Negotiate your humanity using a limbic mascot

fun vice cartoonWe all have a Mitch-the-insatiable-itch. Yours may have a different name, or set of genitalia, but we all need a way to negotiate with our brain’s limbic system – our emotional selves. Science has found that our prefrontal cortex, our ‘rational’ brain, is second in command to our limbic system. Our conscious selves are gatekeepers ever struggling to hold back the dopamine wielding forces of our emotionally charged motivations and temptations. Brain scans can reveal a decision up to 7 seconds before you consciously decide! Of course, this shouldn’t come as any surprise to those of us who have ever sat down, rolled up our sleeves, and inhaled an entire pizza. Either we were so wasted we’d already locked out our prefrontals, or we were actually able to rationalize this act of symphonic gluttony. Scary thought either way! And for those of us who have never adopted a rigid set of internal regulations (hello anyone creative, oh, and anyone madly in love), we so often sabotage ourselves by being able to effortlessly ‘rationalize’ the most absurd glamours, insatiables, and be-all-end-alls.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. When the Calgary Flames are down 5-1 in the third, and Harvey the Hound is still dancing manically in the stands, drumming up a rallying cry from the crowd… sometimes a mascot is our last best hope for survival. A limbic mascot is a visual thinking tool that can be used to help create a subtle separation, a space for negotiation, between our emotions and our intellectual reasoning. To ensure we stay faithful to our long term goals, we often (hourly unless you’re one of the lucky ones) need to challenge the urgency and importance of short term impulses that are demanding (and I do mean demanding) attention and satiation. A limbic mascot can serve as an entity of attribution that allows you to make these conscious intellectual challenges without directly attacking your ego.

Mitch-the-insatiable-itch is my limbic system middle-man. He’s ever-present in Blank Canvas Living’s sidebar, and he’s even snuck his way into one or two posts. The petulant little darling is all belly and cute pink package. Go ahead and read in a light dose of Freudian penis envy – but they really are such fun. He has a perpetual indignant frown and fingers for pointing at what he wants, but no real mouth. He leaves all the verbalization, rationalization, and justification to the prefrontal side of the equation. He’s a master of the ever-so-seductive myth of “this is the last time.” I love the little guy, even though his ear horns mean he’s rarely sitting on the angel side of my shoulder.

I’m so curious, dear readers, what would your limbic system mascot look like?

16 thoughts on “Negotiate your humanity using a limbic mascot

  1. Oh, what a tantalizing post! Pure intelligence at work! You have a great mind!!! I’m diggin’ your mind! BTW~colleges don’t teach people this depth.

    One of my own internal mascots is an old lady, a powerful, fully in command older lady. That may not sound so glamorous, but it is. Crone wisdom!

    That way too, as I get older, I’m moving more into my own power. She is free to love, allow the love right on through without second thought, but on other issues, I love having a choice and want to see with keen eyes the choices in front of me, and be able to choose, without being driven by panic or fearful states.

    • Mmmmm and what a tantalizing comment! And thank you so much for the complements ~ Makes me feel a whole lot better about only doing a year at university lol

      Let’s hear it for crone wisdom!! I love the concept of moving into your own power and, in a way, growing up into your own mentor. Very wise indeed, and takes some of the pressure off the whole aging thing, making it a more organic and positive psychological process. But gawd help us all if I ever grow up into mine 😉

      And really, like you’ve pointed out, the whole idea of any mental/limbic mascot is to give ourselves the permission of choice.

  2. What fun! I love your out-of-the-box ways of looking at things. The style of Assagioli’s psychosynthesis encourages us to give parts of ourselves form and voice, and I’ve created some doozies!

    • Thank you Tertia! I love how Assagioli turned his month-long experience of solitary confinement into an opportunity for deep meditative self discovery. In my 9 to 5, trapped in my little lonely office, I’ve attempted a similar mission of inward exploration. Because, tragically, there’s only so much celebrity gossip a gal can surf lol. I’m so happy to hear you’ve created your own mascots! They might be too personal, but I can’t resist asking… Would you be willing to share one with us?

  3. It’s that annoying little voice, ‘go on, you know you want to’, just before the other voice kicks in, ‘you can’t afford it’.. Advertisers work very hard to hook into the first one and stifle the second.

    In the sense of connections and lateral thinking it occurs to me that our cousin species, the Neanderthals, probably didn’t have those voices. I recently read a book on how they probably thought, which provoked a lot of thinking on my part about thinking.

    • Makes so much sense neurologically which of those voices is first on the ball. Loreal is especially sneaky with its “because we’re worth it” slogan. I mean, who is going to argue with that? What woman is going to stand in the shampoo aisle, pick up a bottle of Loreal conditioner, and say to herself, “hmmm maybe I’m really not worth $3.99?” I’m sure she’s out there, let’s just hope not in the flesh trade!

      Hehee, not too often Neanderthals and metacognition are mentioned in the same sentence. Really puts that interbreeding theory into a whole new light…

      Neanderthal man sees Homosapien woman:
      “Female = breed”
      Homosapien woman sees Neanderthal man:
      “Ooooo now that looks like a spot of primitive fun. But what will he think of me in the morning? Will he spear me some breakfast. Will he let me redecorate the cave? What will mother think when I bring him round for dinner?

      • LOL! Ugh Ugh the Neanderthal has a lot to answer for! The genetics suggest it was all one way – Neanderthal men with H. Sapiens women, probably in the Middle East maybe 70,000 years ago. I am intrigued by the possibility of learning about ourselves by first understanding how Neanderthals did things – the difference is illuminating. Problem is, research is so fast these days that the book I read is already challenged by new discoveries of Neanderthal capability. What it did tell me is that they were probably easy to dupe by our standards, so that advertising angle would’ve worked a treat with them.

        • The secret of their extinction is finally revealed! The Neanderthals were wiped out by used-spear-salesmen and rock soup cave billboards! If the fuzzy fellows were around today they’d be up to their eyeballs in Big Macs and Mac Tablets lolz.

          You know, not to sound too, like, totally, like, sooo high school valley girl, but it’s interesting (and oddly disconcerting) that there’s 70,000 years of biological precedent for the football team hooking up with the cheerleaders 😉 With modern humans having 1-4% Neanderthal DNA swimming around in our systems, knowing how they did things is totally, like, sooo, like crucial.

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