Don't let it surprise you when it happens
It probably will surprise you though. As you access more of your safety state, you will probably experience some of your stuck state getting unstuck. Which means that your defensive state will come to the forefront.
This is normal. And it's okay. We just don't want it to be out of control. Ideally, the defensive state emerges more into your consciousness and you can experience it with curiosity. And not use a behavioral adaptation to make it stop.
To do so, you need... you probably know this by now. Yep, you need the safety state to be strong enough. Your vagal brake to be strengthened.
If your safety state is not strong enough
Your safety state might be strengthened enough for the defensive state to soften in intensity and also for ladder climbing to begin to happen. For example, your shutdown state might alleviate and then fight emerges as you climb the Polyvagal ladder.
If your safety state is not strong enough for this climbing, then the fight state will be experienced as anger, irritation and aggression. Flight will be experienced as anxiety and worry, ruminating on some future negative event.
Building Safety Anchors is made for just this - developing the strength of your safety state. I know you want to recover from your trauma. To go from numbness to connection. From anxiety to calm. From freeze to safety. Building the safety state is essential in the trauma recovery process and BSA is the only course I am aware of that does that. That's 100% what it focuses on as it builds on the next logical step after learning the Polyvagal Theory.
Click here to learn more about BSA. There is also an option to schedule a brief chat with me to discuss BSA or my other trauma relief courses.
If your safety state is strong enough...
...then you will be able to allow that stuck state to surface and you'll be able to tolerate it.
Or you will be able to notice it and then anchor in safety if needed.
Or you'll eventually be able to actively feel it with curiosity and allow further ladder climbing to happen. But it won't be experienced as the dysregulated defensive state.
It will be experienced as a well-regulated state that is tolerable and that you can mindfully attune to. Fight, for example, will be experienced as power and motivation.
My teen client came from her power
I had a teen client share how she successfully began to speak to her Mother differently the past week or so before the session. Typically, she would take her Mother's judgmental comments about her weight and shrink inward and feel shame and apologetic.
But something started changing and she responded to her Mother our of power and not out of overwhelming anger. Was there anger in her responses? Yeah, but it wasn't out of control. She responded with only the words necessary and provided enough push back, feeling confidence in herself and pride.
She didn't get suck in to the Mother's judgment and didn't go into her typical reflexive responses. She actually had capacity to feel her initial triggered response, quickly mull over the words she wanted to use and then deliver them directly and sharply, without being a part of the problem.
She event felt enough power to be able to tell her Mother the truth for once, unapologetically - that Mom simply had not been there for her and that is why they had no relationship. That her Mother simply never listened to her and understood her, instead making it about herself.
Did the Mom snap out of it and make a miraculous change? Nope. But my client had spoken up from her powerful fight state and put in boundaries and spoke the truth. In the present day, it's not about changing the Mom or anyone else. It's about my client and the changes that she wants to make.
On the other hand, this same client recognized when her newfound fight state was dysregulated, like when she would snap at the people in her life that didn't deserve it. She could recognize the difference between power and fight. Between dominance and creating a healthy boundary.
The next step for this client? Allow the defensive state activation to be present without judgment, but continue to develop and build the safety state alongside it. Safety is the priority and should be returned to when defensive states become dysregulated.
Prioritize your safety state
Check out BSA if you are ready for the next step in your trauma relief process. The safety state is imperative, but just know that dysregulation may come along with it. That doesn't indicate something is wrong, it just indicates further safety development is needed to regulate the surfacing defensive state.