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Cultural Differences

There are many things that affect how an individual behaves, thinks and sees the world around them. It could be how they were raised, when they were raised (time period/generation), where they were raised and who raised them.

In today’s topic, I’d like to discuss all of these but mostly the “Where” of it. The “Where” includes all the others in one way or another. The “Where” is the Culture we’re brought up in and how our culture shapes our world views and behaviors.

But how does our culture affect our behavior and mindset? Which factors are the causes of humans often being so radically different in their views and thoughts and behaviors despite there being some fundamental similarities between us? How does culture sometimes override our fundamental instincts, intuition and even our capacity for empathy and other emotions just based on our cultural/social programming?

The thing is, it isn’t just one thing that creates these differences, cultural differences are a culmination of of many things acting together in shaping our minds since birth.

 

Cultural differences are actually a product of;
⦁ Local religion.
⦁ Laws.
⦁ Beliefs.
⦁ Environment.
⦁ Resources.
⦁ Advancement (Technological and Sociological).
⦁ Types of Government.
⦁ Economy.
⦁ Mindset regarding individuality vs normality/likeness.
⦁ Education (via Schooling and Parenting).
⦁ Amount of freedom allotted to the public.
⦁ Population.
⦁ Public Health and Hygiene.
⦁ Infrastructure (for example, an area with more slums have less hygienic lifestyle than someone living in a neat and clean suburb, which relates to the above point).

 

Let’s break them all down one at a time and go into more details.

Local religion – Religion is actually one of the most heavy influencers of an individual’s behavior. It dictates a set of morals and principles that people often follow strictly. Now while many of these ‘rules’ are the same everywhere, some cultures follow them more to the letter than others. For example, religions who don’t allow certain kinds of food items like beef or pork, this rule is followed more strictly in countries like the one I live in than in western countries. Religion influences our behavior more directly than any other aspect.

 

Local Laws – This is another aspect that, just like religion, influences not only our behavior, but also our morals and principles. Local Laws aren’t always the same everywhere. Different countries have different laws and even in those countries, the laws differ from state to state and even city to city. So those states and cities will have restrictions and actions that are considered illegal which aren’t in other states or cities. Examples can be the marijuana bans or laws about marriage and divorce or child protection or laws on CC (concealed carry) or firearms. All of those will be completely different depending on which country and continent you’re on. These different laws make us alter our behaviors and our thought processes in order to be able to assimilate into that particular culture, this can even be applied domestically, not just internationally. As a result, someone from a city, state, country or continent where laws are lenient would find a place where laws are strict and bans are heavy, to be too constricting and limiting. But if someone from a country with strict laws find themselves in a location with lenient laws and merciful punishment, will feel more free and be more open to trying things they otherwise wouldn’t because they weren’t allowed to do so.

 

Beliefs – Our beliefs are not something that is separate from any other factor on this list. They are in fact shaped by the other factors like religion, laws, environment and even mindset developed during an individual’s upbringing. Since other factors differ (quite a lot) in different regions, beliefs are often the most dissimilar factor among various cultures around the world. So much so that like the different laws, beliefs are even different in a country of the same culture.

 

Environment – When I say ‘Environment’, I mean the overall state of the environment in a particular country, i.e. hostile, peaceful, criminalistic, war torn, etc. etc. We are often a product of our environments. Our environment forms our societal structure, from our laws to our governments to our economy to our education and infrastructure. A hostile environment breeds a hostile younger generation due to the need to survive in such an environment, a peaceful environment breeds more pacifists. An individual who comes from a hostile environment will always be suspicious of everyone in a friendly environment, contrasting that is someone from a totally peaceful and low crime environment, who will be too trusting even in hostile environments. Individuals who are trained or are professionals who deal with violence and come from either environments will have a sort of balance and will know when to trust and when not to, when to let their guards down and when to put them up. To put it in short, our environment has a huge impact on cultural differences.

