a Resource for Clients & Therapists
2019 Tidbits & to-Do's - morsels to spark curiosity
April 2019 Tidbit:
In March, we learned about the interdependent patterns that exist in relationships ... for every action, there is a reaction, which triggers a counter-reaction, and so on.
This month, let's take a look at these behavioral actions, and attempt to understand more about them, from the attachment significance, the human need to feel safe and secure, and feel good about ourselves in the context of our relationships.
We all know about the Fight-Flight-Freeze reflex, right? That nano-second survival maneuver that we make without conscious awareness, but that keeps us alive. It is an important and necessary survival strategy, very immediately adaptive when threatened.
Well, do you understand what you are actually fighting for/fleeing from/freezing about? We usually think it is about the other person doing something wrong or hurtful to us, but take a moment, if you will, to consider that the move you are making is more about you than them?
These adaptive strategies are our brain's way of handling the distress, the threat, in order for us to survive, therefore in the basic form, they are protecting us from how the other person is making us feel. Additionally, the move is protecting us from how we begin to see ourselves in the context of the relationship, and our ingrained need to feel good about ourselves with this other person.
There is also another aspect that people aren't always aware of ... our attachment strategy is a way we regulate ourselves, a way we soothe our limbic system, when the emotional centers are activated. So, if we are leaning in and trying to problem solve and talk it out when in distress (presenting more anxious), we are more calm than if we don't do anything.
If we pull away (presenting more avoidant), we are actually trying to stop things from getting/feeling worse. We step away, things quiet, we feel more calm than if we stay in it.
Freezing is somewhat the "deer in the headlights" distress when shame comes powerfully online... the shame feeling associated with the thought pattern that I am a bad person, unworthy, undeserving. When shame first hits us, our brain freezes. Inevitably though, freeze then moves into fight or flee.
For further understanding, let's bring this closer to home.
April 2019 To-Do:
Returning to your exercise from March, consider the behavior you identified when you are in distress. Did you get angry and yell, try to problem solve, reach out, or, did you turn away, and attempt to end the encounter? Did you try to make it better by trying to fix or change it, or by trying to end it?
As you look at this behavior, consider what you were thinking right before you wanted to move in or away (i.e., he doesn’t hear me, she is so unreasonable). Now, consider the meaning you put to how you were seeing yourself in that moment, your core belief about yourself, in relation to your partner (i.e., I don’t matter to him, I’m never enough for her). How did you start to feel, and what did you believe about yourself, in that moment?
This month, spend some time with yourself, reflect and journal, how am I feeling about and seeing myself in this relationship, right before I move in or away.
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts here or through email.
Hi and welcome to my blog! I am excited to have this endeavor underway. It has been many years in the making.