Our brain loves certainty.
In two-tenths of a second, we can decide, with certainty, if the person standing across from us is a friend or foe; an "us" or an "other".
This behavior is hardwired into the fear center of our brain for a really good reason - we need it for survival.
But what is not hardwired is how we define who is an "us" and who is an "other".
This definition comes from our environment and the collective story we tell ourselves about who we are.
As we grow up, the stories told to us by our parents, our community, and through media, become our story.
Our story operates under the radar, subconsciously steering our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
A thought that leads to fear can trigger an impulse that drives us into opposing teams; parent vs. child, left vs. right, rich vs. poor... and so on.
The more divided we grow, the more division, mistrust, and hostility grows between us.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” - Albert Einstein
In order to come together, build trust, and live more harmoniously, we need to reclaim our story.
We must commit to the hard work of questioning the beliefs and assumptions that we feel most certain about.
To painstakingly trace the thoughts, feelings, and actions that lead us to opposition, conflict, and worsening problems.
To shift our thinking and steer our actions toward more favorable outcomes.
This shift takes awareness, intention, and consistent action that's rooted deeply in our shared values instead of our emotional impulses.
"Lagging skills are the why of challenging behavior. Unsolved problems tell us when the behavior is occurring." - Dr. Ross Greene
Harmony requires the skills of tolerance, empathy, and collaboration.
Harmony requires tolerating frustration without reacting in the heat of the moment; and tolerating circumstances outside of our control.
It requires the empathy to put ourselves in the the shoes of the "other" to understand experiences, thoughts, and feelings outside of our own.
It requires listening, understanding, and working together to solve problems.
Not everyone is able, or willing, to do the hard work. But just because someone else cannot, does not mean we should not.
Those of us who have the capacity also have the moral responsibility to do this work.
Because ultimately, it's up to us to decide what kind of environment we create - whether that's in our mind, in our home, or in our community.
Yulia Rafailova, Executive Function Coach, mindfulleducation.com
P.S. As some of you know I'm working on my first mini-course. I'm really excited to see it coming together. It's been challenging and rewarding to work on. Check it out and let me know what you think at email@example.com.