Breaking the Cycle illustrates our capacity for breaking our current Cycle of Competitive Detachment and returning to the pattern of 95% of our human history: a healthy, peaceful Cycle of Cooperative Companionship. Breaking the Cycle is based on the multi-award-winning book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom, by Darcia Narvaez, PhD.
Breaking the Cycle contrasts the two basic ways societies can function: the optimal approach, which most human societies through time have followed, is the Cycle of Cooperative Companionship where children’s basic needs are met; they grow into well-functioning, cooperative community members (from neurobiology and on up); and as healthy adults, they maintain the cooperative system. Currently in the USA, the opposite pattern is in place: children’s basic needs are not met, ill-being and dysregulation ensue, creating adults who are detached and distracted and keep this Cycle of Competitive Detachment going. The United Nations ranks the USA as 41st out of 41 developed countries for child and adult wellness.
Note: There are two versions of the film, one in English, one in Spanish. See the Spanish film and materials here. The English version can also be watched with subtitles at YouTube in the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish.
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Join Darcia Narvaez and Lisa Reagan for a discussion of the Evolved Nest's short film, Breaking the Cycle. You can watch the film and find resources, including a film guide on this website.
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This film is based on the multi-award-winning research of Darcia Narvaez, PhD, founder of the Evolved Nest. Meet the researcher and learn more about the Evolved Nest.
What are our next steps? Find ways to engage and participate in social change-making, trance-breaking, new cycle-making with the Evolved Nest's resources. Join the online discussion, and
We’ve been told a story that we are selfish, aggressive, rugged individuals. But if that were true, we should have no problem with physical distancing and self-isolation. The pandemic showed us that this story is not who we are.
That’s because we evolved in cooperative bands of kin and nonkin where we were nurtured and welcomed by all members of the community. We lived together, we gathered food together, we sang together, and we danced together. We knew it would have been impossible to survive on our own. But together, we thrived. (Explanation: Only 1% of human existence, the last 10,000 years or so, has involved civilization. Before that and outside civilization, small-band hunter-gatherers existed with a common set of practices that fostered thriving in the community. We call that the Evolved Nest.)
Today, we are living in a culture that goes against everything it means to be human. Our culture emphasizes toughness over tenderness, isolation instead of togetherness, even for babies. As a result, we are depressed, anxious, chronically ill, and at the bottom of every international indicator for health.
We are stuck in a Cycle of Competitive Detachment where we feel disconnected from others and even ourselves, while at the same time feeling we have to compete for anything worthwhile. There is a way, not only to break this cycle, but to create a new cycle, one that reclaims our humanity and helps us heal ourselves and our culture. We can create a cycle of connected, cooperative companionship.
Over 95% of our species' history was spent in Cycles of Connected, Cooperative Companionship.
For most of our existence, we have created culture from the bottom up, from the way we raised children, and from the top down, from the stories we told one another. Children were nested in loving supportive village care, growing deep connections to and respect for the natural world.
In modern culture, children are raised with disconnection, with little concern for their basic needs and with an almost random set of relational experiences. They still hear stories, conveyed by various media, but they are full of put-downs, egoism and violence.
Babies require an external womb experience to grow and connect with others. They need calming affectionate care, immediate responses to keep them optimally aroused while rapidly growing brain connections. Without this early care, babies learn a pattern of disconnection from the self, others, and the world, manifesting in self-protective mindsets and irritation with people from different backgrounds or with different ideas. We withdraw from social life because it is just too painful, triggering the traumas we experienced early on in life. We constantly seek to fill a void we were never biologically intended to experience.
The good news is that it is possible to break this Cycle of Competitive Detachment and restore the Cycles of Connected, Cooperative Companionship.
We can learn what our basic needs are and find ways to help everyone get them met. We can take steps that open our minds and hearts and build empathy towards others who are different from us. We can become aware and careful about where we put our greatest asset – our attention. We can build attachment to the natural world by immersing ourselves in its beauty and developing our connection with its aliveness.
Cultures can and do change. It begins with each one of us realizing our inherent nature to be empathic, flexible, and sovereign beings, and taking steps to heal and restore our core nature.
Many of us assume that the culture we live in mirrors innate human nature. But today’s dominant cultures of competitive destructive detachment are rare and recent. Nearly every other culture that has ever existed during our species history over millions of years has been one of connected cooperative companionship. To heal ourselves and our world, we simply must return to this way of nurturing children and communities. Find out more at EvolvedNest.org
We can break the cycle of competitive detachment and restore the cycle of cooperative companionship.
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