Why does a person yell? Our voice is the way we communicate with others. It’s not only how we connect with others – which is one of the 5 basic human needs, but it’s also how we let others know what we need. When a person loses their voice – their ability to communicate their needs to others, they feel helpless, powerless, and meaningless. That last one – that one has no purpose in this world is a form of internal torture.
But we were created with a drive to exist – a survival instinct. The survival instinct is directed by a part of our brain called the amygdala. When our brain encounters a threat stimulus – a big black bear, an oncoming car or a tornado, for example, the amygdala takes over and ignites the fight/flight/freeze mechanism in order to ensure that we survive the threat. The problem is that in order for the amygdala to do its job, it has to take control of all our resources. And in order to do that, it has to disconnect the part of our brain which is in constant competition for those resources – the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is the logic center, it’s the part of our brains that regulate behavior, that’s where the higher order and critical thinking takes place.
So, when our very survival is at stake, logic is shut down and we do whatever that primal brain says that we need to do to survive. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t (most of the time it doesn’t). When what makes sense doesn’t work, we do whatever we can do. Often times, all we feel we can do is yell. And break things. And hope that someone finally hears us.
Unfortunately, when a person is being yelled at, they perceive that as a threat and so their primal brain engages, and they stop listening and start trying to figure out how to survive the threat. As anyone who has ever been in a bad relationship knows, yelling doesn’t actually get you heard, and it doesn’t actually accomplish anything.
But in order to stop the cycle, one party has to recognize that the other is yelling and address what is making that person feel that their survival is at stake. Yelling back just reinforces the threat and escalates the situation.
People are yelling. Today it is the black community, at other times it has been other communities. This situation will not be resolved until someone recognizes that there is pain. An entire population is in pain and their survival – their very existence is being threatened. So, they are yelling. Some of it makes sense, and some of it makes no sense. If everyone would just stop and listen, they would be heard, and healing would begin to take place.
They are yelling. Is anyone listening?