Instincts in Humans : Do we need to Control ?

Instincts are genetically hard-wired behaviors which are coded in our DNA as generations of our ancestors behaved in that way. These instincts enhance our ability to cope with vital environmental contingencies. We do not need to learn these instinctive behaviors, but they just happen when the situation arises.

Self-preservation Instincts: 

  • Fear of Snakes: Humans evolves with snakes residing near them, so the "fear of snakes" became an instinct which kept them away from snakes and helped in survival.
  • Fear of Darkness: It was harder for humans to see in dark and they can easily become prey of large wild animals, so the instinct of "fear of darkness" kept them safer and again helped in survival.
  • Fight or Flight: When our brain senses that there is some danger to the life, Adrenaline hormone is released instantly and within seconds our heart starts to beat faster and muscles get ready for action. It makes us super-human for some time, so that we can fight at our best or we can run from the scene at the fastest possible speed.
  • Fear of loud noises called phonophobia makes us react to loud noise, as most of the times it means danger to life, either from a predator or a natural calamity. 
  • Fear of falling called basophobia is an instinct which saves us from going too high as sometimes it can be life-threatening. Due to this fear some people find it hard to look outside from a tall building. Baby’s tight grasp on a finger placed against his upraised palm is the best example of this fear, as his instincts want him to grab something to save himself. 
  • Anger: You may find that being angry is a negative emotion, but it is a natural survival instinct. If you don't get angry on somebody harming you, then you can't fight to protect yourself. How anger affects your body ?
Curiosity: This instinct makes us who we are. Our ability to analyzing things and learning skills like speaking a language are instinctive in nature. It increases our IQ and make us more intelligent than other animals on planet.

Instincts that are destroying us !

Greed is a negative instinct but overpopulation has made it prevalent. Overpopulation is a result of our instinct of procreation. This overpopulation is causing scarcity of resources, such as jobs and quality of life, which is creating competition. Competition is Greed in other words, not matter if you call it positive or negative competition. Greed is primary reason behind corruption, which is destroying us from inside.
Denial, tribal loyalty, revenge, greed, and procreation are instincts that were hard-wired in our DNA, but now they are creating negative impact in survival of humans as a race. Our denial has made "overpopulation and pollution", unresolved challenges that can totally eliminate humans from earth. Our procreationcompetition and greed is increasing pollution and corruption. Tribal Loyality was a positive instinct for survival when we were hunter gatherers, but now tribal loyality has taken form of nationalism and religion. Our loyalty for nation and religion make us fight for boundaries, gods and politicians. Tribal loyalty has created world wars and no-one would like it to trigger nuclear wars that can wipe out human race. 

Can Instincts Be Controlled?

Some people overcome the "fear of snakes" after a few encounters with them. Some people don't have fear of heights and often climb on top of towers to make records. Some researchers believe that instincts can't be fully controlled, but you can learn to suppress them to live a safe and sound social life. For example the fear from darkness is present in everybody, as it is a fear of unknown, but we can hide this fear with age. Kids fear the most from darkness while adults know how to hide it. Same is with Anger ! We can practice how to control the anger, but in some situations our instinctive angry behavior might make us do such things that we won't do otherwise. Crimes that happen in the heat of argument are often such incidents. So it is must to control some of your instincts if you want to live a healthy and peaceful life.

Are our Instincts Evolving?

We are going from "Survival of the fittest" to "Survival of the kindest".

No matter how "Selfish" the world seems to us, we are getting more kind and full of sympathy to others, which is a good thing. Here you must understand that being kind does not mean that we are no longer fit and we can't compete anymore. Being kind only mean that we are at the top and we can care for others. To care for others we need to be strong, both mentally and physically.

Caring for loved-ones more than our own life. This instinct is a very strong instinct, which shows that our own life is of lesser value to us. If a situation arises where you can save either your life or your love (which may be love girlfriend, wife, kids, parents),  then most probably you will opt for the second option.

Even if it is not something life-threatening, caring for others gives us a some kind of happiness which improves our own well being. Similarly a touch of sympathy calms our vagus nerve and settle down the anxiousness in body. As Darwin once said that "Sympathy is our greatest instinct".

Evolving Parental Instincts

Parental instincts make us take care of our offspring and provide them shelter, food, warmth, love and safety. Parental Instincts are of two types: Maternal Instincts and Paternal Instincts. If you observe other animals then you will find that they have only maternal instincts as only mother takes care of babies while fathers roam freely. Evolving social life of humans evolved our DNA to have paternal instincts, so in humans fathers also show unconditional love for his own offspring.

Human Beings are not fastest, tallest or most muscular animal of this planet. But we are ruling this planet because we have got DNA coded with instincts which are making us superior. 

We might not be fittest but our instincts are best. It is now in our hands as a race, if we use those instincts to evolve or to destroy.

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