UNDERSTANDING OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM AND ANGER
Exert from: Somatic Experiencing Institute
"Polyvagal theory" posits that our autonomic nervous system is split into three parts:
[💛] Ventral Vagal (head-cognitive mind): where we are able to ground ourselves easily with talking, thinking rationally about stress.
We are grounded, engaged socially, and regulated physiologically, even when we are stressed out.
This is apart of our parasympathetic nervous system.
[🔥] Sympathetic (upper chest and upper belly): where we experience anxiety, tightening of the chest, and muscles. We viscerally mobilize
to protect ourselves against "perceived" danger. We access a fight or flight mode. We tend to react to a trigger with aggression or avoidance.
⚠️ Dorsal Vagal (front and lower back): This is when our body freezes and locks down mobility functions, especially our back and lower belly. Where we become immobilized to protect ourselves against real or perceived danger. We shut down, dissociate and our nervous system collapses. This is also within the parasympathetic nervous system.
You can think of it as a ladder with sympathetic sandwiched in between parasympathetic. We end up in a freeze response when our system gets so overloaded with stress that it has to split off from itself or dissociate.
We make our way back up the ladder through safety - both in the body and outside the body. That means, meeting our basic needs on the inside, getting enough water, food, breath, rest, and support etc...And on the outside, establishing safe relationships and a safe environment. Practicing physical and emotional safety helps us stay in ventral vegal longer (mind) and when we need to, helps us move up the ladder faster. Safety helps to build flexibility and strength within the nervous system.
It’s important to note that none of these states are superior to the others. Ventral vagal is not always the goal. Our nervous system works to keep us alive and SURVIVE. So if you’re not in ventral vagal (mind) my guess it theres a pretty good reason. PRESENT traumatic stress vs POST traumatic stress. When you’re living in trauma, your body is fighting SO hard but can be understood and heal from.
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