Hi, it’s Jenny with Somatic Therapy Partners. Today I’m going to talk to you guys about a question that I often get asked by most of my clients. The question that I often get asked is: why do I always overreact to things. Why do I overreact to the conversation with my parents? Or my partner? Or work issues? Or just driving?
The thing that I first like to talk about with that is I don’t actually believe it’s overreacting. I think that your body and your nervous system is doing exactly what it has learned to do from the time you were just a wee one. Often what happens with trauma, and developmental trauma in particular, is our nervous system learns how to operate at a very high frequency or a very low frequency. When we feel like we’re overreacting what’s really happening is our system is just responding the way it’s needed to respond in order to stay alive, to survive, and to feel protected.
I’m going to explain the nervous system in a way that I typically explain in sessions or in consults. The way that I’m going to explain it to you is using my hands as a diagram kind of. So my hands are what we like to call the window of tolerance [hands are horizontally parallel with each other, leaves several inches of space between] and ideally a healthy nervous system goes up and down [moves finger right to left in controlled up/down wave pattern] and stays within the window of tolerance. That is a normal thing: our bodies will get aroused and then we settle. What happens with developmental trauma though is instead of staying within this window, it might shoot way out or shoot down [hand moves upward and downward outside of window space]. When it shoots out of that window, that’s when we start to have our trauma response. Whether that’s fight light freeze and that’s where often folks call themselves overreacting. I just invite you to start to begin to give your body a little bit of grace and even honor that your body is doing exactly what it’s meant to do when it feels like it’s in a threat situation.
Now I understand maybe you don’t actually maybe you aren’t actually in a threat situation, but your body still responds that way. So some of the resources that we have on our page and the somatic activities you can use to help your body learn how to come back into the window [arms placed in horizontal parallel to signify window of tolerance] and stay regulated instead of feeling like you are only ever going outside of your window.
I really can’t tell you how often I have this conversation with prospective clients or even the people that I’ve been working with. Of feeling like their overreaction, their survival patterns is what I like to rename it as, is something to feel shame about. Folks come to me all the time and one thing I really want to share is that there’s no shame in your body’s reaction, there’s no shame in the pattern that has existed for you since you were just a kid. You’re simply living into this pattern that you’ve known for so long in order to feel safe, in order to survive, and in order to get your needs met. There’s no shame in that.
I also hear that people don’t want to keep living in that that state of mind, that state of being because it just feels overwhelming. It doesn’t really help and it makes them feel stuck in their life in a certain rut instead of the expansion that life offers. So what I want to invite you to is that here at Somatic Therapy Partners that’s the work we do with you. That pattern exists yes and we can help shift it, we can help it move into this nice, yummy regulated space with you and for you. Life can be different. Life can feel lovely and pleasant and pleasurable and probably a little scary but that’s part of life too.
I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you today and I’m so glad you joined us. I encourage you to listen to this video as many times as you need to really remember that you do not need to feel shame about your body, about its reactions and I hope that you join us sometime and we can help you in that healing journey. Have a wonderful rest of your day and I’ll see you in future videos.