This episode talks about the 4 nervous system responses, the subtle ways they can be showing up in our lives without us even realizing, and how to soothe an activated nervous system.
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Hey my friends. It is officially allergy season for me. So if I sound stuffed up that is why. I wanted to talk about the nervous system today and kind of the four types of responses that we can have in response to a nervous system activation. And I think a lot of us have probably heard of the four types of nervous system activation. It's the fight flight, freeze and fawn. But I think that sometimes we're not always clear when they're showing up for us. I think sometimes we are in a nervous system response and we don't even realize it. And when we don't realize it, we can't address it. And I think it's really important to come to recognize for yourself when you're activated so that you can soothe your nervous system and address that. So we're going to talk about the four types and how they show up in our lives and then how to soothe our nervous systems. So the first one is fight, and at least for me, when I thought of this one I always think of like literal fighting, like getting into arguments or fist fights or something. And that could be the case but more often, I think it shows up in subtler ways. I was surprised at how much I actually have my fight response triggered because I don't consider myself a confrontational person, but it doesn't always look like confrontation. It could be a sense of agitation. If you find yourself being annoyed by everyone and everything that is your fight mode being activated. Picking fights online, being disagreeable. I remember one time myself that I had like this brief stint of time where like, if I was scrolling through a Facebook group and I saw something and I didn't like it I would have to comment and I was getting into all these like random Facebook fights with strangers and I was like, This is so weird like this is so unlike me, why am I doing this? And it was because I was in a state of of nervous system activation. It was my fight response coming out. Another interesting way I saw the fight response show up for me was in defiance. So my whole life I always felt kind of like an outsider. Like, kind of a loner on the fringes of society. And I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. And so when COVID hit and there was all this messaging like, Oh, we're all in this together, it activated my nervous system. I became very defiant. So I refused to isolate or wear a mask or do anything for a little bit. Because in my head, it was like, Oh, I'm an outcast until you want something from me, until you need something from me. And then it's like, oh, we're all in this together. And then I was pissed and defiant. And it took me a minute to realize that I was actually in fight mode. Like I was triggered and was in a nervous system response. And anytime you find yourself having a response to something that seems extreme or exaggerated, that is a clue that you are in fight mode. It can also show up in your jaw hurting or getting frequent tension headaches, and it shows up a lot for me in jaw clenching. Like I will clench my jaw and I won't even notice that I'm doing it until my face starts hurting. But that could be a fight response. Being tense and poised like that. And maybe not, not all the time, right? If you're clenching your jaw that could be a lot of things right? You could have TMJ or you know, whatever. But a lot of the times I think it is because our nervous system is is activated and we're in that tense state. Defensiveness is another big way that it shows up right? Anytime someone's getting really defensive about something that is an indication that their fight response is being triggered. Alright, and the next one is flight response and flight response we tend to think of like running away and sometimes it is literally running away, right back in the day, you might have literally ran from predators. But I think in modern times, it's a lot more subtle. So we might not always be aware that it's happening or that we're in flight mode. Like have you ever been ghosted? I think ghosting can be a flight response. And I'm not saying that's the case every time, but it is a common response to being triggered. Ghosting, withdrawing, leaving texts on read, not answering the phone, self isolating-- all of that could be expressions of the flight response. Breaking up with someone can be a flight response. My attachment style is Fearful Avoidant. So whenever I feel myself getting close to someone, I have the strong urge to cut and run. And that is the flight response. My nervous system gets activated, and I want to get out of there. and getting out of there could mean getting out of relationships, situations, whatever. Another one that I think is a big one that's not recognized for what it is, is procrastination. People beat themselves up all the time for being lazy and procrastinating when they are actually not lazy at all. They're just having a nervous system reaction. All right, I think this is a big one that gets misinterpreted all the time. I see myself do this all the time. There'll be something that I know I need to do and I'll just keep putting it off and putting it off and it's because something related to that task is usually activating my nervous system. There's something about it that is making me nervous. The flight response has a very avoidant hiding kind of energy. So if you're avoiding something, or hiding out from something or someone you are probably in flight mode. Then the next one is freeze. So freeze is interesting to me. So