I’ve been told more times than I can count, I’m “too smart for my own good.” Whether that is me dismantling an argument, struggling to take things at face value and over analyzing, or asking deeper questions that someone wasn’t prepared to answer about a casual statement. I always thought that regardless of whether they were right or wrong, or it was true or false, it ultimately paid off universally. Ninety nine percent of the day, I love my brain. I enjoy being intellectually driven and curious. I love deconstructing arguments and finding metaphors to articulate my point. And I really, really love my quick wit that can keep a kitchen table full of firefighters on their toes. This brain is at the core of what makes me do what I do successfully.
But then. This was predictably coming right? That lead up set the stage of foreshadowing, yes? You knew I was going to throw a curve ball soon. Welcome to your neo-cortex. Where logic, rationale, imagination and creativity live.
This big old brain, what separates us from the other animals, gets in my way. From recovering sometimes. It interferes with my body’s instinctual, biologically built-in recovery system. When my body is giving me every sign to rest but my brain is saying just “do this one more thing.” If we just got out of our own damn way, we’d heal faster. But we frequently can’t. Because we DO have these big ole’ brains. So let me tell you something that may help: “In humans, trauma occurs as a result of the initiation of an instinctual cycle that is not allowed to finish.” Our highly evolved brain is so complex and powerful that through fear and over-control it can interfere with the subtle restorative instinctual impulses and responses generated by the brain stem/reptilian core.
So, with all the love in my heart, sit your ass down. Rest. Or move your body and discharge that appropriately reactive energy. Shake it off. Not so much like Taylor Swift, but rather like a swift prey who evaded the predator. We hear often from counselors and coaches and practitioners of “woo,” to listen to your body. With a quick roll of the eye, we blow off their simplistic guidance because “just breathing” doesn’t feel sufficient enough to ease our hurt and pain. And maybe it won’t. But it will allow that physical response to leave the body, and with that, the hurt and pain is less likely to continually rear its ugly head when faced with a potential trigger. So some basic directions we can find in nature: -Rest -Move -Shake it off -Listen to what your body tells you it needs -Surviving is a win. Whether you fight, flee, or freeze. If you live another day, you win.