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Humans have evolved with a strong desire to connect and feel safe in families and groups. Through evolution we have developed the autonomic nervous system which is our personal surveillance system which is always monitoring everything and everyone around us to check that we are safe.
The autonomic nervous system has three ways of responding to the outside world.
First, being safely engaged and socially connected.
This is the state which ideally we all want to experience as a normal way of being.
All our senses are working well and everyday life feels comfortable. The parasympathetic ventral vagal system is engaged; we feel safe and connected, calm and sociable, there is nothing unsettling or dangerous going on around us.
In this state our heart rate is regular, we breath easily, we are able to be comfortable with people and we can concentrate on things going on around us. We are organised, make plans and carry them out, we look after our health, we are able to work well and generally have a sense of wellbeing.
Things may not always be perfect but we can deal with challenges well and be resilient. If we sense danger (activating the fight or flight mode) we can take action to get back to feeling safe again.
Health benefits include having a healthy heart, regulated blood pressure, an effective immune system, good digestion, good sleeping patterns and a sense of wellbeing.
Second, sensing danger, fight or flight
The sympathetic nervous system is engaged when we sense danger; we act quickly to get away from the threat, to run or fight so that we can get back to the safe and calm state where the parasympathetic ventral vagal system is working and we feel good.
In the fight or flight state our heart rate speeds up, our breath is short and shallow, we are alert for danger and on edge. We might be restless and angry.
If this becomes the ‘normal’ way of being, because we are living in difficult circumstances we can develop anxiety, panic attacks, anger, irritability, inability to focus or to follow through with plans, and difficulties in relationships.
Health problems can result; heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep problems, weight gain, memory impairment, headache, chronic neck shoulder and back tension, stomach problems and increased vulnerability to illness.
Third, if we are trapped in danger, freeze.
If circumstances are so difficult that we can’t get back to feeling safe, the third response is activated through the parasympathetic dorsal vagal system.
This is our most primitive response, in this state we are frozen, we shut down to survive. We feel hopeless, too tired to think or act, we find it very difficult to make changes or improve things, the world feels empty and we feel helpless.
In this state we can experience dissociation, problems with memory, depression, isolation, no energy to do the tasks of daily living.
Health consequence can include; chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, stomach problems, low blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes, weight gain.
When people are experiencing circumstances where they don’t have the power to make changes and yet they have to keep going, or when children find themselves in hostile environments which they can’t get away from this will eventually become the state in which they live.
Lifespan Integration is a gentle therapy which works on the mind/body system; healing without re-traumatising. L I works faster than conventional therapies, enabling rapid healing from a range of therapeutic issues including; anxiety in all its many forms, problems in relationships, eating disorders, OCD, compulsive habits, anger, fears and phobias, PTSD following a traumatic event, childhood abuse or neglect and poor parenting.
Parks Inner Child Therapy changes Mistaken Beliefs and helps people understand their past experiences in context.
Sometimes we develop ways of thinking and unhelpful beliefs which seem normal and unchangeable. Understanding this and what you are doing which is causing a problem means you know what it is that needs to change.