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Getting to Know Your Three Brains: Part 1

bigstock--128905457Happy relationships make happy people. Perhaps the most important relationship we have is the one with our self. In fact, the better the relationship we have with our self, the better we feel, the easier life is and the better relationships we have with others.

When we judge our self harshly, we tend to judge others harshly as well. There is a direct correlation between how we treat ourselves, how we feel and how we treat others.

Regardless of whether you believe it, you do have power to change for the better. How do I know this? I know this because in my journey to become a health care professional, I had the great fortune of learning about the brain. This knowledge helped me tremendously.

With simple knowledge about how the brain and mind work, which I will give you in this series, we cannot help but think and feel about others and our self in a new and different light. In my daily life, I use my understanding of my three brains to help me feel better and to understand the people around me.

Here’s a simple example of how I use my knowledge of the brain:

I was invited to a party and I was getting more and more nervous about going by myself. My nerves made me start to wonder if I should really go. “Maybe it is a mistake,” I started telling myself. My mind started looking for excuses not to go.

Knowledge of my brain taught me that external events, such as going to a party by myself, could shake me up in several ways. I used to think it was only my negative thoughts that could upset me. In fact, five different types of experiences occur. I may be upset by:

  1. My thoughts
  2. The visual images my mind is making (we’re making pictures in our minds all the time)
  3. Emotions evoked by the situation
  4. Physical sensations evoked
  5. My unconscious beliefs about my Self that going alone to a party brought up

How does being aware of these five factors help me? Now that I know they exist, I can actively look for all of them, see which one of them is most affecting me, and work with my brain accordingly. Moreover, not only can I work with my thoughts, images, emotions, physical sensations and beliefs, I can manipulate them in a wide variety of creative ways for better or for worse. The way I work with my mind is all governed by the science I have learned about how brain cells move, make new connections, or stay more entrenched.

Here’s what I noticed when I was dressing for the party:

My thoughts were “Will I know anyone?” “Will I feel comfortable?” and “Will I be appropriately dressed?”

Getting to Know Your Three Brains: Part 1


Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW

Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, is author of the book, It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self (Random House, Feb. 2018). She received her BA in biochemistry from Wesleyan University and an MSW from Fordham University. She is a certified psychoanalyst and AEDP psychotherapist and supervisor. She has published articles in The New York Times and professional journals. Hendel also consulted on the psychological development of characters on AMC’s Mad Men. She lives in New York City. For more information and free resources for mental health visit: https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/.


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APA Reference
Jacobs Hendel, H. (2018). Getting to Know Your Three Brains: Part 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/getting-to-know-your-three-brains-part-1/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.