There’s no doubt about it: we are experiencing global human family stress. In today’s internet-addicted culture, we are triggered emotionally by an information tsunami overwhelming our minds and bodies.
Brain/screen interfacing has amplified. We are beginning to understand the negative consequences of screen usage and screen addiction. Families are experiencing routine stresses correlated with how screens isolate individuals from personally connecting to other another, resulting in burnout, teen screen addiction, anxiety, depression, and even suicide.
From family burnout to global burnout
From Facebook to Fake News, we are inundated by a continuous flow of negative opinionizing and bullying that triggers stress. We already know that when our stress response is continuously activated, it becomes physiologically toxic. And toxic stress triggers anger, fear, and confusion, hijacking our calm, connected, creative natures.
The challenge to regulate the internet’s toxicity and promote more interpersonal connection will require the participation of individuals, organizations, and content-creation platforms to generate what I call Global Mind.
What is Global Mind?
The problems we see in our “global village” is a macro version of the chronically stressed-out relationships that occur in nuclear family systems.
In my 30 years—approximately 40,000 hours—of direct patient care in my adult, child, and family psychiatry practice, I have trained thousands of individuals, couples, families, and family businesses in stress regulation. I have seen firsthand that toxic stress in family systems—the me-against-you script—can be unlearned. Training the family in what I call a “We” narrative—the We Team or MYWe (Me + You = We), for short—reframes the individual reality to a shared group reality.
When an individual feels more secure attachment in their family, negative stress is transformed into excitement or neutralized for empathetic connection. Creativity is amplified and shared attention strengthens emotional bonds. It’s “all for one and one for all”—the traditional mantra of tribal identity.
That is why I believe our global village can and must unlearn that script that keeps us in a state of isolation and toxic stress. This is where the Global Mind steps in. At its core, it is the self-regulatory instincts of human beings. The Global Mind concept sees the internet as a Global Brain—driven by self-serving emotions with little self-regulation.
Given how we use and depend on the internet today, it is clear that we have yet to see the emergence of a true Global Mind. And though the internet has intensified feelings of stress and disconnection, it also presents a distinct opportunity to translate and apply effective clinical principles for family stress regulation training to the global family system.
Moving toward species tribalism
If we think of the internet as an extension of the brain, then content platforms are like the brain’s modules of consciousness. Our brain has two structures that generate two narratives: the emotional brain and the mindful brain.
The emotional brain is ancient and focused on our survival, whereas the mindful brain is involved in abstract thinking, creativity, language, and mindful reflection. We know that the mindful brain (cortex) can regulate the emotional brain (limbic system). This self-regulatory ability is critical to generating social connectivity, conflict resolution, cultural creativity, and resilience. When brain/mind consciousness coordinates with social behavior, our creative nature thrives.
The human brain/mind therefore provides a model of mindful self-regulation that can be made accessible to anyone through technology, such as apps to encourage the emergence of Global Mind. This carries the potential to find solutions to the myriad threats to our species and our planet, preventing Global Burnout.
The encouraging news in this time of divisiveness and mindless conflict is the rise of many mindful narrators like thought leaders, moral and ethical leaders, ecosystem advocates, and identity validators. The obstacles we face now require us to integrate, coordinate, and validate these mindful groups into a narrative not just for cultural tribalism but for species tribalism, thereby linking millions of mindful cultural narratives to fulfill our evolutionary potential. It is possible for our internet to generate a synchronized stream of positive, creative, awareness and give rise to more unity with one another.
My aim in this series is to introduce the Global Mind concept as a cultural evolutionary process. Creating, experimenting, and practicing ways to generate this sense of “MYWe” over the internet is the one of the most significant investments we can make in one another. It will require emotionally intelligent technologies to become more commonplace.
In this series, I will explore:
- The evolving Global Mind concept;
- Why Global Burnout may be inevitable;
- My clinical work in brain/mind training with stressed out families;
- The four core problems of global relationship stress; and
- How we can promote the emergence of species tribalism.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.