Primitive instincts and modern problems. Have we truly evolved yet to our surroundings?
If so, then why with so many comforts of modern life at our fingertips are we suffering from stress related symptoms such as anxiety disorders, OCD, IBS and depression?
We have mobile phones and the internet, we’re able to travel to far off destinations in the same day. There’s the availability of public transport and many of us owning our own cars now.
So what is happening in this rapidly changing modern life we live?
What is happening is that many of the primitive instincts have not evolved as quickly as the imagination of humankind, that imagination having created the many benefits of modern life.
So to explain what is happening we must go back into the past and take a look at how our cave dwelling ancestors lived and survived. They survived with the basic instinctual responses they were born with. To stay and fight, or run and survive to fight another day. Our primitive instincts. It is this response to the environment through the information taken in through our senses that still reacts today. Albeit irrationally to a perceived danger or illogical fear.
So why is this happening now even though we have developed a thinking planning mind?
The same primitive part of us that reacts before we can rationalise, that special part of our brain that is lightning fast is known as the amygdala. This is our own pattern and association matching system. Despite the fact that it’s amazing, how it works to keep us safe it is not perfect. It will generally match with something similar.
Then, when it has done that, it will match with something that is similar to the situation therefore creating a generalisation. And where do we hear the term general used these days to describe a symptom – (GAD) general anxiety disorder.
To describe how this happens in another way, let us say someone has an experience of something frightening where they felt fearful. Then they experience something that seems a little similar, now the amygdala fires off the alarm bells to run or fight. It has matched this experience to the previous fearful one. But, if the fear is not needed, no action is required to be taken.
So the thinking rational mind goes why do I feel afraid? This arousal of fight or flight energy has no outlet or purpose and takes time to fade. Each time this pattern is matched to the first or previous experience, creating a fear of the fear. This can also be brought on with our own imagination.
So, let’s move to the imagination and how it plays a part in our modern problems. Imagination is what helped us to evolve and where everything around us was created; everything is first created in the imagination.
So how does this wonderful imagination give us modern problems?
Everything you see with your eyes is an image reflected inside from the outside world. Just like a camera that takes a picture and reflects the exposure of the outside onto the film. So anything perceived in the imagination is just as real, as we are projecting this image on the same movie screen of our mind. By imagining something may happen we are creating images that the amygdala believes to be a real danger. This sets off the natural survival warning system. The fight or flight response of a raised heart beat, sweating, not being able to think straight as more blood rushes to muscles to prepare us to move quickly.
However no real danger is there for us to respond to, and we are left with this arousal state. As I said before, that takes time to fade leaving us afraid or anxious, because we don’t know why we feel this way.
So now we understand that anxiety is caused by primitive instinctual responses we are born with. They are also used for us to learn everything we know. All information is stored in the unconscious mind to create patterns and associations for understanding our world. That’s why our lives and behaviours become a reflection of our experiences both good and bad.
All information is taken in from the world around us and then sent into the unconscious resources of experience to search for meaning and that meaning is only our perception as all understanding is only from our learned experience.
So what can we do with this knowledge to rid ourselves of our primitive ancestors reactions that are causing us such difficulty?
What we do is we seek out a therapist that we feel comfortable with who is capable to work quickly on the cause and reactions we are having, I say quickly because depending obviously on the complexity of the initial sensitising event and how subsequent similar events that may be generalised it should be quick, that part of your brain learned how to make you feel this way quickly so it has the ability to unlearn it just as quickly!
After all it is only interested in your protection and survival.
Your brain never came with instructions only a basic programme to meet your needs for survival. So a therapist who is flexible enough to work in many ways will give you the quickest results. If the therapist has only one way of working you will have to fit the therapy they offer and they may get stuck trying to prove their therapy works at your expense. That is not to say that one therapy is not the solution and will not give equally good results, but having more options can often mean success.
People who need help to overcome these modern problems are not broken. They never were, and as you can see here it’s our primitive instincts of our primitive mind that we are born with. It works so perfectly well in your best survival interest and only responding to generalised patterns being matched outside your awareness at an unconscious level.
So I hope I have pointed out here, that it may be time to seek out the help or guidance you need. You can then rid yourself of this limiting response you have been having that is holding you back from the life you deserve.