 

Resources – Resources include money available for each family, housing quality, education quality, jobs and their quality, transportation quality, and overall standard of living in a particular city, state, country. Availability (or lack thereof) resources and their quality often determine the level of violence and crime in a certain area. Which determine how the peaceful or hostile an environment will be, which in turn will also influence and determine how the local laws will be organized. More, better resources distributed among the people fairly, will mean less crime and better environmental conditions, less resources and lack of quality, will mean greater chances of criminal activity, which will worsen the overall environmental conditions. Since different countries have different level of quality resources and environments, they often are a determining factor how varied the cultural differences might be between any two given contrasting cultures.

 

Advancement (Technology and Social) – This factor is a little trickier to explain since technology is virtually everywhere. But the keyword here is “virtually”. As in it appears to be everywhere, but it isn’t. This is more applicable to rural areas, especially here, where even a fundamental thing that we all often take for granted like electricity is not so common or frequent. Let along technology like laptops or iphones or internet. This influences the local area more than a whole country or city itself. Those with less technological advancement are often disconnected from the world outside their own areas. This creates a culture that is more introverted as a whole than mixed. Their beliefs and religion is often not diverse, their laws are mostly based on the older beliefs of their ancestors or even based in their own religious beliefs. Those with an abundance of technology are more educated, but not necessarily well-informed due to the immense mis/disinformation in the digital world. Hence the saying “don’t believe everything you read/see on the internet”. There are however good informational sources on the net that do provide legitimate information which creates more well-informed individuals in that city/state/country. The lack of exposure to that legitimate information is what keeps those without technological advancement underdeveloped and uninformed, misinformed and/or disinformed. This creates a huge gap in mindset, beliefs (that have not evolved with the social advancement or lack thereof) and as a result also the local environment.

 

Types of government (and political ideologies) – Now, I often avoid talking about politics, but this subject requires me to include this point here as politics is one of the most significant and the most huge factor in cultural differences. For example, a country with capitalist ideology will have a different mindset (a more opportunistic one) of how to do business than a communist or a socialist one. Although now, almost everywhere in the world, you do see obvious capitalism due to it’s potential to yield more profits to those who are willing to go to higher lengths and take more risks. Doesn’t mean you don’t see some hints of other types of political ideologies as well, it’s just most are mixed and not a complete form of itself. This is also true for the types of government itself. A monarchy will have a different mindset than a democracy and a dictatorship. I’d prefer not to go into much detail here so as to not offend anyone, but, to basically put it in short, a democratic country will have a much higher sense of freedom and rights than a dictatorship (which is either a strict martial law type environment where strict laws and restrictions are put in place by one individual) or even a monarchy (which is where a family of royalty rule over all and only a member of the family can take the throne), another example is a republic (which will have a much greater sense of equality among people than other types). These differences in types of governments and types of political ideologies are what shapes the economy, the technological advancement of said country, the local belief system, education system, laws, religions, as a result people’s mindset, infrastructure, level of freedom of speech and actions, population, health and hygiene,economical growth or downfall and basically the overall environment of the whole country. This makes politics one of the most influential factors of existing cultural differences in our society as a whole.

 

Economy – Economy is what drives the global markets. Without a stable economy, everything would fall apart. No more jobs (or free labor), no more schools (or poor quality schooling), no more food (or extreme scarcity due to inflation) or clothing or shelter, which are the fundamental needs of every individual. A poor economy drives individuals toward crime and the environment becomes hostile overtime and changes the mindset of the individuals in that environment. Economy is one of the main factors that causes cultural differences due to not every economy in the world being a strong economy or even a stable one. Innovation economy is relatively new theory which is actually something that might help economic growth as it emphasizes entrepreneurship and innovation and might help close the gap in cultural difference in some way. But it will require other factors to not hinder its process, which is needless to say, virtually impossible. I’m not an “expert” economist, this is just my view, but economy is nonetheless a factor in global cultural differences.

