My central goal here is to create dialog about how our emotions and our brains work together. A critical aspect of that conversation is distinguishing between our feelings and the things they make us do. When we are sad we may cry. When we are angry, stomp off. Most kids can separate these emotions from their subsequent actions. However, when the actions are words or thoughts, the distinction gets fuzzier.
To shed light on these grey areas, I’m going to spend a few posts focusing on what psychology calls attribution. Attribution is part of our brains’ ongoing effort to make sense of the world so it can better protect us. It’s helpful for teaching cause and effect (think: hot stove = burn = danger).
The brain’s most primitive region, the brainstem, sits at the base of our neck. It’s nicknamed the reptilian brain because it’s so basic, reptiles have practically the same one!
The upside is that it’s fine-tuned to protect us and keep us alive. The downside is that, like a reptile, it’s not great at higher order reasoning.
In the next post, I’ll discuss why attribution is key to survival.