(First of a series)
How does the human brain keep us going?
The human brain is an extraordinary piece of natural engineering. It works 24 hours a day and 7 days a week without rest. Even in our sleep, our brains do not “turn off,” as they have to keep track of time and sensory input even during the deepest and most restful cycles of nightly sleep.
Sensory inputs during sleep are filtered and analyzed subconsciously to ensure that we wake up when there is smoke from a fire or when there is too much vibration from a possible earthquake.
Our brains keep us safe when we are driving, playing tennis or even just walking down the street. It performs split-second calculations and communicates relevant electro-chemical signals to our muscles to ensure that we respond quickly to a potentially dangerous situation.
When we feel afraid of something or someone, our brains activate a physiological “fight or flight” response that boosts our natural physical strength.
This natural response gives us enough energy to fight an assailant or run away from a dangerous situation. Truly, the human brain is an organic marvel that deserves a fair share of care and attention.
What exactly is the “human mind?”
The human mind is the totality of conscious and subconscious brain processes that allow us to function as individuals. It is the observable expression of our brain activity and luckily for us, we can learn many important things about ourselves by studying the human mind and how it works.
Our minds are composed of two very distinct parts called the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.
Some people would argue that the mind cannot be bisected or divided in any way. However, this is a false assumption as we cannot access every stored memory and experience even if we are fully awake. This obvious limitation shows us that the mind that we are familiar with is a small part of a much larger whole.
What does the conscious mind do?
The conscious mind comprises about 20% of your entire mind. Though it might appear as a small portion, the mind is vast place and having 20% of this special “real estate” means the conscious mind is quite important.
Your conscious mind is responsible for the following the functions:
- Awareness – The conscious mind receives an endless stream of stimuli from the environment from the sense organs and yet, it is capable of bringing you a level of awareness that allows you to think, make decisions and take action whenever needed.
Our sense organs are designed to function nonstop so the conscious mind has to analyze and filter hundreds of kinds of stimuli to ensure that you are able to respond to the most important ones. When a person is awake, performing activities and interacting with others, it is said that a person’s waking consciousness is functioning normally.
- Filtering Ideas – The conscious mind doesn’t just filter stimuli from our sense organs such as the scent of soap or the satiny feel of lotion – it is also responsible for accepting and rejecting different ideas.
The criteria that determines what is acceptable and what should be rejected is actually fed to the conscious mind by the subconscious. This is why we tend to express the same set of opinions when we are faced with common situations in life.
For example, a witness of a car accident might say that “it’s wrong to drive if you’ve drunk alcohol” if he sees that a drunk driver has caused the collision.
- Logic – We know that the conscious mind analyzes the world around us – but with what? Your waking consciousness’ most important tool is logic.
Each person’s brand of logic has different qualities – there is no single type of logic that applies to everyone. Logic is defined as “reasoning performed using standards of validity”. Everyone has different life experiences and levels of education so these standards of validity can be wildly different if we were to randomly compare two or more individuals.
Subjective rationalism is an important concept in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) because in order to create change in ourselves or in other people, we must have working knowledge of how subjective logic or rationalism comes about in the first place.
- Linear Processing of Ideas – Have you ever wondered why technical manuals and even school textbooks make use of the “step by step” model of relaying information?
The root of this peculiar trend lies in how the conscious mind processes information. The conscious mind doesn’t like disorganization so whenever it can, it creates a linear structure when new information is available. It sequentially processes knowledge so that the memory creation becomes easier, too.