"The world is going to hell in a hand basket!"

“The world is going to hell in a hand basket!” my deceased father was fond of saying. I wonder what he would think of 2020.

Just this last week Justin Gavin an 18-year-old risked his own life to save a mother and her three children from a burning car. A hero. What impelled this young man to do this? Instinct. The same instinct that cause me to drop my bag of groceries and run to grab my 2-year-old from running into the street.

We are wired in our brain and body to REACT when instinct is activated, it’s in the mammalian part of our brain. This is why we have survived as a species on planet earth as long as we have.

We even react to a perception of a threat, as if we could die, and this creates problems for us humans.

We are instinctually wired to procreate, then protect what we have procreated and then provide for what we procreated. We procreate children, businesses, books, communities, lifestyles, the list is endless. When those things are threatened, we react and attack, verbally or physically. We even protect ourselves from verbal attacks, real or imagined and react with vial words back. As I do at times, with my husband I love.

The current trend of “Karens” is a great example of women perceiving a threat and then taking measures to protect themselves from those perceived threats to their well-being or community. These women did not recognize the difference between a perceived threat and a real one. With everything going on in the world our mammalian brains are on overload. We are all reacting to real threats and perceived ones. As a seasoned mental health professional with many tools in my toolbox I’m even on instinct overload. I am challenged daily to not react to all that is going on around me, perceived or real.

How do we hold our space and not react?

By breathing, a deep breath in through the nose and out from the mouth relaxes your nervous system and moves you into your neocortex, the executive functioning part of your brain, so you can RESPOND, not react. What if we were all more responsive and less reactive? We can do this through our breath. I know this helps; I have had plenty of opportunities to practice with our current collective world problems. So, breath deep, breath frequently and hold your space.

And for those who see a real threat and react to save lives, a big thank you.

It is one thing to protect what you’ve created, like your children and it’s another to risk your life to save strangers. This is what makes Justin Gavin a hero and he gives me hope that the world isn’t going to hell in a handbasket.

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