Overcoming the Amygdala Part 56
How to Increase the Number of Everything
Looking at the nature of anxiety in the context of social interrelationships, what you need is the ‘right audience’ or group of accessible people around you. This was not really possible — or certainly not easy — until social media came along and conquered geography and communication. Now, using the group strategy which we have covered earlier, you can surround yourself (in cyber terms) with aligned acquaintances — people who share the same broad interests, passions, and concerns, as you.
An aligned acquaintance is not just another person you’ve befriended on Facebook or Instagram or whatever — they are someone who shares a certain reality with you to some degree.
A dating website can find you likely partners based on age, gender, location, and even tastes, and more using sophisticated algorithms, whereas years ago you just had to turn up to social events like a dance or party, and hope that enough of the right people saw you and were prompted to approach you in a friendly manner. We’re not talking about dating, only about bringing people of similar mind into your life to some extent, but the same principles apply.
You can easily gain more aligned acquaintances simply by using the social media groups strategy in a sane manner. The trick is not to get carried away. If your amygdala alarms are ringing constantly and you’re being told by your parasympathetic nervous system that you are ‘too lonely’, then effectively your unconscious mind might well be at the steering wheel, driving you faster and more dangerously to ‘make friends’ as rapidly as possible. Ease off.
It’s important to stay balanced — and you can do so by keeping in mind the overall grand strategy: you’re acquiring acquaintances as part of a wider plan to defuse your amygdala, not as the be-all and end-all of handling loneliness.
But how do you increase that audience of aligned acquaintances?
Well, one way is to allow it to build over time. By being patient, you’ll soon have hundreds or even thousands of acquaintances of like mind if you want to spend a little additional time applying yourself.
Another way, as we have touched on, is to develop a Life Profile. This is simply a snapshot of You — not for anyone else to see, but for the purposes of understanding your own needs.
Your Life Profile is a keystone, the talisman, the heart of what you are about; it’s a gateway, a window, a doorway into You. When you interact on social media, you refer back to it in your own mind and stay within your self-crafted parameters.
Not only will you get more aligned acquaintances, but more people will emerge as real friends, or what we are calling social connections.
Social connections are like anchors — they give you stable points in a network of communications. They work better for you if you also work for them, becoming a stable point in their social networks.
So having a thorough understanding of yourself through a Life Profile also increases the number of social connections that you have.
That brings us to increasing the amount of gain from each connection.
Keep in mind here that you’re not connecting with people in order to ‘drain them of energy’ for your own purposes — you’re connecting with live human beings who share your reality in order to create a new world in which you, and they, are more comfortable, less amygdala-driven, and more able to get on with living without being haunted by anxieties. You’re just as important to your social connections as they are to you — together you make an eco-system of sanity and balance.
So how do you increase the amount of gain from a social connection?
You simply explore new things together.
C. S. Lewis said in his book The Four Loves, ‘Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”’ The ‘trick’ to developing deeper social connections is to find more and more areas of life in which that ‘You too?’ moment occurs.
For example, let’s say you joined a social media group about poetry and have accumulated a group of aligned acquaintances who share your views that the metaphysical poetry of the sixteenth century was the best at revealing the depths of human feeling. In that group, you find yourself regularly chatting to a smaller group of people who particularly enjoy the same poems — these are your social connections. One or two of these people have told you that they find that certain poems and poets express deep-felt anxieties and fears which mirror their own. Then you find that these same people like the same short stories as you; they admire the same films; they have been to some of the same places that you have — and what’s more, their experiences of those places reflects your own. Suddenly you have magnified the potential of those social connections in such a way that your amygdala goes quiet — shared human experience is a magic method of silencing the amygdala, which tends to assume that you are ‘all on your own’ and therefore need help 24/7. Connecting up with real other people who think and feel as you do on profound levels is a sure-fire way of reducing amygdalic influence.
You can probably think of examples where this has happened to you in Life already. Social media opens the door to it happening more often.
What naturally follows is that you and these new friends will find ways of hooking up more frequently or for longer in appropriate circumstances. And Life becomes brighter, calmer, deeper and less fraught.