Why do we act the way we do?

The Caveman Mind

The human mind has evolved to think in such a way that it naturally creates psychological suffering. 

Wait, what

Seriously! Our modern minds think and act the same way as if they were the minds of our ancestors many thousands of years ago. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, life was dangerous for our fellow humans and our minds have adapted to constantly look out for threats and anything that may cause harm.

This week we are exploring why we react how we do and the benefits of these behaviours in our caveman days!

Read time: 2-4 mins 
Safety First

The default setting of our caveman mind was safety first and us modern humans have inherited this particularly useful trait.

Our modern minds are constantly warning us of things that may hurt or harm us. Our caveman mind may have told us “Don’t go in that cave, there could be a killer bear in there!” or “That shadow on the horizon might be a rival tribe coming to kill us!”

Our modern mind then manifests the same thoughts and reactions to our modern environment, however we are no longer really dealing with threats to our life, we are reacting to threats to our self esteem, confidence and emotional wellbeing. 

Our minds do not know the difference between these threats so reacts the same!

Take yourself back to your caveman days – you have just been attacked by a lion and survived – well done! 

Back then, you would remember and replay this stressful/life threatening situation over and over in your mind to help you learn from it and survive again the next time it happens.

In our modern times, our mind still does this! We replay stressful/anxiety inducing situations in our minds – yet these may no longer be life threatening situations. It could be that time you fell over in front of the whole class, or the time you had a few too many to drink and got kicked out of a bar in front of your new boss.

Many of our modern day recalls are not relevant to survival yet still invoke a stress response and we replay these painful memories – which serve no benefit yet still cause us anxiety!
The Tribe Mentality

In our caveman days, we would have lived as part of our group to ensure we all had a stronger chance of survival. If you were alone, you wouldn’t have survived long! 

Back then, your mind would have been comparing you to others in the group e.g. “Am I fitting in?” / “Am I contributing enough to the group?” / “Am I following the rules?” / “Am I doing anything that may get me excluded from the group?”

Now our modern minds are still comparing us to others. The problem with this is our groups are no longer small tribes, we have access to millions of people around the world at our fingertips. There are unnatural amounts of other peoples lives we are comparing to in the form of videos, stories, images etc. 

This constant comparison ramps up our fear of being judged, rejected, not fitting in or not being good enough. 

Can you relate?
Never Having Enough

Your caveman minds tells you that you need more food, you need more water, better weapons, better shelter. The cave people who had this mindset lived longer and their genetics carried down through the generations.

This trait manifests itself in the modern world as greed, dissatisfaction, craving and wanting – better and bigger constantly – what I have is never enough!

Keeping up with the Joneses!
You’re Not Alone

It is important that when you are living your life each day and your mind is presenting you with all of the challenges above, you remember that you are completely normal to have these thoughts and feelings.
Modern life is incredibly busy, stressful and we have never had so much connection to other people in the world. 

Your mind is normal for exhibiting these behaviours. It isn’t purposefully trying to cause you pain, it is doing the job it was designed to – keeping you safe and free from pain. 

If you require any mental health support, you can read more here.