Supposin': A Big Clue to Our Problem

It seems to me, as a cultural economist, that there is ample evidence in ancient manuscripts, contemporary writings, and anecdotal traditions, to make a strong case for an economic model based on abundance, choice, and accomplishment, rather than scarcity, choice, and cost. If that is a possibility, then why is it that we have a natural propensity to base our daily decisions on a fear-based model of insufficiency, lack, and shortage? Let’s do some exploring.

When you were born, you came equipped with an amygdala (a-mig’ dala) as standard equipment. Aren’t you happy for that? In fact, you came equipped with two amygdalae and didn’t have to pay extra for either one. As an owner, that should really make you twice as happy . . . or maybe not.

The amygdala is an almond-shaped mass of gray matter in the front part of the temporal lobe of your cerebrum that is part of the limbic system and is involved in the processing and expression of emotions, especially anger and fear. It has a lot to do with the flight-or-fight response. It also plays a pivotal role in triggering a state of fear based on the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Because of that, there may also be a link between the amygdala and patterns of extreme anxiety.

I like to think of the amygdala as the Rottweiler of your brain. It was born and bred to be the ultimate watchdog, assigned to your personal survival. As standard equipment in your brain, it is your first line of defense and a warning system that is expected to always be hyper-alert and seek out any and all danger. It never sleeps and never slumbers and its growl and bark sends instant messages to the heart, the lungs, the nerves, the skin, the eyes, the ears, the memory chips, and even prepares the muscles for instant action.

This Rottweiler of the brain is always looking for something to fear . . . and will always find something to bark about. The more barking, the more he is considered successful. He is always looking for something that is negative and is never patted on the head for discovering something positive. And, as you might expect, if the watchdog ever gets hold of something that has agitated him, it is possible that he will never let it go.

Now, with the Rottweiler in mind, let’s ask the questions again: Why is it that we have a natural propensity to base our daily decisions on a fear-based model of insufficiency, lack, and shortage? Why is it easier to believe something negative than something positive? In order to get higher listener and viewer ratings, wouldn’t the newspaper, television, and computer outlets cram the airwaves with negative stories as opposed to any positive stories? Why would we always have the feeling that we are under siege? Why is it so lucrative to sell pessimism and fear? Why don’t potential dangers ever go away?

The simple answer is, because we have allowed the watchdog to run amuck and have rewarded him for his incessant behavior. We have developed and encouraged a messed up watchdog that possesses an insatiable appetite for the negative, the fearful, and the insufficient.

So, what are some methods to modify the out of balance behavior, other than selling the Rottweiler, buying a Golden Retriever, and moving out of the dangerous neighborhood? Realistically, how do you ratchet down the fear and insecurity mindset in order to make room for the alternative of hope and confidence? Let’s brainstorm:

  • Limit the tsunami of negative media flow into your conscious and subconscious mind. Just say, “No thank you” to 90% of the news.
  • Try to remember that the fear of scarcity can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Quit rewarding the watchdog when it barks at its own shadow.
  • Train your watchdog to perceive that the person approaching may not be an intruder, but may be your best friend.
  • Dare to investigate the idea of My God shall supply all your need . . . (Philippians 4:19).
  • Try to remember that the attitude of shortage is bondage. The attitude of abundance is freedom.
  • Begin to delete the information on the memory chips of your amygdala to replace it with new and positive information on sufficiency, abundance, and accomplishment.

    It is true that your personal model came equipped with a left and right amygdala. They were designed and installed as a benefit to you. But, you are the one in charge of your current model and have the responsibility of overseeing the use and discipline of the function of the amygdalae. Your new automobile also came from the factory equipped with two windshield wipers for your benefit, but you are in charge of turning them off and on at the appropriate times. If you find yourself with a complicated problem regarding your factory supplied equipment, it would be recommended that you contact the manufacturer of your model. 

    It is our choice whether we allow the information we receive into our human beings to affect and influence us negatively or positively. That call is ours. It is not the set of circumstances in which we find ourselves, but how we respond to those circumstances that makes all the difference in the world.

    Next Week: Naughty Doggie

    (Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

    © Dr. James W. Jackson  

    Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House