So the key take-away here is: Belief’s act like instincts, changing our actions and the way we communicate, we are free to the degree that we can choose. Belief robs us of choice, and keeps us in damage control within our relationships.
Where we have been and where we are going
In “aliveness” I discussed why feeling fully alive enables greater wellness and enjoyment of life. In “attunement” I covered how we learn to relate to each other and where it goes wrong. In this post I will touch on why our biology evolved in a way that made stories so powerful.
According to Historian, Yuval Noah Harari, from about 70,000 years ago, Sapiens began to gain an advantage over other species (including other species of humans) by working in larger groups. This was made possible by our ability for more nuanced communications. Yuval, suspects that the ability to gossip about each other’s behavior increased the levels of trust and predictability. In this way, “stories” enabled us to work together in groups larger than our own direct experience of each member could enable.
Stories also gave us the ability to share and remember more detailed information, beyond what was available in the present moment. We began to pass information about past events that were likely to repeat and create harvesting and survival strategies for the future. As soon as we can accurately predict what is likely to happen we can use energy more effectively, by being prepared.
Non verbal cues speak loudly
The high tide will leave shells, seeds and organic matter in a nice concentrated line that attracts crabs, birds and other creatures. When we know that we can harvest very effectively by just showing up at the right time. We can save energy. It is normal for species to develop both biological systems and behaviors adapted to new possibilities in their environments.
What was unique for Homo sapiens was our ability to hold a concept in our minds that was free of any external signals, (evidence). We could create ideas or pictures in our minds that did not have to conform with the reality of that moment. We could remember what had been and guess what was going to happen. This helped us to further develop specialized skills and talents that increased our value as individual members within our tribes.
Skill or Instinct
Our survival and chance to reproduce was enhanced by the value of our specialized roles within these tribes. The concepts we held in our minds gave us a biological advantage while the repetition of skilled actions formed new procedural memories, (those actions that we can do automatically).
Procedural memories are not the only things we can do automatically, when we receive signals of a potential threat, our bodies automatically tense, produce adrenaline, divert blood flow to our skeletal muscles and prepare us for a life threatening situation. This happens in the old part of our nervous system which is hard wired to produce fast responses, it happens before we have a chance to override or cancel the reaction.
Language enabled us to pass detailed stories, which when adopted as beliefs, also cause us to react automatically. Depending on how much emotion was assigned to them, stories allowed us to update our natural instincts.
Humans became adapt at both developing refined motor skills and at formulating powerfuly motivating stories. How those stories affect our automatic nervous system will be the topic of the next post – Information Biology.
Research notes: Much of this is my own conjecture, and as such, will change along with my experiences. The amazing work of Yuval Noah Harari, gave me the insights and the confidence to present it this way.