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Six Reasons A Brain Rejects Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion

Written by: Melanie Weller, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI/DEIB) programs in the United States are getting paused and defunded. “Don’t Say Gay” bills are advancing and passing in state legislatures. Drag Queens are no longer allowed to read to children. Pride Month celebrations evoke protests. Many people now choose who they interact with based on their political identities. However, evidence within business research shows that creating cultures of trust, where sharing ideas is safe, increases productivity and profit.

Diversity and Inclusion concept. Wooden and colored figurines.

Given the research, why are our differences so controversial?

1. Trauma

A brain that has not metabolized trauma is constantly not capable of spending energy on logic and pleasurable emotions. One measure of trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), is associated with early death, disability, disease, and social problems. Having education and job opportunities help to mitigate ACEs because of the enhanced predictability and stability. High achievement can be a mitigating or cloaking strategy for trauma. Executives and entrepreneurs have much higher levels of depression, suicide, ADHD, addiction, and bipolar disorder than the general population.

2. Sensory System Deficits

Our skulls are like the “black box” that investigators retrieve in airplane crashes. Our brains, inside the black box of our skulls, only know the data that comes in. Our brains take input through various systems and interpret it to create an output that we call personality, behavior, experience, and more. One system through which we process inputs is the visual system. People with visual system deficits experience a less accurate interpretation of what is happening. Research is clear about how this shows up as body dysmorphia and inaccurate eyewitness accounts of crime. We can have dysmorphia of anything in our visual field: business dysmorphia, family dysmorphia, or community dysmorphia, interpreting what is happening through a distorted lens and perceiving threats where they do not exist.

3. Beliefs

When we hold an authoritarian view of the God of our understanding, it activates our fear responses, which keeps us constantly assessing friend versus foe. Fear limits our ability to access the area of the brain where compassion, tolerance, and acceptance are amplified. This survival response extends to holding anyone or anything in authoritarian power, such as our parents, government, and schools. Authoritarian parenting is associated with an increased incidence of imposter syndrome in adult children. Imposter syndrome can be seen as a different expression of friend versus foe, where we pit our true selves against our perceived imposter.

4. Epigenetics

When a male mouse is trained to be afraid of the smell of cherry blossoms, this fear lasts for at least two generations. Its “grandchildren” are still afraid of the smell of cherry blossoms – the conditioned threat of an ancestor – despite having spent their entire lives in a lab, unexposed to cherry blossoms. Research confirms that humans also carry the stressors of their ancestors in tags on DNA. When we experience a fear or bias, it might not be ours. It could be a tag on our DNA perpetuating nervous system dysregulation, preventing us from getting out of our amygdala and into our anterior cingulate cortex, as discussed above.

5. Storytelling

Humans love contrast. You might not think you do, but it is why we read books, watch television, and go to the movies. Stories without contrast are not entertaining, satisfying, or memory-worthy. Storytelling at its core is important for survival because it allows us to imagine how we might respond, given a differentset of circumstances. Contrast is the language of the nervous system. Neuronsfire, or they do not fire. There is no in-between. Your nervous system will not let you live a dull story. The same neurotransmitter sequence we need for change is the same one a good story takes us through, so we need storytelling and contrast to create change.

6. Era

Current research models show that the universe is a big brain. It also shows it has the ability to learn. Cosmic activity is measurable in our nervous systems through the impact on Earth’s electromagnetic field. It is not a far leap to imagine that the way other objects in the solar system interact with the Earth may contribute to our collective behavior. For example, the current rise of authoritarian leaders on a global scale coincides with Neptune being opposite in the sky from where it was during World War II. We are currently in the “fascist mirror” and seeing another output of the same qualities from our collective brain.

How do we move this collective trauma response from fear to compassion? The nervous system regulation tools we all have access to are storytelling and art. Storytelling and imagery powerfully affect the brain and can be used for growth or oppression. We need more storytelling and art for moving us from isolation to connection. Skillfully applied nervous system exercises can change our behavior and our experience of the world through less pain, less anger, and more connection. Design thinking can help create spaces that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through the nervous system inputs provided in the architecture and decor. Fore more information on how to do this for yourself, enroll in this free course on Creating Connected Leaders taking place July 27, 2023, or sign up anytime for two weeks of free classes on Brain-Based Wellness.

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Melanie Weller, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Melanie Weller is a Neurotheologist, taking leaders, speakers, and performers from stage fright to spotlight and Fearless Presence to scale their transformation in the audience, the board room, the Zoom room, or the family room. She teaches Vagus Nerve Freedom and Neuro-Somatic Intelligence to healthcare professionals and coaches. Melanie is a highly credentialed physical therapist. She lives on the parade route in New Orleans with her husband and occasionally her two adult children.



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