Can what use what we know about how the brain works to explain how we got here? Where we are today? Can Color Thinking help us change direction? Is there any hope? Yes!!
I’ve said many times – in this blog, in my books, and with my clients – that you can choose what to believe. It doesn’t even have to be true. You just have to think it enough times, and soon your brain will come to believe it’s true. I’m not the only one who says this – so do neuroscientists! And it’s a foundational tool of most coaching, therapy and manifestation practices – when used responsibly.
At this point in time we are surrounded by proof that this is actually the way human brains work. In fact, it’s not just limited to what we think. Our brains also come to believe what we hear, watch or read over and over. That’s how social media can dramatically influence what groups of people believe – repetition. Our brains use repetition (internal or external) as evidence to support a thought and turn it into a belief.(1)
Our brains respond to fear by emitting specific chemicals that activate the amygdala cause us to go into protective mode, aka survival mode. Our primitive instincts kick in, and we see things in black or white: fight or flight, friend or enemy, safe or dangerous, good or evil, us vs. them. We don’t see that we have multiple options, shades of grey or even colorful options. We just don’t see them. But we do see the repetition and it becomes evidence used to convert thoughts into beliefs.
Okay, that explains how an individual brain works. But how did we get here, where so many individuals seem to believe such crazy shit without real evidence? By following the same recipe, over time, to make a bigger batch. Here’s the recipe for mass delusion:
- Feed the fear. Exploit the current state of the world to create an environment of constant and consistent fear. Turn on the TV or look at social media and you’ll see what I mean. This is not new. It has escalated over the last twenty years (at least).(2)
- Identify an enemy. Leverage the fear-based neurotransmitters. Paint dire pictures of doom and gloom. Simplify the reporting and analysis for easier consumption. Reduce options down to two for clarity, to break things down into black and white (even literally black vs white).
- Repeat the message. Introduce a messenger with a platform to repeats simple fear-based messages. This is the enemy, this is why we are in danger, this is the solution. No need for evidence – the simple repetition of the message is enough to create belief.
Who would intentionally do something like this?(3) A manipulator who sees the opportunity. A psychopath who believes he has the right to do whatever he wants. A sociopath who has no concern for the consequences of his actions or the impact on other people. A demagogue who already has already built his base by following this recipe on a smaller scale – a community of followers who would crown him king.(4,5)
Add in a precipitating event or two, a call to action and the response. That’s where we are today. At a high level, we’ve answered the question: How was this even possible? We can stop indulging in confusion and move on. Because the more important question is: How the fuck do we get out of this?
The answer is not simple. It takes work. It takes enough people who are not operating under the complete and total influence of fear. We need to use our higher brain, not our survival brain. We need to make choices that benefit us in the long term.
- First and foremost: we create the belief that we can make things better, so that we can do what needs to be done. We need to put that message on repeat, so that it becomes a belief and we can take effective action.
- We make things better for the people who need things to be better, so that they are not living in constant fear. This is a big one. It means that those of us who have will need to understand that we don’t need to keep it to ourselves. Making things better for everyone, including the have nots is truly the right thing to do. Call it enlightened self-interest if necessary. Removing the conditions for consistent fear will reduce the number of people operating under the influence of fear!
- We change the voices and the messages and the style of media and communications. We invent a way for communications to thrive without profiting from fear, lack, need and obsolescence. We add more options into our messaging and solutions. (Wait, what? Is that code speak for diversity?
So….how can Color Thinking help? Oh, so many ways, but I’ll stick with the theme of three:
- Color Thinking gets us out of our primitive, survival brain. We can use the pattern interrupt tools when we notice that we are slipping into fear, to dissipate the neurotransmitters and get out of fear response.
- We can use the Color Thinking questions to access our higher brain functions, to open up options and get out of black-or-white thinking.
- We can use Color Thinking and the Rainbow Onion process to rewrite our story, create new thoughts to believe, to be the best versions of ourselves, and to support us on our journey.
After all, the Rainbow Onion and Color Thinking is all about transformation and reconciliation, both of which can happen at an individual and a collective level.
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
Love and light,
Check out the book The Rainbow Onion, here, if you’re interested in more about how the brain works, and how we can manage our brain to accomplish great things.
If you think you might want coaching using Color Thinking, let’s talk. Set up a call here.
I put my potential digressions here, so that I didn’t interrupt the flow of the article. I am compelled to include them, because the story isn’t black-or-white!
- The impact of repetition – converting thoughts to beliefs – illustrates the power of story, another important topic in my line of work. And it’s also a tool in the recipe!
- I’ve been alive long enough to see the changes in media coverage of world events, to experience the invention of the “breaking news” headline, the screen crawlers and the addictive nature of instant updates and social media. The plethora of information sources could be a good thing, but there’s that pesky issue of funding which drives some unhealthy competition.
- Trump. He’s not the only one, but he’s the main one right now.
- There is, of course, a huge side-bar discussion to be had about the evolution and impact of all forms of media and entertainment industries, as well as responsibility and accountability.
- Not all followers are alike. Some are just scared and hopeless. Some were programmed by their parents and community of influencers. But some are also psychopaths or sociopaths or just incredibly selfish individuals.
This is so useful right now when everything on social media seems to be convincing us to take a side between only two options.
Thank you for clarifying the process and it is a process. I believe so many aspects of our society came to an explosive head. Now we have the opportunity for real change, because what has been in the shadows has come to light. We can choose to work together to make our nation a nation of inclusivity. If we learned anything this last year, one is that we create miracles when we work together. Magenta, magenta!!
Fantastic commentary and solutions, per usual. You make things just so incredibly CLEAR, Maggie. Thank you for being the voice of reason and of hope!