We are amazing creatures. Our essence is truly good. Not a dualistic good, but inherently so. Years ago, I realized I had been mistaken my entire life. I had to do something about it. This is that something. It takes much concerted effort to change our lives, but once we choose to do so and continue making that choice with every breath and every step that we take, that is the essence of transformation. There are countless opportunities every day, and we are blessed to be in this together.
Being how and what we are is not separated from the experience of those around us. Feeling and experiencing happiness is a state of being in most if not all cultures. It is an individual experience that has benefits to those in the vicinity of the person experiencing it. However, some people have varying capacities to empathize and relate to each other in reciprocal ways.
This isn't a simply esoteric discourse, either.
There are biological and neurological components to how we relate to each other that are based in actual scientific evidence.
Mirror neurons are present in our brains that connect our experiences and sensations with each other, everything, and our perceptions of both. The presence of these mirror neurons have been proven in primates and other animals. Although direct proof of a human mirror neuronal network is lacking, there is ample indirect evidence. When human beings perform an action, certain areas of the brain are stimulated and are observable using fMRI. These same areas of the brain are also stimulated when the same person observes someone else performing the same action.
For some people in modern society, this reaction has become reversed for some reason. People instead experience the happiness or other positive characteristics of others as negative or harmful. These people have internalized issues regarding their own states of mind and being.
This can be seen through the lens of the over-personalization of the experience of others. In other words, somehow the feelings and states of mind of others are somehow focused directly and personally at oneself.
These people are somehow shut off to the positive or beneficial emotional or mental states of happiness, joy, and relief within their own minds. They simply create the perpetrators as those experiencing the positive or beneficial states of being.
This is similar to a negative feedback loop. Observing positive experiences and situations begins a mental-emotional process that has the reverse, compounding effect of previously existing negative thoughts and feelings. This would seem to indicate a general lack of empathy or even reverse empathetic response for those with this affliction. They have stopped relating with others and their environment in a realistic way.
Whether or not a person is openly happy or not will have no negative or positive effect on someone in that shut off, over-personalized state of being. In fact, the continued sheltering of people from the positive, beneficial mental and emotional states of others can foster and perpetuate those negative, self-defeating patterns.
What can we do to break these patterns within ourselves and within others?
We have to retrain our mind to relate in a more healthy, realistic, and beneficial way with others.
It’s also crucial to understand that there are absolutely valid reasons why the human mind alters the way it relates to itself, to others, and to its environment. The mind does this to survive and to adapt to circumstances and situations.
If we do not apply understanding and patience to ourselves and others at every step in this mental retraining process, we are setting ourselves up for relearning and reinforcing mistaken and broken ways of thinking.
This is not a process as simple as turning on the lights with a simple switch. However, the more times we attempt to do something different, the more times our mind will learn this is what we want to be doing. We want to reconnect to ourselves, to others, and to our environment. We have to keep at it.
For some reason it became easier to stop relating.Although that was understandable and is understandable to return to repeatedly, as it had become the routine and the new normal, we are deciding to do something different.
We are actively deciding this. We are making a new choice.
It is in beginning to make those positive choices to reconnect and renew our relation, first to ourselves, then to each other, then to our surroundings, that we become reconnected to our presence and awareness in the present. Not based on some past hurt, either, but based on a belief and the actual reality that we are all connected.
Initially, we may have disconnected to protect ourselves or others.
Today, we reconnect to heal ourselves in order for us to be more present and aware to clearly see ourselves and others.
We can do this. We always could. We always have. We choose again. We choose today.