A Model for Increasing Sanity in a World Gone Insane —
In observing what has triggered the 2 largest violent social unrest events in the past year , I came up with a systems dynamics model about what is driving it and how to predict someone’s probability of participating in violent social unrest.
There are 3 factors that are predictors for someone’s propensity to participate in violent social unrest:
1. Strength of the perception of being wronged.
2. Level of attachment to their perception.
3. Ability to become a fanatic to an ideology (called being radicalized).
Decreasing any of these 3 factors decreases someone’s propensity to participate in violent social unrest.
Let’s dissect each of these 3 and look at what each of us can do to decrease the chances of violent social unrest.
Strength of the perception of being wronged.
This can be by the individuals who feel (or think it’s a “fact”) they have been wronged or those who feel they need to be advocates for others who they feel have been wronged (called carrying another’s offense). Others not sharing this perception are labeled as “the enemy.”
From a model perspective, it does not matter what is the issue activating people’s perceptions of feeling “wronged.” What matters is the strength of the perception, as for many people their perception is reality. When other people feel a similar perception is their reality, it reinforces the belief that the perception of being wronged is real. In systems dynamics this is called a reinforcing feedback loop. In the business world we call this group think.
Level of attachment to a perception, belief or ideology
The stronger someone’s attachment, the more predictable their response and the easier it is for them to be triggered. Extreme responses show a fanatic level attachment to the perception they have been wronged.
Reaction, Response Capability, Strategies, and Behavior, are proportionate to attachment level. For those with strong attachments, they are quickly triggered and often have violent reactions. They can be easily controlled (and played). They are judgmental towards others who are not as attached.
Ease of creating new fanatics to an ideology (called being radicalized).
This one is driven by 3 factors:
Factor 1: how people share information (consistent messaging repeated in many forums — called programming.)
Factor 2: the same repeated extreme emotional response created from regular exposure to triggering information (creates a chemical addiction to the emotional response which actually causes brain damage and an inability to use the pre-frontal cortex for higher order thinking). People who have extreme reactions when triggered, are showing signs of brain damage from this repeated and reinforced programming.
Factor 3: requiring people to meet increasing purity tests in their fanaticism drives a subconscious commitment to continue participating and increases the divide of us vs. them allowing for it be okay to dehumanize them and cause harm to another.
How can we counter each of these in ourselves so we do not become part of the problem?
1. Choice Theory
Recognize your perceptions are in fact a choice. They create your reality. We get to choose our perceptions of situations, events. Choice is a very empowering concept. Making a choice to have a different perception is where people find their voice and their power.
Others who have a different perception than you about events are not wrong, or the enemy — they are choosing to have their own unique and valid experience of reality. This is not only their right, it’s the way they are evolving.
It is not your right or responsibility to dictate how another person evolves. People pay attention to what others do far more than what they say.
If you’d prefer people act differently, consistently role model that behavior you’d like to see in others.
2. Dialing back attachments.
Recognize the more you are attached to a perception or idea, the easier it is for others to play you, push your buttons, and control you.
3. Recognize radicalization is occurring.
If you are consuming information that is the same messaging repeated over and over and over, and it’s charging you up emotionally to the point where you only have one way of responding to it — STOP consuming that information. Turn off the sources of the information.
If you meet others who challenge your sincerity and tell you whatever it is you are doing is not enough, recognize this is a purity test. You are enough just the way you are. You do not need to meet anyone else’s definition of enough. If you harbor any type of desire to harm them in a form of retribution, you are on your way to being radicalized.
Taking care of our own house is the first order of business. But what about all the other craziness out there?
Engage with people who are suffering in kind and compassionate ways.
1. Have a conversation about what is happening for them. Find out how they came to their perceptions. Ask if they have thought about perceiving the situation differently. Give them time to share the basis for their perception. This gets their brain working in ways it needs to, to gain control of their perception. This is their perception — it is not an attack on you. Stay calm — do not react to their painful perception. Deescalate by identifying their pain, for example: “That sounds horrible, you’re in a lot of pain over this. Is there another way you would prefer to feel?”
2. Share how you used to perceive that way but you wanted to experience a different reality, so you tried a different perception.
3. Ask what it is they are getting by being attached to their point of view, and if they are aware of the costs associated with that attachment (being easily played and controlled).
4. Find out ways they could feel like they are enough around you without having to pass someone else’s purity test. Be compassionate and let them know for you they are enough just because they exist in your life. Get them involved in other things besides the news — go outdoors, have a game night, do a zoom meeting, cook a meal together. Connect with them around things that are NOT the news.
5. Make your boundaries clear — no talking about XYZ issue — this gives their brain a rest of the constant addictive chemical drip. If they bring up the issue, let them know you need a break from it and to please take a rest from it as well.
Everyone needs time to unplug and recharge. Spending time away from the news, and these events, and enjoying their company is your time to do that since you do in fact love and care about this person.
Each of us influences at least 150 people in our lives. If we each take it upon ourselves to first, get our own house in order, and then through our actions, influence others to do the same, maybe we can bring sanity back to our world.
To keep this short, I’ve left all the research sources out of this article– please comment on my public fb page to share your ideas — https://www.facebook.com/MichelleChiefCheetah/