Our Reptilian Brains

The human brain is brilliantly complex. Our species contains countless languages that allow us to communicate diversely among each other. We can think abstractly, feel a variety of emotions, and comprehend the rhythm in music along with millions of other amazing opportunities that our brains give us. But not everything is as it seems.

In certain situations, our brains switch into survival mode and a lot of our reactions are no longer because of deliberation and planning, but instead out of shear reaction.

This was the topic of conversation at work on Wednesday. My manager had been to a two day training about handling heated conversations and she was giving us a summary of what the training entailed. We talked about that switch from rational thinking to natural instincts that sometimes makes you say things that you don’t mean or react in ways you typically wouldn’t.

We also discussed perception and how much our perception of things affects how we interpret people’s words. When we are in the moment and emotionally charged, we can sometimes make assumptions about what people mean instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt and hearing them out.

When you are in a stressful situation, remember to take a step back, evaluate the situation removed from emotions, turn your reptilian brain off, take a deep breath, and communicate logically. It’s harder said than done, but being aware of when you might be misunderstanding or overreacting in a situation is the first step to better communication.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

 

Let’s Talk IRL

Communication is an incredibly fluid item in our society. We have reached a time when we have the opportunity to not only speak with others face-to-face or via phone call, but can also text, email, instant message, and DM. This is both incredibly convenient for our busy lifestyles and potentially risky for our social skills.

When speaking with someone in-person, there are countless non-verbal ques to be interpreted. If someone has their arms crossed and eyebrows furrowed, they may be frustrated or upset. Even when you are on the phone, you can hear the person’s tone and volume to help translate the conversation’s meaning.

Now let’s think about texting. It’s such a fundamental part of many people’s days. With conversations via text messaging, it’s difficult to interpret meaning at times. For example, the word “okay”. If you are speaking with someone in-person and they respond with “okay” in a cheerful voice and a smile on their face, you will interpret that the conversation is going well. On the other hand, if you are texting and someone writes “ok” in response to your remark, you may think that they are being short with you or are irritated when, in actuality, they may have meant it as a simple response. There is so much left to assumption and previous encounters with a person when text messaging.

Sure, there are punctuation and emoji options, but everyone has a different perception of what those mean. For example, some people (yes, I mean people like me) tend to add exclamation points consistently throughout messages. I worry that if I don’t add that particular punctuation in my responses, my messages will come across as too serious or uninterested. Other people, however, never use exclamation points in their text messages. The same goes for emojis. Oh, and don’t even get me started on abbreviations. For example, “TBH I’m ROFL RN. I just posted the video.” may make sense to you,  but for someone who doesn’t know that TBH= to be honest, ROFL= rolling on the floor laughing, and RN= right now, it might just be a bunch of random letters mixed into your conversation. (Abbreviations aren’t my thing -for the most part- but I definitely know people who text like this and sometimes I have no idea what they are trying to say). Everyone has a different interpretation of the appropriateness of these additions to sentences and the frequency in which they should be used. This can lead to misunderstanding in conversations.

Technology makes it incredibly easy to connect with people around the world, but there is no connection quite like a real life in-person relationship. I 100% prefer a face-to-face conversation over a written one. This leaves much less to the imagination and is exponentially more personal. The written language is a very powerful tool, but I think we have a social obligation to uphold which includes containing more spoken word in our conversations.

The increasing success of electronic forms of communication have not only decreased human contact, but have also negatively affected the social skills of the most recent generations according to Liberty Classical AcademyNew York Behavioral Health, and The Odyssey (to name a few).

What will this mean for the generations to come? Do you prefer in-person or virtual conversations? Why do you think that is? Did you always have this preference or has it changed over time?

Break outside of your comfort zone today and have a (face-to-face) conversation with someone new.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Adult Friendships

I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience adult friendships are incredibly different than childhood friendships. They have to withstand not only changes in life, but busy schedules. I have always opted for a few close friends instead of a crowd of friends. I am also an incredibly low-maintenance friend (in my opinion). I am fortunate to have a friendship that, although we see each other once every couple of months, we stay very close. When something happens, she is one of the first people I want to tell. But I don’t feel like we need to talk daily or weekly to continue our friendship. We know that we love each other and we are there for the other person if they need to talk, but respect that we both have our own busy lives.

I am horrible at keeping contact with people. Whenever someone says “stay in touch” I always briefly feel guilty because I know I won’t. I know, that sounds horrible, but it’s true. My grandma is the kind of person who remembers everyone’s anniversaries and has dozens of pen-pals. She will stop any service member that she meets to thank them and starts a conversation with anyone and everyone she comes across. She is seriously one of the kindest humans on earth, but I didn’t inherit her personality. I’m an introvert at heart.

We are both married now, so our hangouts have gone from the two of us going out to the four of us staying in. We take turns traveling to each other’s house (we live about forty minutes apart) and cooking dinner, watching movies, playing games, and joking around. I was friends with her husband before they got together, my friend and I became close, and now our husbands are friends (they actually know each other from elementary school). We let each other have space, but also support the other’s decisions and growth.

When you’re an adult, you have so much more on your plate. Full-time jobs, marriage, hobbies, possibly children, college, and all other responsibilities can hold your time for hostage. Friendships can either flourish or wither away with the stress. Build relationships that can withstand time.

How have your friendships changed as you’ve grown and aged?

Have your high school friendships adapted or have you built new relationships over the years?

I’d love to hear about it.

Love Always,

Elizabeth