When your primal brain (fight/flight/freeze response) is trapped in an old story, it’s still fighting for something that got frozen in time, and that uses up a lot of your vital resource, including the resource you need in order to be aware. So how do you update the programming of what now might be obsolete functioning? It’s not about fixing it. It’s about what it is to build resilience and create a different relationship to it, rather than having that programming be something you’re living in all the time without even realizing it.
Hello, everyone, we’re really excited to be talking about and exploring the primal brain and the fight, flight, freeze mechanisms, and how that shows up in our lives, how that shows up in society, and how we can really work with that. We’re really excited to be here with you, and want to just dive in and share our own experiences, and this really important part of our work that has just been instrumental in our own lives, and we’ve seen be really, really helpful in other people’s lives as well. Where do you want to start, Gabrielli?
I know, I was really listening to you and feeling the significance of this body of work in our lives. What is the fight, flight, freeze response, the reptilian brain’s response in relation to our emotional and spiritual worlds? If you’re about to get slammed, you’ll have a reaction or if you’re really scared, you might freeze, if you see a car you might run, but this other dynamic in it and I can almost still feel and remember the first time that I thought, Whoa, our primal brains are not only our safety mechanism for our physical bodies on Earth, but that’s the foundation of why we exist. Like this primal brain, this survival brain knows exactly why I’m living. And to me, that was the seat of our souls.
And so, whoa, primal brain has everything in it, it seems to be the very thing that keeps us alive, is going to be every reason why we have needs, every reason why we’re in a relationship, or not. All the aspects of how community affects us, our own relationship to what we bring to Earth. And then what our soul is actually desiring when we get here. So it’s actually incredibly complex, and amazingly beautiful, and for me, it was life saving, to think about my survival skills, not just on this fundamental, psychological, physiological level, but on this spiritual, psycho-spiritual, energetic, emotional, Soul driven level. And that’s what inspires me about this work, what really got me out of my own way.
Totally. I mean, for me, coming into this work 10 years ago, and really learning this as one of the first things I learned about the body of work, it was so transformational for me to realize that some of the symptomatology in my body that was—you know—I had Lyme disease, and I had a lot of trauma in my past, and I was just kind of a mess. And I was so uncomfortable. I was honestly really controlling with a lot of people in my life. And it didn’t all make sense to me, I felt really kind of lost and confused as to why I was such a mess. But I just couldn’t get to some of that undercurrent of what was going on and to really understand, oh my goodness, yes, not only is it the trauma, or like the moment of: okay, I’m getting slammed here and my body’s reacting, but this can be a pervasive, chronic state to live in. And not only is it about trauma to the body, but we as humans, as souls, have emotional and spiritual needs in this life.
There is so much more depth to it; I remember so clearly the first time my primal brain, when we went in and used some of our tools to get in there and see what was underneath. For me, it hit the love circuit. And it was like, Oh my gosh, I just remember all of a sudden it went all the way through my life. And I was like, wow, I have been confused about love. And if I’m even lovable at all, and what that even means and how in the world I can do that, and be that; how do I be in friendships? How do I be in a relationship with my family? How do I be in a romantic partnership and actually come to it in a space that feels clear and empowered, not just completely victimized by my circumstance all the time, and then I get controlling; I didn’t realize how much that could actually be linking into my physiological responses and my body’s digestive issues and headaches and all of it—how could that really be connected, and that’s what so blew me away when when I first started to learn it, and it’s obviously become more complex over years, but it’s been a huge, huge, huge thing to look at it for myself and to see other people really looking at as well.
When we were in the Activate Change Series class and we were at the end and people were asking: “Okay, so what are those little things we can do to awaken living?” The theme was living in our house, you know, living in more awareness, and to me, it’s just more aware; how do we maintain a certain kind of connection to our aware bodies and our aware essences? And it wasn’t until the end of the class that I was like, right, right, that key is also in the primal brain functioning, because when we’re primal, when our primal functioning is trapped in an old story, or even what now might be an obsolete functioning, when it’s still fighting for something that it got frozen in time fighting for them, that uses up a lot of vital resource, including the kind of resource we need in order to be aware. It’s a real intense strain.
That isn’t to say that we can go back and fix all of these patterns that we’ve digested, literally, figuratively, or physically, that we’ve inherited some of that. And yet, sometimes there’s an obsolete fight or flight that’s still happening in the physiological systems of the body, that isn’t really required to be there, because it isn’t serving a purpose in the same way anymore. So what we’ve been finding is, as you unpack that, you also get this incredible gem of being able to have more awareness and more perspective on the dynamics you’re in.
What we know is that when there’s enough pervasive trauma, or even enough pervasive oppression, which is trauma, there’s a real split that happens. And this polarity occurs, where we get very much in our “either or” brain, right? Either I am loved, or I’m not, you know, either I am safe, or I’m not. And we lose all the most amazing textures, and abilities to see in between those two lines. And so that’s some of the things I really love about the primal brain understanding; kind of understanding it differently, and looking at it from the lens of our emotional beings and the lens of our spiritual beings is that we almost recover ourselves and recover our consciousness from where it’s snagged, and or derailed for our survival. Yeah, not that it wasn’t purposeful, but where it may no longer be serving, right?
It’s been so empowering, really, to not say, oh, my gosh, I’m bad or wrong for having that or like, wow, I’ve lived so much of my life terrified that I’m going to be abandoned, and that’s really impacted my relationships and my ability to be intimate with people or whatever it is, and then to be like, Wow, well, maybe, just maybe, that programming and that thought in yourself actually made you survive the unsurvivable. Like, to your emotional, little self as a child, for instance, if you’re truly abandoned, that is a threat to your survival.
So how then do you update that, almost update the program and be like, okay, what if this is obsolete? What of this might I still need to have in my toolbox so that I can use it at times and to really just start a different relationship with that, instead of just having it being like a constant kind of, almost truth that you’re living in all the time.
We talked about them getting so fixated that the more pervasive the traumas are, the more intense the conditioning, and the more neglect and abuse violations there are, the more we then can recondition ourselves to accept that reality in whatever way we need to and therefore we go unconscious about our survival skills, and they just become normal. And we think that that’s all there is. So this process is really about that discovery. And so many people say like, just understanding that survival skill or that functioning allows me to relate to it differently. It doesn’t mean some people don’t still need those very same skills, but at least they’re conscious of the skills that they’re choosing or the patterns and habits that they need in the present time. So anyway, this is huge, so much!
Oh boy, it’s beautiful. And just really just reiterating it’s not about fixing it. It’s about what it is to build resilience and create a different relationship to it all. But it has, I think, been so helpful for the people that come, because there’s really that understanding of like, whoa, this is what’s operating underneath it. Oh, wow. Okay, maybe I can start to relate to these things differently in my life.