We just aren’t fast enough. In terms of evolution, we’re far more like a tortoise—one of those really old ones—than a cheetah.
In his book The Perfect Health Diet (pages 5-6), Paul Jannet, PhD, says it would take approximately 200,000 years in the modern era for a genetic mutation to reach “fixation.” In other words, universal presence. As the population grows, the time it takes for a fixation to occur grows longer.
The brain we have now is a throwback. Let’s say a throwback of two million years. Somewhere before then, the genus homo evolved, and it existed in several different species, such as erectus, rudolfensis, neanderthalis, and the sapiens. As a species, we’ve had our current nervous system, including brain, spinal cord, and nerve pathways for hundreds of thousands of years, if not far longer.
In those hundreds of thousands of years, humans changed very little, except as needed when they moved to different parts of the globe. For example, the Neanderthal had a bigger body and eyes, due to living in mountainous regions. There is a species that existed in the Pacific islands that was dwarfish. All of those changes happened over millennia. Then sapiens came along, and things changed.
Man invented agriculture.
For hundreds of thousands of years, we hunted and gathered. That was the way our nervous system wired and fired, and that was the reality that was encoded in our genes and passed to our progeny along with the attendant emotional and physical behaviors. About 10 to 12 thousand years ago, man started to use agriculture as a means to stabilize the food source. That meant several things. One was settling down around the food. That altered gathering behaviors and physiology. A second was the need to protect the food and themselves. For hundreds of thousands of years, threats took the form of a tiger or abear, or an angry Neanderthal who wanted something we had. Back then, we fled if we needed to, or fought. For hundreds of thousands of years, we acted on our nervous system response to fight or flee. We burned up the survival energy our bodies produced and we went on with life.
With agriculture, our threats changed. We had to worry about crops being sufficient. We had to contend with waste management, food storage, weather, and plain old getting along with each other. Life changed, but we didn’t. Remember that 200,000 years? Since the advent of agriculture, we invented the compass. The wheel. Writing. The steam engine, cars, airplanes, computers, smartphones…..
All of that change from agriculture to today took place in a little over one percent of the time we’ve existed as humans. Most of it in about a quarter of one percent.
What happened to the bears? The tigers? The other Neanderthals? What really changed? Us, or the world around us?
That’s what I mean when I say we have ancient nervous systems in a modern world.
Look at it this way. Imagine that we played baseball for millennia, the same way. The kids grew up playing it, generation after generation after generation. Then one year they decided to change a rule. After a lot of blank stares, players adapted to that rule. Then another rule changed a few generations later. More blank stares, but they adapted, too. Every couple generations, they began to expect a rule change. Then two rule changes took place in a single generation. After that, changes started taking place every year, then at the beginning of each month, then at the beginning of each game, and then just about every time a player swung a bat. That’s the speed at which things are changing in the world today. We’re still the same old batter, with our paleo brains and nervous systems, and we just can’t keep up with all the changes taking place in the world around us.
Understanding all this can make it easier to function in the world. The gift TRE gives us is the ability to help our ancient nervous systems adapt to the constant changes that take place in the modern world. Let me use an image.
Imagine, if you will, that you have a glass in your hand. It represents your capacity for stress. Along comes a stressor -- say your alarm going off in the morning, and it pours water into the glass. Then comes another stressor (you’re late because you hit the snooze button), and more water goes into the glass. You skip breakfast (more water), traffic is snarled (the water level is getting higher), you’re late to work (higher still), then the boss calls you into his office (it’s getting closer to the top, now), and there is a problem directly affecting you (the glass overflows). It’s only 9:30 a.m.
What TRE® does is empower you to dump “water” out of your glass. Most of what we interpret as threats to our survival actually aren’t, so we need a means of getting rid of the survival energy we’re constantly being flooded with. TRE enables us to maintain the capacity to deal with modern life’s issues without our ancient brain getting overwhelmed.
To learn more about how TRE can help, visit our website at www.raiseyourresilience.com. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter!