A significant part of learning to try softer

By Dave Henning / November 14, 2020

“A significant part of learning to try softer comes from recognizing that old wounds may be causing us to live in fight/flight/fawn or freeze even once we’re safe. . . .  Learning about the choices we have for how to respond to our own bodies before they’re in full-blown crisis can  help us to make choices that better reflect our true selves.”- Aundi Kolber (emphasis author’s)

As Aundi Kolber continues Chapter 2 of Try Softer, she notes the importance of understanding why your brain reacts the way it does.  Hence, Aundi discusses the main parts of our ‘triune brains.’  Thus, she starts at the base and moves to the top.

 1.  Brain stem.  The brain stem asks the core question, Am I safe?  Furthermore, this most primitive part of your brain determines how your body responds to threats.  Above all, ignoring your body may result in rigid and compulsive behavior.  Because your brain stem acts from a place of survival – without your thinking brain’s support to regulate it.

2.  Limbic system.  Your limbic system asks the core questions, Am I loved?  Is this good or bad?  Emotions and the meanings you derive from them live here.  Thus, based on prior experience, the limbic system determines what type of emotion is evoked in you.

 3.  Cortex and prefrontal cortex.  The cortex and prefrontal cortex ask the questions, Can I learn?  problem solve?  regulate?  empathize?  The prefrontal cortex (PFC) brings awareness of what’s going on in the brain stem and limbic system.  As a result, this allows you to try softer – you know what’s going on in your body.  Scientists refer to this linking of all three parts of the brain as vertical integration.

However, a fight/flight/fawn or freeze response directs blood away from the PFC.  Consequently, that distributes the energy elsewhere.  Therefore, everything else is ‘offline’ when you live only from the brain stem.  Aundi concludes:

“Although we may feel that we are solving problems by thinking about them, if we are in fight-or-flight mode, we are not able to connect to the systems of our bodies that allow us to truly problem-solve.  We get stuck ruminating on our problems instead.”

Today’s question: How do you access a significant part of learning to try softer?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “This sacred invitation to honor our pain”

About the author

Dave Henning

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