Old Brains in a New World

If we change how we think, we change how we feel . . . and our behaviors follow. Research confirms this. So why do so many of us still struggle with feelings and behaviors we don’t want? Why can’t we just think better and feel better and do better?

Maybe because changing thoughts is harder than it sounds. It means challenging long held belief systems that have been pounded in by everyone we know.

Our brains help us survive and they prioritize our survival above all else by helping us avoid threats. Here’s the problem with that… social disconnection feels like a threat to survival. And we have more access to diverse interactions than our brains were ever designed for. Which means, we are having to navigate high level threats all the time. We have old brains in a new world and we must evolve.

If you care what people think of you, you ride the roller coaster of their opinions, whims, reactions, and projections, and you keep yourself disconnected from your true inner self.

It is a common thing now to hear mental health experts talk about the anxiety and depression epidemic we are facing as a society. Something has happened to us on a large scale. When communities were small and highly interdependent it was helpful to prioritize being accepted and “approved of”. But with large and diverse communities it ceases to be helpful to prioritize group acceptance. Maybe part of our evolution is to replace the belief system that pushes us towards prioritizing other’s opinions and, instead,  adopting a belief system that allows for (and even encourages and cultivates) diversity, differences, and freedom.

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