• Neurobiology of Conflict

    No wonder love is confusing!

    Partnerships are a dance of six brains. Brains have three parts. The Lizard, Mammal, and Adult.

    The Adult Brain is our prefrontal cortex. It has deep soulful feelings but not crazy mood swings. It doesn’t do well when anxious. When calm, it does a great job of running our ethics, morality, abstract reasoning, the ability to self-reflect, predict consequences and delay gratification.

    The Mammal Brain or limbic system governs emotions such as happiness, fear, anxiety, anger, aggression.

    The Lizard Brain, or brainstem, looks after our survival basics such as body temperature, breathing, and as was recently discovered, intense, romantic, “in love” feelings.

    Couples thrive with matches between these six. For example, when two Lizard Brains meet they can ignite those deep euphoric in love feelings for one another.

    Two Adult Brain working together can help a couple to buy a home, do taxes or plan a dinner party.

    Two Mammal Brains can have a date filled with empathy, playfulness and romance.

    Couples struggle when mismatches occur in this dance of six. Imagine a passionately in love Lizard trying to relate to a cool thinking Adult. Or two Mammals ramping up an argument because there’s no Adult around to help them to calm down and be rational.

    The fix: If a conversation is heating up, check out which of your three brains is talking to your partner. Lizards and Mammals do not have the resources to calm down or problem solve. As an argument starts, always make sure your Adult is in charge!