If you have not seen the new movie Avatar, at least read JJ’s blog on it. I have seen it twice already. Once in 3D which gave me a headache because I wore the glasses over my contact lenses, and second time in regular format (more visually pleasant experience).
I was touched the most in that movie when I heard “I See You” – The phrase to me sums up the perfect quality of a relationship. Whether it be with a mate, your child or your colleague.
If you can read this blog through the lens of evolution of emotions, you may enjoy it. If you are unfamiliar with that reasoning, I recommend Dr. Fari Amini and his colleagues at USCF Medical School’s seminal book “The General Theory of Love”. (I am not on commission by the authors but you can even order it used on amazon.)
Basically, our cave-ancestors could read a situation through their senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell, before the creation of language as we know it. Through primal senses cave-people could gauge their sympathetic and parasympathetic systemic reactions in order to fight, flight or freeze when encountered by lightenings, dinosaurs or suitable mates (all potentially threatening situations). Humans adapted their defenses through language and became more evolved, physically, in nuances of good or bad experiences. Various facial expressions and subtle communication forms were created through the adaptive processes throughout the cultures.
At the very basic levels we still depend on our senses. Think about the emotions triggered through smells of certain foods or scents. Touch of softness, warmth, compared to other qualities feel differently to each of us. Lights and sounds function in similar ways. And then consider your individual adaptations to these senses. For example, at some phases of my life I was nauseated by the smell of cinnamon. It was associated with Ashura when my grandmother used to cook haleem for the poor. I was frightened by the zanjeer zani crowds around her house. Now I even like cinnamon in certain foods. I hope I somewhat got you interested in figuring out your own triggers.
Most fascinating of all adaptations though, relates to the hardwiring of the brain. Which is created through a person’s quality of attachment with their primary caregiver(s), mom or dad or another (possibly naneh or wet-nurse). Of course, bonding styles are modified by trauma in various forms (illnesses, deaths, neglect and all forms of abuse).
There is much to say about the neuroscience of attachment. if you have interest in this topic, read any book by Dr. Dan Siegel – start with his “Parenting Inside and Out”.
In summery, humans are capable to not only mirror a mate’s patterns but also, to change their brain hardwires through their experience(s) of bonding. Great book on this is “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge, M.D.
You can clearly see that we are not only our genes, nor our traumas. Brain science is Hopeful, good and very real.
Back to the quality of presence.
We can bond with another person to the degree that we are bonded with our Self. The quality of that is most significant. Whether we can trust our Self in its totality and feel safe with that relationship- then we can very well trust our judgments about another person. Here neuroscience adds the reverse scenario. The level at which we can mentally therefore emotionally, engage with another human being depends on our capacity to read them (feel safe around them) and how they read us. This is easiest when you see a person eye to eye, from different perspectives.
So here’s hoping “I See You”.