September 26, 2023

Welcome, pricey readers, to a mind-bending journey into the labyrinth of the human psyche. We’re going to embark on an odyssey by way of the catacombs of cognition, the jungles of the unconscious, and a wild experience into the boundless depths of human habits—with 4 psychological theories as our information.

As a result of psychology isn’t only a collection of dry, educational theories locked away in some dusty textbook, reserved for bespectacled professors in ivory towers. It’s an exploration into the enigmatic workings of our minds, a quest to unravel our ideas, feelings, and behaviors. It’s about understanding the secrets and techniques that make us tick, and extra importantly, it’s about discovering what makes us human.

Listed below are 4 psychological theories that assist us do exactly that. Buckle up as a result of this primary one isn’t simply fascinating, it’s additionally form of, effectively, terrifying.

Terror Administration Principle

Terror Administration Principle, in a nutshell, is a psychological principle stating that consciousness of our personal mortality is likely one of the basic drivers of human habits.1

You see, in contrast to canine, monkeys or rats, people are distinctive in that now we have the cognitive potential to know that we’re going to die sometime. And let’s be trustworthy, that’s a reasonably terrifying thought.

So, what can we do to deal with this terrifying realization? We create cultural methods of that means and worth that assist us really feel like we’re a part of one thing better than ourselves.

These cultural methods can take many varieties, similar to faith,2 political ideologies, and social norms. They supply us with a way of function and significance, they usually assist us imagine that our lives have that means past simply our personal particular person existence.

However right here’s the factor: when these cultural methods are threatened or challenged, it may possibly set off a deep sense of existential terror.

All of a sudden, the delicate veneer of that means that we’ve constructed to guard ourselves from the truth of our mortality is shattered, and we’re pressured to confront the truth that our lives are finite and maybe meaningless.

That is the place issues can get actually attention-grabbing (or actually disturbing, relying on the way you take a look at it). With the intention to address this terror, individuals will typically have interaction in a wide range of defensive methods, similar to changing into extra entrenched of their beliefs,3 denigrating those that don’t share their beliefs, and even resorting to violence to guard their cultural worldview.

In different phrases, when our sense of that means and function is threatened, we change into far more inflexible in our pondering and habits. We change into much less tolerant of variations and extra susceptible to aggression and violence.

Now, earlier than you go throwing up your palms and declaring that every one people are only a bunch of nihilistic, violent monsters, it’s value noting that there are many optimistic methods to deal with the conclusion of our mortality.4 For instance, many individuals discover that cultivating a way of gratitude and appreciation for the current second may also help them really feel extra related to the world round them. Others could discover consolation within the data that their actions can have a optimistic impression on future generations.

The underside line is that this: Terror Administration Principle could seem to be a darkish and miserable matter, however it may possibly really shed quite a lot of mild on the ways in which we as people attempt to search out that means and function in a world that may typically appear bleak and meaningless.

By understanding the ways in which we address our mortality, we are able to start to develop extra optimistic and life-affirming methods for coping with the existential terror that’s an inevitable a part of the human expertise.

In reality, merely working towards the stoic idea of memento mori, or, “keep in mind that you’ll die,” may also help us domesticate an important relationship with our mortality. It’s typically after we sit and ponder our personal loss of life consciously, that we’re in a position to put issues in perspective for ourselves.

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Publish-Traumatic Progress Principle

Everyone knows that trauma sucks. It’s painful, it’s distressing, and it may possibly go away deep scars that final a lifetime. However right here’s the factor: it’s not at all times all unhealthy. In reality, some individuals really expertise private development and transformation within the aftermath of a traumatic occasion.

This might sound counterintuitive, but it surely’s backed up by a rising physique of psychological analysis. Publish-traumatic development principle means that individuals who expertise trauma can really come out the opposite aspect stronger and extra resilient than earlier than. They might develop a better appreciation for all times, a deeper sense of function and that means, and a stronger sense of reference to others.5

Now, let’s be clear: this doesn’t imply that trauma is one thing that we should always hunt down or that it’s in some way good for us. But it surely does imply that even within the midst of our darkest moments, there’s the potential for development and transformation.

So, how does this work? Effectively, it’s not precisely an easy course of. In reality, it may be messy, unpredictable, and typically painful. However listed here are just a few of the important thing substances that may contribute to post-traumatic development:

  • First, there’s the idea of “disruption.” Trauma can shake us out of our complacency and drive us to reevaluate our priorities and our beliefs. It may be a wake-up name that forces us to confront the truth of our mortality and to reassess what’s actually vital in life.6
  • Second, there’s the thought of “meaning-making.” Individuals who expertise post-traumatic development typically discover methods to make sense of their expertise and to combine it into their private narrative. They might discover new sources of that means and function in life, or they might really feel a renewed sense of connection to others.7
  • Lastly, there’s the idea of “resilience.” Individuals who expertise post-traumatic development are sometimes in a position to bounce again from adversity and to make use of their expertise as a supply of power and resilience. They might develop a better sense of self-efficacy and a perception of their potential to beat challenges.8

Now, it’s value noting that post-traumatic development is just not a assure. Not everybody who experiences trauma will expertise development and transformation consequently.

