Herd Instinct Gone Awry

There is safety in numbers. But we also have that saying about following the lemmings over the cliff. Herd instinct gone awry is in part to blame for today’s socio-political divide, also known as cogjam.

For more on this topic, see my latest post at http://www.thecogjameffect.com.

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Compassion? for Politicians?

Say, what? Politician behaviors fuel more cogjam than anyone else’s. Why should we spare compassion for them?

Because it’s a key ingredient for our own escape from cogjam.

Be sure to visit my latest post at http://www.thecogjameffect.com.

Setting the Cogjam Trap: Rationalization

How we process information is different during stress and trauma. Our focus becomes narrower, so we can better zero in on whatever has caused us to go into “fight or flight” mode. We think less, and react more.

One outcome of this neurochemical state is rationalization. It can result in our life experience making us increasingly more foolish, rather than wiser. And when left untethered, it fuels cogjam–the socio-political stress causing us so many problems these days.

For more on this, see my new post at http://www.thecogjameffect.com.

 

ENDING SOCIAL MEDIA’S WMD REIGN

You can’t make this stuff up. Currently trauma peeks in the door in ways we never imagined possible. Yet that’s what today’s socio-political atmosphere keeps bringing us: Stress. Frustration. Confusion. Interpersonal conflict. Social disruption. And yes, perhaps even trauma.

One source of it all, thankfully, seems to have lightened up a bit over the last year. Social media still regularly post unsocialized hostilities. But there are also plenty of users who have found paths away from promoting the negativity that has dragged so many of us down.

What if all of us worked to weaken social media’s role as weapon of mass destruction?

Let’s Take Our Social Media Back!

Suggestions appear on my new website, www.thecogjameffect.com. They are an excerpt from my upcoming book, “The Cogjam Effect — and the Path to Healing Divisive Community and Fractured Science.” Follow me there for the latest on how understanding and promoting use of the body-mind connection can help resolve consequences of today’s socio-political turmoil.

Cogjam Alert: Your Chance to Be Part of the Solution

It’s safe to say most everyone wouldn’t mind if all the political posturing and divisiveness took a sudden nosedive into the sunset. As mentioned in an earlier post, healing for this mental health disaster is a work in progress. Thanks to resilience, many of us have already found ways to step back, or do whatever else might tone down knee-jerk reactions from our overextended fight-or-flight chemistry.

One popular collection of strategies involves limiting input from sources that tend to pump up this type of stress:

  • Following only enough media reports to be informed
  • Being especially selective about which social media contacts’ newsfeeds to follow
  • While among others, simply not bringing up anything related to the socio-political situation

. . . and plenty more. My current draft of The Cogjam Effect includes suggestions similar to those above. Many people are discovering new ways to apply strengths, and doing it well. With this in mind, perhaps you have suggestions to add:

  • What have you noticed about your own coping?
  • What helps you calm the primitive brain’s surges of angst when toxic input crosses your path?
  • What new strengths have you discovered in yourself as you travel this journey?
  • Or, what do you see others do that seems to make things less tense?

This is your chance to share the wealth with those who are searching. Assessing your existing or newly emerging¬† strengths is also an important step for laying to rest your own symptoms of cogjam. Please leave suggestions or observations in the box below–a great way to be part of the cogjam solution.

 

Cogjam on the Loose

Why do we have such a hard time making sense out of what’s going on around us these days? Not just what’s coming down from the DC Beltway contingency, but how our own communities struggle so with staying coherent and connected. Why has everything become so complicated and confusing?

It’s not a new mental health affliction. It’s only cogjam on the loose.

That’s right, cogjam–the cognitive logjams that form when stress goes on for extended periods.

What’s Cogjam?

Cogjam is a word I invented to label a certain side effect of prolonged fight or flight. When we experience dire threat, our primitive brains take over, triggering instinctual and hardwired reactions that save our skins. More advanced thinking is temporarily blocked or filtered, so it will not interfere. After all, you might not escape a quickly advancing flash flood if you stop to assess which of all the trees in the forest is the best of the lot. You scramble up the first one that looks good.

Ignoring conscious thought includes ignoring learned social niceties. Getting everybody safely atop the tree of choice may require some really unsocialized behaviors–yelling, ordering, forcing, cursing, touching taboo areas of others’ bodies–as we shove everybody up to safety. Tact and sensitivities might take more time than you have to spare.

After the rowboat or helicopter rescues everyone, stress levels go down. Rational thought comes back on line, and planning begins for any long-term recovery needs. Everybody forgives and reconnects, recognizing that the earlier abrupt behaviors were survival related. Things go back to normal.

But what happens when adrenaline rushes are constant, as is true regarding the socio-political stress piling up over the last year? Sophisticated thought has had less chance to get back on board, limiting access to our best factual reasoning. Reconnecting is much more difficult, too, when episodes of posturing and polarization keep raising anxieties and driving us apart.

That’s cogjam.

How Do we Get out of This Mess?

There are many solutions. So many, that I’m penning a book about the cogjam effect, and the path to healing disrupted community and fractured science. There is hope. We can recover from mental health disaster just as we do after any disaster–one person at a time, each of us in our own way.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, you can start your own healing by spreading the word that there’s more on the horizon than the doom and gloom surrounding the DC Beltway contingency. There’s way too much gnashing of teeth and tearing of sackcloth going on out there. We can move beyond this. Sharing the word will also help you engage compassion, one of the cornerstones to healing both yourself and others.

And don’t forget there are many resources available on the topic of coping with disaster, such as: