There is a story I like to tell others when I notice a stress response showing up in the absence of a real threat. If you don’t know already, a stress response creates a physiological response to danger that among other things, pulls us out of the time the body and mind need for restoration, recovery, healing, cognitive thinking, spirituality, social engagement, and well-being. There are a whole host of indicators that point to how long term stress can affect long term outcomes too.
A story invigorates it’s listener. I think about the saying I’ve heard Douglas Brooks say many times, “You are every person in the story.”
It is the experience we each have that paints how we imagine each element of a story.
These experiences affect what we believe and the meanings each component has. These beliefs and meanings have a physiological response that have the possibility of creating a response to danger in the absence of real danger. A stress response. Notice if that sentence causes alarm. That’s what I mean. Just how those words are used together has the ability to cascade down all the experiences to touch just enough upon bits and pieces of all the turmoils we’ve had or know about.
This important understanding in the trauma field that I work in, allows for working on stress responses when someone is experiencing: feeling numb all the time, has trouble getting out of bed because of chronic fatigue, addictions, procrastination, having trouble functioning at social events, or constant anxiety that feels debilitating. A real stuck response!
Meaning and beliefs are also affected by images; which brings me back to where we started with this blog piece. There is a movie classic about a shark that has affected all who have watched it. What is interesting to learn about the making of the movie is that they couldn’t get the mechanical shark to work! This referring to the movie, “Jaws”. When they were making the movie, they were relying on a mechanical shark; except they couldn’t get the shark to work. The movie producers had to come up with creative ways to show images that looked like a shark moving in water. This forces the viewer to draw upon experiences of sharks. With the right cinematography, this touches into how scary a shark might be if moving that much water around as it moved with a dorsal fin that big. Again, just notice the physiological response to those words and images.
This important understanding of how meanings and beliefs affect us both physiologically and mentally, creates avenues for change.
Working with a belief system that is perpetuating a stress response, is one way of helping those who struggle with chronic anxiety, fatigue, depression, addiction, trauma, and social anxiety, when it feels like their body is at war with themselves. If you know of someone who is struggling in this way, please pass this along. You could be the person that initiates the change that helps this person to alleviate their suffering!
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