 

Mindset (Individuality/Normality/Likeness) – Mindset is a product of all the above factors. A culmination of how a child is brought up, what types of teaching has the child received, what kind of actualities have they been exposed to and what type of political ideologies and religious ideas and environments have they experienced. All those play a part in forming ones mindset. This also includes any training they receive, any conditioning they’ve gone through, including the ones from the internet, t.v. music, etc. Every one of those play a part in forming ones mindset. If brought up in a more conservative environment, an individual will be more closed off to things that have been labeled as ‘bad’ while they were growing up. If brought up in an open environment, an individual might be more open to taking risks. If brought up in a more violent environment, an individual might see violence as the best and only answer. If brought up in a loving and peaceful environment, an individual might only see the good in everyone. If someone is brought up in an extremely religious environment, an individual might see everyone who doesn’t follow what they do, as a bad person and an enemy. An individual who’s brought up in an atheist environment might see people’s actions more than who they believe in. Some are brought up in a fairly neutral environment, with religious values that practice peace and love but not extremism, might see people the same way. Some are a combination of two or more. When these individuals come across each other and cross over into foreign territory. Some of the inconsistencies in their thinking might conflict with each other. If the two or more individuals involved don’t respond with emotion, but with logic and reason, situation settles without ever escalating. This would be a product of a healthy upbringing and a peaceful environment. If it is treated aggressively, especially forcing someone to follow what they follow with violence, it would be a product of an unhealthy and violent upbringing in a hostile environment with poor quality of educational and informational value. This is not just applicable to different countries and their individual cultures internationally, but also to same countries with different sub-cultures within them. Some cultures promote individuality and creativity and some promote normality or likeness and “fitting in” or being more “traditional”, leaving an individual less creative and unimaginative.

 

Education (From schools and parents) – Education is something plays a part in developing a child’s mindset from a very early age, since the day they can talk and understand speech. There’s a difference between being educated and being informed though. Many cultures focus more on being educated than on being informed. Which shapes a mind within the confines of the dictated limits of knowledge acquisition. If children aren’t challenged intellectually and creatively, their intellectual and creative growth is stunted, as a result they’re less likely to question things or be curious about new things. Innovation is not possible without creativity. This is why we see the difference in creativity in individuals from different cultures. Those countries that do provide more freedom to be creative and explore new things have more people who create new things than people from countries that force children to be within the boundaries of the dictated educational limits. There’s a much deeper issue that above, as far as education and information provided to children today, but the above is just an example to illustrate the possible reasons for global cultural differences when it comes to education and information.

 

Amount of freedom allotted to the public – This is pretty self-explanatory and relates to the points above namely – education/information, mindset, resources, religious and economical freedom. The less restrictions are imposed on individuals the more options are available. This can also backfire in a way that certain times, people become too entitled and stop valuing the freedom and rights they’ve been afforded or get greedy and get aggressive if they don’t get more of it. Not to mention at the first sign of any restriction, social chaos might ensue. Not all countries allow total freedom, as that would be absolutely chaotic, but many countries offer more freedom of speech and actions than some others. So when individuals who go from a high freedom country to a lower one, they often feel too restrictive and constricted due the lack of freedom to do things they could in their native country. This factor is probably the most noticeable to people as it affects one on a more personal level than the others.

 

Population – Population affects different cultures in an economical sense more than others, especially because there are more people than there are resources to consume, like jobs available and wealth distributed. Logically and even statistically, crime rates also tend to be higher in highly populated areas (which is quite obvious as to why that is). Which again leads to a poor or fairly poor environmental quality. Higher birthrate also means more kids that need to be properly educated, and will need to maintain proper health and hygiene, but with poor economical conditions, that might not be always possible, which contributes to bad hygienic practices and as a result the quality of environments deteriorate even further. This factor is also something that would be noticeable for an individual, especially those who move from small towns to cities or from moderate, yet developed population countries to high yet underdeveloped population ones.

 

Public Health and Hygiene – This point ties into the above one as already mentioned. Countries with affordable medical costs or high medical development or availability of necessary resources, often are a good provider of healthcare and those who provide personal hygiene products of good quality and affordable prices have often a good hygienic environment. But here’s the thing about that, it doesn’t always come down to affordable or developed. This particular factor comes down to the individuals themselves. The better an individual has been informed on such things and brought up in an environment where having good hygiene practices and eating healthy and exercising and avoiding any harmful or unhealthy food items is promoted and praised, the individual will grow up to be someone who practices good basic hygiene with good eating and lifestyle habits. So this factor depends on information/education, environment, mindset and on a certain level, resources.

