This week, I explore what appears to be the collective mood in America. It seems more subdued than usual, but with the high energy and anticipation of calm before a storm. That’s the nature of anxiety. We seem to be having a succession of panic attacks punctuated by moments of quiet hypervigilance.
We humans do like our stability. The sun rises, the sun sets. It’s a good reference point for consistency. In 2019, we sifted through emails during morning coffee and schmoozed with peers at the water cooler after quick take-out during our lunch break. Perhaps we went to the gym after work and returned home for a family meal with the kids or just before bathtime. Rinse, cycle and repeat. We knew our friends, work was pretty much the same, and everything was more or less where we left it the day before and the weeks before that. Yes, I’m ignoring privilege for a minute.
In 2020, some of us don’t even recognize our family members much less our friends. We’re not even sure if we understand ourselves.
In today’s episode, I explore some of these changes and reflect on our reactions to events. There’s fallout, not just on social media, but also among family members taking very extreme positions with little room for compromise. Sometimes when we feel stressed, we double-down, regardless of the consequences. Neurobiology shines some light on why this is so despite our capacity, as humans, to reason, and regardless of whether the outcome is against self-interest.
All pondering aside, my main focus of exploration is to provide hope and present some concrete ways in which we can maintain perspective and a sense of internal stability in 2020.
· Strained relationships signal a lack of support. It can feel like our whole life is crumbling.
o What if it doesn’t stop?
· If we stay in this mindset, we can freeze like the gazelle.
· We don’t want to stay here because it shuts us down
· People need to make sense of things to move forward.
· Most of the time we’re on autopilot so we don’t slow down to absorb new information and process what is going on.
· We see ourselves as individuals while we’re on autopilot and forget that we also operate within a larger group structure and others do also.
· Recognizing how others react to stress and observing certain dynamics can help us learn from history and messages in the universe. It’s not everything, but life isn’t as random as it might appear.
· As human beings, we respond to more than just routines. We also need purpose, respond well to meaning and desire connection.
Here’s the link to one of the studies I mention in the episode:
Later on this season, I will be talking about some special events I have planned to delve deeper into what makes us human and how we can harness that knowledge to actualize our potential and build stronger relationships.
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