I'm reluctant to phrase things in this way because it might come across as insensitive or dismissive even. And that's not my intention at all, though it is the crux of this blog.
I'm speaking to the person that thinks/feels that their life cannot improve. Or that their polyvagal state cannot improve. That they are permanently stuck in whatever state and circumstance that they are currently in. And my goal is to logically convince that person that they're wrong. Things can literally get better. I'm attempting to deconstruct the self-defeating thought that person might have.
Whittling away at a thought doesn't exactly fix everything, I know. And it can actually open up some discomfort. But it can also open up the opportunity for a thought replacement or a reframe. And this can help to shift someone's state. Maybe yours.
You're stuck, not broken
You know this by now, right? If not, I've got an entire podcast dedicated to it! I've also got a blog entry that goes more into detail. In essence, you may have an autonomic nervous system that's stuck in a defensive state. This leaves you with less access to your ventral vagal biological pathways. The world is experienced as dangerous, whether it actually is dangerous or not.
The ANS will naturally self-regulate back to the ventral vagal safety state. But humans beings tend to keep this natural process from happening. Animals - especially wild ones - are really good at self-regulating their physiology and not remaining in a stuck defensive state. Humans do things to keep themselves stuck, like:
avoiding the discomfort of self-regulation
This is in no way an issue of blame. It's simply what we do and I'm not placing a judgment or a value on it. Ideally, we won't do these things and we'd all support each other and there would be no problems in the world. We'd all co-regulate and self-regulate. But that's not happening quite yet.
One of the ways that we keep ourselves stuck down the polyvagal ladder is through self-limiting beliefs. Or negative self talk. Or thoughts that reinforce the defensive state. Whatever you want to call them. These beliefs prevent us from feeling the stuck defensive energy and allowing it to return or discharge. If you truly think that change is not possible, then there's no point in feeling your feelings, right? The thought serves the function of dismissing or avoiding the pains of change. It keeps you stuck.
This is not an issue of intentionally doing so. Again, this is not about blame. It's just a description of what we do. That's all. You're not choosing to have these limiting beliefs. They simply are there and serve a function. And they are directly connected to your polyvagal state.
Your thoughts might be bulls**t
Your thoughts are simply an extension of your polyvagal state - "Story follows state," as Deb Dana teaches us. That means the thoughts in our thinking mind stem from our state. When we change the state, the story follows. The pessimistic thought that change is not possible simply goes away when we climb the ladder into a different state. When we're in the safety state, this type of thought simply wouldn't occur. You'd look back on the version of you that had those types of thoughts and chuckle.
Then it follows that your thoughts are not necessarily a direct and true account of reality. So if you believe that you're incapable of making the change that you want, it's possible that thought is simply wrong. It's bulls**t. In a very literal way, that thought could be wrong. I'm not expecting you to change your mind right here and now, but I am hoping that you might get to a point of questioning the accuracy of this thought in comparison to the possible objective reality of your potential to change.
You could be wrong, right? But I could also be right! is what you're thinking. And I guess so. I mean, we do all have some sort of limitation in one way or another, right?
But you're already changing
You are! Just look at the evidence right here and right now. Why the hell are you reading this? The fact that you're reading this is evidence of your potential for change. If you're learning something new, that means you're changing. At least a little bit. It starts with knowledge, right? So this is the first step.
No, learning isn't the only step. It's not the last. But it's an important one. I'm willing to bet (not really though) that you're also taking in information from other sources. Information about "wellness" or "trauma healing" or "self healing" or something of the like. You're probably doing lots of learning and maybe sort of waiting for something to happen. Maybe you're putting some work in too, besides learning.
Learning is important, but there's more to making change. You have to actually do. Or make the attempt to do. You have to put something into action. But there's no point! or It's too hard! is what you're thinking.
I have a 30 day course that is designed to help you follow a plan of learning and doing. Building Safety Anchors will help you to feel more ventral safety activation through discovering what anchors you in the present moment. Things around music, thoughts, your environment and more. I teach you about recognizing safety from six different learning modules and then help you to learn more and practice it. Find out more through the image below.
So you might be thinking there's not point or it's too hard. Okay...
But it's possible
I'd imagine that if there was truly zero hope, you wouldn't be reading this. Like, there is absolutely no chance that you will fly, right? There is no chance that you can simply will yourself into the air without some sort of mechanical aid. I'm sure it would be cool if it did happen, but there is probably zero percent of you that thinks this is possible or wills it to be so.
The fact that you're reading this and your body want to make change shows me that it's in the realm of possibility. Whether you recognize it or not, your body does want change. Your wonderful autonomic nervous system is compelled to do so. You see, mammals do a lot better when we're anchored in our safe and social system. So on a biological level, mammals (we) compulsively seek out the biology of safety.
Remember, the issue is being stuck. Not broken. The capacity for self-regulation is compromised. The ANS is stuck in a defensive state. So your biology is compelled to regulate back into safety, but it's stuck. That means your body has the potential for regulation. It doesn't have the potential to fly and I don't think it's attempting to do so on any level. But your body does have the potential to be in safety and it seeks it out.
So it's possible by and large. What that looks like for you, I don't know. How much activation you'll achieve of your ventral system or what's the right amount? I have no idea. These questions are interesting, but for the time being, not terribly significant. Focus on the fact that it's possible to create some change.
Thanks for reading this blog. I truly hope that I was able to at least begin to chip away at the limiting belief that you may have that change is not possible. Read more on the blog to gain further insight or listen to the podcast!