The Hurt of our HumannessSep 18, 2023
Our existence as humans if we choose to access and listen to all our intelligences is filled with opportunities for both hurt and healing.
As we live our lives interacting with others and having experiences, we inevitably will have experiences that result in our hurting.
I recently experienced 3 interactions that triggered and caused me tremendous hurting. In each experience, I felt my nervous system activate and when this happens, we respond in one of four ways:
Fight: I’m going to argue, get angry, react, and defend myself.
Flight: I’m going to run away from the issue, avoid it, and try not to deal with it at all.
Freeze: I’m going to shut down, feel nothing, numb myself with anything I can (food, alcohol, work)
Fawn: I’m going to try to appease them, try to make everything ok and fix it!
All of these approaches are natural reactions embedded into our neurophysiology meant to protect us from harm.
Anytime we have an experience that might cause us to be hurt (physically or emotionally) these automatic reactions will be triggered.
For most people, the reaction is totally unconscious and will be however their body has been wired to respond based upon their past experiences.
How my Pathways are Wired
For me personally, I’ve used each of these approaches at different points in my life, but my most natural response is to move to try to appease and fix issues.
For most of my life, I desperately wanted others to like me, to be my friend, to be “ok” with me. As a result, I would react to any situation of hurting (no matter the facts of the situation) by making it all my fault and trying to apologize.
I would begin to vilify or victimize myself. Either it was all my brokenness and damage that led to the situation, or I was a terrible human who failed or came into this world inadequate.
I would do anything to stop someone else from viewing me in a negative light, no matter the circumstances.
My Choice to Respond Differently
Thankfully, I’ve spent significant time learning to recognize my physiological nervous system reactions and learning how to choose my responses to these types of experiences.
I’ve worked hard in recent years to allow my heart to remain open, to stay connected to the intelligence of my heart. And most recently, I’ve been working on connecting with my gut intelligence to trust its intuitive knowing.
As I felt my nervous system activate in response to each situation and experience, I felt myself begin to try to find ways to fix it so I could avoid the pain. To convince the other person they were mistaken, or to make it all my fault.
Then, I became present and recognized what was happening and the pattern I was about to follow based upon my past experiences.
Isn’t it interesting how often we get these opportunities to either follow our patterns or create awareness and choose whether to pursue a different path?
Opportunities for us to choose to create a new neural pathway that might better serve us on our life journey.
As I took time to reflect, I recognized one of my default strategies to navigate the hurt and repair the relationship is to view myself as broken and damaged in some way so as to accept responsibility for the experience or situation at hand.
Viewing the Situation through a Neuroscience Lens
Neuroscience, however, tells us that we are not broken or damaged at all.
Rather our bodies, intelligences, and neurophysiology have wired themselves in the very best way they could to protect us from pain.
These neural pathways formed, and we’ve used them to keep us safe, to reduce the hurting we might otherwise have to endure.
We are also evolving human beings!
We are human beings that did not come into this world fully wired to create and live a perfect, wonderous, and pain-free life.
Instead, human beings came into this world wired to survive the hurting we would inevitably encounter and experience.
Then our bodies and multiple brains have done their best to create neural pathways to reduce that hurting from the pain we encounter as we live our lives. Our bodies have done this to keep us alive through the pain and hurting we encounter.
We aren’t broken or damaged AND we also have the wonderous opportunity to continue to evolve ourselves as living human beings.
We can choose to change and re-wire neural pathways that are no longer serving our needs or best interests.
We can choose to view ourselves not as broken but as humans who are still evolving, growing, learning, and changing in response to the wisdom we gain from our experiences.
We can then view all those hurting moments as wonderful opportunities for healing experiences.
How can we choose to respond?
Recognize, Appreciate, Acknowledge
We can start by recognizing the reaction of our bodies to the hurting as our naturally wired response.
We can appreciate our bodies for trying to protect us from the hurt, while also acknowledging the opportunity to create a new way of responding and being.
Accessing our Wisdom
As I had those hurting experiences, I felt the pain enter my heart brain where our emotions and need for connection reside. I allowed myself to feel the hurt and I also allowed myself to move through it and not have the experience become an example of my imperfection and brokenness.
With the help of my wonderful business partner, we practiced multiple brain integration techniques, and I began tapping into my own wisdom on the experience.
I checked in with what my head really knew, my heart truly felt, and my gut deeply needed to act upon.
I began looking at the experience through the lens of evolution.
How did I want to learn and heal through this experience rather than resist it?
How could I use this opportunity to re-wire my old neural pathway that might create an undesirable outcome?
What new neural pathway would best serve me moving forward?
Choosing to Embrace the Paradox
As a result, I embraced the paradox of being both perfect and imperfect at the very same time.
I recognized the beautiful experience of our humanness and our ability to transform hurting experiences into our own healing and evolution.
I can both learn from this experience and hurting encounter while also choosing not to internalize or admit some element of brokenness or damage.
No human on this planet is complete in their evolution, nor is anyone in anyway incomplete as a human being.
What a wonderful way to embrace the amazing capacity of our neurophysiology to be ever changing and fully functioning all at the very same time!
I fully embrace that I am an evolving human being.
As a result, I may trigger hurting experiences in others, knowingly or unknowingly.
And I can learn from those experiences without having to vilify or victimize myself (or anyone else) in the process.
The truth is we are all human beings who are going to have these experiences.
The only choice we get is whether we will see them as opportunities for healing and intentionally evolving ourselves!
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