Overcoming the Amygdala Part 94
One of the things that might help us to begin thinking properly is our experience of the world around us, which largely operates insanely.
You can pick just about any news story at random to illustrate this.
Any front page media story usually contains an incorrect or unanalysed objective to attempt or attack. Take a look at your local newsfeed now, either a newspaper headline of major news website. You’ll find at least one story there in which the thing being attacked or attempted is clearly the wrong thing.
You’ll find ‘world leaders’ making what appear to be incorrect or inadequate decisions; you’ll find disproportionate responses to civil disorder or widespread instances of injustice. You’ll find all manner of nonsense.
We don’t even usually have to look in the news: our own lives normally contain several instances of injustice, ranging from inappropriate treatments at school to being wrongly targeted at home or at work.
Correction of things which are not wrong or neglecting things which are not right leads to rapid decline and injustice. Unfortunately, these things are so common that they come to be regarded as ‘normal’. Looking around our own lives and those of others in the society, we find that the usual pattern is one of illogic, irrationality and injustice. These are exacerbated often when the processes designed to bring about justice are themselves misused. It’s common to see ‘justice’ used as an excuse to install a fixed idea or take revenge for the attacks on another fixed idea. None of that is based on reason or survival.
Under these circumstances, it is to be expected that most people’s amygdalas are ringing alarm bells most of the time to one degree or another, even if only in the background, creating a vague sense of unease almost all the time. If we were living calm, orderly lives in which justice always prevailed, our mental and emotional lives would be much quieter — but very few of us are.
Only proper, sane and orderly investigatory procedures based on statistics and correct ideals can establish the correct causes of things; only by establishing causes can one cease to be the effect of chaos and disaster.
A person needs to be able to observe; they also need to be able to use those observations to get to the bottom of situations. That usage depends on doing things in a certain order, step by step — another thing which is quite foreign to many people.
It’s all part of not reacting. To watch a series of departures pass by and not simply react is sometimes not easy, especially when one has been used to doing it one’s whole life: but stepping back and seeing departures for what they are — departures, gaps, missing things, altered sequences, changed importances, lies, and so on — is the only way one can turn the tables on chaos and start to install order. It’s that ‘stepping back and watching’ which is the first part of any sane investigation. To do that properly, one has to learn to disentangle oneself from the data and see it as just data.
You can learn to do this by putting your attention on one thing and then consciously moving it to another.
Try this as a drill: look around the room and focus your attention on one thing for about 15 seconds; now move that attention onto another thing for about 15 seconds. Keep on doing this until it becomes easier and easier.
Now put your attention for about 15 seconds on something that has been bugging you; then shift that attention onto something else for about the same length of time. Keep doing this until you can see that it is possible to control where your attention falls.
Of course, the things which bug you have their own ‘magnetic attraction’. Why? Because they are composed of holes, gaps, missing things: they are departures. Departures, being gaps, have a pull on your attention much like a vacuum cleaner pulls in dust. But you can learn to recognise that that is what is happening and control it to some degree.
All you have to do then is watch and record each departure as it crops up. After a while, you can cease observing and start analysing, tracing down where most of the departures are coming from — and there you have it: a correct target for handling, which gets you somewhere constructive, rather than a continuing series of pointless reactions to each and every departure which gets you nowhere.
All improvement in life consists of finding or postulating correct ideals and reinforcing them, while also locating departures, discovering why they exist and getting rid of them.
Your wife regularly gets ill. You notice her feeling sick after almost every meal; you observe that when she has certain meals, she seems fine, but after others, she has stomach upsets. You narrow down the types of meal and analyse some of the ingredients. You discover that gluten is present in every meal which causes upset, and absent in those meals which go down well. As a trial, you suggest that she go gluten free for a week. During that week, she has no stomach upsets at all. So you have determined through observation and investigation that she has a gluten allergy. The product is an approach to the ideal of a healthy wife.
You observe at work that the small business which employs you gets almost no interest in its products and services. You examine the company from the outside and realise that it is difficult to physically find the office; you take a closer look and find that the number listed in the phone book and on the website is incorrect, and that the messaging service is glitched. You fix the glitch, promote the correct phone number a little and put out a sign indicating where the company is located. Within a few hours, sales have doubled.
Unless these steps are done, what happens? You worry; you chew over the dark possibilities of it all; you begin to question whether ‘fate’ has it in for you. Your amygdala constantly rings alarms in your head.
Reason, observation and analysis are the answers.