Our Brains Are Outdated: Understand That and Combat Sadness

The days are getting shorter and many of you may be feeling the seasonal affective disorder kicking in a little bit.

I used to struggle with it and still do at times to a smaller degree, so I wanted to share something that has helped me cope with it.

I'm writing this article quickly before I begin my workday because I feel moved to share it. I am not digging up research, citing materials, or anything of that nature at this time. 

This is just my opinion and what has worked for me and I hope may work for some of you.

As always, you can trust I've done my homework!

If you are experiencing extreme feelings of sadness and are feeling suicidal or contemplating self harm, please consult a licensed psychiatrist immediately. Coping mechanisms do not completely solve severe chemical imbalances. 

Bad feelings are completely natural but almost always overkill or completely unnecessary.

Regularly experiencing negative emotions is woven into our DNA.

People who lacked these feelings aren’t our ancestors. Having them doesn’t mean you’re broken, it means you’re working.

You come from generations of survivors. They were the strongest of the pack and they all experienced these difficult emotions.

Here's a breakdown.  

Anxiety: Kept us from being eaten or murdered! Anxiety errs on the side of max intensity for most people. Extreme anxiety meant a better, faster "flight or fight," reaction. 

Unfortunately, we were built to survive in the moment, not with high quality into our 80s and 90s like we do now. 

Our bodies haven’t adapted to the fact that our bills, relationships, work issues etc aren’t going to literally kill us. 

Remind yourself that your anxiety just means your body is working. Remember that you still have the old operating system so it's sending you out dated information.

Affirm yourself, "this is my prehistoric brain, it is over reacting to the real world."

Dwelling on the past = Our mind is trying to prevent us from making the same mistakes again. Unfortunately, the mind errs on the side of blaming itself when survival is involved. It's kind of amazing actually. 

Our pre-historic brain understands that when it comes to life or death, external blaming doesn't help much. <---(DEEP!)

This means that the pre-historic brain points the blame on itself for things it actually can't control. 

Take the loss of a loved one. 

Our mind wants our attention. It's saying, "You need to notice this! Make sure it doesn't happen again! It could be you or another member of the tribe next! TIGHTEN UP!!!" 

This one really stinks because it's very unlikely that you had any involvement in the loss of a loved on. Your brain is kind of a jerk, but it wants you to live.

This is especially strong in people who have lost those who were not much older than them (children, siblings etc). 

Again, it’s the old operating system. 

Remind yourself that you can do nothing about the past and you have all the information necessary to make good choices going forward. 

If the feelings remain, try to remind yourself that it is once again, just your body working. Let it work. 

Feelings of insignificance = Life or death again here. We fear being cast out from the tribe because that meant certain death. 

Remind yourself that you can now live alone and be a-ok!

Obviously this isn’t gonna work for everyone always, but it has always helped me. I hope maybe it helps a few of you too!

Nate McCallister

What are your thoughts about our "pre-historic brain." Do you think I'm off the mark? Let me know!


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