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Wellbeing / Business psychology

How to use your three brains to make great decisions

Ever found yourself ‘in two minds’ about something? What if I told you there are actually three ‘minds’? And that all three are needed in order to make great decisions.

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Emily was starting to panic. It was the end of an information seminar and the presenter was finishing off his sales pitch. Should she join up for the expensive business program or save her money? She wanted to, after all the benefits had been painstakingly laid out. She could see the benefits, but could she afford it? What would happen if she didn’t take up the offer? People were joining the queue at the back of the room, eager to grab the ‘once only’ offer. Emily was drowning in waves of doubt, uncertainty and confusion. Her head was spinning, desperately trying to make a decision.

If you have ever been in ‘two minds’ you’ll recognise the dilemma. Your head wants to go in one direction and your heart the other. In our western society, we have been conditioned to favour our head:

  • Think it through.
  • Look at the facts.
  • Consider all possibilities.
  • What’s the logical thing to do?

But wait! What if I told you there were more than just two options?

Modern neuroscience has proven we have three complex, adaptive and fully functional neural networks, (or ‘brains’ or intelligences’):

Our head, heart and gut.

Each of these ‘brains’ has its own distinct perspective and wisdom and when they are all aligned and on the same page, you will experience states of flow, ease, connection, heightened intuition, and so much more. You will be wiser, more in tune with your deepest self, and feel empowered to make great decisions.

Let’s explore a little deeper…

The head or cephalic brain is responsible for cognitive perception, gathering and analysing information and making meaning from your perceptions.

The heart or cardiac brain is the emotional connector; it’s where our deepest values are felt, and where we find purpose and meaningfulness.

The gut or enteric brain is our intuitive centre, (80% of the messages from our nervous system travel upwards from the gut to the heart and head!). It can get you into action and warn you of potential danger. It’s also where we feel our deep sense of authentic self.

Cool fact: the gut intelligence is the first neural network or brain, laid down in the womb; the heart intelligence is laid down on top of this and finally the complex head brain. While our ‘head’ thinks it’s the most important, in reality, all three are equally important but for different reasons.

When we make a decision that excludes the intelligence or insights of any of the three brains, we rob ourselves of invaluable and sometimes crucial information. It’s like sitting on a three-legged stool, lose one leg and you’ll fall over.

"Cool fact: the gut intelligence is the first neural network or brain, laid down in the womb; the heart intelligence is laid down on top of this and finally the complex head brain."

For solo or conscious entrepreneurs it is particularly important to get clear on our purpose (heart), get our creative juices working (head), prime our intuition and … get into inspired action (gut).

The common pitfall of many entrepreneurs is when the head brain runs off with a ‘great’ idea but doesn’t check in with the core values held in the heart and any concerns from their gut intuition. A massive amount of energy, money and resources can be expended because of a whim or the next bright shinny object. While it may be very appealing in the short term, unless it is taking you further along your real path, it’s just another waste of time and energy.

To overcome this, it is crucial to get access and collaboration from all three intelligences. You can only do this from a ‘balanced state’ – meaning neither overly stressed nor overly down.

Let me explain further.

Our autonomic nervous system is divided into two modes – sympathetic and parasympathetic.  The autonomic nervous system regulates many functions including the access we have to these three intelligences.

In a ‘balanced state’ we experience:

Head Brain Heart Brain Gut Brain
Being present Peace/joy/love Willpower
Flow states Wisdom Courage
Creativity Trust Relaxed/calm
Curiosity Connection Intuition
Balanced perspective Passion/purpose/direction Motivation/drive

These are all crucial qualities to have access to, especially as soloists who sink or swim on important decisions.

But if you are in an unbalanced state you can expect any of the following: self sabotage, anxiety, depression, lost, confused, weak boundaries, scattered thinking, give to others but not self, mood swings, joylessness, panic attacks, overeating, addictions, emotional numbness, disconnectedness from passion, feeling burnt out, not living fully, loneliness, being over-vigilant, unmotivated, procrastinating, overwhelmed, resentful, indifferent, guarded, obsessive, lethargic, impulsive, turmoil …

Phew – what a list!

As soloists, especially before making important decisions, we need to be able to get into ‘the zone’ – a state of relaxed alertness, which is the sweet spot between sympathetic and parasympathetic modes. (It’s the end result of almost any form of relaxation training or meditation.)

From this space, you are best able to access the wisdom and insights from each intelligence … and then blitz the world with your life affirming, courageous and creative products and services!

PS: Bonus tip: Don’t make important decisions on a full stomach. Your gut will be too busy chomping food around to get involved in decision making in a useful fashion!

Bill Lee-Emery

is an mBIT (multiple Brain Integration Techniques) Coach and mBIT Master Trainer specialising in transformational consciousness work. His mission is simple – transform how business is done around the world. It’s time for more heart.

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