Where has our humanness gone?
Locked in our homes for two years, glued to our devices, and our humanness has declined. What does it mean to be more human? What connects us? And most of all, how do we get it back?
In states of fear we lose our ability to think clearly. We seek out constant distraction to keep the truth out. When we have a moment’s pause in the day we pick up our devices and scroll through until we get a glimpse of what we should be thinking, what we should be feeling, who we should side with or against and if it looks like the safe thing to do, we post a comment. Though it may seem harmless in the moment – five minutes here and there, could it be that this is shaping who we now have become as a species?
All of this is happening without us taking a pause to consider who we are today, in this moment.
Let’s begin with children.
For the first seven years of a child’s life, their subconscious is being programmed. Their awareness is wide open as they watch, listen, and absorb everything spoken and unspoken around them. They are soaking in everything as one of their primary functions is figuring out how the world works and where they fit in to it.
Too many children these days, are left to their own devices, quite literally. Glued to devices, as addicted to them as we adults are. This isn’t meant to be a judgement on parents. It’s a fact. As much as we don’t like our kids being on them all day, they also don’t like us being on ours.
As a child engages in the dynamic world of their device their sponge-like brains are amplifying the instant gratification and dopamine hits, the fantasy, the idolizing, the ten-second videos. All of this is programming their programmable minds. The more in that world they are, the less able they are to engage fully in a human experience. The nuances and pace of a human experience can’t compete with a device, under their full control of every whim and flicker of attention.
Anxiety, fear, restlessness, lack of attention or ability to modulate emotional response become the norm for children as the three-dimensional human world around them simply doesn’t carry the same level of stimulation that their young brains are now wired for.
human interaction is key for healthy development
I am speaking here of children in general. I fully recognize that the spectrum of cognitive states, needs and special abilities are unique for every child. This does not apply in all cases. This is also not a judgement on anyone– parents, caregivers or children. It’s the reality of the times we are living in and needs to be acknowledged. And fun fact, the exact same thing happens in the brains of adults, for the most part we just tend to be better at regulating.
We also can’t disregard that one of the most important aspects of the development of a child’s emotional intelligence is interacting with other humans, seeing their whole faces and being in the same room to see the full expression of facial and body language.
You don’t need to be an expert in anything to know that being with humans, engaging with different types of humans in communication, sport, social, work, and day-to-day casual interaction is what helps us develop the depth of our own humanness. We are an intensely social species that are losing our ability to socialize in the ways our species is intended to.
What’s At The Root Of Our Loss of Humanness?
We don’t stop.
We don’t take time to take stock, gather information, form personal, complex, nuanced opinions. Too many of us leave it to memes to do the work that results in either a ‘like’ or an unfollow as we further curate our reality to avoid conflict or as the case may be, navigating our own complicated state of mind.
We react to, rather than consider or have compassion and understanding for alternate views. What we are losing in this process are the characteristics that make humans the most humane and kind form of human: the practice of love, compassion, empathy, gratitude, appreciation and care.
Signalling our compassion with a flag as your profile photo, or a frame around your image with the message of the moment now seems to carry more weight than smiling at the person who served your coffee, or striking up a conversation with the person behind you in the grocery line.
True humanness must begin with being present in our real-life experiences.
Connecting In With The Human Being
The human consciousness is more expansive than anything any of us can conceptualize.
We are barely scratching the surface of what we know and how we use it. As human beings, we have the infinite capacity for creativity, for love, and for connection. We are electrical beings, wired to connect with the beings who surround our immediate physical area but also in a global connection.
Those we thought of as the adults in the room have left the building. We are the adults now.
We are shaping the future of humanity in our every thought, and every action.
It starts with you and with me.
People will often talk about taking a ‘digital detox’ and disconnecting for a while. What is happening here is actually the complete opposite. We turn off the devices, the feeds and the monitors and we reconnect to what matters most. Ourselves. We connect to our thoughts and feelings, we connect to how our body feels and what it needs- nourishment, movement, nature, social community.