However it’s a reminder that even in our darkest moments, there’s the potential for mild and development. It’s a testomony to the ability of the human spirit to beat adversity and to search out that means and function even within the face of profound ache and struggling.

So, to all of you on the market who’ve skilled trauma: know that you’re not alone, and that there’s the potential for development and transformation on the opposite aspect. It received’t be straightforward, however it’s doable. And that, my associates, is one thing value holding onto.

Life Historical past Principle

Based on Life Historical past Principle, all organisms have finite sources at their disposal, and they should allocate these sources in a method that maximizes their reproductive success.9

In different phrases, they want to determine the best way to have as many infants as doable, whereas additionally making certain that these infants survive to breed themselves.

Right here’s the place issues get attention-grabbing: Totally different organisms have completely different methods for allocating their sources. Some organisms, like bushes or tortoises, make investments closely in development and growth early in life, after which decelerate and preserve their sources in a while. Different organisms, like rabbits or mice, make investments much less in development and growth early on, after which reproduce early and infrequently.

So, the place do people match into all of this? Effectively, in line with Life Historical past Principle, people are what’s often known as a “variable life historical past technique” species. In different phrases, we’re fairly versatile when it comes to how we allocate our sources over time.

Some people could comply with a sluggish life historical past technique, investing closely in schooling, profession, and private growth earlier than settling down and having kids. Others could comply with a quick life historical past technique, having kids early and infrequently and focusing much less on long-term planning and delayed gratification.

Now, this may all appear a bit summary, however right here’s the place issues get actually attention-grabbing. Life Historical past Principle may also help clarify an entire vary of human behaviors and traits, from risk-taking to mate choice to socialization.

For instance, people who comply with a quick life historical past technique could also be extra more likely to have interaction in dangerous behaviors, similar to drug use or reckless driving, as a result of they’ve much less to lose in the long term. They might even be extra doubtless to decide on companions primarily based on bodily attractiveness, since that may be a sign of reproductive health.

However, people who comply with a sluggish life historical past technique could also be extra doubtless to decide on companions primarily based on intelligence or ambition, since these traits usually tend to contribute to long-term reproductive success. They might even be extra risk-averse and fewer more likely to have interaction in harmful behaviors, since they’ve extra to lose in the long term.

It’s value noting that Life Historical past Principle is just not a one-size-fits-all clarification for human habits—no psychological principle is. It’s a posh and nuanced principle that’s nonetheless being researched and debated by evolutionary psychologists.

However it’s a reminder that human habits is not only a product of our particular person decisions or circumstances. It’s formed by our evolutionary historical past, and by the methods that now we have developed over time to maximise our reproductive success.

Life Historical past Principle is probably not essentially the most feel-good matter on the market, however it may possibly assist make clear among the most basic points of human habits. And that, my associates, is one thing value being attentive to.

Attachment Principle

Should you’re even a bit acquainted with my work, you’ll know that I lean closely on Attachment Principle to elucidate quite a lot of how relationships work—or don’t work.

Attachment principle is all about one of the basic human experiences on the market: our want for emotional connection.

At its core, attachment principle is in regards to the bonds that kind between infants and their caregivers. Based on attachment principle, these bonds are essential for a kid’s emotional and social growth. Infants who’ve a safe attachment to their caregivers usually tend to really feel protected, assured, and succesful of their relationships with others all through their lives.

However right here’s the place issues get actually attention-grabbing. Attachment principle doesn’t simply apply to infants and their caregivers. It may additionally assist us perceive the dynamics of grownup relationships, and why some persons are extra profitable at forming and sustaining wholesome, satisfying partnerships than others.10

Based on attachment principle, adults who’ve a safe attachment fashion are comfy with intimacy and are in a position to kind sturdy emotional bonds with others. They’re assured of their potential to speak their wants and emotions, they usually belief that their companions might be there for them after they want help.

However, adults who’ve an insecure attachment fashion could battle with intimacy and have problem forming sturdy emotional bonds. They might be hesitant to belief others, and should have bother speaking their wants and emotions in a wholesome method.

Now, right here’s the place issues get actually attention-grabbing. Attachment fashion isn’t simply one thing that’s hardwired into us from beginning. It will also be formed by our life experiences,11 notably our early experiences with caregivers.12

For instance, if a baby’s caregiver is persistently responsive and attentive to their wants, they’re extra more likely to develop a safe attachment fashion as an grownup. But when a baby’s caregiver is inconsistent or neglectful, they might develop an insecure attachment fashion.

The excellent news is that attachment fashion is just not set in stone. Via remedy and different types of self-work, it’s doable to develop a safer attachment fashion and kind more healthy, extra fulfilling relationships.

Should you’re interested by studying extra about your personal attachment fashion, you may join my free e mail course on attachment and relationships.

There you may have it—4 psychological theories that you could be not have heard of earlier than, however that may inform you numerous about your personal life. Although, like several mannequin, these theories are essentially simplifications of a posh actuality, they may provide the understanding you wanted to make optimistic modifications in your life. You’re welcome.