Did You Know Your Brain Has a WiFi? (UHD Part 1)

If you think about it, our brains are very much like a computer. They receive and process information, make calculations, and, like computers, might even need an occasional “rebooting.” From childhood into adulthood, we increasingly become aware of how our own brain works but also how it prefers to organize the external world as it processes and perceives. This means that we don’t always see or hear everything that is happening around us. Our brains filter things, fills in gaps, and can even fabricate things to help explain what it is perceiving. However, we rarely spend active consciousness considering how other people’s brains are perceiving the same situation.

Even psychologists that have spent decades studying the human mind cannot know what it is like to live inside a brain other than their own. Some may argue otherwise, but it is a fact that no one can understand what it is like to be at the helm of anyone else’s brain but their own.

One way to prove this to yourself is to audio record a meeting for which you are an active participant. Particularly, a meeting that has multiple people that are actively participating in the debate or discussion. What you will learn by listening to it later is how much you missed by being an active participant versus an observer on the sideline. You might even realize how you could have changed how you said things to be more efficient. The point I am trying to make is that we tend to live our lives without being cognizant that we cannot be two people at the same time. The best way to overcome this limitation is with synapsing.

Throughout your entire life, you have been experiencing synapsing without even realizing what was happening, and more importantly, why it was happening.

Before I describe it, I want to ask you to do something for me. Take a moment and think back to everyone you have ever briefly known or met along the way. Flip through as many as you can, as if you are shuffling a deck of cards face up — only these cards are people and not the ace of spades.

Finished?

Okay, Good.

In that short shuffling back in time, you likely imagined a somewhat random collection of images of people. Perhaps, even a couple of people from your past career that you have forgotten about over the years. The purpose of this exercise was to have you scan back into your life for a moment. What you may or may not realize is that our memories are tagged with a combination of images and particular details such as a point in time or geographic location, but most importantly, how it made us feel.

For example, if you think about the best presentation you have heard, you will realize that what flags the recall is more about how it made you feel than what was specifically said. You might even have to think about what was specifically said. Yet, you will always remember how it made you feel.

The reason I keep highlight this word “feel” is because there is a feeling we have with certain people. We often are not cognizant of why we feel the way that we do at the time it occurred. This is a WiFi process in our brains that we don’t realize is there when it is happening. This process is called synapsing. We have all had those days we just didn’t want to talk to anyone and the next thing we know, we are fully engulfed in a conversation with someone we just met. That feeling we have with the person is an instant energy build is it not?

Synapsing is the process of two brains with the same or similar brain hardware functions that magnetically connect because they see and process the surrounding world in a similar way. It is as though you are reading their minds and they are reading yours, and both of you can finish each other’s sentences.

However it happens, it just happens. Before you know it, you and this other person are proverbially scaling a building using resonating thought. The immediate environment “grays out” and you lose complete track of time. When this happens with people we have just met, the experience is usually stored in our long-term memories.

There is only one other formal definition of the word ‘synapse’ — the process of how your brain communicates with the body as it interacts with the physical external world by creating electrical signals from pumping sodium and potassium ions back and forth across a gap between cell membranes (called the synapse.) It is our body’s circuitry. Synapsing, as it is used here is the Wi-Fi version that does the same thing, albeit between people.

There are 4 Stages of Synapsing:

The Pre-Synapse

I call it the “Pre” Synapse because it is like striking the flint to start a fire that by the time lit, it immediately goes out again. This weak pyro act actually begins at the grade school levels. We just didn’t realize it at the time. As adults, it doesn’t happen every day or even every week. But it happens, nonetheless. You feel it, but it doesn’t go beyond the initial encounter. If it does, it is no longer a Pre-Synapse.

Pre-Synapsing maintains several unique conditions that distinguish it from general acquaintances. It’s tempting to categorize someone as being a Pre-Synapse because you enjoyed the encounter with them. It is important to separate people we meet that we find intriguing or with whom we found the conversation enjoyable from an actual Pre-Synapse. To help you make this distinction, there is a list of the requirements for an encounter to be a Pre-Synapse.

1. It only happens between you and one other person.

2. It is only one occurrence. If it continues it turns into a Level 1 Synapse.

3. It is effortless.

4. It is invigorating.

5. It does not need to be a face-to-face encounter. For example, it can occur with a phone conversation.

6. It happens between both people involved. In other words, it is mutual.

7. The “feeling” is from an alignment of mental wavelength and almost always happens early in the engagement with the other person. In other words, it doesn’t creep up halfway through the encounter.