It is in the mass disconnection to what’s out there that we can find our truest version of ourselves. This is where we tap into the higher knowing, our intuition. It’s how we find that place of peace and ease within us. It’s where we can find the boundless joy, unconditional love and compassion – for ourselves and every human on the planet.
I know you already know everything I am saying here. It’s what might be considered a universal law; a truth we are all born knowing. Yet, we are allowing that stress response to continue. We’ve forgotten the programming we were born with and instead took on a different set of rules and unconsciously have passed it along to the next generation. The challenge, or perhaps the opportunity, is that it is clear this new set is broken.
What’s the Solution?
The solution, therefore, becomes wildly simple. We have to do the opposite.
We scroll for a dose of agitation, we get our endorphin rush from intense exercise, we take to extreme diets, we scroll some more. Our attention spans shorten- for both the media we take in and for the conversations with have with each other. We lose our patience and mid-sentence we pick up our devices, and we seek a distraction. A stimulation (or maybe a simulation!). We no longer feel capable of managing, let alone strengthening the relationships that matter most in our life.
Our partners suffer. Our children suffer. And our communities suffer.
I am not here to point fingers. Blaming is never the solution. With the massive change and transformation that is happening right now, we have to own exactly where and who we are in this moment.
How To Become More Human
We start by getting quiet.
For many, this will feel astoundingly uncomfortable. Our nervous systems are now wired to fire. Our brains are coded to fight and flee.
Some of the simplest ways to begin this rewiring of the nervous system include:
- Lying on your belly, feeling supported by the floor and breathing.
- Walking in nature without any distraction of music or podcasts.
- Sitting down with a piece of paper and marker and drawing. If this feels daunting, set yourself a goal of 20 minutes to just doodle.
- You could cook something.
- You could try gentle movement.
- Play an instrument.
- Opening a bottle of essential oils and taking a few deep inhales.
- Breathing could be the most powerful of all. Sitting and counting 10 inhales and 10 exhales. Start over when your mind wanders and you lose count.
It starts with tuning back into our five senses.
When we can tune back unto our senses, we just might find that the deep inhales and exhales come more easily. The stillness becomes more comfortable. The noise we’ve been drowning in becomes less tolerable and instead of getting sucked back in, we step away from it more and maybe just shut it off altogether. We find that we start to crave quiet. We tune in, in such a way, that we are fully aware of when we need some decompression time, when we’ve become overly activated.
Can we start to look each other, children included, in the eyes, smile, engage, and have real conversations? Ask questions and listen to the answers.
Maybe you’ll even get to a place where you feel calm and centred enough to engage in the difficult conversations, discover the nuance of someone else’s thoughts and feelings. The practice of humanness is to have compassion, kindness and respect enough to continue to listen and have a conversation even when you don’t agree. That is being human. That is being in community.
Coming back to the children
And the children. They need us to do better. Our children need us present, calm, patient, warm and loving. We have to do the work and keep doing it. In every moment. If it were effortless and easy we wouldn’t be feeling the way so many of us do.
I include myself in all of this by the way, as I am not sharing this from a place way up above. I share it because I know it, because I also need the reminder in nearly every moment.
Of all the things that have been said over the last two years that have triggered me “children are resilient’ might just be the one that has challenged me the most. They are, it’s true. But we all carry programs from our childhood into adulthood and run them subconsciously, unless we become aware, wake up and do the work, they keep on running. I have deep concerns over what children have seen and experienced over the last few years and many continue to. They will have long-term effects from this, if not countered with love and kindness and compassion – with an outpouring and openness of the emotions that make humans human.
Show your smiles. Find the stillness. Be loving.
If we all disconnect more from what’s out there, and connect more with what’s inside, we will transform the outcome of our lives. And the more tuned in we are to what’s inside, the less impact what’s out there will have on us. It’s all up to us.
The limitlessness of our consciousness doesn’t need to be understood or believed. If we can tune into our five senses and then get quiet, that sixth sense tends to tell us everything we need to know on how to be more human.
If you haven’t yet found a practice that works for you, please take a moment and enjoy my free coherence class available here.
Photo credit: Nikki Leigh McKean