Humans are literally, neurophysiologically, 'better together' than alone
Attuned, problem-solving teams, partnerships and family units optimize our individual and collective functioning.
Affiliative neuroscience shows us that self-attunement, other-attunement and a common-higher purpose are key to optimizing our mental health, social behaviors, and resilience.
Self-Attunement: While we need people to help us regulate, the actual work of regulating our internal systems comes down to us. No one can breathe or think for us. So there is a dance between staying open to support, and relying on our internal strength to get through challenges.
Other-Attunement: In an optimally-functioning system, team, partnership or family, each member is able to tune in to their own needs while tuning in to the other member's perspective. Affiliative long-term dyadic and small family or group unit bonds have the evolutionary goal of the relaxation of vigilance to help the brain with upkeep, and repair. We get this with trusting human attachments that we establish over a long time.
A Common Purpose Brainwave studies show teams and partners who solve problems together activate synchronized -and more efficient - brainwave and behavior patterns. Joint motor tasks require motor-behavioral synchrony that leads our brains to match frequencies with others (much like eusocial species like ants and bees). This improves efficiency, speed and accuracy to achieve goals. The longer the bond we have with someone we can trust, the better the performance gets (neural predictions get better and use less energy over time).
A Higher Purpose: Much of human communication and behavior is transactional. This means we are expressing or behaving in ways to get something from someone else. We all do it to a certain degree - it's part of our mammalian-neurochemical heritage, even if it's usually unconscious. While this is an inevitable aspect of human interaction, when behaviors and communication are tuned into a ‘third’ entity, this can help create synchronized behaviors and attuned empathy.
A ‘third entity’ means that the goal of one’s behaviors is not to extract value, attention and resources for oneself or specifically for another person, but rather for a new system that emerges through the connection of the team or family members. This new system requires the specializations and optimal states of all members - and is geared towards a goal of an optimized super-system or super-team. The term ‘super-’ (as a preposition) means beyond, over or above. An intelligence emerges that is beyond the team, above the unit itself. This kind of super-team or system moves as an entity in terms of its goal of constantly adapting to new situations, while also continuously attuning to each member's perspective, specializations and optimal wellbeing.
Within these self-organizing super-systems, hierarchies are still needed (as with all complex systems in the physical universe). But each level of the hierarchy serves the others: the lower levels function in order to serve the whole system; the higher levels use their position as a central command to organize and coordinate all the other units and cells to keep the entire system functioning, resilient and healthy.
We are better when we serve a common higher purpose - together.
The higher we expand our view of what system we are a part of, the more integrated all the subsystems and units become. Our role becomes less personal and more about a higher and higher level of purpose. This idea transcends tribalism and divisiveness and moves coordinated action towards a unified whole- still with individuality and specialized teams, but with a synchronized goal of optimization for all members and units.
That's the special part of what humans can do with their complex brains - we can create new meaning out of our experiences. And the meaning we create can be life-enhancing for ourselves and others, or life-depleting.
It’s also the basis of one of my favorite movies, Arrival. 🙂
With Love From Me to You
me and my dear friend of many many years, Maria... who I will be seeing soon in Calgary!
This is us years ago facilitating training weekends for leaders of community programs
#resilience #neuroscience #affiliativeneuroscience #socialresilience #mentalhealth #passingdownwisdom #futuregenerations #selfregulation #unhealedwounds #warriorsheart #mission #purpose #familyunit #endurance #team #alltheway #always
LOTS of positive feedback and interest in story-telling (this is just one of the pages in my inbox expressing interest)! I will keep exploring this in the new year…
Also very excited to be getting trained in remote wilderness first aid, starting with adventure medic training in January and remote responder in February... with the goal of eventually becoming certified as a wilderness first responder. Back in November when I was reflecting on co-facilitating retreats and being more immersed in nature and less surrounded by technology, I realized I would need to have additional skills that give me confidence to lead people in new ways and in new environments. Very grateful that as an alumni of the University of Calgary, I get to register for many of the amazing programs at the Outdoor Center
Something that has always been a particular fascination for me is how people interact as teams and units through distress. When I was trip leader in Central America, as well as a Coordinator for summer residential camps for kids, I noticed so many social and team dynamics that would change and evolve depending on stressful events. I’m excited to observe myself in new scenarios so I can see what types of emotions, narratives, self-beliefs come up that tie into my other content on mindset and how we can upgrade our algorithms in terms of our perceptions and reactions to people and situations. Looking forward to being in some remote areas with other people passionate about learning new skills . Since i’m going to be in Calgary for a couple months, I thought I'd take advantage of any opportunities I could find there! I also love that we'll be doing in the coldest months in the Canadian Rockies (Calgary can get to around negative 40 celsius) so I can really put my mind-body system to the test.
A fond memory of the Canadian cold was having water bottles in the car, going into a restaurant for about an hour and when we got back to the car, the water was a block of ice. We also had to wear snowsuits under our Halloween costumes as kids- so if I wanted to be a ballerina, I had to a be giant, puffy ballerina lol...
Also very much looking forward to seeing my niece and nephew, and the newborns and toddler kids of my very good friends. I can’t wait to play with and hold them and talk in my favorite, kid- or baby-specific voice (pitch, tone, prosody changes according to their age, time of day, mood and what the desired state - eg,., sympathetic/parasympathetic - that we ideally want to be in for each situation. It will feel good to activate those nurturer-neurochemicals on a more regular basis! I miss that verrrrrry much!!
I’ll be moving over the next several days, so my next post will likely be sometime next week!