When our amygdala is lit up in the limbic system of our brain, our ability to see the big picture – disappears. The fight flight freeze response takes over. We literally suffer from tunnel vision. If we are outside the window of tolerance, ( Minton, Ogden et al, 2006) and in hyper arousal, we become irritable, edgy, angry, -ready for a fight or ready to flight – take off.
When in hypoarousal we get foggy, fuzzy, dissociate, depressed, unable to move, numb, frozen.Either way, we are ready for the worst case scenario. Outside of the window of tolerance we catastrophize, awfulize, distort reality to fit our negative beliefts.
I bet you are reading this thinking, “wow, why do we even have an amydgala?” Bottom line, we can’t be thinking about a paying our credit card when a threat actually occurs. For example, if we hear a rattlesnake within our proximity,our thinking brain needs to shut off – it needs to be offline so that our fight flight freeze response can do its job! But what about when there isn’t a threat in our environment and we go out of the window of tolerance alot? When Post Trauma Stress is the concern, we can get triggered alot. (Think that the past is in the present when its not). To get back into the window of tolerance where are thinking brian is ON, first ground yourself. Orientate yourself to the present.
The following skills will help you ground yourself :
Temperature: ice in hand, face in cold water.
Drinking cold water slowly
5 – 1 grounding Five things you see, Five things you hear, Five things you feel. Four things you see, Four things you hear …
Listen to a kitty purr
Spend time with a horse
Once you are grounded then ask yourself where is the evidence that supports my negative belief? What was the trigger ( Where was the past in the present)? Keep a journal so that you can get familiar with your triggers and obtain some control over these triggers.
Adapted by Crystal Arber CC 2017