughts to being your Best Self, and go to that place of Joy, your lizard brain will respond as if it were real. It does not know the difference whether the experience is real or imagined. It will respond either way.

Tame your lizard brain by being the Greatest Expression of You.

Your Hypnosis Health Info Hypnotic Suggestion for today:

I’m taming my lizard brain by being the greatest expression of me.

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