As some of you may have seen in the video I posted about empathy, our brains are wired to connect with each other and foster our interdependence. This neurological phenomenon seems to fly in the face of all the power, control, territoriality, war, greed, anger, and competitiveness apparent in our world at large and even within families. While there is also much caring, kindness, generosity and love around us, the overall sense most of us feel is that darkness is winning over the light. How does that fit in with our empathetic wiring?
It comes back to the Reactive and Creative Selves.
If we examine the way our brains are wired, we can identify where our counterproductive and destructive actions come from. Remember, our brain contains three essential parts, reptilian, mammalian and the neocortex, each with its own agenda.
The reptilian and mammalian brains have been in existence for millions of years and their primary goal is survival at all costs. The neocortex, the human brain, the one capable of creativity, kindness, generosity, and consciousness, is extremely young by comparison. It is important to recognize that the older brains, the ones we share with other animals, are very active within us, vying for control with our higher brain; pitting their long-ingrained programs against the flexible responses of the new one. Their reflexive, repetitive and unconscious natures are wired within us. They exert great influence on our behaviors whether we realize it or not. Consequently, much of our behavior is determined by our lower brains. Our capacity to perceive, think, reflect and respond thoughtfully is severely hindered and/or distorted by their programming. Our tendency to be reactive, and fall into dysfunctional behaviors and routines come from the older parts of our brain.
Our survival as a species is dependent on the higher brain, our Creative Self’s ability to override the programs of the lower brain, or Reactive Self. Our capacity to reflect on, think about and create new thoughts and behaviors is the only way to break free of our evolutionary programming. With greater awareness, we can intercept the wiring of the animal parts of our brains and replace them with more rational, flexible responses. How do we accomplish this? It begins with being honest with ourselves. I don’t think there is a single individual on this planet who would not agree that something is not working here, both on an individual level and a collective one. Clearly we can all see that the human species is heading for some great calamity if we don’t stop doing what we are doing and figure out what else can we do. Einstein defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
As an individual you may think you have no power to change things on a global level, and that may be true. But you do have have the power to change things in your personal life by becoming more conscious of your animal – Reactive – drives and patterns and substituting those with your higher – Creative nature. One by one, by becoming more aware and more conscious of our Higher Selves and choosing to operate from its kind, caring and empathic nature, we can transform our relationships with ourselves and each other. One by one we can grow into a world-wide movement.