Thursday, July 20, 2017

There is a plethora of aggression happening around every corner of the world in this day and age. From politicians to social media; the level of aggression and bullying is overwhelming and a constant reminder that every move we make in society is being judged and agonizingly scrutinized by every critical eager eye. Even your own home is no longer a safe haven and safety net from the aggression and bullying we face daily. Simple comments made via social media sites become the catalyst to open the door of abuse and bullying from strangers who have no idea who you are as an individual, but proceed to unleash the wrath of God on you anyway. The work force is a brutal battle ground with victims of bullying from bosses, coworkers, customers and clients. The media has even gotten in on the bullying action more and more and picking out new targets each day to attack.

So what is driving society to the brink of madness and relentless bullying? The quick response would be the internet and global connectivity that until August 1991, was not possible. However, is that really the reason why bullying is such a problem today? I would have to say, NO! We as a society take a staunch stand against childhood bullying but the left hand isn’t seeing what the right hands doing; and as adults and global roll models we show our children a vary different reality when we say “No Bullying” with one breath and verbally accost our fellow mankind with the next in front of our children.

Is there a solution to this serious societal issue that we now face daily or do we simply sit back and get our faces slapped by everyone with an negative opinion and take it?

Bullying seems to have become the new norm in our globally connected world, but how we deal with it can make a huge difference in not only protecting ourselves but in turn, protecting our children and being a positive roll model for them. In turn building or rebuilding self esteem, which as we all know has become a major cultural issue with adults and youth alike.

Have we changed so much in our way of thinking and behaving that has caused us as a society to loss the capacity to show compassion? The simple answer is; Yes, we have. The big question is, Why?

Dr. Richard Davidson, Neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is named one of the 100 most influential people in the world has done studies that show the Insula area of the brain that enables compassion, shrinks and changes based on conditions we become exposed to over time. Our most basic bodily functions are aided by this region of our brains such as homeostasis or our internal thermostat, motor control, perception, self awareness, cognitive function and interpersonal experiences or connectedness. So, if this vitally important function of our brains has the capability of being damaged or deteriorating then how does that affect our behavior toward others and how do we correct such a major issue in society?

The lack of empathy and compassion and its affect on society is devastating and becoming a greater issue with each passing day as violence has escalated not just in North America but around the world at such an alarming rate that people are becoming afraid to enjoy the simple pleasures in life such as vacationing or going to a movie theater or even something so simple as applying for a job without fear of being the next victim of human trafficking. The world is being violated by the one key part of our brain that determines a vitally important function that society and the human race are dependent on, Empathy and Compassion.

Psycho-physiological studies have shown that the insula is the leading cause for lack of empathy to societal pain. Environmental conditions, personal traumas, experiences and social conditions can be the cause of disconnect within the insula for many individuals. However, can it be safe to assess that the internet and media tools also create the same level of disconnect with individuals when it comes to showing empathy and compassion? Social and clinical researchers have shown that the brain structure can change simply by using one’s own imagination. So, if our imaginations can so powerfully alter our brains structure in either a positive or negative way than the continued exposure to a waterfall of information certainly has a drastic affect on our brains function and structure.

A research study group was conducted by Dr. Susan Greenfield at Oxford University on the study of Alzheimer’s disease and discovered startling conclusions upon the completion of the social study. Dr.Greenfield states in her conclusions, that the brain literally changes shape based on what we do and our experiences in our daily lives. Based on these facts our brain can and does alter our behavioral responses to situations and people around us. Our exposure to a constant flux of information, regardless of the nature of the information either negative or positive it shapes our brains response. We are a technologically driven and dependent world, and it is in many cases a necessary evil we have become reliant on. We can turn the tables though on how we shape our minds and be intentional about the process of developing a healthy and compassionate mindset by a proven daily activity of meditation and breathing techniques that also positively alter the reshaping of our brain function and level of empathetic and compassionate internal neurons.

As mentioned already, Dr. Richard Davidson, is the leading researcher and founder of “Center for Healthy Minds” for his ground breaking work studying emotions and the brain. His work and research has concluded that empathy can be relearned and become a first response to appropriate situations in society. Knowing that we do have a way out of the global sandbox of bullies is a relief and worth pursuing for our own benefits as well as the benefit of others we interact with each day.

Can we become a healthier more well rounded and compassionate society that eliminates the bullying mindset and behavior and adopts an intentional empathetic approach to the people around us? I believe we can.

Written By: Tristan Bliss Founder of VentureWell Consulting