In the book The Buddhas Brain Rick Hanson PH.D writes about the way our deep seated tendencies created through the evolution of the brain within in our species. He writes…
As soon as you place anyone outside of the circle of “us,” the mind/brain automatically begins to devalue that person and justify poor treatment of him (Efferson, Lalive, and Feh 2008), This gets the wolf of hate up and moving, only a quick pounce away from active aggression.
Pay attention to the number of time per day you catagorize someone as “not like me,” particularly in subtle ways: not my social background, not my style, and so on. It’s startling how routine it is. See what happens to your mind when you consciously release that distinction and focus instead on what you have in common with that person. On what makes you both an “us”.
The more inclusive we are, that is the more we include in our circle of compassion, the more capacity we have for intelligence.
Hanson on the evolution of the brain…
…much of this growth is devoted to interpersonal capabilities such as empathy and cooperative planning.
This makes such logical sense when I recall most of my interpersonal transformation was enabled through letting down a gaurd I conciously initiated.
Why is “us vs them” a dominant default setting?
The carnal “reptilian” brain understanding survival at the core is simply in it’s default setting. The “us vs them” mentality has stumped our growth as a human race. It is our higher potential to be in relationship to everything, in its natural environment. However the opposite has become the fabric of our history and is inescapable. Everything from the ancient olympics to the number of likes and followers on twitter. Captialism and the entertainment of competition is unavoidable. It becomes reflected in everything from being defensive in our conversations, to the way we as a society treat anything that is “other”.
The higher mind or the Neomammalian brain, is where we consider the rationale of our reactive mind. It is the Empowered Position that pulls forth our ability to consider empathy and compassion. When given the command power, it has greater influence over the brain.
A 5 Step Process to Avoiding Conflict
This is my step by step process for mentally moving myself out of the contentious position with another individual, and into an Empowered Position.
Step 1. Let my body express its tension by my own identification of it.
Step 2. With out judgement, render acknowledgement to your body internally.
Step 3. Visualize a scale meter declaring you safe and lifting the energy meter into compassion.
(note, if you cant find safety, move away from the situation until you can)
Step 4. Re-asses the situation and potentially declare to the person whom with i’m speaking with, that it is not my desire to be contentous of conflicting.
Step 5. Reflect back to the person, what I have heard them say in a kind and gentle manner.
Step 5 is an important step not to be overlooked. We can begin to understand how to have more dominion over our carnal brain, yet we can’t determine that for others. Giving others a chance to feel safe with my tone of voice and manner is a crucial bridge in the dialogue.
I suggest bridging this type of pattern behavior visually.
Try this one now! Don’t look for a contentous moment to arise.
*Close your eyes and visualize yourself sitting in a comfortable position, in a place that is peaceful and open.*
*Imagine your inner most circle of people you love and easily find compassion. Then give it an outer layer of expansion. Begin to visualize your circle of compassion growing, to reach beyond the boundaries of your percieved community.*
Notice how this bonus step made you feel.
Let me know how this excercise worked for you by typing a comment below.
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