Social Distancing, Physical Distancing and the Neuroscience Behind Change

The global health current state in the world has put authorities demanding a so called social distancing for (better) safety! I don’t know who came up with this term, as it is absolutely wrong! The correct term is physical distancing and what I would like to bring up today is the neuroscience behind these terms associated with change. Social distancing, physical distancing  and the neurosience behind change is well worth discussing in today’s reality.

We all know or should know that in order to be safe in a situation of a spread of any kind of contagious disease or virus, either globally or even within family or friends, we must keep a physical distance. This is an absolute! The distance must me physical, not social! We may, if we feel like it, continue to communicate with everyone we’d like while keeping a physical distance. This is basic knowledge!

Why the confusion between social and physical I don’t know (?!) but it is, to say the least quite senseless as in today’s life almost everyone is in contact either through social media or messaging through a cell phone or the regular telephone.

Making it seem as if everyone is sensitive to the so called “social distancing” is not only wrong but deceiving as well, because not everyone will be in distress from either social nor physical distancing as people are not all feeling the same.

People are all different and all feel differently!

In 1921 Carl Jung did a study on personalities and suggested the principal distinction between them is the source and direction of an individual’s expression of energy – defining extroversion as “an outward turning of libido” (libido in Jung’s study means energy) and introversion as “an inward turning of libido”.

As Jung explains - the interest of the introvert is directed inwards; they think, feel, and act in ways that suggest the subject is the prime motivating factor. Extroverts, on the other hand, direct their interest outwards to their surrounding environment; they think, feel, and act in relation to external factors rather than the subjective.

The concept of extroversion isn’t new, under one heading or another, theories of extroversion/introversion have been apparent in psychological literature for over 100 years. Where the media exercises the idea that everyone is an extrovert or at least the majority is, in reality Jung already considered either introverts or extroverts a minority, as the majority of people are ambiverts.

Ambiverts are the so called, considered to be the most ‘normal’ - individuals showing flexibility between the two extremes. The majority who lie within this category are the less differentiated, the source of whose motivation can scarcely be determined offhand, as his/hers introversion or extraversion is not sufficiently accentuated.

If for introverts is easier to keep a social or physical distancing, for extroverts it’s a nightmare as they only shine while being the star of the show all the time. As for ambiverts, it really does not matter, as either way is fine, as they are balanced!

The problem usually resides in the fact that most people do not like to be imposed onto something they are not used to, according to their long lasting beliefs.

For example, an introvert who likes to stay home is now complaining to be told to stay at home simply because he/she is being imposed to – instead of doing it normally because of his/her own will. Ha… confusing? Not in the mind of an introvert that hates to be told what to do!

Change, the capacity one has for needed change; the malleability, the flexibility for change each one has, is what I bring out for us to examine, the same way neuroscience does.

The brain hardwires everything that we believe or repeatedly do – this is how habits are formed. The stories we believe in and tell over and over, our daily routines, our beliefs,  become hardwired and our default paths, the circuitry the brain naturally activates. On the other hand, the direct experience network enables us to experience the present moment via our senses. We constantly balance processing our external environment with creating an internal narrative about our experience.

People who regularly practice meditation, have a stronger ability to choose which path they are on – making different choices when necessary.

The greater the ability one has to be balanced and mindful in the present moment, the more ability one has to regulate one’s emotions, and not be a prisoner of them.

Researchers at Duke University in U.S.A. found that more than 40% of our actions each day are based on habit rather than conscious thought. When considering how to create a new habit, the brain has to override its default wiring and create a new response to triggering situations.
Most of the things we do each day are out of habit, routine, we do them without even thinking – we do them in a hypnosis state.

One method to overcome this hardwiring is to build an if-then plan, an alternate plan where you can cue your mind to behave in a certain way in a specific situation. By developing “implementation intentions,” we create the opportunity to rewire our brains in potentially triggering situations.
By reframing the behavioral event with an if-then statement – and following through on the “then” action enough times – you can support the growth of a new, better habit.

Practice is crucial to rewiring the brain, but why would you want to change?

Knowing why and then be determined about it is key!

Identify an unproductive habit that you would like to change. What is one change that would make your life more fulfilling?

Reflect on the impact of this habit on your life to date. How has this habit served you? How has this habit harmed you?

Make a personal determined commitment to change this behavior. Now that you have identified the habit, create your if-then action plan.

What are the risks of not changing the habit? Only you will know!

No matter what - it is important to retain - not only identifying the habit that no longer serves you in any circumstance is significant - as well as in today’s life that is changing to an unknown or non-habitual way of living, is as important - so whether you are an introvert, extrovert or ambivert you are either way, able to cope with the change – any change – that will be healthier, meaningful and fulfilled lifestyle, so social distancing, physical distancing  and the neurosience behind change is not only a right or wrong assortment of terminologies, but something you/we all comprehend and deal with in a balanced way.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. Rumi

Much Love and Light!


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