Your ego is your monkey brain

The cornerstone of any spiritual awakening process involves shedding of one’s ego in order to reach new levels of personal awareness. Releasing the egoic mind involves a lengthy — and I do mean lengthy — process of identifying and eliminating the false realities we have been told are real, the illusions we have come to accept as normal, and the thought and behavioral patterns that keep us selfish and un-enlightened about the greater connectivity between the universe and our personal decisions (and those of others). It is a process of re-awakening to your own divinity, accepting your higher self or higher power, and acting from the prefrontal cortex rather than the stress-driven parts of the brain. It requires accepting personal responsibility for everything you have done, and developing the empathy to see how your decisions will affect you and those around you in the long run.

I have written before about the “lizard brain”, aka: the Amygdalae, which are two almond-shaped structures within the brain that remind you of the danger that could lurk ahead. The lizard brain keeps a close tally of every stressful situation you have been in, so that you can prevent stressors from affecting you in the future. Unfortunately, this also means people become locked in states of chronic stress because the lizard brain reminds you that the world is utterly unsafe, you are a terrible person, and no one can be trusted. Additionally, because we have all had numerous stressful past lives, our subconscious mind will also dictate these reminders to the Amygdalae, causing us to be triggered at things that have never hurt us in this lifetime. Overcoming these repeating thoughts is a necessary step in shedding the ego.

As I have said before:

Here’s what you need to know for your health: because of trauma you are operating out of your “lizard” brain or Amygdala. Amygdalae are part of the limbic system which is responsible for emotions, survival, instincts, mood, sexuality, addictions, and memory. It’s function has been linked to neuropsychiatric disorders that involve anxiety and fears.

You will have dominant Amygdala function whether your trauma has been acknowledged thus far, or whether it still remains in the subconscious corners of your mind. The Amygdala is the fight-or-flight, reactivity, fear center of the brain. It remembers most every misdeed others have done to us so that we can constantly be on the defense in order to protect ourselves. It is a coping mechanism and survival tactic that, while once essential, has overstayed it’s welcome. In large part, we’re not hunter-gatherers needing to protect ourselves from apex predators or starvation. It’s making us sick from the stress. 

There is another structure of the brain we also must overcome, though, in order to reach enlightenment: the monkey brain. While the lizard brain protects us from having to process or re-endure trauma, the monkey brain is the facade that gets established to help us overlook the trauma — or defend ourselves against the trauma. In other words, the lizard brain tells your subconscious mind, nervous system, and hormones something is not safe, while the monkey brain says “I will act bigger and better so that the problem does not present itself again.” Puff out your chest, beat your fists, and act larger than you really are, so to speak.

The monkey brain and its according behavioral patterns are the root of the true ego and in order to understand how to overcome it, we must understand how non-human primates function. Most primates, including us as human beings, spend their lives in large social groups or communities and this, along with primary needs (food, water, air, territory), become the driving force behind all that we do. Being secured within a community means more than socializing, of course. To a primate, there are constant threats, again, to food and water supply, territory, and most importantly, sex/reproduction and social standing.

Most primate communities are generally closed to contact with members of other communities. Most often, members stay within a certain region and rarely migrate outside of their home area. Such aloofness from other troops prevents high concentrations of individuals entering the community, which could result in rapid depletion of local resources and restructuring of social status. Communities usually avoid each other and are aggressive towards outsiders. Because of this, social interactions between members of different troops are rare, especially for females. In some primate groups, the only intentional contact between groups is in the form of defensive territorial behavior. Ie: instead of avoiding each other, groups actively converge near their common territorial border and make hostile displays to scare away competition. Sounds a bit like human displays of jealousy and insecurity, eh? It’s the classic means girls, hazing newbies, and feigned exclusivity to prevent outsider infiltration in order to retain power and control.

In order to guarantee resource availability, social hierarchies are constructed in a true survival-of-the-fittest mentality. The more dominant and aggressive one is, the more resources they have available to them. The more resources they have available, the most respect they garner. The problem is, high levels of aggression, both given or received, can lead to chronic psychological stress in addition to added energy costs and risk of injury. For primates, chronic stress can adversely affect health and reproduction. Does this sound much different than human beings?

Humans constantly vie for social position, feel inferior and therefore less valuable (socially, sexually, intellectually) if they are not connected to, or liked by, the most respected members of their community or subgroup. Of course, the “most respected” members are often not respected by virtue of character, though in some cases they are; they are often respected for their appearance and external accomplishments, ability to bullshit, wine and dine, and put on a false mask to please people and entertain — not due to personal enlightenment.

Humans deeply rooted in their egoic mind have no problem gossiping, spreading rumors, blameshifting, creating chaos, and sabotaging others so they themselves can get ahead and be perceived as superior. Humans spend most of their lives trying to be viewed as sexually desirable and go into deep depressions when members of the opposite sex (or, same sex in many cases) do not choose them as a sexual partner. We spend a majority of our time working to make money so that we can build a facade of desirability within our homes, wardrobes, with accessories (hair, nails, and other beauty treatments), our cars, etc. Every choice we make becomes about what will be perceived as the most valuable by people we both know and strangers alike (the car we drive, the school we attended — or our children attend, the company we work for, the choice of prints for the curtains, the comments/likes and followers we get on social media, etc). We can spend our entire lives chasing a facade that stems from normative primate behavior and does nothing for the soul. The monkey brain has taken over and this is why the dichotomy between empaths and narcissists exist. Some people are self-aware, and others are stuck in animal survival mode, willing to do anything (abuse included) to get what they want.

Below are some stereotypes but they do speak to the behaviors and attitudes we take on naturally through societal enculturation. In some cases, these roles can be reversed and men and women may flip flop back and forth between the two. If these stereotypes offend you, they should. Yet, they are still what many people consciously or subconsciously chase.

For male human primates, this can mean: taking as many sexual partners as possible, being perceived as “the man”, succeeding in external pursuits (finances and career) to win over the “best” partner, giving high-value gifts, providing for females or dependents (food and shelter at a basic level), putting on a macho facade (I have no feelings and am not scared of anything), I am the protector, and on and on.

For female human primates, this can mean: being unwelcoming to females who are perceived as superior in some way (sexually, intellectually, ethically, fertile or good mothers) and therefore a threat to their sexual security, shunning “sexually powerful” or desirable females, going out of their way to be sexually suggestive to their partners only to maintain their interest not because of real attraction or love, using sex as a manipulation tool, dressing in clothes to strike the attention of their desired partner, doing things to make themselves appear superior spouses, owning nice things, etc etc.

You see, in order to understand why we as human beings do what we do, and therefore recognize what is dysfunctional in order to overcome it, we must understand our origins. Whether you err on the side of evolutionism or creationism does not matter here. What matters is that our brains carry remnants or similar characteristic of other species and we must overcome those behavioral patterns in order to shed the ego because they have nothing to do with our soul’s purpose and are nothing more than a stressor and distraction.

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