Boundaries, anger and aggression reflect important nervous mechanisms that play a role in relational dynamics and emotional strength.
The idea of anger & aggression is controversial. On the one hand, when we don’t have control of it, particularly when it is driven by unconscious forces, - such as unresolved trauma… aggression & anger can be projected to the wrong people at the wrong time. There are many things in life that are not threatening. But because of our lack of awareness, we may see them as that, and become angry and aggressive for the wrong reasons.
Sometimes empathy is required. Empathy and compassion are elements that help us get along with others. But many of us have been taught to focus almost exclusively on empathy. To be polite and agreeable. Unfortunately, in certain situations, such as when someone wants to do harm to another, the sympatho-excitatory circuits involved in fighting or running away, are needed.
Anger can be a powerful force for change. It is what mobilizes our system into action, rather than submission, cowering or defeat. Neurophysiologically, the systems we use that are associated with anger have to do with perceiving an obstruction to a goal, and a perceived ability to remove or navigate that challenge, threat or obstacle. These systems activate blood flow to neural circuits and skeletal (voluntary, striated) muscles that change our voice, body movements and decision processes. When used as a power for enhancing life, these elements of anger can be a wake-up call for others and a source of strength for ourselves.
Flexibility & access to a VARIETY of responses is the key to healthy social & psychological functioning. Completely suppressing our access to a feeling of self protection & anger robs an essential sympatho-excitatory ‘gear’ from the mechanics of that system. When we know we have an ability to protect our personal boundaries using a wide range of responses - whether psychological tactics, voice, gestures, posture, presence and training - this creates stronger internal working models that have a higher number of choice points in each situation.
All of this adds complexity to the brain and requires deeper psychological understandings of ourselves, our triggers. It requires us to learn about and rehearse scenarios mentally and physically ahead of time to activate those complex circuits. More complexity = more choices, which means more sound reasoning used to make decisions instead of reacting from an exclusively primitive, unconscious state. Range and repertoire are key.
On a side note..
These insights reflect deeply personal perspectives of my own journey, as well as what I have gained working with people who have undergone extremely adverse experiences, trauma, and violations of emotional, physical and social boundaries. The kinds of experiences some of my clients have gone through, that I have had the honor of working through with them and helping them navigate and associate with new meaning - are experiences I hope never occur for anyone. As we all learn from the collective trauma that humanity has experienced, I hope we can expand our spectrum of what we can access for healing and empowerment. That is why I write, train, speak and share what I do. We are all in this together. And I believe in the human ability to evolve and the human necessity to be collaborative, compassionate creatures who can co-regulate and improve their circumstances through knowledge transfer and passing down the wisdom we have gained through our experiences - no matter how dark they may be.
Extremely grateful to the empowering communities of Fieldcraft Survival and SBG Montana for what I’m learning. I just finished a personal security course with experts and members from both of those communities and it was an empowering experience. My appreciation of the people who have been pushing me out of my comfort zone and into these levels of strength is beyond words. I honestly don't know how to express my gratitude for how much I have gained through these connections. More training & insights to come!
#mindset #neuroscience #endurance #resilience #martialarts #selfdefense #personalsecurity #boundaries #systemsthinking #train #learn #evolve
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