In this episode, we learn about the next Mixed State of the Polyvagal Theory - Play!
My name is Justin Sunseri.
I’m a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist obsessed with the polyvagal theory.
Welcome to Stuck Not Broken.
EPISODE MAP -
If you’re one of the Super Fans, stick around after the main topic, I have:
A request/thank you
[a letter/email/voice message] from one of your fellow Super Fans.
But before I get into things -put yourself first. I keep every episode as safe as I can, but just by the nature of the topics, you may experience some stuff come up. Take a break if you need to.
This podcast is not therapy, nor intended to be a replacement for therapy.
TOPIC - PLAY MIXED STATE
safe/social + flight/fight = Play
Ventral vagal + sympathetic
It’s energized and activated, but safe and connected
Poilyvagal definition specifically involves reciprocal interaction and constant awareness of others involved in the interaction
EXERCISE - music comparison
Deep breath, listen to these two samples
TOPIC - ACCESSING SYMPATHETIC MOBILIZATION
When we play, we use movement
Running when we play tag, ride a bike
Arms when we play catch
Rough and tumble play is mobilized
TOPIC - ACCESSING VENTRAL SAFETY
Make eye contact w/each other
When this is gone, that’s a good sign it’s not play anymore
Smiles are present
When these are gone, it’s not play anymore
EXERCISE - vocal discernment
Deep breath, listen to this…
Sample of kids playing
TOPIC - THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY PLAY
So important for developing one’s own capacity to self-regulate
So important for exercising the ability to go up and down one’s own ladder
Accessing each state
Building a tolerance to defensive energy
Navigating interpersonal problems when they arise, which they will with winning or losing
So important for bonding, attachment
A lack of healthy play history in my populations over the years
End up connecting with peers and not knowing how to utilize their sympathetic energy
BTW, if you like what I’m doing here, you’ll really like what I am doing at Patreon.
Entire other podcast, mostly mini episodes 1-2x/wk
Livestream Q&A once a month
Priority responses from me
Priority questions answered
Option to communicate with others
Early access to stuff I might be playing with
Only $5 a month!
TOPIC - NECESSARY FOR PLAY
Awareness of others
flight/fight requires some awareness of others but not in a reciprocal way
Aware of where the danger or the target is
Unconscious awareness and evaluation of the intentionality of the other participants
Restraint on mobilization
Can’t be chaotic and pure flight/fight
Social engagement allows restraint
A rhythm to play
Clear rules to follow - top down narrative regulation
Spontaneity okay too
Kids do well with this, but there are still social norms in spontaneity
Some people are really good at eroding social norms and manipulating neuroceptions of safety
Rules provide boundaries for sympathetic energy
Even when consistent eye contact isn’t there
When a QB is tackled too late, it’s a fight even though they are tackled the entire game
But those two steps make a big difference
Break the rule = break social engagement
The rules are the container for safety w/o regular eye contact
It’s okay to hit each other in boxing, but not between the bells
And no ear biting
Co-regulation is necessary for play
The cues of safety we give each other like smiles and eye contact and prosody
A reassuring nod or smile when a rule is broken but aggression is not imminent
Vs not looking at the person
TOPIC - PLAY COULD ALSO BE...
Work can also be stress, pressure and overwhelm w/o safety
Puzzles, chess, board games
Playful, competitive (sympathetic)
But these can turn into something else too
TOPIC - W/O SAFETY, IT’S FLIGHT/FIGHT
Gradations are possible, sure, but basically…
Those stuck in a defensive state will have difficulty with play
Less access to their safety pathways
“Don’t play well with others”
When there is too much sympathetic energy, it is not play
Like with high excitement, plus hunger or plus pain from falling
Give my patreon a shot.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR LISTENING!
I hope you’ve learned something new to help you climb your polyvagal ladder.
Building Safety Anchors - https://www.justinlmft.com/challenge-page/5180d0d1-fa0d-4833-8a96-b41546791435/
This week’s Patreon episode -
Intro/Outro music & Transition Sounds by Benjo Beats - https://soundcloud.com/benjobeats
National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1 (800) 273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline -1 (800) 799-7233
LGBT Trevor Project Lifeline - 1 (866) 488-7386
National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1 (800) 656-4673
Crisis Text Line - Text “HOME” to 741741
Call 911 for emergency
This podcast is not therapy, not intended to be therapy or be a replacement for therapy. Nothing in this creates or indicates a therapeutic relationship. Please consult with your therapist or seek for one in your area if you are experiencing mental health sx. Nothing in this podcast should be construed to be specific life advice; it is for educational and entertainment purposes only.