David Brooks, in his book The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, states, “We are primarily the products of thinking that happens below the level of awareness.” Who we are comes from our subconscious rather than the conscious part of our minds. According to Brooks, the subconscious mind is where we make most of our decisions as well as where the greatest level of thinking takes place. Our subconscious is who we really are, and if we could bring it to the forefront we would be much closer in understanding how we make decisions and why we do the things we do. The way we perceive things in our subconscious mind helps us ultimately in our relationships with others. Brook’s book looks at how we interact with others and build relationships from business to marriage.
Brooks explores many ways in which society, upbringing, and experience have shaped who we are and how we react in every instance with our lives. The lens through which his opinion is shaped is through that of modern society and its effect the current generation. For me, this book highlighted the insecurities within my life and how they have negatively affected my relationships with others. Just like many people, I tend to minimize areas of my life that I am ashamed of. We all have skeletons in our closet, some more than others. However, we each must face the ugliness that we house within, and look towards God for help in becoming the person we wish to be and should be.
The author touches on several different areas from decision-making, self-control, morality, etc. I found myself gravitating to certain chapters as it shed light into my own life. The story of Erica, and her incident on the tennis court, reminded me of many occasions in which I have blamed someone else for my own problems. We often hurt others when we become defensive against being hurt ourselves. This cycle of anger and then remorse is something that I have experienced over and over in my life. Just like Erica, I constantly looked outside of myself to explain and justify my actions and behaviors. What I was experiencing is the, “so-called fight-or-flight response”
to a stressful situation. As a child, my parents didn’t teach me how to handle stress in a healthy way. I grew up in a family where you had to protect yourself at all times, and attacking each other was the constant norm. We didn’t sit down and discuss issues or problems. Looking back at my family and upbringing, I now call this, “it’s not my fault” style of parenting. Unfortunately, I have carried this baggage with me and have had to diligently and continually strive not to be this type of husband or father.
The chapter on decision-making was the most impactful to me. Brooks states, “Human decision making has three basic steps. First, we perceive a situation. Second, we use the power of reason to calculate whether taking this or that action is in our long-term interest. Third, we use the power of will to execute our decision.”Understanding these three basic steps and implementing themin an appropriate way can either make or break an individual’s life. Everything in our life is about choice and making decisions. I can choose to follow Christ or not. I can choose to follow the rules that society has deemed appropriate for all individuals. To me, relationships are built on making the right choices that positively influence others around you. If you are leading and no one is following, then you must evaluate yourself. “People with self-control and self-discipline develop habits and strategies that trigger the unconscious processes that enable them to perceive the world in productive
 Brooks, David (2011-03-08). The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement . Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
 Ibid p. 121
 Ibid p. 125