Overcoming the Amygdala Part 76
Many human beings act like social media corporations, madly ‘sucking in’ material in the hope of making some kind of ‘profit’ from it - mainly that elusive condition, 'peace of mind'. But whereas a corporation can make money from selling data to advertisers in one way or another, individual human beings often find that they have no use for the mountains of data which they have collected — indeed, the volume of data is so huge that it can be overwhelming and maddening, literally. It swims around in heads, creating whirlpools of anxiety because most of it is unanalysed.
Anyone who has had a minor ailment and Googled their symptoms has some inkling of what this is like: the data they have read about what initially was just a small thing may have exploded the problem into a life-threatening emergency for which they must seek hospitalisation.
It can be like that with the way we approach what we call ‘news’: we feast on it, gorge on it, and it makes us sick and worried and anxious and backed into a corner.
While we suffer from ‘information overload’, it’s very difficult to see how we are subconsciously projecting our inner realities onto the outer world. In fact, the tsunami of data pouring in swamps our ability to discern much at all. The sheer volume of ‘news’ can force our amygdalas into full-time alarm duty.
And that’s without mentioning those projections — our own contributions to that ‘news’ flow from our inner worlds
What’s the answer?
The fact is that there is a moderate, adequate flow of information through any personal network of friends and contacts, within the capacity of the systems in place to channel it.
Before social media with its overloaded message flows, comments, likes, pages, newsfeeds, posts and so on, there was email; before email, there was the telephone; before the telephone, there was the written letter. As we go back in time, the load of communication lessens — and, if it were possible to measure it, so probably does the anxiety threshold of the population.
We get a kind of law:
Normal communication flows usually contain enough data from which to develop an adequate understanding of what is going on in one’s surroundings.
If we were to cut down our flows of information — and I realise that that can be very much like trying to wean ourselves from an addiction — we can quieten our amygdalas.
Correspondingly, the less data there is available, the more precise the analysis of that data must be.
When one reduces one’s flow of information, smaller departures must be watched for in order to understand if a larger situation is just around the corner.
What is a smaller departure?
A smaller departure is a visible manifestation which tells one a situation may be developing. It’s the little flag sticking out that shows there is a possible threat that might need attention.
A smaller departure is any non-optimum datum that departs from an ideal.
But you might notice something emerging here: as we cut down the volume of data that we permit to pour in, so we raise the possibility of engaging our ability to consciously reason with it. We receive less information, and so are more able to think with it.
Consider the difference between the world when letter writing and posting was the primary means of communication between people who lived apart, compared to today’s world, when instant messaging, texting, liking and commenting demand instant responses. In the first world, there was time, room to breathe, to think; in the second, we are prompted to react rather than think.
Look at what happens: things move much more slowly in the letter-writing world, but the amygdala tends to be less active; in the social media world, things are super-fast, which triggers the amygdala.
We’ve grown used to almost depending on amygdalic reactions to deal with the waves of communication pouring into our personal space because it floods in faster that we can think. No wonder we feel trapped in an anxiety-driven universe: we trap ourselves in it with our choices and lifestyle habits.
The Correct Sequence
If we want to quieten the amygdala, then, the correct sequence is
1. Have a normal information flow available. 2. Observe it consciously. 3. When a departure is seen become very alert, consciously. 4. Analyse departures to see where most of them are coming from. 5. When one area is isolated as the source of most of the departures, analyse that area more closely.
6. Obtain more data by direct inspection of the area indicated.
This is what taking responsibility looks like. It’s part of the progression toward being responsible for your own projections.
This is quite different to the usual pattern of humans and information, which is A. See a departure.
But is the sequence 1 to 6 quick enough? If one becomes familiar with the sequence, the whole set of steps can be done in a split second. A person working in a familiar area can do it all very rapidly indeed. People that can do it like lightning are said to have fast reactions. People who can't do it fast enough fall back on depending on their amygdalas to do it for them.
When you are trained to think correctly, you can think fast.
You can make your amygdala almost redundant.