 

Infrastructure – This is basically the quality of housing, office buildings and working conditions in them, school buildings, smoother roads (that minimize traffic and less accidents along with filled up potholes), efficient transportation, proper drainage system (during heavy rains), proper sewage treatment systems (and not those that leak out with heavy rains), better quality food production factories, better phone lines (for a better network), efficient power plants. A strong economy provides all of these, while an underdeveloped one lacks them. This is also a noticeable factor for those who move from a strong economical country to an underdeveloped one and vice versa.

 

There are also other sub-effects of the main factors that cause cultural differences such as, Sexual Identities, Gender Identities, Age Identity. For example;

  • Gender Identity is developed as a part of an individual’s environment, beliefs and religion.
  • Age Identity is most likely a product of Beliefs and Mindset, which is influenced by beliefs in part, and in some cultures, even due to religion.
  • Sexual Identity can be a sub-effect of Religion, (Personal)Beliefs influenced by Religion or Environment and Freedom (of speech/actions/sexuality) Allotted in their country.

 

So those are the factors that I’ve noticed which influence overall cultural differences in our society as a whole. Some of these differences can be overcome and some of them are actually in the process of being eradicated in the coming years. Many countries are now being influenced by other cultures due to more international exposure via social media and t.v and music, which in turn, is slowly eradicating some differences like technology and mindset and even education in some parts, such as in metro cities (like Mumbai for example). It’s a slow progress, but if it continues and spreads to other parts of the country, it might have an impact on other cultural factors such as economy, freedom and information/education, etc. as well, i.e. if they aren’t hindered by some other existing factors that hold back progress. But that’s something that only time will tell I suppose.

 

I’ll add this final food for thought, even though we have some differences in how we approach certain things, how we live, how our cultures form, on a fundamental level, humans are more similar to each other than we’d like to admit sometimes.

 

We are the same species, adjusting to different environments.

 

Well, that’s it. If I missed something, feel free to comment about it below. It’d be interesting to know your perspective. But no political b.s stuff that incites flame-wars please.

 

Alright, Thanks for reading.

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Self-Control

Self control is easier said than achieved. Your brain doesn’t like being in pain, it doesn’t like being angry or sad, so when a stimulus comes along to do just that, the brain responds aggressively and negatively, instinctively without thinking it.

 

Instincts are a powerful thing, everyone has their “breaking point”, and once they take over, it doesn’t matter how much you trained your brain, if enough distress is caused to the brain, I.E. once it “snaps”, there won’t be any control left, you will act as you were programmed to by millions of years of evolution. The ‘thoughts’ that will occur will be as a result of your brain desperately wanting to end the cause of your distress, which will result in you using violent means of doing so if necessary.

 

Self control is something that should be exercised 24/7. It’s not something that’s done selectively. The best way to be in control is to stop a situation before it begins, and the best way to do that is to not engage in the first place. When you haven’t been pushed to your breaking point, when you still have coherent thought process, that’s when you stop and disengage rather than let your emotions or ego take over. Stop. Think. Walk.

 

The fact remains, once you get involved, you won’t be in control anymore, your instincts, your emotions, your biases, your natural responses and your neurotransmitters will be. You won’t think clearly, coherently, calmly or even at all, you will be without a rational thought process, which often leads to individuals either ending up in jail, hospital or morgue.

 

Having self-control is generally a part of your everyday life. It’s not something that’s incident or situation specific. It’s just having good enough sense to not act in a way that needlessly harms you or others around you.

Sounds

Have you ever listened to the kind of music that makes you wanna get up and dance? How about music that makes you want to do something heroic? How about the kind of music that makes you sad? Nostalgic? Happy? What about the Wonder Woman theme? If you’ve heard it, you know how it kind makes you wanna do something epic. It’s like a motivational music.

