Physics 101: for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.
Oxytocin is enjoying it’s time in the spotlight. It appears to give almost miraculous results with bonding and mood and milk-flow.
But we rarely talk about it’s dark side!
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of oxytocin. This very special hormone has shaped who we are as human beings. But, like everything in life, it has strengths and weaknesses.
The upside is attachment to our people, the downside is exclusion of outsiders.
Here is one of a number of studies that shows that oxytocin increases racist behaviours! For example when our oxytocin level are high we show more nepotism, favouring our own group over others. Oxytocin, whilst thought to increase empathy and compassion in general, doesn’t increase empathy when the suffering belongs to someone who is considered ‘other.’
This is one of the reasons why mothers, with our increased oxytocin levels, have super powers when it comes to protecting own own young. And why we tend to form very strong ‘tribes’ with other like-minded mothers. We can embrace our strengths and find awesome, long lasting friendships. It's so valuable to join mothers groups with people who have similar parenting styles, and find your people.
It’s important to be aware of our weaknesses and guard against the negative possibilities. Be gentle with ‘other’ mothers who don’t do things the same way as you do. It turns out we aren’t so different after all.