8. The experience is saved to both individual’s long-term memory.

9. It can be between any ages or genders.

I want to point out that it is easy to confuse Pre-Synapsing with “liking” someone, such as a physical attraction, admiration, or simply being impressed or fascinated. We have all been in situations where we probably felt like we were experiencing a Pre-Synapse, but the other person really wasn’t reciprocating. They may have wanted us to feel that way, perhaps to make a sale, get something from us or take advantage or manipulate us in some way. This will happen even when you have the lens to see it. It’s ok, it happens, just remember that secondary reflection will reveal the real clues. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who feed off of the process of manufacturing the feelings of a Pre-Synapse to get what they want from you.

Pre-synapsing is the stage that happens before a Level 1 Synapse can materialize. Unfortunately, we experience far more Pre-Synapses in our life than Level 1 Synapses. This is sad because it is like all these flint rocks striking together and tossing fire-starting sparks onto the surrounding kindling and we flippantly pour our cappuccinos on it no sooner than it starts to burn. We appreciate these invigorating chats but now we have real stuff to do. We exit the therapeutic moment because the real world doesn’t understand what just happened or the power of the shared insights that was just effortlessly built. Sound about right in today’s distracted and over-stimulated world?

If we took even a fraction of the Pre-Synapses in our lives and advanced them to a Level 1 Synapse, the world would be a very different place. Your life would be greatly enhanced and enriched because of it.

The Level 1 Synapse

The Level 1 Synapse is simply connecting the wires of the potential energy that exists from a Pre-Synapse. It is letting that fire stay lit for a little bit longer. Whereas a Pre-Synapse is a one-time mutual synaptic connection, the Level 1 Synapse continues to grow and evolve through a multitude of occasions. Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades we have seen our lives become so distracted and busy that the number and quality of Level 1 Synapses have precipitously declined. On the positive side, once a Level 1 Synapse is formed it can lay dormant for years and be easily reignited. Think about the dormant ones in your life today that could be reignited.

The types of people we typically form Level 1 Synapses with can vary. Without realizing it, you likely have several of them in your personal and professional life today. It could be a relative like an uncle or cousin, one of your parents, an in-law, neighbor, schoolmate, teacher, coworker, etc. That person would, of course, need to agree and feel the same way about you. The truest test would be how you each answer questions related to topics of joint interest. More specifically, how you both approach analyzing a problem or situation.

Synapsing at the most basic descriptive level is about having a similar, if not the identical “brain operating system.” This means there is a strong similarity in hearing, seeing, and framing observations and resultant thoughts. This is where you will always find the spark of the synapse — similarity in how the brains involved are organizing the external environment, absorbing the provided information, and processing it to form opinions and judgments.

Like with the Pre-Synapse, there are conditions that must be met for the relationship to be considered a Level 1 Synapse.

Level 1 Synapse Requirements:

1. Meets all the requirements of a Pre-Synapse, but has progressed further than a single occurrence.

2. You treat them differently than everyone else. For example, they might be the ones you always give a hug when you see them. Whether noticeable from the outside looking in or not, you greet them differently than anyone else.

3. You have a strong recollection of the details of the previous synaptic encounter you had with them regardless of how long ago it occurred.

4. Time seems to stand. Hours can pass without notice.

5. There is not a goal, task, or problem being solved. When there is one, it becomes a Level 2 Synapse.

6. The relationship has enriched your personal life.

7. You answer questions and approach analyzing things nearly the same way.

8. Long periods of time without contact does not have a negative impact on the quality of the Synapse.

9. Social friendship is not necessary. We can (and do) build synapses with people whose personal lives we know very little about.

10. It has been Time and Situation tested.

Once you separate friends and acquaintances from those who you believe meet the requirements of a Level 1 Synapse, the next step is to determine if it has been ‘time and situation’ tested. This assumes the other person agrees it is a Level 1 Synapse. The next question is how well has it been pressure tested? You will know if the two of you share similar/same brain hardware when it is being challenged.

Synapses are not benign to dissolution. The same things that can end a non-synaptic relationship can end a synaptic one. We all have degrees of preferences and expectations that we hold onto others and there are times the other person may cross that line or vice-versa. We are all subject to varying degrees of influence that could have a negative effect on the synapse, such as a spouse or significant other. Therefore, now is a good time to introduce and describe the Negative Synapse.

The Negative Synapse

In order to fully grasp synapsing it is important to understand what Negative Synapsing means and how we can actively manage them if not resolve them before they escalate.

A Negative Synapse, in its most simple form, is the inability to exchange ideas, information, and energy between two individuals. Negative Synapsing can manifest itself in every aspect of our lives: professional, social, academic, and even within our own family. The Negative Synapse also has its own unique “feeling.” The Negative Synapses are those individuals we want to avoid, even if we cannot always articulate why. There is just something about them that repels us and we find the encounters exhausting.

For example, you may have been asked at some point in your life to complete a work or school assignment that required what seemed like twice as much effort to produce an average product, because of the partners you were assigned. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort. In fact, you may have put in more effort than you normally would, but the result did not exceed the relative average. These experiences, similar to Pre-Synapses, make it into our long-term memories. Tagged again with uniquely associative details. Arguably, we have even stronger memories of the Negative Synapses we have experienced in our lives.

Everyone has experienced Negative Synapsing in a social situation. Perhaps, you have had a painstaking, drawn-out conversation with someone that you, eventually, happily escaped. You might have even made a personal vow to be better prepared next time you see them with an escape plan. You have likely also found yourself at recallable times passively listening; pretending to be engaged and trying not to be obvious as you look at the time or for someone else to enter the discussion. Negative Synapses happen as instantly as Pre-Synapses.

Here are a few personally experienced reasons that caused a Negative Synapse. However, what causes a person to be a Negative Synapse is very much personal.

  • Violation or crossing boundaries of a personal value, moral, or citizen expectations.
  • Extreme differences in brain functions that result in the inability to ever be on the same page.
  • Narcissism, passive aggressiveness, or dispassionate regard towards others.
  • Those that are deceitful, disingenuous, and untrustworthy.
  • Those that talk down to or bully others.

The real energy comes when Level 1 Synapses advance to Level 2.

The Level 2 Synapse

The Level 2 Synapse is, in its simplest form, a Level 1 Synapse that has decided to stop talking and do something! It is like putting the car on the road after you and the other person have been working on the engine for a considerable amount of time. The Synapse itself can remain as effortless as the Pre- and Level 1 Synapse, especially in the beginning. The focused energy, connecting the wires of both brains is exhilarating to both individuals. How well the Level 2 Synapse affects the resulting goal depends on how well it overcomes the obstacles to a successful outcome.

Hopefully, you can think of personal examples that meet the Level 1 Synapse requirements. We should all be able to recall at least one event in our lives that rings familiar with the Level 2 Synapse. It might not have been on purpose, meaning, it could have been a random encounter on the same team with a Pre-Synapse that quickly went from Level 1 to Level 2 because there was a goal to achieve.

Can you think of an example from your own past?

What would you have done differently if you had realized the special connection you and the other person had?

How could you have fueled the synaptic fire?

In sharing the framework of the “Synapsing” concept with others along the way of its development, it became clear that below the surface of one’s initial grasp it can get confusing as to what would constitute the right ‘task’ or ‘goal’ that would energize a Level 1 Synapse towards a Level 2. What I will tell you is that it goes back to two people who answer questions the same. To pursue anything in life means getting others to support you, advocate on your behalf, remove barriers, or be an instrumental part of opening doors of opportunity.

With a Level 2 Synapse, you are the same person in two different places the majority of the time yet separately advancing towards the goal and always on the same page even when time spent face-to-face is minimal.

At this point, the difference between a Level 2 and Level 3 should be predictable.

The Level 3 Synapse

The duo turns into a network of three or more people. It includes more synapses but also what I call supporters to the “synaptic network.” These are the people who simply believe what the Level 3 Synapses are doing and saying. These are the people who are emotionally committed and want to be a part of it. Note, the only definition of a leader is you have followers, and not by force, coercion, or intimidation. Therefore, Level 3 Synapses tend to inspire followers. History has been shaped because of Level 3 Synapses.

A personal favorite example was President Ronald Reagan and secretary of state George Schulz. Schulz was Reagan all over the world making a difference and their time spent in face-to-face reviews was minimal because they were undeniably “on the same page.”

Synapsing is the single most effective means of overcoming resistance to change. This can be as simple as innovation within a company since the word ‘innovation’ is, by definition, a hindsight term. It was not an innovation as someone’s ridiculous idea was it? Only a Level 2 or 3 Synapse can prevail in most cases.

I have been studying synapsing and the potential it possesses for a long time. I see it when it happens and I see it rot on the vine of opportunity. At times, I see its misguided path and feel powerless to prevent futile waste of such true organic power. It is frustrating to see such a natural and powerful way to instill positive change atrophy. In our current society, we are far too distracted and overwhelmed to maintain even our Level 1 Synapses let alone advance them to levels 2 and 3. Instead, we pacify and numb our gut feelings about the things we see as too difficult to overcome.

Once you have the ability to see something, it cannot be “un-seen.” It’s like buying a new car. Let’s say it is a silver Honda Civic. Not only do you notice every Honda Civic on the road, you cannot help but see every silver one in your periphery. It is no different here. Once you understand synapsing and the powers of it you will start to actively see it happening around you. Then, you might start to take notice of the Levels 2 and 3 opportunities within your own grasp.

Kelly Williams, kelly@up-factorllc.com