have you ever had someone like say something to you or ask you a question and then you just like go completely blank and you have like no response? That is freeze. Right there's situations where you find yourself getting tongue tied or your mind just like going blank or like what happens to me sometimes someone will say something that's just like, so audacious and so rude. And I want to stand up for myself, but I end up just standing there in shock and saying nothing and then the moment passes on by. I hate that. But that is freeze response. Right being frozen in shock is classic freeze response. A less recognized freeze response is indecision. So the inability to commit to a course of action, but like staying frozen in place, or mentally circling the same issue or the same ideas over and over and over again. Freeze has a very stuck energy to it. So if you find yourself like, unable to move forward with anything or with a particular thing, you might be in freeze response. Dissociation is a form of freeze response. I think a more extreme one, but it falls under the umbrella of the freeze response. And the last one is fawn and fawn is one that is only more recently recognized as a nervous system response. And I think it tends to get ascribed to women more. Although that's by no means a hard and fast rule. Every individual is different. This is your people pleasing behavior, right? This is trying to manage other people's feelings and make it so no one else ever. gets upset. If you've ever had that experience, where you only like really feel good and really feel safe and secure, if everyone's happy, but if someone's upset with you, or you think they're upset with you, you just like get really anxious. Right? That's your fawn being activated. Fawn could also show up as saying yes to things that you really don't want to say yes to. It could also be straight up lying. It could be pretending to be someone that you're not. It's trying to change yourself to fit in. It could be maintaining a certain public image, wearing the right things, always having a perfect presentation. Right not all the times. There could be other ,you know, reasons for people doing that. But it's also possible that it's a fawn response. It could be being overly accommodating. The urge to go above and beyond could be a fawn response, especially at work, right it feels "safer" if you are the office over achiever. So do you notice any of these in yourself? I think you might find you have a tendency towards one response in particular. Although you probably experienced them all. I bet there's one that is like your go to favorite. I see myself use them all ,but incidentally fight is the one that I'm in the most. That tends to be my go to nervous system response, which I didn't even realize for years because I thought the fight response was only like literal fighting so I didn't even know that I was in a nervous system activation so much of that time that I was. I didn't recognize it for what it was. Which is why I think it's so important to be aware of like all the different ways that it can show up so that you can start to recognize it. So if you do find yourself noticing that your nervous system is activated. That is an indication to slow down like that is your excuse yourself to the restroom timeout sign. It's the time to do some deep breaths and like really check in with yourself, like are you in immediate mortal danger ?And if not, then it is a good time to remind yourself that you are safe. You can give yourself a hug like literally wrap your arms around yourself. in the nervous system, it's normal for there to be an activation, like this is how our nervous system works, right,there's an activation and then there's a release. And the problem in our modern society is that we shame the activation so much. And that shaming blocks the release and that's when you end up kind of stuck in that activated state. You don't come fully down from it like how you're supposed to. So you need to be able to offer yourself in those moments some love and compassion. Talk soothingly to yourself. I treat myself almost like I have the flu when I have been like really activated- so nutritious food, plenty of water, plenty of sleep. I also like to wrap myself in a soft blanket. I find the weight and that tactile softness and pleasure of the blanket is really soothing for me. Movement can be a really good way to bring in release. Some people love exercise for this very reason. If you've ever seen an animal like a rabbit, get really scared they'll like flop all over the place and run really fast. And that is that discharge of that energy right that's the natural coming down from an inactivation. But we don't often let ourselves do that even though we have the exact same need to do so. But allowing yourself to come down from that nervous system. activation is really just about staying connected to your body and doing what feels good to it and having so much patience with yourself. Traumatic experiences tend to be traumatic in part because it was too much, too fast, all at once. And like like we couldn't process fully what happened and so it caused trauma and so much of healing is letting yourself Slow the fuck down. And our society does not like to slow down. We are a Go Go Go Do do do achieve more and more and more kind of culture. But the medicine is in slowing down. It's about staying in touch or getting back in touch. With your body and just taking care of yourself. And if you have any questions about any of this, make sure you go sign up for your free mini session with me. The link is in the show notes and we can talk all about it. Alright my friends until next time, be well.