Drop By Drop
A Little About How Our Brains Evolved
Welcome to Feeling Good From the Inside Out: A Great Way to Change Your Brain and Your Life. I’m Charlotte Nuessle. Thank you for joining me.
In the first podcast I talked about how a quality like kindness is a real strength, how easy it is to overlook the good things in life, and that moments matter. Moments of taking in the good things in life, matter.
Today we’ll take a little look at how our brains evolved. The brain evolved over many millions of years, a process that goes back to the beginnings of life itself.
One of our brains most basic needs is the need for connection. Our ancestors lived in small tribes. Together with others in their tribe, they shared tasks of finding food and shelter, defending their tribe when there was danger, and passing on their genes. This kind of social support was critical, both for the tribe and the individuals that made up the tribe.
Our brains were shaped to rely on each other at a really fundamental level. Human babies spend about 9 months in the womb totally dependent. After birth they need nurturing and caregiving for longer than any other species. Infants don’t walk for almost a year. They’re unable to feed or protect themselves for several years. They rely completely on their caregivers for survival.
The mammalian brain refers to what our brain has in common with other mammals.
This part of our brain responds in various ways to stimulus from our nervous system: caring eye contact, soothing sounds, and soft touch. These are signals that our needs for connection are being met. When these needs are met, we feel warm inside, and that we matter.
For example when a caregiver sees that their child is hungry and feeds the child, the child’s needs are validated. The child expressed a need, the caregiver responded and met the need. It reinforces to the child that she or he can reach out, and their needs will be met.
For many of us these needs were not met perfectly but well enough to survive.
We are built to survive even when our needs aren’t met in an ideal way.
Understanding a little bit more about one of our brain’s basic needs, the need for connection, helps us be more aware of times when we feel connected in little and big ways. Waving to a neighbor when she’s out walking her dog, seeing an acquaintance at the movies, smiling at a mother with two youngsters at the grocery store. These are the kinds of moments that we can start to sensitize ourselves to.
We’ll spend more time exploring this in our live session. For now start to notice what it’s like to acknowledge the natural need we all have for connection. It might bring up a longing for something that we didn’t have or have enough of.
Gradually, by taking in the good, moment by moment, the unmet need is ended to in new ways.
This is Charlotte Nuessle. Thanks for joining me. Bye for now.