We have been looking over the last few blogs at how we can move out from those frozen states into a safe, secure and relaxed state. Today I want to explain how your nervous system is the part of you that often triggers these responses. It’s time to understand your body so you can then feel safer in how it works, when and how, we move through these different states. The more we understand how our nervous system works the easier it is to help calm our system away from those negative fear states and into that calm, safe, relaxed place. Let’s break down how we see our nervous systems if we look at a ladder and we break it down into three sections. The top part of the ladder is the balanced, calm, relaxed, nervous system state and we can see this as the colour green, the next state is the anxious state and the middle part of the ladder will represent this and we can use the colour red for this state. The bottom part of the ladder is the frozen, detached state which we looked at in the blog Bunny and we can use the colour blue.
Now we have the image of our nervous system and the three states we move between, ultimately, we want to be always in the green zone on the ladder, in that calm nervous system state. For some of us we hardly ever make the green zone and find we live our lives in the red or blue zones of our nervous system, if this is the case for you it won’t be great and life will seem a total struggle living this way. Often though we are living lots of our lives in the green, but there are times or situations which triggers our nervous system to drop into the lower fear states. This can be very stressful and uncomfortable for us and stop us from living our lives to the full, over time we end up creating unconscious habits of responding in this way. These negative habits then get trigger by events and anything similar and our nervous system just jumps into action, thinking it is keeping you safe, which of course it isn’t the case. What we need to do is learn what happens as we move through these different colour zones and how to notice the small signs that are leading us down to those fearful nervous system states. As we start to see the signs, we can then learn to help ourselves stay in the green and not be afraid of our body’s responding in this way, as it is just a bad habit nothing more than that.
Often, we can start to feel ourselves getting less relaxed, we might cross our arms and legs, feel that we need to move, tap our feet, feel our shoulders tense or rise, our heart rate can rise, our breathing becoming shallower. As we go further down the ladder we could also start to feel stifled in our ability to talk, connect and express ourselves, feel introverted and detached from people. Seeing the early signs is the key to helping us stay in the green, as this is the time, we can distract our nervous system from following that old pattern and lead it back into the green. It’s all about connecting to what it’s like being in the green, so take time when you’re in this relaxed state to notice how you feel and how your body feels, the more you understand what being in the green zone of your ladder feels like the easier it is to stay in that zone. Often these habits have been formed as long as we can remember and we feel this is just the way we have to respond to situations, but this is not the case we only do it because our nervous system feels it is protecting us. Until we start sending a new message to stay in the green part of the ladder and stay out of the red and blue zones, how will our nervous systems and minds know this is what we should be doing? The answer is it doesn’t and that is often the only reason you still respond in those ways, like many habits they are formed when we lived our lives in a totally different way, like our life as a child compared to our lives as an adult is often radically different. But until we let our nervous system know that’s it’s safe to reset itself back into the green top section of the ladder it just keeps repeating these old habits.
Know that you are developing a better understanding of how you feel when you’re in the green zone you can now start encouraging your nervous system back into this zone. You can, of course, use all the strategies that we talked about in the blog Carrot, but know you have your own list of ways you feel when in the green zone you can start doing more things that connect you to those relaxed feelings as well. The key is not to fear the lower levels on the ladder, as the more you fear it, the easier you will reach it and the longer you will end up staying in this zone. I see many people in my busy practice and one of the biggest things is the fear of having these anxious and disconnected feelings, of course, no one wants to feel this way and we would never choose it. But the fear of it only continues to leave us in the red and blue zones instead in the green, its times to accept we can all feel this way at times and to acknowledge it instead. If we accept, we feel this way then we don’t get involved in the worry cycle of it, is it here, is it getting worse, how bad will it get, the list of negative thoughts we can have over the fear of the fear can be extensive. Take time now to think of how you deal with the fear and the disconnected zones and just reflect on the negative thoughts you may have over this. When you feel this way again, as it more than likely you will, as for all of us we will experience this from time to time, acknowledge this as an old patterns, they haven’t worked or protected you, in fact, they made you get stuck longer in those fear zones for longer than necessary.
Now is the time to feel free of those thoughts and focus on all the things that can bring you back into the green. Over time your nervous system will learn to live in the green zone more and more as these are the new messages your teaching it is that it’s safe now and you can relax in the moment.
Thanks for dropping by Sara x