Often times our central nervous system is on simmer and will diverge depending on two types of threats, level one and two. For example, I trip over something left on the floor and I quickly recover and prevent myself from falling, a level one response to “threat.” Level, two is what I say to myself, e.g., “I can’t believe I’m so stupid,” or “who in the hell left that in my way?” It is level two that gets us into trouble, but we can learn to have the most control over it if we acquire adaptive skills. These level 2 responses have lasting consequences because they can develop into a chronic pattern of self-blame, or the blaming of others for our actions. When this type of reaction happens repeatedly, our central nervous system becomes exhausted and anxiety or depression may result.
I would like to leave you with something to consider. Over the next week, notice what kind of level two responses you are having throughout your day. Don’t be hard on yourself and recognizing we all have these thoughts. Do you tend toward self-blame or blaming others when they occur? What is the narrative or tape that describes your level two response? Also, investigate how you judge yourself and others—this is a very powerful practice!
The good news is that in the next blog I will provide tools for further navigating your conscious thought process. For now, we are starting with self-awareness of your patterned responses.