The Polyvagal theory helping you understand your Anxiety

How has this anxiety crept up on me and what are the best ways to help myself?

Feel in charge of your feelings

Stop the 'fight or flight' reactions in your mind

Get off that anxiety roundabout and find inner peace and a deep internal shift

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Three Primal states = Petrified, Aroused, Cooperative 

William Bloom has summed this up for us - "This, for me, is the essence of polyvagal theory: Embedded in all human beings are three primal states.
These are evolutionary survival mechanisms and embedded parts of our biology.
They are below our threshold of consciousness – they function without us being aware of them.

Polyvagal theory helps us to be aware of them and manage them.

1. Frozen, petrified, inert
This is what we do when experiencing traumatic threat.

2. Aroused and ready to fight or flee
This is what we do when we perceive threat that does not traumatise or overwhelm us.

3. Cooperative
This is what we do when we are not threatened.

Polyvagal Theory suggests that we move through these states almost as if we are reliving the primal evolution of our nervous systems. - which an animal in the wild would experience most days of their lives.                                 Petrified —> Aroused —> Cooperative

    

What William Bloom  - and I - really like about this theory is: 

1. Built-In
It is realistic and useful to accept that these three states are an intrinsic part of our biology. To be petrified is normal. To be aroused is normal. To be cooperative is normal.

So they don’t need psychological analysis to understand them. For example, we all experience being petrified not because we were mismanaged by our parents but because it's a natural state. To be petrified is a normal biological state and sits in all of us. 

2. Simultaneous
I don’t buy that we move in a linear direction from one state upwards to another. I think it is more realistic to suggest that all three states are happening simultaneously in us.
For example, if we go to an awkward social event or a shop assistant is rude to us – then simultaneously a part of us freezes, another part is aroused and wants to attack or run, and a third part wants to cooperate. This is the way we operate as human creatures. 

Petrified + Aroused + Cooperative = Normal human interaction - and so let's accept these feelings and not feel we should not feel them. It's what we then go on to do with them that makes a real difference to how we respond and manage these feelings.  

3. Body Aware Self-Management
I like the polyvagal model because it suggests how we can better self-manage ourselves and develop healthily.
For example, if I am going into a meeting where there are authority figures who make me uncomfortable, I could go psychoanalytic and explore what these people represent for me and what needs healing; or I can simply say to myself: Ah ha my evolutionary nervous system is behaving normally. Let’s see how I can soothe and manage it.

See my video

This then points to all the strategies of body awareness, meditation, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, qi gong, internal martial arts and so on – which work directly into the nervous, endocrine and gut systems. 

To do this self-management requires — roll of drums, fanfare of trumpets — consciousness. Yay for consciousness!

   

Where do I find out more?

If you want a very readable book that introduces polyvagal theory and therapy have a look at Deb Dana’s The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy.

   

 

 

REMEMBER - it's completely natural and OK to feel like this - at first so we register there is a problem

What about responding like a child? You'd have a good old shout and express yourself. For example if another child hit you you'd run to your mother for some comfort and reassurance. Then your Mum would distract you by giving you something she knew you would enjoy. Something like a cuddle which would fulfil your need at the time.

If someone has said something to you which you do not agree with it's OK to tell them how you feel...or if you are worried that your honesty would not be received in a positive way then be completely honest with yourself about WHY you cannot give them your honesty.

Is it because;
1. You don't think that they care about your feelings and so will turn their back on you - reject you?
Mentally or even actually Hug yourself

2. You think they will be angry - you are scared?
Be prepared and have an answer to their anger - eg make them own up to their anger - ask them what their anger is about

3. It is their right to have a power over you - they are your boss, parent, overpowering partner
Ask yourself what EXACTLY gives them the right to ask of you what is not comfortable/relevant/right
 - find the courage to ask them what it's REALLY about. 

4. You feel ashamed of an action/words said - either just now or at a previous time
Somehow you have been manipulated to feel that something is your fault (or that you are in some way dirty or stupid) - I can stand up to you and what I say is right for me and that's all that matters. Increase your self esteem. 

5. You feel trapped in a corner - another person will suffer unless I stay.
What's the good of you staying if what you share is not comfortable for you? It's all tainted - I have to be honest with you about how I feel. If what I choose is OK with you then I can stay; if not then it will help us both if I leave.
This could mean divorce/separation or a fear of abandonment or even an abusive situation

Talk to someone who will support you to find your own way to be kind to you, help you to crystallise your thoughts
 and help you define what is really important to you.
If you don't know anyone who you feel is able to help maybe I can offer my services to you.

There's lots we can do it's about finding the commitment and space to start off the process. It's widely known now that it takes 21 days to create and keep a good habit/routine so it sticks as a part of our life. Use mindfulness on a regular basis with my WellBeingBlend Aromatherapy blend to ANCHOR your new positive thoughts and messages.
As we get insights into where your Anxiety came from we are able to take away the power of your anxiety and stop it messing you up. 

We are always helped by thinking thoughts full of love and heartfelt appreciation for ourselves. 

YES we can all do this - even if, at first we don't believe it, thinking loving thoughts will short circuit those critical wounding thoughts you are having now. Feel strong inside and let those around you think what they want to think - cos we are feeling good about ourselves.

Work with me to DEAL WITH ANXIETY

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