In my last post I explained how the Coronavirus crisis activates fight, flight, freeze survival hardware in our nervous systems. What you may have noticed, is that you are not in fact running, fighting or paralyzed. However, many of us are experiencing intolerable amounts of anxiety, abnormal behavioral outbursts and difficulty focusing and thinking clearly. But while we’re calming down as hard as we can, what we’re actually doing is repressing our instincts.
This is the result of a conflict between our survival instincts and the more evolved areas of our brain. In today’s society we are unconsciously (and consciously) repressing our fight, flight and freeze response. In normal circumstances, this repression is manageable (and functional). However, in times of peak stress (COVID-19), our repressed instincts become disruptively active, wreaking havoc on our body and thinking.
Calming Down Is Like Holistic Xanax
The conventional wisdom in these circumstances is to “calm down” and try to relax. You know, like deep breaths and meditation, etc. In my opinion, that is one of worst things you can do. Besides the fact that it doesn’t work (at least not for very long), its like taking a holistic Xanax. Just like popping a pill. Instead of discovering, processing and expressing whats causing you to be anxious or overwhelmed, you simply take a drug or use some meditation to shove the genie back in the lamp.
I always say calming down is one of the 3 sins of managing stress. What are the others? Click here to find out!
To effectively manage an over activated instinctual response, you need to feel and safely act out the visceral and kinetic purpose of the survival response. In its most literal expression, this is to run the fuck away or beat the shit out of whatever is scaring you. Then, it’s essential to viscerally feel a sense of safety and personal integrity. In doing so, you unleash and release the titanic survival forces that you have been repressing, and your capacity to feel calm and think clearly returns spontaneously.
Now, before you run away or beat someone up, there is an art and science to this self-regulatory approach. It involves feelings, imagination and movement. Follow me live on IG @kardenrabin or check out my Youtube channel.