top of page

Why your Brain is Selfish!

The theory of the selfish brain is based on the following idea. Your brain is absolutely selfish - it wants to do what's best for your brain. So when you're experiencing a new event, your amygdala jumps into action, sending impulses to different parts of your brain, causing some good and some bad feelings that reach back to the body. The only signal that isn't processed this way is pain; other than that, everything goes through your amygdala. This means that past experiences have shaped you for any new situation, like doing a hard workout, which will trigger an emotional response inside of you faster than anything in the present moment - no matter how minuscule.

How to use selfish brain theory to change behavior

The selfish brain theory is a way of thinking about how your brain works that can be used to change your behavior. It posits that your brain is constantly trying to maximize its survival and reproduction, even if that means sacrificing other parts of your body or environment. This theory can explain why you might do harmful things to yourself or others and how you can change your behavior by understanding how your brain works.

You can think of following the five steps to learn new mental and behavioral lessons. Always remember the higher the stress, the bigger the lesson learned.


You start in a lazy, boring state and have an idea to start something new - it could be in training or a new skill. If the task isn't challenging or stressful, you will stay bored.


Anxiety starts to build as you try to figure out the best way to learn the skill. You'll strategize, plan and game your way.


Frustration builds when the skill you are trying to learn isn't as easy as you thought it would be or as others make it look.

Anger Towards Others

You will blame or get angry at others but never look to yourself to see the issue.

Anger Towards Self

This is when you talk to yourself in 3rd person. You will often start to push harder and act harder here.

Lesson Learned

After getting angry at yourself and pushing and acting harder, you will learn the lesson.

What is the Selfish Brain Theory?

Dr. David Eagleman first proposed the Selfish Brain Theory in his book Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. The theory posits that our brains constantly seek ways to benefit ourselves, even if it means acting against our best interests.

This theory can be used to explain why we often make impulsive decisions that seem rational at the time but end up being harmful in the long run. It also helps to account for why we often have difficulty changing our behavior even when we know it would be beneficial to do so.

The good news is that, despite its selfish tendencies, our brain is also highly adaptable. This means that we can use the Selfish Brain Theory to our advantage by learning new lessons and rewiring our behavior.

So how can we do this? One way is to consciously think about how our brain is trying to benefit itself when we make a decision. For example, if we're considering eating an unhealthy snack, we can ask ourselves, "What is my brain getting out of this?" By doing this, we can become more aware of the motivations behind our actions and make better choices for ourselves in the future.

Another way to use the Selfish Brain Theory to our advantage is by taking into account how other people's brains might be working against their own best interests. If we're trying to help someone change their behavior, it's important to remember that their brain is likely working against them.

Why It Matters to How You Approach Personal Development

When it comes to personal development, your approach matters. A lot.

The way you go about trying to improve yourself can actually make things worse. That's because our brains are wired in a very specific way. And when we try to force change, we often end up fighting against our own nature.

That's why it's so important to understand the selfish brain theory. Once you do, you can start using it to your advantage. You can learn new lessons and rewire your behavior in a way that works with your brain instead of against it.

So what is the selfish brain theory? Simply put, it states that our brains are hardwired to prioritize our own survival and well-being above all else. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes total sense. After all, if we didn't put ourselves first, we probably wouldn't have survived long enough to pass on our genes.

But in today's world, this instinct isn't always helpful. In fact, it can often lead us astray. We might procrastinate on important projects because they seem too daunting or risky. Or we might sabotage our relationships because we're afraid of getting hurt.

The key is to recognize when your selfish brain is kicking into gear and then find a way to work with it instead of against it. For example, if you know, you tend to procrastinate on big projects.

The four major concepts in the selfish brain theory

The selfish brain theory is a way of thinking about human behavior that emphasizes the role of self-interest in driving our decisions and actions. It suggests that we are constantly seeking ways to increase our own happiness and satisfaction, even at the expense of others.

The theory has four major concepts:

1. We are constantly trying to satisfy our own needs and wants.

2. We seek out things that will make us happy and avoid those that will cause us pain.

3. We are more likely to help those who can help us in return.

4. We often use others as means to our own ends rather than treating them as ends in themselves.

152 views0 comments


bottom of page