Black and white portrait of Ray Dalio: Narrator and Creator of Life Principles

Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.

Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, cites principles as his key to success.

Life Principle

Your two "yous" fight to control you.

It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, though your higher-level you is not aware of your lower-level you. This conflict is universal; if you pay close enough attention, you can actually see when the different parts of a person's brain are arguing with one another. For example, when someone gets "angry with himself," his prefrontal cortex is sparring with his amygdala (or other lower-level parts of his brain. When someone asks, "Why did I let myself eat all that cake?" the answer is "Because the lower-level you won out over the thoughtful, higher-level you."

Once you understand how your a) logical/conscious you and b) emotional/ subconscious you fight with each other, you can imagine what it's like when your two yous deal with other people and their own two "thems." It's a mess. Those lower-level selves are like attack dogs--they want to fight even when their higher-level selves want to figure things out. This is very confusing because you and the people you are dealing with typically don't even know that these lower-level beasts exist, never mind that they are trying to hijack everyone's behavior.

Let's look at what tends to happen when someone disagrees with you and asks you to explain your thinking. Because you are programmed to view such challenges as attacks, you get angry, even though it would be more logical for you to be interested in the other person's perspective, especially if they are intelligent. When you try to explain your behavior, your explanations don't make any sense. That's because your lower-level you is trying to speak through your upperlevel you. Your deep-seated, hidden motivations are in control, so it is impossible for you to logically explain what "you" are doing.

Even the most intelligent people generally behave this way, and it's tragic. To be effective you must not let your need to be right be more important than your need to find out what's true. If you are too proud of what you know or of how good you are at something you will learn less, make inferior decisions, and fall short of your potential.

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