The current rhetoric for war, cynicism and violence gives a graphic demonstration that poor tone can be acquired. In much the same way as consistent practice will literally alter your DNA, we’ve hardwired our nation against peace. The brain shapes and changes itself based on your daily actions.
Abusive tone, delivered by high-speed Internet connections, satisfies all prerequisites for neuroplastic change. At a glance it may seem tone is instinctual. But if that were true, people could not change to become more civil and respectful. The brain changes itself based on practices we execute daily.
The dangerous rhetoric that makes media money, or wins political points – also illustrates the progress of an acquired taste. Now tone toxins have evolved and increasingly dominate the abusive themes of forced domination from those who exploit others for personal gain.
Have you ever wondered why you blurt out responses that create problems for you later? Or did you know that your experiences are carried first to the thalamus, where they are sorted and sent as data to different areas of the brain for your response?
Simply put, when you see, touch, taste or experience any situation, information may go to the cortex for rational thought and consideration. Or data may jettison to that tiny area, deep in your brain, called the amygdala.
Interestingly you have already stored reactions for war or peace in the amygdala, which is why some people gently swish a bothersome hornet away, while others swish dishes off a table in fear. Either way, the amygdala tends to act quickly and rather instinctively, whenever stored responses get sparked through daily experiences. It also releases chemicals such as serotonin or cortisol into the blood, to trigger often unwanted emotional response.
On one hand, amygdala responses are good since it moves you off the road if a Mac truck barrels around the corner. On the other hand though, untamed amygdalas remain as dangerous as firearms. How so? If you’ve ever taken offense at another person’s words and lashed back without thought of the consequences, you can thank your amygdala for lost relationships, fleeing opportunities, or regrets that can last a lifetime.
The recent assassination of 6 innocent people at Gabrielle Gifford’s political gathering in Arizona, shows how anti-leadership language incites violence. Words that rage inside fuel the same parts of your amygdala that ignite and rewire you for violence when you act them out. It’s easier to get off the hook for lack of tone skills, and claim murderers are just deranged. Yet far fewer brains start out deranged, than those that sink into toxic behaviors because of practices hardwired in - through daily choices we condone.
How do you tame your amygdala, and rewire your brain to respond to emergencies quickly but without fear, regrets or anger of the cynic?
Toxic traits operating in the mind of cynics
- Blocks creativity, stomps out innovation.
- Overheats amygdala – that tiny sac of neurons gets agitated – easily overheats
- Creates gloom that shapes others’ moods through mirror neurons.
- Rewires nightly in REM for more anger and resistance.
- Connects dendrite brain cells to ongoing negativity
- Generates mental stagnation not seen in the curious.
- Mutes working memory so shuts down learning
- Refuels brain chemicals for more abuse and violence