The brain’s biological mandate is to build connections between the SP System and the rational brain. The result of connecting the three brains is what we have named the Self‐Actualizing (SA) System.
This system allows us to direct our energy toward meeting our needs, our goals, and our potential rather than just ensuring our survival. Development is complete when enough neural networks have been laid down from the rational brain to the emotional and instinctual brains to consistently and habitually manage, plan, direct, and organize our experiences. Without a developed SA System, we are left with a disconnect between what we know (think) and what we do (experience).
This might explain why many people behave in less than admirable ways despite their considerable investment in self‐help books.
Our SA System regulates impulses from the instinctual brain the way a good leader deals with competing
priorities. When this system is fully functional, we can set goals, dream our dreams, imagine, delay gratification, manage our impulses, and make decisions in the interest of self‐care. We respond to situations instead of reacting to them, trying to solve problems rather than focusing on our emotions. In the SA System, we don’t experience our emotions in the same way as we do in the SP System.
We might notice that we are afraid, upset, or anxious, but we don’t allow our emotions to dictate our behavior. Instead, we decide what our best course of action is. Most importantly, we develop the capacity to use our whole brains, becoming flexible and resilient, able to manage our lives, adapt to change, and become who we are meant to be.
When we’re successfully using our three‐brain system, we spend more time seeking pleasurable and self‐promoting experiences than avoiding perceived threats. We are curious about the world and embrace our lives with joy and vigor. This system promotes behavior that is likely to bring us various pleasurable results (including fulfillment of our physical and psychological needs).
It is an energizing system that moves us outward to explore and experience our environment.
When we get angry, anxious, afraid, or otherwise upset, the entire brain is activated. It is up to our rational brain to slow down the process between when it’s activated so we can consider the best way to deal with the situation. The rational brain tries to decode or understand impulses from the emotional brain before responding.
It tries to figure out where things fit in the bigger picture rather than reacting to the situation as a stand‐alone event. This reasoning process takes much longer than automatic reactions of instinctual and emotional brains, which explains why sometimes we do blurt out things we later wish
we’d never said. However, the more we use our SA System, the stronger and faster it becomes.