What Diminishes Us
“What flows through your mind sculpts your brain. You can use your mind to change your brain for the better, which will benefit your whole being and every other person whose life you touch.” – Rick Hanson, Buddha’s Brain
Toxic stress in adults and trauma affect every system of the body, including the immune system, and are contributing factors in most illnesses and psychological challenges. They compress and constrict tissues of the body diminishing our sense of spaciousness and fluidity. They also contribute to the truncating and fragmenting of our sense of self and to our relationship challenges.
Developmental wounds and high impact traumas cause toxic stress. What people fail to realize is that it also is caused by insufficient felt-love moments—those special moments that nourish every aspect of our being. This is analogous to a severe vitamin deficiency with grave consequences for the organism. Toxic stress decreases our resilience and sense of capability in the world.
Dealing with Stress, Trauma and the Balance of our Autonomic Nervous System
Our ability to deal effectively with challenges and stressful situations depends, in part, on the fluid functioning of our autonomic nervous system. When a human being experiences frequent or intensely chronic stressful situations, his or her autonomic nervous system can get stuck in a “fight-flight” mode of responding. This means that he or she is living day to day as if there is a tiger at the door. The fight-flight system is the body’s emergency system meant for occasional situations and not a daily occurrence.
When the stressful situation is over the top, for example, a mugging, rape, a near death experience, then the fight-flight system can be overwhelmed and the organism “freezes.” Symptoms of this freeze can include numbness, lack of feeling, hypervigilance, hyperarousal, dissociation or serious health issues. Chronic severe toxic stress can bring these symptoms about as well.