BY CAROLE SAWO
Change is never that easy but only those capable of changing and evolving will survive life. Other people have the capacity to change us, for better or for worse, and it is the latter that is the reason for this article. Learning, at the fundamental, psychological level, means ‘a permanent change over time’. At the neurological level, change means the formation of new neural connections and networks in the brain, with all the firings and misfirings that that involves. To solidify change certain things need to happen; the presentation of new material or ideas at least three times, enables the electrical and chemical ‘hands’ (or dendrites) to be held more tightly, the ‘new thought’ has to be rehearsed and old patterns need time to dissipate and recede.
Changes in the mind happen more quickly when we are shocked, humiliated, or near death. All of these things create a surge of electrical activity in both the mind and the heart, which fosters the change more quickly. The only way to deal with the shocks and rocks in life is to surf them. That is, to allow the experience (no matter how awful or sudden) to go through us – helped enormously by our capacity to ground, and breath ‘slow and low’.
Referring to the atrocities in life – created entirely by humans – there is, however, a certain type of change that we should resist by all means. And that is when we are given the news that incites us into a rage and into becoming a darker version of our very selves. Often we see horrendous things on the news and social media, and we, being lovely people, feel provoked into reacting with anger. But this is the type of change I think we should resist because when we are outside of ourselves with fury, we are not inside of ourselves with peace – and anything can happen when we see red.
Particularly when we are knocked sideways by the horrendous behaviour of others, is when we should develop an automatic internal programme that reminds us ‘we have a good heart and we are not like them’. I could segue into a lesson on ‘in-groups and out-groups’ and the automatic unconscious projection and splitting that occurs, but my point is to share a personal observation and belief. In life, I have no interest in divides; gender, religion, culture, politics, looks, society or finance. I decided many years ago from my journeys and experiences around the world, that there are only two types of people in life, ‘nice and not nice’.
So when bad people do bad things, let us, as far as we can, not let them change us. The only change we need to make then is, ‘how to better maintain our peace and niceness’ – and that is the only change worth making.
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