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Brain Works - Navigating your responses

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Our brain reacts to emotional information, particularly sensory stimuli that questions, destabilizes or threatens our sense of safety/security in 2 ways.

1. Brain Primitives- These functions are responsible for our fight/flight/freeze responses which in turn just need to maintain and regulate emotional homeostasis. Breaking it down to the root of the word - these our "first" instinctive responses. In short, quick, automatic responses to dire situations where too much analysis or awareness is not useful/is counterproductive. E.g. touching a hot surface and instantly pulling your hand back. Analyzing the temperature is not relevant, just the feeling is enough to take action. The idea is reactiveness that serves a protective purpose.

2. Brain Ambassadors - These functions are operated by the more evolved prefrontal cortex and concern themselves with an algorithmic, rational sense of decision-making where one questions, observes, collects information and then chooses with autonomy. Reasoning, negotiating, accepting, changing - some of the core functions in this category. E.g. Responding to critique about a work project.

When we experience psychological dissonance/mental health upheavals or challenges, our wires tend to get crossed and we end up using them interchangeably. E.g. Anxiety is an overt dependence on brain primitives so one is always in a state of assumed fear/reaction. Depressive states can be signaled by overt dependence on brain ambassadors where those issues/signals which needn't deserve excessive rumination, analysis are churned repeatedly to find issues with self and life.

These are often a reflection of our attachment patterns formed during early childhood years or later during adolescence. That said, not having access to unconditional support, regard and affection growing up doesn't mean you can't adapt differently or don't have a choice to form more resonant+healing attachments. It means that we need to recognize where some of our projections arise from in interpersonal relationships. Psychologists use an empowering term for those who have recognized how insecure attachment patterns hamper close relationships and work their way through to forming more collaborative and symbiotic bonds with others in their lives.

The term is "Earned Security". This refers to developing insight about what how sometimes we develop maladapted coping mechanisms to deal with rejection/abandonment and how it is a catch 22 because those mechanisms also drive people away thereby feeding into the myth of being "undeserving". Earned security is when we realise that emotional reactivity is not the same as emotional responses - between stimuli and response lies that critical, life-changing word - CHOICE.

We don't take close relationships for granted and recognize that maintenance of any sort in any relationship is a 3-steps process -

1. Awareness/Insight

2. Acceptance

3. Compassionate Change

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