They’re Doing The Best They Can
Our threat perception is unconscious, so is our response.
Accepting people as they are is complex and nuanced. They did the best they could from the level of consciousness they were at then. It’s easy to say statements like these and like all cliche’s, they hold some truth.
“When we know better, we do better.” Maya Angelou
So much of our “better” depends on the influence of our individual and cultural environments on our biology. We all move up and down the polyvagal ladder from ventral (calm, trust) down into sympathetic arousal (fight, flight), and sometimes further down into collapse or freeze (dorsal). We carry our history and experiences of safety and threat, connection and disconnection in our nervous system.
Our threat perception is unconscious, and so is this response or movement. Through mindfulness, we can be aware of when we are going into fight/ flight/ freeze or emotional flooding. The benefit of practicing emotional regulating is that we develop a new baseline of resilience, and we know how to come back more quickly into a state of calm and connection. We develop confidence that we can manage our nervous system without so much reliance on external aids like food, screens, alcohol and other drugs.
Many people don’t know how their nervous system works and feel like they are at the mercy of other people and life. They are continuously triggered into fight/flight/freeze and survival strategies like fawning, defiance or compliance. This feels overwhelming, as though they are helpless, especially when things are as difficult as they are right now.
Why is it that even when we are suffering, it feels safer to keep suppressing and distracting ourselves? Fear and shame. When we turned away from the trauma that is now stored in our body, it was the only option we had. Children have very little power over their life circumstances. We routinely turn on ourselves and develop false core deficiency beliefs in order to stay in the closest possible connection with parents. This is a survival level need when we are a child.
Many adults now are working on their past hurt through a somatic mindfulness inquiry practice like the one I do, or are in various forms of therapy. We need to…