Listen to these two variations – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw_o7XUX3fg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fctMc6SxVFY Another example is Epic music (that’s what it’s called) like these two – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2hRTLdvdnk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwJj2EpC8vg or Nostalgic emotions from Retroelectro and Synthwave – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85bkCmaOh4o these two just wanna make you go back to the 80’s (90’s in my case) or Cheerful emotions from this fun little song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ2_tOoefyU For me, it’s the Mortal Kombat movie intro that pumps up my heartbeat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0ac6BXGfuA

Of course, this also applies to different sounds besides music. For example, on a more grim note, during a recent explosion, you could hear people scream in the videos (Emotion of Fear due to explosion and emotions of sadness and sympathy due to the screams when you hear them).

Basically, my point, is that all of those different types of music and sounds provoke different emotional responses. But have you ever asked yourself why? Well, the simple answer to this is that sound is the most important stimulus for virtually any living creature with ears or something similar to ears on this planet. Often even more so than sight. Many animals don’t even rely on sight, sound is their only way of “seeing” (Sonar/Ultra Sound).

You see, sounds, any kind, actually play a huge part in not only how we perceive the world around us, but also largely on our emotional state, on how we feel in that moment. It doesn’t have to be music, I’m talking about sounds. It can be the chirping of a bird or a waterfall or a tiger roaring or an explosion or a fast car driving by. Any sound, affects our thought process, in part of course, it changes the way we feel and think in that moment, about that moment.

Another thing you might’ve noticed is how men with deeper voice usually get more attention while talking, while men with higher voice, don’t as much. It of course depends on what each one is saying and other external factors, etc. But our voice, has an impact. It enhances our personality in people’s eyes. Maybe it could be the deep seated sexism, where high pitched voice of a male is associated with women and therefore weak and not worth listening to? Who knows? But no, it’s not that likely that that’s the case, because it’s the same with women.

https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/why-we-prefer-masculine-voices-even-in-women/266350/

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-women-like-deep-voices-and-men-prefer-high-ones-41492244/

Of course, there have been some further studies to this (even in the dating aspect, the ‘getting more attention’ aspect still stands even in those studies);

http://globalnews.ca/news/2691575/your-deep-voice-isnt-sexy-to-women-but-it-scares-off-other-men-study/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/subliminal/201205/how-we-are-judged-our-voice-in-dating-and-the-workplace

Of course, either way, it still proves how voices affect our choices, our moods, our thoughts and even attraction in social settings.

So, how does this relate to everyday life and Conflict Management and Self-Protection? Well, it relates to how we communicate. It relates to what kind of tone we use while speaking. Verbal communication skills are often overlooked in training and verbal deescalation doesn’t just include saying the ‘right thing’, it includes saying it the right way with the right tone of voice. See, having a deep voice is good, but it’s the tone that you speak in, that affects their opinion of you. Certain kinds of tones, that sound too aggressive, too confident, too controlling, too weak, too indifferent, too unsure, basically anything too extreme on either sides, will affect how a person thinks of you.

Sounds, affect thoughts and opinions and those thoughts and opinions will determine how that person treats you. Don’t take the power of your voice, for granted, learn to harness it. Pay attention to the sounds around you, and remember, if you ever feel down, there’s a lot of good music up there that you can listen to and get motivated. Something to think about 🙂

 

 

Here’s a nice little addition that (sort of) explains the mystery behind such kind of motivational music like the Wonder Woman theme; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5vQz4Xz6q8

Analyzing a video

Another facebook post/comment tuned blog post, I thought many might benefit from this.

This is in a context of analyzing a video that shows some sort of violence, to study the incident and then later modify our training to adapt to similar situations. This also helps you perceive violence differently than others and your previous self.

When I analyze these videos, I first prefer to know the full story or at least as much as possible about the incident that took place because any analysis without the full story will be filled with my own biases and experiences which will affect the outcome of the analysis.

