We have heard or read about people who have multiple personalities. These cases seem unusual, especially because the personalities may not interact with or be aware of the existence of the others. Yet most of us have personalities which, while uniform, include emotional reactions. Our emotions can cause fast, dynamic changes in character. These emotions may affect our unconscious in ways we don’t recognize on the rational level, ways that result in mood swings.

We also know that emotions can cause physical stress. Scientists are confirming is that physical stress also affects our emotions. Sometimes it’s a chicken-and-egg scenario. Which came first, my headache or my dislike for the telephone conversation I am having? This emotional-physical interaction has been one of the foundation stones of the teachings of yoga. Having recently renewed my interest in yoga, I can tell you I want to spend more time doing it. It is such a great way to start the day: stress free and emotionally balanced.

The following quotes are from Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Rules Your Life, by Leonard Mlodinow. The first talks about how we don’t understand our feelings. This is from page 188: “Despite that, we usually think that we do. Moreover, when asked to explain why we feel a certain way, most of us, after giving it some thought, have no trouble supplying reasons. Where do we find those reasons, for feelings that may not even be what we think they are? We make them up.” This quote is supported by research in the same chapter.

So then, where do the reasons come from? On page 191: “When you come up with a reason for your feelings and behavior, your brain performs an action that would probably surprise you: it searches your mental database for cultural norms and picks something plausible.”

Why does the brain work this way? On page 194: “Evolution designed the human brain not to accurately understand itself, but to help us survive. We observe ourselves and the world and make enough sense of things to get along.”

Disappointed by this point of view? The author continues on page 195: “This doesn’t bother me: it gives me a greater appreciation of my unseen partner, my unconscious, always providing the support I need as I walk and stumble my way through life.”

Next blog: We’ll discuss how the functions of our two brains help us with our self-concept. The answer points to a possible solution to our world’s problems.