An Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Mental Model

I’d like to establish a metaphor. It is my hope that it may help integrate some facets for someone out there. Is we think of our actions as the Executive Branch, our emotional state as the Legislative Branch, and the mind as the Judicial Branch, we can arrive at a way of operating that is consistent through and through.

Our actions tend to be automatic. They follow naturally from our deeper beliefs, or whatever rules we’ve legislated for ourselves to abide by. Actions tend to be easier to change, at least initially. We walk, talk, and perform many other physical actions without much thought most of the time. The capacity for action is a lot like the personal Executive Branch. It requires an immediate response based on a rapid assessment of a given situation. Many actions arise from the heuristics each one of us believes. The Executive Branch just does, without going too deep into the why.

The personal Legislative Branch is one level down and can hinder or help the Executive Branch by providing guidelines. Our emotions give us a sense of right and wrong. We develop many of our beliefs and values based on how each idea resonates with us. Our (deeper) emotions provide us with information on whether or not we are following our own rules.

The personal Judicial Branch consists of the mind’s interpretive ability. It is another step down and the final arbiter of our beliefs and actions. We come to conclusions by either rationalizing our behavior and beliefs/emotions or by rationality. When we rationalize, we excuse a potentially harmful belief or behavior. When we exercise rationality, we can then look to the Legislative Branch to amend, update, or otherwise tweak our beliefs.

As with our government, each branch must operate together. A change in one aspect requires a synchronous change in the others, or else the result is an incomplete change and a reversion to the old way. Each aspect has the power to check another by simply examining how well each one matches up. Where there is discord there is pain, confusion, and often some form of lie.

As always, the human is an integrative animal. We have the ability to categorize, delineate, imagine, operate, conceptualize, and all sorts of wonderful other attributes. We naturally seek out patterns and differences. Sometimes we tend to fragment and compartmentalize ourselves. The different personal Branches lose their communication or get their wires crossed and we break down or go insane. Integrity requires mind, emotions, and actions to not only be of one accord but to be transparent as well.

What do you think of this model? Does it help you understand yourself or others better? Does it make it easier to change your mind, your heart, or your behavior? Please let me know. Have a wonderful day and integrate yourself!

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