Our survival strategies of fight, flight, freeze and fawn are controlled by a part of our brain that we sometimes refer to as our reptilian brain. Evolutionarily it has been around for a long time and it is geared towards survival.
This part of our brain is responsible for the ‘decision’ on how to respond to a life-threatening event and it happens well before conscious thought.
I explain all of this to people I work with to help them better understand why they reacted the way they did to whatever traumatic event(s) they experienced.
There is often a lot of shame around how the body responds and a lot of self-recrimination about they should have said or done something else than what they did.
But their bodies helped them survive and get through these events. That is amazing and, in my eyes, worthy of celebrating. This can be a big hurdle, but it goes a long way towards fostering self-compassion and reducing shame.