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I Judge People. Do You?

The more I learn about biology, the better I understand human behavior. On the outside we are these highly evolved creatures soaring above the clouds in heavy metal air ships. On the inside, though, part of us is still a prehistoric primate just trying to survive another day.

Ancient humans relied on a primitive reflex-oriented brain (because as ancient humans, that’s all the brain they had.). Our ancestors' survival instinct would spur their body into action without their conscious awareness. They didn't have the time (or mental capacity) to consider options before reacting.

Human brains have evolved. Our larger foreheads house a prefrontal cortex, which we can choose to use to weigh alternatives and envision creative solutions. This is an add-on feature — like a sunroom built on the rear of a house— while we continue to use our original primitive reflex-oriented brain as the front door. Without our conscious awareness, our brain continuously runs the same 3-step program designed to keep us alive.

1. Select: choose what to notice

2. Identify: determine what it is

3. Interpret: decide what it means to us, particularly in regard to our safety

Although human brains have evolved this lovely prefrontal cortex, it lacks the processing speed of the original model. So when we feel threatened, our survival instinct reacts while the executive function is still sifting and sorting options. This is why we are more likely to knee-jerk react than to compassionately respond when we don’t feel safe.

So, what do you think? Do you judge people? I welcome your thoughts in the comments.



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