Trauma conditions how we perceive reality
As this Sunday I will have an Instagram live with Karina Lagarrigue, who is a psychologist and we will discuss how trauma changes the way we perceive reality.
Departing from the Polyvagal Theory of Dr. Stephen Porges, I would like to explain a little further, what it takes to be in a state where we can be empathetic, giving and receiving, have compassion and act from love. As this is the vision I hold for humanity. I am certain, we are totally able to be the loving and caring beings we were born to be, if we manage to liberate trauma from our system.
Our vagus nerve is an important nerve that is in connection with our autonomous nervous system.
It Is a cranial nerve that runs through our body (neck, chest) and arrives to our lower stomach area.
As response to a certain event, one part of the vagus nerve is being activated and we will react according to the state we are in.
There are 3 levels:
1. Social engagement system
2. Sympathetic system
3. Parasympathetic system
So as we interpret reality, one of the 3 levels will be active.
If a certain event is perceived dangerous, on the social engagement level we will communicate to others with the hope of being able to solve the situation and return to a safe state again. (the vagus nerve activates facial expressions to be able to express ourselves, tone of the voice etc)
If the communication is not successful, our sympathetic level will signal our body to enter into a Flight or Fight mode: we can fight or run away. (the vagus nerve will activate the torso, so we can move)
If the event is perceived as life threatening, the parasympathetic part will activate – we will enter into freeze state, (the vagus nerve will immobilize us) we can faint, being totally paralyzed. This is a valid trauma response, that in nature often saves the life of an animal that is being hunted by a predator. This is when an animal “acts dead”.
So what happens, when we liberate our trauma from our nervous system?
We will perceive a certain event from a more objective point of view.
That means that unless the situation really is life threatening, we won’t react to it if it was such.
So the way we communicate will be clearer.
On the sympathetic level, when we feel danger, the way we communicate can be: negotiation, manipulation, lie, passive aggressive behaviour, because this is what it takes for us to “fight” danger.
On the other side, when we feel safe, we can play, create healthy dynamics, a balance between giving and receiving.
That is the state we need to be in in order to create a loving environment.
And this is exactly why trauma work is so important.
Anyone needs to find the approach that works best for her/him or combine different techniques if needed. But we really need to invest in ourselves and do the work. To become trauma free. So we can open ourselves to love.