After I’ve known the story, I usually have the data, the blanks that are filled in the categories of;
1- What instigated the incident?
2- What happened before the actual incident?
3- Who was involved?
4- Why did it escalate to this point?
5- What was the location?
6- What time? (This is often not mentioned though)
7- Which country did it take place in? (Cultural aspect)
8- Ages of the individuals.
9- Backgrounds of the involved (It’s not always full, but enough to make a ballpark estimation).
10- What kind of violence was it?
11- What means were used to accomplish the job?
12- What were the legal and other repercussions of this for both?

After I’ve got the above data, I then look at the incident itself, first from the assailant’s perspective;
1- Pre-contact cues.
2- Verbal cues (If audio is available).
3- Means of violence utilized.
4- Levels of violence utilized
5- Body language of the assailant.

Then I see it from the victim’s perspective;
1- What were they paying attention to before the assault?
2- How long did it take for them to spot the threat?
3- What was their reaction?
4- How quick and efficiently did they react?
5- What were the external factors that would/did hinder them?

Then I finally look for the bystander’s reactions.
1- When did they arrive at the scene?
2- What did they see?
3- How did they react?
4- Did anyone help?
5- What did they say after?

Finally, I put it altogether in my notes and add the previously received full incident data and see where I would fit, what I would be capable of doing and whether it would work for me. Of course, I do this from both perspectives, strange I know, but I first see if I would be successful if I were the predator, then if I were the survivor/victim. Then I add in some additional external factors, remove some factors that don’t pertain to my situation depending on my own location and I come up with possible solutions to these kinds of problems.

Luckily, since I’ve adopted this approach, I’ve been able to, on a certain level, know and avoid certain violence prone areas, so, now I don’t have to use it a lot. Which I think might affect my training, because there is no more testing to what I do. A cruel paradox.

This was specific to me analyzing videos of violence. The principle of getting the core information first then, looking at the presented information, can be utilized for analysis of any video or anything that you analyze and study.

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Recollection Drill

Another fb post turned blog post…*sigh* It’s becoming a habit now..

So, do this if you want to know whether you will recall every part of your training in a stressful situation. Give yourself or ask someone else to give you a random series of numbers, single, double, triple digits, for example 4-15-23-39-110-180. Then wait 15 minutes or so and focus on doing something else, it doesn’t matter what, anything that gets your mind off this, that will simulate you going about your day after training. Then do a high intensity workout, this will simulate your tiredness after a work day. Focus on the workout only, nothing else. Do it for at least 30-45 minutes. Then towards the end of the workout and after it, try and recall the sequence that was given to you, and then recall it in reverse. If you can do that flawlessly, meaning you don’t write it down or constantly think about it and stress on it and still be able to recall them within 10-15 seconds, chances are good that you’ll be able to recall a lot of information accurately in very less time during a stressed situation. If you don’t, which most can’t, you should try making your training more principle based rather than technique based. Because there is no way you can ever recall every technique you learned for every different situation within the time frame that will be provided in an actual stress based situation. I used to do that all the time and still do it sometimes, it’s useful in improving memory as well btw.

Update- Just to be clear, I’m aware that physical recollection memory differs from  pattern recognition memory. My point with this is to show that the more data you have to recall, the longer it takes and the efficiency of memory recollection drops, as in, the data recalled is either inaccurate or incomplete. It is much quicker for the brain to recall a generalization than a specific bit of information.

 

Try it! Find out how well your memory recollection works in a stressful situation 🙂

Psychological Resistance

FB post turned blog post.

One of the most effective ways to cultivate psychological resistance to your environment is detachment from the factors causing stress.

This is applicable to those who can’t escape their harsh, stressful environments.

Before doing something like that, remember three things though;
1- It’s easier said than done. Takes a lot of forceful avoidance (will).

2- There are extreme side-effects like anti-social behavior, lack of social skills, anxiety, depression, emotional imbalance and loss of empathy, with prolonged application.

3- If not kept in check, i.e. if you constantly keep detaching yourself from everything you ‘don’t like’, you will alter your brain in a way that even the smallest things will cause you to lash out or you will become completely desensitized to all stimuli, including any emotion of joy. It’s only truly useful for those extreme stress situations, not your day-to-day issues.